ID that Corpse and How Did It Get There...?

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Porter
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ID that Corpse and How Did It Get There...?

Post by Porter » September 27th, 2016, 4:46 am

The last time I came across something like this, it was a mummified battle between a Cal King and San Joaquin Coachwhip. Kingsnake wrapped around the roots of a sage bush overhanging a dirt outcrop. Coachwhip twice the size of the kingsnake, being pulled halfway out of a hole. I was able to ID this one as well. Not a great pic but, I think there is enough evidence and lack there of to create a decent challenge... El Dorado County. Go...


ImageStruggle For Life by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

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Brian Hubbs
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Re: ID that Corpse and How Did It Get There...?

Post by Brian Hubbs » September 27th, 2016, 9:58 am

Valley Garter

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klawnskale
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Re: ID that Corpse and How Did It Get There...?

Post by klawnskale » September 27th, 2016, 12:49 pm

Possible Loggerhead Shrike impalement. They are known to drop prey items on barbed wire to kill them and they do eat reptiles.

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lateralis
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Re: ID that Corpse and How Did It Get There...?

Post by lateralis » September 29th, 2016, 8:04 am

Classic "Butcher Bird" behavior, i.e. the Loggerhead Shrike. They often pin their prey to kill it or return for a feed later. I see them fairly often down here in the desert and often tease colleagues about shrikes taking federally threatened and state endangered species (Uma inornata) with impunity. Took care of a pair at a local zoological garden and caught several while working on a West Nile virus project years ago and I can tell you that you do not want to get nipped by one; they'll filet your finger like a fish...

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Re: ID that Corpse and How Did It Get There...?

Post by Porter » October 15th, 2016, 7:06 am

Interesting... I've never heard of the bird. I've never seen one out there, but I haven't paid much attention to birds until this year. The snakes body is coiled around the barbwire, so I was thinking the snake wrapped up after being flown to the perch by a falcon possibly... ate his head eaten off, then got scarred away by a passing car or predator. Cool looking bird

Brian, yep... Thamnophis. You can tell by the tail structure. I'm gussing it was an elegans tho because that's all I ever see out there. Good eye :thumb: I thought a lot more people would get that...

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Brian Hubbs
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Re: ID that Corpse and How Did It Get There...?

Post by Brian Hubbs » October 15th, 2016, 9:08 pm

Well, I'm not used to seeing mtn Garters in the "valley" so I didn't even think of that one. The blue color screams sirtalis though...

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Re: ID that Corpse and How Did It Get There...?

Post by Porter » October 16th, 2016, 7:08 am

We saw Mountain Garters in Lincoln, remember? ...when we were counting pond turtles. They overlap there, both Valleys and Mnts.

This DOF is right at the base of El Dorado Hills. Right were it starts ascending.

Blue fitchi...? In the valley or foothills? Man, I tried my ass off to track one of those down for my final post. No dice... 3 DOR but no mimic infernalis. Did I text you about that in the spring? I know I sent out DOR pics to a few... damn things got blue ascending from the belly all the way into the dorsal

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Re: ID that Corpse and How Did It Get There...?

Post by Porter » October 16th, 2016, 7:22 am

Oh Ok, you said... SCREAMS... not, color SCHEME... :lol: I misread. There are actually blue bellied Mountain Garters at the Kiefer Dumps road ;) 8-) , but that's pretty far from the DOF. I never see the blue ones this far up the hill

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Re: ID that Corpse and How Did It Get There...?

Post by Brian Hubbs » October 17th, 2016, 12:02 am

I've just noticed over the years that any dead sirtalis takes on a bluish cast, doesn't matter what sub-species. I don't know why that is, but the little area of blue on that snake suggested sirtalis to me. I doubt anyone could correctly ID that mangled corpse...

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Re: ID that Corpse and How Did It Get There...?

Post by Porter » October 17th, 2016, 12:45 am

Hmmm... I'm not sure I can agree, but I have wondered about that. Especially when finding one of the DORs with maggots swarming through it. It was in the hot sun and I wondered if the heat had somehow dissolved the color resulting in blue. I don't think thats the case tho... as you know, the Natomas Basin is full of morphological diversity when it comes to snakes. There ARE blue bellied fitchi out there! I've found a live one. But, most are the typical light tan-ish belly color. Another reason I thought it might be the sun fading them, was because one of the DORs had more of a marine greenish colored dorsal stripe. Suggesting in was in transition of fading from yellow to blue. But I have found serveral DORs out there that had been sitting for days ,even been rained on, that did not have any blue tones. They looked like a normal dead valley garter. Im not exactly sure where Owen finds his infernalis but I do recall him posting mostly yellow dosal phase. But one time he posted a marine green dorsal of a live individual that I assumed was found further north than he usually searches out infernalis...or maybe one just popped up in at his spot. I think Nick found a marine green colored stripe-phase infernalis as well... cant remember, but someone did.

