I’m not getting the numbers I’d like for the amphibian bioblitz so I joined the reptile bioblitz!

Friday was an awesome day. I went out on a long hike and the woods were rich with wildlife. Anyone that knows me would say that I love snakes above all else. I’m kind of crazy about them. I have risked life and limb to get my hands on a snake. I love the way they move, the way they look, the behavioral quirks of each species…I could go on and on.

Me in my happy place

So I searched around iNaturalist and found out that there is also a global reptile bioblitz!! Just like its sister project, the global amphibian bioblitz, this has been an ongoing project since 2011 and the observations are used in legitimate scientific studies. In fact, one of my recent observations was used in a project, which is really exciting!!

So back to Friday. I caught a snake that I had never seen before, and I have caught many many snakes. At first I thought it might be a northern water snake or an oddly-colored rat snake but with the help of iNaturalist and a confirmation from the former president of the VA Herpetological Society (thanks, Kory Steele!), I found out that I’d found a mole kingsnake (Lampropeltis calligaster rhombomaculata)!!!! I NEVER thought I’d find one of these in the wild. They’re pretty shy, and as the name suggests, they spend a decent amount of their time below ground. It’s not my Virginia “lifer” snake–that distinction belongs to the pine snake (Pituophis melanoleucus)–but it was definitely on my wish list.

Those colors!!!
Lampropeltis calligaster rhombomaculata

Then, because my day wasn’t perfect enough I found this little beauty:

Rat snake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis)

And this probable female (technically from Thursday afternoon but I’ll count it):

Eastern garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)

It’s heartening to know that at least the reptiles in the area are abundant. I can’t speak to all of the species but so far this spring, I’ve seen good variation in both snake and turtle species. I even saw a ground skink (Scincella lateralis) and a broad-headed skink (Plestiodon laticeps) but only in a fleeting glimpse. Things outside are heating up and the world is coming to life!! For a lifelong herper like me, this part of the year is pure paradise!

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