Question for Roadcruising

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FloridaSerpent
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Question for Roadcruising

Post by FloridaSerpent » March 12th, 2015, 12:08 pm

Hey guys, just had a couple questions regarding roadcruising. My most productive way of finding herps is roadcruising, and I find the best time 30 mins before the sun sets to about an hour after dark. I notice a lot of people on here herp in the day time and was wondering if theres a productive time in the daytime? And when? I haven't roadcruised much during the day and when I have I haven't had much luck. Whats the most productive times for you? Is the day better or night?

simus343
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Re: Question for Roadcruising

Post by simus343 » March 12th, 2015, 12:45 pm

Early morning. Similar to your evenings, I find 30 mins before sunrise to about an hour after sunrise work well for upland and flatwoods snakes and legless lizards.

During the daytime, I can't find much else besides coachwhips and racers active on dirt roads. But if I go kayaking, walking along the water's edge, or wading through water, I can usually find ribbon snakes, water snakes, and cottonmouths (the three most common aquatic snakes in my area) without any issues. While around water I will also find snapping turtles, sliders, cooters, and musk turtles. Larger, more "publicly appealing" streams tend to produce more snakes and turtles, whereas smaller little creeks and trickles produce more amphibians - as well as more baby/juvenile snakes than the more open water. For those public creeks with masses of shouting teens and screaming children, I wade up-stream to get to areas that are less disturbed.

Because of this, I usually stick to dry areas in the very early morning, and in the evening/night, and stick to wet areas during the day.

Another reason wet areas may remain more productive, and makes since to me, is the dry areas will heat up and the snakes can't cool off without retreating into a hide. Around water, snakes and whatever else can just slip into the water to cool off.

Hope this helps, and good luck this season.

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gbin
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Re: Question for Roadcruising

Post by gbin » March 12th, 2015, 4:59 pm

When I lived in north central FL, in addition to what you said (about a half hour before sunset to about an hour afterward), I really liked the hour or so right after a heavy but fast-moving rain ended - especially if the sun came out promptly after the rain passed through - at any time of day.

Gerry

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FloridaSerpent
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Re: Question for Roadcruising

Post by FloridaSerpent » March 12th, 2015, 8:51 pm

simus343- Thanks, your input is helpful. I've had really good luck this year so far I was just curious how people roadcruise during the day. There are some diurnal species I would love to find. Night cruising has always been productive for me, there's just some species I won't see at night.

gbin- I always hear good things about the rain, but I also hear it puts a lot of snakes into hiding? Haven't seen for myself though. Is that a good time for snakes or just frogs? Or both?

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gbin
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Re: Question for Roadcruising

Post by gbin » March 13th, 2015, 4:34 am

I was thinking of snakes, FLSerp. Frogs would be more likely to be found on the road during rather than after the rain, especially if we're talking during the day. FYI: One of the most reliable ways I knew to find scarlet kingsnakes without messing with the habitat was to cruise roads in areas where they resided right after an afternoon rain had ended (I'm talking about there still being up to a few hours of sunshine left in the day), especially in early spring. Hiking through their habitat and searching for them by scanning the ground at such times also worked, believe it or not. Just visualize drops of fresh, bright red blood on the leaf litter...

Gerry

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Noah M
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Re: Question for Roadcruising

Post by Noah M » March 13th, 2015, 11:40 am

I think a factor that should be considered with day cruising is temperature and time of year. I'm in north central Florida and from my experience day cruising during the hottest part of the year through the hottest part of the day (as far as snakes) will get you nothing but racers and coachwhips. And usually, if they're not DOR, you're only get a glimpse of them because those suckers can move!

That being said, spring, fall, and warm winter days can have productive middle of the day cruising as long as it doesn't get too hot. Naturally, your targets should be diurnal species. I usually also target upland species during the day. For example, I've never heard of people cruising for indigos at night.

Upland day cruising is a test of patience like no other. I hit sandy roads, and cruise and cruise and cruise. When I feel like my eyes are going to bleed from staring at empty sandy roads, I cruise some more. It is, from my experience, much less productive than other times of the day. But, since I'm targeting harder to find animals, if/when I do find something, I'm usually very happy.

