We had our first amphibian lab in herpetology last week, so I went out hiking one morning with Cosmo to find some slender salamanders (Batrachoseps nigriventris) under logs on my property. This is the only time of year we have much rain, so it is green and beautiful with the oak trees leafing out:
Cosmo is in heaven on these walks (and so are the ticks who blend so stealthily into his coat, only to die an ugly death upon tasting Frontline, HA!). I might like ticks, but not when attached to the Dog-child.
About 100m from my house I spied the perfect log:
Alas, there was no slender salamander in residence. Instead I found this, a juvenile rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus). A much rarer sight!
(This snake was in the same spot and position yesterday morning, exactly one week later.)
By the way, I went on to find a salamander for lab, but my camera is macro-challenged and I don't have a photo that shows more than a worm-like blurr.
This week I took my herpetology class to catch amphibians and reptiles on some property near my old house, where the owner has converted man-made trout ponds into a herp haven. The students dove right in, quite literally, as their task included seigning (drag-netting) the pond to catch tadpoles:
One of the goals was to catch (and remove) these nasty bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) tadpoles, which are invasive species. I donated some to the professor who teaches developmental biology so the students can watch the nasty babies metamorphose into nastier adults.
We also caught treefrogs (Pseudacris regilla), newts (Taricha torosa), fence lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis), and a slender salamander and alligator lizard (Elgaria multicarinata):
Max likes gator lizard earrings:
Much fun was had by all, and I think everyone is ready for some more field trips (next on agenda: Poly Canyon lizards, Home for Wayward Turtles and Tortoises, Mojave Desert reptiles).
The next few weekend are going to be so great! Read it and weep:
This weekend: Ride in Army Blackhawk helicopter, followed by rattlesnake and lizard catching at field site
Next weekend: Roided lizard-catching in Poly Canyon (you'll see)
Next n. weekend: Herpapalooooooooooza!!!
Next n. n. weekend: More rattlesnake and lizard catching at field site
Next n. n. n. weekend: Mojave Desert field trip
Next n. n. n. n. weekend: I don't know yet, but it's a 3-day weekend and is sure to involve some sort of herping shenanigans
Speaking of shenanigans, check out the crazy pet tortoises! Blacktop decided she needed to spend the night on top of the two little ones, and they were thus pinned with no say in the matter: