Buckeye Herps Blog

A photographic journal of the reptiles and amphibians of Ohio, Michigan and other places interesting wildlife call home.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


I was unfortunately stuck at work Thursday night and once again missed one of the most pathetic victories ever. It looks like we actually managed to establish some kinda running game in the cold and wind and the defense played admirably.

A win is a win, especially during this pathetic season. A win against the Steelers though, the first one many years, that is something special.

Very pleased....

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Winter is here

First real snow of the year was falling when I went to bed around midnight. Already a couple inches had accumulated. It could be a rough morning, luckily I don't need to get up for a while.

In Ohio, Carl and I have gone on a few "snowmandering" trips. Some of the stream species such as twolines, duskies, springs and pseudotritons can be turned up with effort. Sometimes it means busting through the ice to dipnet a pool, or prying that frozen rock out of the stream bank. The spoils are small, but at least you get to dust off the boots.

Winter also makes for a great time to scout. Although laying tin would be pretty cold on the hands, you can see through the (lack of) foliage better and catch good looks at rock faces and seepages from afar.

I just can't seem to dig up the energy to do much of either here in Michigan. We don't really have any of the stream salamander species, and there aren't really rock faces to scout. I guess I could get minnow traps out for mudpuppies, but the thought of "ice fishing" doesn't quite get me as excited.

So cheers to southern Ohio with the phenomenal salamander diversity and more temperate climate...

I unfortunately can't find any pictures of the animals found under snow, but to prove we did actually get out once or twice...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

In Flight Internet

Despite the hefty price tag ($12 per flight) I am loving in flight internet as we fly from San Diego to Chicago. I am able to catch up on hulu, purchase xmas gifts and check email, all better than the wifi at the resort we just spent a week at. Not a bad way to spend the 3 hour flight.

Unfortunately, the week was dry. SOCAL was in bad need of rain and herps were impossible to come by. This morning we woke up with a strong storm just as we were leaving. I would have killed to stay another day or two...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's Always Sunny In San Diego

I am finally on something of a real vacation. We leave for San Diego Saturday, and hopefully I will have some wildlife to share. Molly and I visited there last March and had a great time. The time of the year isn't optimal from a herping standpoint, and the weather in Michigan is chilling around a balmy 50F, actually pretty pleasant.

How about some animals from the last visit?

I can't really expect to do that well, but I really hope to knock off a few animals I missed last time.

The League

Never thought I would throw in the towel on the Browns, but man is this year bad. Luckily, I work every Sunday and even missed the abysmal Monday night game. I was excited to hear the game vs Detroit this weekend was going to be blacked out in my area, prohibiting me from watching it. Unfortunately, we will be in San Diego for the week, so I might actually be able to watch us loose to another terrible team.

The good news is FX has a new show called the league. If you like football, and you never really "grew up" this show is for you. Check it out.


I imagine my interest in herps started in a manner similar to this...

My childhood also involved devouring as much of the escapades of Calvin and trusty Hobbes as I could.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


I finally get a few days off and hope to get back out in the (cold) field. Planning on spending a few days in Cleveland, and I knew a few places where salamanders can be found under snow, so hopefully I will have some images to share. I should have some more time to post some old trips as well. Sorry about the long silence...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Game of Thrones

Despite today's recently improved weather, things have been rather cold and rainy around here, even for October. I haven't been out in the field for a few reasons, and laziness is among them.

I am a bit of a closet bookworm, and this often gets worse during the winter. One of my favorite authors, George RR Martin, has a wonderful series for anyone interested in science fiction or fantasy. It is very adult oriented, but the books are gripping reads. Don't just ask me, HBO is just starting the production of the pilot episode. It should be a wonderful addition to the likes of Sopranos, Rome and Deadwood if it gets picked up. The casting seems to be all done, and looks to be perfect.

So if you are also looking for a good book to pick up as the weather cools down, check out A Game of Thrones, the first in A Song of Ice and Fire. If you don't like to read much, make sure to check it out on HBO or DVD, hopefully...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Melanistic Garters of Ohio

The northern part of Ohio is known for having a few melanistic garter snakes as well as some melanistic massasaugas. I haven't been fortunate enough to see the latter, but I have lucked into a couple garters.

Interestingly, melanistic garters are fairly common in the NE, especially in areas around Toledo. I haven't ever had the pleasure of seeing them there, despite seeing a good number of garters. Both of my examples came from farther south.

The first one I actually stepped on and initially thought it was a small racer.

The second one was found in early March during an unseasonably warm week in Cincinnati. I was walking through the ghetto on the way to my car and noticed this animal basking in a rock wall - what luck!

For the record, every now and then garters sometimes look like this too.

Maybe you should think again next time before saying "just a garter"...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Amazonian Images

Eleutherodactylus fenestratus

Can't wait to get south of the equator again...

