Gopher Snake and Western Rattlesnake

Concept

The intention behind this piece is to introduce two California natives, the gopher snake and Western rattlesnake and to highlight some physical differences. As the image was destined for Instagram, I’ve chosen a square format and an attention-grabbing composition.

As the image is a commission/collaboration with  Things That Creep , I presented this initial sketch for review. The concept was accepted, but as I read more about the two species, I was intrigued by the harmless gopher snake’s ruse of coiling and vibrating its tail in dry grass to imitate the venomous rattlesnake. This technique of imitating a dangerous species is called  Batesian mimicry  Even though I felt the original composition was stronger and I didn’t have room in the image to discuss mimicry, this design opened the door for further discussion.

As the image is a commission/collaboration with Things That Creep, I presented this initial sketch for review. The concept was accepted, but as I read more about the two species, I was intrigued by the harmless gopher snake’s ruse of coiling and vibrating its tail in dry grass to imitate the venomous rattlesnake. This technique of imitating a dangerous species is called Batesian mimicry Even though I felt the original composition was stronger and I didn’t have room in the image to discuss mimicry, this design opened the door for further discussion.

rattler vs gopher_2.jpg
Pupil shape differs in the two species, and is a great way to differentiate between venomous and non-venomous species. Labelling this would have crowded the image, but getting it right and making the pupils highly visible paves the way for further discussion.

Pupil shape differs in the two species, and is a great way to differentiate between venomous and non-venomous species. Labelling this would have crowded the image, but getting it right and making the pupils highly visible paves the way for further discussion.

Final image

As all imagery was created digitally, the elements are modular, and can be easily reformatted in future to include more/different information or fit a different page size.

rattler vs gopher 6.jpg