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 Post subject: Herping in coastal SC/Charleston (PICS ADDED)
PostPosted: June 6th, 2017, 3:43 pm 

Joined: January 8th, 2017, 8:45 am
Posts: 6
Hi Folks,

Long time lurker first time poster here...hopefully some of you great folks can help me out. A quick background, I've been enamored by reptiles since childhood and have owned many reptiles and lizards. I've also volunteered at a "living museum" in Virginia during high school which had me moving nonvenomous snakes from tank to tank while I cleaned their habitats. Over the last 6 years, I let work take over my life and basically stopped all hobbling. I finally got to the point where I couldn't live like that anymore and about a month ago, I quit. I couldn't be happier and despite looking for a new career, I'm not going to waste this time off and would like to engage in some heavy herping in this area. Problem is, I'm not from SC and while our area is crawling with reptiles, I'm not sure where to start.

Over the last two weeks, I've encountered 5+ banded water snakes, a rat snake, and 2 black racers just on my walks through James Island County Park. I can find water snakes with my eyes closed at this point. Right now, I'm really interested in finding venomous species (pygymys, canebrakes, cottonmouth and copperheads). I've never seen a venemous snake in the wild and that's been my new goal. I'm not sure how many cottonmouths are in James Island County Park because most of the park is surrounded by brackish/salty swamp marsh rather than cypress swamps, and I don't know if cottonmouths like a brackish environment.

Yesterday I drove up to another park in North Charleston called Wannamaker County Park to scope it out. I read that a boy had been bitten by a timber rattler there in 2011, and it's definitely got the potential to house thousands of snakes. I was with my dog at the time so I didn't really go off trail for her sake, but was thinking about returning tomorrow. Here are a few questions I have, hopefully someone can help me out!

1. It's rained heavily here for the last two days, are snakes more or less active during/after a heavy rain?

2. Are rattlers, cottonmouths and copperheads likely to be found more inland or can I find them within a few hundred yards of salt/brackish water?

3. I've noticed folks have posted about herping in this area but it appears to have been 5+ years since a specific post around Charleston. Are there any members or lurkers out there that would be willing to accompany me? Or at least give me a good location to start at?


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 Post subject: Re: Herping in coastal SC/Charleston
PostPosted: June 6th, 2017, 4:35 pm 

Joined: January 8th, 2017, 8:45 am
Posts: 6
After reading more posts, I felt it important to state that I have no intention of harming or removing ANY wildlife from the area. The only time I've ever moved an animal from its natural location is if it was in imminent danger (on a main road, etc).


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 Post subject: Re: Herping in coastal SC/Charleston
PostPosted: June 7th, 2017, 9:03 am 
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Joined: January 19th, 2014, 4:34 pm
Posts: 522
Location: Springfield, VA
I have never herped Charleston besides finding a Green Anole smack in the middle of downtown, but I did some research last summer when I thought I was going to be there for a month or two in the fall (which did not happen).

I suggest checking out Francis Marion National Forest and try roadcruising at night, whether on a warm, humid night or after a rain. On dry nights, the snakes will be out in abundance, I'm sure, given the lack of development and low traffic volume up there. On rainy nights, frogs will be moving and calling in large numbers. You won't find as many snakes out during rain, but often times just before a storm hits, you can find them moving. During the winter months, you should be able to cruise some Ambystomatid salamanders. During mid/late Fall and Spring (when it's no longer uncomfortably hot out), daytime road cruising ought to be productive up there as well.

From what I hear, Cottonmouths can be found close to brackish water, and I have personally observed an EDB on beach sand dunes in GA.

Happy hunting and be sure to share your finds!


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 Post subject: Re: Herping in coastal SC/Charleston
PostPosted: June 7th, 2017, 2:52 pm 

Joined: January 8th, 2017, 8:45 am
Posts: 6
Thank you very much for the insight mtratcliffe. The question about whether or not snakes are out during the rain was probably my biggest one, because today was the third day in a row of constant rain sunrise to sunset. We finally got a short break from the downpour between 2-3pm, so I headed back to the park in North Charleston to see if I could find anything. I flipped a few logs and found a type of chorus frog I believe, but didn't take a picture. I'll take pictures every time from here moving forward. I did find tons of signs of snakes, but no specimens to report. I've included a few pictures from today's trek, as well as some pictures of the snakes that I've spotted in the JI County Park and my backyard over the last two weeks, including a juvenile rat snake, multiple Nerodia, and a juvenile black racer. The larger Nerodia is in a tank as I rehomed her from my backyard to the park, where I've seen 5 other examples of the same species in the last couple weeks. I normally would never move any animal but I live in a neighborhood, and if she had strolled into any other yards, she'd likely be killed out of fear by one of my neighbors.

Now that I'm looking, I don't see any way to post an image, any advice on how to do that? Does the admin have to allow it?


