Flora and fauna of the Athens County area, and occasionally habitats outside Ohio. Subject matter will consist of both interpretive material and taxonomic issues in plant and animal identification.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Reptiles and Amphibians
This species will not only compete for the same foraging space, but will eat young green anoles. They have been around Florida since World War 2, and have now spread into the border states as well. Populations can be so numerous in south Florida as to see one per square yard.
The second picture turns out to be Copes Gray Tree Frog, Hyla chrysoscelis. It is also small, no more than two inches. They have a brown streak running from the eye down to the legs. A lighter green spot is usually noticed below the eye. The back is smooth, can be all green, gray, or a mixture of both. They can change these colors right before your eyes. This frog can survive very cold weather, and can "cope" with temperatures below zero.
Ribbon Snakes are often mistaken for Garters. Ribbon snakes have less stitch marks, are more sleek looking, and at least one third of their body is tail. Garter snakes have a short tail in comparison. Garter snakes diets consist of worms or other terrestrial critters. Ribbon snakes prefer an aquatic diet.
This snake was beginning to cross a small bridge over a creek. It's unfortunate, but this guy has been mistaken for everything from a Water Moccasin to a Copperhead. It's bad reputation comes from the fact that it is very aggressive, and will continue to bite even after being in captivity for awhile. Its bite consists of an anticoagulant, meaning you may bleed more than normal from a bite, only adding to its reputation.
When cornered it flattens its head in a triangular shape, causing people to think it's venomous. Well, any non-venomous snake will flatten their head before striking, so that means nothing. It's the sheer length and girth of this snake that causes misidentifications.
There are several other ways to separate these species for identification, none of which work all the time. It's said the spots on Leopard frogs are more oval, but more rectangular on Pickerels. Those spots are often bordered by green on Leopards, and by black and white lines on Pickerels. The spots on Pickerels are usually in rows of two, and more alternate or uneven on Leopards. I think you can see these characters are highly variable.
American toads call with a high pitched trill, somewhat like that of a Screech owl. Fowlers Toads are loud and obnoxious. It sounds something like "rahhhhhhhhhhhh" Okay, so much for imitating something in writing.