West Virginia Weekend Trip

Jefferson

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At the start, let me say you can also view the youtube video to go along with this post (and some of my other older videos) at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7yOTq5_QlOEMfdL3g1JQ8Q.

Anyway, this Saturday, Bethany and I decided to take a little jaunt northwest from the Shenandoah Valley and spend some time high in the spruce and northern deciduous trees of the Alleghenies in West Virginia. Bethany had never seen a few of the most common species in the Eastern WV mountains, like Allegheny Mountain duskies and Valley and Ridge, nor had she seen the rare, endemic Cheat Mountain Salamander, which I needed a better picture of anyway. So it was that we got rolling around lunchtime under partly cloudy skies toward Staunton, where we'd start heading west after bypassing the city on the Woodrow Wilson Parkway (which I jokingly call "The worst president ever parkway"). Headed west into the Virginia portion of the Alleghenies, the western skies darkened with building rain clouds, though not severe, and the gently rolling land and comely foothills of the Valley gave way to steep, piney, rocky, imposing knife-edged mountains that enveloped valleys of dairy farms and grazing land. The temperature dropped as our elevation gained, and mountain laurels and the smell of rushing mountain waters graced our crossing into the Mountaineer state, where the mountains got even closer, craggier, shorter but steeper, and all-encompassing.


Our first spot in the high mountains, flanked by rhododendron, beech, maple, and various conifers, as I predicted to Bethany before we got out of the car, yielded an Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander within five yards of trail, though we lost the caramel-striped critter in the leaf litter. Higher up the mountain, we had no shortage of duskies young and old to photograph, from a reddish-tan striped one to a very old melanistic individual that had lost nearly all coloration. But duskies weren't our main target on this moss-covered, spruce and fly-infested mountaintop. No, that creature was found not fifteen minutes after we filmed some duskies and set them back. Under a narrow spruce log nearly sewn into the bright green moss, at first I found nothing, but at the very end of where the log had been, something black and gold-speckled caught my eye, something Plethodon-shaped. Cheat Mountain Salamander!!! We were elated, and pictured the videotaped the salamander as if it were a Democratic presidential candidate embroiled in scandal and we reporters from Fox News.

After getting our fill of this unique Appalachian endemic, we set him and the log back where found and drove down off the mountain back toward the Virginia line. We stopped at a beautiful mountain river on the way back before crossing into Virginia, ostensibly to look for Hellbenders, but also because it just felt good to wade in a picturesque stream with the hills all around us, looking at orange and blue crayfish and darters and feeling the frigid water around our calves. After again crossing the border on the 15mph curves into Virginia, we stopped at a Civil war battlefield, the Battle of McDowell in Highland County, Virginia, to see some historical sites. There, Confederates delayed the Union seizure of the Shenandoah Valley, the South's main breadbasket, by turning back the advance of Ohio and West Virginia units (W.Va split off from "Old Virginny" because as a mountain region with very few slaves, it saw little reason to fight for the South and leave the Union). Among the troops who marched through that section of Virginia in the campaign to take the Shenandoah Valley at places like McDowell, Fisherville, and New Market was my great-great-great-great grandfather, Henry, who fought under the 3rd West Virginia light artillery. A surreal experience to be sure, and it also yielded a slimy salamander as a solid final herp of the day. As Bethany says, "You haven't been herping unless you have slimy salamander slime on you." Pictures are below. As always, I hope you enjoyed the read, and happy herping to you all!
 

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    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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    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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    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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    @patrickstar116, do you still have your fire salamanders?
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    @Ganaa, I do you may message me if you wish
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    hi.....
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    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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    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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    @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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    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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    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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    @MuggleMiChu,your so welcome im glad to be of help! and I'm glad that they are eating as well!
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    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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    @MotherofAxolotls, i have like 3 but they aren't for sale T-T
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    @HalfDrunkToast is their a price that could change your mind? 🙂
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    MotherofAxolotls: @HalfDrunkToast is their a price that could change your mind? 🙂 +1
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