SC Reptiles and Amphibians


January 2005

Gene's notes

During the first half of January we had some unseasonally high temperatures. I have never found a snake locally during January, but I began hoping, even stopping for a "stick" snake. But my record held.

Thursday (1-13-05), was warm and continued in the 70s F after dark. A couple of tornadoes passed us by unharmed, one to the west and one to the east. The western one caused considerable damage in Laurens. After the storms passed, I walked in the gentle rain along a bottomland strip of road near home. Before I left home, I found a large American Toad at my back door. On the road, I found Spring Peepers and Upland Chorus Frogs. Chorus Frogs sang in the roadside ditches.

The latter half of the month turned back into winter. We had many freezing nights. My lowest home reading was 4 F.

The 2nd Annual SC Herpetology Conference was to be held on Saturday, the 29th in Columbia. I was really looking forward to attending. During the week before, weather forecasters were saying we might get some frozen precipitation on Saturday. Usually, such speculations are not fulfilled. But as the day of the conference approached, it became clear that we were in for some bad travel conditions.

Saturday (1-29-05), in the dark morning hours sleet began falling and accumulating. The forecast called for dangerous sleet and ice accumulations from the upcountry to Columbia. With logs burning in the fireplace, my wife and I enjoyed a quiet day at home.

Sunday (1-30-05), most of the ice melted away by the end of the day. I spent the day at home again. I did see a Wild Turkey flock grazing in the driveway.


Joey's notes

Week ending 01-09-05


As always, since this is a new year, I will ask if anyone would like to stop getting this “weekly report.” Let me know, and I can take you off the list, no big deal.

Monday (1-3-05), Warm and sunny. Temps up into the high 60s. Lots of lizards basking (mostly Anoles).

Tuesday (1-4-05), Warm and sunny. We put the Caiman outside for a few hours to get some UV rays.

Wednesday (1-5-05), Warm and sunny. I went with the shorts & t-shirt look. Flipped a good bit of tin (on campus and at home) found plenty of Anoles, Fence Lizards, Ground Skinks, Slimy Salamanders and even a SNAKE! First snake of Eastern Worm Snake, under my tin, here at home.

Thursday (1-6-05), Still warm, but not as sunny. We had some evening rains.

Friday (1-7-05), Work. nothing unusual.

Saturday (1-8-05), Holmes Photography works a wedding. No time to get outdoors.

Sunday (1-9-05), Another pretty, warm day. A solid week of this weather in January is almost too much to ask.

Goals for 2005. I have got a lot to do!

  • Catch a Timber Rattlesnake
  • Catch an Eastern Milksnake
  • Catch a Rainbow Snake
  • Catch a Southern Hognose Snake
  • Search the SC mountains for Timbers, Milks, Wood Frogs, rare Tiger Beetles (Cicindela patruela, purpurea, and splendida)
  • Search the SC coast for Rainbow Snakes, Southern Hogs, and rare Tiger Beetles (Cicindela hirticollis, striga, and togata)
  • Drive up to Pa. to herp and collect Tiger Beetles. Stop and prowl (for Snakes and Tiger Beetles) in Virginia and West Virginia.
  • Herp and collect Beetles anywhere possible, as much as possible
  • Loose more weight
  • Learn to edit video on the computer (those weddings and such)

Should keep me busy for a while,

Week ending 01-16-05

Still so much warm weather. Hard to believe January is almost half over and we have had such mild weather!

Monday (1-10-05), Nice, warm day. Anoles are easy to find on campus.

Tuesday (1-11-05), Warm.

Wednesday (1-12-05), Warm again. Seems so nice to have this kind of weather in January. Chorus Frogs called at work. Anoles, Fence Lizards, and Ground Skinks were all seen. After work, I checked my tin and found my second snake of the year, an Eastern Worm Snake! After dark I visited the pond and found two dozen Bullfrogs, of various sizes.

