Blog Archives

Fall Snake Count Has Begun!

Snake Count Participant –  

Please share and forward as appropriate – 

Are you ready to count snakes?  The forecast for the opening weekend of the Center for Snake Conservation Fall Snake Count is for more rain at the CSC headquarters.  However, despite the rain, we plan on turning up a few gems this weekend and then count many, many snakes next week.  Follow us on Twitter (@CSCSnakeTweet) or on Instagram (cscsnake) to see what the CSC finds during the Snake Count as we find them.  We have folks registered for the snake count in 47 of the 48 states with snakes (missing Delaware so get there if you can!) so this is going to be an amazing Snake Count!  

The Snake Count is a first step towards understanding the conservation needs of snakes.  We need your help to make it successful.  We are excited to partner with Project Noah (www.projectnoah.org) to help collect and manage data.  Project Noah is a GREAT tool to explore and document wildlife and a platform to harness the power of citizen scientists everywhere.  Sign up and download their free smartphone app today.  Do not worry; we will still accept data via email, our online webform, or hardcopy if you do not have a smartphone or GPS.  This count is going to be incredible!  Check out the FAQ page on www.snakecount.org to help you have a great Snake Count.  This next week will be a very exciting one here at the CSC and I sincerely hope you can share in our excitement! 

Participants have expressed concern about the collection and potential release of specific geographic locations during the Snake Count and the effect this may have on snake populations. The CSC shares these concerns for many rare, threatened, or endangered species across the world.  Please see the Snake Count FAQ and below for more information about how to protect these sensitive locations.

 

Thank you, please be safe, and have fun counting snakes!  

Cameron

 

— 

Cameron A. Young
Executive Director
 
 
 

Snake Count Frequently Asked Questions:  You can review the Snake Count FAQs here:  FAQs.

Specific Geographic Location Concerns:  Participants have expressed concern about the collection and potential release of specific geographic locations during the Snake Count and the effect this may have on snake populations.  The CSC shares these concerns for many rare, threatened, or endangered species across the world.  That said, we do ask that you collect and provide data at least to the county level during the Snake Count.  This will help us analyze trends, look for new distributional records, and provide current, accurate data to scientists and state wildlife agencies after the count.  If you use the Project Noah smartphone application, GPS coordinates will automatically be recorded for you.  If the location you are in is sensitive or your secret spot, the Project Noah software will allow you to move the pin for the location.  We ask that you move the pin to the nearest town or other landmark and notify us that the pin was moved in the “comments” field when entering data.  This way we can protect sensitive snakes and locations while conducting a thorough census of snakes during the Snake Count. 

Snake Count Contest:  Herpers are naturally competitive so we added a Contest to the Spring Snake Count.  In short, each snake species in North America has been assigned a point value (Range is 1-50 Points) based on its rarity, detectability, and geographic range.  Bonus Points will be awarded for submission to Project Noah (5 Points Each), New County Records (10 Points Each), and New State Records (Range from 15-50 Points Each).  Prizes will be awarded to the Overall Highest Point total and each Highest Point Total for each Snake Count Region.  We will be announce prizes during the Snake Count which include a personalized Center for Snake Conservation Snake Hook, GoPro Hero 3 (prize pending), and other snake related items. 

Snake Count T-shirts:  We are selling Snake Count T-shirts through the CSC CafePress online store.  Get yours today!   http://www.cafepress.com/centerforsnakeconservation 

Facebook:  We will be posting daily results of the Snake Count on our Facebook page.  Don’t forget to go to the CSC Facebook page and “like” us to stay updated. 

Snake Count Toolkits:  Don’t forget to visit the Snake Count Toolkit for datasheets and protocols to use during thesnake count if you are not using the Project Noah software.  Snake Count Tool Kit

 

Events:  Do you want or need to look for snakes with someone else?  There are several events being organized by CSC volunteers across the country.  If you want to host an event or are interested in having people join you during asnake count, please send us information so we can post it on our event link (send email toevents@snakecount.org). 

