2017 - Texas/Louisiana: Pop Milk!

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Soopaman
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Joined: March 18th, 2012, 6:34 pm
Location: Houston, Texas

2017 - Texas/Louisiana: Pop Milk!

Post by Soopaman » January 1st, 2018, 7:22 pm

It's been another great year in the south. Lots of great adventures with friends, and many cool snakes to discover. Big highlights of the year included a week long trip to south Texas with John and Armin, as well as a four day trip to west Texas with Brennan, and other weekend in west Texas where I met up with some friends from other states, and from out of the country. I took a lot less pictures this year, but I managed to find a lot more quality animals that I really wanted to photograph. I believe there's only a couple of lifers I got this year, but there's really not many left for me in Texas!


I started the year by meeting Armin and Brennan in the swamps of Louisiana on a cool sunny day near the end of winter. We spent the day looking for Louisiana milk snakes, and were gratified to find two of them, along with a variety of other snakes.

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Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix (Southern Copperhead) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis getula holbrooki (Speckled Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis getula holbrooki (Speckled Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis triangulum amaura (Louisiana Milksnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis triangulum amaura (Louisiana Milksnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis triangulum amaura (Louisiana Milksnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis triangulum amaura (Louisiana Milksnake) by Kyle, on Flickr


An overcast, modestly warm day in mid-February proved fruitful along the Texas gulf coast. I found several snakes under cover, and walked upon several sitting out in the open. Here are a few highlights:

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Crotalus atrox (Western Diamondbacked Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis getula holbrooki (Speckled Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Crotalus atrox (Western Diamondbacked Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Crotalus atrox (Western Diamondbacked Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Ophisaurus attenuatus (Glass Lizard) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis getula holbrooki (Speckled Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

Before our trip to South Texas in March, I had a variety of finds around Houston, including a favorite lampro species, the prairie kingsnake.

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Storeria dekayi texana (Texas Brown Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis getula holbrooki (Speckled Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr


John flew in to Houston a couple of days early, before Armin was able to join us. I met up with John shortly after he arrived, and we made our way down to south Texas hoping to find a few snakes before it got too cool late at night. We had little success that evening, but were able to spend the night at Sabal Palms Sanctuary, and on our walk upon waking near noon, we were able to locate a a couple of the locally common speckled racers.

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Drymobius margaritiferus (Speckled Racer) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Drymobius margaritiferus (Speckled Racer) by Kyle, on Flickr

That evening, while cruising after dark, two Mexican milk snakes, our major target of the trip, were found.

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Lampropeltis triangulum annulata (Mexican Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis triangulum annulata (Mexican Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis triangulum annulata (Mexican Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr


I went back to Houston that evening to meet with Armin the next day, while John stayed behind.

After I grabbed Armin, we zipped back down to south Texas to look for more milk snakes before it got too late, inspired by my success with John the previous night. Getting to our cruising roads about 9pm, we were able to find another annulata, which proved to be the largest of the trip.

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Lampropeltis triangulum annulata (Mexican Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis triangulum annulata (Mexican Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

The following morning we reunited with John, and began to turn artificial cover in search of snakes. We located numerous night snakes, ground snakes, rat snakes, but the highlight of that day turned out to be yet another annulata, this time a younger unblemished female, turned up between layers of tin at an old barn.

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Lampropeltis triangulum annulata (Mexican Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr


From here my memory of the order of events is pretty hazy. Needless to say there were a lot more snakes found, lots of good food, and a few bee hives. We spent one day looking for milk snakes and kingsnakes on the barrier islands along the coast.

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Lampropeltis triangulum annulata (Mexican Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis getula splendida (Desert Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis getula splendida (Desert Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Pantherophis guttatus meahlmorrum (Thornscrub Rat Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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John and Rat Snake by Kyle, on Flickr

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Masticophis schotti schotti (Schott's Whipsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

The remainder of the trip included a couple more flipped annulata, as well as a few on the road at night, along with the regular south Texas denizens. One species I'm always excited to see in south Texas are the glossy snakes. Compared to other parts of their range, specimens in this region get exceptionally large, often between 4-5ft.

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South Texas by Kyle, on Flickr

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South Texas by Kyle, on Flickr

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South Texas by Kyle, on Flickr

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Drymarchon melanurus erebennus (Texas Indigo Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis triangulum annulata (Mexican Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis triangulum annulata (Mexican Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Arizona elegans arenicola (Texas Glossy Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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South Texas by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis triangulum annulata (Mexican Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis triangulum annulata (Mexican Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

In all, we had an awesome week of finding snakes, with a total of 10 annulata located, half of them on the road at night, and the other half of them under cover during the day.

We took a fun victory photo in the hotel the last night of the trip.

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Pop Milk! by Kyle, on Flickr


The rest of spring I did several day trips between local spots, as well as east Texas and north Louisiana. Many more calligaster and other lampropeltis were found through the season. I cruised my favorite region of south Texas one evening in early spring and located two more annulata, which would be my last effort until winter returned again later in the year.

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Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis triangulum amaura (Louisiana Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Coluber constrictor flaviventris (Eastern Yellowbelly Racer) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Crotalus atrox (Western Diamondbacked Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis triangulum annulata (Mexican Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Longleaf Pine Savannah by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis getula holbrooki (Speckled Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis getula holbrooki (Speckled Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Storeria dekayi texana (Texas Brown Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Coluber flagellum testaceus (Western Coachwhip) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Pantherophis obsoletus lindheimeri (Texas Rat Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis getula holbrooki (Speckled Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis getula holbrooki (Speckled Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr


At the end of spring, just before summer made it too miserably hot to even think of looking for snakes, I made a trip to Armin's property in east Louisiana to look for canebrakes. It was a sweaty, but successful day of hunting.

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Coluber constrictor priapus (Southern Black Racer) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Crotalus horridus (Canebrake Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Pantherophis guttatus (Corn Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Crotalus horridus (Canebrake Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis getula holbrooki (Speckled Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Crotalus horridus (Canebrake Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Crotalus horridus (Canebrake Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr


In late July, Brennan and I got together for four days of west Texas fun. We found several species we had seen before, but our main target was the Grey-banded Kingsnake, Lampropeltis alterna. This was Brennan's second trip, but I had made multiple trips at this point without having seen the popular alterna. We started in the eastern Trans-pecos, hunting around Langtry, and Sanderson the first night, then moved to the Davis Mountains and River road the remainder of the trip.

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Agkistrodon contortrix pictigaster (Trans-Pecos Copperhead) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Agkistrodon contortrix pictigaster (Trans-Pecos Copperhead) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Bogertophis subocularis (Trans-Pecos Ratsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Rhinocheilus lecontei (Texas Longnose Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Crotalus ornatus (Eastern Blacktailed Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Crotalus ornatus (Eastern Blacktailed Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Crotalus ornatus (Eastern Blacktailed Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Bogertophis subocularis (Trans-Pecos Rat Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr


The last night of our trip we spent on River Road. It had gotten a small amount of precipitation, and would be the only place we would be able to hunt that hadn't been cooled off with the daily rains we were receiving. The moderate temperatures and lush green vegetation inspired hope in success that night, but we didn't want to get too excited. We reasoned that we shouldn't get too worked up over finding an alterna, and focus on enjoying the last night of snake hunting we had for our trip.

After sunset, we began to find snakes with regularity, mostly trans-pecos rat snakes and western diamondbacks, but we did manage to find a large sonora among others. After doing a couple of laps, we got stuck behind a jeep barely crawling along the road. Everyone cruises for snakes differently, but I prefer to go 45-60mph, and it was painful to sit behind a jeep going 10mph. We waited for an opportunity to pass, but before the chance came, a small snake appeared in the road. We identified it as an atrox, but the jeep ahead of us turned around to go look. Brennan got out to look at it with them briefly and to chat for a minute. He returned to the car and we sped off, grateful to have the road clear ahead of us to travel at the speed we like.
Less than a mile later we spotted a small snake entering the road. We stopped the car and both walked out to look at it, neither of us knowing what it was. As we approached the snake and our eyes began to focus, the pieces began to fall into place as our minds lurched forward to the realization that we had finally found the snake we had been so eager to see the past few days. We screamed with jubilation that would rival that of any fiestas going on across the river less than a hundred yards away, and very manly hugs ensued. We were absolutely ecstatic to have finally found our gray-banded kingsnake, something we would have missed if we had continued to remain stuck behind that slow driving jeep!


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River Road by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis alterna (Gray-banded Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis alterna (Gray-banded Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr


Around labor day I returned to west Texas with hopes of seeing another alterna, and perhaps some lepidus which I had missed in the previous trip. It ended up being a very productive trip, but only on the final night when I met up with Tim and other folks in his crew. I took GJ into my car and we went cruising high up in the Davis mtns. He didn't appreciate my fast driving, but it turned out well considering all the snakes we found. Before sunset we located several young Baird's ratsnake. As dark settled on the mountains, we stopped at a roadcut and went separate directions to shine the roadcut. Within 5 minutes, I had found three lepidus along the cut, all in a small area. I picked GJ up and we met up with Andy and Tim, who had a good time themselves, having located a lepidus themselves, as well as a New Mexico milksnake. We continued for another couple hours, finding another lepidus, as well as a trans-pecos copperhead and a western diamondback rattlesnake.


