Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hogging the Spotlight

The dog days of summer are beginning to wind down as autumn inches ever closer, and that means that one of the best times of the year for snake movement is approaching. But even the end of August and early September can be productive, as many species of snake give birth or hatch out. I made a trip down to a truly awesome location on private property on a beautiful evening this week. I've mentioned this area in previous posts including Hognose Snakes in Southeast Michigan. The family that lives on this property have an ecological treasure, as many species that are not common in southeast Michigan exist here. Even the Eastern Box Turtle is found here in small numbers, a true rarity for the fragmented landscape of this area.

This area is truly unique for southeast Michigan and is reminiscent of the Oak Openings region of northwestern Ohio which features a mosaic of oak-pine forest, oak savannahs, and wet prairies. Because these two areas are only separated by a half hour drive, it is likely that this was once a large stretch of contiguous habitat stretching from the Lake Erie coast of Michigan through to the Toledo area. The sandy soils and abundance of toads makes this area a hotbed for hogs, and on this evening I was rewarded with this tiny neonate.

 Eastern Hognose Snake - Heterodon platirhinos

Cute would be a perfectly acceptable scientific term to describe neonate hognose snakes, this individual was likely a few weeks old and no more than five inches in length. Like the Northern Pine Snake, female hogs seek out open sandy areas as potential nest sites in early to mid June. Using their upturned snout, they excavate a nest over the course of a few days and lay a clutch of eggs deep in the nest and then leave. The young hatch out in late August or early September, but this year's batch was out early likely because of the record breaking temperatures this summer. Like any other hogs I've seen, this youngster was not shy about being theatrical.

After a short photo session, this little guy was let on his way back to the open sandy field he was found in. I'm hoping that I can score one or two more hognose snakes before the season ends and should have a good shot as they get moving in mid September. Until then, happy herping!

1 comment:

  1. Very dangerous to take out such awesome photo. Love it and thanks for your effort which you shown to take this awesome photo.

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