|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|This is an rather upset Trans-pecos Ratsnake (Bogertophis subocularis). They are sometimes known by snake afficianados as "subocs" or "bogeys", both derivatives of the scientific name (and the basis for my picture title).|
Trans-pecos Ratsnakes are reasonably common nocturnal snakes that are restricted to the Chihuahuan Desert of North America. They are found in the US states of New Mexico and Texas and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Durango.
This snake was photographed on the road around midnight near the small town of Pandale, Texas. This species is rarely seen during the day, in fact, in this sparsely occupied part of the US, the are most often seen at night crossing roads. Many people who live in these areas never see this gentle predators. When seen at night, they have a tendency to freeze, which makes them easy to overlook.
Trans-pecos Ratsnakes reach around 5-6 feet in total length. This was a large male that was easily 5 feet long. They are nocturnal hunters in rocky areas of their Chihuahuan Desert home where they prey on rodents and lizards. The often hunt for their prey while it is sleeping in rocky crevices at night. Like most ratsnakes, they are tremendous climbers and it is not uncommon to find them climbing vertical cliff faces and roadcuts in their desert home.
This snake was unusual for a Trans-pecos Ratsnake. This species is known for its placid disposition and gentle manner. You can generally reach down and pick up this species in the wild with no fear of them biting. Newly hatched babies can be a little defensive, but by the time they are a year old they are among the most inoffensive of serpents.
This big fellow, however, had not read the field guide. When I approached him, he reared up and assumed this "ferocious" defensive position, rattling his tail and making the occasional weak strike.
Fortunately, as well as being normally placid, even aggressive Trans-pecos Ratsnakes have an unusually gentle bite. They are, of course, totally harmless and their rare bites don't often draw blood and are little more than a scratch. I had no concern lying down on this (seldom travelled!) road and taking a face to face picture from a few feet away.
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- [2005-10-18 21:59]
That's a great POV, Chris. I love the way he is holding his head. Sharp details and good light on this ratsnake. Your going through the trouble of getting down on the road to take this shot was certainly worthwhile. Very interesting shot, and TFS. : )
Nice photo and a very interesting note Chris. I've also found that animals don't necessarily behave as the field guides say. Nature is full of surprises. I'm glad you photographed this snake instead of running over it, like some people would have done. TFS!
An interesting tale (no pun intended). Certainly looks very agressive and for a night time shot it quite well exposed.