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 Post subject: Herp ID, Belize
PostPosted: September 1st, 2016, 7:26 pm 

Joined: February 13th, 2016, 10:49 am
Posts: 22
Location: Columbus, OH
I photographed three herps in Belize this June that I have been unable to definitively identify:

1. Treefrog, Crooked Tree (pine savanna). My guess is Smilisca baudinii, but the color does not match those that come up on a google image search.

Image

2. Mud Turtle, Chan Chich (lowland tropical rainforest). It was in a small puddle in the middle of a trail, and was on the small side. Maybe Kinosternon leucostomum or Kinosternon acutum
?

Image

3. Gecko, Caye Caulker. Littoral forest at dawn. No clue - the large size, dark coloration, and white "lip" don't seem to match anything.

Image

As a bonus, here's one of my favorite photos from the trip, a Morelet's Crocodile at Chan Chich:
Image


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 Post subject: Re: Herp ID, Belize
PostPosted: September 4th, 2016, 6:46 am 
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Joined: June 12th, 2010, 9:28 am
Posts: 572
Location: Monterey Peninsula, CA
I'm looking at Julian C. Lee's Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of the Maya World...

I think you're right that the frog is a particularly beautiful Smilisca baudinii. There don't seem to be any other candidate Smilisca species that aren't ruled out easily.

I can't tell which of the two Kinosternon species you mentioned it might be. I agree that it's probably one or the other. K. scorpioides is also in the area, but seems a little more distinctive looking.

My best guess for the gecko is everyone's old friend Hemidactylus frenatus, assuming yours is a gecko mentioned in this book. The color is darker than most H. frenatus I've seen, but that's also true of the photo of H. frenatus in the book. The white lip is certainly interesting.

Nice photos! Are your other, identified, photos from this area online somewhere?

John


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 Post subject: Re: Herp ID, Belize
PostPosted: September 5th, 2016, 6:47 am 

Joined: February 13th, 2016, 10:49 am
Posts: 22
Location: Columbus, OH
Thanks, John! After some more research, I think the Gecko might be Aristelliger georgeensis. Does the book say anything about that species? A google search turns up some photos of dark individuals, and others with white on the lip.

I post all my photos on my website http://www.tremarctos.com. Belize isn't up yet, but should be in a week or so. Most are of birds and mammals, but I've been getting more interested in herps recently, especially on a trip to Manu in August (photos later...). Do you have any tips for finding snakes in tropical rainforests? I saw three in two weeks in Peru (Bushmaster, Mussurana, Amazonian Tree Boa), but I think I should be seeing more given the hours I put in to night walking.

Ben


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 Post subject: Re: Herp ID, Belize
PostPosted: September 5th, 2016, 8:40 am 
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Joined: June 12th, 2010, 9:28 am
Posts: 572
Location: Monterey Peninsula, CA
Ah, good call about that gecko. There is one photo in the book, and it's very speckled with light spots on a mid-dark brown background. But the text says "During day, dorsal ground color is rich chocolate brown." There is no mention of the white upper lip exactly, though it does say "The sutures of the labial scales bear distinct bluish gray spots".

The distribution map in this book is too small to tell whether this species is on Caye Caulker. But, I also have Lee's earlier, larger, and overlapping-in-content book "The Amphibians and Reptiles of the Yucat√°n Peninsula" which includes specific localities for each species. And it lists "Cay Corker" (older name for Caye Caulker), so this species is definitely known from that island. I reject my previous guess of H. frenatus in favor of A. georgeensis.

I'll reply to the rest of your comment a little later -- got a deadline right now.

John


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 Post subject: Re: Herp ID, Belize
PostPosted: September 5th, 2016, 3:17 pm 
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Joined: June 12th, 2010, 9:28 am
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Location: Monterey Peninsula, CA
OK, back to responding to the rest of your post.

I love the in situ style of the photographs on your website. You've seen some wonderful animals and really captured what it feels like to see them living in nature.

As far as finding snakes in tropical rainforests... I am by no means an expert, but I do have a reasonable amount of experience. Thing One is: it is near-universally acknowledged as difficult. Tropical rainforests contain an astounding variety of snakes, but it is rare to see very many of them, because they have a dense three-dimensional habitat in which to hide. However, seeing only three in two weeks does seem quite low, since you spent a lot of time night walking. On the other hand, one of the three was a Bushmaster, which are notoriously hard to find, so congratulations on that!

I guess my pretty generic advice (most or all of which you no doubt already know) would be to walk slowly, and use a powerful flashlight to look in every direction -- down at the trail, as well as vegetation at every height. Most of the tropical rainforest snakes I've seen at night have not been moving, so it's important to try to notice textures and patterns that don't match their surroundings. Edges of clearings and edges of water can be particularly productive. Many diurnal species sleep curled up on vegetation, so keep an eye out for coiled loops that could be vines or could be snakes. Hold your flashlight close to your eyes (or use a head lamp) in order to get eyeshine reflections.

