Saturday, September 23, 2006

Cottonmouth Coloration

P1060918aAs I've said before I'm a roadkill junkie. Anytime I see any sort of animal (except for the usual dog or house cat) on side of the road I gotta stop to check it out. It's an unstoppable urge. Gross I know, but if you can get past the smell you can see some interesting things as I did while birding in Sabine Pass, TX today. While driving slowly along Highway 87 I found a total of 5 DOR (Dead On Road) snakes- a garter snake, a speckled king, and 3 cottonmouths.
P1060921aOf the 3 cottonmouths I found the larger one was the most interesting. What caught my eye was its dorsal color being a coppery brown, making it the first one I've come across presenting this coloration. When cottonmouths are born they very much resemble and are sometimes mistaken for juvenile copperheads. As they continue to age they develop the distinctive cottonmouth bands which are sharp in definition as seen in the close up photo below of one of the small ones I found.
P1060913aOnce they reach adulthood the banding becomes fainter as dorsal coloration becomes a grey, black or sometimes a brown color as with the one I found. Just goes to show you what you can learn and discover along the edge of a road. If you would like to see more photos of this snake go here.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Mud Dauber Tube Cache

I bought a storage shed for the camp to keep odds and ends in and while setting up my ladder to do a little caulking I found the nest tube of a mud-dauber securely glued to the top step. I was moving the ladder in order to photograph the single tube when I bumped it on a corner of the shed and broke it open. Inside revealed what the dauber had stored for its future progeny. With a pair of tweezers I began delicately removing one spider after another. I was amazed at how many were crammed in such a small tube. I found 5 different species, 8 spiders in all. They're not dead but in fact paralyzed by the venom of the adult dauber so they'll stay fresh.
If you'll notice in the second picture there is a mud-dauber larva feeding on one of the spiders. Amazing....

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