Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lizard ID Challenge

Test your lizard id skills. What species is this and where does it range?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Whip snake, whiptails, scorpions, and others

After finding a huge golden eagle and a lot of other cool desert wildlife, we arrived at a spot that looked good for finding snakes. This little whiptail was the first herp that I could get a picture of:
In less than 5 minutes we had found several scorpions. They are all curled up when you first flip the rock they are under:
They quickly spring into defensive posture:
They will nearly flip over thrusting their stinger toward you:
A true desert survivor could remove the stinger and pop the scorpion into their mouth for a snack. I prefer to just hold out until I can get to an Arby's.
These little guys seemed to have very good sight for having tiny eyes.
This was the largest of the scorpions and it had black claws:
It was not to be messed with. I put all of the scorpion homes/rocks back exactly as I found them.
We spotted a lot of side blotched lizards basking on rocks:
Another side blotched lizard:
This area had a concentrated population of whiptail lizards.
Most of these whiptails had some blue above their front legs.
The full-grown whiptails were 15 to 20 inches long from their snout to the end of their tails.
While being pursued they would often stop to lay for a moment on warm rocks and then take off again.
When they bask, whiptails usually lift their legs:
Photographing whiptails usually involves some running and chasing.
There were a lot of holes in the area, but the whiptails were reluctant to go down them when they were being pursued. This gave me hopes of finding snakes.
Another whiptail that is probably wondering why I am chasing it with a camera:
The pronghorn antelope: the fastest land animal in the western hemisphere.
Finally, a snake:
When we walked up to this rock slide, this striped whip snake came quickly slithering out.
Every whip snake I have ever picked up has rolled in my hands. Those that have handled whip snakes know what I mean by that.
Whip snakes are good-looking creatures:
Off goes the whip snake:
To terrorize the lizards.
This yellow side-blotched lizard was regrowing it's tail, possibly lost to the whip snake as it was found in the exact same area.
This fence lizard couldn't find a fence to hang out on:
These lizards are about the easiest lizards to catch. The are quick, but they let you get really close before they decide to flee.
Same lizard, different angle:
Blue and orange:
The orange is mostly in the arm pits:
A closer shot of the arm pit:
Unlike most, this lizard would not go to sleep when we turned it over and rubbed it's belly:
Another side-blotched:
Another big fence lizard:
The camouflage wasn't working with this guy:
After looking for cool rocks and finding more than we could take home, we photoed more of the whiptails while looking for snakes.
There were so many whiptails here that I had to stop several times to avoid running them over. The whiptails were also chasing each other around in circles, which made us laugh.
The smaller lizards lived right amongst the whiptails.
Whiptail lizards never bite when caught. Their defense is their speed.
As cool as whiptails are, they should not be kept as pets. There are just too many captive bred lizards that can be purchased cheaply and are easier to keep.
The kids like holding whiptails when we find them:
I have never seen a whiptail's tail detach like other lizards. Maybe they don't.
I think I took too many whiptail pictures. I guess that is what happens when only one snake is found.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Spiders and Creepy Crawlies.

Sometimes it is fun to turn attention to things that have a few more legs than snakes. Take a look at this caterpillar. This pattern would look awesome on a snake:
When this caterpillar was not crawling, it was hard to tell which end was which because of the eyes on the rear:
This was a ladybug hotel:
This is one of the easiest spiders to identify. Black widows were very common in the area we were flipping. Whenever I reached under a rock and felt a really strong web, I stopped and found another handle.
Another black widow:
And another:
This was a surprise:
This wolf spider was even bigger than the one from the previous spider post and had a huge egg sack.
The spider allowed me to move it to a better place for photos.
This shot is from almost directly behind the spider. They really do have eyes in the back of their heads:
Spider and caterpillar:
This spider was nearly 4 inches in length.
This thing had eyes all over. Even its abdomen had a pair: