Spring road cruising in So. UT

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jwebb120
Posts: 3
Joined: March 8th, 2021, 3:38 pm

Spring road cruising in So. UT

Post by jwebb120 »

I am headed down to the Saint George/Beaver damn area this weekend for some birthday herping and I am looking for some advice on road cruising in southern Utah. I have produced good results from road cruising in other states but have produced very little from road cruising in the state of Utah, granted I live in the Salt Lake area so that changes things for sure. Daytime temps in Washington county are reading between the high 80’s to low 90’s. I am mostly after snakes (although I will also be going after my first Gila as well so any advice on the most useful tactics to find one of those will be much appreciated as well!) specifically sidewinders, Mojaves, kings, glossy’s, long nose and lyres. I have found a stretch of road that I think will be productive but if you guys could offer me some advice on how to go about road cruising that area of the state at this time of year I would really appreciate it!. (I'm not after specific locals or any sensitive information like that, just looking for some general advice.) Thank you!

-Jonah. :thumb:

Jimi
Posts: 1955
Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm

Re: Spring road cruising in So. UT

Post by Jimi »

Some of those things are just as well walked as cruised, but since you've a mind to cruise, I'll bite.

- The temps are so far from dangerous that there's no reason to wait for dark. In fact you'd be a fool to wait until dark to begin. Hit the pavement by 4pm. Or start a little earlier higher up, and work downhill as it cools.
- In that part of the state, don't be afraid of the dirt. Especially in daytime. (In most of Utah, dirt sucks. But in the Mojave - not so bad.)
- A useful metric is the spread between substrate temp and air temp. Dirt in the shade cools off fast - even if the air is still hot, a shady dirt road (or just an east- or north-facing berm along the roadside) can be cooler. This is handy in about 6 weeks from now. Conversely, pavement retains the heat once the shade (or full dark) hits it. In about 6 weeks from now this starts to become a pain in the ass. Until then however, it's helpful. A very happy place is an air temp of say 78 and a road temp of say 90. That's a nice spread inside of a sweet range. Now at midnight in July you might have an air temp of 92 and a paved-road temp of 110. Not so sweet. Ha ha. But the dirt might be 85...yeah baby. Anyway - a spread of at least 10 degrees, and a pavement temp between say 72 and 105, is a good place to be.

Note - many herps in Utah are surprisingly cold-tolerant. So herpers need to be also. I would not stop cruising until the air temp gets down into the mid 50s. You'll find fewer animals at those temps, but trust me, there's still animals active at those temps.

Did you gather that you need a temp gun from all of this? Ha ha.

Hey you ought to do some flipping too while you're at it. If possible, please use an app to record your finds - iNat, H.E.R.P, HerpMapper - doesn't matter, just use something.

Good hunting! Have fun, be safe, observe the laws.

jwebb120
Posts: 3
Joined: March 8th, 2021, 3:38 pm

Re: Spring road cruising in So. UT

Post by jwebb120 »

Wow thank you so much for all the advice! It means a lot. I will definitely record my findings on iNaturalist and I will also create a follow up post once I am back home to let you guys know how it went. Once again thank you so much for the tips, ill see what I can turn up.

-Jonah. :thumb:

Jimi
Posts: 1955
Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm

Re: Spring road cruising in So. UT

Post by Jimi »

Sure thing, man.

You know that temp gun is also handy as hell for flipping, and for stalking / walking. Finding snakes is somewhat akin to shooting down a missile with a rocket - it's easy to miss. Life is short and free time is limited, so it's best to make a study of finding snakes, if finding snakes is what you want to do. Herping without a temp gun is like trying to study without knowing how to read. Without even knowing how useful it is to be able to read. F*ckin ignorant is what it is. Not cool.

After a lot of use you can get pretty calibrated. I can usually guess substrate and air temps within about 3 degrees, so sometimes I forget to stick mine in my pocket when I hop out of my truck. Even still, I like to be able to report temps on my iNat or museum observations - air, substrate, and animal if possible. And, I probably never would have known just how cold you can find stuff, without the temp gun and also just sort of pushing the limits. "It feels cold, I'm gonna stop." Not always a good idea - for example one of my more memorable Utah cruising finds was getting the San Juan county record for milksnake (upper Newspaper Rock Road, back around 2012 or so), with an air temp of exactly fifty degrees F. No lie, no joke - 50F. I sure didn't get much else that night, but hot damn. I got the first milk ever, in that huge county. It's vouchered at BYU with crappy cell phone pics. Ha ha.

Besides all that stuff - you just gain a real sense of respect for behavioral thermoregulation when you see an air temp of say 65, a substrate temp of say 75, and a coachwhip temp of 92. These guys have been making it work, and work well, for a long, long time. And respect keeps the love going.

Anyway - good hunting, take care on the road.

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