Category: reptiles

Photography Challenge Day 128: Reptile Tuesday

I know, its suppose to be Turtle Tuesday–but I couldn’t decide on a turtle picture to share, so I decided I’d do a group post and make it reptile Tuesday instead.

In terms of age–reptiles are one of the oldest groups of animals on the planet. The taxa group Reptilia include all living reptiles (snakes, crocodiles, alligators, turtles, lizards, and tuatara), and their extinct relatives.

Alligator at the birding center, South Padre Island TX

I was lucky to get the picture of this alligator before it decided to retreat back below the waters. Crocodiles and alligators are actually more closely related to birds, then they are to other reptile groups.

Box turtle seen on walk at Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas

There is one reptile that I haven’t seen that many of lately–turtles, and I’m not talking about water turtles–I’m talking about box turtles. I use to see these guys constantly and even helped one or two cross busy intersections (to make sure that they wouldn’t get hit by cars). I have only seen at most two over the past couple of years.

This guy was a large one that I spotted on an evening walk in Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas a few years ago.

The only reptiles that I will admit to avoiding are the ones that can harm me–so mainly the poisonous snakes, and I don’t plan on getting really close to any alligator or crocodiles either.

I’m going to have to see if I’m able to spot any box turtles or lizards this summer–I’ve already spotted the water turtles, and water snakes so I’d like to see if I can spot other reptiles this summer in addition to these.

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Photography Challenge Day 126: Spotting a large turtle at the lake

So today’s photography challenge winner is the very large female turtle that I spotted on my walk yesterday. I think it is a red-ear slider, but it could be a painted turtle–the only thing I’m positive about, is that it isn’t a snapping turtle.

Large turtle heading back to the water

I noticed this turtle towards the end of my walk, and it was heading back towards the water. I’m going to assume that she just laid her eggs and is heading back to the lake.

The back end of the turtle as it heads back to the water.

It can take about two to four months before the eggs hatch–and the turtle could possibly lay another set of eggs in another nest. The area that it picked was perfect–it is away from at least human interference (I was looking down the hill at it, and I’m not going to go playing around in that area), so the only possible dangers are the normal predators that are in the area.

I had been told that there was a very large turtle living in the area, and I think this is probably the one that the fisherman was talking about. I’d wager a guess that it’s probably at least fifteen to twenty years old (mainly due to the size).

Though this could very well be a male turtle, that was just out wandering trying to find a sunny spot to sun itself–I’m still going to go with my first guess it’s a female that was laying it’s first round of eggs for the year.

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Photography Challenge Day 114: Turtle Tuesday

Since I have been able to get numerous photographs of the red-eared sliders, and occasionally the soft-shelled turtles–I’m going to try to do a turtle Tuesday post for the next couple of weeks.

There are thirteen different families of turtles (within the order Testudines). Within those thirteen families, are more than 365 different species, and fifty-seven of those species can be found in the United States.

Large red-eared slider sharing the log

I was walking back on my short walk Sunday, when I noticed that there was a fairly large turtle on the log. This guy was lording over the other little two that managed to squeeze on at the very end of the log.

I had been told a couple of weeks ago, that there was a fairly large turtle in Boomer Lake–I don’t know if this is it or not, but it is an impressive turtle.

So one interesting fact about sliders–they are poikilotherms (which basically means they can’t regulate their body temperatures). This is one reason why you can see so many of them climbing on to logs and other surfaces to bask in the sun. They need frequently go between being in the sun (to increase their body temperatures), and then being somewhere cool (so they don’t overheat and suffer heat stroke).

Of the fifty-seven different species that can be found within the United States:

I’ve seen a sea turtle (both in the wild and in captivity), but I still want to see a leatherback sea turtle (hopefully in the wild; as I don’t know which aquarium would have the capacity to keep one).

I’ve seen common and ornate box turtles; though over the past few years I’ve only gotten a picture of common box turtles. We had a snapping turtle on the front porch years ago (though never did get a picture of it).

I’ve seen the desert tortoise (but in zoos), same for the alligator snapping turtle. Also managed to get a picture of the soft-shelled turtle a couple of weeks ago. One thing I’d like to do—when traveling try to get to nature preserves, walking trails, forests and just see what type of animals I might see (in particular turtle wise).

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Photography Challenge Day 105: Swimming and sunning turtles (short post)

Today’s winner(s) are again the red-eared sliders living around Boomer Lake. With doing a morning walk–I may not see as many sunning themselves on logs, but I do catch sight of several more swimming around the lake.

