Sunday, June 6, 2010

Herping in the Pines

herpetology |ˌhərpəˈtäləjē|nounthe branch of zoology concerned with reptiles and amphibians.

Meet Matt (and his Northern Pine Snake). Matt is a budding herpetologist.

I was the last car in the caravan driving into the Franklin Parker Preserve in the New Jersey Pine Barrens last weekend. As such I was responsible for closing the gate. So I missed Matt jumping out of his car, sans shoes, to catch this snake before it could slither away into the pines.

Not only was this the first Northern Pine Snake Matt had ever caught, it was the first he had ever seen.

Up to this point I'd seen three (the other two can be seen here and here). So far I've caught zero. Matt would locate a second snake a little bit later this trip. I didn't catch that one either.

Matt's mom told me he's been catching things since he was about four, he's eleven now.

How cool is that?

Fortunately, this snake was rather docile, allowing itself to be handled by several people (the blue eyes indicate that it is preparing to shed its skin).

Even so, it sped away when finally released, and I could only get shots from behind.

While this snake was certainly the star of the day, Matt wasn't finished. Here he is showing off a Northern Fence Lizard.

He was also first to spot this Eastern Ribbon Snake (the second such snake we saw that day).

We also spotted several species of frogs and toads including this Fowler's Toad.

These Southern Leopard Frogs.

And this Green Frog.

Which Matt attempted, but alas was unsuccessful, at capturing.

Finally on the drive home I spotted this Common Musk Turtle crossing the road. Not a good place for a Turtle.

So I stopped and helped it along to a better place.

Doesn't it look happier?



I again went wandering about in the Pines this weekend, although this time I was by myself. And although I went to some of the same places I didn't see a single snake. I saw no frogs. And no lizards. I did see one turtle, again in the road (and again I stopped).

Where was Matt when I needed him?


This trip was sponsored by the New Jersey Audubon Society. If you are in NJ you should check out their schedule and join them on an excursion or two. Have fun!


Ron a.k.a. Danudin said...

Another series of great Shoys or Shots if you prefer, the kid's enthusiasm beams through, and the fact you show him releasing is a tonic. Somethime the shedding period can make the snakes snappy as they can't see properly.

Susan Gets Native said...

Herpelicious day!