I don't believe I have day cruised for anything other than snakes. I've certainly found other things out during the day, but not by cruising. You can spot turtles sunning themselves or flip logs and find stuff, but nothing on the move.

Is there something in particular you are looking for?

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FloridaSerpent
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Re: Question for Roadcruising

Post by FloridaSerpent » March 14th, 2015, 11:28 am

gbin- Thanks I'll have to try that sometime. The rainy season will start pretty soon so wish me luck. And I've had a lot of luck so far this year with night cruising and recently cruised a scarlet and even a couple corals, will have to post soon just been too lazy to post it all.

captainjack0000- When you say day cruising what time to you mean exactly? I'm not looking for anything in particular was just curious how roadcruising during the day can be successful because there are certain species I hope to see and probably wont at night. Like Coachwhips, EDRs, Indigos, Hognose, Pygmies, Florida Kingsnake, Florida Pines, etc. If I could find any of those I'd freak. And was just curious how I could cruise them.

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Re: Question for Roadcruising

Post by Noah M » March 14th, 2015, 12:41 pm

If you look at your list, a good chunk of them are diurnal. You're not very likely to cruise a pine, hognose, indigo, EDB, etc at night. And I would argue that most of these prefer upland habitat (though not always). I think you can find pygmies anywhere really, EDBs are in the everglades, etc.. At least in the spring, fall and warm winter days, the best time for these would be during the day, middle morning or late afternoon. Both times are well before the golden hours around dusk or sunset that you and others have talked about.

Here are some examples.

I cruised an indigo in the fall at 5:12pm
I cruised a different indigo in winter at 1:40pm
I cruised a short-tail snake in fall at noon (seriously, right at 12:00)
I cruised a a S. Hognose in fall at 12:08
I cruised an E. hognose (fresh DOR) in spring at 2:25pm. Probably had been hit late that morning or early afternoon.
I cruised a different E. hognose in fall at 11:11am
I found 7 EDBs, a mix of AOR and DOR in spring, all one on day. The first one was at 4:12pm, the last one was 6:41pm.
I cruised a glass lizard in late fall/early winter at 11:43am
I cruised a garter snake in fall at 9:23am

These are just my personal examples. But from what I've heard from others and read about, middle morning (8-10) and late afternoon (4-6) are good times, especially if it gets really warm (85+) during the day. If the high for the day is only like 82F, you can cruise all day and find stuff (5 of my examples are from 11am to 2pm). So, as long as it isn't too hot, any time during the day can be productive. But again it isn't like cruising cottonmouths and rat snakes. I might cruise all day and get one snake, but hot dang how can you be upset if the only snake you find is an indigo? And believe me, there have been a fair share of days where I find nothing, not even a gopher tort :o The only snakes that don't really seem to be bothered by the higher temps are the racers and coachwhips, and I swear its like crack for them. As far as I am concerned, a 90+F coachwhip is a lightning bolt.

If I have unlimited time and gas money in the spring (like right now), I cruise the uplands during the day. I start (depending on temperatures) anywhere from 8am-10am, and cruise until 6 or 7, now with daylight savings the sunset is around 8pm. Then I move to lowlands and cruise those areas at dusk and into the night. I rarely, if ever have unlimited time and money, so pick a target and go for it.

Tomorrow I'm going to try some day cruising, we'll see what turns up.

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Re: Question for Roadcruising

Post by Eric East » March 15th, 2015, 5:26 am

I have rarely road cruised in the day time and when I have, I haven't had much luck.
I seem to have more success in the evenings/nights from just before dark until perhaps 11:00 pm however, I usually stay out until around 1:00 am. That being said, it seems as though things don't really get good until the day time highs start getting into the 90's. I go when it's cooler (just because I can't stand not being out) but, I know some guys who seldom ever go out until the temps are higher.

