Happy Herping
Written by Bernard   

About five years ago I was walking a dirt road between an old field to my right and pine/oak woods to my left when I spotted a six-foot beast of a black rat snake (Pantherophis obsoleta) exploring the fallen half of a split cherry tree. I clumsily detained it for a couple photos, and then I let it go. It headed for the standing trunk of the cherry and then flowed up about fifteen feet with absolutely no regard for gravity. It is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen a snake do. I recall another rat snake anchored in a cliff-face crevice on a mountainside in the Pocono Mountains and soaking up the morning sun before a day of hunting birds and chipmunks, yet another a patterned hatchling crossing a sand road in the New Jersey Pine Barrens at dusk.

Each of these was not simply a beautiful snake; it was a rich experience of a beautiful creature in a setting it evolved to master. This is why I go herping. Black rat snakes are beautiful snakes in any setting, captive or wild, and as arboreal constrictors I find them especially fun to handle; they're comfortable off the ground and they grip you back, what I think of as the rat snake handshake. But however much I love them in whatever setting, I'll take them in the wild if I have any choice in the matter.

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Subocs Specialty
Written by Ava100   

Like most of us who have joined this forum, Dusty Rhodes has always had a lifelong enthusiasm for reptiles.  He kept many species of reptiles and amphibians when he was young and hatched a Leopard Gecko when he was 15.  He always wanted to study them and keeping them in his home was an easy way to do so.  

So it was no surprise when I learned that Dusty became a herpetologist and herpetoculturist, who has focused on the genus Bogertophis -- the Trans-Pecos and Baja Ratsnakes -- for the past decade.

The Texas native is currently a graduate-level scientist, pursuing his PhD in Biology at Ole Miss (the University of Mississippi) studying the evolution, biogeography, phylogeography, and conservation of tropical reptiles and amphibians.

And best of all, he puts forth his incredible reptile knowledge with his book The Complete Suboc: A Comprehensive Guide to the Natural History, Care, and Breeding of the Trans-Pecos Ratsnake,which is devoted to the natural history, maintenance, and subsequent breeding  of the unique Trans-Pecos Ratsnake.  

Not sure if Dusty is knowledgeable on the subject.  Besides his academic credentials, look no further than his blog, Simply Subocs, a forum and blog for those who enjoy Trans-Pecos Ratsnakes and want to discuss them.  Lots of valuable information there.

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