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 Post subject: That one day a year I can flip snakes here
PostPosted: April 22nd, 2018, 3:05 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:39 am
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Of the many many annoying things regarding trying to herp here, this one is at least interesting.

As far as I can tell, I can pretty much only meaningfully flip snakes one day a year. And in only one place in the whole city, at that.

I don't mean that 100%. I can flip Indotyphlops braminus (and once possibly one other species of blind snake) all over the city at many times of year. And on rare occasions I might flip a Lycodon aulicus. But other than that, I have never flipped anything on more than one day, and only in that one place.


Here is my data:

2013: I appear to have tried to flip on December 5 (of 2012), February 18, February 28, March 9, March 10, March 12, July 14, October 20, December 15

Other than a single Lycodon aulicus on March 10, the only day I flipped any snake other than a Indotyphlops was on February 28, when I flipped both a Lycodon aulicus and a Lycodon striatus.

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2014: I recorded flipping data on February 16, March 1, July 9, July 27, August 31, September 3, October 20, November 1, December 22

Did not flip any snake other than Indotyphlops all year.


2016: I recorded flipping data on February 2, February 13, February 14, February 19, March 6, March 9, March 19, August 10, September 10, October 2, October 22, October 23

On February 19 I flipped two Lycodon aulicus and two Oligodon arnensis, other than that I did not flip a snake other than Indotyphlops all year.

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2017-18: I recorded flipping data on February 23, May 4, and May 7 of 2017 as well as February 14 and April 10 of 2018

On February 14 I flipped four Lycodon aulicus, other than that I didn't flip any snakes other than Indotyphlops.

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I admit that's not a ton of data - my life is such that I just don't get out to flip much. But in 5+ years I've gone out to try to flip for snakes 34 times in this particular city, and I was only able to have meaningful success on three occasions, always in February. And even in February I've struck out 6 times, twice as often as I've scored. But when I have scored, it's been two four-snake days and one three-snake day (two flipped plus one sunning), suggesting those really were special days.

The climate here is basically cold in December/January, very quickly warms up in February until it is hot in March, stays hot and dry until mid-June, when it becomes hot and humid with occasional rain through September, and begins cooling down through October/November until it gets cold again in December. Outside of the June-September rainy season (in the heat), it rarely rains.

I don't believe it's really possible that the snakes are never under cover except a day or two in February. So when else should I really expect them?

1. Just keep trying more often in February, or leaking into March?
2. Right when the rains hit in June?
3. In the warmish October after the rains have tapered off?
4. In the coolish November before it gets cold?
5. Or on rare warm days in cold December/January?
6. Or just a day or two after any off-season rain?

I'm interested if anyone has any thoughts. I'm not sure if there are many people who have spent a lot of time flipping in such climates.


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 Post subject: Re: That one day a year I can flip snakes here
PostPosted: April 22nd, 2018, 5:53 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:23 am
Posts: 2249
Location: Unicoi, TN
Johnathan,
Interesting observations.
What are the average month temps where you are?



I saw something similar in Viet Nam in the mountains.
Any snake I found was NOT under cover, except for a couple incidents, during the cool weather (around February), and at least one at the beginning of the rainy season. (We see that here the U.S. in hot weather in places like central and northern Florida for a larger range of time. Under tin and dark cover like shingles, fossorial animals could be encountered more frequently in the cool winter months.)

The one animal under cover at the beginning of the rains (October) was a Boiga multomaculata, normally found hunting lizards at night in bushes, but the cover was very large and took a vehicle to roll it over!


I, once, had to camp, so to speak, in a small area (about ¼ mile X 1/4 mile) for 3 months in Viet Nam. I was vigilantly, watching for all herps day and night, and found many examples of snakes on the crawl day and night.
Before I left that particular area, a team of folks came in with large bulldozers, and proceeded to dig some deep holes, up to 12 feet deep. Regularly, they would excavate hollows 12 to 20 inches in diameter, 3 to 8 feet down, in the hard ground. These were ant nests, much cooler than the surface. In or around these ant nests would be dozens of these Indotyphlops braminus (then Ramphotyphlops).