There ARE blue bellied mountain garters in El D! Hard to come across, but they are there. Never seen a full body blue one like the Napa elagans tho.. I honestly dont remember a blue tone on the DOF...it you can see it somehow, I believe it. But its definitely a gartersnake by the keeled scale and only garter dry up like that on the tail because there not much meat around the bone. They always look knarly like that. They have a look unique to the specie

Maybe you by some weird coincidence have only found blue phase fitchi DORs I wouldnt be surprised. Life is funny like that...

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Re: ID that Corpse and How Did It Get There...?

Post by Porter » October 17th, 2016, 12:48 am

Oh, also... when I was at one of the Yolo surveys Frank Zappa told me that he had found quite a few of the blue Vinci around Lake Berryessa where he lived

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Brian Hubbs
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Re: ID that Corpse and How Did It Get There...?

Post by Brian Hubbs » October 22nd, 2016, 11:00 pm

Frank Zappa?

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Re: ID that Corpse and How Did It Get There...?

Post by Porter » October 25th, 2016, 2:56 am

Brian Hubbs wrote:Frank Zappa?
The man, the myth, the legend... the pigtailed avatarian
He also taught me about stripe-phase gopher snakes. Said finding them came with a strange pattern... said he didn't see any for years then one year he found five or six in one season. When I found my lifer, sure enough, I found five others that same year. So sure of finding another, I called Chad Lane up and told him to get his ass down here for his own stripe-phase gopher lifer :thumb: that was the sixth and final striper I found that year. I owed chad a lifer favor, so I figured it was time to even up the house with him 8-)


Well I came across another one... 4th Electric Blue-phase fitchi DOR this year. At this point, I'm pretty sure finding a live one isn't going to happen :lol: :cry: I wanted this find to be my big ender for my final field herping post, but looks like it's not going to happen. I hate having to post a DOR of one, but since we were talking about it, I took a few shots for reference. This one looks identical to the second one I found. Blue mixed in with the normal yellow dorsal and side coloring. Creating that marine greenish color. The 3rd one I found had no yellow whatsoever. It's electric blue glowed bright just like a SF gartersnake. I wish I'd saved the cellphone pics I took but I was determined to find another. That was gonna be the snake to top and fulfill my rep for finding morphs. No dice. (The one I was looking for is a striped-phase electric blue valley garter that is basically a stripe-phase SF gartersnake mimic) That woulda been a great thing to show you people before I retire, but I'm gonna have to leave that one for somebody else... :beer: She knows where to find it

ImageElectric blue phase fitchi DOR by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

ImageElectric blue phase fitchi DOR 1 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

ImageElectric blue phase fitchi DOR 2 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

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Re: ID that Corpse and How Did It Get There...?

Post by Porter » October 25th, 2016, 3:06 am

I don't have any good photos of a stripe phase but I do have this one with a little...

ImageValley Gartersnake by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

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Re: ID that Corpse and How Did It Get There...?

Post by Porter » October 27th, 2016, 7:17 pm

Ok, so... I was somewhat content with that last DOR find. Thought ok this sucks, but I guess it's kinda cool I got a voucher opportunity to supplement the convo with Hubbs. But, this is starting to seem pretty messed now... This one upset me a lot more. By far the must disgusting thing I've photographed and a good example of why I didn't keep the other cellphone DOR pics of 1,2,and 3... here ya go, number 5 :oops: :|

ImageDiscusting but rare voucher by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

ImageDiscusting but rare voucher2 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

ImageDiscusting but rare voucher1 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

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Chad M. Lane
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Re: ID that Corpse and How Did It Get There...?

Post by Chad M. Lane » October 28th, 2016, 1:15 pm

I've seen dead elegans have that blue hues like dead sirtalis, although I'm not going to guess as to which this one is, Mr. Porter would probably be the best judge as he seen it in person.

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Re: ID that Corpse and How Did It Get There...?

