All text copyright  Eitan Grunwald.  All photographs copyright  Eitan or Ron Grunwald  except photographs by others are copyright per photo credits.  All rights reserved.  Terms
ARIZONA
July 2009
 2 of 6
ARIZONA
July 2009
 2 of 6
                    
Late afternoon, and we head to the mountains in search of a snake I’ve never seen.  Young leads us to a wash and we walk the dry stream bed.    Some water has remained in a small pond.  We roll the single log that lies by the water’s edge, and a Garter snake is waiting, as if expecting us. We continue to hike, following Young’s instructions to search the base of trees, looking in burrows beneath the roots.  “That’s where they’re most likely to be at this time of day, sitting near the entrance, getting ready to emerge.”     Sure enough.  Young gives a holler, we come running, and I get my first glimpse of an Arizona Black.   Next, it’s Ron’s turn.  He looks down a hole to see a snake looking back at him.  The Black was obviously on his way to the surface, so we provide some assistance, carrying him towards a spot that looks good for photos.   But apparently we’re not the only ones who think it’s a good place to pose.  Young is out ahead, and just as he approaches the log we want to use as a backdrop, I yell, “Freeze!”  another Rattlesnake is already there.   We move the first snake out of sight, around the back of a tree, so one photo session doesn’t disturb the other.  My snake remains by the log, while Ron’s rises up against the tree.   It’s getting late, time to hike back to the car.  In the dimming light Young and I pass a brush pile that suddenly comes alive with a loud buzz.  We extract our last Black for a nighttime photo, then make our way in the dark, feeling slightly buzzed ourselves.  It’s been a really good day of herping.   On the road we spot a large toad and decide to stop for a photo.  From a distance it looks normal, but as we get closer we notice two little lip rings.  A toad with piercings?  We make a grab, the mouth opens, and two long, hairy legs drop down  the lip rings are actually the fangs of a tarantula!    As if that’s not enough of a surprise, the toad suddenly opens wider, and we’re startled by the sight of a sticky spider crawling out of the mouth!   The tarantula pauses a moment, then nonchalantly walks away like a passenger stepping off a bus, as if riding in the mouth of a toad were a perfectly normal means of desert transport.          En route to our motel we find a few snakes on the road, finishing up with a nice Mojave, who reminds us there’s lots more Rattlesnakes to come.  It’s good to be back in Arizona.    
Mojave Rattlesnake Crotalus scutulatus
Black-necked Garter Snake Thamnophis cyrtopsis
Arizona Black Rattlesnake Crotalus cerberus
Sonoran Desert Toad Bufo alvarius