SC Reptile and Amphibians


August 2000

Gene's notes from August 21 - 27

I did some road cruising on Monday morning. The only herps I saw were Eastern Box Turtles, one AOR and one DOR. I night cruised locally a couple of times. I saw Fowlers Toads, Green Tree Frogs, and Green Frogs. Thursday, I saw a DOR Six-lined Racerunner. Win reported seeing several AOR Racerunners near home that day also. This is good news since Racerunners have been scarce in recent years. I am also noticing neonate Five-lined Skinks around the yard. Saturday I saw a Black Racer AOR.

This year local road cruising has not been very productive for snakes and I do not know why. Not only am I finding few AOR specimens, I have not seen many DORs either, day or night! Earlier in the summer I thought the drought was to blame. However, for the last two months the ground surface has had reasonable moisture (although our ground water is still in drought).

Snakes activity appears to be low throughout the state. I have received only 1 snake ID email query in the last 2 weeks. Usually (during the warm seasons) I receive at least 3 or 4 each week.

Signs that Summer will be ending soon are appearing now (besides the fact that children went back to school 2 weeks ago). Crows are gathering into flocks (not mobs) of 30 to 50. Flocks with hundreds of blackbirds are appearing. Ducks are flying in formation. Sweet Gum trees are slowing dropping their leaves and flashes of red can be seen on Dogwoods. And, in a couple of weeks we will be able to watch tape-delayed broadcasts of the Summer (Australian Winter/Spring) Olympics! But hey, Fall is usually a good time for herping.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes from August 21 - 27

To update from last week: The Yellow/Glades Ratsnake that was double-clutching last week ended up giving us 17 eggs but about half look bad. The Tiger Beetle from last week was a C. punctulata.

This week has been slow. I've seen a lot of great Butterflies (including some Monarchs) and loads of dragonflies. A big female Praying Mantis was also found. Skinks and Anoles are still quite abundant, as are small toads (Bufo). Little time has been devoted to field work.

Monday (8-21-00): Checked my tin. Southeastern Five line Skink and another (adult) Skink that went down a hole. Mowing, I found more Yellowjackets in the yard. I didn't get stung.

Tuesday (8-22-00): Bad news at work. They need my Rat Room for use as an academics classroom. I tried squatters rights, eminent domain, and manifest destiny but no use. The good news is they are buying a 24 foot storage building for us that will have water and power, will be insulated, paneled, have heat and air. If it is what they say it In the lab, all my Sinaloans have shed and 2 started eating. I saw a Nighthawk just before sunset.

Wednesday (8-23-00): We went out to set traps, but there were people fishing where we wanted to trap. Can't trust folks not to steal your traps. Bummer. We scouted the area and had a good outing anyway. This evening I went out to the pond. Found 3 Redbelly Watersnakes and a Midland Watersnake. Saw some adult Leopard and Bull frogs, and picked up about 15 small Bullfrogs as feeder items. Found 1 big leech. No turtles.

Thursday (8-24-00): We got our new building. It has great potential.

Friday (8-25-00): Found a nice Upland Chorus Frog on campus, plus some skinks (Southeastern Five-lined and Five-lined) and Anoles.

Saturday (8-26-00): Quiet day; nothing to report.

I have recently heard of 2 snakebite deaths in the Southeast this summer. The fellow with the pet Canebrake in Miami (see my notes from last week), and a man in Georgia with a heart condition. He died from cardiac arrest very shortly after a Canebrake bite. The bite didn't kill him, but likely stress from the bite caused a heart attack. Let's all be careful.

Joey Holmes


Gene's notes from August 14 - 20

Most of the week was very hot. We did no herping during the first of the week. On Thursday Win and I went to the Education/Outreach Sub-Working Group meeting of the Southeast Region of PARC (Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation) held at FFA/FHA Camp near Covington, Georgia. It was an interesting meeting. We had several presentations about past PARC activities and representatives of SREL (Savannah River Ecology Laboratory) told of their education/outreach activities. Several herp specimens from SREL's holdings were shown. I took the opportunity to get pictures of an Eastern Slender Glass Lizard.

Minutes of the meeting should be posted on the PARC website in the next couple of weeks. However, I am taking this opportunity to promote a project which I suggested and volunteered to lead. I know there must be many herp enthusiasts (from the general public; not from agencies or major organizations) in the southeastern states who make presentations about herps to school classes and organizational meetings. Some persons may make only one or two presentations each year; while many others may do them more frequently. The project is to assemble a database of these persons and to let them know of resources which PARC has which could help them with these presentations. If anyone reading these notes would like to be included in the database or to learn more, please send me an email message. I hope to assemble some information in time to submit an interim report to the Sub-Working Group at its next meeting which will be held at SREL on October 19, 2000. The following day, October 20, a workshop on Upland Snake Management will be held at SREL. For additional information about the snake workshop, contact Tracey Tuberville.

