Ohio Reptiles and Amphibians, 2012

Here are some reptiles and amphibians that I observed in southern Ohio in 2012, in chronological order. Maybe also a few other things, like flowers, fish, and bridges...

Our winter was unusually mild this year and it led into an early spring. The summer was very dry, but it included a very intense derecho windstorm that knocked out the electrical power throughout the region. I didn't manage to get out into the field much during the summer. The year finished up with a pretty average fall and early winter.

A Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica), observed in mid February.

A large Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera) larva, observed in mid February.

The pool to the left was searched in mid February and found to contain a Mud Salamander (Pseudotriton montanus) larva and some Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera) larvae.

The Mud Salamander (Pseudotriton montanus) larva from the pool shown in the previous photo.

A closer look.

A single Mud Salamander (Pseudotriton montanus) larva was found in this pool in mid February.

The Mud Salamander larva found in the pool shown in the previous photo.

Another look at the Mud Salamander larva.

A lone Mud Salamander larva was also found in this pool in mid February. Photographed after dipnetting.

The Mud Salamander larva found in the pool shown in the previous photo.

Close up of the Mud Salamander larva.

A Marbled Salamander (Ambystoma opacum) larva.

A Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica), observed calling on March 3 from the water that collects on the tarp that covers our swimming pool.

A ridgetop pond in the middle of the forest. Almost certainly man made, but it must have been made long, long ago. Now it's a home and/or breeding ground for Wood Frogs, Green Frogs, Spotted Salamanders, Four-toed Salamanders, and Eastern Newts (at least). Photographed in early March.

Lifting a log near the above pond revealed this, three Spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum).

Another look at one of the Spotted Salamanders from the previous photo.

A Four-toed Salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum), as found under a log in early March.

Lifting another log in early March revealed this sight. I know what it is!

The Four-toed Salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum), after moving the leaf in the previous photo.

The pool to the left of the creek was searched in early March and found to contain a Green Frog (Rana clamitans), a Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera) larva, and a Mud Salamander (Pseudotriton montanus) larva.

The Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera) larva (top) and Mud Salamander (Pseudotriton montanus) larva (bottom), found in the pool shown in the previous photo.

A closer look at the Mud Salamander larva.

A Four-toed Salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum) found under a log next to a ridgetop pond in early March. I posed it on the log it was found under, and yes, that is snow.

Another Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica) in our pool.

Coal, Keeping the Lights On. I drove by the Gavin Power Plant, on the Ohio River in southeast Ohio. It's a 2.6-Gigawatt coal-fired beast, one of the largest in the country. The winds were blowing towards West Virginia today... A few years ago, AEP bought out the entire town of Cheshire, OH because of pollution problems from this plant.

The smokestacks of the Gavin Power Plant.

Another look at the Gavin Power Plant.

An Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) eft, as found crawling in the leaf litter.

Some water-filled tire ruts, breeding site for the Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona). The water is only a few inches deep. The frogs must have a love/hate relationship with automobiles: they need them to make the ruts, but they probably don't appreciate them driving through their bedroom! I got my truck stuck turning around about a 100 yards back down the road, so I was not a factor...

Male and female Mountain Chorus Frogs, as found in the above pool.

What I assume are Mountain Chorus Frog eggs, in the above pool.

A Bloodroot flower, apparently with "too many" petals...

Daffodils I saw while hiking out in the middle of nowhere. I have this vision in my head of the lady of the now-vanished homestead planting them a hundred or so years ago.

More daffodils.

A Dekay's Snake (Storeria dekayi), found on the road. It was 13 March, pretty early to be seeing snakes...

Another Dekay's Snake (Storeria dekayi), as seen on the road on 13 March.

A Ravine Salamander (Plethodon electromorphus) as found under a log.

A ventral view of the Ravine Salamander.

A large Ravine Salamander (Plethodon electromorphus). You will never find a Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus) this long.

A Bloodroot flower, with the "correct" number of petals.

Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta).

Redwing Blackbird (crummy photo).

A female Four-toed Salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum) with eggs seen on March 17 -- the earliest that I have seen this activity in Ohio.

A Spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum), as found under a log.

A Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera), as found under a log.

An Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) eft, posed near where it was found crawling around.

A Northern Spring Salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus porphyriticus) larva.

Another look at the larva; the ruler indicates centimeters.

A Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris).

Northern Slimy Salamander (Plethodon glutinosus).

A Ravine Salamander (Plethodon electromorphus).

