SC Reptile and Amphibians


May 2002

Week ending 06-02-02

Gene's notes

The weather changed from cold last week to excessively hot this week. The number of DOR snakes and turtles that I saw decreased significantly; probably due to the heat and lack of rain.

Thursday night (05-30-02) I found a juvenile Copperhead on the road as I drove home from work. I stopped and urged it to move off. On Friday night (05-31-02) and Sunday night (06-02-02) I road cruised but saw no snakes.

There was an excellent article in a local newspaper, The Anderson Independent Mail, about venomous snake bite. The article ran on Sunday (06-02-02).

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

This week has seen a return of hot weather. Lots of animal activity. Too many road kills. Heartbreaking.

Monday (5-27-02), MEMORIAL DAY. My greatest thanks and respect to America's Heros.

Tuesday (5-28-02), Loaded my son and my nephew into the truck and took off for the SC mountains. With ambitions for Timber Rattlesnake, Eastern Milksnake and 3 rare Tiger Beetle species found only in the mountains. We explored along SC 11 (from I-26 to I-85) with side trips to Rocky Bottom (Pickens Co) where we found a Northern Ringneck Snake, and Tiger Beetles (Cicindela sexguttata) and a side trip to Devils Fork State Park on Lake Jocassee. At Jocassee the water levels seemed very low and there was lots of exposed shoreline. We swam/snorkeled/kayaked and enjoyed the park. There, we found a Northern Watersnake, Dusky Salamanders, and Tiger Beetles (C. sexguttata and C. repanda) in good numbers. Other interesting finds here and there along the way, were Eastern Box Turtles, Six-Lined Racerunners, Fence Lizards, and I finally managed to collect a Dragonfly (Calico Pennant) in Pickens County. In Oconee County there was a set of snake eggs under a fallen billboard. I will hatch them to get an ID. It was a long day. Enjoyable day, but I am beginning to think Eastern Milksnakes/Timber Rattlesnakes/Cicindela patruela/Cicindela purpurea/Cicindela splendida are all mythical and I am just wasting time in "Crypto-Zoology". Where are they? How many trips will it take to catch them? What am I doing wrong or not doing right? Very perplexing.

Wednesday (5-29-02), Found a Black Ratsnake AOR and escorted him to the safety of the roadside forest. One of my Corn Snakes at work dropped a nice looking set of eggs.

Thursday (5-30-02), No fun outdoors.

Friday (5-31-02), Loaded the car and off for the SC Coast. Beaufort County. Family fun. Made a little stop along the way and flipped some tin. No animals, but it is always a thrill to know that under that next piece of tin could lie a Canebrake? Coral Snake? Southern Hognose? Well, they weren't there, but sand and Turkey Oak leaves is a nice change of pace for me.

Saturday (6-1-02), We hit the beach! Hunting Island State Park. Surf, Sand, and Sun! Immediately we found a gorgeous Tiger Beetle (Cicindela dorsalis media) running across the sand. As the morning went by we saw good numbers of C. marginata and more C. dorsalis media. We also saw Seaside Dragonlets, assorted coastal birds, various tide pool creatures, and a gorgeous sunset.

Sunday (6-2-02), We had to come on home from the coast, but did manage to make several stops. We explored and photographed the Sheldon Ruins. In Colleton County we looked but found no Tiger Beetles. I did collect a Colleton County Dragonfly (Eastern Pondhawk) and my son enjoyed swimming in the Cumbahee River for a few minutes. Further up the road, I braved the heat (101 F, according to the bank we had passed in Walterboro) to hunt Tiger Beetles in Dorchester County. Got a C. sexguttata (another new county record).

Summer is here. Enjoy it.

Joey Holmes

Week ending 05-26-02

Gene's notes

This was a strange week temperature-wise. Overnight temperatures plunged to 35 F on Wednesday morning (05-22-02)! Nights stayed cool until the weekend, but daytime temps rose to pleasantly warm.

