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acrylic on illustration board 20" x 12"
|Rattlesnakes survive cold winters by hibernating, usually communally, in small caverns called hibernacula. Returning to the site in autumn, they spend more time inside the hibernaculum as the weather gets colder, and daytime sunning sessions outside of the entrance become less frequent as they become less effective. The process is reversed in the spring, with the snakes spending a week or so sleeping in the cavern at night and basking outside during the warmest hours before finally dispersing. Until a decade ago, the rattlesnakes of much of the western U.S. were considered members of a single species, Crotalus viridis. Since then, it's become clear that C. viridis represented a large complex that taxonomists are still trying to disentangle. The Great Basin Rattlesnake, which ranges from southeastern Oregon through most of Nevada, western Utah and southern Idaho, has gone from a subspecies of C. viridis to a subspecies of C. oreganus, the first species to be split from the group. Today, it's generally given its own species, C. lutusos, which is likely to see further future splitting.|