SSS - Snake Season Started

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simus343
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SSS - Snake Season Started

Post by simus343 »

So it looks like warm weather in the low and mid 70s for at least another week where I am, and the snake season has started. I was working when I found all these, and only had my phone for pics, but they still turned out okay in my opinion.

I started the season with a real lucky find. While driving to do some work this snake was missed by about, well it could not have been a closer call without hitting it. Mole King.
Image

Later that day I found a juvenile black racer, but it was moving so much that I could only get a half-body voucher shot.

Then yesterday, I started by immediatley finding a medium sized Dusky Pygmy coiled up right next to my foot as I stepped into a drift fence.
Image

A little while later I found an amazing Eastern Hognose.
Image

Then on my way to another site I cruised an Eastern Cottonmouth.
Image

The last snake for the day was another little pygmy hunkering down waiting for nightfall.
Image

So far this year is off to a great start for me, so my hopes are high.
No lifers crossed off yet. Only have Southern Hognose, Scarlet Snake, and Scarlet King left on my lifer list for upland snakes here in NW Fla. I have seen some scarlets and scarlet kings at work, but they were not my finds. I got a whole season in front of me, so hopefully I can cross off at least one of those lifers left.

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Noah M
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Re: SSS - Snake Season Started

Post by Noah M »

I'd be happy with the Mole King. From my understanding, both the northern and southern ones in Florida are far from common, perhaps even down right rare!

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mtratcliffe
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Re: SSS - Snake Season Started

Post by mtratcliffe »

Great start to the season! Did you set up your own drift fence?

simus343
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Re: SSS - Snake Season Started

Post by simus343 »

captainjack0000 wrote:I'd be happy with the Mole King. From my understanding, both the northern and southern ones in Florida are far from common, perhaps even down right rare!
That is my fourth mole king from the area. 1 about a month ago on a very cool day, 1 last year, and a yoy 2 years ago. Based on the habitat all but the yoy were found in, dispersed clumps of grass with almost nothing for ground cover. We noted, as we let the photographed one go after marveling at it, that it had apparently dug its own burrow, as it slid into a perfect fit hole at the base of a lone clump of grass. I believe the scenario with Mole Kings may be similar to pines in the following way. They are seemingly rare due to habitat destruction and fragmentation, but when present, are abundant but still reclusive because they tunnel on their own, and as literature reads, use mouse burrows.
mtratcliffe wrote:Great start to the season! Did you set up your own drift fence?
The drift fences are for work. Part of my job/internship involves relocating Gopher Tortoises from development sites, and we maintain the drift fences for as long as we can in order to establish the new area as the tortoise's new home. There is no permanent water source inside these pens, so animals will frequently be found along the fence either hunting or trying desperately to find water.

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FloridaSerpent
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Re: SSS - Snake Season Started

Post by FloridaSerpent »

Wow what a lucky son of a gun. I would freak if I found any of those. Especially the Hognose or Mole King. If you dont mind me asking are these found in the morning or late in the day?

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Matt S.
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Re: SSS - Snake Season Started

Post by Matt S. »

Wow, congrats on the mole king and that hog is gorgeous. Just that king would make my year. Thanks for sharing.

Tamara D. McConnell
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Re: SSS - Snake Season Started

Post by Tamara D. McConnell »

What a beautiful start to your year!

simus343
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Re: SSS - Snake Season Started

Post by simus343 »

FloridaSerpent wrote:Wow what a lucky son of a gun. I would freak if I found any of those. Especially the Hognose or Mole King. If you dont mind me asking are these found in the morning or late in the day?
Late afternoon. About 1 hour before sunset - the typical "road cruising" starting time. While only 2 were cruised (king and cotton), the others just add to backing-proof of time-bracket activity.
Matt S. wrote:Wow, congrats on the mole king and that hog is gorgeous. Just that king would make my year. Thanks for sharing.
My friend that I mentioned who told me how bad Blackwater was for snakes, did find a high-red DOR Mole King up in Blackwater a few years ago :cry:. So they are up there!
Tamara D. McConnell wrote:What a beautiful start to your year!
Thanks! I it'll be a good year for me if this luck keeps up.

Jim Godwin
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Re: SSS - Snake Season Started

Post by Jim Godwin »

Blackwater River State Forest is a great place. In the early '80s I spent a lot of time there. As a point of historical reference these are snake totals of larger species I randomly encountered. The time period was March 1980 - May 1985.

Species number
Coluber constrictor 66
Lampropeltis getula 21
Elaphe obsoleta 21
Masticophis flagellum 13
Pituophis melanoleucus 12
Elaphe guttata 9
Lampropeltis calligaster 1

Eastern kingsnakes were once one of the most common species in south Alabama and adjacent Florida but now are seen only rarely.

mikez
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Re: SSS - Snake Season Started

Post by mikez »

I noticed some areas I explored near Blackwater were posted as "Quail Management Area". Made me wonder if they were doing anything to discourage snakes as a form of predator control. Don't know how aggressive Fl is with their quail management.

