A Garter and a Thrasher

Top Photo: Eastern garter snake enjoys sun on chilly spring morning. A garter snake was seen for four (probably still there) consecutive days sunning under a wax myrtle just a few feet from the path in Explore the Wild. The snake may be the same female which was spotted in February sunning among the sandstone slab steps at Water’s Edge some fifty yards or so to the west. Garter snakes bear live young from June through September, depending upon when theyRead more

Spring Happenings and Aquatic Turtle Update

Top Photo: Upper surface of American snout. Things happen very quickly in spring, flowers bloom and fade, plants shoot out new leaves, insects emerge, birds who’ve been absent half a year, reappear. Here’s some of those things and more of what has occurred over the past week. Daffodils are early season flowers that last but briefly. Bees emerge with little on their agenda but food and reproduction. It’s time to get a new nest started. Northern, or Dekay’s brown snakes,Read more

Anoles in Trees

Top Photo: Green anoles engaged in mating. The sharp eye of Ranger Dakota spotted the two lizards on the trunk of a small cherry tree outside the door leading from the main museum building to Gateway Park near the bells, drums, metal tubes, wooden sound boards and other music and noise making devices that make up Sound Garden. What he saw were two green anoles (Anolis carolinensis) engaged in mating. I’ve been familiar with green anoles since childhood, though IRead more

Box Turtle

I don’t see many box turtles at the museum. The habitat’s right but I can remember seeing only one or two of these terrestrial turtles in the twelve plus years I’ve walked the outdoor loop at the museum. Perhaps their scarcity is due to the fact that our 84 acre campus is surrounded by suburbia and ever increasing traffic on the roads around and through the area. These turtles have a bad track record in face-to-face encounters with cars. BoxRead more

Racer

While walking through Catch the Wind, I caught a glimpse of a black snake in the grass on the side of the path. It was a black racer.     There are two species of snake here at the Museum which are black, the black rat snake and the racer. Rat snakes average about five feet, maxing out at little over seven. The racer averages about four feet in length, maxing at just under six. The racer is black throughout except under the chin andRead more

Opportunist

The Animal Keepers cleaned the bear pool this week. The pools of water at the base of the Main Black Bear Overlook need to be cleaned every six months. The ponds collect much debris and algae and need cleaning. The cleaning often exposes all sorts of creatures, from crayfish to frogs. This exposition sometimes attracts opportunistic predators. It’s well known here at the Museum that red-shouldered hawks wait silently on perches along the edges of the Wetlands or in the swampRead more

A Tale of Two Tails

As I walked towards the Butterfly House on my way to my office, I noticed a small group of young children looking down at the ground and laughing, there must be something interesting over there. I approached. Lying on ground in the center of a circle of four or five squatting children, was a small U-shaped object. The object moved, wiggled. It was the tail of a skink. A few feet away was the skink itself, the lower third ofRead more

Racer

This Black Racer (or one just like it) has recently been very active along the path between the two Wetlands Overlooks. Tuesday, I saw it attempt to cross the path three times, each attempt was interrupted by passers by. Yesterday it was taking life easy, coiled up in one of our water snakes’ favorite spots on the north side of the Wetlands.Read more

A musky herp and some avian arrivals

The thumbnail sized Common Musk Turtle (Sternotherus odoratus), or Stinkpot, in the photo above was walking up the middle of the path in Explore the Wild. The light markings on the marginal scutes of its carapace and face identify it as a musk turtle. To get a feel for its size, the willow leaf next to the turtle is less than a centimeter across at its widest (7 or 8 mm). I saw several adults of these bottom-walking, tree-climbing aquaticRead more