John Jensen, Georgia State Herpetologist, is leading a closely related project to assemble suggested educational guidelines to assist persons in developing herp conservation presentations. He hopes to be able to have a short workshop in conjunction with the October 20 meeting so that herp enthusiasts like those I hope to identify can offer their suggestions on the guidelines. If you would like to participate, email either John or me.

Saturday, the heat broke and the evening was pleasant. At home, I flipped some tin and found a Southern Ringneck and rousted a small Midland Water Snake. After dark, I cruised the nearby roads and found an AOR, neonate Mole King Snake.

Sunday, was a pleasant, mostly overcast day. I found a large Redbelly Water Snake with a stump tail at the pond. After I photographed the neonate Mole King, Win released it back into the wild.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes from August 14 - 20

It's been very hot and dry this week. Unpleasantly hot. I have been outside in limited amounts and have noticed the herptile activity to be very limited. We see the usuall anoles, fence lizards, and skinks. Have noticed lots of great dragonflies and butterflies. We are still trapping, but now I am letting the students pick the locations and set the traps themselves. I heard this week of a 47 year old man found dead in a Miami apartment recently. His "pet" Canebrake evidently got him. He likely didn't go to the hospital because... Hmmmm. Anyway...

Monday (8-14-00): After dropping my son off at school, I saw a Red Fox AOR and recalled that I had seen a Gray Fox just last Friday evening. On Sunday while in the mountains I had seen a Groundhog. Nice mammals.

Tuesday (8-15-00): Nothing exciting. Cleaned a lot of cages.

Wednesday (8-16-00): Setting traps (turtle basket and funnel trap), we collected a couple of nice dragonflies of various species and I got a strange Tiger Beetle (solid brown, 11 mm long. Any ideas? I don't have a copy of the book here).

Thursday (8-17-00): No turtles (using cooked ham as bait) but the funnel trap did have an adult Green Frog and a good handful of minnows (the Ribbon Snakes appreciated these). We moved the traps to another pond, and this time baited with cooked chicken.

Friday (8-18-00): Took the boss's Green Tree Python to the local vet. His third visit in 4 weeks. His Mouth Rot is not clearing up and now he's wheezing and gurgling. She switched him to Batryl..... Baytril..... Baytryl.... injections daily for a week plus betadine rinses in the mouth and daily soaks in warm water. I also suggested that the boss sterilize the cage often to kill bacteria. At least if this one dies, I won't let them toss this one in the dumpster like they did the last Green Tree Python. A horrble waste of a great dead animal! Checking the traps we found the turtle basket empty and the funnel trap had a small Musk Turtle and some minnows (a treat for our Watersnakes). This was a very hot day,100 degrees F, with a hot wind. Unpleasant times to be outside. At home, I fed the hots out in the shop, all ate but one atrox who is pre-shed.

Saturday (8-19-00): We checked the traps... nothing. On campus our female Everglades Ratsnake started laying eggs, 65 days after laying a set of 25 eggs. She had not been back with the male. I expect the first clutch to be hatching soon. Some of the new baby Sinaloans have shed and, hopefully, will begin feeding soon. Several of you have asked about these and I'll let you know when they're ready. I also noticed a baby Fence Lizard in the big tank occupied by my adults.

We will start skinning and tanning snakes in our Taxidermy classes in September/October. If any of you have anything in the freezer, please remember us. Anybody going by Roark's/Glades or anywhere like that, it would be great if you could check with them also. Thanks.

Joey Holmes


Gene's notes from August 7 - 13

Another week without any herping. The only wild herp I saw was a Box Turtle which I moved off the roadway.

I spent considerable time this week setting up a new section for the website on "How to Identify Snakes." Since starting the web site, I have received hundreds of emails from person wishing to identify snakes they have encountered. I have done my best to answer them all. Trying to describe a snake to another person is very difficult. My intent with the new section is to provide advice to non-herpers. I plan to continually improve the content. If anyone, herper or nonherper, has helpful comments I would like to receive them. The section can be accessed from the SCRA home page.

This coming week Win and I plan to attend a meeting of the Southeast Sub-Working Group for education and outreach of Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC).

