2013 in FL, OH, AZ, CA and Belize

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Dr. Dark
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 3:39 pm
Location: Concord TWP, Ohio

2013 in FL, OH, AZ, CA and Belize

Post by Dr. Dark » January 8th, 2014, 11:44 am

I usually try to stay on top of my photo processing and posting, but this year was so hectic, things just got away from me. However, with the recent spate of "End of Year" posts, I was inspired to bite the bullet and plow through everything! (I'd like to first thank some great people for their help and herping companionship: Rick D., Bill H., Trey K., Doug D., Marty R., Chris G., Bruce E. and my son Max.)

Since I live in Ohio, my herping year typically starts with our spring trip to Florida. Bill H. and his family joined us this year in Naples. We mostly found the usual suspects...
Florida Cottonmouth Agkistrodon piscivorous conanti
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American Alligator Alligator mississippiensis
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Florida Cottonmouth Agkistrodon piscivorous conanti
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Florida Cottonmouth Agkistrodon piscivorous conanti
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Armadillo
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Southern Black Racer Coluber constrictor priapus
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Corn Snake Pantherophis guttatus
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Corn Snake Pantherophis guttatus
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Bill with Corn Snake Pantherophis guttatus
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same snake:
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Florida Softshell Turtle Apalone ferox
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Everglades Racer Coluber constrictor paludicola
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Florida Banded Water Snake Nerodia fasciata pictiventris
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Striped Mud Turtle Kinosternon bauri bauri
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Brahminy Blind Snake Ramphotyphlops bramina
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Peninsula Ribbon Snake Thamnophis sauritus sackenii
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juvenile Bald Eagle
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I found this strange looking mutt FAR from the coast by a small, land-locked pond.
Mangrove Salt Marsh Snake Nerodia clarki compressicauda hybrid(?)
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Florida Scarlet Snake Cemophora coccinea coccinea
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Florida Scarlet Snake Cemophora coccinea coccinea juvenile
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Yellow Rat Snake Pantherophis obsoleta quadrivittata
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Florida Brown Snake Storeria dekayi victa
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Back home in Ohio, in my own side yard, I found this gem, possibly the prettiest I have ever seen in the state!
Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis
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Black Rat Snake Pantherophis obsoleta obsoleta
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Black Rat Snake Pantherophis obsoleta obsoleta juvenile
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Black Rat Snake Pantherophis obsoleta obsoleta
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same snake:
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Eastern Milk Snake Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum
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Eastern Milk Snake Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum
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It was a great year for Saugas and Rick and I hit our usual spots with some interesting surprises in store!
Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Sistrurus catenatus catenatus
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GORGEOUS, large female...
Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Sistrurus catenatus catenatus
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Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Sistrurus catenatus catenatus
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Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Sistrurus catenatus catenatus
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To our GREAT astonishment and delight, we lifted a piece of our AC to find these two large females!!!
The first melanistic individual either of us had ever seen in person... The melanistic one had just shed (the skin was nearby) and she had the most beautiful velvety iridescence. Stunning!
Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Sistrurus catenatus catenatus
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We later found a normal and melanstic pair of males under a single (different) piece of AC!