Saturday, October 10, 2009


A middle aged guy presented with syncope in our middle acuity area the other night and one of my fellow residents recognized brugada on the EKG.

The pertinent findings are the RBBB with ST elevation in V1-V3. Type 1, like the one picture above, also has T wave inversions. These EKG findings make up Brugada pattern, and when associated with syncope or other clinical characters it becomes Brugada syndrome.

Could have saved this Waldo's life, but he signed out AMA (against medical advice). Brugada is a fairly newly recognized syndrome, and still isn't very well understood. If it is caught, cardiologists can fit you with an AICD and with excellent survival results. If not you are at great risk for deadly arrhythmias. Some sources state it is one of the most common causes of sudden cardiac death in patients with structurally normal hearts.

We now return to our regularly scheduled program...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Where's Waldo?

I was enjoying a 3am breakfast after my shift with a good friend the other night and he said something that really rang true for me.

Emergency medicine is "Where's Waldo?"

I don't know if he heard this wonderful analogy from someone else, but I will never forget it.

The gist of it is, the people in an emergency department at any given time are like all the people in a Where's Waldo? picture. The sick people are Waldo. Some of them are obvious, have concerning complaints or abnormal vital signs, and get found right away. Most of them though are lost in the sea of people. You might have a full emergency department, 30 people in the waiting room and 10 new charts in the rack but you need to find Waldo. He is out there, hiding, waiting to be discovered. It is our job to treat everyone with the respect and diligence they deserve but we need to do this quickly and efficiently. We need to find that Waldo.

I loved these books when I was growing up, and this further supports why I love my job.

If I find an interesting Waldo here and there, maybe I will share...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

End of the Season Blues

Loaded the dog up into the car early morning last week after an overnight shift and headed west to meet up with a fellow herper, Curtis. We had a fateful day last fall, one of my best in Michigan, and hadn't been able to hook up since. Cid was still healing up after his little surgery but I wrapped his leg up best I and away we went.

The first spot we hiked was very wooded and despite following a bunch of good sections of trail we never really found any open areas. We found a few Ambystoma laterale, Rana sylvatica, Pseudacris crucifer, and a garter or two. We next headed to another spot, and the day improved drastically.

The weather was perfect, low 70s and partly cloudy. Within an hour or so we turned up four blue racers. All of them were found out and about in a couple different fields. We also managed to scare up some Rana pipiens, Thamnophis sauritus, and another Ambystoma laterale or two.

Cid was back in rare form, and he was even responsible for turning up one of the racers. I noticed him stepping over a blue stick stretched out and realized that it wasn't a stick... Luckily he didn't really notice and the snake just sat there as well.

The first racer, as found basking.

The middle two snakes unfortunately slipped away in the grass quickly without pictures.

Here is the fourth snake, also found in situ right after Cid stepped over it.

It quickly spooked up a tree, and hung around for some excellent photographic opportunities.

I finished the day by getting stung by an insect of some sort. I thought it was a yellow jacket, but the stinger was still visible on my finger, with muscles visibly pumping more venom into me. Correct if I am wrong, but I thought this was a feature more common in the less aggressive honey bees? I should have taken a moment to snap a picture due to professional interests (I waited long enough to show Curtis) but instead flicked it away as the discomfort was growing tiresome.

The frosts are just around the corner...


Boy are we terrible. I am very pleased to see DA get the start and Mohamed Massaquoi get involved a bit more. We still have a long way to go, but at least there was some offensive production today. Keep Quinn on the bench... worthless. In Josh Cribbs and Sean Rogers we trust.

Friday, October 2, 2009


I apologize to my few readers for my recent week of silence. I got engrossed in a good book that ate up most of the free time I had between work.

I did manage to get out in what looks to have been one of the last nice days of the year. Cid made his triumphant return to the field, and all my plans of keeping his little leg dry and clean were quickly squashed. That being said, I just took out his stitches (I wasn't going to pay for something I do on a regular basis) tonight and the wound seems to be no worse for the wear.

We had a great day with a few neat animals. I hope to get pictures up very soon.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Evil Homeowners Association

Evidently, it is illegal per the rules of our condo/townhome association to hang bird feeders.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

West Texas Part IV - Grand Finale!

We moved north and east to set up shop at the town of Sanderson. All herpers familiar with the area have been through Sanderson, and will be able to guess our home for the next three nights with ease. We stayed at the Outback Oasis Motel, a herper owned and operated establishment run by people dedicated to protecting our wonderful hobby. Roy and Ruth Engeldorf were excellent hosts. The rooms were clean, the rates fare and the location to die for... Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture but I can't wait to return again and correct that mistake.

Our first night we cruised until very late and only turned up a few things to show for our hard work. Rumor had it alterna were being found in good numbers this week, but it wasn't to be for us tonight.

More WDBs. They started to make a run for most commonly observed snake on our trip...

We also spotted a few of the cool inverts that call this part of the country home, like this large Scolopendra helos.

