Rio Grande Valley

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Blake:
So I know it's been a LONG time since I've posted so hopefully this post will make up for it.


There are four counties that make up the Rio Grande Valley; Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, and Willacy. The RGV is home to some very unique and diverse ecosystems. Sadly most of the natural habitat has been replaced by agricultural farms. However, there’s still some remaining habitat on the local ranches and wildlife refuges. Much of the valley’s natural habitat is Tamaulipan brushland, a unique ecosystem that is found only in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of south Texas in the United States and northeastern Mexico. There is also lush Palm Forest along the Rio Grande, and it the Western part of the valley the Tamaulipan brushland starts to meet the Chihuahuan Desert.  The combination of climate, vegetation, and associated wildlife is unlike that in any other region of the United States.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) recognizes Tamaulipan brushland as a unique ecosystem that is found only in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of south Texas in the United States and northeastern Mexico. The LRGV is not really a valley but a delta, or a fertile plain, that slopes away from the Rio Grande. The combination of climate, vegetation, and associated wildlife is unlike that in any other region of the United States. The vegetation is influenced by edaphic factors, and plant distribution can be correlated with geologic formations. Characteristic vegetation of Tamaulipan brushland is dense and thorny. The most luxuriant brush is found on alluvial soil of the Rio Grande floodplain, and large cedar elms dominate in some mesic areas. Vegetation in the xeric upland areas is mostly spiny shrubs and stunted trees. A few characteristic plant species comprise the bulk of the brush vegetation. At present, some of the ubiquitous woody plant species are: Texas ebony; retama; granj eno; huisache; prickly pear; and mesquite.


The Rio Grande Valley by Blake Tyler, on Flickr


The Rio Grande Valley is home to approximately 32 species of snakes, 23 species of lizards, 12 species of turtles and tortoises, 1 species of crocodilian, and 25 species of amphibians; including 1 species of salamander, 1 newt, and 1 siren. That’s 93 species of herps all together!

Species list
(Some of the latin names are probably outdated so if you see any corrections that need to be made, please let me know. Species with a "*" by the name indicates that I haven't found it personally with in the RGV and it's on my "to find in the RGV" list.)

SNAKES
1. Texas Blind Snake (Leptotyphlops dulcis)
2. Glossy Snake (Arizona elegans) 
3. Mexican Racer (Coluber constrictor) 
4. Black Striped Snake (Coniophanes imperialis)
5. Texas Indigo (Drymarchon corais)
6. Speckled Racer (Drymobius margaritiferus)
7. Eastern Rat Snake (Pantherophis obsoleta)*
8. Great Plains Rat Snake or South Western Rat Snake (Pantherophis emoryi) 
9. Mexican hook nose snake (Ficimia streckeri)
10. Mexican Hog-nose Snake (Heterodon nasicus) *
11. Texas Night Snake (Hypsiglena torquata) 
12. Desert King Snake (Lampropeltis getula) *
13. Mexican Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum)*
14. Northern Cat Eyed Snake (Leptoderia septentrionalis)*
15. Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum)
16. Schot's/Ruthven's Whip Snake (Masticophis schotti)
17. Blotched Watersnake (Nerodia erythrogaster)
18. Southern Watersnake (Nerodia fasciata)*
19. Diamond Back Watersnake (Nerodia rhombifer)
20. Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus) *
21. Bull Snake (Pituophis catenifer)
22. Texas Long-nose Snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei) *
23. Texas Patch-nose Snake (Salvadora)
24. Ground Snake (Sonora semiannulata) 
25. Brown Snake (Storeria dekayi)
26. Flathead Snake (Tantilla gracilis)*
27. Plains Black Head Snake (Tantilla nigriceps)*
28. Checkered Garter Snake (Thamnophis marcianus)
29. Gulf Coast Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis proximus) 
30. Texas Coral Snake (Micrurus tener) 
31. Western Diamond Back Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
32. Desert Massasagua (Sistrurus catenatus)* 
 
LIZARDS 
1. Slender Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus attenuatus)*
2. Reticulate Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus reticulatus)
3. Texas Banded Gecko (Coleonyx brevis)
4. Mediterranean House Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus)
5. Western Spiny-tailed Iguana (Ctenosaura pectinata)*
6. Greater Earless Lizard (Cophosaurus texanus)
7. Spot-tailed Earless Lizard (Holbrookia lacerata)
8. Keeled Earless Lizard (Holbrookia propinqua)
9. Texas Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum)*
10. Blue Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus cyanogenys)
11. Graphic Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus grammicus)*
12. Texas Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus olivaceus)
13. Prairie Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus)*
14. Rose-bellied Lizard (Sceloporus variabilis)*
15. Ornate Tree Lizard (Urosaurus ornatus)*
16. Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis)
17. Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei)
18. Great Plains Skink (Plestiodon obsoletus)*
19. Four-lined Skink (Plestiodon tetragrammus)
20. Little Brown Skink (Scincella lateralis )*
21. Eastern Spotted Whiptail (Aspidoscelis gularis)
22. Laredo Striped Whiptail (Aspidoscelis laredoensis)
23. Six-lined Racerunner (Aspidoscelis sexlineata)
 