A ventral view of the Ravine Salamander.

A ventral view of a Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus), for comparison.

Hatchling Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber) and Northern Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus fuscus) larvae.

A closer look at one of the Northern Dusky Salamander larva.

One of the Red Salamander larva (top) shown with a young Northern Spring Salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus porphyriticus) larva (bottom) for comparison. Both animals were found on March 25 and are in the hatchling age class.

A closeup of the head of the young Northern Spring Salamander larva.

Great White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum).

A Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis), as found at the edge of the woods.

A large Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera) larva.

A large Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber) larva, about 3.5" total length.

A closer look.

A Northern Spring Salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus porphyriticus) larva.

A closer look at the head of the Spring Salamander larva.

Michelle, Jessica, Shawn, Mike, and Paul on 25 March 2012.

Common Blue Violet.

A Spring Beauty from April Fools' Day.

Blue Phlox.

Blue Phlox.


A small southern Ohio creek. Only two-lined and dusky salamanders were found here.

A large Black Racer (Coluber constrictor). At one point I was walking and heard the distinctive sound of a large, fast snake moving in the grass. I lifted an old ironing board and found not one, but two big racers. One bolted immediately and the other I grabbed and posed for a photo. It was a big one, over 5' and thick (for a racer). I kind of wanted to measure it, but wrangling it and the tape measure by myself seemed like kind of a stretch...

A Long-tailed Salamander (Eurycea longicauda).

A young Mud Salamander (Pseudotriton montanus).

A Black Racer (Coluber constrictor), after I disturbed it from its hideout.

Azure Bluet (Houstonia caerulea).

Bristly Buttercup (Ranunculus hispidus).

Golden Ragwort (Senecio aureus).

Fire Pink (Silene virginica).

A pair of Black Racers (Coluber constrictor) I saw in the woods on April 4. Shown as found; they were not moving. Rival males or boyfriend/girlfriend? I kind of suspect the latter...

A small stream with a backwater on the left. I dipnetted the leaf litter in the backwater. I did get some Southern Two-Lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera) larvae, as I expected. I also got a couple of fish. I often find Creek Chubs this way, but the two fish shown below are ones I don't often see.

A Fantail Darter (Etheostoma flabellare), about 2" TL.

A White Sucker (Catostomus commersonii), about 6" TL.

A closer look at the White Sucker.

A Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus) that I somehow spotted in some dead briars on April 4. Shown as found.

A closer look.

A profile shot.

A young Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum), as found under a split log.

This section of the creek was filled in by a somewhat recent landslide. Most of the water is flowing underground here. Dipnetting in the pool shown yielded the hatchling Mud Salamander larva shown below.

A hatchling Mud Salamander (Pseudotriton montanus) larva. The numbers on the ruler indicate centimeters.

A closer look.

Dwarf Crested Iris (Iris cristata).

Rue Anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides).

Dwarf Crested Iris (Iris cristata).

Great White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum).

Great White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) -- they apparently turn pink as they age.

A large Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera) larva.

A closeup of the head.

A Northern Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus fuscus) larva (left) and a Mud Salamander (Pseudotriton montanus) larva (right).

Another look at the Mud Salamander larva.

A Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica).

A Worm Snake (Carphophis amoenus), as found under a board.

This pond is located near the ridgetop in rugged country. It appears to have been made by the hand of man a long time ago. On April 13, a friend and I searched the moss lining much of the edge of the pond and found 20 female Four-toed Salamanders (Hemidactylium scutatum) with the eggs, as well as several more nests without salamanders.

One of the Four-toed Salamanders and her eggs. The eggs look about ready to hatch.

Some Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber) larvae.

The fissures in this sandstone rock outcrop are home to the Green Salamander (Aneides aeneus).

A Green Salamander, as spotted in a crack in the above rock outcrop.

A closer look at the Green Salamander.

An Eastern Hog-nosed Snake (Heterodon platirhinos). A welcome find -- I had not seen a live one since 2007.

This one was a "gaper" -- I had not seen one do this before.

The snake had some mud on its head. I found it at the site of an old clay mine. Not surprisingly, the soil here is a fine gray clay, like you see on the snake's head.

The snake was not a very cooperative photo subject and it quickly went into the characteristic death-feigning routine...

A Black Racer (Coluber constrictor) that I saw basking on a hillside. It was deep in a shed cycle and slowly crawled away from me.

The racer went into a pile of fallen branches. Rather than disappearing, the snaked turned around to check me out...

Black Mustard (Brassica nigra).

