TSA Turtle Tuesday: Common Box Turtle
The Common Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) and its six recognized sub-species (Eastern, Three-toed, Florida, Gulf Coast, Mexican, and Putnam’s) can be found in thirty one U.S. states and six states in Mexico. 
These omnivores will eat anything suitable that they come across. Just some of the items included in their diet are mushrooms, roots, fruit, slugs, snails, centipedes, spiders, beetles, fish, frogs and even turtle eggs! 
 It is known as one of the most variable turtles in the world in terms of its coloration and pattern.Like all box turtles, the Common Box Turtle has a hinged plastron and is able to completely close its body in its shell to protect it from predators. 
(via: Turtle Survival Alliance)
* A juvenile is pictured in the photo

TSA Turtle Tuesday: Common Box Turtle

The Common Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) and its six recognized sub-species (Eastern, Three-toed, Florida, Gulf Coast, Mexican, and Putnam’s) can be found in thirty one U.S. states and six states in Mexico.

These omnivores will eat anything suitable that they come across. Just some of the items included in their diet are mushrooms, roots, fruit, slugs, snails, centipedes, spiders, beetles, fish, frogs and even turtle eggs!

It is known as one of the most variable turtles in the world in terms of its coloration and pattern.Like all box turtles, the Common Box Turtle has a hinged plastron and is able to completely close its body in its shell to protect it from predators.

(via: Turtle Survival Alliance)

* A juvenile is pictured in the photo

zacharge
zacharge:

Northern Rubber Boa (Charina bottae) - San Mateo County, CA
A heavily scarred sub-adult boa that I found in the Santa Cruz Mountain Range. Typically, wild boas tend to have scarring on their tail tips, as they use their blunt tails to distract and deter mother rodents as they raid nests. However, the scars on this particular boa seem to indicate a predation attempt- most likely a bird.

zacharge:

Northern Rubber Boa (Charina bottae) - San Mateo County, CA

A heavily scarred sub-adult boa that I found in the Santa Cruz Mountain Range. Typically, wild boas tend to have scarring on their tail tips, as they use their blunt tails to distract and deter mother rodents as they raid nests. However, the scars on this particular boa seem to indicate a predation attempt- most likely a bird.

libutron
libutron:

Kenyan Sand Boa - Eryx colubrinus
The sand boas are a group of generally small boids related to the rosy and rubber boas of North America, and together they make up the group (subfamily) called the Erycinae boas.
Also named East African Sand Boa, Eryx colubrinus (Boidae), is in build a typical sand boa, but colored orange or yellow with chocolate-brown to black splotches. The belly is white or cream. In the wild, this species ranges through Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Chad, Niger, Yemen, Tanzania, and Somalia. 
They eat small rodents and lizards, which they catch by lying in wait nearly buried in the dirt or sand until a potential meal walks by. Relatively small prey are grasped very quickly and suffocated not by constriction but by pulling them under the sand.
References: [1] - [2]
Photo credit: ©Cat Smith | Locality: not indicated (2007)

libutron:

Kenyan Sand Boa - Eryx colubrinus

The sand boas are a group of generally small boids related to the rosy and rubber boas of North America, and together they make up the group (subfamily) called the Erycinae boas.

Also named East African Sand Boa, Eryx colubrinus (Boidae), is in build a typical sand boa, but colored orange or yellow with chocolate-brown to black splotches. The belly is white or cream. In the wild, this species ranges through Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Chad, Niger, Yemen, Tanzania, and Somalia.

They eat small rodents and lizards, which they catch by lying in wait nearly buried in the dirt or sand until a potential meal walks by. Relatively small prey are grasped very quickly and suffocated not by constriction but by pulling them under the sand.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©Cat Smith | Locality: not indicated (2007)

Center For Snake Conservation
Eastern Cottonmouths (Agkistrodon p. piscivorus) are a heavy-bodied venomous snake which typically reach 3-4 feet long as adults. They eat a variety of prey items including birds, mammals, fish, other snakes, frogs, salamanders, and even carion on occasion. Eastern Cottonmouths occur all across the eastern United States in wetlands, riparian areas, ponds, and lakes.
Eastern Cottonmouths have bad reputation that is NOT warranted. While they are venomous and may bite if harassed, most encountered are wimps and just want to be left alone. They definitely will bluff and show their “cotton” mouths but are not prone to biting or falling out of trees to attack you in your boat as many myths state. Conservation Through Education!Photo by Cameron Young

Eastern Cottonmouths (Agkistrodon p. piscivorus) are a heavy-bodied venomous snake which typically reach 3-4 feet long as adults. They eat a variety of prey items including birds, mammals, fish, other snakes, frogs, salamanders, and even carion on occasion. Eastern Cottonmouths occur all across the eastern United States in wetlands, riparian areas, ponds, and lakes.

