Eastern Hognose Snake

In our first ten years here, we had only three sightings of these, and it wasn’t until the third sighting (in April 2016) that I had a camera with me. This snake announced its presence in an audible manner. I paused, looked around, and saw a patterned brown snake emerging from the vegetation where I had heard the rattling sound. From about 10 feet away, I strained my eyes to look at the tail. Then it puffed up its head, conjuring up a menacing cobra. Oh, relief: a Hognose Snake. I hollered to get Eric’s attention, and we enjoyed watching it for a few minutes. After its initial bluff didn’t scare us away, it shape-shifted its head to a triangular form, more reminiscent of the rattlesnake that I had initially feared. It even moved in a sidewinder fashion, a master impressionist. The one trick we didn’t get it to do was to play dead. The round pupil is absolute confirmation that this one was nonpoisonous. Certainly a really fascinating creature to have around, though they are predators of toads, and we like to have high populations of toads–which we’ve confirmed through observation to be predators of squash bugs.

Northern Fence Lizard

Northern Fence Lizards are common at Chert Hollow. This one was hanging out on the greenhouse screen:

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This is a recently hatched lizard:

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Osage Copperhead

Although I don’t have a photo to prove it, we saw an Osage Copperhead on June 22, 2015 in the growing area south of the house. This is the only definite sighting on the farm since we’ve been here, though I briefly saw a snake with copperhead-like patterning in the same general area near dusk on a summer evening in 2014.

Midland Brown Snake

Perhaps our most commonly encountered snake, Midland Browns are often present in the mulched beds of our produce growing areas. midland_brown

Prairie Kingsnake

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This is a snake we really appreciate having around, as Prairie Kingsnakes eat rodents, and we often see them hunting in rodent burrows in the vegetable fields.

Western Worm Snake

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An uncommonly encountered species at Chert Hollow Farm. I found this one on the forest floor while raking leaves for mulch in March 2007.

Three-Toed Box Turtle

One of two box turtle species at Chert Hollow Farm.bio_three-toed_box_turtleMating generally occurs late spring to early summer. This photo is from June 17, 2014.

On the evening of June 6, 2015, a female dug a nest in a young patch of sweet corn in our main vegetable field: june_natural_turtle_nesting

This nest had at least two young on October 30, 2015. Photo on left shows one (next to a walnut for scale). It was about an inch below the soil surface in the same nest location. The photo on right shows the shell of a sibling below, but I did not dig it out or determine the total count of young in an effort to minimize disturbance to the nest.oct_natural_baby_turtle

 

Common Snapping Turtle

Common Snapping Turtles are present here, but we encounter them infrequently. The specimen shown here was wandering near the chicken area after a heavy rain, and we decided that we’d be best off moving it somewhere else, due to the presence of young chicks in the vicinity (none were harmed). Another encounter happened when we decided to cool off in a small but deep pool of the stream on a hot day. I recall mentioning to Eric that he could expect a yell if snake or a snapping turtle appeared. Not long thereafter, we both scrambled out of the pool to avoid a snapper. Fortunately, they are reportedly less aggressive in the water than on land, and our observations support this.

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We have eaten snapping turtle, though it was not farm sourced. A friend snared one while fishing in a pond, butchered it, and shared some meat with us. Prepared as turtle soup, it was delicious.