I saw a few DOR black snakes during the week and a couple AOR and DOR Box Turtles. I did not get to do any herping until I road cruised Sunday (05-26-02) from sundown until the rising full moon began to turn from orange to yellow. Fowlers Toads were abundant; a few frogs were out but I did ID them. I found a DOR juvenile Copperhead; then passed an AOR snake which disappeared before I could stop and backup; and lastly, found an AOR adult Northern Brown Snake.

I received some nice pictures of a "Green" Rat Snake found in North Carolina.

The adult male Cooper's Hawk is still making appearances at my work office building in Greenville. He alights on the ledges and looks at his reflection in the glass walls. I have not seen a potential mate for a couple of months now; nor have I seen any activity at the nest which I had hoped was occupied. I did get a picture of a fledging American Robin in the parking lot shrubbery.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

The weather was unseasonably cool this week. Early in the week the daytime highs didn't get much above 70 degrees F. Nightly lows went into the 40s. But Snakes still moved. At least that's what the DORs indicated. I found Black Ratsnakes, Black Racers, Eastern Kingsnakes and Eastern Hognose snakes; all as road kills here locally. Box Turtles also suffered losses. With cool nights it would have been great weather to flip tin/boards early in the morning and late in the evening. Herps would have been under cover during these cool times. I would like to have hunted more, but had a lot of other (very important) things competing for my attention. I did get out some later in the week.

Thursday (5-23-02), With a cool evening and a few spare minutes, I flipped some plywood and found a small Copperhead.

Saturday (5-25-02), It was warming up nicely. In the morning, we found a nice little female Black Ratsnake in the forest behind my classroom. We also collected some very small crayfish in the little creek and offered them to the Glossy Crayfish Snake and the little guy ate one! Cool! After work, a friend came over from Clemson to herp hunt a little. We went to some spots in Laurens County and found Eastern Narrowmouth Toad, Fowlers Toad, Southern Leopard Frogs, Eastern Mud Turtle, Fence Lizards, Five-Lined Skink, Broadhead Skink, Ground Skinks, Black Racer, Southern Ringneck Snake, Rough Earth Snake (not a bad find in Laurens County), Brown Snake, and a Copperhead. Not bad. Here at my house (Spartanburg County) we checked the tin and found a baby black Ratsnake and a Southern Ringneck Snake that oddly had no belly pattern. Looked just like a Northern Ringneck, but all ours here in this area are Southerns. Just an odd one. After dark at the pond , we found Green Treefrogs, Cricket Frogs, Green Frog, Bull Frog, Fowlers Toads, and heard tons of Gray Treefrogs. The calling/noise was quite impressive. I had a fun afternoon/evening. I hope my friend did also.

Sort of a slow week. May get better next time.

Joey Holmes

Week ending 05-19-02

Gene's notes

I did not get to herp any this week. Saw a few DOR black snakes on the road. Worked in my office all weekdays and spent most of the weekend with family. The family, including my mother-in-law who is 96 years old and granddaughter who is 16 months, went to see my son, Win, play the Scarecrow in the Greenwood Community Theater's production of the Wizard of Oz. The performances and production were excellent.

Saturday (05-18-02), I visited Joey Holmes at the Piedmont Wilderness Institute. Joey had several herp specimens for photographing, including a Wood Frog, Coal Skink, Rough Earth Snake, and Glossy Crayfish Snake. I expect to post the pictures soon.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

Last week I failed to mention two neat animals we found while in the National Forest on 5-10-02. We were fortunate to find two large adult Eastern Glass Lizards. Both were on the roads and we succeeded in catching both without breaking their tails. Both were released where found.

This week has had some cool weather and some rain. Many obligations have kept me from enjoying the outdoors as much as I would like. I have noted a good bit of Reptile/Amphibian activity lately. Many road kills with Eastern Box Turtles, Black Racers, Black Ratsnakes, and Eastern Kingsnakes have been seen locally.