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FloridaSerpent
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Re: Question for Roadcruising

Post by FloridaSerpent » March 15th, 2015, 9:58 am

captainjack0000- Thanks you've been a big help as always. Another problem I have with day cruising is traffic. I use google earth to look for roads I think might produce and look far enough from civilization to avoid people ruining my trips but it seems no matter where I go, especially in the day time, there are always careless nuts on the roads I'm trying to cruise. Granted not all the time but a lot of the time. Will try your advice so wish me luck. And if you find anything nice please share with us. :beer:

Eric East- Yeah, thats my most successful method at the moment as well. I like to get out and explore no matter what. And will flip often but it seems the most productive way for me is to cruise at dusk into the night on warm days.

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Re: Question for Roadcruising

Post by Lloyd Heilbrunn » March 15th, 2015, 8:13 pm

captainjack0000 wrote:I think a factor that should be considered with day cruising is temperature and time of year. I'm in north central Florida and from my experience day cruising during the hottest part of the year through the hottest part of the day (as far as snakes) will get you nothing but racers and coachwhips. And usually, if they're not DOR, you're only get a glimpse of them because those suckers can move!

That being said, spring, fall, and warm winter days can have productive middle of the day cruising as long as it doesn't get too hot. Naturally, your targets should be diurnal species. I usually also target upland species during the day. For example, I've never heard of people cruising for indigos at night.

Upland day cruising is a test of patience like no other. I hit sandy roads, and cruise and cruise and cruise. When I feel like my eyes are going to bleed from staring at empty sandy roads, I cruise some more. It is, from my experience, much less productive than other times of the day. But, since I'm targeting harder to find animals, if/when I do find something, I'm usually very happy.

I don't believe I have day cruised for anything other than snakes. I've certainly found other things out during the day, but not by cruising. You can spot turtles sunning themselves or flip logs and find stuff, but nothing on the move.

Is there something in particular you are looking for?
Yeah, to me the whole reason to Florida day cruise is for the "Big 3" diurnal, usually xeric species: Pines, Indigos, and Southern Hogs.

You can throw in Eastern hogs too. Since the 4 are all uncommon or rarer, your odds are not good, but I for one enjoy it a lot since nothing beats the payoff!!


I will usually take a meal or nap break when it hits the upper 80s or 90s. :mrgreen:

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Re: Question for Roadcruising

Post by Lloyd Heilbrunn » March 15th, 2015, 8:17 pm

Saturday's only day cruising find:




Image



But a nice one.

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FloridaSerpent
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Re: Question for Roadcruising

Post by FloridaSerpent » March 16th, 2015, 5:30 am

Thats a nice coachwhip. Hope I'm just as lucky

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Re: Question for Roadcruising

Post by chrish » March 16th, 2015, 6:26 am

I agree with Lloyd. I really enjoy diurnal roadcruising, although I haven't done much in the SE other than a few jaunts looking for Southern Hogs and Pinesnakes. I have done a lot more of it in the western US.

Out in far western Texas, we used to roadhunt in the mornings sometimes for things like Mexican Hognosed Snakes. We would usually find fewer snakes than at night and a good morning would be to find 2-3 snakes. Mornings after heavy nighttime rains were best, but that may be a "desert specfic" formula. We could usually count on a rattlesnake (of several different species available), a gophersnake, and sometimes a surprise or two. I was always surprised how often we found "nocturnal" snakes like Long-nosed Snakes AOR in the morning.

Our general rule out there was snakes moved between 75° and 90°. After that you only saw coachwhips. When we started to see Whiptail lizards running around on the road, we knew snake hunting was done.

I still think it is the best way to find certain species like Hognosed Snakes (all three species) and Desert/Western Massasaugas. Both of these groups can be really hard to see on the road though, particularly when young and when they flatten out as you drive up. Many times I have found young Hogs by saying "that wasn't a snake, was it?" and then going back just to make sure.

One other diurnal cruising phenomenon I have noticed is the propensity for kingsnakes to get on the road after heavy daytime rains. I have observed this many times with Desert Kings out west, Speckled Kings on the Texas coast, and Eastern Kings in South Carolina.

It is a type of herping that takes patience, but it can produce. You just can't expect a snake every 5 minutes, and be aware that some days you will strike out completely.

