Ohio Reptiles and Amphibians, 2014

Here are some reptiles and amphibians that I observed in southeastern Ohio in 2014, in more-or-less chronological order.

Our pool, on an early morning in February. Winter was pretty brutal this year.

The Wood Frogs (Rana sylvatica) first arrived at our pool on March 10. Although there were a lot of them (couple dozen?), it seemed that they were all males. This is a light one.

This is a dark one.

A quick photo of a Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona) that I dipnetted out of this pool in mid March. As you can see, the pool was formed when an old tree fell (or was blown) over. I don't get to see this species too often, so I was pleased. The snow was starting to pick up. I was hoping we were done with that...

Either it was pretty cold today, or my dipnet was just happy to finally be back in action...

A Wood Frog seen at a friend's pond.

The first Wood Frog eggs were laid in our pool on the night of March 21/22.

A pink phase Wood Frog in our pool.

We had some rainy and warmer conditions on the night of April 2. A friend and I went out roadcruising and saw many amphibians.

Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana).

Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris).

Green Frog (Rana clamitans).

Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer).

Dekay's Snake (Storeria dekayi), the only reptile of the night.

Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona). I do not see these very often, but we wound up seeing several of these.

Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona).

Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona).

Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona).

Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona).

Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona).

Streamside Salamander (Ambystoma barbouri), I believe. Pike County, Ohio.

A closer look.

Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera).

Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum), as spotted in a roadside ditch.

A Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica) with some Spotted Salamander eggs in a roadside ditch.

Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer), in a roadside ditch.

Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer), in a roadside ditch.

Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens), in a roadside ditch, with some eggs (species unknown).

Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum), as found next to a roadside ditch.

The Hannan Trace was laid out by Thomas Hannan in 1798. It connected Saint Albans (West) Virginia to Chillicothe. Chillicothe was the capital of the Northwest Territories at the time and would later be the capital of the state of Ohio (1803-1810 and 1812-1816). For awhile, this road was one of the most important connections between this region and points east. As time marched on, the capital was moved to Columbus and other roads were built. U.S. Highway 35 more-or-less follows the same path today. Now, the Hannan Trace only exists in bits and pieces, quiet back roads in Appalachia.

You never know what you're gonna find when you explore little-traveled roads that dead end in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes bad things. Somebody recently torched this very nice late model truck. Note the "fuse track" (probably poured gasoline) in the foreground. I sure hope I never run across anything worse, or in progress. I did report this to the county sheriff, and learned that the truck was reported stolen the same day I saw it.

Four-toed Salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum) found with eggs.

A Trout Lily that I saw on a hike with Roxanne in mid April.

An old barn I found hiking. On National Forest property, about 3/4 of a mile from the nearest road, nowadays. Note the daffodils in the foreground. Most likely the legacy of a thoughtful farm wife, way back when.

This vernal pool was about 100 yards from the old barn. It had Marbled Salamander larvae (Ambystoma opacum), nesting Four-toed Salamanders (Hemidactylium scutatum), Spotted Salamander eggs that had recently hatched, and breeding American Toads (Bufo americanus).

American Toads, and an old Spotted Salamander egg mass.

American Toads.

Marbled Salamander larvae (Ambystoma opacum).

Black Racer (Coluber constrictor).

Red Salamander larva (Pseudotriton ruber).

Northern Dusky Salamander larva (Desmognathus fuscus).

Northern Spring Salamander larva (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus porphyriticus).

A closer look.

A nice vernal pool some friends showed me. It lies near a ridgetop and contains Wood Frog tadpoles (Rana sylvatica), nesting Four-toed Salamanders (Hemidactylium scutatum), and Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera).

Wood Frog tadpole (Rana sylvatica).

Wood Frog tadpole (Rana sylvatica).

Northern Spring Salamander larva (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus porphyriticus).

Another look.

A hillside covered with trillium.

A pretty ravine.

A large Northern Spring Salamander larva (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus porphyriticus) found in the ravine in the previous photo. It is just starting to transform.

A closer look.

Some Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber)larvae. The little guys were born this winter. I'm calling the larger one at the bottom a "blonde phase".

Longtailed Salamander larva (Eurycea longicauda).

A towboat pushing a massive barge of coal down the Ohio River.

On the night of April 28/29 there were heavy rains and excellent conditions for amphibians moving about in southeast Ohio.

Longtailed Salamander (Eurycea longicauda).

Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber).

Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber).

Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum).

Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber).

Smallmouth Salamander (Ambystoma texanum).

Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber).

Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens).

Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber).

Grey Treefrog.

Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata).

Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber).

Green Frog (Rana clamitans).

Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris).

Jefferson Salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum).

A composite image of the Red Salamanders (Pseudotriton ruber) seen that evening.

We also went out looking the following night.

Eastern Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus holbrookii).

American Toad (Bufo americanus).

A confused Spadefoot, trying to make a threesome?

One amusing thing occurred while we were checking out the spadefoots. Some county sheriffs stopped to check us out. We explained what we were doing and they joined in -- a couple of them were very curious about the various frogs and toads. At one point, there were 4 patrol cars checking out the amphibians with their flashlights. Probably a slow night for them, otherwise...

An Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina), as found on a dirt road.

Five-lined Skink (Eumeces fasciatus).

A large (49") Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra). I also photographed it last year; it was nice to get reacquainted.

A Black Kingsnake and a Black Ratsnake were found together (about 6" apart) under the board to the lower right.

The aforementioned snakes.

The Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra).

For some reason this Grey Treefrog decided to spend the day on the side of our house. This is looking straight up at the frog from below. This was a pretty warm and sunny day and this is the south side of the house...

Another look at the Grey Treefrog. Pretty good camouflage, except for the shadow.

Ski soda is apparently only available in the Appalachian region of the USA. It used to be bottled in Wellston, Ohio -- just down the road from us. It tastes kind of like Mountain Dew, but has more of an orange flavor. I seldom drink soda, but I gave it a go. Tasty.

A Black Racer (Coluber constrictor), almost as found. I spotted it basking next to a piece of carpet, and it very slowly crawled under it, probably hoping that I had not noticed it.

A pair of snakes, as found between some old asphalt shingles. A Dekay's Snake (Storeria dekayi) on the left, a Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus) on the right.

A Black Ratsnake (Elaphe obsoleta), almost as found under cover (it had moved its head a little bit). It was digesting a large meal.

An Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens), as found under a board.

This Black Racer (Coluber constrictor) from Gallia County had a significant bluish tinge to it. It did not appear to be in pre-shed condition.

A large Worm Snake (Carphophis amoenus), as found in an ant nest under a board. It was further down the ant's hole when I first saw it.

An Eastern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus), as found. It looks to be a gravid female. I spotted it on the hillside next to the road from my truck as I drove by.

A pair of Milksnakes (Lampropeltis triangulum), as found under a piece of carpet. Two extremes of color variation. I just wish the lighting on the photo was better...

A Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum) as found crossing a road. I was expecting it to be a Black Ratsnake, but it turned out to be a large and dark milksnake.

An Eastern Hog-nosed Snake (Heterodon platirhinos). These seem to be a biennial event for me in southeast Ohio. I guess this was my lucky day. In order to get any photos at all of this animal, I had to grab it, which caused it to "die" and made decent photos impossible. For those who may not be aware of the behavior of these snakes, the don't really die, they just play dead (upside down, mouth open, tongue out).

The Hog-nosed Snake, doing what they do...

A dark and and shiny Black Racer (Coluber constrictor), as found under a piece of carpet.

Our pool on May 31. Waiting for the American Toads (Bufo americanus) to transform, so the humans can take over.

A Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina), that was found crossing a road.

An old church in Peniel, OH. No longer a town, just an intersection in the middle of nowhere, Gallia County. There are literally 100s of these in southeast Ohio. Like this one, they just about always have a cemetery adjacent to them. The sign says the church was built in 1870 and the denomination is Welsh Calvinistic Methodist (quite a mouthful). A little research indicates that over 3,000 Welsh people emigrated to this area (Gallia and Jackson Counties, OH) in the 1820-1850 timeframe.

A wild rose.

A young Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra).

A Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina), as found on a road at dusk.

A Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), as found on a dirt road after dark.

A skinny sub-adult Black Ratsnake (Elaphe obsoleta) I spotted on the shoulder of a road after dark. Shown as found. Fortunately it has a large meal in its belly and is thus hopefully on the way to getting its BMI into the healthy range.

I was driving down a dirt road looking for snakes one night. Out of the blue, this Grey Treefrog appeared on my windshield. I have no idea where it came from.

The view from outside my truck.

A closer look.

A Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum), as found under carpet. It is in pre-shed condition.

A Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra).

A ventral view of the previous snake.

I saw a few Ambystoma larvae in a water-filled tire rut. This is one of them, it was a bit over 2" TL. I'm thinking it's a Spotted Salamander.

