Indigo snakes (Drymarchon corais) are one of the most highly-sought-after snakes on the continent. They are big snakes, growing to over eight feet, and beautiful at any size. Their name refers to their deep, shiny blue-black color, often highlighted with a rose chin and throat. Indigo snakes are also rare. They’re federally listed due to a combination of their demand in the pet trade and their basic incompatibility with human civilization – a large diurnal snake is an easy mark for anyone who wants to kill it, and with a range of several hundred acres, an adult indigo has to dodge a lot of traffic to survive. Finding an indigo snake will make your day if not your month (… if not your year).
Scott had invited me along on his Florida excursion sometime in early December, long after our plans had been set (and plane tickets bought, vacation arranged at work, etc.) to spend Christmas with Jen’s family in
I was talking to him on my cell phone in a movie theater lobby (we had just seen Charlie Wilson’s War – quite good) with mediocre reception, and so I didn’t quite understand his reply or believe the most likely interpretation of the crackling. I asked again, and he repeated what I thought he’d said: “Well yes, actually we did.” It was a young indigo at just three feet, but still Josh apparently jumped into Scott’s arms with joy. I sighed and recounted the previous day’s herping success in
We worked a couple streams in the
The first salamander we found was this half-grown lifer, a three-lined salamander (Eurycea guttolineata). These used to be considered a subspecies of our longtailed salamander (Eurycea longicaudata), and when grown up have a similarly slender build. I dig the bold black stripes and the silver and black mottling on the belly.
When I looked these guys up back home I learned they stick more to the flatter, boggier sections of streams instead of the rockier sections dominated by their two-line relatives, meaning my strategy was dead wrong and I probably would have found more downstream, not upstream. Jen soon flipped this tiny salamander, a baby slimy (Plethodon glutinosis) under a log just uphill from the bank.
Jen had been to our second stream a week earlier (she had come down to
These were about five inches long and beefy. Their backs were a dark purplish gray/brown color with only a vague pattern, and their bellies looked to be a uniform medium gray. I had a similar experience IDing duskies in
The last find was a DOR southern ringneck snake (Diadophis p. punctatus) we found walking back to our car. Late December is not when you usually expect to spot a snake, even a dead one, but it must have been run over just a couple days before.
This might be my last blog post of the year. I know other folks have been posting Best of 2007 posts, but I’m going to wait until the year is definitely over (and I’ll probably get in a New Years Day trip) and I’m stuck in a deep cold snap to assess and review the year.