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 Post subject: Re: Herping in coastal SC/Charleston
PostPosted: June 8th, 2017, 3:14 am 
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Joined: January 19th, 2014, 4:34 pm
Posts: 522
Location: Springfield, VA
Try uploading your images to Flickr. Then, go into your Photostream, and use the option to create a link to the photo, and use the "BB Code" option to post a link directly into your post. That link will embed the photo to your post. Recommend using the medium size.


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 Post subject: Re: Herping in coastal SC/Charleston
PostPosted: June 8th, 2017, 7:08 am 

Joined: January 8th, 2017, 8:45 am
Posts: 6
Ok, looks like I'm going to have to get a Flickr account. I just checked the weather and although it's 65 degrees out now, it's supposed to get warmer and totally clear up by around 3pm. It seems like most everyone has the most success after a rain in the evening, so that's what I'm going for! Wish me luck!

I'll create the Flickr account and add the pictures when I get back this evening!


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 Post subject: Re: Herping in coastal SC/Charleston
PostPosted: June 9th, 2017, 8:42 am 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
Posts: 1662
I'm originally from Johns Island, left as a child and still go back once in a while to see family. I haven't seriously herped that area in probably 25 years but I will share some thoughts:

I've found - as a teenager or young adult - canes, coppers, and/or 'mouths on the following islands - James, John's, Wadamalaw, Seabrook, and/or Kiawah. I recall being a very small child in the early-mid 70's, and seeing a few big diamondbacks (killed in the yard, by my family) on John's but I suspect they are now all gone from there. I bet they could still be found in the dunes out by the beach.

I've found no pigs ever, there.

Canes, coppers and 'mouths all can persist in the kind of low-density, large-lot housing, with patches of woods (vacant lots) with farm fields scattered throughout, landscapes that the quieter parts of Wadmalaw, John's, and even still parts of James Island offer.

Don't be the least bit put off by brackish water. There's lots of snakes where the oaks meet the marsh.

In the summer you'll need to cruise or flip. Watch your hands, and have fun. Ask people if you can flip their garbage.

cheers


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 Post subject: Re: Herping in coastal SC/Charleston (PICS ADDED)
PostPosted: June 12th, 2017, 10:22 am 

Joined: January 8th, 2017, 8:45 am
Posts: 6
Thanks Jimi, I've lived here for 5 years and have never actually made it out to Kiawah, so I think we'll go ahead and do that right now! I'll let you know what I find but I'm essentially flying blind, so hopefully I'll get lucky.

I managed to create a Flickr account and have included a bunch of photos below for your viewing pleasure (and identification advise on the arachnids). All pictures were either taken in my yard, or on the trails during our walks through James Island County Park and another county park in North Charleston. I've yet to see a snake in the North Charleston park, but I know they HAVE to be there since that's where I found the shed skin and then the skeleton.

Mama Nerodia found in the backyard, relocated her safely to the park so she wouldn't be killed by a neighbor, lots of paranoid folks in this neighborhood and EVERYTHING is venomous to them.
Imageimage by Jimmy Credito, on Flickr

Nerodia belly
Imageimage by Jimmy Credito, on Flickr

Adult rat snake, couldn't get closer with the dog
ImageIMG_3858 by Jimmy Credito, on Flickr

Juvenile rat snake
ImageIMG_3808 by Jimmy Credito, on Flickr

Can you find the baby Black Racer?
ImageIMG_3798 by Jimmy Credito, on Flickr

Sheddings
ImageIMG_3827 by Jimmy Credito, on Flickr

Skeleton
ImageIMG_3819 by Jimmy Credito, on Flickr

Good Cottonmouth territory?
ImageIMG_3834 by Jimmy Credito, on Flickr

Wolf spider with eggsac
ImageIMG_3832 by Jimmy Credito, on Flickr

ID?
ImageIMG_3873 by Jimmy Credito, on Flickr

What are these two bugs, and what are they doing?
Imageimage by Jimmy Credito, on Flickr

Crawdad and dragonfly together
ImageIMG_3829 by Jimmy Credito, on Flickr

ID?
ImageIMG_3849 by Jimmy Credito, on Flickr


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 Post subject: Re: Herping in coastal SC/Charleston (PICS ADDED)
PostPosted: June 12th, 2017, 11:01 am 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
Posts: 1662
Quote:
Good Cottonmouth territory?

Oh yeah. That looks just fine.

Quote:
1. It's rained heavily here for the last two days, are snakes more or less active during/after a heavy rain?

I failed to reply to this part. In my experience, "recent" rain is OK. Recent as in the last few days, or even the AM of today. Just an hour or three ago, not usually so good. And to be actually raining on you sucks for finding anything but aquatic or semi-aquatic snakes. I think there are a couple of mechanisms behind this. One, it just cools things off too much, temps can't really recover before dark. Second, most snakes seem to hate getting rained on.

I also should have mentioned, canes seem to begin activity (on low-traffic roads) surprisingly early in the afternoon. Say, start looking about 4 PM in the summer. Go somewhere really quiet like inland a bit down by the Savannah River.

Good hunting, watch where you put your hands and feet.


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