SC Reptile and Amphibians


October 2002

Weeks ending 10-26-02 and 11-03-02

Gene's notes

I have little to report concerning herping activities for these two weeks. On a couple of rainy nights I looked for salamanders on the road but found none. When there was sunshine, which was not often, I saw baby Green Anoles scurrying around the patio and turtles basking at the pond. At my office, a Canada Goose stopped to say hello.

On Sunday (11-03-02) I walked about the farm. The temperature was cool, in the low 50s. I found a juvenile Fence Lizard huddled beneath a log. I checked the well casing in the spring for Three-lined Salamanders. I did not see any, but there were a few spermatophores. Does not look like this will be a good breeding year for them.

Just a reminder. I will be posting notes on a monthly basis for November, December, January, and February.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

Week ending 11-03-02

During the week, as usual, few opprotunities to enjoy the outdoors.

Tuesday (10-29-02), Found a Brown Snake on campus.

Thursday (10-31-02), Found a Smooth Earth Snake on campus.

Saturday (11-2-02), We awoke to the first frost of the season. However, the day warmed a bit and I enjoyed wearing shorts. My family and I, with a set of my in-laws, went into western North Carolina to the town or Bryson City. We took a pleasant ride on the (very touristy) Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. It was nice and relaxing, although I wished it were warmer and I had time to turn the many railroad ties that were lying in the bushes beside the tracks. I had heard of Eastern Milksnakes being caught in along those tracks! Eastern Milks! Gotta get one!

Sunday (11-3-02), Having spent the night in Franklin NC, we headed towards Hendersonville, but stopped several times along the way to see the various waterfalls along hwy 64. Beautiful stuff, and full of great Salamanders I'm sure. We enjoyed our visit to the NC mountains, saw little in the way of animals, a few Groundhogs (Woodchucks), Pileated Woodpecker, but not much else. Just nice relaxing family time.

Week ending 10-26-02

This week had been mainly overcast and wet. Bright sunshine seems a thing of the past, but then, we went for months with little rain. This seems to be balancing things out.

I have spent little time outdoors this week, but have seen a few neat things.

Monday (10-21-02), I had my class collect a few small (feeder) crayfish in the small creek on campus. We used these to feed the Glossy Crayfish Snake.

Thursday (10-24-02), We found 3 adult Brown Snakes right outside the dining hall on campus. All were within a square foot.

Other neat things include the expected small lizards, various birds, and a Raccoon.

When/if schedule, time, and weather align, I hope to return to Aiken County for some late Beetle hunting and herping. I also have a lot of great Salamander hunting to enjoy in Fall and Winter.

Joey Holmes

Week ending 10-20-02

Gene's notes

This was a cool, wet week. However, Saturday (10-19-02) promised to be reasonably warm and sunny. I hoped my son Win would have time to go herping with me, but he was tied up by work and practice for a community play. So, alone, I set out for one of my favorite locations.. the Sandhills in Aiken County. I had high hopes of finding one of the diurnal snake species, in particular the Hognoses (Eastern and Southern), Coachwhip, and Pine.

I did not see any herps on the roads going down so I headed for Aiken State Park, a beautiful, well-maintained natural area where I could walk about. At the park lakes, tiny new Southern Cricket Frogs hopped in the grass bordering the ponds. I also took a picture of a Ground Skink. Under a discarded board I found a large Southern Toad in its burrow.

After leaving the park, I drove some more roads. I saw some discarded metal roofing panels on the side of the road and stopped to check under them. Under the second piece I checked I found a 2-foot snake. At first glance I thought I had finally found a live Pine Snake, a juvenile specimen. I was at one end of the 8-foot piece of metal and it was at the other. Then, I realized it was not a Pine, but a juvenile Eastern Coachwhip. We raced, but it won, disappearing into the leaf liter. I really wish I could have caught it in order to take some pictures. Young juveniles are very different from adults.

On Sunday (10-20-02) I walked around the farm, flipping the few coverboards I have placed. Under one, I found 2 Slimy Salamanders. These, and a couple baby Green Anoles, were the only herps I found. I checked the spring well where Three-lined Salamanders have gathered for breeding in past years. I saw none. They usually gather in October and November.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

Autumn is here. No doubt about it. Cooling temps are now the norm. Better get used to it.

Monday (10-14-02), Made the decision to put down a Mole Kingsnake that had been in poor health. I collected it late in the season last year. When caught, it had some serious wounds, which seemed to have been inflicted by some predator (we'll blame it on a mammal). We had healed those wounds, but the snake never fed readily. Once or twice on Skinks, never on mice, and had survived the year on tube feedings of raw chicken livers, raw egg, and calcium powder (all mixed in the blender). Well, with little optimism, we had to call it. At least I have a specimen with data from Laurens County.

Tuesday (10-15-02), Worked on getting my baby Eastern Garters to eat pinkies. They do well with a little frog scenting.

Thursday (10-17-02), Walking on campus, I had my class collect some feeder lizards. We found Ground Skinks, Green Anoles, and Fence Lizards. We also found a Cricket Frog, Slimy Salamanders, and another Red-Spotted Newt (Eft). We saved the Eft for its dung (which, as you recall, has the snail shells we collect for a friend).

Friday (10-18-02), Got our Eft dung! Released the Eft to feed and poop again.

Saturday (10-19-02), Spent most of the day outdoors, but not doing the usual nature stuff. I did enjoy the warm sunshine, and got to see some Yellow-Shafted Flickers (one of my favorite Woodpeckers) and beautiful Butterflies like Sulfurs and Buckeyes. Inspired but tired by a pretty day, I checked my tin, and found but one small Eastern Worm Snake.

