Updated: Nov 24, 2020
I recently visited the lovely state of Georgia with herping in mind. I'd long wanted to journey out east to see some of the amazing reptiles and amphibians so, thanks to my forced leave of absence from my day job, I decided to go visit my friend Ben who works at the Orianne Society - a conservation society doing some great work with Eastern Indigo Snakes, Gopher Tortoise and Long-leaf Pine forests. Needless to say, I saw some amazing critters and met some wonderful people. Thanks for all help from my expert herper friends - Ben Stegenga, Kabryn Mattisoon, Nigel Smith, Cary Howe and Tim Warfel. And thanks for the birds, Frances! Thanks mates!
(Click on a photo to see larger images. They're much nicer that way 😊)
Eastern Diamondback Crotalus adamananteus
The first snake we encountered was this incredible Eastern Diamondback. We went on to find a total of five during my stay, at least three of them occupying Gopher Tortoise burrows. Remarkably, over 300 species have been recorded using Gopher Tortoise burrows so this shows how important these Testudines are to the health of the forest, a keystone species if you like.
Suwannee Alligator Snapping Turtle Macrochelys suwanniensis
The next day Ben and I went to check some traps we had laid out, with permits, in a couple of creeks. To our amazement one of the traps help two Suwannee Alligator Snapping Turtles Macrochelys suwanniensis. One was a huge, old male who dwarfed the small female in the same trap. It took both of us to haul the trap out of the water and then quite some manoeuvring to extricate them safely.
Cottonmouth Agkistrodon piscivorus
Cottonmouth or Water Mocassin is the world's only semiaquatic viper, and on one night after rain, we found about eight of them on the roads. The juvenile on the right here is a really good looking snake!
American Alligator Alligator mississippiensis were common and the little ones are really quite cute.
Timber Rattlesnake Crotalus horridus
I was super excited to see Timber Rattlesnake as it was very high on my wishlist. I'd seen photos of them and been struck by the beautiful markings. Too bad they've been stuck with the moniker horridus because they are far from horrid and, as is the case for all snakes, not at all aggressive.
Here are a few more of the reptiles and amphibians that I met with in Georgia...
Eastern Rat Snake Pantherophis alleghaniensis
Eastern Garter Snake Thamnophis sirtalis
Pine Snake Pituophis melanoleucus
Eastern Coachwhip Masticophis flagellum flagellum
Copperhead Agkistrodon contortix
My favourite snake of the trip, just because it's so beautiful...
Banded Watersnake Nerodia fasciata
Black Racer Coluber constrictor
Eastern Hognose Heterodon platirhinos
Another personal favourite and a last minute find. Not only is it super cute and amazing in itself but its behaviour is unebelievable. It pretends to be big, then it pretends to be dangerous, it pretends to strike you and then, when all else fails, it pretends to be dead!
Corn Snake Pantherophis guttatus
Eastern Kingsnake Lampropeltis getula getula