SC Reptile and Amphibians


October 2000

Gene's notes from October 23 - 29

Our weather has been warm and dry, but I saw only a few herps. I saw a couple of DORs: a Box Turtle and a Copperhead. I still see a few of this year's hatchling Anoles and Fence Lizards scurrying about. At the pond, the Painted Turtles are still basking; although I have not seen the Softshell Turtles lately. A few frogs still jump into the water as I approach.

Friday, I checked the spring for Three-lined Salamanders. I counted seven. Last year at this time, there were 19 in the same spring well. It has been very dry lately. We have not had significant rain in over a month now. This is the third year of serious drought and the water level in the well is the lowest it has ever been, only about 14 inches. Perhaps the drought is retarding the movement of the salamanders.

Saturday night, after watching Win perform in a play, "The Haunting of Hill House," at the Abbeville Opera House, I found a Northern Brown Snake on a road near home.

As expected, prime herping time has passed. When we get some rains, I expect to start finding salamanders on the roads at night. After January, the frogs will start gathering. There may be one or two notable local snake observations in November.

As I have done in the past, I will begin posting our field observations on a monthly basis for the period November through February. If anything spectacular occurs I will make a special posting and flag it on the index page. I plan to add some more stories and other informational articles to the site during the next few months. With the help of friends and fellow herpers, I will continue to add images to the species database. Also, I will continue working on educational projects with PARC and any of you who are interested.

It has been a good herping year. More notes at the end of November. Remember to check the "What's New" listing when you visit again.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes from October 23 - 29

I must say the fall colors do (kind of) grow on you. When the number of leaves on the trees gets reduced like it is now, more light comes down into the forest. It seems like light is directly hitting every leaf! Great colors! Few Herptiles.

I have done a bit of herping, and seen very little. One afternoon while out and about, my son and I found a dried mud-hole in a dirt road. Carefully we lifted dried pads of mud/clay and found a Fowler's Toad under one, and some Cricket Frogs scattered about here and there. I still find Anoles very common and sometimes at work one must take care not to step on them accidentally. No snakes, no turtles, a few butterflies, and today I saw my first dragonfly in almost a week. It is really slowing down.

I did see another Harrier this week, which to me is a sure sign of cold days coming.

I hope as your seasons are winding down you can reflect on the warm days of spring, and of summer and fall, and say, "I had a good year."

Take care,

Joey Holmes


Gene's notes from October 16 - 22

Near home this week I saw a DOR Southern Copperhead and a DOR Corn Snake. Anoles are still scampering about. I found a Slimy Salamander under a board. Win found a newborn Southern Ringneck Snake.

The big herping events for this week were a meeting, workshop, and field trip held in association with the annual meeting of the Gopher Tortoise Council held at Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (SREL) facilties in Aiken County. Win and I attended a meeting of the SE PARC Education/Outreach Sub-Working Group on Thursday night. We also stayed for a workshop on Conservation and Management of Upland Snakes held on Friday. We were not able to stay for the Gopher Tortoise Meeting on Saturday; however, on Sunday I drove back down for a field trip to the Webb Wildlife Center in Hampton County. All of these events were very interesting and the comaraderie with fellow herpers from around the Southeast and elsewhere was great. I have lot of pictures. I plan to post some notes on these events later this week.

During breaks at the workshop on upland snakes, some attendees explored he local environs. I heard reports of people seeing the usual skinks and Anoles. Also, one person found a Three-Lined Salamander. The biggest find was an Eastern Coral Snake, around 20 inches in length. Earlier, Tony Mills of SREL had shown the attendees another Coral Snake which a local businessman had caught the day before. Last Fall, Jerry Henshaw, Manager of Aiken State Park, caught 2 Coral Snakes at the Park. Warm Fall days appear to be the best times to find Coral Snakes in Aiken County.

Sunday afternoon, on the drive back home from the fieldtrip to the Webb Wildlife Center, I saw my first live Nine-banded Armadillo on the roadside near Tillman, SC. Further up the road, near Barnwell, I found a becoming-DOR Canebrake Rattle Snake, about 28 inches in length.

In addition to event notes, I have additional pictures which I will be posting.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes from October 16 - 22

"And so, the colorful leaves are cradled by the gentle winds, and lowered carefully to the earth." Yeah, right! It's Fall! I will admit the fall colors can be quite beautiful, but to me it signals the ending of a herping season and forced hibernation.

I have had some nice birds to look at this week. Meadowlarks, Kestrel, and Blue-Wing Teal (another sure sign of fall) have all caught my eye. Still seeing some nice Butterflies but none we had not already seen in previous weeks. Dragonflies have been few and far between. Anoles, Ground Skinks, Slimy Salamanders are still around, sometimes in high numbers. I flipped a lot of tin this week, but found more Black Widow Spiders underneath than anything else.

On Monday (10-16-00) I had some spare time and herped around after lunch. Found 2 Black Racers and a Southern Ringneck Snake. All under cover. Found a Chestnut Tree in one old house site. I don't see many of these. Also found a C. repanda (Tiger Beetle) by the edge of a pond where I've not found them before.

