Posts Tagged 'reptiles'

Snake in the Moss

Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon). Saw a half dozen basking off of the boardwalk. This common snake, second only to the Garter in abundance regionally, is, like that species, somewhat varied in form. You can see stripes on this youngish one, but most Great Swamp specimens look very dark and unmarked (as they dry in the sun, the scales tend to look more uniform). This is one of the snake species that give birth to live young, one to three dozen itty-bitty snakes.
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This Tom Tomorrow cartoon encapsulates it all well: Trump’s bullshit and his refusal to admit it was his bullshit.

Muckle Turkle

The Eastern Mud Turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum). This species is endangered here in New York State, where they are only found on the non-NYC parts of Long Island. (Habitat destruction, car wheels, the usual work of H. allegedly sapiens.) A fair number were in the Pitch and Tar Swamp at Jamestown Island, Virginia, where I took these pictures last week. These are the first Muddies I’ve ever come across.They’re small turtles, about 4 inches long when fully grown, and just under 5″ for the record-breakers. And have they got a lot of neck! Evidently, they’re sometimes mistaken for young Snappers, but the practiced eye will disabuse that notion. I read that they’re the only mud turtle in most of their range and have a strong tolerance for salt water, so can be found in brackish marshes and the like.

I tried to turn one of the numerous examples in that turtle paradise into a Stinkpot (Sternotherus odoratus), a.k.a., Common Musk Turtle, but I failed. That’s a species I still haven’t seen. They are supposed to still be on Staten Island.

Turtles Galore

A foot bridge connects the mainland of Jamestown Island with the original settlement of Jamestowne, the first permanent English colony in North America. On a recent visit we barely made it across the old tar and pitch swamp. Because down below in the muck were four species of turtles: Snapper, Painted, Spotted, and Mud, that captured all our attention. Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata), the least numerous of the lot. Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta, the most common. This trio abandoned this upland as thisSnapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) clambered out. Several of the Snappers were still caked in mud.One was boulder-sized.

(I’ll return at a later date with the Mud Turtles.)

Lizard City

Podarcis siculaDid you know that there are lizards living in New York City? Podarcis siculaNo, I don’t mean captive ones. As their name suggests, these Italian Wall Lizards (Podarcis sicula) originated elsewhere but seem to have adopted to our climate and habitat (NYC and Naples are on the same latitude, you know). Last week, when the temp got up to 70, several were sunning themselves in the NYBG Native Garden.Podarcis siculaThese were introduced on Long Island in the late 1960s. They’ve spread out. I’ve seen them in Queens’ cemetery belt, too. The Northern Fence Lizard was also introduced, on Staten Island, but I’ve never seen one. There are, however, native lizards living in the Hudson Highlands.img_1091There are at least four lizards visible here as this bold-as-brass feral cat wanders by.

Pet-trade Refugee

Trachemys scripta elegansOne of the many surplus Red-eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) dumped into local waterways. Idiots buy them and tire of them and let them loose. The red “ear” is actually just a mark; on this specimen it’s rather pale; sometimes it doesn’t show at all. I once counted 70 RESs, which are native to the southeast and the Mississippi Valley, along the Lullwater from bridge to bridge. Releasing pet turtles is illegal because of the risk of disease, but that stops nobody.

Why do people insist on taking animals from the wild for their own, all-too-often ephemeral, entertainment? I suppose if they see it in a store or bucket on the street — it’s actually illegal to sell turtles smaller than 4″ because of the risk of salmonella — they don’t think it’s a wild animal to begin with. Or one that will grow out of a toy aquarium before too long; these animals can live for decades. Or after Junior’s attention has moved on to other whims, and that cute lil’ turtle is no longer so.

There’s a subculture of fancy turtle and tortoise fans that make much of their fetish here in the city and elsewhere, pleased how their pet, for instance, spends the winter in the freezer to mimic the amazing down-cycling some of these animals use to get through the frozen months. Really? You’re proud of having de-natured a wild creature for your own vanity and ego? And spare me the argument of breeders, who are doing it for profit.

There’s a now-famous tortoise that is walked in Central Park to much social media hoopla. But the poor creature belongs in habitat on another continent, not Central Park. Such attention, like dumb kids’ movies, has probably amped-up the demand, unleashing the cruel and destructive pet-hunting industry — for where there are warped desires, the profiteers will leap in to provide and crush everything else beneath their feet.

3 Turtle Species

Clemmys guttataSpotted (Clemmys guttata).Chrysemys pictaPainted (Chrysemys picta).Chelydra serpentinaSnapping (Chelydra serpentina). All on the same day at Great Swamp. There were two Snappers, the pictured one being enormous; a dozen Painted; and half-a-dozen Spotted. I am most enamored of the Spotted. Here’s another:IMG_6594

The Temp is Too Damn High

Trachemys scriptaIt’s getting so that “unseasonable” is no longer an appropriate word for never-ending autumn. This is the new seasonableness. On Friday, which set records around the region for high temperatures in a year shaping up to be the hottest on record, two Red-eared Sliders were sunning themselves in Prospect Park.Tamias striatusA couple of Chipmunks were out and about. This one stuffed a hickory nut into it’s right cheek and lopsidedly zipped down into a hole to store it for later.ChrysopidaeAnd the next day, a Green Lacewing (Chrysopidae) flitted through the air before resting on this cherry in the Flatbush Gardener’s patch.


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