Herping Pennsylvania

Jefferson

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With only another week here in my DC internship, I figured it was time to take advantage of my northerly position to visit Gettysburg and do some Pennsylvania herping in the process. Bethany and I headed north early in the morning, at first with difficulty as the labyrinthine city streets of Washington impeded our progress, but as we exited the beltway into the rolling Piedmont of central Maryland, the mood improved greatly. We approached Pennsylvania as the Union army had in late June and July 1, 1863, from Taneytown and Emmittsburg, rolling toward distant lines of blue-gray low mountain ranges.


Our first stop, at the mountains’ edge, yielded a few green frogs around the edge of a pond where a White-tail fawn lay bedded down in the brush, motionless as I approached. A nearby rushing stream, which Bethany and I waded and walked the banks of in search of Wood turtles (the main target species for the day) turned up a few Northern two-lined salamanders, lifers for Bethany, who had never herped far enough north in the mountains to get them, cruising a big rat snake and a DOR snapping turtle in the process.


The skunk cabbage and fern-covered forest floor, fragrant with springtime vibrancy, didn’t turn up any turtles, so we went further into the mountains of central PA. Here, we searched a couple of absolutely picturesque mountain streams, one of them among the five most beautiful streams I’ve ever seen. Sandy-bottomed, crystal clear, two feet deep, and flowing swiftly through hemlocks and mossy deciduous woods, it looked like something from a dream. But the beauty of the habitat once again didn’t translate into Wood turtles, so we came back down from the mountains to hit a lowland spot we knew could yield at least one lifer. That it did. Along the banks of a small lake further into the Piedmont near Amish country, we found a gaggle of Red-bellied turtles basking on artificial platforms, a specialty of the Maryland/PA/Delaware/New Jersey coastal plain and Piedmont. These turtles have declined of late, in part, scientists think, because of fierce competition from introduced Red-eared sliders, popular in the pet trade but not native east of the Appalachians.


With that, we cruised back west to Gettysburg, where we determined that with storms imminent, a further search for Wood turtles would be futile and that we would just see the battlefield. The impending storms gave the battlefield tour an appropriate ominous feeling as we gazed at monuments to the dead, Union and Confederate, at America’s deadliest battle. The stories of strategy, providence, and heroism at Gettysburg are unparalleled in US history. From Col. Joshua Chamerlain’s daring bayonet charge when he ran out of ammo to defend the Union left flank to Lee’s fateful decision to charge the Union center, Gettysburg’s grounds are replete with sobering reminders of the sacrifices made to preserve the Union and determine once and for all that America is free ground. Looking at the Lee statues, or the monuments to the states that sent so many to fight and die on that little patch of picturesque Pennsylvania countryside, makes you stop and think about what those men died for and whether we are living up to their sacrifice. Anyway, this is a herping post. I also had forgotten that Dwight Eisenhower retired to Gettysburg after his presidency until yesterday, when signs pointed out his residence, a black angus cattle farm just west of Seminary Ridge (the Confederate position on July 2-3, 1863).

With no Wood turtles but two lifers for Bethany, one for me, a whole lot of much-needed stream-wading, sight seeing, and hiking under our belts, we drove back to DC through Maryland once again, stopping at a Waffle House on the way and discussing the battle and our battle plans to see a future Wood turtle. What a great day! Hopefully the pictures work.

You can see the YouTube video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qr9g1rH-FoI

Or a blog post on my blog "Middle American Musings" at: https://middleamericanmusings.wordpress.com/

Happy herping you all!
 

