Photos and text by Daniel G. Peterson unless noted otherwise. Click on an image to enlarge.
|Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)|
|1: Photographed in June 25, 2005. My son, Grant, and I stumbled onto this fellow on a Saturday fishing expedition at Noxubee Wildlife refuge. Grant (3 years old at the time) saw the gator almost immediately and said, "Daddy, there's an alligator." I thought he was referring to the gar (which kind of look like small alligators) splashing around and said, "That's nice." A few minutes later, I caught site of this little gator laying on a log about 25 yards away. Grant's reply to my surprise at seeing the gator was, "I'm a little biologist."|
|2: Photographed on October 6, 2007. My family visited the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge with visiting scientist Brian Avery and spotted three alligators during our short (2 hr) visit. In 30 or so previous visits to the refuge I had only two gator sightings (see above for first sighting). The park ranger told us that the drought had dried up many of the smaller lakes/ponds in the refuge, and thus many of the gators were relocated to the main reservoir. Hence the main reservoir was relatively "chock-full-o-gators." With regard to the photos, the first two images are of the same gator while the third shows a different gator in a classic "gape" pose.|
|3: Photographed on March 12, 2008 at the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge. My son, Grant, spotted this "fellow" while we were showing the refuge to visiting colleague/friend Nurul Islam-Faridi and his family.|
|4: Photographed by Ben Bartlett on April 18, 2008 at the Tupelo-Cypress Swamp on the Natchez Trace Parkway. Ben and I were returning from a conference at Tougaloo College and, on the way home, decided to take the beautiful Natchez Trace Parkway. We stopped at the Tupelo-Cypress Swamp and saw two alligators. The small gator (see photos) was about 1 meter long and swam right up to us. The large gator was too far away for us to get a good photo.|
|5: Photographed on May 21, 2008. On the evening of May 20, I took my friend/collaborator David Ray (West Virginia University), an expert on crocodilians, to the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge to (hopefully) see an alligator. We happened upon a pair of gators that were most likely mates based upon their behavior towards each other. Unfortunately I didn't have a camera with me. However, the next afternoon I returned with my camera and found the happy couple in the same spot.|
|6: Photographed on May 24, 2008. This is one of the gators from the May 20 and 21 sightings. I think this may be the female as she seems to be guarding this spot on the bank. The first photo contains a fellow archosaur...a Great Egret (Ardea alba).|
|Copperhead snake (Agkistrodon contortrix)|
|Photographed on 10/16/2005. This little copperhead
was found in a woodpile in my backyard. I used a rake to put it
in a trashcan (far left photo) and relocated it to some woodlands about
100 meters from my house.
|Striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis)|
|Photographed in July 2005. These baby
skunks lived beneath the sidewalk near Dorman Hall (home of MGEL).
I observed them on two different occasions. There were at least
three of them, although the most I could get in a single picture was
two. I never saw an adult with them. I haven't seen them
since, so I have a feeling that they were "removed" by the authorities.
|Spider (Eriophora spp.)|
|Photographed in October 2005. This spider
lives on the southwestern side of my house near a water spout (which
it may have climbed up as per the nursery rhyme). It built its
web in front of a motion-activated light which afforded me the opportunity
to take the night photos. The spider's abdomen is roughly 1.5
|Southern black widow spider (Latrodectus mactans)|
|Part 1: Photographed in June 2007. This is Roxie, a black widow my wife found living under a shingle on our house. I wanted to make sure that this spider and her kin were not around to bite my kids, so I put her in a jar with the intention of squashing her. However, she was so beautiful and fascinating that I didn't have the heart to do her in. For about 1 month I kept her inside a secure plastic box on my office desk. She was fond of termites and can be seen feeding on them in some of the photos (see Part 2 for the rest of the story).|
|Part 2: Photographed in July 2007. Well, when Roxie started eating eight or more termites a day I figured she was ready for bigger prey. I tried catching bigger insects but was not successful at offering her things that she found palatable (or not intimidating). I finally purchased some meal worms from the pet store, and she liked these very much. Consequently, she grew very quickly. The red on her back disappeared leaving only red markings on her ventral surface (specifically, the red hourglass and a single red spot). By mid-July I decided that I needed to regain some desk space. Thus I released her in some woods near the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge (see last photo). Bye, Roxie! Take Care and Good Luck!|
|Zebra swallowtail butterfly (Eurytides marcellus)|
|Photographed May 24, 2008 at the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge.|
|Black & yellow argiope (Argiope aurantia)|
|Photographed August 23, 2008 by Philippe Chouvarine at his home in Starkville|