Prairie Rattlesnakes in Summer

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Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth [Bradypus variegatus]One day last week our friend Mark, a neighbor called to tell us about the 2 prairie rattlesnakes not far from his house outside of what he suspected last year was a snake den. As wildlife photographers we couldn't resist this opportunity. With camera gear in our arms we flew up the road in the rural area of Colorado where we live. A quick hike through the woods and there in the sun were two rattlers, one smaller and darker than the other, and the two had been hanging around that spot for a couple days. With just one quick warning rattle as we approached, the pair relaxed as they grew accustomed to our presence while we gave them their space as we photographed. Not a problem. They lay there in the sun and then the shade as they thermo-regulated. They became so comfortable with our being there, the two proceeded with their beautiful mating "dance". The larger male approached the female, circling oh-so-slowly and tenderly around her coiled body as he massaged her with short forward movements. This mating ritual continued for perhaps 20 minutes before they joined, separated and joined again. What an experience, what a joy and what a rare honor for us as voyeurs to have witnessed this affair. Almost needless to say.... fun was had by all. And in about 90 days, there will be live-born little rattlers to help keep our rodent population down. Only dangerous if threatened, rattlesnakes do us all a great service.
Barbara Magnuson & Larry Kimball
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