SC Reptile and Amphibians


September 2000

Gene's notes from September 18 - 24

This week started out slow for herps but picked up at the end. Thursday and Friday the remnants of Hurricane Helene passed through leaving 4.5 inches of much needed rain. Even though the ground surface moisture has been maintained well for the last two months, the ground just a few inches below the surface is still dry. The water level in our small farm pond (about an acre at full level) rose only about 5 inches following the rain. The pond has an upstream drainage area of about 10 acres. Obviously, there was very little runoff, despite the ground having been wetted with a 1 inch rain just a few days earlier.

Wednesday, my wife reported seeing a large Copperhead in the middle of a quiet street in Laurens. She said the snake was moving but not crawling away. This indicated to me that it had just recently been runover.

Win road cruised a little late Wednesday afternoon in southwestern Greenwood County. He saw no herps but did see a Coyote bound across the road and off through a field.

Thursday evening I found a DOR Eastern Garter Snake.

Sunday afternoon, Win's friend brought over 2 newborn Eastern Mud Turtles which someone had found in their yard while digging. These two had just hatched; there were other eggs which were re-covered and left in place.

Win, his friend, and I search in and around one of the branches on the farm. We were hoping to find some newborn turtles. We found some Green Frogs and a Ground Skink, but no turtles. I dipped some small tadpoles and what I believe was a larval Northern Dusky Salamander from a spring pool.

Back at the house, Win and his friend cleaned the snakes' cages and the terrarium. They also fed mice to the snakes and crickets to the critters in the terrarium. They also noticed the newborn Fence Lizards and Anoles which have been living around the footing of the house. While Win had the Florida Cottonmouth out of the cage, I took a picture of its belly.

Win's friend picked up a very old female Eastern Box Turtle which we saw crossing the driveway. The turtle's coloring had faded to mostly dark gray, with only a few faint orange markings. She also appeared to have a cataract on the right eye. I thought about photographing her, but she was very anxious to continue her journey, not ever bothering to close up. So we returned her to the spot where she had been and she scurried on.

Late in the afternoon, Win and his friend road cruised near some beaverponds in Greenwood County. They saw a couple of DOR Painted Turtles but little else. Discouraged they drove back into Greenwood and found a medium-sized Snapping Turtle crossing a busy 4-lane highway. Fortunately, there was a lull in the traffic and Win was able to remove the turtle from the road.

Since the evening was warm, I decided to do a little local road cruising. I left just before dark. I saw a Racoon doing some road cruising of its own. After the sky darkened I saw a couple of Green Tree Frogs hopping across the road. I came upon a fresh DOR Eastern Garter Snake. Then, about a hundred feet further down the road I found a live Eastern Garter Snake which I collected for later photographing. It intrigued me that I had found them so close together. I went back and retrieved the DOR snake. Later, at home, I determined that both snakes were males. The DOR was 19.5 inches in length and the AOR was a little smaller. I placed the DOR in with a young Eastern Kingsnake which I have been keeping for a couple of weeks. The Kingsnake had eaten a large mouse earlier, but it did not take it long to decide that the Garter would make a good entree.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes from September 18 - 24

Had some outside time this week (I was off work). Let me tell you about it.

Monday (9-18-00): Yard work here (with my new Chain saw). Found a Yellowjacket nest in the yard. # 4 for the year (in the yard!). Flipping tin I found a Wasp nest (I can still outrun these guys in briars!)

Tuesday (9-19-00): ROAD TRIP! To the National Forest outside Charleston. I went in on the heels of (the former Hurricane) Gordon. On the way down I cruised briefly through a section of 4-Holes Swamp in the pre-dawn to look for DOR's. Found nothing but an AOR Southern Toad. On to the National Forest. Copperhead, under tin was my first score. Then a Racer. Then under more tin I found a nice Cornsnake. As best I could measure he was 54 inches. Then 3 AOR Racers that all got off the road quickly. Caught a Racer in Williamsburg County under some old cardboard boxes under a bridge (only 20 counties in SC to catch snakes in and I'll have them all!). Finally in an overgrown field near an old building I got a whopper big/old/scarred/crusty Eastern Kingsnake. I also found a Dwarf Salamander, Southern Chorus Frog, Southern Cricket Frog, basking Sliders, Anoles, Fence Lizard, Racerunners, and Skinks (fair assortment of herps). DORs included Banded Watersnake and Greenish Ratsnake. Found some great Dragonflies and tons of awesome Butterflies including Common Wood-Nymph. The store in Jamestown was coated with great moths during the morning but me with no moth book. Black Widow Spiders and Cow Killers also helped make the day interesting. Afout 500 miles made for a long day but it was a good outing/adventure.

Wednesday (9-20-00): More yard work. Found ANOTHER Yellowjacket nest! Ground Skinks and Anoles also.

Thursday (9-21-00): Went to work and fed the snakes. At the local bookstore I picked up my copy of Dunkle's "Dragonflies Through Binoculars"! A super book! So glad to have it!

Friday (9-22-00): Family road trip. We ended up in Western NC and I found a Brown Snake under tin near Lake Lure. Thought about going out to hunt Salamanders (it was raining) near Chimney Rock (where we were staying) but I was a bit too tired to crawl around in the woods in the rain.