Prizes:  Yes, we will be giving away prizes to individuals who count the most snakes during the Snake Count.  We will also be drawing random names from the list of registered participants to give away free CSC memberships throughout the week.

Need Help Identifying Snakes?  Send your photo to us and we will identify the snake for you.  Email photos tosnakeID@snakecount.org.  If you are using Project Noah to submit your results, just click on the “Help me identify this species” to alert us and Project Noah’s team of Rangers. 

Official Snake Names:  The CSC has adopted an easy to use 9-letter shorthand code for snakes in North America.  You simply use the first three letters of the genus, species, and subspecies to record a snake with NO overlap.  If the species does not have a subspecies, simply enter XXX at the end of the code to make it nine-letters long.  If you don’t know the scientific name of the snakes you observe, you can find the 9-letter code for each species in the state lists on the Snake Count website here.  Please use this code on your datasheets to help simplify and organize your data.  If all else fails, just write in what you know and we can figure it out.

Reporting results:  There are 3 ways you can submit your observations from the Snake Count.  

1.     You can use your smartphone or computer through Project Noah to submit your data. Be sure to enter your spotting into the Snakes of the United States Mission or Snakes of the World Mission.  If you are worried about giving away your secret location, remember to relocate the pin to the nearest city or other landmark.  Please note in the comments that you did this so we can get it into our records.

2.     You can submit data online using the form on the Snake Count website (www.snakecount.org/submit-results)

3.     You can scan and email your datasheet to data@snakecount.org

4.     You can mail your datasheets to the Center for Snake Conservation, 1581 Ridgeview Drive, Louisville, CO  80027

Announcing Baby Snake Month in September

It is baby snake season – yes that is right: Baby snake season. What does that really mean? It means a lot to a herpetologist but it also should mean a lot to all humans.

To a herpetologist, baby snake season means we are about to find a lot more snakes. We understand that the snake population is going to grow and the baby snakes are going to move around a lot and be easier to find. Unfortunately it also means we will be finding a lot more road killed snakes which is depressing for someone who loves and appreciates these amazing predators.

To other people, baby snake season should be a season of learning and amazement. It is a time when they can find and observe snakes relatively easily. Other times of the year snakes can be almost impossible to find. Not during baby snake season though. Plus baby snakes are tiny and cute (I hardly ever say a snake is cute but if I had to admit it I would). Baby snake season is a perfect time to learn to love and appreciate baby snakes.

September is going to be Baby Snake Month at the Center for Snake Conservation. We are going to bring you lots of baby snakes and tell you about them, where they live, what they eat, and what they become as adults. It is going to be an exciting month so be sure to subscribe to SnakeTalk or like our Facebook page to see them all.

Cameron
Center for Snake Conservation

Baby Yellow-bellied Racer – Coluber constrictor flaviventris

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Baby Prairie Rattlesnake – Crotalus viridis

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Carpet pythons exercising outdoors

A pair of carpet pythons outside for some sun, exercise, and enrichment. This pair are crowd favorites at our presentations with their color, feel, strength, beauty, and size. These are also out favorites because of their good nature and inquisitive personalities. Carpet pythons are from Australia and typically range from 5-10 feet long depending on the variety.

Cameron
Center for Snake Conservation

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Anaconda Jewel

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What do you get when you take 1 black cement mixing tub, a bunch of water hyacinths and duckweed, 2 geeky snake lovers and the word’s largest snake? A fabulous photo shoot of course! Fortunately since there were just the 2 of us, this green anaconda was a young one and only about 3 feet long. She was very strong even at this young size! But she could not have been any more pleasant to work with. She was very sweet, calm and gentle and seemed to enjoy the photo shoot while exploring the set!

