SC Reptile and Amphibians
December was not very different from November. We had a few cold days and the drought continued. I started pumping water from the branch into the pond on December 31; however, if rains do not pickup, I fear the branch will stop flowing soon.
I believe the dry weather has slowed the salamanders' breeding patterns. On the each of the very few warm, rainy nights we had in December Win and I walked our favorite roads. Each night we found several Slimy and Marbled Salamanders. There were lots of earthworms and several snails, slugs, and centipedes. We also found an occasional American Toad, Cricket Frog, and Green Tree Frog. At the beginning of the month, we also found several Southern Two-Lined Salamanders. One night we found a Spring Peeper on the road. Neither, it nor any of its kin were singing. Our best find was a Dwarf Salamander. Our last snake of 1999 was a young Northern Brown Snake which we found DOR while looking for salamanders on the night of December 5th.
I finished the month with a check of the Three-Lined Salamanders which are breeding in the spring well sump. October had been the peak of activity with as many as 19 adults in the sump. In late November, the males had left. There were only 4 adults seen, presumably all females. At the end of December, there were only 2 adults in the sump. However, larvae were visible hiding among the debris on the sump bottom. I used my Christmas present to myself, an Intel Play QX3 Microscope, to make pictures. It is sold as a toy, but for the money is a very useful tool. It has an electronic camera with lens of 10X, 60X, and 200X. I tested the movie capture feature by making a digital movie of blood flowing in the larva's gills.
Joey reports finding Green Anoles and Ground Skinks; Northern Dusky Salamanders, Marbled Salamanders, Slimy Salamanders, and a Red Eft; and hearing Upland Chorus Frogs. Joey also found a young adult Northern Red Salamander. His last snake of the year was a small Eastern Garter found on December 10th. He has regularly checked under likely boards in hopes of finding a Spotted Salamander but with no luck this month.
Speaking of aspirations, here's Joey's goals for the year 2000: "I hope to finally get my hands on a Timber Rattlesnake (not Canebrake), an Eastern Milksnake, Southern Hognose, Rainbow Snake, and Glossy Crayfish Snake. These are my goal snakes (not collecting, just want to catch and release). I have also looked at the maps, and believe I could be in Kentucky (along I-75), Virginia (by way of I-77), or Alabama (via I-20 or even I-85) within 3-4 hours. I've never caught snakes in any of those states. May need to make an effort! In the lab, we have some breeding projects planned and I hope this year to keep some Fence Lizards. I've kept Anoles, several species of local Skinks, and in 1999 I kept Racerunners. I've never had Fence Lizards. It's about time."
Joey has sent me his lists of snake finds for the years 1995 through 1999. I plan to post them in January.
Next month I will be moving the website to a new, larger host site. The site will also have its own URL. I am in the process of setting up the new site and expect to have it fully functional by mid January. So look for the site at www.snakesandfrogs.com and be sure to update your bookmarks.
Gene Ott, Win Ott, and Joey Holmes
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