Ohio Reptiles and Amphibians, 2020

Here are some reptiles, amphibians, and a few other things that I observed in southeastern Ohio in 2020. A few animals seen on a brief foray into West Virginia are also included.

We had some spells of warmer and wet weather in January.

These animals were seen on January 3:

A Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum).

A Green Frog (Rana clamitans).

A Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica).

A low-budget historical sign in Meigs County, Ohio. The questionable editing and spray paint stencil style only make it better.

Appalachian Stonehenge? Actually, this is the remains of a massive conveyor belt system that was used to transport coal from the mines in Meigs County to the Gavin Power Plant on the Ohio River in Gallia County. It was an American Electric Power operation that shut down in 2003. The run is 16 miles and is in an almost perfectly straight line. This size of the concrete pillars is very impressive to see in person.

There were also good conditions for amphibians on January 11. It's nice to be able to start the season in January. That does not always work out...

A Streamside Salamander (Ambystoma barbouri).

Another Streamside Salamander.

A Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica).

Common Gartersnakes (Thamnophis sirtalis) seen at a hibernaculum on March 9. The two smaller males are courting the larger female. I wound up seeing seven of them here over the course of a few minutes. If you know where to look, these snakes can be seen almost as early in the season as the spring-breeding amphibians.

A Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer).

A Jefferson Salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum).

A Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum).

A Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera), crossing the road. This one appears to be gravid. As is usually the case, it was raining HARD when this individual decided to cross the road. You can see the rain -- it looks like little comets illuminated by the camera flash.

A Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona).

Another Mountain Chorus Frog.

A Jefferson Salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum).

An American Toad (Bufo americanus).

A Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica).

A Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum).

A Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris).

A Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona).

A Northern Spring Salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus porphyriticus).

A young Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana).

A Marbled Salamander (Ambystoma opacum).

An impressive patch of daffodils growing in a clearing.

A closer look.

Floodplain seepage habitat. I thought it looked good for mud salamanders.

That proved to be correct:

Mud Salamander (Pseudotriton montanus) larvae.

A closer look at one of them.

A Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris).

A Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona).

A seepage-fed pool.

A Four-toed Salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum) with eggs found in the moss at the margin of the pool above. I did not disturb her further.

Little pools like this one, adjacent to the main creek, are worth investigating.

A Mud Salamander (Pseudotriton montanus) larvae found in the pool above.

A closer look at the larva.

A Northern Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon) caught at an old cattle pond. I've seen this snake here several times over the years. It has always been very wary, but this time I was able to catch it. It was basking with a coil exposed but its head hidden, such that it could not see me.

A couple of Black Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getula nigra), as found under cover on March 28. This is the earliest in the season that I have ever seen this species.

A Mud Salamander (Pseudotriton montanus) larva.

A Blanchard's Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans blanchardi).

A large Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber) larva.

A closer look.

A Great White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum).

A Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber) larva.

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

A posed photo of the same snake.

A Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra), almost as found under a board. Note the empty rodent nest near its head.

A closer look. I really like how the condensation beads up on these snakes.

My friend Ryan and a couple of Black Kingsnakes just found under this board.

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

A basking Black Ratsnake (Pantherophis obsoleta), as found. It was on an old guard rail that has been taken over by briars.

A closer look.

A Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana), found out at night after a rain.

A Green Frog (Rana clamitans).

A Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus), as found under cover.

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

A nice rock shelter. I like how you can see the ridgeline off into the distance.

A Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera) larva that is almost ready to transform.

A Long-tailed Salamander (Eurycea longicauda) larva.

A Mud Salamander (Pseudotriton montanus) larva.

A closer look.

The Mount Olive Covered Bridge over the Middle Fork of Salt Creek in Vinton County, Ohio. April 20, 2020.

An adult Mud Salamander (Pseudotriton montanus). One of the most beautiful salamanders there is.

A hatchling A Mud Salamander (Pseudotriton montanus) larva.

An adult Mud Salamander (Pseudotriton montanus).

Another adult Mud Salamander (Pseudotriton montanus).

A Northern Spring Salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus porphyriticus) larva.

A rather stunning Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) found crossing a dirt road.

A closer look. Looks like it got into the chevy orange paint! Also known as “Ol’ Cheeto head.”

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

An Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra) as flipped - in the random junk pocket of a car door!

This old stop sign just cracked me up. Definitely not living up to expectations. First of all, it's only 3' tall. And obviously the red paint has completely faded. It's in the middle of nowhere, so it's unlikely to cause issues.

There were some good rains on the night of April 25. Many amphibians were seen.

A calling Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona).

An American Toad (Bufo americanus), as found in a roadside ditch.

A Long-tailed Salamander (Eurycea longicauda) found out on a road.

A Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens).

Another Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens). They come in several color varieties.

A Fowler's Toad (Bufo fowleri). I do not see these very often in southeast Ohio.

Another Fowler's Toad.

On April 26, I dropped our son Ryan off in Columbus. On the way back, I made a little detour through the Clear Creek valley and the town of Revenge. I wondered what the story behind the name of the town was. So I did some googling. All I could come up with is that in 2009 someone wrote a novel titled Love Finds You In Revenge, Ohio. Sounds like something that would happen “In Soviet Russia...”

There are three covered bridges in this area that I wanted to check out. It was pouring rain, but I pressed on. You'll notice some water-on-the-lens issues in the photos below. Here are the bridges.

The Mink Hollow Covered Bridge over Arney Run.

Another look at the Mink Hollow bridge.

The Hannaway Covered Bridge over Clear Creek.

Clear Creek was really roaring on this day.

The Johnson Covered Bridge over Clear Creek.

Another look at the Johnson bridge.

A Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana).

A Jefferson Salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum).

Pink Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium acaule).

Showy Orchid (Orchis spectabilis).

An Eastern Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis sauritus sauritus) that Ryan W. hiked up.

Another look at the Eastern Ribbon, with different lighting. It was pretty beat up. Missing was the signature long tail.

The head of the Eastern Ribbon.

I rather like this individual's sense of humor. The stretch limo is going out in style.

The other side. This was in mid May. Little did this guy know that his son met Rona at the party, one thing led to another, and she would become a household fixture...

The corona virus did really effect my local herping much. In fact, I would say that getting out an looking for criters was one of the few activities that was “normal” for me this year.

A nicely restored caboose in Oak Hill, Ohio. It seems that Oak Hill has recently lost its railroad service. Most of the tracks are still in place, but the crossings are marked "exempt".

Just in case the moat was insufficient, the sign was added for good measure.

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

A microsnake -- a baby Worm Snake (Carphophis amoenus).

A Black Ratsnake (Pantherophis obsoleta) found in a pile of old carpet.

Another Black Ratsnake. A tad bitey.

A dead-on-road Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra) I found on State Route 93, a few miles south of Jackson, Ohio. I'm often surprised by the habitat these DORs turn up in. This is a very busy highway. No trees in the area at all. The other side of the road looks about the same, except there are a couple of houses. I'm thinking this unfortunate king was happily living in the roadside ditch, until this day...

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

A pair of Black Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getula nigra), as found under a board.

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

An attractive Northern Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon) seen recently. It is often said that snakes like this are stained. Sometimes that is the case, but I do not think that is what's going on here. I think this is the natural color of the snake -- the wide orange strip is a color morph. What say you?

A Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona) tadpole.

A Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona) tadpole, nearing metamorphosis.

An attractive Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum).

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

A amplectant pair of American Toads (Bufo americanus), found on May 24. This is near the end of their breeding season.

An old-school railroad bridge over a creek. I'm guessing around 150 years old.

My friend Todd.

An old railroad tunnel. Once upon a time, it was bustling. Now part of the Ohio South Central Railroad, it sees a couple of small trains per week that service the explosives plant south of Zaleski, Ohio.

The remains of the Richland Furnace. A reminder of Ohio's iron age, roughly 120-170 years ago.

Green Frog (Rana clamitans) eggs in our pond.

An Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) that Rox spotted in our pond. This is the first we have ever seen our property in 19 years of living here.

A Smooth Earth Snake (Virginia valeriae).

A closer look at the Smooth Earth.

A Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) that was found under a discarded swimming pool liner.

Stopping for a stick in the road. AKA Black Ratsnake (Pantherophis obsoleta).

An attractive Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) that Ryan W. hiked up.