Red-eared slider swimming in the lake.
Nice size red-eared slider swimming in one of the coves at Boomer Lake.

I saw one swimming in one of the “coves” as I was walking across the bridge. I managed to get a picture where it almost looks like it’s looking back at me.

Two red-eared sliders sunning themselves.
Two red-eared sliders sunning themselves.

Then there were the ones that had already made it some of the more sunny spots along the bank. These two were in the area that normally the great blue herons fish at first thing in the morning.

Since the water levels are slowly returning to normal, there has been a change in where some of the logs are located. Some of them were washed up on shore, and others were pushed further out. No matter where the logs have ended up, there seems to be turtles (and snakes) that can find them. While I didn’t see the soft-shelled turtle today, I’m sure that it was on the other side of the lake sunning itself in peace and quiet away from the noise of society.

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Photography Challenge Days 103 & 104: The soft-shelled turtle makes an appearance.

So today’s post is a double, since I decided to go computer free last night. Instead of being on the computer–I watched Captain Marvel instead. Loved the movie (and a mini review is pending).

So on my walk this morning I noticed that there was an odd grouping of turtles on a log–two were red-eared sliders and the third is either a soft-shell turtle or a snapping turtle.

Three turtles on a log

When I zoomed into the picture–the tail of the turtle in question looks like it could be a soft-shell turtle. The snapping turtle tail usually has several ridges on it, so unless this is a young snapping turtle–I’d put it down to a soft shell turtle in the lake.

Which makes since I think that I got pictures of it on a smaller log last week on my walk:

I think someone is a little to large for the log.

At first I was wondering if somehow a larger red-eared slider had gotten stuck on the log, until I walked a little further and got a look at the face. I’m thinking that it was just irritated that the log wasn’t as big as it looked from afar (or from underwater).

And here is another view that gives a better look at it’s face:

It’s got a pointy nose–I’m thinking it’s a soft-shelled turtle.

So besides keeping my eye out for the turtles in different areas–I’m going to be keeping my eye out for the soft-shelled turtles as well. These guys are quite large when compared to their harder shelled relatives.

There are actually two species of soft-shell turtles that live in Oklahoma–the smooth & spiny soft-shelled turtle. The only way to tell the difference is that the spiny soft-shell turtle has distinct spines on the front & back end of the shell. Currently I’m going to go with the identification that they’re the smooth soft-shell turtles living in Boomer Lake.

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Photography Challenge Day 102: Throwback Thursday–Reptiles I saw on the big Island

So I’m in a mood to where I’m looking back at old pictures and trying to decide where and when I’m going to take another solo vacation. I’ve realized that I don’t do it often enough (I don’t mind traveling with friends or family), but there is something about picking a place to go, and then having all the control over what one does while they are there.

Today’s throwback pictures are throwbacks to my trip to Hawaii back in 2009. The theme of the pictures is simple–it’s reptiles.

Green Sea Turtle swimming in Hilo Bay

So one of my favorite animals that I actually got to see in the wild–the sea turtle. Green Sea Turtles are common around the islands (they’re one of five species found in the area). The one I would really love to see in the wild is the leatherback sea turtle–it’s the largest sea turtle (and the fourth heaviest reptile) in the world.

I may have to look into a good snorkel mask that I can fit over my glasses so that if I ever decide to go back and snorkel–I’d be able to see what I’m trying to take pictures of.

Green Anole

The other two smaller reptiles that I saw, were two lizards that kept me company during the day and early evenings when I was in my hotel room.

The first one that I saw was the green anole. This little guy, isn’t native to the islands–but they’ve established themselves quite nicely. They were originally brought over to sell in pet stores, but then they either escaped or were let loose. After awhile they managed to establish themselves on the islands.

Gold dust day gecko

The other lizard that I saw was much more colorful. I knew that it was a gecko due to the toes, but I wasn’t certain at the time of the species. This guy stands out brilliantly due to being a day gecko. These geckos are native to Madagascar and other islands off the east coast of Africa. Therefore since they’re out during the day–they need to be able to blend in with the vegetation, hence the bright green coloring. While it is hard to see in this picture–they also have a vivid blue ring around their eyes.

Top view of a gold dust day gecko

You can see a little bit of the blue around the eyes from the top. You can also see all the “gold” dusting on the back of the gecko as well. While the presence of either lizard is a double edge sword. They can be considered somewhat beneficial–they eat obnoxious insects, but at the same time they could be driving undiscovered insects and small invertebrates extinct as well.