Thursday (1-13-05), Warm, but we pay a big price for such weather. Around 7 PM violent storms hit the Laurens area. One tornado touched down and tore up stuff for about a 4 miles or so. No human fatalities and very few injured, but it missed the high school gym (where about 300 were gathered for a wrestling match) by about 100 yards. Many homes/buildings were damaged and several were totally destroyed. A tire warehouse was damaged and caught fire. It burned for 24 hours or so, and smoldered for days! Another tornado skimmed the eastern edge of the county but little damage was reported.

Friday (1-14-05), In the morning hours I heard lots of Chorus Frogs calling, but the weather was cooling off. Students brought me 3 Chorus Frogs and an American Toad, all picked up on campus. I made sure all were safely released. After work, the Holmes family (with some assorted nephews and friends) left for Charleston. We settled in a nice hotel room, and turned in early.

Saturday (1-15-05), We were up early and went to downtown Charleston. To the College of Charleston. There we participated in the Laura Griffin Memorial 5K walk/run. We walked. The event honors Laura Griffin, a Substance-Abuse Counselor at the College, who was killed by a drunk driver (hit-and-run) while she was jogging in town. Laura also happened to be from Laurens and was Mrs. Holmes’ childhood friend and neighbor. We are still close to the family and participate in the walk/run most years.

Sunday (1-16-05), An un-eventful drive back home from Charleston. The weather is now cooler, and winter seems to be returning. I did ponder the various environments we passed. Some huge mud-sand flats exist where the 526 freeway crosses the Cooper River. Looks like the kind of place where silt has been pumped out of the river to keep it deep for ships. Relatively new land, so to speak. A rare Tiger Beetle, Cicindela togata has not been seen in SC since the 1930s but does (so I have read) inhabit large mud/sand flats, far from vegetation. I would love to go back during togata season, check these flats and see what I could find! Is togata gone? Could togata still be here? Is togata back, or was it here all along (and just not collected)? I would love to know!

Week ending 01-23-05

This week has really seemed quite normal for winter.

Monday (1-17-05), The weather has taken on a turn for the worse. Cold. The daily high was in the 30s but it was sunny and around noon I heard Chorus Frogs calling on campus.

Tuesday (1-18-05), Another cold winter day with highs in the mid-30s.

Wednesday (1-19-05), We struggled into the 40s.

Thursday (1-20-05), Still pretty cold.

Friday (1-21-05), After work, The Holmes Family (and a few friends/relatives) head up to Asheville, NC. Jeff Holmes was playing at the Gray Eagle with the band “The Floating Men”. They did a great show, we had some time to visit, and got home by 3 AM.

Saturday (1-22-05), Slept a little late. Did very little, Went to bed early.

Sunday (1-23-05), Cold and windy.

Getting tired of this frigid weather, and it is not even February! Thought I would waste some time listing an inventory from my animals;