Gene Ott


Joey's notes from August 7 - 13

I have spent very little time outdoors this week but do have a few things to mention.

Monday (8-7-00): I took a little drive to Spartanburg and then Greenville. I went by 4 pet stores and sold off 9 baby Corn Snakes. Selling off the hatch does provide some relief for our strained budget.

Tuesday (8-8-00): Sinaloan Milksnakes started hatching. We had 3 eggs slit by the time I left work.

Wednesday (8-9-00): All Sinaloans (6) have hatched. All appear normal. We set out the funnel trap and turtle basket in a creek. Caught a few Cricket Frogs.

Thursday (8-10-00): My son turned 13. I am now the father of a teenager. Just where do the years go?!?!?!?!?!?! We checked the traps. Nothing in the turtle trap, but we had a handful of bream in the funnel trap. Before I left work, a fellow herper from Greenville stopped by for a visit. Nice guy.

Friday (8-11-00): One of the baby corns that had not started feeding died. Death supplements life. I cut the snake in 4 pieces. Offered them to the baby Mole Kings. One accepted. These little fellows refuse pinkies, Anoles, and Fence Lizards. They do accept little skinks. Several are now approaching their second shed. After work I was in the back yard and found the Yellowjackets! Two of them got me and made me do the Yellowjacket dance.

Saturday (8-12-00): Win Ott and his date came up for supper. We talked a lot about herping but didn't go out and do any. Bright moon out.

Sunday (8-13-00): Family time and recreation trip to Pisgah National Forest in the mountains of Western North Carolina. We snorkeled in very cold water (briefly). Saw some trout and minnows. We saw lots of butterflies, a few dragonflies, found 2 Blackbelly Salamanders and 1 Blackchin Red Salamander. I found a very odd little crayfish. Small, and bright red all over. We also found another Yellowjacket nest, very near our grill and picnic table, but we took great caution, and nobody got stung. I bought a cool Dragonfly T-Shirt at the ranger station.

Joey Holmes


Gene's notes from July 31 - August 6

This was not a good week for me. Back problems during the early part, followed by a mild case of food poisoning. I think I got the bug from a local restaurant. This is my second bout this summer. My list of acceptable restaruants is getting short!

On Friday I saw a nice sized Snapping Turtle, 10 to 15 pounds, stalled in the middle of the road near Simpsonville. It was coated in red mud. A good Samaritan had already stopped to help it off the road.

Speaking of mud. It sure has been nice to have rain for the last month. Although the ground water has not been replenished, the surface is verdent. Things look like they should in the Piedmont again. In normal years I believe the Piedmont is the most biologically productive region of the state.

Win searched around a beaver pond on Saturday for snakes. Says he might have heard some but did not see any.

I've seen several Five-lined Skinks around home this week. On Sunday, Win helped me mow the lawn. While trimming weeds he found a Northen Brown Snake. Earlier in the day, the cat had left me a dead Redbelly Snake on the patio.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes from July 31 - August 6

Hello to all,

I've not had a lot of herping time this week, but some things of interest have happened. I also neglected to mention last week that the 2 Speckled Kings acquired earlier this year have died. They originally fed well, but then stopped. I soon noticed lumps in the lower bodies of both. I tried everything I could think of, soaks, water enemas, cooking oil orally, cooking oil enemas, message, forceps, nothing worked. They both died. Wild caught as adults in Louisianna, likely that both were loaded with parasites. So, I may not get to breed my little female next year.

Monday, (7-31-00): Off work, but went by, Saw some deer fawns along the way. Pretty.

Tuesday, (8-1-00): At work taking care of the animals. Lots of the baby Corns have started feeding. Took 10 by the local pet store. Got plenty more.

Wednesday, (8-2-00): Nothing unusual that I can recall.

Thursday, (8-3-00): Found a small Eastern Kingsnake on campus. Later, I took a class down into Newberry County to herp around a bit there. Saw a racer. Got away. AOR Box Turtle. Found some nice areas in the National Forest to explore and enjoy nature.

Friday, (8-4-00): Herping back in Newberry county, saw and lost another Racer. AOR Rough Green Snake on I-26, no way to stop and help it.

Saturday, (8-5-00): We prowled around a bit locally in the afternoon. After dark saw some DOR's but nothing odd. Copperhead, Ratsnake, etc.

I've flipped a fair amount of tin lately, with little results. I believe things will be picking up in the next month or so. I feel the call of the lowcountry and really need to get down there, by day or by night or both.

Take care,

Joey Holmes


August 28, 2000
Gene Ott

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