Late in the day, Ryan W. and I flipped a board. There was a Black Racer coiled up. Upon careful inspection, another snake was visible under the leaf litter under the racer. The racer soon took off, leaving us with this image.

With a little prodding, the Eastern Hog-nosed Snake (Heterodon platirhinos) came out, but soon started playing dead.

It only somewhat cooperated for further photos.

A quick photo of a metamorph Mud Salamander (Pseudotriton montanus).

A rather dark Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), found on a dirt road at night.

We rescued this box turtle out of a well. The turtle was floating in the water, about three feet below ground level, with no way out.

A very young Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina), shown as found under a board on June 20. It probably hatched the previous fall. Even thought Box Turtles are common in southeast Ohio, the babies are very rarely encountered. This is only the second one in this age class that I have ever found. The carapace length measured 37 mm.

A very yellow Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina).

An old-school tree stand that had recently fallen over. As shown here, it was still standing in 2016. Time marches on.

A Dekay's Snake (Storeria dekayi) found a road at night.

Yuccas observed blooming on June 24. This is at an old cemetery that I visited, where most of the graves are >100 years old. Yuccas are a traditional cemetery planting. They also remind me of the western US, which I am missing more than usual this year.

A Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra).

A Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) found inside a tire. In my experience, tires are not particularly productive places to look for snakes, but I guess every dog has its day.

A Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), almost as found on a road at night (it did lift its head a bit).

A specimen male Green Frog (Rana clamitans) from our pond. Beautiful light lime green, and about as big as they get.

A female Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) on a lotus pad in our pond. There is also some interesting physics / chemistry going on here. The lotus leaf is very waxy, such that it totally repels water. This helps them float high and dry. However, the weight of the frog has caused the leaf to sink a bit. You can really see how the water does not want any part of the the leaf...

A Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) found on a road at night.

Here's a little known fact. Richard Milhous Nixon's grandfather, Samuel Brady Nixon, lived most of his life in Vinton County, Ohio. He is buried in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery, in Swan Township, along with his daughter Irene. I checked this out this summer. There is conflicting information about where Richard's father Francis was born. Many sources say Richland, Vinton County. This would have been when the Richland Furnace was in operation. That would be most interesting, if true (see the photos and discussion of Richland Furnace above). Anyway, Francis moved to California, where he fathered Richard, and the rest is history...

A metamorph Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) that Rox found at the edge or our pond. It's tiny, only about 1'' TL, and still has gill nubs. I've never seen one of these before. Interestingly, it looks more like an adult newt than the eft stage that it is morphing into.

In late July, Rox and I spent a couple of day at a cabin in West Virginia. We did a bunch of hiking. It was very nice to be at high elevation and out fo the heat. Here's a few things we saw.

WV mountain meadow.

WV mountain overlook.

A Red-bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata).

Cheat Mountain salamander (Plethodon nettingi). This species is endemic to some of the higher-elevation areas of West Virginia.

Another Cheat Mountain salamander.

A different look at the same individual.

Little vernal pool. Almost dried up. Fortunately, it rained later in the day.

Resident of the vernal pool. I'm pretty sure this is a spotted salamander larva.

More Red-bellied Snakes. Both are gravid.

Several Gartersnakes, Ringnecks, and a Milksnake were also seen in WV.

Back in Ohio now. The late summer and fall were quite dry in southeast Ohio. This made the reptiles a little more difficult to come by.

Meigs County Gold. Black Gold, that is.

I'm badly mixing metaphors here. Meigs County Gold is a marijuana strain from this region that is apparently highly sought after. And “Oil that is, black gold” is of course from the the Beverly Hillbillies theme song. And this is a Black Kingsnake from Meigs County.

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

A large Black Ratsnake (Pantherophis obsoleta), as found under cover.

A Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus). This animal was found crossing a highway.

My buddy Ryan W. was very happy to finally see a live one.

An interesting Box Turtle that Ryan W. and I found out in the middle of nowhere. It looks like a Three-toed Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina triunguis). However nearest this subspecies naturally occurs to here is the Missouri-Illinois border.

A Common Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis) that Ryan W. spotted on a remote ridgetop. Shown as found.

An old tree stand. I guess I have a liking for these old-school tree stands.