Wednesday (10-18-00) after dark I found a DOR Copperhead so I know some snakes are still moving.

Thursday (10-19-00) I found a Cricket Frog inside the main building on Campus. Cleaned cages and fed the herps. My big American Toad ate a small (weaned) mouse. Makes a dad proud.

On Friday (10-20-00) lots of folks gathered for a Snake Conservation Meeting at SRS. Unfortunately I couldn't make it. Still hard to schedule a day off right now.

Saturday (10-21-00) Appalachian State played Wofford. We collected feeder Anoles (for the Everglades Ratsnakes), Ground Skinks (for the Sinaloan Milks), and frogs (Cricket, Green) and toads to feed the Ribbon Snakes. We also rounded up some crickets/grasshoppers for the Skink, Glass Lizard, and Warmouth Bream. All fed well. I did notice that my biggest (pinky eating) Sinaloan baby had died! Bummer! May have eaten too much or swallowed some chunks of substrate (cypress mulch) with a meal. After work we had dinner with brother Jeff who had come from the Snake Conservation Conference. He reported a good meeting and also said that someone driving in, less than 2 minutes behind him picked up a AOR Eastern Coralsnake! Wow! Fall seems to be the time for Corals in that area.

Also this week I've had 2 people speak to me about having read these reports and stories on the website. Neat.

Joey Holmes


Gene's notes from October 9 - 15

The first of the week brought some killing frost. I read 20 F on two mornings. My home is in a valley and we often see temperatures about 10 deg. F lower than reported by the Greenville Airport. The kudzu foliage is dead and many tree leaves are turning golds and reds. Temperatures increased as the week progressed. We were in the 80s by week's end.

Tuesday morning, while driving past a beaver pond near Laurens, I noticed an Anhinga perched on tree branches near the water surface. Aftering turning my truck around, I was able to catch a picture before the bird dove into the water. This bird is also known as a "Snakebird" because it often swims with its body submerged and only the head on its long, slender neck visible above water.

On Thursday morning I came upon a couple of Turkey Vultures warming themselves in the sunshine. I have been trying to get a decent picture of a Turkey Vulture for the last several years. Turkey Vultures are much shyer than Black Vultures. In the past, every time I would attempt a shot, the Turkey Vultures would fly away before I could get close enough. This time, however, the night had been cold and they were reluctant or too stiff to leave.

Saturday promised to be a beautiful, warm day. Win and I drove south to Aiken County in hopes of finding some interesting snakes. Our first snake sighting got our juices pumping. It was a large Canebrake Rattle Snake, about 42 inches. Unfortunately it was DOR. Someone had recently killed it and removed the rattles. We noticed a significant rock outcropping along a powerline right-of-way about a half mile away. (Rock outcroppings are not very common in the Sandhills.) We looked around the rocks, thinking the snake may have been heading toward a den, but we saw no signs that a den was present.

Moving on down the road, we stopped at my favorite location for Brown Water Snakes. It is at a boat landing below a bridge on the South Edisto River. We did not see any snakes. Someone had abandoned a white kitten which was eager to find a home. Living near a river bridge, I find it puzzling why people prefer to dump their unwanted pet cats and dogs near river bridges.

We continued to drive promising roads and search some interesting areas. We found DOR an Eastern Garter Snake and a Black Racer but no live snakes. We did find a Southern Red Salamander in some leaf mulch, saw several Fence Lizards and Six-lined Racerunners, and pickup an enormous (5 inch) Mantis which attracted Win's attention by making so much noise as it walked through leaves.

Sunday was another beautiful day. I looked into the concrete-cased spring pool at the farm and saw a Three-lined Salamander. It was a male and had already attached spermatophores in the water. This is the third consecutive year that I have recorded Three-lined Salamanders returning to the spring in October. After leaving the spring, I flipped some boards and tin and found a Ground Skink and a Slimy Salamander.

Not wishing to give up on a good herping day, I road cruised locally during late afternoon. I first came upon a DOR Copperhead, about 24 inches long. After making a couple circuits over the same route, I came upon an AOR Copperhead, about 36 inches long.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes from October 9 - 15

Hello to all.

Been busy this week with things other than nature. Setting up our new mouse building on campus has occupied much of my time (insulating, paneling, etc). Other family obligations have been present also. Several mornings we had serious frosts, but later in the week the temps went back into the low 80's.