PS
I got tickled with synonyms for Indotyphlops, because that same animal over the years since its discovery by western zoologists in 1803 has been assigned around 12 other genera names!! LOL


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 Post subject: Re: That one day a year I can flip snakes here
PostPosted: April 22nd, 2018, 9:31 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:39 am
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BillMcGighan wrote:
Johnathan,
Interesting observations.
What are the average month temps where you are?


Here's a chart I found, which also lists the average monthly days of rain:

Month High / Low(°C) Rain
January 22° / 8° 1 day
February 26° / 11° 1 day
March 33° / 15° 1 day
April 39° / 21° 0 days
May 40° / 25° 1 day
June 39° / 27° 6 days
July 35° / 26° 13 days
August 34° / 26° 12 days
September 34° / 24° 9 days
October 33° / 19° 1 day
November 29° / 13° 0 days
December 24° / 9° 1 day



BillMcGighan wrote:
I saw something similar in Viet Nam in the mountains.
Any snake I found was NOT under cover, except for a couple incidents, during the cool weather (around February), and at least one at the beginning of the rainy season. (We see that here the U.S. in hot weather in places like central and northern Florida for a larger range of time. Under tin and dark cover like shingles, fossorial animals could be encountered more frequently in the cool winter months.)

The one animal under cover at the beginning of the rains (October) was a Boiga multomaculata, normally found hunting lizards at night in bushes, but the cover was very large and took a vehicle to roll it over!


I've often heard of the "lack of flipping success" in our climates, but the weird thing for me is that I'd seemed to be able to subvert that expectation everywhere else.

In a year in Bangkok where I went herping about every-other week from September to June (but missed May and much of July/August), my non-Brahminy record included:

September (peak rainy season): Indotyphlops albiceps under rock
February (warm dry season): Cylindrophis ruffus under mat
March (hot dry season): Juvenile Xenochrophis flavipunctatus under board on overcast day. Juvenile Coelognathus radiatus under masonry in dentist's office.
June (early rainy season): 2 Indotyphlops albiceps and 1 Oligodon fasciolatus under logs in 1 day.
July (peak rainy season): 1 Oligodon fasciolatus, 1 Oligodon taeniatus, and 1 Cylindrophis ruffus under logs in 1 day.
August (peak rainy season): 1 Xenopeltis unicolor and 1 Cylindrophis ruffus under boards in 1 night.

Again not a lot of data, but I could summarize by saying that during the rainy season, practically every time I was in good habitat I flipped 2-3 interesting snakes under cover despite rarely finding much cover to flip. And there were other finds sprinkled throughout the year. I might say that simply "more moisture" is what caused that result, though that doesn't explain why I don't flip anything during rainy season here.



Few other brief experiences:

In a one-day trip to western Thailand, flipped a Enhydris plumbea under a half-submerged rock in mid-January (cool dry season)

One a four-day trip to a national park in central Thailand, flipped two Calamaria pavimentata under logs in August (peak rainy season)

In a two-day (of herping) trip to Cambodia, flipped a probable Psammodynastes pulverulentus under a stone block lying on stone in October (warm and near end of rainy season)

In a four-day trip to Laos, flipped two Enhydris plumbea under a single riverside rock at night in February (warmish dry season but rained that day)

In about a half-dozen short trips to the Himalayan foothills at different times, once flipped a Boiga multifasciata under a rock in June (peak of hot season, no rains yet, at over 2200 meters set new elevation record for the species) and once flipped a medium-size non-braminus blind snake in September (tail end of rainy season).

In two long trips to Bangladesh in June/July (beginning of rainy season) flipped a Coelognathus radiatus under tin in June, an Indotyphlops porrectus under a brick in late June, and an unidentified large snake (either rat snake or cobra) under tin in early July.



Again all just anecdotal, but it shows that I could flip snakes in a number of various seasons across Asia. Except here in Lucknow.


