SC Reptile and Amphibians


We had some frosty mornings during November but overall the month was warm. The weather continues to be dry. I heard a long range forecast for another warmer and dryer than normal winter.

Despite the warm weather I did not see any reptiles, but the salamanders were active. The Three-Lined Salamanders completed their mating rites in the spring well. In late October I had counted as many as 19 in the well; on November 20th only 4 remained. Slimy salamanders were fairly easy to find under logs, rocks and debris. For about three weeks I could find one each time I checked under a piece of plywood and another under a piece of metal roofing. I am guessing that the same two salamander were living under the debris.

I found two species during the month for which I did not have pictures. I found a Northern Dusky Salamander under debris in the mud at the fish pond on November 20th. After a fine family feast on Thanksgiving Day (November 25th) I found an Eastern Mud Salamander. We had intermittent light rains during the day. The rains continued after dark. The temperature was very pleasant. I drove to a portion of nearby road which runs along the divide between the hillside and the alluvial plain of a large creek. I walked about a quarter mile of the road with my flashlight and found 3 Marbled Salamanders, 4 Slimy Salamanders, the 1 Eastern Mud Salamander, and 1 Upland Chorus Frog. I heard a few other chorus frogs feebly singing in the ditches.

The next day was warm and partly sunny. Win and I visited a local area of rock outcroppings. It looked like a perfect location to find some snakes hoping to catch a few more rays before the long sleep. No luck. We did find a large Slimy Salamander and a very large grub. We decided to put a return trip on our agenda for early next Spring.

I believe that November must be the most deadly month for local small mammals. I've seen a dozen or more DOR oppossums, cotton-tailed rabbits, striped skunks, and gray foxes. And the number of DOR gray squirrels is too great to count. On one stretch of about 200 feet of road I saw 6 DOR squirrels laid out in the same lane. The scavengers are having their feasts.

One fine, sunny morning I looked across the field in front of my home saw at least 50 turkeys warming themselves at an edge of the cow pasture. Across the barbed-wire fence from the turkeys, a couple dozen vultures were spreading their wings to capture the rays, too. And on a recent night I heard a bobcat scowling (my description, it probably was singing a love song) . There are many pleasures to living in the country!

With this temporary monthly format for the observations, I am going to summarize Joey's weekly notes in with mine. Since he has not been seeing a lot of herps, Joey has contributed a number of herping memories to the site. If you haven't seen them, they are under the Herp Tales section and are very interesting.

Unlike me, Joey saw a few reptiles this month, mainly Green Anoles but also some Ground Skinks and Fence Lizards. He also reported finding numerous Slimy Salmanders under debris. Additionally, he found a Two-Lined Salamander and has seen several American Toads and 3 large female Southern Leopard Frogs.

Joey has been keeping busy. He gave a snake/lizard talk to a 3rd grade class in Greenville. He and his student have been getting the breeder snakes ready for hibernation and have tanned quite a few snake skins. He sends his thanks to everyone who has given dead snakes to work on.

Joey says its time he should put up a drift fence to get some Spotted Salamanders in a place he knows by the river.

He reports having seen a number of birds of prey, including Kestrels, Red-Tailed Hawks, and Harrier (Marsh) Hawks.

We hope everyone has very happy holidays during December. Joey, Win, and I have really enjoyed sharing our herping experiences with everyone this year. I really appreciate hearing from all of you who have sent e-mail messages or questions.

Gene Ott, Win Ott, and Joey Holmes

December 1, 1999

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