Reptiles

There is a very interesting variety of lizards at Hueco Tanks.  The ones we’ve been seeing most lately (at the time of the original writing) are the greater earless lizards.  In the photo album you can compare the male and female of the species, and see the coloration difference in a gravid (pregnant) female.

One of the really fun types of lizards to see are the horned lizards, sometimes referred to as horned toads.  They do have a rounder shape than most lizards, but they are still lizards.  Here we have a photograph of a Texas horned lizard, a species which is threatened in some parts of the state due to the invasion of fire ants.  These guys survive on a diet of harvester ants.  We had the pleasure one morning of watching a horned lizard eat his breakfast.


The photo album contains photos of as many of the other lizard varieties that we’ve been able to photograph.  There are other species of lizards in the park that we have either not seen or been unable to photograph.  Recent sightings include two large great plains skinks (no photos).

For those who are concerned about the presence of rattlesnakes in the park, there is nothing to worry about as long as you stay on the marked trails, keep your hands out of crevices unless you have checked them first, and make enough noise as you move about.  We have heard reports of rattlesnake sightings, but to date have not encountered any snakes.  We did, however, encounter the molted skin of a snake.

The snake sighting deficit has changed in the late summer of 2014.  We saw a couple of them near the headquarters building and one while we were leading a tour.  The last one was several feet off the path; it watched us as we watched it.  The poor snake clearly didn’t have a clue as to what to do with the dozen people staring at it.  It looked confused, and I think we actually scared it.  The photo below is of the snake we saw while on tour.


The discoveries continued during the 2014 Interpretive Fair.  A gentleman who had been on the tour where we saw the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake pictured above, came to us and said he’d found a snake in the cave next to the Interpretive Center.  What he found turned out to be a Trans-Pecos Rat Snake, a species that is generally nocturnal.  We figured that too many people had gotten too close to where it was hiding, and we saw it when it was trying to find a better spot.  The snake was at least 5 feet long, and it was not possible to get a picture of the whole snake, so we’ve included a photo of the head and one of the body of the snake, to show off its beautiful markings.  This one is not venomous, and since it is nocturnal, it was a very special sighting.

Another snake that has been seen in the park by other but not by us so far, is the Gopher Snake.  The one in this photo was crossing the road outside the park.  It is in a coiled position because we were trying to encourage it to move further off the road.  In mid-April 2015, we also encountered a Black-tailed Rattlesnake on the bridge by the dead Cottonwood trees.  Unfortunately we were not able to see the head in this photo, as the snake was moving under the bridge.

It seems like most focus is placed on venomous snakes.  However, the park also has some non-venomous snakes, which we see on occasion.  In July 2016 we got to watch a Central Texas Whip Snake, which moves incredibly fast.


Finally, for your viewing pleasure, we have included a video of a Southwestern Fence Lizard doing push-ups, a common defensive and territorial behavior.



© Susan L. Stone 2015                   rovingstones@me.com