Monday (5-13-02), I wanted to give the Aiken/Barnwell area a try. I have caught plenty of Tiger Beetles (Cicindela repanda) along the Savannah River upstream, and downstream, but there were no records for that species in Aiken/Barnwell counties. Those beetles should be there. Plus, I had the desire to catch a snake and a dragonfly in Barnwell. Reason enough to make a drive! On the way, I remembered that catching a snake Edgefield county would be a good score. I found the Edgefield County snake, AOR. Long, thin, and brown (Coachwhip perhaps?) darting into the field beside the road. The field had short grass. It is possible to catch a Coachwhip in short grass, but when I looked in the rearview mirror, all I could see was the grill of an 18 wheeler. Not a good time to slam on the brakes! My score in Edgefield would have to wait. I continued to driv

Tuesday (5-14-02), Nothing odd, just a day at work.

Wednesday (5-15-02), Nice male Summer Tanager at work. He hangs out in a small pine tree near the Caiman pen. Gorgeous bird!

Thursday (5-16-02), Nothing odd, just a day at work.

Friday (5-17-02), Took my class on a little "nature walk" on campus. We turned tin, logs, plywood, and rocks. We found an Eastern Worm Snake under a log, and under a piece of tin we found a pair of Black Racers Mating. We tried not to disturb them. After dark, I took a little ride over to the pond. There, I found an adult Redbelly Watersnake swallowing a large Bullfrog. I called home, and my wife and son soon arrived with a camera. My son took some very nice B&W shots. I may have one blown up and framed.

Saturday (5-18-02), Gene Ott came to visit us at work. He photographed some of the animals we have in the classroom and we (my class and I) enjoyed his visit.

Sunday 5-19-02), I felt rotten. Subdued by allergies. I did get outside a bit after lunch and flipped some debris/tin. I found a Copperhead. Just what I needed to lift my spirits. Later in the evening, I flipped my tin here at home and found two of the animals that mean "MAY" to me; a baby Mole Kingsnake (under the tin) and on a small oak tree, about eye-level, was a beautiful adult male Giant Stag Beetle. Really neat animals, and worth every bit of pollen I had to endure to find them!

Hope Spring is being good to you all,

Joey Holmes

Week ending 05-12-02

Gene's notes

This week I saw a number of DOR snakes for which I could not stop and ID. Most looked like black snakes, probably Rats and Racers. I did see a DOR adult Eastern Kingsnake. The road death toll on snakes is high, but the toll on Gray Squirrels has been over-the-top this week.

On Thursday morning, I saw my first Eastern Box Turtle of the year. It was crossing a busy road. Fortunately, it did not stop and hide in its shell when cars passed. Instead, it raced across the road, moving faster than I have ever seen a Box Turtle move. Its legs were fully extended and it appeared to be running on its toes. It got off the road unharmed.

Friday evening (05-10-02), we received night rains. Saturday morning (05-11-02) I saw several live Box Turtles on the road and several DORs. That evening I made a short local cruise looking for snakes but saw none. There were many Fowlers Toads and Green Tree Frogs on the road.

Sunday (05-12-05) we had a family Mothers' Day mid-day dinner at the farm. We had 3 generations of Moms in attendance. Win and Hope brought 2 Box Turtles which had been dropped off at the pet shop where Hope works and one they picked off the highway on the drive over. Win released them at the edge of the woods.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

Here locally, there seems to be plenty of herp activity/movement going on. I am seeing lots of road-kills. Eastern Box Turtles, Black Racers, Black Ratsnakes, Eastern Kingsnakes, and Copperheads seem to really be getting hit hard. Carnage under the wheels of man.