In August, the babies started showing up, cute and pretty as ever!
Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Sistrurus catenatus catenatus juvenile
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Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Sistrurus catenatus catenatus juvenile
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When again, to our astonishment, we flip this little one:
Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Sistrurus catenatus catenatus melanistic juvenile
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Not long after, we find another engorged one!
Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Sistrurus catenatus catenatus melanistic juvenile
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And then ANOTHER under a different AC with a normal sibling. This melanistic one was also ENGORGED!
All in all, we found five melanistic babies and three of those were identically engorged! As I looked at the photos and got to thinking, I am convinced that these mel babies had all eaten snakes, possibly even stillborn (or live!) siblings! It is not hard to trace a sinuous snake shape over the bulges in these babies...
Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Sistrurus catenatus catenatus melanistic juvenile and normal juvenile
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I took a 5 day jaunt out to Arizona for my first herping trip in this US mecca. My good buddy Bill drove out from Vegas to meet me and we hit it hard. Weather was not great and though we had some success, I got skunked on most of the crotes I had hoped for.
First snakes of the trip though were these gems:
Green Rat Snake Senticolis triaspis LIFER
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same snake:
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another Green Rat Snake Senticolis triaspis
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Desert Patch-Nose Snake Salvadora hexalepsis hexalepsis
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Blackneck Garter Snake Thamnophis cyrtopsis LIFER
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same snake:
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Desert King Snake intergrade Lampropeltis getula splendida X
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same snake:
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Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake Crotalus mitchelli pyrrhus "Blue Spec"
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same snake:
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Western Long-Nose Snake Rhinocheilus lecontei lecontei LIFER
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same snake:
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I returned to Ohio for about a week and then flew back out west to California with my daughter Emily for a week. She was doing her senior project in Hollywood so I would drop her at the various studios for the day and I would go herping! I actually had some good success. I found this LUNKER SoPac in a nearby park.
Southern Pacific Rattlesnake Crotalus oreganus helleri LIFER
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same snake:
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same snake:
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Another smaller SoPac in a different area of the same park.
Southern Pacific Rattlesnake Crotalus oreganus helleri
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Coyote
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Also from the same park:
San Diego Gopher Snake Pituophis catenifer annectens LIFER
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same snake:
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Once again, my buddy Bill drove out and met me in Bakersfield. We headed north for 36 hours of herping.
Northern Pacific Rattlesnake Crotalus oreganus oreganus juvenile LIFER
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same snake:
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California Striped Whip Snake Masticophis lateralis lateralis LIFER
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same snake:
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Sierra Mountain Kingsnake Lampropeltis zonata multicincta LIFER
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same snake:
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Back in L.A., I picked up Bruce for a quick day's roadtrip to an area near the Salton Sea.
Red Diamond Rattlesnake Crotalus ruber
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Leaf-Toed Gecko Phyllodactylus xanti (?)
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Western Long-Nose Snake Rhinocheilus lecontei lecontei
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California Tree Frog Hyla cadaverina (?)
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Back home in Ohio...
Eastern Fox Snake Pantherophis gloydi
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Eastern Fox Snake Pantherophis gloydi
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Eastern Fox Snake Pantherophis gloydi
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Fledgling Owl
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Northern Water Snake Nerodia sipedon sipedon
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Northern Water Snake Nerodia sipedon sipedon subadult
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Northern Water Snake Nerodia sipedon sipedon eating an invasive gobie
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Northern Red-Bellied Snakes Storeria occipitomaculata occipitomaculata gray phase
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I found this strange looking Red-Bellied with elements of the red and gray phase coloration dorsally.
Northern Red-Bellied Snakes Storeria occipitomaculata occipitomaculata
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However, this individual had a black venter!
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Northern Ribbon Snake Thamnophis sauritus septentrionalis
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Northern Ringneck Snake Diadophis punctatus edwardsii
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In June we took a family vacation to southern Belize. I knew it was a BAD omen when, not even halfway from the airport to our destination, I came upon a fresh DOR 5+ ft. Black-Tail Cribo!!! I wanted to cry.
That same evening, after settling into our hotel, I went for a cruise and found a 5+ ft. DOR Parrot Snake! D'oh! I herped quite a lot that week with minimal success.

Red Coffee Snake Ninia sebae
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Black Spiny-Tailed Iguana Ctenosaura similis
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Northern Cat-Eyed Snake Leptodeira septentrionolis
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Brown Forest Skink Sphenomorphus cherriei
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These little guys were incredibly tiny and fast. I glimpsed them frequently as I hiked the jungle but they were almost impossible to catch. Below is the same individual in hand for size reference.
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Gray Fox
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Yellow-Spotted Night Lizard Lepidophyma flavimaculatum
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I did manage to night-cruise this gorgeous sub-adult Fer-de-Lance
Bothrops asper
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same snake:
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I found a couple of these crossing roads, which seemed odd as they are primarily arboreal.
Smooth-Headed Helmeted Basilisk Corytophanes cristatus
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Striped Basilisk Basiliscus vittatus
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Striped Basilisk Basiliscus vittatus large male
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I saw a few tiny toads during my hikes but this was THE only frog I saw the entire week.
Robber Frog Eleutherodactylus rhodopis (?)
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I also saw a Black-Striped Snake Coniophanes imperialis and a Maya Coral Snake Micrurus hippocrepis which eluded my capture (both LIFERs), so no pics. My last snake of the trip was a sub-adult Tiger Rat Snake Spilotes pullatus (another LIFER) that I stopped and helped off the road on our way back to the airport!