And this Vinagarroon, which I think is Mastigoproctus giganteus.

It was a slow night... The next day we headed further east to try a different place. Pointless flipping of some railroad ties yielded a few striped bark scorpions?, Centruroides vittatus.

And this wonderful reminder of where we were.

This spot had a nice amount of water, and the habitat and vegetation was very different. We had hope of a few critters whose western most range we had crossed into...

But we didn't see a thing. Even more painful, only a little farther east a fellow herper had a record night. Luck of the draw or a couple of Texas newbs - we will never know. We saw a few of these Aphonopelma sp. during our trip.

Luckily an old friend turned up late on the way home.

The next day I photographed a few of the rio grande leopard frogs Roy had living in his pond.

And we photographed some of the cuts we had been driving during the daylight hours.

A few of these Merriam’s Canyon Lizard, Sceloporus merriami merriami, were seen. This completed our trifecta of Merriam's lizard subspecies.

And I finally got a crappy shot of a Crevice Spiny Lizard.

We managed to noose a nice Big Bend Spotted Whiptail, Aspidoscelis scalaris septemvittata, and it sat still for a pic or two after.

Hitting the road that night, one last subocs let them reign supreme as the most common live snake of our trip (atrox won including DORs)!

I had fun shooting a widow... it was another slow night.

And we ended the trip with one last new species, a Great Plains Ratsnake, Pantherophis emoryi.

Well, it was a great time. An alterna never showed up, we easily stayed awake until 4-6 am every night, and we put around 2700 miles on the rental car in a week. It wasn't exactly the cheapest trip in the world, although airfare, rental and lodging really wasn't too bad, but as Carl later put it...

$ spent per live alterna =

Until next time...

Click here for West Texas Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV.

Cid Update

The little guy is doing well. We picked him up yesterday afternoon and he was definitely out of sorts, still groggy from the anesthetics. Even most of the night he wasn't the same old happy puppy. When I woke up today things were back to normal, and when I returned home from work this evening I was greeted with 15 minutes of excitement and love.

It will be a couple weeks to get the biopsy results, but I should have him back in the field soon. He (or me for that matter) has not been in the field since Labor Day. Hopefully this Friday...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

West Texas III

We had initially only booked two nights at the motel, but we had been having such a great time with great company, so we decided to try and stay a third night. This requiring changing "cabins" (double wides) which we had no problem doing. The second cabin was smaller, but had been remodeled recently and was actually much more comfortable. Instead of going anywhere for the afternoon, Carl and I decided to just hike the wonderful land behind the cabin. The habitat was excellent and I wish we had been able to tear ourselves out of bed one of the mornings a bit earlier. We actually some more lizard diversity on this hike than any other.

There were a bunch of Greater Earless Lizards, Cophosaurus texanus, hanging around the cabins.

Another commonly seen lizard in the rocks was Big Bend Canyon Lizard, Sceloporus merriami annulatus. You might have noticed this is the second subspecies of Sceloporus merriami we have seen so far. The first was mentioned in Part I, but there is still another one to go. I don't typically throw too much weight into subspecies, (and these are actually a pretty good example of why) but I do tend to keep tract of them when I travel. If there are any taxonomic changes later, having a decent record of what exactly was seen and where may be useful.

Carl working his way up the hillside.

We managed to find two examples of Big Bend Tree Lizard, Urosaurus ornatus schmidti.

The hike on the way back down provided a nice view of the motel.

Later that night, Bob and Brad grilled up some tasty chicken and we enjoyed a beer while waiting for dusk to fall. There were a few whiptails running around between the cabins. I believe this to be a Big Bend Spotted Whiptail, Aspidoscelis scalaris septemvittata.

More earless lizards were seen before we headed out for the night.

We searched for a while seeing more of the usual suspects and then decided to try a different area a little earlier than normal. This provided us with a couple of new viewing opportunities. First was this Trans-Pecos Ratsnake seen in situ about 30 feet up a rock cut.

Unfortunately, a small ways away we spotted this DOR Grey-Banded Kingsnake, Lampropeltis alterna.

We managed to spot a nice looking blacktail in situ on a cut, waiting for a meal around 0400.

Despite good luck with a variety of animals we decided to move on to a different area. We didn't come all this way just to see an alterna (although it would be nice). We wanted to see much of West Texas, visit the the different towns, and the different areas herps are known from.

We chose to drive back through Big Bend National Park for the hope of stuff on the road and to take in the scenery. One drawback to this is the hands off mentality of national parks. We had just paid our fee at the initial station to see a gorgeous red coachwhip crawl out on the road about 15 yards in front of our car. We didn't have many options other than to wave goodbye as it took off into the brush. I managed a quick shot of red in a see of grass...

Any cactus experts out there for some help on IDs?


And a final goodbye to Big Bend National Park. I would love to return again, hopefully soon!

But more to come from West Texas...

Click here for West Texas Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV.