Lummiss Pichu Cuate

Small, deadly SNAKE of southwestern North America.

Etymology: Pichucuate is a generic name given in the Southwest and Mexico to snakes believed to be venomous. It has been applied to the Cantil (Agkistrodon bilineatus) and Mexican lyre snake (Trimorphodon tau) of Mexico and the Narrow-headed garter snake (Thamnophis ru-fipunctatus) in Arizona.

Physical description: As thick as a pencil. Gray

302 lukwata above, rosy below. Head the size of a man's fingernail. Horns above the eyes. Tiny fangs. Extremely quick-acting, deadly venom.

Behavior: Buries itself in the sand to await prey. Habitat: Desert.

Distribution: Mexico; Arizona; New Mexico. Significant sightings: Charles Lummis met with this snake on three occasions, the first in June 1889 in Valencia County, New Mexico. The Pueblo Indians, for whom rattlesnakes are a familiar totem, avoid it entirely. Present status: Possibly extinct. Possible explanations:

(1) The Mexican horned pitviper (Ophryacus undulatus) has supraocular horns but is a semiarboreal snake found only in the mountains of southern Mexico. Its range may have been more extensive in the past.

(2) The Black-tailed montane pitviper (Porthidium melanurum) also has supraocular horns, but it has a distinctly black tail and lateral stripes and is also limited to Mexico.

Sources: Charles F. Lummis, The King ofthe Broncos, and Other Stories of New Mexico (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1897); Chad Arment, "Notes on Lummis' Pichu-cuate," North American BioFortean Review 2, no. 3 (December 2000): 5-10, http://www.

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