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West Texas 2020-2021

  I was invited to go on a couple great trips to West Texas. The first trip was in Sept 2020 with Eric Burke, Owen McIntyre and led by Rob Stone. I was fortunate enough to tag along with the MPR group. The second trip was in June 2021 and was once again planned and led by Rob Stone with Eric Burke back for more TX herping. This trip also included Justin Smith and Phil Wolf of the Herpetoculture Podcast. While we struck out on the goal of seeing an alterna, we did get to see some amazing animals and had a great time with lots of laughs!

Click on the images for a larger version. All photos Copyright Australian Addiction Reptiles.
West Texas herp trip 1, September 2020
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We rolled up to the first location and were able to find this crevice spiny lizard (Sceloporus poinsettii)
These giant vinegaroons were common throughout West TX. While they look a bit intimidating, they are harmless
Male tarantulas were on the move looking for females. They were quite commonly observed on this trip.
We flipped this eastern patch-nosed snake (Salvadora grahamiae) under a large rock
A crevice spiny lizard living up to his name. The nice blue patches showed off nicely.
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I believe this to be a hatchling southwestern fence lizard (Sceloporus cowlesi)
Don't mess with Texas toad (Anaxyrus speciosus)
The only Crotalus we saw on the trip was this dark WDB (Crotalus atrox). This is the darkest one I have seen.
This beautiful greater earless lizard (Cophosaurus texanus) was probably my favorite find of the trip.
Here is the GEL in the habitat where it was found.
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This guy was fairly bod and let me get pretty close. He would arch his zebra-striped tail up flashing the pattern off.
The colors and pattern of the greater earless lizard are incredible!
This gray-checkered whiptail (Aspidoscelis tesselatus) was found moving along the wall of a narrow canyon.
An enigmatic Couch's spadefoot toad (Scaphiopus couchii)
This Chihuahuan night snake (Hypsiglena jani) was found on the road just outside of Big Bend state park.
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A very beautiful gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer) was found just up the road from the night snake. This young Texas alligator lizard (Gerrhonotus infernalis) crossed our path as we hiked up the lost mine trail in Big Bend National Park. The view from the top of the lost mine trail was amazing! A nicely colored crevice spiny lizard was found along the sheer cliffs at the top of the lost mine trail. The Couch's spadefoots have such beautiful coloration and pattern!

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Eric, Rob and Owen are great herpers and we had a great time herping WTX despite cold temps and low snake activity. This beautiful coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum) was a little worse for the wear, but we were able to get it to sit still for photos. Close-up of the coachwhip. Such high-octane snakes. We saw two others, but this was the only one we were actually able to get hands on.

West Texas herp trip 2, June 2021
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An invasive Mediterranean house gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus) found on a cut near Langtry that we hit on the first night on our way west.
Millipedes were the most common invertebrate observed on both trips to West Texas. Some were bright yellow, like this one, while others were black.
This Texas banded gecko (Coleonyx brevis) is a beautiful species that appears too delicate to live in the harsh deserts of WTX.
Some cool birds were seen in Sanderson at the Outback Oasis hotel. This curve-billed thrasher had caught a tasty snack.
We started on a hike that was too exposed and too blasted hot, but we did get to see this greater earless lizard that was very light colored to reflect the heat.
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We hiked the lost mine trail in Big Bend NP again, but this time, we saw a mother bear and her cub very close to the trail. She was not happy with me taking pictures.
This night snake was found on my favorite cut near Alpine, TX. The rocks are so variable and cool looking.
Tarantulas were quite commonly observed on the cuts.
The property around the air-bnb had a nice trail and some resident common spotted whiptails (Aspidoscelis gularis) were observed zipping around. I was very happy to see several Texas horned lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum) near Marfa, TX. Such an amazing species of lizard!
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The crew of Rob, Eric, Justin Smith and Phil Wolf were happy to be photographing horned lizards
This male had some amazing coloration and posed nicely for us.
This photo shows the habitat where these lizards were found.
This female had recently laid eggs and headed for a burrow after we took some pictures of her.
A gorgeous eastern black-tailed rattlesnake (Crotalus ornatus) was found near Fort Davis, TX along a nice cut.
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Such a great looking snake! Another highlight for this trip! I was really hoping to see this species.
This WDB appeared to be unable to rattle its rattle. The tail looped around and the snake did not rattle like a typical member of its species. This Marcy's checkered gartersnake (Thamnophis marcianus) was found next to the air bnb in Alpine. Another highlight of the trip was this Central TX whipsnake (Masticophis taeniatus girardi) from the Davis Mountains.
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This snake was one of the most beautiful snakes I have seen. It was fairly patient and let us take photos before gliding off. A pair of crevice spiny lizards were found under the same rock that the patchnose from the previous trip was found under. A small patchnose from the Davis Mountains was found near where the Central TX whipsnake was found.
A beautiful sunset in Big Bend State Park. A fairly large scorpion was observed as it made its way through the desert.
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A juvenile Texas toad was found on a night hike near some springs in Big Bend SP.
I almost stepped on this well-camouflaged western diamondback rattlesnake.
An interesting grasshopper blended in very well with the rocky ground.
A very nice red-spotted toad (Anaxyrus punctatus) was found near a pool of water.
This juvenile gray-checkered whiptail was exhibiting some nocturnal behavior.
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When staying in Sanderson, you meet a lot of herpers at the few hotels in town. One lucky herper had found this western milk snake (Lampropeltis gentilis)
Several canyon lizards (Sceloporus merriami) were observed climbing around on the cuts near Sanderson.
This tiny southwestern blackhead snake (Tantilla hobartsmithi) was found while searching a cut. It had a brilliant orange belly.
Several diamondbacks were found out on the roads north of Sanderson.
This relatively calm WDB was also nicely patterned and behaved well for photos.

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A large coachwhip was seen at our last air bnb before we headed home.

Species List:

Trip 1 (herps seen)
Sceloporus poinsettii
Salvadora grahamiae
Sceloporus cowlesi
Anaxyrus speciosus
Crotalus atrox
Cophosaurus texanus
Aspidoscelis tesselatus
Scaphiopus couchii

Hypsiglena jani
Pituophis catenifer
Gerrhonotus infernalis
Masticophis flagellum

Trip 2 (unique species)
Hemidactylus turcicus
Coleonyx brevis
Aspidoscelis gularis

Phrynosoma cornutum
Thamnophis marcianus
Crotalus ornatus
Tantilla cucullata
Masticophis taeniatus girardi
Anaxyrus punctatus
Sceloporus merriami
Tantilla hobartsmithi
23 species total