Most Herps Found in a 24-hour Period?

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chris_mcmartin
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Most Herps Found in a 24-hour Period?

Post by chris_mcmartin » June 23rd, 2015, 5:05 am

Just out of curiosity, what's the most herps you've found in a 24-hour period? My question is in the context of out searching for them, but not, for example:

- breeding aggregations (e.g. 50 ringnecks under a rock in KS)
- hibernating aggregations (e.g. den of 50 timbers)
- pools full of tadpoles
- in a zoo or friend's collection!

This question was prompted by friends who recently had nights with 20+ snakes observed in west Texas. I can manage less than a dozen on a good night. However, counting amphibians, if conditions are right it is easy to observe over 100 while road cruising.

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Paul Freed
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Re: Most Herps Found in a 24-hour Period?

Post by Paul Freed » June 23rd, 2015, 7:40 am

Chris,
My most successful 24 hour period took place in Paraguay, back in 1996, where during a night drive up the Pan American Highway I encountered 16 species of snakes (from four families: Colubridae, Elapidae, Viperidae, and Boidae) representing about 35 individual snakes, as well as several lizards and numerous frogs and toads. This occurred at the onset of the rains and everything was out and about. It was one of my best and most productive herping experiences in more than 30 years.
-Paul

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Fieldherper
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Re: Most Herps Found in a 24-hour Period?

Post by Fieldherper » June 23rd, 2015, 1:37 pm

20+ snake nights are common in certain parts of W. TX---such as Brewster/Presidio Cos, but MUCH LESS common East of there in, say, Terrell or Val Verde Cos.

Why????

Snakes move more/cross roads in greater numbers in grassland/desert habitats than in rocky limestone habitats. Why would they neefd to leave their endless limestone catacombs & crevices to cross an open road??

I have had 15-20+ snake nights in TX, NM, NE, AZ, & CA.

I have had 20+ flipping days in CA, KS, AZ, TX, IA, MO, & NC.

Of course, timing, location, & experience mean everything!

FH

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Re: Most Herps Found in a 24-hour Period?

Post by Coluber Constrictor » June 23rd, 2015, 2:00 pm

The most snakes I've seen in a day is probably 20-something. Maybe more-I'd have to go through my notes from the past 6+ years.

Saw 35+ alligators in a day last time I was in Wakulla County FL (in February). Might have seen more than that in the Glades, Big Cypress and the Cajun country.

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Soopaman
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Re: Most Herps Found in a 24-hour Period?

Post by Soopaman » June 23rd, 2015, 3:56 pm

I was in those 20+ snake groups this last week with Sky et al, though our particular car didn't get that many. Collectively I think we were looking at 30+ for the three vehicles, with one getting an exceptional amount.

Other than that, during mid-April every year I will have a flipping day with snake numbers in the mid-30's, with large amounts of diversity.

A couple of my better days this year:

04-23-15 in North Texas

W. Coach - 1
E. Yellowbelly Racer - 1
Sonora - 13
Great Plains Rat - 6
Plains Blind Snake - 11
Night Snake - 2
Cottonmouth - 1
W. Massassauga - 1

Total: 38 snakes

04-13-15

E. Coach - 1/1
Graham's Crayfish - 1
E. Yellowbelly Racer - 1
Gulf Coast Ribbon - 1/2
Speckled King - 2
Flathead Snake - 2
Gulf Coast Brown Snake - 3
Cottonmouth - 1/1
Mississippi Ringneck - 1
Gulf Crayfish Snake - 1
Yellowbelly Water Snake - 0/1
Texas Rat - 1
Broadbanded Water - 2

Total: 21 Snakes

That day we got almost all of the snake species available in the area. That was a good day on the Texas coast! Missed out on MS Green Water Snake, Rough Green Snake, Saltmarsh Snake, Hognose, Prairie King, DB Watersnake, and Mud Snake. Theoretically Smooth Greens and western hogs are in the area too, but I don't know when the last one was seen.

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Re: Most Herps Found in a 24-hour Period?

Post by cbernz » June 23rd, 2015, 4:16 pm

On a good day in the southern Appalachians, I've probably seen 300-400 salamanders representing over a dozen species. When conditions are right, I can flip an average of 10 to 12 salamanders a minute.

The only other occasions I can recall that are even close to that were kayaking trips on some of the Gulf Coast rivers, where I've seen several hundred turtles over a stretch of 2-3 miles of river (various map turtles, sliders, cooters, musk, softshell).

The most species I've seen in 24 hours was probably the 28 or so species of frogs I saw my second night at Costa Rica Amphibian Research Center with Brian Kubicki (plus a handful of snakes and lizards as well). I think we had 34 or 35 species of frogs in two nights there.

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Re: Most Herps Found in a 24-hour Period?

Post by Josh Holbrook » June 24th, 2015, 3:34 am

I've had a night or two where our group has pushed 50 Mangrove Saltmarsh Snakes and Florida Watersnakes (though finding in the 20s is much more typical.)

During the spring rains in this corner of Appalachia, seeing 100-200 Desmogs per hour on the road at night isn't uncommon in some areas.