Eastern Cottonmouths have bad reputation that is NOT warranted. While they are venomous and may bite if harassed, most encountered are wimps and just want to be left alone. They definitely will bluff and show their “cotton” mouths but are not prone to biting or falling out of trees to attack you in your boat as many myths state.

Conservation Through Education!

Photo by Cameron Young
Books: Life Below the Ankles
by David L. Hu
HOW SNAKES WORK: Structure, Function and Behavior of the World’s Snakes. Harvey B. Lillywhite. xiv + 242 pp. Oxford University Press, 2014. $49.95.
Right below our ankles lies a whole—and wholly different—world. Here, with a shift in perspective and scale, grass grows as tall as trees and rocks are as large as boulders. The landscape is so dense that animals can virtually swim in it, wiggling through oceans of grass and debris. Roughly 150 million years ago, a group of four-legged reptiles began to adapt to this rich lower world, evolving increasingly long and slender body plans until they were entirely limbless. From that point, there was no going back. In the switch to life without legs, these creatures also acquired a complete anatomical redesign, inside and out. The result was the animals we know as snakes.
Harvey B. Lillywhite’s How Snakes Work explores the ways these animals thrive in the dark, disordered landscape of the forest floor. That emphasis on how sets the book apart, as Lillywhite, a field biologist specializing in snake physiology, focuses on the fantastic tricks and tactics essential to life at ankle level. The result tickles the imagination. Using photographs, detailed explanations, personal stories, and scholarly references, the author convincingly transports the reader into this lower world, introducing a whole cast of strange creatures and their even stranger behaviors…
(read more: American Scientist)
image: Eastern rat snake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis)

Books: Life Below the Ankles

by David L. Hu

HOW SNAKES WORK: Structure, Function and Behavior of the World’s Snakes. Harvey B. Lillywhite. xiv + 242 pp. Oxford University Press, 2014. $49.95.

Right below our ankles lies a whole—and wholly different—world. Here, with a shift in perspective and scale, grass grows as tall as trees and rocks are as large as boulders. The landscape is so dense that animals can virtually swim in it, wiggling through oceans of grass and debris. Roughly 150 million years ago, a group of four-legged reptiles began to adapt to this rich lower world, evolving increasingly long and slender body plans until they were entirely limbless. From that point, there was no going back. In the switch to life without legs, these creatures also acquired a complete anatomical redesign, inside and out. The result was the animals we know as snakes.

Harvey B. Lillywhite’s How Snakes Work explores the ways these animals thrive in the dark, disordered landscape of the forest floor. That emphasis on how sets the book apart, as Lillywhite, a field biologist specializing in snake physiology, focuses on the fantastic tricks and tactics essential to life at ankle level. The result tickles the imagination. Using photographs, detailed explanations, personal stories, and scholarly references, the author convincingly transports the reader into this lower world, introducing a whole cast of strange creatures and their even stranger behaviors…

(read more: American Scientist)

image: Eastern rat snake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis)

Center For Snake Conservation:
Sundevall’s Shovel Snout Snake (Prosymna stuhlmannii) is a small colubrid species (average adult size around 25-30 cm) named after its upturned snout that it uses to burrow in loose soil. 
This snake is often found under rocks or in termite mounds in the savannas and grasslands of southern Africa. It is typically active at night, and is a feeding specialist that relies primarily on reptile eggs and small lizards. When touched or provoked, this harmless snake exhibits a peculiar defensive behavior in which it rapidly coils and uncoils.  Conservation Through Education! Photo and Account by Xavier Glaudas

Sundevall’s Shovel Snout Snake (Prosymna stuhlmannii) is a small colubrid species (average adult size around 25-30 cm) named after its upturned snout that it uses to burrow in loose soil.