I did see some spectacular scenery.
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Back in Ohio again, I took a quick trip out to find what is probably Ohio's rarest snake.
Shorthead Garter Snake Thamnophis brachystoma
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My son Max and I took a day trip to the Lake Erie islands for some musking and blood-letting fun!
Lake Erie Water Snake Nerodia sipedon insularum
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Max with a large one!
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My buddy Trey and I hit a spot he knew of and we scored some county-record coppers!
Northern Copperhead Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix
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same snake...what a BEAUTIFUL face!!!
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Another Northern Copperhead Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix
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Later in the summer, I met up with Trey in southern Ohio for a day of herping.
Eastern Worm Snake Carphophis amoenus amoenus
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Eastern Smooth Earth Snake Virginia valeriae valeriae
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My last snake of the season would be this old gal. It was rewarding to find her in a new spot I had scoped out and hit a few times with no luck. Along with her, I found seven hatched-out nests! Can't wait to go there in the spring...
Eastern Hognose Snake Heterodon platirhinos
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same snake:
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same snake:
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I have always kept species counts for each year but this was the first year I kept count of numbers as well. I ended the year with 532 individual snakes from 50 species/subspecies, 15 of which were LIFERS. Not too bad...

1. Florida Cottonmouth Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti (Florida) 5
2. Southern Black Racer Coluber constrictor priapus (Florida) 6
3. Southern Ring-necked Diadophis punctactus punctatus (Florida) 2
4. Corn Snake Pantherophis guttatus (Florida) 4
5. Everglades Racer Coluber constrictor paludicola (Florida) 1
6. Florida Banded Watersnake Nerodia fasciata pictiventris (Florida) 2
7. Brahminy Blind Snake Ramphotyphlops bramina (Florida) 5
8. Peninsula Ribbon Snake Thamnophis sauritus sackenii (Florida) 7
9. Mangrove Salt Marsh Snake Nerodia clarki compressicauda (Florida) 1
10. Florida Scarlet Snake Cemophora coccinea coccinea (Florida) 2
11. Yellow Rat Snake Pantherophis obsoleta quadrivittata (Florida) 4
12. Florida Brown Snake Storeria dekayi victa (Florida) 2
13. Eastern Garter Snake Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis (Ohio) 225
14. Northern Brown Snake Storeria dekayi dekayi (Ohio) 34
15. Black Ratsnake Pantherophis obsoleta obsoleta (Ohio) 4
16. Eastern Milk Snake Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum (Ohio) 24
17. Eastern Massasauga Sistrurus catenatus catenatus (Ohio) 18
18. Green Rat Snake Senticolis triaspis (Arizona) 2 LIFER
19. Sonoran Whipsnake Masticophis bilineatus bilineatus (Arizona) 2 LIFER
20. Desert Patch-Nose Snake Salvadora hexalepsis hexalepsis (Arizona) 1 LIFER
21. Blackneck Garter Snake Thamnophis crytopsis (Arizona) 1 LIFER
22. Desert King Snake Lampropeltis getula splendida (Arizona) 1 LIFER
23. Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake Crotalus mitchelli pyrrhus (Arizona) 1
24. Sonoran Lyre Snake Trimorphodon biscutatus lambda (Arizona) 1 LIFER
25. Western Long-Nose Snake Rhinocheilus lecontei lecontei (Arizona) 1 (California) 1 LIFER
26. Southern Pacific Rattlesnake Crotalus oreganus helleri (California) 3 LIFER
27. San Diego Gopher Snake Pituophis catenifer annectens (California) 1 LIFER
28. Northern Pacific Rattlesnake Crotalus oreganus oreganus (California) 1 LIFER
29. California Striped Whip Snake Masticophis lateralis lateralis (California) 2 LIFER
30. Sierra Mountain Kingsnake Lampropeltis zonata multicincta (California) 1 LIFER
31. Red Diamond Rattlesnake Crotalus ruber (California) 1
32. Eastern Fox Snake Pantherophis gloydi (Ohio) 6
33. Northern Water Snake Nerodia sipedon sipedon (Ohio) 61
34. Northern Red-Bellied Snake Storeria occipitomaculata occipitomaculata (Ohio) 9
35. Northern Ribbon Snake Thamnophis sauritus septentrionalis (Ohio) 1
36. Northern Ringneck Snake Diadophis punctatus edwardsii (Ohio) 4
37. Queen Snake Regina septemvittata (Ohio) 19
38. Red Coffee Snake Ninia sebae (Belize) 1
39. Northern Cat-Eyed Snake Leptodeira septentrionalis (Belize)1
40. Maya Coral Snake Micrurus hippocrepis (Belize)1 LIFER
41. Fer-de-Lance Bothrops asper (Belize)1
42. Black-Striped Snake Coniophanes imperialis (Belize)1 LIFER
43. Tiger Rat Snake Spilotes pullatus (Belize)1 LIFER
44. Shorthead Garter Snake Thamnophis brachystoma (Ohio) 2
45. Lake Erie Water Snake Nerodia sipedon insularum (Ohio) 50
46. Northern Copperhead Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix (Ohio) 5
47. Northern Black Racer Coluber constrictor constrictor (Ohio) 1
48. Eastern Worm Snake Carphophis amoenus amoenus (Ohio) 1
49. Eastern Smooth Earth Snake Virginia valeriae valeriae (Ohio) 1
50. Eastern Hognose Snake Heterodon platirhinos (Ohio) 1

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Josh Holbrook
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Re: 2013 in FL, OH, AZ, CA and Belize

Post by Josh Holbrook » January 8th, 2014, 12:13 pm

Great stuff - the Hognose and Lake Eerie Watersnakes are favorites.