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Re: Most Herps Found in a 24-hour Period?

Post by cbernz » June 24th, 2015, 6:54 am

I forgot about my snakiest night ever, probably because it was so traumatic I tried to block it out of my memory. I was driving the Tamiami Trail with my dad one night in February after an evening thunderstorm, and there was a very short stretch of maybe 3/4 mile where it looked as if someone had spilled a truckload of watersnakes onto the road. We saw at least 40-50 snakes in that stretch, and there were undoubtedly more that we weren't seeing. I managed to pull over and briefly watch the death throes of my lifer Florida Green, but it was too unsafe to rescue anything. Oddly, we saw hardly any snakes beyond that little stretch.

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Re: Most Herps Found in a 24-hour Period?

Post by NACairns » June 24th, 2015, 7:26 am

Anuran choruses and migrations trump any other observations I've ever made. At single Pseudacris crucifer choruses in ON, VA and KY I have stopped counting at 500 individuals and that is discounting other species observed. Similarly I counted 500+ during a breeding migration of Spea bombifrons and Anaxyrus cognatus in south western MB. If we are just talking snakes, Thamnophis tend to inflate my numbers but as I find them to be a very interesting group I count them. If you do, then every trip I've made to the pits at Narcisse MB squashes any other total counts with thousands (again I stop at 500) of Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis with some Storeria occipitomaculata and Opheodrys vernalis thrown in for good measure.

Most in a day not dominated by Thamnophis:
In Grasslands National Park SK before the 2010 collapse I found:
74 Crotalus viridis (one den alone accounted for 61)
5 Coluber constrictor flaviventris
12 Thamnophis sirtalis
91 total
ImagePhotoDumpSept27_2010 105 by N Cairns, on Flickr

Most on a diverse day:
Norfolk County ON
1 Pantherophis gloydi
1 Heterodon platirhinos
5 Opheodrys vernalis
2 Storeria occipitomaculata
7 Storeria dekayi
10 Nerodia sipedon
48 Thamnophis sirtalis (11 melanistic)
74 total
ImageIMGP3396 by N Cairns, on Flickr

Fun to remember these things,
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Chaitanya
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Re: Most Herps Found in a 24-hour Period?

Post by Chaitanya » June 24th, 2015, 8:22 am

Anytime during monsoons in 24 hrs I can easily find atleast 30 species of herps here in western ghats. Even my last trip in Amboli barely 2 weeks back was a very successful one.

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Eric East
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Re: Most Herps Found in a 24-hour Period?

Post by Eric East » June 24th, 2015, 2:32 pm

We road cruised 60 snakes one night a few years ago.

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Re: Most Herps Found in a 24-hour Period?

Post by r.edwards » June 25th, 2015, 8:30 am

hmmm...not sure about 24 hours, but I did manage to averege more than a snake a minute for 47 minutes near dusk on a commonly herped road in southwest New Mexico.....2-3 snakes were viewed in the headlights a few times during this productive period, nothing super exciting was found, but it sure was fun!

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Re: Most Herps Found in a 24-hour Period?

Post by chris_mcmartin » June 25th, 2015, 6:01 pm

r.edwards wrote:hmmm...not sure about 24 hours, but I did manage to averege more than a snake a minute for 47 minutes near dusk on a commonly herped road in southwest New Mexico.....2-3 snakes were viewed in the headlights a few times during this productive period, nothing super exciting was found, but it sure was fun!
That's kinda the vibe I was trying to hit with this discussion...I've flipped multiple animals and multiple species; I've driven through migrations; but there's something a little different (dare I say, "special?") about traversing a wide area (either hiking, flipping, or driving) and getting numerous "hits" like you experienced rather than stumbling into a high concentration of single species etc.

Even at this year's Snake Days, for example, I was photographing a western diamondback when I happened to look about 50 feet down the road and found a longnose speeding across the road. I like flipping stuff, but there's a magic to simply being at the "right place at the right time" for chancing across a snake who decided to transit that particular area right when I was there.

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Tim Borski
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Re: Most Herps Found in a 24-hour Period?

Post by Tim Borski » June 27th, 2015, 4:01 am

A few years ago while being 'brushed" by a large tropical storm in central Florida I had 166 snakes by 9:30AM. (They were cruised on roads and hiked along margins.) I "changed zip codes" and ended the outing at 11:50pm with 205 or so of 13 species.

Another time much more recently myself and a couple neighborhood kids had 111 Saltmarsh snakes in a couple hours at the end of our street.

Edit: How quickly I forget. :oops:

Earlier this month in roughly 4.5 hours in WI I turned up:

70+ Garters
28 Western Fox snakes
25 Milk snakes
4 Northern Water snakes
1 northern Ringneck

128 total

Tim

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Noah M
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Re: Most Herps Found in a 24-hour Period?