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  • Murk:
    That sounds like severe skin damage. If you post a thread on the forum, you can attach pictures.
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  • Murk:
    It sounds like something went wrong with the water change, so this could be very dangerous. Did you use a dechlorinator? Could it be there are traces of chlorine or soap in the water? (Or for example, in the bucket you used?)
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  • Murk:
    Normally, I would recommend taking them out of the tank asap and putting them in a tub with fresh water, but if there's something wrong with your tap water or dechlorinator, that might not help either. Do you have acces to bottled water or rain water?
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  • Sal22:
    I think my axie is dying, he’s never had any issues before, I’ve had him 3 years, today I noticed some fluffy looking stuff coming from his genital area so I took him out of his tank and did a full tank clean to make sure the water wasn’t infected as I thought it was fungus and then I noticed he had a cut on his belly which was only small about 5 hours ago and now it’s spread to all of his belly, what do I do I’m freaking out
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  • Sal22:
    Update about my axie, unfortunately he has died over night, he looked as if he was bruised allover his belly, his mucus layer had also started to come off.
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    Anyone here from DMV?
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  • AlexisJG:
    Hi I have 2 4in juveniles (I’ve had them about 2 weeks and they are doing well I think they’ve grown a little already honestly) but I am supposed to go on a 5-6 day vacation in October about 3-4 months from now. I am wondering how I should go about their care when I am gone. I thought about putting them in separate (fairly big) containers with live plants and/or bubblers with a fan in the dark and either fridging them (my last plan) but I am hoping to to either have someone I trust come feed them and turkey baste waste out or just leave them out and clean the containers before we leave and have someone come check on them once or twice. Does any of this sound like a good or bad idea? I want the best for them. All help appreciated :)
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  • Ganaa:
    @patrickstar116, do you still have your fire salamanders?
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  • patrickstar116:
    @Ganaa, I do you may message me if you wish
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  • HalfDrunkToast:
    hi.....
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  • JDeslippe21:
    Hi, so I have 2 male axolotls and about an hour ago they were both perfectly fine and now only one of them has his tail curling up and his gills are slightly curled?? But other than that they’re both acting normally
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  • Murk:
    Could be he's just excited, spooked or temporarily stressed, which could pass in a few hours. It could also be an indicator of other problems. Do you have any recent water parameters?
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  • AlexisJG:
    Does anyone have any idea how to help with high ammonia levels? I have the API freshwater master kit and everything else’s test results were great besides ammonia. I did a 50% water change and I use API products including ammonia lock.
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  • MuggleMiChu:
    Help! I got my first axolotl two days ago and they have stopped eating. They ate a few frozen blood worms the first day and haven’t eaten or been interested in food since. I feed them frozen blood worms and the tank is around 64 degrees. I do have a filter that moves sometimes and I noticed them swimming up to it, I have a new filter and a fan coming today or tomorrow. I leave the worms in the tank or a little bit before taking them out so I don’t know if they ate when I wasn’t looking. I know it takes a while for them to digest. Does anyone have any tips or knowledge they can share? The pet store I bought them from didn’t have gravel or sand in the tank so I’m not sure if theres an issue or if I’m just impatient. Thank you!
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  • HalfDrunkToast:
    @MuggleMiChu, how big they are? also for substrate, i would not do gravel at all I would either do sand or none at all!
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  • MuggleMiChu:
    They are about 2-3 inches long and I have them in a bare bottom tank
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  • HalfDrunkToast:
    @MuggleMiChu I would say try live black/blood worms untell they are full or just turn there head away ( that's what mine do) if that does not work try to get some live brine shrimp and see if they eat that. baby axolotl prefer live food over frozen food as the frozen food is too cold for them or they can't eat it in one go( that's if you do the blocks) mine eat chopped up frozen thawed shrimp. as for them not eating from what I have experienced with my second axolotl, I got her when she was about an inch long and she ate every day, when they start getting 3-4 inches long they will gradually slow down there eating. and if you really want to do substrate I would do sand because if they do ingest a little bit it won't hurt them.
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  • MuggleMiChu:
    Thank you so much for the information and advice! They are eating again, they ate a lot today. I think it might have been stress from the move or digesting old food, I also noticed they ate some of the food left in the tank (I removed the rest). I’m going to keep the tank bare bottom.
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  • HalfDrunkToast:
    @MuggleMiChu,your so welcome im glad to be of help! and I'm glad that they are eating as well!
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    AidanD has left the room.
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  • MotherofAxolotls:
    Does anybody know where I can find a Starburst Wild type axolotl??
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    Good morning everyone.
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    morning!
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  • HalfDrunkToast:
    @MotherofAxolotls, i have like 3 but they aren't for sale T-T
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    HalfDrunkToast: @MotherofAxolotls, i have like 3 but they aren't for sale T-T +1
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