(Originally posted on our 2011 Field Blog — by Nicole Freidenfelds)
Our number of herpetofauna species encountered on this trip continues to grow, and as of this point is close to 40, I think. Chris has the official list and will hopefully write a blog entry about it soon.
Yesterday I saw two species that I’ve never seen before – an eastern glass lizard (Ophisaurus ventralis) and a pigmy rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius). The glass lizard was found by Chris and Alex on their way to Chris’ enclosures. Knowing I had never seen one, they kindly brought it back to the dorms and left it in our kitchen/living room with a note written on a paper towel.
I didn’t see the note, as it had been blown off the table by the air conditioner, and simply discovered a knotted pillowcase sitting on the floor. Wondering what was inside, I gently poked at it and then opened said pillowcase. Upon looking in, I said to myself, “I think this is a glass lizard.” My suspicions were verified shortly thereafter by Sean.
When Chris and Alex returned later I thanked them for the lovely surprise. I then returned the lizard to where they caught it and tried to get some “natural” photos.
Glass lizards are super cool because they have no legs and really long tails, and if you didn’t know better, you could easily misidentify one as a snake.
And then last night, we found a decent number of snakes while road cruising, most of which were copperheads and alive (yay!). We were very pleasantly surprised to discover what Sean initially thought was a small copperhead (while driving past it), was actually a pigmy rattlesnake! Super exciting!
It was hard to believe such a cute little snake could hurt you if you accidentally (or stupidly) picked it up. I can definitely see how pigmies can be mistaken for nonvenomous snakes. Yikes.