Rue Anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides), a little past their prime.

Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea).

A closer look at the Ground Ivy. The flowers are tiny.

Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalium umbellatum).

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum), with a couple of pollinators...

Rattlesnake Weed (Hieracium venosum), zoomed out to show the leaves which I think are kind of interesting.

I'm not sure if this one is Rattlesnake Weed...

A Broad-headed Skink (Eumeces laticeps), as spotted basking on a faint ATV trail. It had not moved yet. When I walked closer, it ran under a log and was easily captured.

Here is the Broad-head again, posed on a log. It had been in some sort of scrape recently -- it had lost its tail and had several small wounds on its head.

A closeup of the head. The details of the head scales and large size (it was about 95 mm snout-vent length) are diagnostic of this species.

A young Smooth Earth Snake (Virginia valeriae), as found under a small rock on a steep hillside.

A Black Racer (Coluber constrictor), almost as found.

This racer also slowly crawled away from me and then looked back to see what I was up to.

A Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus), almost as found, about head high on a steep hillside.

Another look, as the snake slowly maneuvered through the vegetation.

A Black Racer (Coluber constrictor), as found under a board.

A Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus), as found between two slabs of rock. It was probably preparing to shed its skin, which is looking a little rough.

A Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans), found in a moist area on a ridgetop.

A Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina), as found.

A turkey nest. I was walking thru the woods and scared up the momma turkey. Let me tell you, the big bird suddenly taking flight from just a few feet away caused my heart to skip a couple of beats...

A Whip-poor-will.

Our pool on 30 April, home to many tadpoles.

A small sampling of the tadpoles in our pool. The larger ones are Wood Frogs, the smaller ones are American Toads.

A Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica) tadpole from our pool.

Another Wood Frog tadpole from our pool.

A close up of a Wood Frog tadpole.

American Toad (Bufo americanus) tadpoles from our pool.

A Wood Frog metamorph from our pool.

An American Toad metamorph from our pool.

A Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum), as found under cover on a wet day.

A Worm Snake (Carphophis amoenus), about 8 inches long.

A closeup of the Worm Snake. If you look closely, you will see that the prefrontal/internasal are fused on one side only. Must be a intergrade (amoenus x helenae) -- LOL! Actually, this is not a rare occurrence: Roger Conant noted in 1951 that 16 out of the 91 Ohio specimens available to him were like this...

A Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), as found under a rock slab.

Another Copperhead, as found under a rock slab.

Low Bindweed (Calystegia spithamaea). The name "Low Bindweed" seems rather lame for such a pretty flower... This photo is not doing it justice.

The T&J Dairy Bar in Oak Hill, Ohio. It seems most every tiny town in southeast Ohio has something like this -- a little place where you order at the window for hamburgers, fries, hotdogs (aka footers), and soft-serve icecream. My friend Brian and I have a bit of mixed feelings about this place: it's not exactly healthy fare and sometimes there is a wait. Still a lot more interesting than McDonalds.

An Eastern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus), as found. Most likely a gravid female.

A Black Ratsnake (Elaphe obsoleta), as found a back road.

"Swamps" -- a bar I stopped at for some refreshment after hiking. It's in the middle of nowhere Appalachia, sort of close to Oak Hill, I suppose. Actually, it's in the middle of a swamp (anyone remember the movie Porky's?), hence the name. It seems to serve a diverse clientele: bikers, locals, hunters,... An interesting place. It was a hot day and I appreciated the cold beer.

Chillin' at Swamps.

The swamp at Swamps.

This chipmunk apparently went for an unplanned swim in our pool one day. This is exactly how I found it on our pool deck -- totally exhausted and gasping for breath... Looked like it had just crawled out of the pool. Glad it made it out (sometimes they do not). I checked back in about 10 minutes and it looked a lot better; it was trying to preen its tail back into shape...

A Smooth Earth Snake (Virginia valeriae).

A closer look.

A Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum).

Mommy deer munching on Rox's garden... Looking out our dining room window.

Bambi was in tow. Teach 'em young where the good eats are, I guess...

A baby Cope's Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) that Rox spotted in our garden in the middle of the summer. Photographed as found.

A Marbled Salamander (Ambystoma opacum), one of two that I found one day in mid September. When these guys start showing up under surface cover, you know summer is about done. This one was about 4 inches in total length. One of my favorite salamanders.

An Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens), as found under a rock lying in a dry creek bed.

Hardy Ageratum (Eupatorium coelestinum).

