SC Reptile and Amphibians


October 2004

Week Ending 10-31-04

Gene's notes

We have had mild weather most of this week and warm weather during the weekend.

Wednesday (10-27-04), I found a DOR Mole Kingsnake and a DOR Garter Snake while commuting.

Lizards have been soaking up the rays, mostly Anoles and Fence Lizards. Saturday (10-30-04), my wife gathered up a Ground Skink in our new bedroom. It must have entered from the screened porch. I drove around at twilight and early night but did not find any snakes.

Sunday (10-31-04) was the warmest day in many weeks. I found a DOR Black Racer during the day and AOR Box Turtle. Again, at twilight and early night I drove around locally but still did not find any snakes. I guess I will now switch to looking for salamanders on the roads on rainy nights.

I have not had much success finding snakes this fall. However, I have received many letters from site visitors who have encountered snakes. Maybe my luck will be better next year.

For the months of November through February, I will be posting notes on a monthly basis.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

Happy Halloween!

At sunset, little ghosts and goblins prowl the streets, in search of candy. In Churchill, Manitoba their fathers accompany them, with loaded rifles. Churchill is on the western shore of Hudson Bay, along a Polar Bear migration route! The bears are frequently seen in and around town this time of year! Here in South Carolina, things are a good bit milder.

Monday (10-25-04), Mild indeed, I hear an Upland Chorus Frog singing from the forest on campus. The boys find a Brown Snake on the lawn at work. At home I find my little Copperhead quietly coiled under the sheet of tin he has chosen as his home.

Tuesday (10-26-04), I stopped by a tin site in Laurens County as I was driving home from work. Found an adult Black Ratsnake under a sheet of tin. At home, I found the little Copperhead under a sheet of tin (sounds familiar).

Wednesday (10-27-04), I took a stroll around the pond after work. Bullfrogs, Cricket Frogs, Green Treefrogs were all there, but I really got a kick out of the tiny (newly emerged) Narrowmouth Toad I found under debris near the pond. Super cool little creature! Here at home, my tin produced the little Copperhead, Ground Skinks, Slimy Salamanders, Vole, and a Chipmunk.

Thursday (10-28-04), On the way to work, I stopped for my morning coffee and found a neat Stick-Insect on the store-front. After work, I had a short visit with the little Copperhead under my (his) tin.

Friday (10-29-04), During the day, in addition to regular animal care, my students and I packed up stuff needed for my booth at the Reptiles/Exotic Pet Expo in Greenville. After work, I ran up to Greenville and set up my booth. I would be selling frozen mice (we took our tiny classroom freezer and plugged it in right there at the booth), baby Corn Snakes, baby Yellow Ratsnakes, a Short-tail Python, and an African Rock Python. This effort was to raise money for my Wildlife Science classes at Piedmont Wilderness Institute. I even had a neat Jack-O-Lantern with bugs (from stencils) and the letters “P W I” carved into it (Halloween, you know)!

Saturday (10-30-04), The show opened and thousands of people came pouring in. I saw some old friends and we even made some sales. Lots of vendors were present. There were the expected boas/pythons/colubrids/lizards/turtles/frogs, as well as tarantulas and scorpions, at the show. LOTS of venomous stuff was there too! Cobras (assorted species), Rattlers (assorted species), Gaboons, Copperheads, etc! There are very few restrictions on this stuff in SC, and I hope these folks keep themselves off the evening news. Lots of the animals there were captive bred. Lots of stuff was obviously wild-caught. What breaks my heart is some of the EASTERN MILKS I have seen, WILD CAUGHT IN SC! And what appeared to be a WC SOUTHERN HOGNOSE! WC TIMBER RATTLERS! Snakes I have spent years looking for without success, and some of these people treat them like routine merchandise! #$@#$% &*. When I got home, I went out back and checked on my little Copperhead. I pondered his life in my woods, and vowed that he would not be sold in a tupperware container at a show somewhere. I find a lot of snakes, but keep very few, most for photography or breeding purposes. In the massive pet market, captive bred is the ONLY way to go!

Sunday (10-31-04), I checked my Copperhead before heading to the show. The little guy was basking right at the edge of his sheet of tin. I wished him a good day and left for Greenville. I noticed a Broad-Winged Hawk on a power line as I drove along. I seldom see these and it was nice to get a look at this incredible predator. At the show we made some sales (a non-profit organization like PWI has do what it can to raise funds), and made some friends. We sold out of live snakes, but did not get rid of all the frozen mice. Oh well, my stuff at work will eat well! I did some shopping myself, and got a little Blackneck Gartersnake and a baby California Kingsnake. By the way, I asked before I bought them, if they were wild-caught or captive-bred!

Ready for November?

Joey Holmes

Week Ending 10-24-04

Gene's notes

At the office complex in Greenville where my employer recently moved me, Chipmunks abound. I caught some pictures, but I'm still trying to get a good image of one with its cheek pouches stuffed.

While commuting, I saw a couple of black snakes, but could not stop to make a positive species ID. On Friday (10-22-04) I removed an old male Eastern Box Turtle from the road.

Saturday (10-22-04), Win and Hope visited and worked on fixing up the cabin my wife and I moved out of. They seem anxious to move in. Hope brought three baby turtles: an Eastern Box Turtle and two Red-earred Sliders. They were brought to the pet store where she formerly worked. I photographed the Box and released it. I will put the Red-earreds in an aquarium for school.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

The leaves are pretty. Lots of gold. When the wind blows, they look like confetti as they swirl and tumble towards the ground. It is simply beautiful. The fall air feels good. Clean and crisp. It is nice this time of year.

Monday (10-18-04), At work, all four of my little Bullsnakes had shed and we offered them food. All ate within an hour. Cool! 100% success! After work, I checked my tin (here at home) to look for the little Copperhead I had been watching. He was there, as expected. Day 8! I did notice under a nearby piece of tin, the shed skin from an Eastern Kingsnake. Might there be trouble brewing?

Tuesday (10-19-04), After work, when I checked on the little Copperhead, I could not find him. Hmmm?

Wednesday (10-20-04), At work, we found a Ringneck Snake and Northern Red Salamander on campus. After work, a colleague stopped by to pick up some frozen mice and pinkies. We had a nice visit and even checked the tin out back. No little Copperhead, but we did find Slimy Salamanders, Ground Skinks, and a Southern Ringneck Snake. Also, my friend brought a Two-Toed Amphiuma for me to keep in my classroom. I have always liked these, I have kept them before, and I think the students will be impressed.

Thursday (10-21-04), We got the Amphiuma set up in a big tank in my classroom.

Friday (10-22-04), We had a fair day, with some spare time, so I had my class spend some time outdoors on campus. We found lots of Ground Skinks, Green Anoles, Fence Lizards, and under some tin we found an Eastern Worm Snake. On the way home from work, I stopped by the pond and went for a walk. I found the expected Red-Spotted Newt, Green Treefrogs, Cricket Frogs, Leopard Frogs, Green Anoles and Ground Skinks. Under debris by the pond were two Southern Ringneck Snakes. Under some debris in the forest (near the pond) I found a tiny baby Redbelly Snake. Obviously from the ‘04 breeding season, this little guy was adorable! At home I checked my tin and found Ground Skinks, Slimy Salamanders, and the Little Copperhead was back! Quietly resting under “his” piece of tin, he looked totally at home and comfortable. I wonder where he was for 3 days? I would guess he was right there, just nestled down into the leaves, where I could not see him.

Saturday (10-23-04), Holmes Photography had to go to Charleston to do some bridal portraits. On location, at a beautiful church on James Island, I noticed some Tiger Beetle larval burrows. Large burrows, likely Megacephala carolina (caught tons of these on James Island). Also enjoyed seeing a Wood Stork cruise over a section of salt marsh near Sullivans Island. A nice seafood dinner completed the evening. We drove back as far as Orangeburg, but sleep beckoned and we stopped for the night.

Sunday (10-24-04), We got up and came on home. Had some family time. I did check my tin and the little Copperhead was doing just fine.

It will be Christmas Eve in two months! Enjoy what is left of 2004,

Joey Holmes

Week Ending 10-17-04

Gene's notes

No herping this week. I had a very busy work week. Spent evenings putting in shelves and other improvements into our new home. My son and his wife, Win and Hope, plan to move into the little house that we are leaving. My granddaughter has named the little house the "short house." We made a lot of progress toward getting our stuff out this weekend.

Sunday (10-17-04), a female Harrier Hawk hunted the pasture in front of our new home. Harriers are winter residents of SC. At the new house, which is located atop a hill, we frequently hear Screech Owls. At the "short house" we most frequently heard Barred Owls.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

The weather has been cooler. Nights especially. Monarch Butterflies are migrating through the area. Leaves are turning. It is a nice time of year.

Monday (10-11-04), When I got home, I checked my tin and was pleased to find a small Copperhead coiled under one piece back in the edge of the woods. I left him in peace.

Tuesday (10-12-04), After work, I checked on the little Copperhead and he was still there, under the same piece of tin.

Wednesday (10-13-04), After work, I made a stop at a site in Laurens County, that has good tin to flip. Found one nice adult Black Ratsnake resting under a piece. At home, the little Copperhead is still under “his” piece of tin back in the woods.

