Time to Catch Up: Summer 2018

 Summer of 2018 was nothing short of amazing. It was filled with cool snakes, and some awesome amphibians too.

In late June, I started out with a trip to a local spot in extreme southern Ontario that is home to an endangered rattlesnake, the Eastern Massasauga. On my first attempt, I was able to spot a beautiful golden-brown sauga basking in the afternoon sun. I went back the next day with my friends and researchers, and we were able to observe 4 others. Three of the snakes on the second day were gravid females, and were captured and collected to be taken into the lab where they gave birth. This was done so under appropriate permits and intensive protocols to ensure all of the snakes were safely handled and kept. Once the babies were born, the adults and neonates were put back into the wild.

Eastern Massasauga

Eastern Massasauga

Along with the sole Massasauga that was observed on the first day, I managed to slip in a bit of extra herping time back at the Niagara Gorge to find the Northern Dusky Salamanders that eluded me on my first attempt. This time I had a little more confidence as I had been given some tips on where to find them from a colleague who had worked with them before. 
This time, I was much more successful and I got to see a handful of specimens! Not only did I get to see the salamanders themselves, I got to see a few sitting and guarding their eggs in nests they had made! As if seeing these endangered salamanders wasn't enough, I was elated at what i got to witness.

*Please remember my disclaimer from the last post, that these population honestly should not be visited as the habitat and species is too sensitive to withstand unnecessary disturbance.*
Northern Dusky Salamander with Eggs

Northern Dusky Salamander

After seeing the Northern Dusky Salamanders, we still had some time left in the day, and set off to check again for the Allegheny Mountain Duskies. Once again, I only observed one individual, but this time the specimen was much more typically coloured. Not completely dark, I could see the chevron markings down this salamanders back. A key identifying feature of the species.

Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander

Once again, my work took me to some of my stomping grounds I had found when I lived up north. This allowed me to pick up another cool salamander species for the year. The Northern Two-lined Salamander. I had actually discovered this population of the salamanders along the Ottawa River the year prior, and I was happy to be able to make the trek back up to see them once again. Not even on my own dime!

Northern Two-lined Salamander

Northern Two-lined Salamander Habitat

A month later, and it was back to Pelee Island! Though I did see more racers, this time I wanted to point out some of the other cool finds! In the open grasslands, I was able to observe a few Eastern Foxsnakes and some melanistic Eastern Gartersnakes.
The melanistic Eastern Gartersnakes are a real treat for many, but are actually quite common on the island. The gartersnake population there can be made up of more than 30% melanistic individuals!

Melanistic Eastern Gartersnake with Mites


Eastern Foxsnake being processed

Neonate Melanistic Eastern Gartersnake

To end off summer, I went down to Norfolk County again in early September to try and see some Smooth Greensnakes and Eastern Hognose Snakes. It was a huge success! What a great way to end the summer! 

Smooth Greensnake

Smooth Greensnakes

Eastern Hognose Snake

Bring on the fall.


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