This is an old photograph, taken 19 May 2009 at Bruneau Dunes State Park in Idaho. I happened to run across this photo and was reminded of a great morning in field. I was looking for tiger beetles (what else?) and ran across several of these beautiful snakes. Beyond the beauty of their appearance, the snakes were moving in the sidewinding fashion – this is poetry in motion. Sidewinding is a mode of travel, used by snakes on low friction surfaces where the body of the snake has contact in two spots and the rest is lifted and moved ahead. This leaves a set of tracks, but the tracks do not explain the movement. The most incredible thing about witnessing sidewinding was the sound the sand made as the snake moved – wasn’t prepared for that.
Crotalus viridis, the western rattlesnake, is a protected species in Idaho. In addition to habitat loss, these beautiful and beneficial creatures are killed on sight by many people just because they can.
So, there you have it: a beautiful, still morning (out before the tiger beetles wake up) shared with several sidewinding rattlesnakes – definitely something worth crawling out of your sleeping bag for!