A male green frog attempting to mate with a female bullfrog in our pond. Not gonna work. If she's hungry, the green frog might end up being dinner...

Some political signage in my neighborhood. I appreciate the sentiment.

One lucky Worm Snake (Carphophis amoenus). Ryan W. and I found it under a carpet. It was entangled in some plastic mesh. I had a knife in my truck, so we were able to free it. You can see the indentations from where it was trapped. I think it will be just fine. Hopefully it will be a little more careful about what it sticks its nose into. And hopefully people will someday move on from using plastic mesh...

A large Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra), as found under a carpet during a hot dry spell in the late summer. This was a welcome find.

Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata).

A juvenile snapping turtle found in a water-fillled bog-hole on a ridgetop jeep trail. It's got a a nice light color.

A young Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) found in late August.

A Four-toed Salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum), as found under a log high on a steep ridge in late August. There appeared to be no water in the area. Apart from some larvae in early July, this is the only time I've ever seen this species in Ohio in the summer or fall.

A small Common Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis) that Aaron Crank spotted near the Four-toed Salamander. It's up in a baby tree, a foot or so off of the ground, under closed canopy.

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

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

There's no denying that baby animals are cute, and snakes are no exception. Baby snakes make their appearance in the late summer. This is a hatchling Black Racer (Coluber constrictor) that I found under a rock. In about six months, it will lose its pattern and turn black. Shown as found.

A closer look. My, what big eyes you have.

A Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), as found at the bottom of a trash pile.

A Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra), as found under cover. It is in pre-shed condition.

A field of Goldenrod. A common sight in the late summer. This patch was particularly stunning.

This place creeps me out -- Stephen King flashbacks!

Stopping for another stick in the road. A Black Ratsnake (Pantherophis obsoleta).

A closer look.

A Dekay's Snake (Storeria dekayi), as found under cover in dry conditions.

I hiked up this Black Racer (Coluber constrictor), with my buddy Ryan W., in early October. We were looking for Green Salamanders and I only brought my macro lense along. It was still fairly cool and the snake was chill and never budged. Interesting snakes.

A closer look.

A Green Salamander (Aneides aeneus) spotted in a rock crevice.

A Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus). Ryan W. and I were walking down a little-used blacktop road when I spotted it, venturing across the road.

A photo of Ryan W. and me. Just for the record, I put in a request for some new waffle-knit sweatshirts for Christmas. They really are my favorite when I need a little extra warmth in Ohio. And yes, this Christmas wish did materialize.

An abandoned market in rural Meigs County, OH. I guess this is what happens when the local coal mine shuts down.

A little fall color from late October. A Mud Salamander (Pseudotriton montanus).

Some local political signage.

A long-abandoned root cellar located well off the beaten path. Before the advent of refrigeration, the root cellar was very useful for storing food in a cool and humid environment, especially for root vegetables like potatoes.

Some fall colors. The small red trees in foreground are sumac and were amazing.

Our son Ryan B. spent several weeks with us in December. We went on a nice hike.

This vernal pool was full of Marbled Salamander (Ambystoma opacum) larvae.

Here is one of the larvae.

This year I went through my notes and added up all of the live snakes that I saw in southeast Ohio:

     species number seen
Black Racer (Coluber constrictor) 35
Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra) 56
Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum) 12
Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus) 2
Black Ratsnake (Pantherophis obsoleta) 10
Northern Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon) 4
Dekay's Snake (Storeria dekayi) 7
Eastern Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis sauritus sauritus) 1
Common Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis) 14
Smooth Earth Snake (Virginia valeriae) 3
Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) 11
Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) 1
Worm Snake (Carphophis amoenus) 14
Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus) 27
Eastern Hog-nosed Snake (Heterodon platirhinos) 1

It looks like I missed the Red-bellied and Queen Snakes this year. And yes, the Kirtland's Snake (which I have never seen).

I'm typing this up a couple of days before before New Years. There's one thing I did not mention about that hike with Ryan B. above, back on December 12. While maneuvering through a tight spot, I managed to dislodge a rather heavy rock from a ledge such that it fell on my left foot. It seems to have caused a tear to my calf muscle, which has been taking its time to heal and is still preventing me from doing much. Hopefully it will get better soon, so that I can get back outside. That's it for 2020!