Post by Noah M » June 27th, 2015, 9:16 am

I've heard stories of people herping in tropical storms down here and turning up hundreds of snakes, usually things like water snakes and ribbon snakes. But since living here, the hurricane seasons have been quiet. There was TS Debby a few years back, and I cruised after it passed and saw lots of carnage on the road, but ended up going in early because the road I wanted to cruise was blocked by fallen trees :|

I've hiked a short trail (less than a mile) and stopped counting recently metamorphed toads after I hit 100. I've done the same for other frog and toad species cruising in spring rains down here. I took video of squirrel tree frogs calling literally on the road - I got out and walked with my cell phone counting about 20 frogs and a handful of toads in about 2 minutes.

I road cruised one day and evening this spring and saw 11 racers and 1 coachwhip during the day (all AOR). Around dusk I saw another 7 individuals, both AOR and DOR.

About two weeks ago I had a great night: Here is the run down. The glass lizards, water snakes, and pygmy were all found in a very short amount of time. Two of the water snakes were seen at the same time. It works out to 7 animals in 43 minutes (1 animal every 6.1 minutes). If you include the corns that came a little bit later, that would be 9 animals in 58 minutes (1 animal every 6.4 minutes). This of course excludes the frogs and toads.

1 gopher tort (5:17pm)
1 canebrake rattler (6:17)
1 black racer (ignored voucher photo)
3 eastern Glass lizards (1 escaped voucher) (1st one seen at 8:13)
3 watersnakes (1 escaped voucher) (last one seen 8:56)
1 pygmy rattlesnake (seen at 8:53)
2 corn snakes (one DOR) (last one seen at 9:11)
1 pinewoods littersnake (9:22)
1 coral snake (9:32)
1 scarlet snake (9:49pm)
15 total finds
10 different speices
I'm ignoring the countless frogs and toads that were seen through the night as well.

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reptologist
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Re: Most Herps Found in a 24-hour Period?

Post by reptologist » June 27th, 2015, 1:22 pm

In my own experience I would have to say it was quite a few years ago but for sure it would be diamondback terrapins. My neighbors had a house directly across the street from the beach in South NJ. They would take me there for the weekend to hangout with their son and every June the terrapins would come out of the marsh and cross the road to the dunes on the beach. We would run up and down the street crossing them in both directions all day long and from a typical Saturday afternoon to Sunday afternoon we would see what seemed like more than a hundred. These numbers were dwarfed when the hatchlings arrived. We would walk up and down the same street and find hundreds of them stuck in the storm sewers. The drains were about a block apart and we patrolled about 6 of them. We had my friend' dads modify a soup ladle making it long enough to scoop them out of the water. In a one weekend trip which was not much longer than 24 hours we caught into the 100s. We caught so many over those years and I still take a ride to the shore to witness the terrapins laying eggs. Here are some recent pictures.
Image
Image
Image
Image

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chrish
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Re: Most Herps Found in a 24-hour Period?

Post by chrish » July 6th, 2015, 10:29 am

Although it is cheating, I've counted over 160 Trachemys basking at one large pond in south-central Texas. I'm sure than number would be easy to beat if anyone bothered.

Back when I was working at the SREL, we would take out herp classes from local universities and see how many species we could find in a day on the site (i.e. about 300 square miles). The record was over 50 species but on the years I did it we only managed around 45 species. One year we had 40 species by lunchtime.

One spring break, a buddy and I found 59 species of herp in 4 days in TX. We tried hard for a 60th but couldn't flip a Uta or Aspidoscelis in the desert east of El Paso on the way home.

That kind of diversity is hard to find other places.

Back in May of 1986, I drove down to the Rio Grande Valley to do some herping and birding. One night, I roadhunted north on a (formerly) quiet road. As soon as I turned onto my road, I found a snake (my lifer Ficimia streckeri!).

What followed was mind numbing. In the next 30 minutes, I found 9 species of snake in less than 5 miles (I only made it 5 miles because I was out of the car looking at snakes the whole time!).
I found:
Ficimia streckeri
Pituophis catenifer
Thamnophis marcianus
Pantherophis emoryi
Crotalus atrox
Arizona elegans
Tantilla gracilis
Rena dulcis
Rhinocheilus lecontei


Strangely, I only saw one of each species. And the rest of the night, I probably only saw 10 more snakes.....but that first 30 minutes was unbelievable!

Back in the days before the fracking boom, a rainy spring (April) night in certain parts of south TX would guarantee you 35+ snakes a night. Fifty was an easy count to achieve, even if 35 were Thamnophis marcianus and 10 were atrox. You would frequently be stopping for more than one snake at once on the road in front of you.

When I lived in El Paso, our "threshold" for a good night vs a bad night was if we saw more or less than 8 species of snake.

Why do we sound like a bunch of old fishermen sitting around a campfire? :lol:

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Re: Most Herps Found in a 24-hour Period?

Post by krisbell » July 6th, 2015, 11:32 am

Both diversity and sheer number have been well beaten by others in this post but I recorded over 30 juvenile keelbacks in NE Queensland during a 2 hour stint after several days of torrential rain had caused huge flooding and pushed every animal for miles around onto one elevated road. Saw a handful of other species too but had to call it a night when the two non-herpers I was with started to get bored!!!

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