On your Mangrove Saltmarsh Snake - although it has some traits that clarkii sometimes have, I don't think it's anything other than a odd Florida Watersnake - with maybe some clarkii great grandfather or something. Obviously it's hard to get an accurate midbody scale count but it looks like it has more than 21 (diagnostic of pure clarkii, fasciata has 23), and although the red color is oftentimes a clarkii color (especially in the area you were in), it's not unheard of amongst fasciata - here are two pure fasciata found on the same evening: Image

Cool individual though. Look me up next time if you want to go hunt some clarkii, they're one of my Florida favorites.

Zach_Lim
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Re: 2013 in FL, OH, AZ, CA and Belize

Post by Zach_Lim » January 8th, 2014, 2:10 pm

Great photos and finds.

Looks like you had a great time in 2013, especially in CA.

That zonata is a screamer! Rock flipped, I take it?

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Roki
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Re: 2013 in FL, OH, AZ, CA and Belize

Post by Roki » January 8th, 2014, 2:34 pm

Nice post. I liked the shots from Belize. Another place I would love to get down to. My favorite shots were of the Crotalus mitchelli pyrrhus. Stunning coloration. Congrats on a good year.
Roki

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SurfinHerp
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Re: 2013 in FL, OH, AZ, CA and Belize

Post by SurfinHerp » January 8th, 2014, 9:04 pm

Very impressive year Dr. Dark!


Your melanistic massasaugas are especially cool. I don't recall ever seeing those posted here on FHF. I bet you'll be receiving many requests to take people to see them.
Do you really think the newborns ate their siblings? I didn't know Crotes would ever eat another snake. I'm not a Crote expert though.


I'm jealous of your green ratsnakes too :mrgreen: . Those are very high on my list of snakes I want to see in the wild.


Hope you have a good 2014!


Jeff

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Mark Brown
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Re: 2013 in FL, OH, AZ, CA and Belize

Post by Mark Brown » January 9th, 2014, 1:47 am

Wow, that's one helluva year! Love those Sistrurus, especially the melanistics. Those and melanistic Thamnophis are some of Ohio's best herping treats.

troy hibbitts
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Re: 2013 in FL, OH, AZ, CA and Belize

Post by troy hibbitts » January 9th, 2014, 6:47 am

i agree - that melanistic massauga was incredible! I would have shot 100+ images of that one!

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Dr. Dark
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Re: 2013 in FL, OH, AZ, CA and Belize

Post by Dr. Dark » January 9th, 2014, 7:32 am

Those melanistic saugas were a real treat! That big female was absolutely mind-blowingly beautiful! Tough to get good photos though, with the whole no-touchy thing and all! :(

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Norman D
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Re: 2013 in FL, OH, AZ, CA and Belize

Post by Norman D » January 9th, 2014, 9:49 am

Wonderful job! Love the saugs (melanistic or not) and glad you had a good time in Belize (disappointed that you didn't find a tzabcan though lol - those are my favorite rattlesnakes).

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Trey
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Re: 2013 in FL, OH, AZ, CA and Belize

Post by Trey » January 9th, 2014, 9:54 am

Awesome post Doc! What a year huh? Thanks for the honorable mention by the way haha. Were gonna have a killer 2014 I can feel it.

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Brendan
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Re: 2013 in FL, OH, AZ, CA and Belize

Post by Brendan » January 10th, 2014, 3:23 pm

I'll add another kudos on those melanistic saugs. Incredible!

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muskiemagnet
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Re: 2013 in FL, OH, AZ, CA and Belize

Post by muskiemagnet » January 10th, 2014, 4:23 pm

yea black saugas very very very cool. where did you find them??? could you post the coordinates for me please??? :lol: :lol: :lol: nice finds.

-ben

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Blacktail31
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Re: 2013 in FL, OH, AZ, CA and Belize

Post by Blacktail31 » January 10th, 2014, 10:23 pm

That's a hell of a good herp season. Thanks for posting!

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