I've been to Peruvian Amazonia three times now, each time for about ten days. Almost every night I'd be hiking for at least a couple of hours, sometimes for six hours or more. Sometimes I walked by myself, sometimes I walked with a few other travelers, and sometimes I walked with a few other people including local guides. In all of those configurations there would be nights where I/we found no snakes at all. More often than not we'd find only one or two snakes. And then occasionally we'd have a really good night with four or five snakes seen by everyone in the group. I've had maybe three nights out of ~30 where more than five snakes were seen by everyone in the group I was walking with, and each of those nights most of the snakes were found by local guides who have a ton of experience on those specific trails. I think the most I've ever personally found in one evening was three, and most nights I didn't personally find any. But I do think I've been getting better at finding them every time I go. So don't be discouraged by low numbers. The numbers are low for pretty much everyone, and probably your numbers will go up over time.

I'm looking forward to seeing more of your excellent photos.

John


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 Post subject: Re: Herp ID, Belize
PostPosted: September 7th, 2016, 10:26 am 

Joined: February 13th, 2016, 10:49 am
Posts: 22
Location: Columbus, OH
Thanks for the advice and encouragement! I've focused on seeing mammals on my night walks so far, so my strategy was a bit different. I tried to go as quickly as I could while still being quiet, relying a lot on my ears, and using my eyes to look for movement or the (much brighter) eyeshine of mammals. In the future, I'll slow down and try to train my eyes to look for stationary snakes. I can't wait to get back to the rainforest... there's just so much to see.

Ben


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 Post subject: Re: Herp ID, Belize
PostPosted: September 7th, 2016, 4:35 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:56 pm
Posts: 310
Location: SW USA
I remember a couple of years before the "Great Crash" I had posted one of my trips to BZ and I had vouchered several mud turtles as I recall so here are some shots from that trip...


Found at night in a jungle pool
Image

Youngsters the size of a 50cent piece
Image


Nice, but the micrurus are much better!
Image


Coffee snakes are fun
Image

Drymobius are more fun
Image

But these are the beez kneez
Image

Habitat in the area...
Image

pics are not that great but look who I was working with...
Image

Cheers


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 Post subject: Re: Herp ID, Belize
PostPosted: September 13th, 2016, 9:13 am 

Joined: February 13th, 2016, 10:49 am
Posts: 22
Location: Columbus, OH
lateralis wrote:
I remember a couple of years before the "Great Crash" I had posted one of my trips to BZ and I had vouchered several mud turtles as I recall so here are some shots from that trip...
Cheers


Nice photos! Any thoughts on the identity of the mud turtle I photographed?


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 Post subject: Re: Herp ID, Belize
PostPosted: September 13th, 2016, 11:16 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:56 pm
Posts: 310
Location: SW USA
Thanks amigo.
The most common kinosternon that I found was k.acutum and based on what I can see in your picture it is most likely that one - it has the ridge going down the carapace. K. Leucostomum was another common one as well as Claudius angustatus. Did you notice any barbels on the turtles chin?


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 Post subject: Re: Herp ID, Belize
PostPosted: September 14th, 2016, 6:57 pm 

Joined: February 13th, 2016, 10:49 am
Posts: 22
Location: Columbus, OH
lateralis wrote:
Thanks amigo.
The most common kinosternon that I found was k.acutum and based on what I can see in your picture it is most likely that one - it has the ridge going down the carapace. K. Leucostomum was another common one as well as Claudius angustatus. Did you notice any barbels on the turtles chin?


Thanks for the information! It was partially submerged in the puddle for the entirety of my observation, so I did not see the chin. What features distinguish the three species?


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 Post subject: Re: Herp ID, Belize
PostPosted: September 15th, 2016, 9:40 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:56 pm
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Location: SW USA
I'm no expert on turtle taxonomy and as I understand it there is ongoing work with the kino family but the difference between white lipped muds and tobasco are simple; the tobasco have a ridge down the middle of their carapace and barbels on their chin whereas the whitelipped do not. Claudius (different genus) are pretty unique looking turtles due to morphology and they have a lousy attitude...


Heres a good annotated biblio to map out some gold...
http://www.iucn-tftsg.org/wp-content/up ... 2_2009.pdf



This turtle was released by a companion only to flip over. I was several yards away when said companion told me that upon walking over to the turtle he noticed there was a small snake with something in its mouth next to the turtle; then he asked me if he should he grab it because it was crawling away...
Image


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