SC Reptile and Amphibians


January 2002

Gene's notes

01-01-01 through 01-31-02

On New Year's Day, we all ate a traditional dinner (Southern) at Win's home: collard greens for cash, black-eyed peas for coins, cornbread for gold, pork for luck, and rice for... oops, I have forgotten. After the meal, I made some pictures of a captive-breed Pine Snake (with an audible). It was about 18 months old and nearly 4 feet long.

On Wednesday (01-02-02) we received some wintery weather to begin the new year. Light snow began falling in the afternoon and continued until afternoon on Thursday (01-03-02). The local accumulation was about 5 or 6 inches. It was beautiful. The next morning the outside temperature at my home had plunged to 0 F.

On Saturday (01-12-02) it began raining in late afternoon. It went out after dark, about 7:30 pm, and walked my favorite local salamander road. The temperature was in the low to middle 40s F. Although I had seen a frog hopping on the road before dark, now I found only DORs: a Marbled Salamander and Spring Peeper Frog.

Sunday (01-13-02) was a beautiful clear day. The morning low was 24 F, but the temperature rose quickly. The the snow and rains have yielded almost no surface water runoff. The farm pond was down about 2.5 feet so I started pumping water from the nearby branch into it. If the branch keeps flow, I should be able to fill the pond in a month or so. Later, I saw my first wild reptile of 2002. A young Green Anole was basking on a flower box located on the south side of my house.

On Wednesday (01-23-02) night I walked along my favorite local salamander road for about an hour. We have had some good rainfall during the week and mist was still about. Unlike most of the rain events during the last 12 months, the water levels in the branches and creeks were now nearing the top of their channels. The temperature was in the high 40s F. Disappointingly, I did not find any amphibians. When I first arrived, some Barred Owls were making their cacophony of hoots and wails. If you have never heard these sounds before they can be quite disturbing. I pulled out my camcorder to make a sound recording but when I pointed it in the direction of the owls and punched the record button, the battery was dead. I must have left it on standby the last time I used it.

The next night (01-24-02) was about 10 degrees F warmer and rains had fallen all day and were continuing. For the first time this year, I heard Chorus Frogs singing in the creek bottomlands! Later, I walked the salamander road. There were lots of small frogs about. I identified about equal numbers of Upland Chorus, Spring Peepers, and Green Tree Frogs. I saw a couple larger frogs, I think they were Leopards but I could not catch them. At last I found salamanders: 2 Slimys and 1 Red Eft. I also found a Crayfish crossing the road. Chorus Frogs could be heard in the roadside pools. At one, formed by a logging road, the Chorus Frogs were singing their hearts out and did not stop even when I approached and shown my light about. I even heard an ocassional Spring Peeper.

Friday morning (01-25-02) I saw the large creek (Rabon) had overflowed its banks and formed a lake in the bottomlands. The waters will recede in a couple day and leave isolated wetlands. This is great! The amphibians should have a good spring breeding season.

On Sunday (01-27-02) I noticed that a large dead White Oak Tree in the pasture had fallen. It died several years ago and I had been planning to get it taken down. With a trunk diameter of about 5 feet, it was too large for my chain saw. The water softened soil allowed it to topple. In the cavity where its roots had lain, I found 6 snake egg shells. Each had a slit on the side and was hollow. Looks like a successful hatching. From their size, I expect they were Black Rat Snakes.

January ended with several days of absolutely beautiful, balmy weather. I even got bitten by a mosquito.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

Week ending 01-06-02

Hello to All,

It is winter. Not much happening this week

Tuesday (1-1-02), A new day. A new week. A new year. I started off the year by going to the River Pasture with some students. They were excited about seeing Spotted and Marbled Salamanders. The Spots were #1 and #4, under the "good log" as expected. We also probed some cow pies to find the tiny Scarabs (with copper elytras). Saw a Red-Headed Woodpecker.

Wednesday (1-2-02), By 2 PM it began to snow. By bed-time, we had about 2 inches.

Thursday (1-3-02), Snow was about 4 inches deep locally. It snowed until about 1 PM, so we had about 23 hours, but for part of the day it was above freezing and much of it was melting, even as more was falling. We could have ended up with much more.

Sunday (1-6-02), Cold rains melted some of the snow. Not much left now.

What to do in 2002? I plan to continue to enjoy South Carolina!