I did get to flip a fair amount of tin/boards this week, but only found 1 Southern Ringneck Snake. Slimy Salamanders have been out also under some boards. On Saturday (10-14-00), we collected feeder Anoles/Ground Skinks on campus and tossed them in to some baby Everglades Ratsnakes that seem to be reluctant to take pinkies. Those guys were all over the anoles in a matter of minutes. Very good. We collected a dozen anoles in less than 20 minutes and had time to loose several. We may have to make use of this resource until they can get switched to pinks. After work my son and I went to the pond. We found a Cricket Frog and Fowlers Toad, plus a Slimy Salamander. A pair of White-Tail Dragonflies were the only Dragonflies we found. On Sunday (10-15-00), we had family time and a picnic by the Enoree River. Found C. repanda (Tiger Beetles) to still be plentiful. Found 3 nice Marbled Salamanders under a log (the real good salamander log). Saw a Question Mark, Red Admiral, Gulf Fritillary, and Monarch Butterflies.

As it gets later and later in the year we are seeing things wind down. I find myself watching the sky on cool clear nights, rather than road cruising. During the days, we are switching to inside work, and setting up the new Mouse House has been quite a project. Nature will still have plenty to offer in this calendar year, and I look forward to every bit of it.

Joey Holmes


Gene's notes from October 2 - 8

This week's weather was a beautiful. There were a lot of snakes moving, evidenced by the numerous DORs which I saw. Unfortunately, I did not see any AORs. DORs included Black Rats, Corns, Eastern Kings, Eastern Garters, a Copperhead, an Eastern Hognose, and a Rough Green.

On Wednesday afternoon I teamed with two visiting herp enthusiasts, one from upstate New York and the other from Chicago. They were in town attending a BMW car owners club meeting. Our first find of note was a recently DOR Eastern Hognose. It was a young adult black-phase still showing some pattern. We saw a couple other DORs, including a fine specimen of a "windshield wiperblade" snake. We turned over a few rotting logs in Greenwood County and found an adult male Marbled Salamander in the alluvial plain of a small creek. Marbleds are fall breeders; I expect the male had moved down to await the arrival of females. This was a first for the visitors. We did not find many herps, but we had a good time swapping stories and being outdoors.

I did not find much of interest the rest of the week. It turned cool on Saturday and colder on Sunday. I picked up an adult Anole catching a few warm rays. I made a detailed picture of his undersides, showing the footpads.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes from October 2 - 8

Not much to say. Early in the week we were in the high 80's. Monday (10-2-00), I did find a Smooth Earth Snake. Nice. I also saw a Harrier, which is a sure sign of cool weather comming on. On Wednesday (10-4-00), I went for a little road cruise right after dark and found 2 nice Copperheads AOR. Other parts of the week were filled with yardwork, inside work, and family stuff.

I did intend to report last week finding a very small Narrowmouth Toad near the pond. Never seen anything but the normal-sized adults. This little guy was cute.

Of course, we see the usual Anoles and tiny Fowlers Toads almost daily. Also, Monarchs (passing through) and other Butterflies, as well as a few dragonflies.

Joey Holmes


Gene's notes from September 25 - October 1

On Monday, I saw several AOR Box Turtles and a couple DORs; a DOR Mole King Snake; a DOR Southern Copperhead; plus 2 other DOR snakes too badly mangled to ID. Win saw a large AOR Black Racer.

During the remainder of the week I saw a couple more mangled DOR snakes, probably Black Rats. The temperature turned a little colder, dipping into the high 40s at night. I did not do any night road cruising.

As happens every Fall, the number of mammals killed on the roads increases dramatically. I have seen many DOR Gray Squirrels, Oppossums, Racoons, Striped Skunks, and White-Tail Deer, plus a couple Gray Foxes. There are a lot of beautiful raptors in the sky. I keep catching a glimpse of one that looks like a Merlin but it is always flying away into the distance. It could be a Kite.

The fall flowers are beautiful. I plan to take some pictures soon.

A pretty slack week for herping. Next week promises to be better.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes from September 25 - October 1

Cooler temps have been the weather trend for the week. Some animals have been moving. I've seen several DORs including Copperheads, Eastern Kings, Racers, and Ratsnakes. Small Fowlers Toads (this years young) Anoles and Fence lizards are still quite common and very easy to find.

Monday (9-25-00): flipped some tin here and there. found nothing of interest.

Tuesday (9-26-00): Moved our rodent breeding operation to a new building on campus. Not as spacious, but has great potential!

Wednesday (9-27-00): On Campus, I took my class into the woods. We checked tin/plywood coverboards and found an Eastern Worm Snake and Southern Ringneck Snake.

Thursday (9-27-00): Yard work.

Friday (9-28-00): On campus I had my class put out some tin in a sunny area between some pines and hardwoods. We raked back to bare earth and placed the tin. While out in the woods we checked the tin/plywood. We found several Slimy Salamanders and an Eastern Worm Snake. After work, on the way home, I stopped by and overgrown field I know with some tin. Got a Black Racer. It was an adult, pre-shed, and under the tin near a Black Widow Spider. I wondered do these animals ever have conflicts? At home I cut a section of my property that doesn't get mowed very often. Saw a fair number of (various sized) Hispid Cotton Rats. Great Mammals! One of my favorites.

Saturday (9-29-00): Cage cleanings at work was as close as I got to active herpetology.

Joey Holmes


October 29, 2000
Gene Ott

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