Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Reptiles on the Road

"Just leave me alone"
The reptiles were busy at Bull Mills this weekend.  Three-toed turtles were crossing the roads with regularity.  I marked three different ones and Barb saw another one.  Lifting up a small water tank, we found this little lady dug in to hide.  The hole fit her perfectly and there was no sign she was laying her eggs.

I am calling it a female based on its orange brown eyes and small tail.  My turtle sexing skills don't go much further than that.

When I went to check out the vulture babies I found the barn entrance guarded by a 4' black snake.  It was in no hurry to get away and only left when I walked up close to get a better picture.  Hunting ought to be good as I routinely scare up mice and wood rats when I enter.

The reptilian highlight occurred as we were driving out Sunday evening.  I saw this timber rattlesnake in the road and slammed on the brakes to avoid running over it.  It was laying on our gravel drive where it turns by the barn.  I spotted individual rocks where its tail and head were to measure it later.  It started moving into the grass before I could get my camera out.  Once it was half way in it stopped and laid still, probably on the theory that if it couldn't see me, I couldn't see it.

We waited until it disappeared before I measured the distance between the head and foot rocks - 62 inches.  That makes it the largest timber rattler we have found at Bull Mills, although 8" short of the one the previous owners killed in 1994.  We found a dead 3' timber rattlesnake about 30' away from this site last month.  We had run over it when we drove in while it was dark the prior evening.

We have seen a similar timber rattlesnake at the same spot 4 times over the last three years.  On one side there is a grassy glade with a lot of shelf rock.  The other side of the road is dense warm season grass, sedge and weeds 3 feet tall.  Walking in there several minutes later to cut a thistle I scared up a wood rat.  I may have saved its life!

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