I recently photographed a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) eating a young Gambel’s Quail (Callipepla gambelii). The snake spent over 2 hrs and 17 minutes from the time I discovered it starting to swallow the quail until it finished swallowing and readjusted its mandibles and quadrate bones. The snake was visited by harvester ants, a Red and Charcoal Seedbug (Neacoryphus lateralis), and a tarantula. In the latter photos, you can clearly see the glottis that allows breathing during this long process of swallowing, as well as evidence of the copious amounts of saliva that are produced. The flexibility and stretch of the skin and mouth structures is truly impressive. The snake was completely vulnerable during this meal and could have been captured by hand, or eaten by numerous predators.  The snake remained within 12 feet of the spot where I first found it until it finished swallowing its meal.


Tags: , ,