Tag Archives: Herps

Emerald glass frogs in amplexis

Two pair of Emerald Glass Frogs (Centrolenidae: Centrolenella prosoblepon), in amplexis, readying themselves to release their gamates.

On some of the images, you can see a small blue-ish spike that is anterior to the male’s forelegs. This spike is diagnostic of the genus and is used by males to compete for mates.

 

A day at Sweetwater Creek State Park

The dogs rest in a cool stream and play in the Chattahoochee during our 5 mile hike at Sweetwater Creek State Park.

We came across a couple of hikers claiming a copperhead sighting—it’s a non-venomous watersnake (Nerodia sp.). I think some of the easiest ways to tell a water moccasin (cottonmouth) from a watersnake is (1) the heat-sensing pits between the eyes and nostrils and (2) the cat-like pupils. Certainly, the block-y, triangular head of viperids is distinctive too, but watersnakes tend to flatten themselves out when threatened, so their heads may appear triangular.

I’m not entirely confident in its species-level identification: there are several species of Nerodia in Georgia, including  the Northern Watersnake (N. sipedon), the Brown Watersnake (N. taxispilota), the Banded Water Snake (N. fasciata), which occurs in Southern Georgia—Sweetwater Creek State Park doesn’t lie in the reported range of that species— and the Red-Bellied Water snake (N. erythrogaster), which is easily distinguished from other Nerodia by its solid, pinkish-red underside.

I’ve seen a lot of N. sipedon from Ohio and New York, and this individual struck me as appearing to have a small head. Reading the description of a ‘high eye close to the nostril’ at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, I’m apt to claim this is a Brown Watersnake (N. taxispilota), which is a new species for me.  Sweetwater Creak State Park lies at about the range overlap of N. sipedon and N. taxispilota, which could dramatically complicate identification if hybridization occurs.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything but my cell phone camera, and it was big… so I didn’t catch it.

 

 

Broadhead skink

Skidaway Island State Park with Amos and Eva - 05.12.2013 - 10.25.19A broadhead skink Plestiodon laticeps that was a bit too fast for me. This specimen was fairly large, probably approaching the maximum in the normal size range for this species at about 30 cm in total length. I found this specimen at Skidaway.

Diamondback Terrapin

I found a Diamondback terrapin, Malaclemys terrapin, outside of my apartment in May. Well… Amos really found her, but I made the catch and provided the identification.

She was likely gravid and was setting out to lay her eggs outside of the salt marsh adjacent to my apartment. While I prepared my camera, I placed her on the patio with Rocky, my Eastern Box Turtle, who promptly mounted the terrapin…

Eastern Glass Lizard

On my way into Armstrong Atlantic this morning, I found this legless, Eastern Glass Lizard: Ophisaurus ventralis.  It was positioned in the posture in the photographs when I encountered in on the side of the road, so, when I dismounted my bike and approached it, I hesitated to grab it to avoid being bitten… Then, when I did grab it, I realized it was stiff and dead.

Glass lizards resemble snakes, in that they don’t have legs, but have external ear openings (the hole on the head, behind the eye) and movable eyelids.  Relative to snakes, they’ve evolved from a distinct lineage of lizards and belong to the family Anguidae. Anguids look a bit like skinks, especially those  Anguids with legs, and I’ve encountered one in Costa Rica – a beast of a lizard called a galliwasp.  Glass lizards are reportedly pretty common around here, and I’ve seen one other on Skidaway Island, but it was too fast to catch.  A friend also captured some on video mating… (edit: before seeing the video, I thought the subjects were anguids – looks more like broad-headed skink though)