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gbeck
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Re: SSS - Snake Season Started

Post by gbeck »

If only I could convince my lady to move to Florida! Thanks for sharing.

simus343
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Re: SSS - Snake Season Started

Post by simus343 »

Added another hognose with an interesting side-bit today to my first week of finding snakes this year. It wasn't as pretty, but still nice and healthy, especially considering all the ill ones I found last year.
Image

Here is the side-bit. When it began to play dead, it puked up not a frog, but the carapace of a beetle, which adds to those anecdotes that Eastern Hognose will on occasion consume insects. But this was no baby hognose, this was a mature adult. The beetle can be seen at the bottom of the picture, a little covered in sand because it itself was covered in hognose saliva and stomach juices. As to why the picture is so huge I have no idea, and am not very savvy with re-sizing stuff without butchering the image :roll:.
Image

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BillMcGighan
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Re: SSS - Snake Season Started

Post by BillMcGighan »

First, thanks for this, Nick, since some of us are deep in early spring and reptiles are just thinking of stirring!


The beetle could have been a secondary food item from the gut of a toad or frog.

simus343
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Re: SSS - Snake Season Started

Post by simus343 »

BillMcGighan wrote:First, thanks for this, Nick, since some of us are deep in early spring and reptiles are just thinking of stirring!


The beetle could have been a secondary food item from the gut of a toad or frog.
I guess I just simply hit the magic zone in digestion then. The snake may as well have eviscerated like a "sea slug" because it kept on spewing up stomach juice/slime/saliva until it couldn't any more - it was not a very happy snake but it certainly would have deterred me if I was a raccoon haha.

Also your welcome and best of luck to everyone this season! ;)

Jimi
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Re: SSS - Snake Season Started

Post by Jimi »

I noticed some areas I explored near Blackwater were posted as "Quail Management Area". Made me wonder if they were doing anything to discourage snakes as a form of predator control. Don't know how aggressive Fl is with their quail management.
If it was state land, I seriously doubt they were messing with predators. Mainly FWC just manages the vegetation to firmly control the midstory, keep the overstory pretty light and airy, and have a nice diverse herbaceous ground cover. As much legumes as possible, and good insect populations for chicks. Some roller-chopping, some bush-hogging, a little logging, and as much burning as they can possibly do. This kind of assertive habitat management is awesome for the xeric-upland snakes, because it's good for small mammals and ground-nesting birds (like quail...). "Junk hammock" (what you get in uplands with no veg management - tons of water oak and slash pine) is pretty crappy for herp diversity in my experience - especially the interesting stuff like pines, hoggies, EDBs, indigos.

Private quail plantations are all over the place with predator management. Some don't bother - it doesn't really pencil out, usually - and others are big into it. Faith-based wildlife management, I call it. Mainly if they do try something, it's trapping & snaring the mammalian mesocarnivores (skinks, coons, possums...), plus hogs. Snakes are kind of hard to target...as we all know!

cheers,
Jimi

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Greg Theos
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Re: SSS - Snake Season Started

Post by Greg Theos »

Cool post.

I have found >50 eastern hogs in Okaloosa Co. and they have ALL been melanistic. Oddly, most of the ones next door in Walton Co. (and Bay Co.) I have seen are patterned. The ones in the ANF are a mixed bag, and pretty rare to begin with. I can actually find Simus more predictably than the easterns.

I still haven't found a mole king. I know they are here, but they are so reclusive, they aren't even on my radar.

Looking forward to road cruising the sandhills very soon!

-Greg

HerpMan ATL
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Re: SSS - Snake Season Started

Post by HerpMan ATL »

That Mole King is beautiful

simus343
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Re: SSS - Snake Season Started

Post by simus343 »

Greg Theos wrote:Cool post.

I have found >50 eastern hogs in Okaloosa Co. and they have ALL been melanistic. Oddly, most of the ones next door in Walton Co. (and Bay Co.) I have seen are patterned. The ones in the ANF are a mixed bag, and pretty rare to begin with. I can actually find Simus more predictably than the easterns.

-Greg
Got any tips for the H. simus? They are still on my lifer list.

For mole kings as I said above, I find super open areas is where they are most common. Mouse burrows present is another must have that matches between literature on them and locations where I have seen them.

Interesting notes on the patterning of H. platirhinos. I find them to be a mixed bag all around. While I most often encounter dark-gray or melanistic, everyone else I ever talk to in Okaloosa county only seems to see patterned ones. The difference in areas where they are seen, is habitat. Patterned ones turn up more often around homes, where herpers are seldom allowed to herp without permission, whereas dark ones turn up in parks and on Eglin.

In Walton co, that was my first patterned adult. I found two solid olive-brown ones before along with tonnes of melanistic, but never anything with pattern..

I found a very pretty black primary yellow secondary eastern hog the other day, and plan to have a post for the rest of my March finds up come April 1st so keep an eye out for that - I got some more nice season-starters in that bunch to look forward to ;).

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Greg Theos
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Re: SSS - Snake Season Started

Post by Greg Theos »

The habitat I find the Simus in appears no different than the other 99.99999% of sandhill habitat where I find Pine Snakes and Eastern Hogs. It perplexes me.

Do you collect any of these snakes you find?

simus343
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Re: SSS - Snake Season Started

Post by simus343 »

I leave most snakes. My three H. platirhinos were all collected though. My first, my male, I rescued while attending high school. Found him on campus being harassed by three pea-brained idiots. My two females were both house-calls to retrieve a snake. One of my friends that use to live down here found H. platirhinos all the time. I moved most just north of his house to some protected lands, I kept two young females that I raised up though, to hopefully get some eggs from (this is one's first year - here's hoping!). Again though with a great majority of snakes, even a great majority of my hognose snakes, its just a photo and move on.

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