Happy herp day!

Now that it’s warmer, the herps on the hill are becoming more visible. We were so glad to see the appearance a young eastern coachwhip after spotting a freshly shed skin last night.

We used to have a bevy of coachwhips and hognose snakes in a complex of burrows under the front porch. However, we did not see any last spring or summer, which coincided with the appearance of two large fire ant mounds within a few feet of the burrow openings. We don’t know if those two are related, but Amdro took care of the fire ants last fall and now a snake reappears.

Weekly photo challenge: From above 2

The larger of the two eastern coachwhip snakes to show themselves today had milky eye scales — a sign he’s getting ready to shed his skin. This fellow curled himself in a warm stone and dirt hollow in the hillside. Only noticed him when I heard the sound of his scales sliding against the stone after trimming some of the growth on the hill.

Someone else in the burrow apparently shed within the last 24 hours. Found a still-moist whole skin measuring more than 6 feet woven between the stalks of the pokeweed plants.

Eastern coachwhip curled up.
Eastern coachwhip curled up in a warm dirt and stone bowl below the deck.

Weekly challenge homepage: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/weekly-photo-challenge-from-above/comment-page-7/#comment-183222


Skin deep

Sometimes, beauty is skin deep. Our under-the-porch friend left a present for us — a long, robust snake skin in two parts. The final few inches that included the head scales was still stuck in the entrance to his lair. Decided not to stick my hand in to retrieve it.

INSIGHT — Head end of the skin left by an Eastern coachwhip.
FRONT TO BACK — Sunlight filters through to the belly scales.
TAIL LIGHT — The end of the line.
LONG WAYS — The snakeskin stretched out was about 4 feet long.

Herp-y April!

More of our local reptiles showed themselves on April Fool’s Day. The long coachwhip stuck his head, and a few inches, out from under the porch and a big fence lizard made himself at home on the deck.

CAN YOU SEE ME? -- Big Jake, the big fence lizard, finds the deck's outdoor carpet to be a great place not to be seen hungry hawks.
COMING OUT -- The under-the-porch coachwhip comes out for some sunshine on April Fool's Day. It was our first sighting of him (or her) this year.
EYE ON YOU -- The coachwhip turns to face the photographer. It's tough stalking a snake!

Eastern coachwhip

The rocky space underneath our front porch has been a den for hog nose and coachwhip snakes. We’d noticed a few freshly shed skins on the slope in front of the house, but hadn’t seen the snakes —  until Memorial Day that is.  Stepped out on the deck, looked down, and there was a coachwhip, enjoying the warm air and the warmer shale.

Eventually, he wound back under the porch, with only one semicircular loop showing his range of colors.

These beautiful snakes are a velvety black with large patches of black-trimmed pink scales. You can see more of Arkansas’ herps at: http://www.herpsofarkansas.com/Snake/HomePage.

snake head
The coach whip's black head contrasts against the light shale.
Going ...
... going ...
coachwhip disappeares
... gone!