Thursday (10-14-04), I was off work. I wanted to drive 270 miles (a great way to waste expensive gasoline), get stung by Fire Ants, be scratched by briars/sandspurs, and feed Mosquitoes. I figured, "As long as I am out, I might as well do some herpin and buggin." (In Actuality, this is a prime season for Southern Hognose Snakes, Coral Snakes, and Cicindela nigrior. I was going to locations I felt were favorable for these species.) I started off in by going to the Columbia area and heading due south. I made some stops in Orangeburg County. Found a good place for Cicindela repanda but alas, it was too early in the day for them. I drove on. Another stop produced a Broad-head Skink and a Copperhead. A third stop and I netted and released some Cicindela puntulata. On to Bamburg County. No luck at any of my (Bamburg) stops so I turned towards Barnwell. In Barnwell County I stopped and flipped debris for herps, but only found an Opossum. I collected a few Cicindela nigrior, but best of all was seeing my first live Coyote! It trotted across a dirt road ahead of me and I had a great look at it. Aiken County was next. I cruised a lot of dirt roads, but no luck with snakes (other than a DOR Corn Snake). I did stop at a site blessed with Cicindela nigrior and collected about 2 dozen. Many by hand. Then Edgefield, Saluda, Newberry, and Laurens counties were crossed without incident (other than in Saluda, where there was a little Whitetail buck who tried to get himself killed by my jeep. It took some serious braking/swerving effort to deny his wishes), and finally back home here in Spartanburg County! It was a good day. At home, the little Copperhead is still there, under the tin.

Friday (10-15-04), The Copperhead still there. Fifth day.

Saturday (10-16-04), I work up some insects in my collection. Spent a lot of time on maps, calendar, and labels. Under the tin, the Copperhead is still there. Day six.

Sunday (10-17-04), Had some evening time by the local waterfall. Very nice. And, the little Copperhead is still content, under my tin. Day seven.

Have a nice week, and lift a piece of tin!

Joey Holmes

Week Ending 10-10-04

Gene's notes

Most of this week has been devoted to moving into our new home and working. Nights have been chilly. We have a problem with the wiring for the telephones in the new house and are having to rely on cell phones. This has meant no internet service. I was not able to post notes for the last week of September.

Deer and Turkey often come into the yard. I was on the cell phone when a dozen or so Turkeys walked across the front yard. A single Deer caught up with them. I tried to point the Deer out to my wife, but it moved into a depression, and she could not spot it. Its ears and head showed sporadically. Then it moved back into sight. A Coopers Hawk swooped to the ground near a Turkey. The Turkey jumped and the Deer ran off.

One species of wildlife we have observed many times since moving into the new house is the Woodcock. I ocassionally flush these birds while walking in the river bottoms. I have seen them on the driveway at night. My wife has seen them in the field during the day.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes

This week continues to hold seasonal changes. Leaves are turning and nights are cooler (and longer).

Monday (10-4-04), Not much. A Bobcat ran across the road ahead of me as I drove home from work. Neat critters!

Tuesday (10-5-04), We (the Holmes family) had an evening out. We went to Greenville to see the “Dirty Dozen Brass Band” and “The North Mississippi All-Stars”. Nice music, a little loud, and the hall had a lot of smoke (rough on the nose/sinuses).

Wednesday (10-6-04), It was cool, and my students wanted to flip some tin. We found a Black Racer and Eastern Worm Snake. After work, I stopped by the pond and found a Southern Ringneck Snake, Slimy Salamanders, lots of Frogs. Cricket Frogs, Green Treefrogs, and Leopard Frogs. I even saw some nice Wood Ducks. At home, I checked my tin and found a Southern Ringneck snake and Slimy Salamander.

Thursday (10-7-04), My Gibbons/Dorcus WATERSNAKE book arrived (from ZooBooks, after only about 6 weeks) and I love it! Great stuff! Answers many questions, and presents more. The more I dig, the more I want to know! I also think it is pretty neat that Hunter (my son) and I are listed in the ACKNOWLEDGMENTS! Cool stuff!

Friday (10-8-04), Work as usual. Nothing to mention

Saturday (10-9-04), Holmes Photography works a local wedding. I saw a Green Anole on the side of the Church.

Sunday (10-10-04), It was a pretty day, so I took an afternoon walk in the pasture, by the river. I saw lots of Turtles. There were plenty of River Cooters (in the River, plunking in as I walked by their basking logs) and an Eastern Painted Turtle in the sluggish waters of the ox-bow. I flushed some Wood Ducks. I found good numbers of Tiger Beetles (Cicindela repanda and tranquebarica) and Dung Beetles (guess where these were!). Best of all were the Marbled Salamanders. Found about six, including a female with eggs. All were under logs, at or near water. BEAUTIFUL little animals! A nice Yellow-Shafted Flicker just made the walk even more pleasant! Like I said, a pretty day.

Been a good week. Seeing lots of Tiger Beetle larval burrows. Locations and size give some indications of the species but I am not sure about the season-life cycles. It looks like; On campus, where I find lots of Cicindela rufiventris, I am finding larval burrows. I take these to be rufiventris. Those by the river, I take to be Cicindela repanda. A big one in my yard looks like Megacephala virginica. A few scattered on the dirt roads appear to be Cicindela sexguttata. These animals are still around, just because I do not see the adult form does not mean they have vanished. They are simply living a different stage of their lives. Something else that deserves study.

Study hard,

Joey Holmes

November 01, 2004
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