Hovenweep National Monument, lizards were out

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BethH
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Hovenweep National Monument, lizards were out

Post by BethH » March 12th, 2016, 5:44 pm

I was at Hovenweep National Monument last week, and I saw a number of little lizards. I have no idea what they were, they were about 4 inches long and scurried around at about Mach 3. I asked the ranger if snakes were out, and I was told no, that the lizards are out before snakes, that the snakes can't handle the cold nights. I nodded and wandered off, but I got to wondering. Is that true? And if it's true in SE Utah, is it generally true everywhere? Thanks.

Beth

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DennyZ
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Re: Hovenweep National Monument, lizards were out

Post by DennyZ » March 14th, 2016, 1:43 am

I wish that was the case in Northern Nevada. I have yet to see any lizards scurrying about but did find a recent snake skin that was pretty fresh.

Then the cold weather hit and haven't been able to sneak back out.

BethH
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Re: Hovenweep National Monument, lizards were out

Post by BethH » March 14th, 2016, 3:53 am

Thank you for answering DennyZ. I hope spring, and your herps, return to Northern Nevada soon.

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: Hovenweep National Monument, lizards were out

Post by Bryan Hamilton » March 14th, 2016, 5:17 pm

BethH wrote: I asked the ranger if snakes were out, and I was told no, that the lizards are out before snakes, that the snakes can't handle the cold nights. I nodded and wandered off, but I got to wondering. Is that true? And if it's true in SE Utah, is it generally true everywhere?
To me its not a simple question but that's what makes it an interesting one. :)

There is so much variation in snake and lizard thermal requirements and life history and so much variation in how people view or survey snakes and lizards, that it really depends....

Small lizards, especially side-blotched lizards, come out early on cool-ish sunny days. Snakes can start basking at dens on pretty cool days though. Most people don't see the initial emergence of snakes, basking at the dens, and short-movements away from the dens. Snakes can be very tolerant of cold nights, As long as they have a burrow or a large rock to shelter under, snakes can easily survive sub-freezing night time temperatures.

The bigger lizards, horned, collared, leopard, ect. require higher temperatures than most snakes. To me those temperatures are pretty hot, 80F plus. Often those large lizards don't start surface activity until snakes are moving away from dens and have been surface active for days or weeks. When people start seeing snakes moving, that usually signals the start of snake season in their minds.

BethH
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Re: Hovenweep National Monument, lizards were out

Post by BethH » March 14th, 2016, 6:37 pm

Thank you, Bryan. As I said initially, the lizards that I was seeing were "zip dang" fast, and maybe 4 inches long. They were wherever there were rocks, and there were a lot of rocks. There were no larger lizards visible. The trail led down to a creek bed, through a bunch of rocks, and then back up through another rock layer, and I just wondered if I should keep my eye out for snakes. I have a tendency to just believe the people who wear gray and green (park rangers), but later I wonder if they were just making up answers to keep from looking stupid. It wasn't hot when I was in the area, but it was pleasant--maybe 75* in the late afternoon? It seemed reasonable that creatures would be emerging soon...

Thanks again.

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herpseeker1978
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Re: Hovenweep National Monument, lizards were out

Post by herpseeker1978 » March 16th, 2016, 5:12 am

The lizards you were seeing were most likely fence lizards or side-blotched lizards

BethH
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Re: Hovenweep National Monument, lizards were out

Post by BethH » March 16th, 2016, 5:22 am

Thank you herpseeker.

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