This snake is often found under rocks or in termite mounds in the savannas and grasslands of southern Africa. It is typically active at night, and is a feeding specialist that relies primarily on reptile eggs and small lizards. When touched or provoked, this harmless snake exhibits a peculiar defensive behavior in which it rapidly coils and uncoils.

Conservation Through Education!

Photo and Account by Xavier Glaudas

Center For Snake Conservation:
Speckled Racer (Drymobius margaritiferus) These fast moving snakes range from extreme South Texas, throughout the lowlands of Mexico and into South America. Although very rare in the USA, but can be very common in parts of their range. They are very fast moving diurnal snakes and reach about 4 feet in length. They are known to eat mostly frogs and toads. The snake in this photo is from the Pacific Coast of Mexico.Photo and Account by Matt Cage

Speckled Racer (Drymobius margaritiferus)

These fast moving snakes range from extreme South Texas, throughout the lowlands of Mexico and into South America. Although very rare in the USA, but can be very common in parts of their range. They are very fast moving diurnal snakes and reach about 4 feet in length. They are known to eat mostly frogs and toads. The snake in this photo is from the Pacific Coast of Mexico.

Photo and Account by Matt Cage

TSA Turtle Tuesday:  Chinese Three-striped Box Turtle
 The critically endangered Chinese Three Striped Box Turtle (Cuora trifasciata) is native to southern China including Hainan Island and Hong Kong. It gets its common name from the three distinct black lines which run the length of its carapace. Its narrow and pointed head exhibits an array of colors, from yellow to olive-green on top to yellow-orange. This beautiful and rare turtle is highly sought after by the pet trade, with adults fetching up to $30,000 each. Conservation efforts are well underway to ensure the survival of the important species. 
read more about turtle conservation:
Turtle Survival Alliance: Turtles in Trouble

TSA Turtle Tuesday:  Chinese Three-striped Box Turtle

The critically endangered Chinese Three Striped Box Turtle (Cuora trifasciata) is native to southern China including Hainan Island and Hong Kong. It gets its common name from the three distinct black lines which run the length of its carapace. Its narrow and pointed head exhibits an array of colors, from yellow to olive-green on top to yellow-orange. This beautiful and rare turtle is highly sought after by the pet trade, with adults fetching up to $30,000 each. Conservation efforts are well underway to ensure the survival of the important species.

read more about turtle conservation:

Turtle Survival Alliance: Turtles in Trouble

libutron
libutron:

Big-eye Rat Snake - Ptyas dhumnades
Commonly referred to as Big-eye Rat Snake, Ptyas dhumnades (Colubridae), native to southern China, Vietnam and Taiwan, is a large snake up to 220 cm in total length. Its eyes are very large, with the iris dark gray to black dappled dirty yellow to tan, and the pupil is round, black, surrounded by ring of dirty yellow. 
This is the fastest snake in Asia, and due to its large eyes probably among the ones with the best reaction - a combination that makes it hard to observe and even harder to catch.
The snake’s meat finds use in Chinese medicine, where it is prescribed as a treatment for leprosy as well as for a host of more general ailments.
Synonym: Zaocys dhumnades
References: [1] - [2] - [3]
Photo credit: ©Jinn Hua | Locality: Fataan, Taiwan (2008)

libutron:

Big-eye Rat Snake - Ptyas dhumnades

Commonly referred to as Big-eye Rat Snake, Ptyas dhumnades (Colubridae), native to southern China, Vietnam and Taiwan, is a large snake up to 220 cm in total length. Its eyes are very large, with the iris dark gray to black dappled dirty yellow to tan, and the pupil is round, black, surrounded by ring of dirty yellow. 

This is the fastest snake in Asia, and due to its large eyes probably among the ones with the best reaction - a combination that makes it hard to observe and even harder to catch.

The snake’s meat finds use in Chinese medicine, where it is prescribed as a treatment for leprosy as well as for a host of more general ailments.

Synonym: Zaocys dhumnades

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: ©Jinn Hua | Locality: Fataan, Taiwan (2008)