Snakes in California that stand on their heads

Sunday 23rd October 2022



I came across the following very peculiar story in The Desert Magazine of April 1939:

ā€¯Independence (a town in California) “Hunting snakes which have the peculiar practice of standing on their heads and diving under the sand,through which they scoot along underground as fast as they can travel on the surface,Walt Wilhelm and his brother Al went into Death Valley. The two sportsmen-hunters had heard tall tales told by prospectors about these strange snakes and about lizards as long as a mans arm living in the same neighbourhood. They now report they found these reptiles ,although not of the size reported by the prospector. The Wilhelms say they took several fine specimens of the lizards,actually saw the snakes subterranean journeyings.” As far as I know there are no known snakes that behave like this,so could they really have been ground squirrels seen from a distance? See image.

Richard Muirhead
Richard Muirhead has been a friend of the CFZ longer than anyone else. He first ,et Jon Downes in 1970 when they were both living in Hong Kong. They have been friends ever since.