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
TEXAS
April 2017
 4 of 6
TEXAS
April 2017
 4 of 6
Next morning we find a place for photographs, and roll up on a really big Red-eared Slider waiting to get her picture taken, too. Our micro-anaconda from last night:      Another watersnake from the night before, a pretty little juvenile that’s a lifer for both me and Darin. Travel time again.  We spend the afternoon driving, passing ranches and agricultural megafauna. In a few hours we’re close to the coast. And once again, it’s Adventures In Culverts.   Darin looks into the water on one side of the road, and the first snake, a Mississippi Green catches his eye.  Scanning the bank, he then sees a loop sticking out of the culvert’s metal pipe.   Down climbs Darin, and with an elegant flourish, he whisks out a Western Cottonmouth. Turns out there’s a second moc in the pipe as well, plus Darin discovers two more in the culvert pool on the other side of the road.     This certainly gets our hopes up, but after four hours and nothing but DORs, we decide to leave the coast and head for grassland prairies.        This turns out to be a wise choice, because, really, who wants to see herps anyway?  Not when you can have the unforgettable experience of finding birds on the road.  And cows.  Let’s not forget the cows.     Ultimately we end up driving in circles.  We define a loop and take up the challenge:  around and around until something shows up.  Imagine our surprise when it turns out to be  wait for it So now the rules change:  We’ll do another lap, and if nothing shows up, we’ll leave.  But if a snake does appear, we’ll go again.  It’s us against the Brown Snakes. We do another round, find another Storeria.  We do another round, find another Storeria.  Etc.  Somewhere in the mix is a Rough Earth Snake, ganging up with the Brown Snakes. We repeat the circuit five, six times, and with every lap, another snake; they won’t let us go. I’m thinking of breaking the rules, leaving even though we haven’t yet had a snakeless round. And then, thankfully, before we escape, our real target appears.  I know they can be found elsewhere, but it’s particularly sweet to find a Prairie King in an actual prairie. This juvenile puts on an interesting display of spasmodic head-twitching, presumably a defensive behavior.  I’ve previously observed this in Sistrurus (Pigmy Rattlesnakes), but never before in Lampropeltis          OK, that’s it for sure.  One last round and we’re outta here.  Coming close to the end, and out crawls this gigantic, enormous, colossal snake, larger than any serpent ever seen, reaching the unbelievable length of more than four feet!  (This is what comes from seeing too many tiny snakes.) Actually, it does turn out to be a pretty big individual for this species.  In fact, at first Darin and I think it’s a Prairie King, until we’re corrected later on.  Rookie mistake, I know, but in our defense, we’re still learning to recognize Texas snakes.  Having just found a juvie calligaster, we’re ready to believe this is an adult, and besides, we’re not aware of any other brown blotched snakes in this area that reach this size.  Glossy Snake never occurs to us; we have no idea they can get so large (or so mean; this one tries to terminate Darin with extreme prejudice).  But as endless posters will attest (all together now): “Everything’s bigger in Texas.”     The remainder of our road cruising continues past midnight, but succeeds only in adding to a growing list of DOR Rat Snakes.  Oh, and two more live Brown Snakes, which, as always, insist on having the last word.  Then deeper into the night, we start driving back towards the coast.
Texas Glossy Snake Arizona elegans arenicola
Broad-banded Watersnake Nerodia fasciata confluens
MIssissippi Green Watersnake Nerodia cyclopion
Western Cottonmouth Agkistodon piscivorus leucostoma
Texas Brown Snake Storeria dekayi texana
© Darin Germaine
Prairie Kingsnake Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster
Red-bellied Mooing Cows