All text copyright  Eitan Grunwald.  All photographs copyright  Eitan or Ron Grunwald  except photographs by others are copyright per photo credits.  All rights reserved.  Terms
TEXAS
May 2004
 2 of 4
TEXAS
May 2004
 2 of 4
So here we are, half an hour into herping, and already I have my top target in hand.  Having said I could go home happy at this point, figure I’ll stick around anyway for the rest of the trip, just to see what else might show up.   Another thirty minutes of driving on dry river beds and rocky roads till we finally arrive at Joe’s property: 1,300 acres of pristine habitat, his own private herping preserve. We set up camp opposite a long limestone ridge.  Down below is a deep gully, with a few remaining pools of water, separating us from the rocky escarpment like a well-drained moat.     Even before the tents are pitched, Jay starts flipping pieces of plywood left behind from a previous trip.  Something green shoots out and sprints across the ground, a blur that becomes an Earless Lizard when it stops under a creosote bush.  It tries to look inconspicuous while Danny and I approach, then blasts out when we get too close.  The lizard races back to the plywood, so we lift it again.  Back to the bush.  Board, bush, board, bush.  Finally, we flip the plywood and have him in hand.    Curiously, after a few minutes of handling, the lizard calms down and seems to fall asleep, even allowing us to turn him over.  I presume this is a defensive behavior, similar to certain snakes that feign death when threatened.   We let him lie there until he finally realizes we’re not going to eat him.  He stirs, he twists, he takes off for good.  Back to the bush. Meanwhile, Jay continues to flip boards and turns up another lizard for our benefit.  This one presents no problem to catch, as it’s a relatively slow-moving Gecko.  Actually, the biggest challenge is to avoid having her autonomize (i.e., voluntarily break off) her tail as she squirms in our hands.  She’s gravid, so we look at her belly, and through the translucent skin we see a pair of eggs. After dark we take a night hike, walking the washes and shining the steep sides for signs of snakes.  Sometimes we pick up tiny blue reflections, the bright eyes of Wolf Spiders, such as this one eating on the fly (pun intended).   We’re all spread out when once again Jay does the honors. (Detecting a pattern here?)  He calls us over and points to a snake crawling up the embankment.   Yaay!!  Another of the regional species we’ve come to see, one that’s high on our priority list.       Unfortunately, the weather is being uncooperative.  Temps are unseasonably cool, so we find only one more snake that night, a Night Snake (found by guess who).   
Texas Earless Lizard Cophosaurus texanus texanus
Texas Banded Gecko Coleonyx brevis
Trans-Pecos Rat Snake Bogertophis subocularis
Texas Night Snake Hypsiglena torquata janii
 Danny Mendez  Danny Mendez  Danny Mendez  Danny Mendez  Danny Mendez  Danny Mendez