Monday (5-6-02), Fairfield County. I knew of no county record for Cicindela sexguttata in Fairfield County. I went straight to the dirt roads near the Broad River. I drove a bit (net held low, out of the truck window, as I drove along slowly) but got nothing. So I spent a few minutes on foot, and found two C. sexguttatas. I caught one. That's enough! Leaving that area, I thought I might have a look around some boat landings on Parr Shoals in Newberry County. I found no Tiger Beetles (Looking especially for C. repanda) but did spot two watersnakes near the shoreline... Brown Watersnakes. I made a grab and got one. Neat. I hadn't caught a Brown Watersnake in a couple of years and it was nice to see (and smell) this species once again. It was especially neat to catch them in Newberry County.

Tuesday (5-7-02), Regular day at work. Later, on an evening errand, I saw a snake in road. I braked, but running back found nothing. Minutes later, I found a fresh DOR Copperhead. Immediately after that found an AOR juvenile Black Ratsnake. Wish I could have spent more time out on the roads. Seemed like a good night.

Wednesday (5-8-02), I picked up a few interesting Ground Beetles (Carabids) before work. Some at the store near campus, and some on campus. They are attracted to lights, and looking around lights prior to sunrise, can turn up some interesting specimens. Anyway, later as I was showing some really neat Calosoma to my class, one ended up crawling up my shirt. It was on my chest by the time I had it under control. I never saw anthing happen, but I began to smell it. Like feta cheese. Then my face began to burn and sting. I had been sprayed with defensive (anti-predator) chemicals! It was rather unpleasant! VERY unpleasant! I washed my face imediately in the sink and the stinging ceased. I certainly knew that most Carabids use such tactics, and have a variety of smells. I never imagined the effectiveness of some species. Really impressive! I'm just glad I wear glasses and had my mouth closed when it sprayed! Could have been worse!

Thursday (5-9-02), Hot day. Evening storm front. Would have been a great evening to road cruise, but other obligations had control of my time.

Friday (5-10-02), Road trip to the National Forest outside Charleston. We (5 students and myself) gassed up the Institute van at about 7 AM in Moncks Corner and things didn't go well from then on. The van began to skip and sputter, and a "Service Engine Soon" light began to flash. This continued all day, stressing me greatly. Oh well, likely it was just a tank of bad gas and the best thing to do: use up that gas! We hunted. In Berkley County we found 5 Eastern Cottonmouths. We also caught Tiger Beetles (Cicindela trifasciata). In Williamsburg County: another Cottonmouth, 2 Banded Watersnakes and Tiger Beetles (Cicindela punctulata). Then we opted to try some new areas of Georgetown County. These had looked good on my maps, and the habitat was nice, but we didn't find any snakes. We did well with Tiger Beetles. Getting Cicindela repanda and Cicindela trifasciata. Returning to our favorite little area, we heard an odd noise and realized that although we were 2 miles down a dirt road and 200 yards from shade, we had a flat tire! We changed the tire, ate lunch, and returned to Moncks Corner where we had to buy a new tire! Not great fun. I will say that the kids were great, and the obstacles with the van were overcome with little difficulty. A bad day in the swamp is still better than a good day on campus!

Saturday (5-11-02), Work as usual, rested in the evening.

Sunday (5-12-02), Happy MOTHERS' DAY! I checked my tin, found a neat little Red-Bellied Snake. Cool.

Joey Holmes

Week ending 05-05-02

Gene's notes

On Monday (04-29-02) I saw a DOR Redbelly Water Snake and a DOR Black Racer while commuting to work.

On Tuesday (04-30-02) I saw a DOR Copperhead Snake and an AOR small turtle (probably a Painted, but I could not stop to ID it) while commuting to work.

Thursday evening (05-02-02) was pleasantly warm and humid; just perfect weather for road cruising with the windows down. I headed out for a local cruise at dusk. After a short distance I noticed a pickup turn into a side road ahead of me. The driver waited for me to pass and then pulled out and followed me. About 200 feet farther I found the object of the other driver's attention, a writhing adult Copperhead. The snake was in the center of my lane, so the other driver had swerved into the opposing lane to run over it and was not returning to see his trophy.