Ox Eye (Heliopsis helianthoides), I think.

Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum), I think.

The Buckhorn Furnace, in Lawrence County, Ohio. It was built in 1833, and produced iron through about 1900. Nowadays, I think that mother nature has reclaimed ownership!

Two old pieces of barbed wire, going right through the center of a large hardwood.

The tree is located on a remote ridgetop, far from any road or trail. I should say "was" -- as it is in fact snapped off, probably by the derecho storm a few months ago. It was one of the largest trees in the area. Time marches on...

Look mom, no hands! A hatchling Eastern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus) basking on some erosion control fabric.

A hatchling Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum), about the size of a pencil.

An adult Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum).

A Black Racer (Coluber constrictor) that I found under a piece of carpet. It was doing the vertically-compressed neck thing.

A large-ish (~5 foot) Black Ratsnake (Elaphe obsoleta).

Another look at the ratsnake.

A Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis), as found on the road. It turns out that the house in the background belongs to a friend of mine.

Looking the other way, back at my truck.

This bike ride didn't go according to plan...

Soon after that little mishap, I came across this guy. I barely saw it.

A stream on October 4. The fall colors are just starting to show.

A view from a ridgetop on October 4.

I went from a hike on November 3. Although storm "Sandy" did not affect my area very much, the rain and wind did put the kabosh on the fall colors. It looked more like mid-winter.

A lake seen on the same day.

A Northern Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus fuscus), as found under a rock slab.

A Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera) larva.

A Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera), as found under a rock slab.

A Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber) larva.

Another Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber) larva.

I also saw a bunch of these on the ground. It's about the size of a grapefruit. Perhaps an alien brain? No, it turns out to be the fruit of the Osage Orange.

I came across this one day in early November. The stream is flowing out of an old coal mine in southeast Ohio. I had to do a little research. It is the Essex Mine and was abandoned in the 1920s. It still puts out >700 lbs/day of acid and >200 lbs/day of metals. The precipitate is white in this case due to the prevalence of aluminum in the discharge. Orange (due to iron) is more common in my experience. In any case, it's not good for any aquatic critters trying to get by downstream.

This "doser" is located just downstream from the Essex mine. I think the idea is that it is supposed to put stuff into the creek to neutralize the acid, but it didn't appear to be doing anything useful at this time.

Nearby signage. I find it amusing how ex-governor Strickland's name has been weakly whitewashed over. Why even put the governor's name on a sign like this in the first place? Talk about planned obsolescence...

Some old mining equipment. The outer pulleys are about 6' in diameter. This kind of thing is more typical to find the in the California desert than in southeast Ohio.

An active oil well near the Essex mine. I believe it is on a timer to only pump occasionally. Just for the record, this well does not appear to be creating any significant environmental problems. A Green Frog and a Southern Two-lined Salamander were observed about 50 feet from here.

A Green Frog (Rana clamitans).

A Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera), as spotted in a shallow stream by my friend Joe.

The Palos Covered Bridge, in Athens County, Ohio.

The Kidwell Covered Bridge, in Athens County, Ohio.

Another type of bridge in southeast Ohio, the "Rockbridge" in Hocking County. It's about 10' wide.

A Mottled Sculpin (Cottus bairdi), about 2.5" long. They like cool, clean water and are at the edge of their range in southern Ohio.

We had some warm rains on the night of December 2. Several amphibians were seen on the roads within a quarter of a mile of our house.

A Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer).

A Cope's Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis). This is the first time I've ever seen these guys in December. There were a lot of them out.

A Jefferson Salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum).

An Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens), on the move.

I too my old Chevelle out for a drive on day in mid December. It entered hibernation soon after.

A rock shelter at the head of a small creek. Standard scenario in the Hocking Hills Region.

The Arbaugh Covered Bridge, in Vinton County, Ohio.

The view from the highest point in Scioto County. Not bad for Ohio. Technically, I'm not quite on the highest point here, but this spot had been logged and provided an open vista.

A paper mache Christmas ornament that I made around 20 years ago. Yes, it's a rattlesnake...

The snake lurks on the top of our tree this time of year.

I went for a nice hike on the last day of 2012. There was about six inches of snow on the ground.

Icicles. Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera) larva were present in the pool in the foreground.

A Mottled Sculpin (Cottus bairdi), found a little ways downstream. Impressive camouflage.

This little stream comes out of spring a couple of hundred feet away. Northern Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus fuscus) larvae were found here.

Well that's it for 2012... What will 2013 bring?