Saturday (9-23-00): Outside Hendersonville NC, I saw a Great Spangled Fritillary. After returning home I checked my tin and caught a large Southern Ringneck Snake.

Sunday (9-24-00): I went to Lake Greenwood with family. Poked around a bit and found 5 watersnakes but caught none of them. On the way home we found a DOR Copperhead and also saw something AOR but failed to get our lights on it for an ID.

Joey Holmes


Gene's notes from September 11 - 17

The changing of the season has spurred local herps into activity.

Monday evening, beginning at twilight, a began cruising local roads. After about an hour and a half, I finally spotted what looked like a very small brown snake on the road. I backed up and confirmed it was a snake. I grabbed my flashlight a stepped out to get it. I was casual, thinking that such a small snake in the middle of a newly surfaced road could not get away. I was wrong! I could not find it anywhere. My best guess is that it was a newborn Mole King.

I cruised another hour but saw no more snakes. I did see a large toad in the road which did not look like the usual Fowlers Toads that are everywhere during the summer. I picked it up and found that it was an American Toad. I usually do not see Americans except in the early Spring.

Tuesday morning while running errands, I found 2 DOR newborn Black Rat Snakes. That afternoon, while on more errands, I found a nice old male Box Turtle on the road, a DOR adult Mole King Snake, and an AOR newborn Snapping Turtle. After returning home, I flipped several pieces of tin and found a Slimy Salamander and a Ground Skink.

Encouraged by my earlier finds, I road cruised after dark but saw only a couple of toads.

I cruised at twilight on Tuesday and Wednesday but saw no snakes.

On Friday evening a weather front passed bringing cooler, drier air. I road cruised at twilight and found an AOR Eastern King Snake about 28 inches in length.

The temperatures were markedly cooler Sunday morning. As overcast skies cleared, temperaures rose into the sixties. I found 2 newborn Fence Lizards and a newborn Green Anole near the house. I found a Five-lined Skink under a piece of sheet metal. Under a board in the dry bed area of the farm pond I found a Mud Turtle. Under a piece of plywood beside the concrete encased spring, I found 3-foot plus Redbelly Water Snake. It is in the well of this spring that Three-lined Salamanders have been breeding each fall. This particular piece of plywood has been in place for about 6 years. Before the drought, I could regularly find Redbellies underneath it. During the last 3 years, the Redbellies had almost abandoned it.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes from September 11 - 17

Salutations to All:

Monday (9-11-00): Went to a small elementary school in Greenville County to do a snake/lizard talk. About 200 kids were there. The Cornsnake pooped all over my hand, the table, the chair, some got on the floor.........the kids were "excited" and I taught them to "never do a talk with live animals, unless you take your PAPER TOWELS!" Not quite as bad as when I did a talk in Greenwood and had an Eastern King (while I was explaining all about how gentle they were and made such good pets) turned and bit my wrist. That 100 or so kids were not likely to become "snake lovers".

Tuesday (9-12-00), At work, most of the Everglades hatchlings have shed and some began to feed. Good. At least 2 of the Sinaloans have started feeding really well.

Wednesday (9-13-00): Fed mice to the Eastern Hognose. Scented with Toad juice from the blender.

Thursday (9-14-00): Nice day. After work and picking my son up at school, we went by a large, local pond. We found Beaver tracks/trails, some nice Dragonflies, and some Cricket Frogs. One of the Corns from this year's hatch attacked, constricted, and swallowed its first grown mouse (not a large mouse, but a weaned mouse). Kinda' makes you proud.

Friday (9-15-00): Collected some feeder Anoles and Toads on campus. We had 4 problem feeders out of the lot of 57 Corns this year. Well, one of them took an Anole! May be some hope for it. We also mixed up some Bass juice in the blender, and scenting mice, fed the Checkered Garter, Eastern Garter, and a Midland Watersnake. Ribbon Snakes refused to eat the pinkies dipped in Bass juice.

Saturday (9-16-00): Another staff brought us a large Eastern Garter picked up on campus. After work I took the long way home (road cruise) but found nothing. At dark I went out breifly but found nothing but a long-dead Mole Kingsnake on the road. The night sky was pretty. I watched the stars from the yard. Saw one satellite.

Sunday (9-17-00): A friend and I went to the pond. Saw nice birds and a few Dragonflies, plus some small frogs/toads. Here under my tin we uncovered a Red-Bellied Snake.

Joey Holmes


Gene's notes from September 4 - 10

The first part of the week was cool, down into the 50s at night. By the end of the week daytime temps were back into the high 80s. During the week I saw numerous Box Turtles on the roads; most were AOR. I noticed a couple of DOR Black Racers.

Win did a little field herping on Friday. He found a nicely colored Northern Brown Snake inside a rotting log.

Sunday was a beautiful day. I road cruised about an hour during mid afternoon but saw no herps. That evening, at twilight I set out again. Almost immediately I found a 32 inch AOR Corn Snake. It had been so long since I had found a medium-sized or larger snake on the road this Summer that I could hardly believe my eyes. As I stopped, I told myself that it was probably dead. But no, it was in excellent shape.

