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Posted by ShaneOfTX on August 29, 2002 at 01:01:12:
In Reply to: Re: sperm retention in Crotalus posted by EK on August 21, 2002 at 08:34:21:
I haven't mentioned this to anyone yet because I'll probably be ostracized, but it did happen, draw your own conclusions. It was either August 12th or 13th of this year (still fresh in my memory, I posted on the field collecting forum, but it's probably been sent to the recycler by now, that forum moves fast), I was herping the north side of the Santa Ritas (S AZ) at around 1000 when I came up on 2 blacktails. There's a story that goes along with the sighting but it's irrelevant. I admired the two snakes for a few minutes, snapped some pics, then continued on my way. I thought it was odd to see the two together, especially the fact that their tails lay touching parallel to one another (I took a closer look and there were no hemipenes exposed), but hey, they're snakes, and it was a good hideout for the day (one more note: neither ever moved or rattled). I trod my way through the bunchgrass and boulders for about 15 more minutes and decided to head back to the truck. The clouds were starting to break up, the sun rays had become hot, and I wasn't really prepared for this outing, the good camoflage of the blacktails had me thinking twice about wandering around without chaps (the atrox and scuts worried me more). By pure accident (lack of navigation skills) I wandered up to the same spot on my way back, this time though I heard a slight and short rattle (without much conviction, but undeniably a snake) before I came upon the boulders. I of course stopped, looked around, and then realized that it was the same spot and snakes I had seen earlier (it's a wonder I made it to the truck without visiting a hospital first). This time they were stretched and moving away from the hideout (only about a foot away), I decided to sit on the boulder and just watch them for a while. They were perfectly still while I sat down, and then for about a minute after. When the snake leading the way moved the follower started slightly convulsing and rubbing it's chin along the side of the leader, at that moment the leader let out another slight (identical) rattle to the one that alerted me, and then stopped. I have captive bred about 6 species (no crotalus), so this behavior wasn't new to me, but c'mon, in August. I was intrigued so I began watching the tails, the follower had it's tail in the perfect position for mating. On subsequent movements by the leader the same actions occured, this time my focus was on the tails, there was a definite goal by the follower to do the wrap around, but the leader would always shrug it off with that little rattle (hemipenes were never exposed). After about 10 minutes of this they had slowly moved into deeper bunchgrass, I couldn't observe any longer without disturbing them so I (finally) made my way back to the truck. That's all the info I have to offer, I haven't read or heard about breeding attempts that late in the year, but I'm pretty sure one of the snakes had that in mind. If anyone else has ever observed this let it be known, or at least post your thoughts on what I observed. Shane