Herp Update: July 30 – field trips, greensnake pigmentation
with more and more of us being fully vaccinated, Herp Atlas field trips have begun again in earnest. We have provided three in the past week. We document all the herptiles found on these trips and add them to our database. Last week one of the trips took Kate Kelly and I to Weathersfield to lead a trip for Ascutney Mountain Audubon. We took advantage of that trip to continue south afterwards to Brattleboro and Guilford where we managed to find and document Spring Salamanders for the first time in Brattleboro and update an historic record in Guilford. Of course we also found and documented some more common species.
Two of the reports that we have received recently were of not only the same species but the same snake. Herp Atlas colleague Kiley Briggs and regular contributor Mary D reported the same Smooth Greensnake on different days. Kiley figured it out and tells the story below. Check it out.
Hi Jim, I thought you might want to hear about this interesting small-world double observation. At about 5:00 PM on July 23 I drove by this fresh DOR Smooth Greensnake on Pencil Mill Rd right on the Castleton/Hubbardton border (43.67827, -73.180604, which I had to check in ArcMap to find out that it is just barely on the Hubbardton side of the line) . It could not have been dead for more than a few minutes, but I didn’t examine it too closely and did not notice what appears to be an egg protruding from its side until looking at the picture later.
As I drove down the road I was thinking about Mary D, who lives on Pencil Mill Rd somewhere, but I am not sure which house is hers. On Sunday afternoon I received a message from Mary on Facebook inquiring about whether Gartersnakes ever turn blue after they die and sent me pictures of a DOR Greensnake she found down the road from her house. Looking at the pics, it is certainly the same snake and after asking for more details she verified that she found it right at the town line. She may have reported this already, but said she found another DOR Greesnake at the same location a few years ago.
I assembled this comparison image showing the ~48 hour timelapse on this snake and the shift from green to blue. It probably changed shortly after I found it on Friday, but it’s a kind of cool before and after sequence that you might want to file somewhere.
PS. I was surprised to see the egg, having assumed they would lay earlier in the year, but a quick search through the literature revealed that O. vernalis at northern latitudes has delayed oviposition and that after laying, eggs only take between 4 and 23 days to hatch (23 days being consistent with other species such as racers which take 22-25 days to hatch). If I had noticed the egg at the moment I might have excised it and the others and stuck them in some mulch nearby.