Having the Urge!!

Herp hunting has become quite the addiction. Everyday since the temps became a steady 55 degrees and warmer I chomp at the bit to go outside and flip some logs, check the stream banks, or simply walk the trails and pathways near my home here in Northern Virginia. Most of the time I find the same old same old, two line and red back salamanders, worm and ring neck, and the ever reliable eastern black rat and water snakes, green and gray tree frogs, and box turtles, broadhead and five line skinks. sometimes I get spoiled and admittingly a little bored with finding the same species but still knowing that there are other species to be found keeps the “drive” going.

Recently I have taken additional steps to promote temporary habitats for herps-mostly snakes. A recent mole king snake discovery under a tire not far from my usual stomping grounds was encouraging and therefore I took it upon myself to distibute playwood coverboards within the vacinity of the discovery area hoping to entice another mole king and anything else that might seek shelter in the region. Ideally corregated tin and carhoods would provide better hides but I think I would probably run into opposition form the locals for “trashing” the neighborhood.

So far the boards havent produced anything nor has the original tire where the mole king was found. My old coverboards from three years ago regularly produces ringneks and worm snakes. Just need to be patient I guess.

Mole King and Black Racer
Watch this video on YouTube.

Having the urge to herp sometimes requires a short roadtrip to a nearby area where it is almost a garuantee to find racers, eastern rats, worm, northern browns and mole kings. Below is just one of those places that I frequent when I get the urge to find one of the bigger and less common snakes of my area- the mole kings. P1030003
(above) Northern Black Racer on right and less common Mole King on the left. Both were easily handled without a struggle.

Rare Albino Eastern Worm Snake by Mike Gregory and Mark Khosravi

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Well its getting close to kick off time at the park where Mike Tony and I work. the upcoming weekend promises to be quite a buzz with all of our scheduled programs for scouts and the general public – our most prized of all clients. This weekend 4/28/2012 will be nonstop for us all Herp related. To make sure we are better prepared it customary for members of our staff to legally obtain some native species from to serve as props for the programs. All animals are also customarily released back into their natural habitats unharmed soon after.
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The morning started out cold and rainy but Mike suggested we go out and search anyway before he was scheduled to work. So wihout too much twist of the arm I agreed and we headed out to some familiar sights that usually produce a few small snakes and possibly some decent phibs.
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We moved along flipping previously laid cover boards, the artifical hides made from plywood, finding mostly very dry substrate and ants and a few other insects. On the second to last board Mike yells out “Mark!! Come check this out!!!” I initially thought what possibly could he be so excited about. So I made my way over to Mike and there he was starring intently over the raised cover board and at the dry earth below. There lying side by side were two worm snakes one of which was definitely unusual. Neither one of us had seen anything like it so we could only specualte what it could be. The one snake was definitely smaller and pink above and very pink below as opposed to the larger worm snake that had the normal brown dorsum with pink ventral side.

Rare:Pink Eastern Worm Snake
Watch this video on YouTube.

A draft of the VHS Field Note Entry is shown below:

Carphophis amoenus amoenus (Eastern Wormsnake) VA: Fairfax County, Ellanor C. Lawrence Park, 5040 Walney Rd., Chantilly, VA 20151 (38 51.7°N,-77 26.0 °W). 22 April, 2012. Michael Gregory and Mark Khosravi

Coloration: On 22 April, 2012 at 11:43AM an albino Eastern Wormsnake (Carphophis a. amoenus) was discovered in mixed cedar and hardwoods section along the Walney tract of area of Ellanor C. Lawrence Park. The specimen was found alongside a wild type worm snake under the same coverboard. Classic albinism was exhibited including red/pink eyes and a lack of any pigmentation except for a light yellowish coloration around the edges of the dorsal scales.

Albinism in Carphophis amoenus amoenus has been previously reported in Arlington County, VA (Allard, H. A. 1945. A color variant of the eastern worm snake. Copeia 1945:42) and in James City County, VA (Somma, Matthew. 2012. Field Notes – Coloration, Catesbeiana Volume 32 Number 1).

Photographs were deposited with the VHS Digital Archive (#213) as a voucher. The animal was released after photos were taken.

Michael Gregory
[14607 Lock Dr
Centreville,VA 20120]

Mark Khosravi
[7155 Main Street
Clifton, VA 20124]

The Elusive Seclusive Mole King Snake

Mike and I went out to find a Mole King snake today or any other animals for that matter that may cross our path. Enroute to our destination we spotted an adult eastern box turtle next to the trail. Found about 5 turtles total today. We also found four species of snakes. One eastern worm and one eastern rat snake and one northern brown snake. The best find today was an adult Mole King Snake shwon in video with Mike

Mole King Snake with Mike Gregory and Mark Khosravi
Watch this video on YouTube.

Very Large northern Black Racer Spring 2012

A very large northern black racer I caught around an old house site. I dont necessarily like to hold by the tail in this fasion but was trying to get the animal under some control so as to give a perspective of its size. My height is 5’6″ .  The area is mostly overgrown with tall grass and exhibits successional stages of cedars, pines and mixed hardwoods. In this area was mostly an open area of tall grass (a field) with numerous debris lying around. The combination of the two provides habitat for an abundance of rodents and hiding places for snakes like this one. Other snake species caught in the area include Eastern black rat, Mole king, Northern brown, Eastern worm, and Ring neck snakes. Other species are suspected but just haven’t been encountered yet.

Northern Black Racer