Field Herping over the 4th of July Weekend

Over the 4th of July weekend, I went herping in between fishing and relaxing with my family. I definitely wasn’t expecting to see this many snakes out and about due to the heat. But each evening before the rains moved in, the snakes started moving. For the entire weekend, I spotted 2 Southern water snakes (nerodia fasciata), 2 Texas Rat snakes (elaphe obsoleta lindheimeri), 6 Western Ribbon Snakes (thamnophis proximus proximum), 6 Racers (coluber constrictor), and 3 Cottonmouths (agkistrodon piscivorus). Most of the time I spent looking directly for reptiles was road cruising throughout the rural gravel roads in Northeast Louisiana.

Actually the only two snakes that didn’t get spotted on the gravel roads were the two southern water snakes. Those two were just resting near the water edge about 8 feet from where my family was fishing on a boat launch in Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge. I had been kinda disappointed up until that point that I hadn’t seen any reptiles, then I peak over my shoulder while and spot two just sitting there.

The heat this weekend was in the 90’s during the day, so I didn’t have high hopes of seeing much. However, rain rolled through between 4-6 pm both days. When I was riding around between 2 – 4 pm, the snakes seemed to be out in full force.  On one of my brief road trips, I came across a 100 yard section of road that I could see two cottonmouths and one racer. I have seen large numbers of snakes on trips and even some clumped together in large numbers in habitat, but this was the first time I have seen so many crossing the road in one section of road at one time. Like I said, they seemed to be on the move with the impending rainstorms on the way.

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