I continued to cruise for an hour but saw no more snakes. I did see numerous toads, large and small, on the road. I made several sightings of Deer.

In the last two weeks I have received 3 emails from persons who have found Black Rat Snakes. Two found clutches of hatching or ready to hatch eggs in mulch piles and the other found one in their house. It's that time of year again.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes from September 4 - 10

This week has been busy, but not always with animal business. Seen a few road kills, but I'm still not seeing much in the way of snake activities. Ground Skinks, Five-Lines, Fence Lizards, small Toads, are seen pretty much daily. Still giving the boss's Green Tree Python its daily injections. His mouth interior is still looking a little rough but he hasn't seemed to drop any weight and his breathing is good.

Monday (9-4-00): Busy with errands and duties. Did notice a Ground Skink while mowing the lawn (wow).

Tuesday (9-5-00): Cool and overcast, plus no herp time.

Wednesday (9-6-00): Regular day at work. My class last week skinned a 6 foot 2 inch Rainbow Boa. We are tanning the skin and it is looking fine.

Thursday (9-7-00): Used thawed toads to make a scent mix in the blender. Dipped pre-washed thawed mice. Fed 2 to an Eastern Hognose and 1 to a Midland Watersnake. No problems, no delays. Kind of odd to watch a watersnake eat dead mice.

Friday (9-8-00), Fed the Hots (venomous snakes) out in the shop.

Saturday (9-9-00): After work I went for a walk by the pond. Loads of Dragonflies; Gliders, Skimmers, and at least 2 spectacular 12 Spotted (Skimmers?). Beautiful! Also found Toads, Bullfrogs, and the shed skin of a large Black Racer.

Sunday (9-10-00): Went for a walk this morning by the Enoree River. Saw a nice Red Shoulder Hawk, Belted Kingfisher, Herons, scores of C. repanda (Tiger Beetles), a Gulf Fritillary and other common Butterflies. Good Herps? Bullfrogs, a Marbled Salamander, Eastern Painted Turtles, and Eastern River Cooters. Nice day for a walk.

Joey Holmes


Gene's notes from August 28 - September 3

We had scatterred rains during the week. About 4 inches total. I did a little night road cruising locally but saw only toads. In daylight I found a Red Eft AOR. Win and I have seen a good many Eastern Box Turtles AOR.

I did a lot of lawn and pasture mowing during the week. And cut up and hauled away a dead Oak Tree which had fallen into the pond. I saw the male Gulf Coast Spiny Softshell Turtle which we had released into the pond, along with 2 females, back in the Spring. He had been secretive for the last couple of months. I have sighted the females numerous times over the Summer. I'm hoping to find newborns.

The rains this summer seem to have helped the lizard populations. I've been seeing numerous Five-lined Skink neonates for the past several weeks. I even saw a neonate Six-lined Racerunner in the pasture. This week seems to be the peek hatching time for Green Anoles. Win and I have seen many of the neonates in the bushes around the house and pond.

Gene Ott


Joey's notes from August 28 - September 3

Happy Labor day to Everyone.

We're getting more rains now; makes the grass grow faster. I must spend more time mowing and have other obligations (this is my way of apologizing for the lack of interesting herp material) plus it seems the activity level of most snakes is low. No need to travel to or from breeding, nesting, hibernation sites. The vegetation is thick (plenty of hiding places) and plenty of food. All this just means that they are not moving much, not easy to find, also the heat keeps me in a bit.

Monday (8-28-00): Didn't get any herping done.

Tuesday (8-29-00): Typical Tuesday with cage cleanings at work (Caiman pen, rodents, other inside reptiles). A colleague stopped by after work (caught me wearing a tie) to get some baby snakes and feeder rodents. Everglades Ratsnake eggs started hatching.

Wednesday (8-30-00): Rains seemed good, so I took off up into southern Union County for a road cruise. Twenty miles out and 20 miles back. Saw a few frogs and toads hopping across. No snakes, dead or alive. My boss's Green Tree Python still has mouth-rot. Got a new Rx. We're still trying.

Thursday (8-31-00): Typical cage work again (sometimes I feel like a janitor or hotel maid for all these animals, can't seem to get much else done). I did see an AOR Rough Greensnake on the way home from work. Too much traffic to stop. I didn't hit him, I know that. I'm not sure about that cars behind me.

Friday (9-1-00): Collected feeder toads and skinks on campus. Nothing odd. A friend called to say he scored a copy of the new Dunkle Dragonfly book. Just happened to get the right person on the phone, she had connections...He was elated! Can't wait to get one myself.

Saturday (9-2-00): As usual per my schedule, cage cleanings. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday we clean the Caiman pen, rodent cages (20 mice and 6 rat breeding sets), then the reptiles. Takes a while. We only clean the big aquatic tanks once per season.

Sunday (9-3-00): Family time at the lake (after church). Lots of family, and rain. I did get a minute to check some nearby plywood but found nothing. Saw a few frogs and toads on the road on the way home.

Joey Holmes


September 25, 2000
Gene Ott

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