The one place that has come close to being like Lucknow is Kolkata. Kolkata has the same seasons as us, but is on the coast so it has a much milder cold season and is much wetter in all seasons. I have herped Kolkata on seven occasions for 3-4 days each time, with a heavy weighting of flipping results towards February but with success still much more evenly spread.

January: Flipped one Amphiesma stolatum under rock, also caught an Ptyas mucosa as it was disappearing under a board
February: Flipped Xenochrophis piscator under rock at night, Ptyas mucosa and Lycodon aulicus under concrete blocks by day
February (different trip, 6 days): Flipped four Amphiesma stolatum under rocks, one Lycodon aulicus under log, one Dendrelaphis tristis under elevated tiling
March: no snakes
May: Flipped neonate Xenochrophis piscator under board, adult Lycodon aulicus under rock
October: Flipped two Xenochrophis piscator under masonry, several other snakes seen but none flipped except for Brahminy Blind
November: no snakes


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 Post subject: Re: That one day a year I can flip snakes here
PostPosted: April 22nd, 2018, 12:10 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:23 am
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Wow, still fascinating and curious.

Also I forgot about Enhydris plumbea. Seems like you could find them day or night, rain or shine in creeks and rice paddies, like most NA watersnakes.

Looking at your coolest high temps for flipping (lowest 22C / almost 72F), and comparing to central Florida, on sunny days with those winter temps, we would find many animals under cover in the morning till about 11AM, then it would drop off unless a rain came in.
Night flipping produced primarily diurnal species like Coachwhips and racers.


Is there a difference in your area? What about altitude, soils, rodent burrows under cover, bedrock near the surface, hills, mountains, lowlands?


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 Post subject: Re: That one day a year I can flip snakes here
PostPosted: April 22nd, 2018, 5:38 pm 
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BillMcGighan wrote:
Wow, still fascinating and curious.

Also I forgot about Enhydris plumbea. Seems like you could find them day or night, rain or shine in creeks and rice paddies, like most NA watersnakes.

Looking at your coolest high temps for flipping (lowest 22C / almost 72F), and comparing to central Florida, on sunny days with those winter temps, we would find many animals under cover in the morning till about 11AM, then it would drop off unless a rain came in.
Night flipping produced primarily diurnal species like Coachwhips and racers.


Is there a difference in your area? What about altitude, soils, rodent burrows under cover, bedrock near the surface, hills, mountains, lowlands?


Altitude is low, 1000 feet or less. Bedrock is not near the surface. There is an absolute paucity of hills/mountains - just about as flat as you can imagine, with only the occasional steambed cutting through to create minor elevation differences.


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 Post subject: Re: That one day a year I can flip snakes here
PostPosted: April 23rd, 2018, 7:56 am 
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Joined: October 18th, 2010, 7:55 pm
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Location: San Diego, CA
Interesting topic Jonathan.

I second what Bill M. alluded to: try flipping at night. Night flipping can work here in So. Cal. during hot weather in May and June. I've also had a little luck night flipping in AZ during the monsoons.
The only other idea that comes to mind is to try larger, thicker cover items during the hotter months. I'm thinking mattresses, refrigerators, car doors, and that sort of stuff.

Good luck!

Jeff


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 Post subject: Re: That one day a year I can flip snakes here
PostPosted: April 23rd, 2018, 8:46 am 
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SurfinHerp wrote:
Interesting topic Jonathan.

I second what Bill M. alluded to: try flipping at night. Night flipping can work here in So. Cal. during hot weather in May and June. I've also had a little luck night flipping in AZ during the monsoons.
The only other idea that comes to mind is to try larger, thicker cover items during the hotter months. I'm thinking mattresses, refrigerators, car doors, and that sort of stuff.

Good luck!

Jeff


Thanks Jeff!

Unfortunately, access and security can be issues for flipping at night here. As well as simple family responsibilities. I did have some nice night-flipping success in Thailand, but was only practical in certain situations. Population densities and general culture here make it much more difficult.

And big stuff? Good luck having a piece of trash that size survive anywhere in India without being repurposed quickly! Even a big piece of wood has little hope. I do know some big blocks of concrete though.


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