Monday, April 20, 2015

Trail Omens

I hike between 3 and 5 days a week on a lovely desert trail loop not far from where I live.

In the last 8 days I have encountered some unusual phenomena.

One morning within the last 8 days when I was hiking around 7:30 am I encountered a dead but perfect lizard on the trail and an hour later I saw a dead but non-damaged field mouse on the trail. Neither showed any signs of damage. It was odd that they had not been eaten by scavengers.

These animals' bodies were simply frozen. The only time I've ever encountered anything like that was a few months ago when my husband and i encountered a perfect, but also dead, young javelina on the trail. It was not a newborn, but was obviously young. It was perfectly undisturbed in death.

Last night (around 6:00 pm) while hiking I saw two unresponsive snakes stretched across trail. One was alive, but only its tongue moved upon my close inspection, while the other seemed dead. Both looked like they might be young King snakes.  The temperature was  over 85 degrees so they couldn't have been cold.

I have hiked Arizona trails for years. It is very unusual to see unresponsive snakes on the trail. Large rattle snakes think they own the trail so they won't move but they do hiss and rattle. Smaller snakes always slither off the trail when they feel the vibration from my heavy hiking boots.

I have no idea why I'm suddenly seeing unresponsive animals on the trail. There is no way of knowing what is happening to these creatures with any certainty. I regard them simply as omens of a deteriorating eco-system.


  1. I live in Cochise county AZ, and haven't seen any snakes in a while, which I've thought was odd because even in December and January on warm days I was seeing them out. Also, my neighbor and I were talking and realized we haven't seen any hawks for a month or two. This area is generally referred to as hawk alley and its a prime birding area, usually there are hawks flying over multiple times a day, or sitting almost every other telephone pole. Both these animals are at the top of the food chain, but smaller than coyote which I've noted are still quite numerous here. Also saw several deer cross my property yesterday.

    1. I've seen coyote and deer as well but the number of snakes this spring is very low. Quail have been down in number for several years.


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