Monday, March 25, 2013

Sidewinder


Obviously I am not much of an herpetologist. About as close to a rattlesnake I care to get to is when they are run-over on the highway, as is this Sidewinder many years ago in Arizona's Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Sidewinders are encountered in the deserts of the far southwest (Arizona, Nevada, California, and northwestern Mexico).

Note the "horns" above its eyes. These are actually elongated eye scales, perhaps used to help shade the eyes or prevent sand from drifting over the eyes.

The Sidewinder is named for its sideways locomotion, the result of which are J-shaped marks left in the sand. You can almost see these marks in the dirt road. Other desert snakes also sidewind, as do many snakes on slippery surfaces (Wikipedia). This kind of movement is excellent for traction on sandy soils.

Wikipedia claims that Sidewinder venom, although extremely painful, is weaker than other rattlesnake poison. Nevertheless, any rattlesnake bite can be fatal. Remember my warning in the last post on the Prairie Rattlesnake: recently deceased snakes retain the reflex to strike.

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