Sunday (10-20-02), The day was overcast and dreary, with rains moving in. A perfect day to visit the pasture and look for Salamanders. I found ten beautiful Marbled Salamanders, and a lot were females that were sitting with eggs. Also saw several Cricket Frogs. Nice way to end the week.

Hope you all have a nice week!

Joey Holmes

Week ending 10-13-02

Gene's notes

Work and medical tests with prep and recovery occupied me most all week. I managed to walk about the farm on Sunday (10-13-02). The only herps I saw were newborn Green Anoles at the house. I found the empty shell of an Eastern Box Turtle beside a wetland pool. The makes 4 or 5 that I have found in the last month, all beside waterways. I assume the drought contributed to their deaths. I did manage to capture some good pictures of Gulf Fritillary Butterflies.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

Not a heck of a lot to report this week. The weather seems to be working against me. When I am off, it is cool and rainy or I have too much to do. When I am working, and cannot leave campus or otherwise get outside, the weather is pretty. Also loosing daylight every day does not help. I have been out on a few evening errands and seen a few frogs/toads and the humble opossum, but snakes are hard to find right now.

I did take a class outdoors Thursday (10-10-02) for a stroll in the wet woods. We found a Green Frog, Slimy Salamanders, and Red Efts (sub-adult Red-Spotted Newts). Not bad for Amphibs, and we saved the Efts. It seems they eat a lot of land snails, and then poop out the shells. The shells are still identify-able, and a friend wants them for study. So we save Eft poop! We were also able to find other animals (whose poop is less desirable) such as Ground Skinks, Fence Lizards, Green Anoles, an Eastern Worm Snake, and two Smooth Earth Snakes. Not bad.

In the upcoming days I suppose I should enjoy every bit of warmth I can get. As well as every cold blooded creature I find. Seasons change.................

Joey Holmes

Week ending 10-06-02

Gene's notes

This week I saw a few more herps. It is amazing that I have not found any newborn snakes yet this Fall. Around my home, I am seeing many newborn Green Anoles and Fence Lizards. This seem a little late for them to still be hatching.

On Thursday night (10-03-02), I road cruised locally and found one of my area's rarer residents, a beautiful adult Northern Scarlet Snake. The next evening (10-04-02) I cruised again and found an adult Eastern Worm Snake. On Sunday (10-06-02), while driving on errands, I found a DOR adult, black-phase Eastern Hognose Snake. The number of snakes was low but the variety was good.

A pair of young herpers, ages 3 and 5 years, sent me some good pictures of hatching Five-lined Skinks. They found the eggs and kept them until hatching. Thank you, Ethan and Natasha.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

I did get to spend some time outdoors this week, and it has been a rather warm week. In fact, it hardly seems like October. We have even had some temps getting into the low 90s. Pretty warm for this time of year.

Monday (9-30-02), Nothing memorable.

Tuesday (10-1-02), Gathering feeder items outdoors, we found an Eastern Worm Snake. Inside, we worked on getting some baby Eastern Garters to eat some pinkie mice (scented with toads). Two accepted. Fed the Glossy Crayfish Snake. Others call this a difficult species to keep, but I have never seen this one refuse to eat.

Wednesday (10-2-02), DOR Spotted Skunk on the interstate near work. While on an evening errand, I found an AOR baby Black Ratsnake.

Thursday (10-3-02), With the day off, I was in Aiken County and in the field (yes, literally in a field) by 8 AM. I was doing some Tiger Beetle hunting, and some herping with my friend Tony Mills. The beetle hunting yielded some Cicindela tranquebarica, C. punctulata, C. scutellaris, and C. nigrior. While herping, Tony and I flipped coverboards (tin and plywood) in upland habitats and found only Lizards (Green Anoles, Fence Lizards, Ground Skinks, Broadhead Skink, and Racerunners) and a Southern Toad. Checking drift fences, we found 4 Southeastern Crowned Snakes and a Redbellied Snake. Finally, in a wetland area, we checked turtle traps (Musk Turtles and Yellow-Bellied Sliders), minnow traps (one contained a beautiful Mud Snake!), and coverboards that were half in, half out of the water. Under these we found Southern Red Salamanders, Three Lined Salamander, and two eel-like salamanders that could have been Sirens or Amphiuma. These slippery creatures easily escaped my grip and disappeared into the muck. Of course, Bronze Frogs and Cricket Frogs were common sights in and around the water. Not to be omitted, we had lunch at DUKE's BBQ (between Aiken and New Ellenton) and I must say it was wonderful! But then, the whole day was really wonderful. Tony was an excellent host (Thanks again) and I may have gotten him a bit hooked on Tiger Beetles!

Friday (10-4-02), Evening road cruise. I found nothing but a DOR Copperhead.

Saturday (10-5-02), Mid-morning, I saw a small snake AOR, but unable to return and catch it due to traffic. Did the family stuff, attended a BBQ contest/festival in Laurens! A good week for BBQ!

Sunday (10-6-02), a colleague stopped by with a group of Appalachian State students. They had been on a field trip to the SC lowcountry. I offered them the chance to check my tin, but they all seemed very tired. After they left, I checked the tin myself and found a Southern Ringneck. After sunset, I went to the pond but saw no snakes and very few frogs (BullFrogs and Green Frogs). On the way home I road cruised a bit locally and found an AOR Copperhead.

That's all for now,

Joey Holmes

November 8, 2002
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