Post by Porter » October 28th, 2016, 3:19 pm

Chad M. Lane wrote:I've seen dead elegans have that blue hues like dead sirtalis, although I'm not going to guess as to which this one is, Mr. Porter would probably be the best judge as he seen it in person.
I honesty don't remember seeing any blue on it at all...Lol However, that doesn't mean that it didn't have blue. I thought it was weird when I saw it way back during springtime or whenever it was I took the pic, ID'd it as garter by he tail/bone/decay struncture/size/scales and went with elgans because of the location. My reason for taking the pic was the interesting because there seemed to be a mysterious aspect to the scenario that took place. I was thinking a bird (small falcon) had snatched it up, flew to the fence to bite the head off, the snake wrapped its body tight around the barbwire, and the falcon got scared away by someone driving by (fence right off of an entrance road from a busy traffic road. I came across the photo way later when deciding which photos to edit from my card. I thought it was a decent enough brain teaser to cure some herper boredom.

I think Brian and I are referring to blue in different ways. I'm referring to blue as a pigmented quality embedded in the snake, which is actually an illusion cause by the sun because there is no such thing as blue color, its just a reflective quality/optical illusion. There is no true blue pigment. But I think Brian is referring to the shine of the snake, like how you look at the iridescence of a cal king (non-desert phse) and see that it is not truly black and white. Which is what I guessing Chad means by, hue... but could be used to explain both references lol When Brian first mention the blue, I thought he ment Kingsnake-shine quality of the corpse. So, I was suggesting that solid body color (pigmented quality) could be a possibility.

I don't see blue...lol The only thing that looks blue to me is the exposed skeletal/vertebrae on the left side coil of the body. I think that may be setting sun evening sky reflecting on white bone. Maybe Brian thought that was a dorsal stripe? This snake looked colorless. Like a banana peel sitting so long it turned black. I know this snake looks impaled, but it might not be....what may not be easily seen here is that there are coils twisted around the wire... 2-3 on the left...1 on the right. That's why I'm thinking impalement didn't happen because wouldn't a bird be impaling an already dead snake, for later, limp and lifeless. Looks like there was a battle royal struggle that took place to me...

its possible the snake dried up, then the wind pushed the wrapped up corpse down the wire where it stopped at the knot-in-the-rope so to speak. This thing was swinging loosely in the wind. However, that doesn't rule out that it was impaled at one time...

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Re: ID that Corpse and How Did It Get There...?

Post by Porter » October 28th, 2016, 6:41 pm

Many green snakes and frogs actually are not green at all. They've evolved a yellow pigment and a blue structural color, and the two combined produce a green effect. When those snakes die, they turn from green to blue, because the yellow pigments fade. But the structural color, created as the snakes' scales scatter light, is practically immortal- Parker

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shot ... ed-on-blue



Electric Blue Racer morph from same locale as the DORs - VERY RARE

ImageWestern Yellow-bellied Racer by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

ImageWestern Yellow-bellied Racer by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

ImageWestern Yellow-bellied Racer by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

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Re: ID that Corpse and How Did It Get There...?

Post by Porter » November 8th, 2016, 4:22 pm

It appears I'm wrong about the DOR fitchi... I came across a 2 ft individual a couple days ago that had been hit that morning. Beautifully colored and vibrant. Probably had just shed. Yellow dorsal stripe, same color as the laterals, no blue or green whatsoever. So, I went out today to solve the mystery for myself and sure enough, It was blue/marine green. :o :lol: Lmfao So, Brian and I are talking about the same thing... Chad and Brian are right. I think Chad knew all along but he is just trying to be nice and not embarace me, because he feels sorry for me for being so stupid and looking like a dumbass to his girl herper friends, who I liked and was trying to impress with my photography for the last 3 years :lol: Being an idoit is a hard thing to overlook ;) not their fault. So, yeah... there still may be a possibility of a blue morph... but it would have to be axanthic lacking yellow, I guess. Still, I think the DORs I found were all faded normal fitchi like Brian mentioned above and Chad confirmed. I'm sure of it! So, yep... I've been chasing a ghost :roll:

Anyways, in case anyone out there is learning from this post.... I want to make sure I'm not spreading a bunch of BS to the masses. It's crazy because I've seen so many DOR fitchi out there that were not blue at all. I normally stop to check DORs, but I don't think I recheck them on following days ever... So, I probably just drove past the DORs that looked normal (fresh kills) and didn't stop again, thinking, "oh, that's just the DOR fitchi I saw yesterday" and kept driving.

Ok, I'm gonna go back to sleep :sleep:

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