Woodin Lab Pet Rattlesnake

About an hour ago, 3 pm Tucson time, I came across this fellow by the path from the Lab to the guest house. A couple of minutes earlier, the time it took to grab my camera, this one and another had been mating under the bench, and the male shown here did not appreciate my disturbing them. Bill always advised every visitor to be careful, especially at night.


Before you got out of the car at night, coming back from dinner out, or arriving, you shined a flashlight all around the side of the car you were getting out of before you stepped down. I am not fond of snakes, to say the least, and maybe some one up there was taking care of me, because in many visits to the lab, I never saw a rattler, just dozens of “rattler tracks” crossing the dirt road onto his property, when I walked up the the main road with Bill on his morning exercise trip to pickup his mail.

Of course, Bill and Beth had zero fear of them! Remarkable pair!

John Moss

A couple of years ago (or more) Terry Warnock (OZ) was visiting after SLICS & we went down to Bill’s. Beth came in after awhile & said one of their dogs was bothering one, but she got it & put it in a trash can for Bill. Lunch time we went out & looked in the can. Bill was very intent, & when either Terry or I moved out & back into the snakes vision again it rattled for awhile. When in the can I figured it was about 3 feel long as it was such a small pile of snake. After another awhile Bill got the tongs & we put a lid on the can & carried it over to the brush pile to free it. When he pulled it out of the can to let it go, it was an easy 6 footer.

I didn’t think to ask but I would have loved to know what Bill saw / was thinking when he was studying it in the can.

Another Bill / R-snake story when we 1st moved here I was putting in the greenhouse & there was a little Black Tail R-snake under one of the bushes. Gaye had never seen one before, so I showed it to her. So then she called Bill about what to do, his comment was, “well just enjoy it”.


On his funeral card (which I don’t have at hand) was a piece, written by Bill, describing his love for the desert and all it’s amazing creatures…only Bill, could make a Toad sound attractive!

To understand, well maybe not understand, but at least learn a whole lot more, about Bill Woodin’s fascination with nature, and the collection and study of objects of all types, people really need to read two books:

These were written by his first wife, Ann Woodin,
" Home is the Desert - A Woman’s Life with Four Sons, a Hundred Animals and the Brilliant Desert of the American Southwest" explains their fascination with nature, and the “collecting” obsession.
“In the Circle of the Sun” chronicles the adventures of Bill, his first wife (Ann) and their four kids traveling in a Volkswagen Camper Bus from India, up through Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi,Arabia, Egypt and parts of North Africa, circa 1966-67.

Many of us are somewhat familiar with Bill the cartridge guru, but cannot fully appreciate the breadth and depth of his incredibly varied life experiences without reading these two books.

Both are available in quantity at prices under $10 for the Circle of the Sun, or under $5 for Life in the desert over on http://AbeBooks.com. Just enter Ann Woodin as author and Circle or desert in the title block and it will call them up.
What an incredible man, in so many ways!


Sorry, one more. Couldn’t resist. Bill and Beth in happier times. From their memorial service program.


Glad you posted that, Mel, so others could see that photo. They were a couple that deserve to be remembered by those of our hobby, or anyone else from all the varied activities they were involved in.

John Moss

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He told me once; if I walk over the property I must walk loudly with my feet.
Well, this guy did not want me passed and Bill put the snake in a bucket to release him later in the desert. He explained, we are the guests, he lives here.

Later that day I went to the guest house and somebody don’t want to let me in.

I picked up an empty bucket and Bill sees me walking with it.
He asked me what I was doing and I told him I want to remove a snake.
He walked with me and took the bucket out of my hand, removing the snake.
I asked him if he was thinking I could not do it.

He says yes, but I could hurt the snake.


What san amazing sight to see! So jealous! Rattlesnake courtship is pretty wild and ultra fascinating.

Didn’t, Bill start the, Arizona Desert Museum way back? That facility is world famous amongst wildlife Nerds like myself and is responsible for some really impressive conservation and educational efforts. I learned of. Bill’s, phenomenal collection of ammunition threw the IAA, but it was his dedication and love for wildlife that I always admired the most. INCREDIBLE MAN AND HUMAN!


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Bill was one of the founders of the Sonora Desert Museum, but as I recall, not the main one. He was, however, curator of that facility for years. Beth was, for a time, head of the Arizona Game & Fish Department. Their accomplishments seem endless.

John Moss


I love that facility!

It is world famous and does a lot of good! One of the Curators there, is in charge of a section of the AZA’s (American Zoological Association) monthly Journal section called, “THE SHAPE OF ENRICHMENT,” that posts species specific environmental enrichment ideas to be shared amongst Zoo Keepers. Years ago, I had a few articles published threw them on enrichment ideas and techniques for prosimian primates (Lemurs & Greater Bushbabies). I always got a kick out the fact that, Bill was so instrumental in the beginning of that facility.

Yesterday afternoon I was walking back to my room for something, and under bench in Mel"s photo was one 3+ foot long rattler and behind the stone just beyond the bench was another. I decided there was nothing i needed from my room afterall!!!


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