TURTLES 
1. Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta)*
2. Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)*
3. Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)*
4. Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)*
5. Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys kempii)*
6. Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)*
7. Rio Grande Cooter (Pseudemys gorzugi)*
8. Ornate Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata)*
9. Pond Slider (Trachemys scripta)
10. Yellow Mud Turtle (Kinosternon flavescens)*
11. Texas Tortoise (Gopherus berlandieri)
12. Spiny Softshell (Apalone spinifera)
 
CROCODILIANS 
American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) 
 
Amphibians
1. Green Toad (Bufo debilis)*
2. Cane Toad (Bufo marinus)
3. Gulf Coast Toad (Bufo nebulifer)
4. Red-spotted Toad (Bufo punctatus)*
5. Texas Toad (Bufo speciosus)
6. Woodhouse's Toad (Bufo woodhousii)*
7. Rio Grande Chirping Frog (Eleutherodactylus cystignathoides)
8. Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans)*
9. Green Tree frog (Hyla cinerea)*
10. Squirrel Tree frog (Hyla squirella)*
11. Spotted Chorus Frog (Pseudacris clarkii)*
12. Strecker's Chorus Frog (Pseudacris streckeri)*
13. Mexican Tree frog (Smilisca baudinii)
14. Mexican White-lipped Frog (Leptodactylus fragilis)*
15. Great Plains Narrow-mouthed Toad (Gastrophryne olivacea)
16. Sheep Frog (Hypopachus variolosus)
17. Rio Grande Leopard Frog (Rana berlandieri)
18. American Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana)*
19. Mexican Burrowing Toad (Rhinophrynus dorsalis)*
20. Couch's Spadefoot (Scaphiopus couchii)
21. Hurter's Spadefoot (Scaphiopus hurterii)*
22. Plains Spadefoot (Spea bombifrons)*
23. Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum)*
24. Black-spotted Newt (Notophthalamus meridionalis)*
25. Lesser Siren (Siren intermedia)*


And now! Random photos!


Cameron CO. wetland by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Palm Forest by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

The Rio Grande by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Tamaulipan Brush-land meets the Chihuahuan Desert in Starr County by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Starr County Rock Cut by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Starr CO. hawk by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Cameron CO by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Nerodia rhombifer by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Nerodia rhombifer by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Texas Indigo by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

DSCN7338 by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

DSCN7330 by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Texas Night Snake by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Rio Grande Chirping Frog by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Bull Snake by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Gulf Coast Ribbon Snake by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

A foraging Indigo by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Texas Indigo by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Juv. Texas Banded Gecko by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Texas Banded Gecko by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Bull Snake eating a Mexican Ground Squirrel by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Bull Snake eating a Mexican Ground Squirrel by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Texas Patch-nose Snake by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Great Plains Rat Snake (Pantherophis emoryi meahllmorum) by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Crotalus atrox by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Rio Grande Leopard Frog by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Living branches by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Watersnake by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Rio Grande Leopard Frog by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Texas Indigo by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Drymobius margaritiferus by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Drymobius margaritiferus by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Drymobius margaritiferus by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Drymobius margaritiferus by Blake Tyler, on Flickr

Drymobius margaritiferus by Blake Tyler, on Flickr




Jlassiter:
Great Post Blake!....love the drymobius....glad you're still alive.....
But in my book Willacy county isn't even RGV and there are many more counties in the RGV IMHO.......lol

Hit me up when you want to find some L. t. annulata or L. g. splendida.......BTW...please use subspecies names instead of just species.........J/K....lol

Jlassiter:
And....a P. e. meahllmorum is not a Great Plains Ratsnake (P. emoryi or E. g. emoryi)....It is a Southern Plains Ratsnake or a Thornscrub Ratsnake..........and many believe it is a gutatta.........

Blake:
Willacy is generally accepted as part of the Rio Grande Valley. It is very similar to Cameron, though w/o the lush palm forest along the river (For obvious reasons). The other counties to the North are part of the South Texas sand sheet. It's believed to be a major barrier to many species. Ever wonder why cottonmouths aren't found farther South?

Have you read El Valle by Seth Patterson? If not, you should.  It's an amazing book by a friend of mine in Brownsville.

Great Plains Rat Snake is a common name. :) Once P. e. meahllmorum was called that. Don't you think it's funny how people can be so anal about common names? Some people call them Emory's Rat Snake. I really don't care.

What are you doing this Friday? Up for looking for milks?

Jlassiter:
This Friday I am going to work then finish up getting all the adult going after brumation.....
But Saturday I'd love to go find some milks.......I think we'd find some on the Island if we had tin or other A/C laid out since last Summer..........Other than that we'd could road cruise up 624 to Cotulla........

BTW... I am a firm believer in meahllmorum being different than emoryi........but all should be categorized with cornsnakes (gutatta).........just as slowenskii are......

And to me the RGV extends to Val Verde County.........lol

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