And after many hours searching, on July 26th, we finally found a rattlesnake!
The snake was found crossing a road, unfortunately one half mile from preserve property. But it was close enough that we thought we should catch it so the state wildlife biologist and herpetologist, Doug Wynn, could process it and decide if it was a suitable candidate for a transmitter. With a transmitter implanted inside it's body, we could monitor the movements of this snake and potentially find its den site, leading us to more rattlesnakes!
The snake was brought to the Eulett Center where Doug Wynn met and picked it up. Determining it was a male, he decided to take it home to surgically implant a transmitter.
|Transmitter with antenna (Photo by Doug Wynn)|
|Transmitter inside snake's body (Photo by Doug Wynn)|
|Timber rattlesnake making its escape.|
|Rattlesnake moving towards tree stump (Photo by Robyn-Wright Strauss)|
|Rattlesnake entered hole, little did we know that its head went in first, but came right back out while rattle was still out.|
|(Photo by: Rich McCarty)|
The day after release, the snake moved about .3 miles uphill, and surprisingly, towards our property! By day 3, it had entered Edge property and was easily located using antenna and receiver which picks up the beeps from the transmitter.
We then tracked the snake over the next month which moved 1.7 miles in one direction before settling down on a south facing slope of the preserve.
|Notice the person in the middle of the picture, deep in brush listening to beeps of the rattlesnake. (Photo by: Rich McCarty)|
|It is not easy to see the snake on the ground. There is a rattlesnake pictured above.....but where. (Photo by: Rich McCarty)|
|This is how we typically found the snake. It sits still in this position never moving, no matter how close we may have been. (Photo by: Rich McCarty)|
Below is a video with some rattlesnake encounters.
By the end of September, the snake had left the south facing hillside and the beep from its transmitter was gone. The chase was on to relocate the snake and hope it was still on our property as winter approaches, and it should be headed to its den soon.
Unbelievably, we re-found the beep, and the snake had moved all the way back to the exact spot it was found on day 3 after release! It was within feet of where we had already once found it. It hung around this hillside for weeks, then on Oct 14, the transmitter had done its job. It led us to its hibernaculum where it will spend the winter underground. By the way, it was still on preserve property!
|We would not have guessed that these small holes in the ground that go under a piece of sandstone would be a den entrance.|
This teamed effort has helped us learn so much about this rattlesnake in such a short amount of time. The hard part was catching a rattlesnake. But after the transmitter was implanted, the snake led us on an interesting chase. We now know exactly where it traveled, how long it stayed in each place, where is hibernaculum is, what else is sharing it, whether or not it comes out to bask in the sun once inside and come next spring, we will learn so much more. Thanks to Doug Wynn, John Howard and Vince Howard for assisting the preserve on the wild hunt and chase this snake has afforded.Now we wait until spring and find out when the snakes come out of the den and what path our transmitted snake will travel in 2020.
Posted by: Mark Zloba