SC Reptiles and Amphibians


April 2007

Gene's Notes:

Those March days that were replaced by April days last month found their way into April. April began with warm days, but by the end of the first week, we had several days of morning frosts. These frosts killed garden plants, fruit tree blossoms, and the early leaves on many large trees. Not all the flowers were damaged, such as the Dogwood Tree blossoms. The last frost at my farm occurred on the 17th.

Reptile activity waxed and waned with the temperatures. Overall, April was an active month for reptiles.

Fence Lizards, Skinks, and Anoles have been very active and numerous around the farm. In mid-month, Win and I placed a dozen or so pieces of sheet metal and plywood about the farm woodlands.

In mid-afternoon of April 1, I walked along the junction of the hillsides with the alluvial plain of a small branch on the farm. It began to sprinkle rain soon after I set out. Temperatures were in the mid 60s F. I flipped a couple rotting limbs on the ground and was rewarded with a beautiful, young adult female Eastern Kingsnake. A little while later, I found a pair of Eastern Wormsnakes in a rotting pine log. Further on, I found an adult male Northern Black Racer under a board that had fallen on the ground under an abandoned tree stand. By this time, the rain had soaked my clothes and throughly wet my glasses. With my vision impaired, I abandoned the hunt.

On April 3, Win turned over the canoe at the pondside and found an adult Redbelly Watersnake in molt.

On April 11, Win brought me a male Five-lined Skink for photographing. It was one of many lizards inhabiting the siding and out buildings at his home.

On April 12, following the cold snap, I walked about the farm and found a young Black Racer foraging in the woods.

The next day, April 13, I walked along the same branch that I had searched on the 1st. I spotted an adult Mud Turtle as it launched itself from the root upon which it had been basking. Then a young Redbelly Watersnake dove into the water from nearby debris. At the same location, I flipped a small dead limb on the ground and found a Northern Brown Snake.

On April 13, Win brought me a young, adult male Eastern Kingsnake that he found under a piece of plywood near one of our work sheds. The ground surface under the plywood was patterned will Vole tunnels. This King was atypical in behavior and pattern. The chain markings in the mid back region did not link. The snake was very agitated and moved in a jerking fashion. It probably was upset with having been shanghaied during prime mating season.

On April 14, Win found an adult Wormsnake under the same plywood coverboard that sheltered the Kingsnake the day before. On the April 17, he found a DOR Black Racer.

On April 16, I saw two juvenile, but very dark, Black Racers on roads while I ran errands.

Two days later, April 18, I saw my first Corn Snake. It was a DOR.

On April 19, Win brought me a baby Northern Watersnake that he caught in McCormick County.

On April 22, Win found another Eastern Kingsnake AOR near the farm. He also saw a DOR Black Ratsnake.

On April 23, Win found a juvenile Black Racer under a log near an old house site in Anderson County.

I kept Win'a typical King for ten days in order to get some pictures. By the time I released (04/24/07)it under the same sheet of plywood, it had begun to molt. The snake remained under the plywood for several days. When its eyes cleared, the King left the plywood cover for a couple of days. Then it reappeared under the plywood, probably searching for the vole that made the runways under the wood.

On April 27, I saw my first Eastern Box Turtle of the year on a road bordering the farm. It was a young adult.

On April 28, I saw a juvenile and an adult Black Racers DOR on roads near the farm. About 9 pm that night, Win found a young (about 24 inches) Midland Water Snake crossing our driveway.

On April 29, my granddaughter, wife, and I drove around the farm and neighborhood to "see what we could see." We found some Black and Turkey Vultures eating a dead rabbit on the road. These vultures must have been very hungry, for they were reluctant to leave the area. This provided me a chance to get some good images. In the afternoon, I took my granddaughter to the river park at Ware Shoals. She got to feed some Mallard ducklings. Later, I did a little twilight road cruising and found a DOR Black Ratsnake.

Gene Ott


May 03, 2007
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