One last tip about diurnal roadcruising.....don't let your expectations stop you from being careful. On two separate occasions I have jumped out of the car to grab a hognosed snake I saw on the road, only to stop myself at the last minute from picking up a young Prairie Rattlesnake in W. TX and a Pygmy Rattlesnake in FL. Once my mind had "decided" they must be hogs on the road, my eyes just accepted the ID. I literally got within a few inches of picking both up! :shock: And neither of those species is particularly "forgiving" of being handled.

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Re: Question for Roadcruising

Post by Noah M » March 16th, 2015, 2:23 pm

That is a nice coachwhip. Maybe it is just the camera angle, but the whole thing looks whitish, without any black on it at all.

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Re: Question for Roadcruising

Post by simus343 » March 16th, 2015, 3:47 pm

captainjack0000 wrote:That is a nice coachwhip. Maybe it is just the camera angle, but the whole thing looks whitish, without any black on it at all.
I have seen one that had no black, just one, and it went into a mouse hole faster than I could realize it was my lifer and shout "COACHWHIP!" The head was still more tan than the body, which was a light-brown to gray color.

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Re: Question for Roadcruising

Post by Lloyd Heilbrunn » March 17th, 2015, 8:02 am

captainjack0000 wrote:That is a nice coachwhip. Maybe it is just the camera angle, but the whole thing looks whitish, without any black on it at all.
It was a silver white. Only the head was a little grey/black.



Image


Since there was no black, at first I thought it was a patternless Pine!

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FloridaSerpent
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Re: Question for Roadcruising

Post by FloridaSerpent » March 18th, 2015, 8:00 am

chrish- I think I'm gonna have to try early morning because I tried around 11am and didnt see anything but a DOR banded water.

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Re: Question for Roadcruising

Post by simus343 » March 18th, 2015, 8:25 am

FloridaSerpent wrote:chrish- I think I'm gonna have to try early morning because I tried around 11am and didnt see anything but a DOR banded water.
Remember, they did say you would be likely to strike out a lot as you search during mid-day. Certainly add early morning to when you cruise, but if you have the time keep up at cruising during the day too. For quantity mid-day typically sucks. For quality, mid-day will reward the patience of people that keep at it long enough.

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Re: Question for Roadcruising

Post by Noah M » March 18th, 2015, 10:32 am

It also depends on where you are cruising. Make sure it is xeric habitat, uplands, arid, dry, whatever you want to call it. Almost all of the day cruising spots I hit I would not expect to find a water snake. There isn't much point to day cruising swamps and lowlands when there are better times of the day to hit those places.

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Re: Question for Roadcruising

Post by FloridaSerpent » March 20th, 2015, 9:40 am

Yeah I hit a spot that seemed to be scrub on google earth but turned out to be more of a swamp in Hendry County. I'm not one to give up easily so you will eventually see me on here with all of my lifers one way or another.

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Re: Question for Roadcruising

Post by blacktara » March 24th, 2015, 11:38 am

The road temp is the key. Any time the road is 100 degrees F or less you have a chance. Maybe 105. Above that, I'm not saying noone has ever seen or found a snake, but I will tell you the return on investment is very poor. The angle of the sun has a huge effect. In midday in the summer when the sun is high overhead, you have air temps less than 90 but the road will still be 115+ (especially if its blacktop). Contrast that you have a day where the air temps are in the 90's and its bright and sunny but by 5 or 6PM the light angle is shallow enough that the road cools more more than youd think

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Re: Question for Roadcruising

Post by soulsurvivor » April 1st, 2015, 5:55 pm

simus343 wrote:Early morning. Similar to your evenings, I find 30 mins before sunrise to about an hour after sunrise work well for upland and flatwoods snakes and legless lizards.
I have never had much luck cruising in the mornings. A long time ago, I heard that the "dew burn" was the time to cruise - basically when the sun is burning off the dew. I have tried this without much luck, although the "dew burn" is when I cruised my one and only pine snake about 15 years ago. On occasion, I have been on the road before sunrise and only seen Nerodia moving or fresh hit.

~Bree

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