A Smooth Earth Snake (Virginia valeriae).

A closer look.

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

A Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), found under a board.

A Common Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis) I found crossing a road at night on a dry forested ridgetop. Not a common snake in this habitat. They do seem to turn up everywhere, eventually.

A closer look.

A Black Ratsnake (Elaphe obsoleta), as spotted on the shoulder of a road at night.

A Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus), as found crossing a road.

A young hawk that I saw on a dirt road. I am told by those who know far more about birds than I do that this is probably a Broad-winged Hawk.

Some snake eggs that I found under a board. I believe they are Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus) eggs.

A Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) that was found under a rock.

A Dekay's Snake (Storeria dekayi), as found under a board.

A Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra).

A large gravid Common Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis), as found under a board.

A Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), as found in a pile of carpet and carpet padding.

Five-lined Skink (Eumeces fasciatus) eggs. I found them under a discarded 12-pack carton, along with the brooding mom. Not sure about her choice of nursery. Mom ran off and was promptly captured. The units on the ruler are centimeters.

Here's mom. I put mom back under the 12-pack carton with her eggs.

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

A Black Ratsnake (Elaphe obsoleta) I found crossing a bridge on a rural road. It's doing the kinky stick thing. I carried it off to the side and let it go. It immediately zipped into an opening where the abutment meets the road, part of the expansion joint. The snake obviously knows its habitat. A bridge is a great place for ratsnake -- it has shelter, food etc... The snake just needs to stay off the road!

A Dekay's Snake (Storeria dekayi), as found under a board. I thought this was an attractive coil.

A Grey Treefrog, a found on the road in the rain. This is a nice green one. I don't see that very often around here.

A Fowler's Toad (Bufo fowleri) found on the road in the rain.

A Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus), found under a board.

An old school saw mill that I came across. This mostly seems to be done in a factory setting anymore, but occasionally you run across something like this out in the boonies. The saw is under the shelter. They are turning out large 4"x6" beams right now. Back in the 1930s, Roger Conant said that slab piles were great for finding snakes. "Slabs" are the leftovers, part wood, part bark, like you see in the foreground. There are some massive piles farther back...

A large Black Ratsnake (Elaphe obsoleta), as found under a board. It is in pre-shed condition.

A subadult Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra), as found under a board.

A lifted carpet revealed this: two Copperheads (Agkistrodon contortrix).

The one in the foreground was particularly attractive.

Here's the other one.

A Smooth Earth Snake (Virginia valeriae), as found under cover.

A Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra), as found under a board.

Another Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra).

A Black Ratsnake (Elaphe obsoleta) that I spotted on the shoulder of the road as I drove past.

Sometimes when you lift a board, rather than finding a snake, you find snake food...

A Cope's Gray Treefrogs (Hyla chrysoscelis), as found guarding our our connection to the outside world -- cable, TV, and phone.

A Crane Fly Orchid (Tipularia discolor) -- one rather well-camouflaged flower.

Sulphur Shelf Fungus or "Chicken of the Woods". Apparently, when cooked, it tastes like chicken. That's what they all say. I am not a fungus eater, so I'll take their word for it. Not sure of the exact species, but it is genus Laetiporus.

Great Spangled Fritillaries (Speyeria cybele) on Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium).

A Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum), as found under a board.

A Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), almost as found on a dirt road.

An old Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) shell, as found in the forest.

A Black Racer (Coluber constrictor), as first spotted when going through a pile of boards.

A young Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra), and the plastic automobile gas tank it was found under.

A Black Racer (Coluber constrictor), and the board it was found under. I had not seen one in this area before, so I felt compelled to catch it for a photo. As you can see, I paid a price for that.

Another Black Racer (Coluber constrictor), as found under a board. It is in pre-shed condition.

A Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), found under a board.

An attractive Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina), as found.

A Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus) that smeared me with unmentionables... Also, I believe this is the first time that I have ever been bitten by one.

The Center Point Church in Lawrence County, Ohio.

A Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum), as found under a board in mid October.

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

A closer look at the Black Racer.

Well that's it. I kinda slacked off herp-wise after snake season ended. I did manage to see some live garter snakes this year -- 7, to be exact. But I did not see any live watersnakes or Queen Snakes in 2014... I also explored some nice habitats that I had not seen before, particularly in Washington and Monroe Counties. However, I only saw one herp in Vinton County this year -- this used to be one of my old standbys. I'll try to balance that out next year. I guess the message here is that you can't do everything...

What will 2015 bring?