I would like to go back to the islands one of these years, and try to see what other wildlife I can get pictures of: there are four other sea turtles in the waters surrounding the islands, whales, rays, fish, birds, and flowers. That will be the next goal–more wildlife pictures from another island (or a different part of the big island).

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Photography Challenge Day 100: More Boomer Lake reptiles.

Since it’s been super wet, and I’ve been doing late morning/early afternoon walks lately I haven’t been seeing as many birds. Though the low bird sighting is also due to me not walking around the upper parts of the park (where there are more trees). Therefore I’ve been trying to see if I can spot more turtles, potentially more snakes, and then other wildlife as well.

Sliders found a new sunning spot and some company.

So I noticed on my walks that since the water levels are still elevated, some of the trees and logs have been submerged, while others have been brought to the top of the lake.

This log is usually a little more submerged, but due to the rains it was brought closer to the shore and the turtles have decided to take advantage of it. Then I noticed that they had company on the other end of the log.

Nice size water snake sunning itself on the other end of the dead tree.

When I looked towards the other end of the tree, I noticed the nice size water snake sunning itself. I did try to get a closer picture, but it slid off the log and swam into the submerged bushes at the shore line.

As I’ve told a couple of people, as long as the snake doesn’t rattle (and if it does–I back away very quickly), or have a white inner mouth (luckily I’ve never seen a water moccasin up close before), and I notice it’s there–I’m fine with snakes.

I know that when they startle me, I’ve startled it–and it is actually more scared of me than I am of it. I’m trying to work on small little phobias like this–I doubt I’ll have one as a pet, but at least I can see one and not freak out. I can almost say the same for spiders–but I do freak a little when I see a poisonous one in the house.

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Photography Challenge Day 99: Boomer Lake is still a little high

So today’s photographs are actually some comparison photos of the same area (before we got basically a foot of rain in a week; and then a more recent photo).

Turtles sunning themselves on an semi-submerged tree stump

So there is a semi-submerged tree stump that is floating in the one cove that turtles have been flocking to this year for sunning themselves. Usually there are a good half a dozen adult turtles sharing the space.

Same log–but quite a bit more is currently underwater.

So the lake is still up quite a bit as one can tell from the pictures. There is only enough dry space for two or three turtles (and one of them actually climbed up to the V), instead of the usual six to nine turtles.

There is a turtle in the V.

The V only has room for one adult turtle, and this one managed to grab the spot first.

This has actually been a very wet month for us–we’ve gotten a little over 19 inches total (but almost 2/3 in the past week). So it will probably be another week or so before the log is back to it’s normal level in the lake and more than two or three turtles can fit on it.

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Photography Challenge Day 73: The water snakes are waking up

So when I was on my walk this weekend, I decided to check on an area to see how many turtles were out sunning themselves–this has turned in an almost weekly occurrence–checking for turtles. Then I noticed that there was someone else on one of the logs along with the turtles.

Turtles and water snake sharing the log.

The winners of today’s photography challenge are the two water snakes that I saw on my weekend walk. While I’m not a herpetologist I’m only going to make an educated guess on the identification of the snakes—based on other pictures I’ve seen on different sites about Oklahoma water snakes. One looks like it could be a plain-bellied water snake. The main reason is that it does look to have a yellow belly.

I think this is the plain-bellied water snake.

Some interesting facts about the plain-bellied water snake include:

The female will give birth to 5 to 25 baby snakes in the late summer, and when they’re born the baby snakes are between half a foot and foot long already.

They can get between two and a half and four feet long.

They eat fish, frogs, tadpoles and salamanders.

They can be confused with the cottonmouth (due to similar coloring), but they are actually members of two different families. Also when swimming, the plain-bellied water snake has half its body above the surface & half it’s body below the surface; while the cottonmouth typically swims on the surface of the water.

Either a larger plain bellied water snake or a diamond back water snake.

The other snake is either a larger plain-bellied water snake or it is possibly a diamond-back water snake. Both snakes are found in Oklahoma, and they are both in the same immediate area (since I don’t know the specifics of the snakes—I don’t know if they defend a territory or not when it comes to the mating season).

I will admit that I’m not really a snake person—though if I know that it is harmless (like these water snakes), it is in an enclosed area (like looking at snakes at a zoo), or it is a very good distance away (looking at it through binoculars) I’m not really scared of snakes. I know that they are beneficial for the environment (eating rodents and such), and that they are better at pest control and if they’re around one wouldn’t have to use poison to get rid of mice and rats.

It will be interesting to see this year if we get enough rain if they start moving away from the lake area for hunting.

References:

http://www.oksnakes.org/plain-bellied-watersnake.html

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