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
MEXICO
August 2012
 1 of 5
MEXICO
August 2012
 1 of 5
I was afraid of Mexico.  It had been on my list of herp destinations for a long time, but it always seemed like a scary proposition.  All those reports of violence, the fear of getting caught in the crossfire of drug cartels, the risk of being robbed, or worse.  But what great herps!  Whenever I saw photos of what could be found in Mexico, I was tempted to plan a trip of my own, if only I knew how and where it would be safe to go.  And then, Matt Cage to the rescue. Matt has herped all around the planet, and is the son of another world-class herper, the late Young Cage (see my Arizona 2009 report).  Father and son had been going to Sonora for years, and now Matt was ready to return with a group of friends, including an invitation for me and my brother, Ron.  It was the perfect solution to my dilemma. First we meet up in Arizona.  Ron and the others (Lorrie, Shaun, Jason, and Matt) arrive ahead of me, so off they go for a night ride.  It’s a nice warm-up before Mexico. The next day we head south.  We cross the border, get our permits, and travel without incident.  The roads are good, the traffic is smooth, the drive feels normal.  I begin to relax and look forward to our destination, where we’ll start hunting that night.  But before we arrive, there it is on the side of the road, our first herp of the trip. It’s a Mud Turtle, looking sort of familiar, but larger and more elongated than what I’m used to, our first real sign of being abroad (because clearly the foreign language, money, flags, etc. aren’t enough of a clue). Twilight approaches and our roadcruising begins in earnest.  We spread the distance between our three vehicles: Shaun and Jason in the lead, Matt and Lorrie in the middle, Ron and I far behind everyone else (symbolic of our results throughout the week).    It isn’t long before we see brake lights ahead.  We pull up to the others, where Shaun and Jason proudly announce the first snake of the evening, a young Boa Constrictor!  Now I’m certain we’re not in New Jersey.     Ron and I look forward to finding one of our own, but here begins the recurring theme of our trip.  Back and forth along some stretch of highway, periodically passing each other in opposite directions, stopping to compare notes, constantly having the same exchange: “Anything?” S & J: “Another boa.  How about you?” E & R: “Nothing.” “Anything?” M & L: “Rattlesnake.  You?” E & R: “Nothing.” “Anything?” S & J, M & L: “Oh, you know, just some <insert very cool herps>. You guys?” E & R: “Nothing.  <insert very profane cursing>.” OK, we do find a toad.  Nothing special in appearance, but at least it’s a lifer.  And, yes, it would be churlish to complain about the two snakes Ron and I finally do score that first night, even though both are common species we’ve seen before in the U.S.  (Actually, I’ll confess to being pretty pleased; one is the prettiest atrox I’ve ever found.)      Fortunately, our friends are having more success finding rattlesnakes-we-don’t-see-back-home.     And without doubt, the highlight of opening night is this gorgeous lifer  not just one, but a pair! — courtesy of Jason and Shaun.
Gila Monster Heloderma suspectum
Sonoran Coral Snake Micruroides euryxanthus
Sonoran Lyre Snake Trimorphodon lambda
Alamos Mud Turtle Kinosternon alamosae
Sinaloa Toad Bufo mazatlanensis
Long-nosed Snake Rhinocheilus lecontei
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake Crotalus atrox
Thornscrub Hook-nosed Snake Gyalopion quadrangulare
Mexican West Coast Rattlesnake (juveniles) Crotalus basiliscus
Mexican Boa Contrictor Boa constrictor imperator