Speckled Rattlesnake ( Crotalus mitchellii )

The Speckled Rattlesnake is fairly common pit viper found in southern California, southern Nevada, western Arizona and south-western Utah and down the Pacific coast into Baja California.  A moderate size snake, this animal typically does not exceed 39 inches in length.  As with most animals, the Speckled Rattlesnake is a master of disguise and commonly are colored to compliment the surrounding rock.  This viper can range from pink, cream, tan or pale blues and grays.  This feature I can personally attest to as I witnessed and entire Cub Scout Pack literally step over the specimen photographed below while hiking on a camping trip in the Valley of Fire State Park just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Juvenile Speckled Rattle Snake found in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

A Juvenile Speckled Rattle Snake found in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

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Desert Tortoise

One of  the more unique and quite frankly cool animals found in the Mojave Desert is the Desert Tortoise.  My family has a connection with this nomad of the dessert in that during the spring of 1942, my grand parents inherited three desert tortoises when they purchased and moved into a house in Ontario, CA.

Hands Off

Hands Off


My grandmother quickly named and adopted her new pets.  She and my grandfather struck up a deal with a local grocery store to donate lettuce and other vegetables to my grandmother to care for the tortoises.  By the time I was born, the three tortoises became a populations of about 20 animals.  Some of my earliest memories was to help her wake up the “turtles” from their hibernation, during which she stored the animals in a  large box along with a bunch of news paper clippings to help insulate them a little bit from the California winters.

Over the years, those three tortoises expanded their family and ours into a breeding population of over 70 animals.   Eventually, we donated the captive born tortoises to several zoo’s, shelters, and rescue to care for the animals.  All in all, my family raised and cared for desert tortoises for about 60 years, the ownership of which was legal because family documentation and the fact that all of the animals were born in captivity.

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Mojave Goldfish

Over Presidents day weekend, my wife and I were travelling back from Big Bear, CA to our house after a visit with family towards our home in Las Vegas.  Frequently, my wife will point out an old road or mine and comment that we need to take that trail someday.  During out drive home, we were talking about the mining district in Mountain Pass and the Evening Star mine.  This is one of the great reasons for owning a 4×4 and the Mojave Desert is a prime location to explore.

A live stock watering trough in the Mojave Desert.. Photograph by James L Rathbun

A live stock watering trough in the Mojave Desert.. Photograph by James L Rathbun

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