Monday, May 18, 2009

I wasn't planning on much herping Saturday morning (May 16th), but on my standard Woodlands Cemetery weekend jog I flipped two adult female brown snakes (Storeria dekayi). That was enough of a hint from the herping gods to send me out to Mt. Moriah.

I hadn't expected a warm, misty morning to yield many snakes hiding under cover objects, but obviously the snakes knew something I didn't.

Herpers operate under a lot of assumptions that we too often treat as hard and fast rules. For example we often assume that snakes use cover objects for heat and/or moisture: cover objects to transfer heat from the sun without forcing snakes to bask in the open, and the objects preserve moisture in relatively dry settings. For both these reasons a wet, almost foggy morning should yield little under cover - no sun to heat the cover object, and no advantage of avoiding dessication.

The brown snakes of the Mt. Moriah cemetery disagreed along with their sisters in the Woodlands. I found six adult females along with an adult male and a yearling female. Almost all the adult females looked plump and were getting ready to shed their skins, and all of them were under trash. I'm pretty sure they were all pregnant, but I don't think they're due for another month and half. So, for the next few weeks we should be catching plump female brown snakes.

I also found this gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis), that held still long enough for me to get some photos. Of course it was chewing on my hand, but a foot-long gartersnake doesn't do much damage, and I love how they flatten out to flash that toothpaste blue-green in between their scales.

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