Things got a bit more exciting today at the Castle when one of our biologists showed up at the visitor center with a bucket full of surprises!
Not only did I get to see my first western diamondback rattlesnake today, I got to hold it, too. For the past twelve years we've participated in a regional telemetry study of rattlesnake mortality. Herpetologists have been capturing snakes and, if they are big enough, implanting them with microchips and transmitters that enable them to find each individual. It's a fascinating project that has already influenced how the park manages its rattlesnake population.
Today, Matt (our resident herp-nerd) used a receiver to find this particular snake who had been captured several years ago. Once he caught it, he needed to determine its sex (it was a male), measure it, weigh it and evaluate its general health. My job was to make sure its head stayed in the tube.
It really was a beautiful snake. And the people who crowded around to watch and learn about it (I lost count at 60) all left with smiles on their faces and an experience they'll never forget.
Sonja had an exciting day, too, although I have a feeling she feels fortunate that she did not get to see a snake. She spent the day on horseback exploring the desert south of Camp Verde. I guess her horse (his name was Spooks) was pretty docile, so she didn't really have to worry about it getting too rambunctious. She also said Spooks was rather wide, so Sonja's "sitting bone" is a bit on the sore side.
Now I'm just waiting for Sonja to get me back for the April Fool's prank I played on her this morning. She's only got a couple hours left, so she better get a move on. Although, I must admit that it's hard to get me to fall for anything. I'm just too darn clever, I guess. If she's gonna succeed it's gotta be something good.