Crockett County - March 2, 2003

Was out in San Angelo for Saturday afternoon and had a few hours to spare Sunday morning. Decided to go out and try (for the umpteenth time!) to find a Variable Skink (Eumeces multivirgatus epipleurotus) to photograph. This species is highly localized in distribution in TX and I knew a place near San Angelo where they were supposed to be common. I have been out there many times and never found one. I had found less common species here (Sistrurus catenatus, Holbrookia lacerata), I just couldn't find this damn skink!

The weather however, had other ideas! When I got out there it was a balmy 46F, foggy and drizzling (although there was still enough of a breeze to add a little wind chill to the mix!). The expected high today here was 51. Since it had been 65 and sunny yesterday, I thought I might find a stupid skink that hadn't gone down deep.

This was the scene that greeted me. Looks like herpin' weather to me!

habitat shot

In a few weeks this road will become a favorite local milksnake spot, but for now, it was cold and dreary! (I don't mind posting that statement here as you either know where this spot is, or you aren't likely to find it!).

When I got out of the car (questioning my sanity the whole time for even being out here!), I walked over to the dead limb you can see in the bottom center of the pic. Almost jokingly, I turned it. Underneath I was shocked to find this little baby -

baby Desert Kingsnake

This is a hatchling Desert King (Lampropeltis getula splendida) from last year and he doesn't appear to be in very good condition - he is quite scarred up. I photographed him and was going to release him, but decided to bring him home, stuff a few pinkies in him for his trouble and let him go here later in the season.

Feeling excited by this unexpected herp, I started flipping roadside rocks (and putting them back of course). I flipped rocks for about an hour until I finally decided the kingsnake had been a fluke and headed back towards the truck. Almost nonchalantly I flipped a rock here or there on they way back and lo and behold - under one I found my target species, the Variable Skink!

Variable Skink (Eumeces multivirgatus epipleurotus)

This is the striped morph. The solid gray morph also occurs in this area. This was only my second E. multivirgatus and was my first for Texas. Not bad for a 46 morning.

In case you are wondering, I wasn't foolish enough to be encouraged much by this lizard, so I took a photo of it and headed back towards town to birdwatch. At least I would see some birds!

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Chris Harrison