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Pantherophis bairdi (Baird's Rat Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Crotalus lepidus lepidus (Mottled Rock Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Crotalus lepidus lepidus (Mottled Rock Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Crotalus lepidus lepidus (Mottled Rock Rattlesnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis triangulum celaenops (New Mexico Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Agkistrodon contortrix pictigaster (Trans-Pecos Copperhead) by Kyle, on Flickr



Fall is usually pretty dull around Houston. Usually days that feel like good flipping weather end up producing no snakes, but typically the third week of October will produce a few snakes for me. One such day I was at work and went out to get lunch, thinking it felt perfect for finding calligaster. I quick drive over to one of my spots in the city yielded two prairie kings under cover.

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Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster (Prairie Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

A trip to north Louisiana yielded a rather unique looking getula, along with a large black ratsnake.

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Pantherophis obsoletus obsoletus (Black Rat Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis getula holbrooki (Speckled Kingsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr


I made a couple of runs down to south Texas to set cover for future snake hunts. In one such run, I managed to locate a cateyed snake hunting late at night.

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Leptodeira septentrionalis (Northern Cat-eyed Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr


Again, I went to south Texas to set out as much cover as I could while I had some time off for the holidays. Just three days before Christmas, many snakes were seen moving before a cold front hit the region. I was pleased to find my last annulata of the year crossing the road after dark, as I had expected would happen given the conditions in the area.

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Pituophis catenifer sayi (Bullsnake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Arizona elegans arenicola (Texas Glossy Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Micrurus tener tener (Texas Coral Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr

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Lampropeltis triangulum annulata (Mexican Milk Snake) by Kyle, on Flickr


To commemorate the Christmas season, I put together a short video of this year's Cruisemas outing. If you click through you can watch on YouTube in 4k.




Best of luck to everyone on their adventures in 2018!

User avatar
orionmystery
Posts: 659
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Re: 2017 - Texas/Louisiana: Pop Milk!

Post by orionmystery » January 2nd, 2018, 3:43 am

Great images! Those milk snakes are gorgeous!!!

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intermedius
Posts: 481
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Re: 2017 - Texas/Louisiana: Pop Milk!

Post by intermedius » January 3rd, 2018, 9:20 pm

Superb pics and storytelling as always.

– Justin

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Brian Hubbs
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Re: 2017 - Texas/Louisiana: Pop Milk!

Post by Brian Hubbs » January 5th, 2018, 2:44 pm

Nice report. :thumb: Looks like you figured out the flipping stuff...

VICtort
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Re: 2017 - Texas/Louisiana: Pop Milk!

Post by VICtort » January 5th, 2018, 6:08 pm

outstanding...it is hard to imagine having such a successful year with so many iconic species. This will truly be a tough act to follow...

Thanks for posting, I had forgotten how beautiful Texas can be and also the Drymobius in my mind is one of the most spectacular snakes anywhere, you were fortunate to see them. :thumb:

Vic

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Ronquillo08
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Joined: July 19th, 2017, 10:22 pm
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Re: 2017 - Texas/Louisiana: Pop Milk!

Post by Ronquillo08 » January 8th, 2018, 8:57 pm

Excellent finds, it makes me miss home, the Pacific Northwest is really out of my realm. Cant wait to get back to the good old south. :D :thumb: :beer:

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mtratcliffe
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Re: 2017 - Texas/Louisiana: Pop Milk!

Post by mtratcliffe » January 11th, 2018, 6:03 am

Dude - you killed it! Well done. The only thing that would ever make me want to live in TX are the herps!

- Matt

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Jeroen Speybroeck
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Re: 2017 - Texas/Louisiana: Pop Milk!

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck » January 16th, 2018, 2:04 am

Well... That was great again! Thanks a lot, Kyle, and congrats on the alterna!

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Josh Holbrook
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Re: 2017 - Texas/Louisiana: Pop Milk!

Post by Josh Holbrook » January 16th, 2018, 10:19 am

Great stuff. Thanks for taking the time to post it all.

JDH

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Ross Padilla
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Re: 2017 - Texas/Louisiana: Pop Milk!

Post by Ross Padilla » January 20th, 2018, 11:46 pm

Amazing photography and finds. I've never seen a snake live through an injury as bad as that kingsnake. Pretty crazy.

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