Thursday, April 27, 2017

Grass Snake Mating Season

 Today and yesterday I'm all about snake-hunting, because it's one of the best times of the year for herping - the mating season. Grass snakes are everywhere at the Iskar river in Samokov, so I decided to take advantage of the moment.


The first two snakes I caught yesterday, a big female (left) and a gorgeous olive-green male (right). Though not the most spectacular in terms of size, the male, without a doubt, was the find of the day for me. 
Another shot of the two.
Headshot of the male only.
After releasing those two I continued my journey. Though not the most pleasant to the eye, the Samokov part of Iskar is a great place for herping.

View to the north
View to the south.
A pretty healthy looking male Natrix.
Awesome shot of the same individual I'm especially proud of. XD
What I noticed is that during mating season the best strategy to find a lot of snakes is to find a big female, they're often in the center of a huge area filled with males. One female means a handful of males.
Later on, I stumbled upon a ball of six baby Grass snakes basking in the sun in one of the cracks of the wall. I didn't manage to take a shot, sadly, because they quickly scattered in all directions.
In the evening, when I was back in my village, me, my sis and bro stayed up late outside. Our game of hide and seek was interrupted by a stunningly beautiful Great peacock moth. Here they're pretty damn rare, so I was very excited to see one.

Isn't it a beauty? They're famous for having unique patterns on their wingtips that represent snake heads to scare some predators away.
 The next day I went to Samokov again, but this time my bro Fifo accompanied me.
The first snake we caught today, a normal sized male Natrix natrix. It was a good start.
Derp. :P
Another three males. My theory from yesterday clearly appeared  to be correct - these three naughty boys where trying their luck with a fairly big female, which, unfortunately, slithered away before we could catch it.
While looking for snakes, Fifo found a nest with cute little birdies inside. I couldn't get an ID on them, 'cuz we didn't want to disturb them for too long.
Besides baby birds we also found an adorable little mouse. (> v <)
Ok, this guy was straight up odd. When we caught him he started SPITTING saliva from his mouth at us like a spitting cobra instead of the normal disgusting mucus from the cloaca. 
Dice snake (Natrix tessellata). Pretty rare in Samokov.
Another shot of the same individual.
Find of the day was this huge female Fifo caught all on his own. He is very proud of himself and so am I.
Strange thing was that there where absolutely no males around, considering the size of that big girl.

I couldn't miss the opportunity to make a new facebook profile pic. XD 
Last snake of the day - a very nice looking male Dice snake. We where very surprised to see a second one despite them being so rare in our region.

Lets hope I can make as many herping trips as possible before the mating season ends. Oh, and by the way, next month I'll probably be visiting Dylan Alfrey from the Balkan Ecology Project once again, so stay tuned for the upcoming awesome adventures!

Videos:

Note: I forgot to speak English in the vids, so I apologize to all viewers who don't know Bulgarian. :P

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