Thursday, April 07, 2011

It was not I, but my cousin Tim who found the year's first brown snake (Storeria dekayi). This is my cousin Tim who is working hard to get over his fear of snakes, who manages to stand closer to my extremely docile caged rat snakes (Pantherophis obsoleta subspecies) but still hasn't worked up the courage to touch one yet; it was he who found the brown snake.

We were hanging out last weekend, a weekend when other obligations had prevented me from taking the proper herping trip(s) the weather demanded, and I decided to go for a quick walk with him in the Woodlands Cemetery near our respective apartments in West Philly.

This is a beautiful time in our neighborhood, with flowers popping out everywhere, especially now on the magnolias and ornamental cherries. (eat it up flower lovers; these are the only ones you're likely to see all year).

Once in the cemetery I steered our course towards where I've seen the most snakes, and after I had unsuccessfully looked under a few logs and boards, Tim kicked at a chunk of a decaying stump to reveal a pleasant female brown snake.

Here she is - extremely calm, didn't even poop on me.

I found my own critter a few minutes later under a rotting board:

That is an enormously gravid redback salamander (Plethodon cinereus), who is soon to lay a bunch of eggs and likely guard them under the board until they hatch out. The genus Plethodon is interesting in that the babies hatch out terrestrial, skipping the aquatic larval stage of most other salamanders and enabling them to live away from water.