Canon Elan IIe, handheld
Sigma 105 EX Macro
Fuji Provia 100
f5.6, 1/125 second

And the award goes to...

southern hognose snake Heterodon simus

this performance by a southern hognose snake (Heterodon simus) that I spotted crossing the road. These non-venomous and harmless snakes have two means of defense that are quite entertaining (and effective). The first is flattening their head and upper body out, coiling up, and hissing loudly and menacingly, as shown above.

Should this fail (and it doesn't happen often), they fall back onto Method Two – playing dead. They roll onto their back, mouth open, and go still. Roll them onto their belly, and they'll turn onto their back again.

southern hognose snake Heterodon simusThis one went further than I'd ever seen. It put on the most amazing death throes, writhing in apparent agony and actually vomiting up some brown goo, before finally cashing in the chips. After it had 'died', I slowly circled it trying for a better camera angle – somehow, it managed to keep its eyes on me, even in death. I wanted to applaud.

And before you suspect that it had actually died, afterwards I put my equipment in the car and returned to find it heading for cover, as spry as anything.