Archive for the ‘Reptiles and amphibians’ Category

Red Eared Slider

A  red-eared slider

“There’s a turtle in the back of the backyard,” shouted my husband.

I didn’t have any problems catching up with it. The angle it was walking toward the house made it easy to get close for taking pictures.

The male and female red-eared sliders both have a red patch on the side of their head.

They mate between mid-March and mid-June here in southern Illinois, and are active until mid October.

American Toad

I walked around the corner of the house, and

there was a toad, still, not moving.

It measured roughly three inches in length.

They can live to 10 years, or even longer. They hibernate in burrows through the winter.

I’m not sure what’s covering its eye. It was gone the next time I walked past … an extra eye lid maybe?

The toad was gone in the evening when I walked by. I hope I’m lucky and see it again.

A Garden Visitor

This was the first day to work in one of my gardens.

My plans are to reduce the butterfly garden’s size by one-half. I haven’t decided what to do with the garden in the background.

I started weeding and had a good start on the area where I was working … until I saw a garter snake … relatively close.

  If you look close under the left eye, you can see where it had started shedding.

It stayed in place while I took pictures. You can see the end of its forked tongue.

Visiting Turtle

Every spring I usually watch a turtle crossing our yard, heading west.

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This one didn’t like my attention,

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and stayed where it was for about two hours.

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I’m not sure,

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but I think it was a melanistic male red-eared slider.

 

A Yard Visitor

A storm passed through southern Illinois earlier this morning.

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 I sat at the computer, beside the picture window, working on blog. I looked out, and there was a box turtle crossing our yard. I grabbed my camera and out I went.

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At least turtles are slow and more cooperative for pictures.

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You can tell the approximate age of a box turtle by counting the rings on plastron (a plate). I counted thirteen rings on one of the plates.

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Male box turtles have red eyes and the females have brown.

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I sat at the computer working on the blogs from the earlier yard visitors. Then what do I see next — a young squirrel.

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Squirrels aren’t common in our yard.

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This one was a fast little critter that didn’t pose for pictures. I lucked out getting these two.

And There I Was

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For some reason, I started thinking about snakes this morning,

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because I haven’t seen one in the yard this year.

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It brought back a memory of an encounter I had several years ago with a kingsnake.

Many many years ago, after I started birding, I still hadn’t seen a wild turkey. I’d heard them gobble. There was an area up the hill from my camper, where I’d seen a lot of turkey scratching. Dressed in camouflage, camera in hand, I got situated at the base of a tree that gave me a good view of the area.

There I sat … and sat … and dozed off. The wind started blowing … only it wasn’t the leaves rustling in the wind … it was a LONG kingsnake coming straight  for me. It hadn’t seen me in my camouflage. Somehow, I held my camera, got to my feet and stepped backwards several feet. The snake stopped when it came to where I’d been sitting because the ground was warm.  My hands shook to much to take a picture (The lens was zoomed in too close anyway.) The snake continued on, and I headed for the Blazer. It was in line to cross my lap if I’d been asleep.

A New Snake

My truck took me for a drive to check the Eagle Mountain Road — They had actually worked on it! I still wasn’t sure if I could drive the whole road yet. (My husband and I found out later that the road is downright dangerous!)

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Anyway, there in the road was this brown snake. I didn’t remember seeing one like it before. It stayed frozen in place, even after I drove off. I’m waiting for my oldest son to identify it for me.

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Keith saw my pictures and said it was an eastern hognose. It had apparently just shed. A small patch of the old skin remained on the side just behind the head. What had me confused was its lack of pattern.

Resident or Crossing Through?

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It seems like I walk up to an eastern box turtle in the yard every spring.

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It remained calm and posed for pictures.

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Male box turtles have red eyes and the females have brown. So, this is a female.

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Counting the rings on a scute (plate) will give the approximate age of the turtle. So, this one appears to be 8-10 years old.

I once watched a female digging a hole with her hind legs to lay her eggs in. I was camping that night. She worked slowly and methodically. She was still digging when I went to bed. The next morning I could hardly tell where she had been digging. Box turtles lay between 4-6 eggs, and they take roughly 3 months to hatch.

Yard Residents

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The tiny frog jumped when I picked up a sandstone rock from a pile I was moving. It froze in place, confident in its camouflage. The dirt on it hid any markings it had.

I think it’s a chorus frog. My mind said “chorus frogs” when I’d hear frogs calling earlier this summer after dark.

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I first saw this kingsnake when I almost stepped on it.

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It continued on to the shrub border where it could disappear into the thick of things.

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Then yesterday, I walked toward the house and a frog jumped from the grass in front of me. It’s the same kind as the one above. The odd thing is that I don’t remember seeing these in the yard before. They were maybe an inch or so long.

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I was again moving rocks and this leopard frog jumped near me. Their call sounds like its laughing/chuckling.

Red-eared Slider

Buffy insisted I take her for a short walk-about at Ingram Hill cemetery before the day warmed much more. We go there often for short outings and the long view.

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A red-eared slider rested near the parking area.

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It patiently posed while I took pictures.

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A red-eared slider’s shell (carapace) measures from 5-8 inches long. They’re active from March until the middle of October here in southern Illinois.

This turtle was headed north.  There’s a small body of water down the hill to the east. He may have a long, long walk to water.

Obviously, he has patience, perseverance and determination.

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This picture shows another red-eared slider that was on the edge of the highway in front of our house one spring. Older male red-ears sometimes have excess black pigment which obscures most or all of the patterns. This is called “melanism.” The brown on him is dried mud.