Flying insects were all about. At times it seemed like I was driving through a snow flurry. A number of toads hopped on the road. I found a small DOR Redbelly Water Snake. About 20 minutes later, I found an AOR adult Midland Brown Snake. I believe it is gravid, so I am keeping it in hope of being able to make some pictures of the babies being born.

Later, I found a DOR immature Copperhead. Next, I spotted a snake hurrying to get off the road pavement. It appeared very slim, like a Rough Green Snake; however, I would guess it was a Garter Snake with its stripes accenting the impression of slimness. I quickly stopped my truck and got out as fast as I could. The snake was quicker and had disappeared into the grass.

A small White-tail Deer almost crashed into my truck as it frantically ran across the road. I had been out about 2 hours so I started making my way home. Traveling roads for the second time this night, I found a large DOR Copperhead. It was only about 50 feet from the carcass of the first Copperhead I had seen when starting out.

On Friday morning (05-03-02) I saw a DOR immature Mole Kingsnake. The weather turned cool and rainy.

Sunday afternoon (05-05-02), the skies cleared and temperatures rose into the high 70s. After returning my granddaughter to her parents in Abbeville, I drove into an area of McCormick County where there is a good population of Carolina Pigmy Rattlesnakes. Luck was with me. I found my first ever live specimen!

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

This week has had some seasonal storms, warm days, and cool nights.

Monday (4-29-02), With a few hours to spend, I headed out to the Saluda/Edgefield/Greenwood (tri-county) areas. In Saluda, I found several interesting sites that included abandoned farmhouses, dirt roads, and country churchyards. I succeeded in collecting Tiger Beetles (Cicindela sexguttata), and even caught a gravid Corn Snake (under debris, behind an old farmhouse). The Corn was released. Saluda County needs her and her offspring more than I. With my Saluda goals met, on to Edgefield county! I again went straight to the dirt roads (as shown on my maps), A single Tiger Beetle (C. sexguttata, for a new county record) and a big Clubtail Dragonfly were the only things of interest that I found and the only things I collected. In Greenwood county, I got a Clubtail Dragonfly. I saw, but missed a C. sexguttata. So? Just an excuse to return.

Tuesday (4-30-02), Work.

Wednesday (5-1-02), Work. We flipped our tin (on campus) and found a very small Southern Ringneck Snake. After work, I hit some local spots, flipped debris, and found a small Brown Snake.

Thursday (5-2-02), Work. Got a Female Cow-Killer (Velvet Ant) right outside my classroom. After work/school, my son and I went to the pond. There, we enjoyed a great afternoon for Dragonflies. We saw: Green Darners, Comet Darners, Clubtails, Prince Baskettails, Whitetail Skimmers, Eastern Pondhawks, Twelve Spotted Skimmers, Eastern Amberwings, Corporal Skimmers, Blue Dashers, Carolina Saddlebags, and Black Saddlebags. I must say that I really enjoyed seeing the Comet Darner. That is a real "WOW!" species. We also got to see a mother Coot do the "broken-wing" trick, to lead us away from her brood.

Friday (5-3-02), Work. We again flipped our tin on campus. We also flipped some rocks. One student flipped a big flat rock and found a Smooth Earth Snake.

Saturday (5-4-02), Work, nothing interesting found or collected. After work, we went to see the new "Spiderman" movie. Pretty good.

Sunday (5-5-02), Mid-afternoon, I went to the pond for some Cricket Frogs. They were everywhere, but difficult to collect. I did get a baby Redbelly Watersnake. I went back after dark and got a good selection. Species? Northern and Southern Cricket frogs were both calling. I did not check those I collected (as feeder items).

During the week, I see a nice selection of Birds/Frogs/Toads/Lizards/Turtles/Butterflies/Beetles. I even collected a few Beetles, mostly Carabids, but nothing odd. I find this type stuff too often/too numerous to mention daily.

May is important to me. It means more herping at night, it means Mole Kingsnakes, and it means Stag Beetles. I hope to enjoy it fully!

Joey Holmes

Jun 04, 2002
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