All text copyright  Eitan Grunwald.  All photographs copyright  Eitan or Ron Grunwald  except photographs by others are copyright per photo credits.  All rights reserved.  Terms
SOUTHEAST
April 2008
 3 of 3
SOUTHEAST
April 2008
 3 of 3
Georgia is spent swamp-tromping with a friend, dredging detritus from the bottom of ponds and ditches, sifting for amphibians to collect samples for scientific research.  But mostly we’re just having fun getting wet.     Of course, no visit to a Georgia swamp is complete without the obligatory Cottonmouth.    We also hit a sand ridge before leaving, where I chase down a Racer and find one more Hognose, another melanistic phase, but with a bit of barely-visible pattern peeking through.   My finds in northern Florida are virtually all on the road, beginning with a group of foreign herpers.  As I round a curve a silver car is stopped in my lane, and someone is looking at something Moccasin-like on the pavement.  I pass, and in a little while stop for my own Moccasin, when the same car approaches from behind, slows down to look, then continues to drive by. Get back in my vehicle, and a few minutes later I find the silver car parked on the shoulder.  Three guys are walking the edge of the woods, carrying hooks in their hand, obviously looking for something.  With their attention turned towards the trees, they are completely unaware that just opposite them, in the middle of the road, is a snake.   I pull over and call out to the closest man, asking what they’re looking for.  Turns out the trio is from Belgium, members of the herp society there.  It seems that every year they do an international trip together in search of exotic targets (Mambas in Africa, Taipans in Australia, Cobras in India, etc.).  This year they had decided to come to Florida, and their goal is to find a Rattlesnake.  So, nodding my head in the direction of the road, I said, “You mean like that Canebrake over there?”  They turn around, and bursting into French, are thrilled (I assume) to see their first Crotalus.   Turns out to be a pretty snaky night, with Moccasins, Canebrakes, Corn Snakes, Pygmies, Water Snakes, Garters, Ribbons, and a Swamp Snake.  Two others come as a surprise, not because they’re rare, but because I’ve never before found these fossorial species crawling on the road late at night. My destination in North Florida is “The Farm,” the rural homestead of Daniel Dye, author/photographer of the website Florida Backyard Snakes, a helpful guide for nonherpers in Florida to identify, and not be afraid of, the snakes they find around their house.  He’s also a most friendly and gracious host, and I’m grateful for the hospitality of his entire family.     The visit has been thoughtfully arranged by Mark (thanks ck!), another Florida herper who brings his buddy Chuck, and we are also joined by Jake (my shotgun road-cruising companion), as well as Danny’s son, Mike.  The six of us hit some tin sites during the day, but most are unproductive due to the worsening weather, except for one flip that yields an opaque Yellow Rat Snake. Severe thunderstorms put a damper on our hunting, so we settle for a photo session with a turtle and a Corn Snake we found while cruising on previous nights (both were released afterwards).       When the skies start to clear Danny gives me a tour of North Florida backroads and the habitat beyond his backyard.  I find the last herp of my visit, and another Southeast field trip comes to an end.  Till next time . . .         
Florida Box Turtle Terrapene carolina bauri  
Two-toed Amphiuma Amphiuma means
Little Grass Frog Pseudacris ocularis
Southern Ringneck Snake Diadophis punctatus punctatus
Eastern Cottonmouth Moccasin Agkistrodon piscivorus
Rough Earth Snake Virginia striatula
Yellow Rat Snake Elaphe obsoleta quadrivittata
Florida Mud Turtle Kinosternon steindachneri
 Michael Dye