  • 1 Bullsnake, 8 ft, wild caught in 98 as a hatchling .
  • 1 Bullsnake, 4 ft, wild caught in 98 as a hatchling
  • 2 Bullsnakes, CB 04 from adults listed above
  • 1 Cornsnake, 5 ft, wild caught in Jasper SC in 96 .
  • 1 Cornsnake, 4 ft, wild caught in Clay Co, Fla, in 96
  • 11 Corns from the above adults, CB 98
  • 1 Great Plains Ratsnake, 4 ft, (purchased from Crutchfiled in mid-90s)
  • 2 Cornsnakes (Jasper Co father and Great Plains mother, CB 98)
  • 1 Motley Corn, CB 2000 Gorgeous!
  • 11 Cornsnakes, WC in SC up-state, nice gray color
  • 12 Bairds Ratsnakes, CB 99
  • 11 Yellow Ratsnakes, LTC, nice orange-gold coloring
  • 1 Transpecos Ratsnake, small, gift from a friend
  • 12 South Florida Kings CB 97 from Glades Herp
  • 1 Eastern King, CB 97, local heritage
  • 1 Speckled King, WC as a hatchling in 97, La.
  • 1 Black King, CB 96
  • 1 Cal King, CB 04, banded, purchased at a show
  • 1 Mole King, WC in Dec 98, Laurens Co, SC
  • 1 Mole King, WC 2001, Spartanburg Co, SC
  • 1 Mole King, WC 2003, Greenville Co, SC (splotchy pigment!)
  • 1 Prairie King, WC as a hatchling in early 96 (from the 95 hatch) near Ft Smith, Ark
  • 1 Scarlet King, WC Fla snake, 26 INCHES! .
  • 1 Sinaloan Milk, CB 2000
  • 12 Checkered Garters, Adults WC from various Texas locations
  • 6 Checkered Garters, CB 04 from above adults
  • 1 Eastern Garter, Huge, Bright RED, WC in SC
  • 1 Eastern Garter, Stripe-ess, Orange, WC in SC
  • 1 Eastern Garter, Stripe-less WC in SC (to breed w/ 2 odd females listed above)
  • 11 Eastern Garters, CB 2000, from bright red mother and normal father
  • 1 Redstripe Ribbon Snake, WC, LTC
  • 1 Redsided Garter Snake, Small but really pretty and eats great, purchased from Glades Herp
  • 1 Brown Water Snake WC in Anderson County SC!
  • 1 Midland Water Snake WC
  • 1 Rosy Boa, CB purchased form Glades Herp
  • 1 Ball python
  • 1 Caiman, 4 ft, purchased as baby in 97
  • 1 Uromastyx
  • 1. Broad-head Skink
  • 2 Five-Line Skinks
  • 3 American Toads
  • 2 Pac Man Frogs
  • 2 Cuban Treefrogs
  • 1 Two-toed Amphiuma (INCREDIBLE ANIMAL! eats whole mice!)
  • 350 Rats and mice

Also some other odd stuff like Predacious Diving Beetles and Catfish

The above list is stuff from PWI. At home I keep just one animal, under lock and key, in my workshop: 1 Timber Rattlesnake, Black phase, CB in 1981!

Week ending 01-30-05

Winter holds its grip on us, and has even started to interfere with my plans.

Monday (1-24-05), A cold day, highs were in the 40s.

Tuesday (1-25-05), Warmer, we climbed into the 50s.

Wednesday (1-26-05), Nice! We were in the 60s! Chorus Frogs were calling, and Anoles basked during mid-day.

Thursday (1-27-05), We got a little box in from GLADES HERP! A few small things I had wanted were carefully packed inside. A pair of young Gray Ratsnakes, I had been wanting some to raise and breed. We got a baby Emerald Swift, I hope it is a male, as they are beautiful. We got 2 Western Green Toads, pretty little animals. There were 2 Firebelly Toads, and male Knight Anole. The Anole is about 13-14 inches long and very impressive. My boss is going to keep the Firebelly toads and one of the Green Toads in his office. We got the others set up in my classroom. The Emerald Swift and my Green Toad fed almost immediately on small mealworms.

Friday (1-28-05), Both the new Gray Ratsnakes ate small live mice and the Green Toad took two small crickets. That is all just great, but another problem seems to be brewing. The weather. A winter storm is predicted to start by sunrise on Saturday. Ordinarily I would be cool with that but I am scheduled to give a talk Saturday at 9 AM at the South Carolina Herpetology Symposium in Columbia! I talked to Steve Bennett by phone and he said if I could not make it, no big deal.

Saturday (1-29-05), I got up early. I looked at the weather. I looked out the window. It was sleeting lightly but there was already a bit built up on the car and the roads. I decided to go ahead and attend the symposium. I had to drive slow as the roads were already covered with a layer of ice. I stopped by work to get a load of frozen mice (I always bring a few to sell) and it was snowing pretty hard. Coming up the hill from work I slipped and spun a bit. Not good. I stopped at the store to gas up and get coffee and noticed it was snowing very hard. I decided to cancel my plans for the day and go back home. I returned the mice to my freezer at work and very slowly, carefully, drove home. Over the course of the day we had more snow, sleet and freezing rain, but the Holmes family stayed home, warm, and off the roads. To Steve, Ab, Corey, Jeff, Mike, and everyone else at the show, sorry I didn’t make it. Maybe next year.

Sunday (1-30-05), The roads cleared but we spent most of the day at home.

So much for plans,

Joey Holmes

January 30, 2005
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