  1. I will try to collect Tiger Beetles in every SC county: 24 already done, 22 to go.
  2. I will try to collect Dragonflies in every SC county: 28 already done, 18 to go. {These will be saved for the Clemson University Arthropod Collection and/or the South Carolina State Museum.}
  3. I will try to catch a Snake in every SC county: 28 already done, 18 to go.
  4. Any odd, rare, or unusual snakes/herps will be collected for photographers and certainly reported to the DNR and PARC.
  5. I still wish to catch all varieties of South Carolina's snakes. I lack Eastern Milksnake and Timber Rattlesnake (Mountain varieties); Southern Hognose, Glossy Crayfish Snake, and Rainbow Snake (Coastal Plains varieties). Any suggestions or ideas on these would be welcomed

Seems like a fun year could be shaping up, and it will be March in about 7 weeks!

Week ending 01-13-02

A typical winter week. Not dreadfully cold. Not nice and pretty.

Monday (1-7-02), I checked the Salamanders at the river pasture. Same two Spotteds, same two Marbleds.

Wednesday (1-9-02), Set some small mammal traps (live traps) on campus. Baited with canned salmon.

Thursday (1-10-02), The last of the snow melted. It was warm enough for me to wear shorts to work. We found Green Anoles out in good numbers but low to the ground (so they could easily return to the safety of their overnight "dens"). We kept one as a feeder item. We broke off the tail and used drops of lizard blood to make some pinky mice more appealing to young Rat and Milk Snakes. The rest of the lizard went to a Scarlet King that has fed only on Lizards, since we got him in 97 or 98.

Friday (1-11-02), Got a box of books in from ZOOBOOKS. Every year I have a chance to buy academic supplies for my classroom. I had already received some stuff from Carolina (books and nets) and was eager to open the new stuff. Titles include:

William Brown's work on Timber Rattlers;
Herp Help by Flank;
Fantastic Frogs by Walls;
Snakes in Question by Ernst and Zug;
Venomous Snakes of the World by Mara;
A Guide to the Mammals of the Southeastern United States by Larry Brown;
Rattler! by Mattison;
Snakes of the US and Canada, Keeping Them Healthy in Captivity, V.I by Rossi;
Snakes, A Natural History by Sterling;
Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia (my copy back at home now) ; and
World's Most Spectacular Reptiles and Amphibians.

Still waiting on some stuff from Bioquip and some magazines

When I got home I had another good book in my mailbox: Scarabs of South Carolina by Harpootlian. Great day for books!

Saturday (1-12-02), Checked the live traps we had set on campus and found we had an Opossum. Female. Adult. I told the boys how to hold one, and easily did so myself. Several remained very frightened. I am year-after-year amazed that anyone could be afraid of a "possum". We marked her tail with a red ring of fingernail polish and set her free. The mark will only last a few weeks but we will put away the traps around the end of February. I don't expect to catch her next year, so a temporary mark is okay for us.

Week ending 01-20-02

Well, nothing interesting happened this week.

Found an eft (juvenile Red-Spotted Newt) hiding in a pile of damp leaves on Wednesday (1-16-02).

Found Green Anoles in fair numbers on Thursday (1-17-02). It was warm enough to wear shorts.

Checked my Spotted Salamanders on Friday (1-18-02) and all was normal (#1 and #4 present as usual).

Went to Charleston SC, Friday-Sunday. Lots of social and family obligations. Saw the expected birds/Anoles. Weather was great, but I was busy in town.

Isn't is about time for Spring?

Week ending 01-27-02

All seems well with winter passing by as expected. We have had a fair bit of rain, and some warm weather.

Thursday (1-24-02), During the morning group meeting at work, we had propped the door open for circulation, and an eft (juvenile Red-Spotted Newt) walked inside to join us. It's neat when the animals start coming indoors to get caught! At work we got a box of books and videos in from Bioquip with some great Nature Nut shows. Fun stuff. Heard the first Upland Chorus Frogs of the year. They were calling at work.

Friday (1-25-02), My son and I went by the River Pasture to check on the Salamanders. Under the "good log" was Spot #1 as expected but # 4 was gone! Into the water I suppose. There was, however, another Spotted Salamander that I didn't know. It didn't match any of the others I had seen under that log. Not a match to #1 , #2 , #3, or #4. I sketched out his head pattern and will call him Spot #5. Got another one to keep up with. More Chorus Frogs calling (Saturday 1-26-02, also).

Should be warm in the upcoming days. I hope to get outside and see what is moving.

Joey Holmes


January 31, 2002
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