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New Teacher – Green Anaconda

The Center for Snake Conservation prides ourselves on living up to our motto “Conservation Through Education” in all of our Science, Conservation, and Education programs. In particular, our Education programs bring live snakes anywhere we are asked (free of charge) to help change human perceptions about snakes. To do this we must maintain a teaching collection of snakes. Each “teacher” (snake) has a specific role in our programs and we look to adopt new snakes to expand our educational programs and what we can teach. We try to maintain a diversity of snakes so we can tailor our programs to any agenda which furthers our mission to educate and conserve snakes.

So…meet our new teacher – a Green Anaconda (Eunectes murinus). Green Anacondas are the heaviest snake in the world reaching weights up to 400lbs. These snakes are also the second longest snake in the word reaching lengths over 20 feet. Our new teacher will visit classrooms, scout groups, civil groups, and other venues to educate people about the world’s giant snakes: where they live; how they live; what they eat; and other amazing details of their lives. We will need a name for this snake once it has become acclimated to our human educators and we learn its personality.

This new teacher made her first appearance last Saturady night at the Estes Campground at East Portal just outside Rocky Mountain National Park where a group of 40 kids and adults got to meet her up close and personal. She behaved beautifully after a quick nip (bite) on my wrist but I intentionally wore long sleeves to avoid a messy (bloody) interaction. With time, we anticipate these nips will stop and she will become a model teacher for our programs. We may never fully trust her to be close to our visitors but she can definitely still bring a conservation message to all of our programs.

Cameron
Execute Director
Center for Snake Conservation

Here are some photos of our new teacher taken with me. She was a bit defensive during the photo shoot (see how she is looking at me trying to figure out if I mean her harm) but regardless of this, she is gorgeous!

Have you ever heard the song Green Anaconda? We highly recommend it for kids of all ages (even the big ones). The link below will take you to a YouTube version of the song. You will be happy you did.


Green Anaconda

Dead Snakes Sadden Me – graphic photo

My run yesterday took me along the South Platte River in downtown Denver. There are lots of trails and green ways closed to cars that I like to run in order to avoid the cars on the street. This pair of baby gartersnakes were found within 6 feet of each other suggesting that a maintenance vehicle may have hit them at the same time.

This experience saddens me as these little snakes should have had a great chance for survival living in green space along the river. Instead they were victim to the rare maintenance vehicle. I do not think a bike or pedestrian killed them because they were both uniformly flat but I could be wrong.

The next 6-12 weeks depending on where you live should be full on baby snakes moving far and wide searching for their first meal and a place to spend the winter. In the coming weeks I hope to raise our spirits with photos and storied of live baby snakes. Please feel free to share your baby snake encounters with me and the Center for Snake Conservation by emailing them to babysnakes@snakeconservation.org.

Cameron
Center for Snake Conservation

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Running Snakes

I run. I really enjoy it. Running helps me think, reduces stress, and gets me outdoors one days without field work. I try to run where I will find snakes. I also run with my phone to record my path and in case I need to photograph a snake. Today’s lunch time run took me along the South Platte River and Cherry Creek in downtown Denver. My route today always has a good chance to find a snake and today’s run did not disappoint.

One mile into today’s run, I found this Wandering Gartersnake crossing my path. While a very common snake, I still welcome finding these gartersnakes in Denver. They give me a sense of security that some snakes are capable of surviving in even the most heavily human-impacted areas. Very few species of snake can truly be called “Urban Snakes” and this species is definitely one of them.

Today’s snake was also special because a walker stopped while I was photographing it. I was able to tell him a little about the snake and there existence in Denver. He even took a picture to share with his friends. Conservation Through Education.

Do you run? Please feel free to share your “running snake” photos and stories with me and the Center for Snake Conservation via email at snakestories@snakeconservation.org. I hope you can enjoy this snake as much as I did even if I can only share its story and photo.

Cameron
Center for Snake Conservation

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Wandering Gartersnake

Wandering Gartersnakes are known to occur at high elevations even up to heights above 13,000 feet. This one was found on a family hike to Bierstadt Lake which is 9,416 feet high. Amazing little snake.

Cameron
Executive Director
Center for Snake Conservation

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Blogs, blogs, blogs

Blogs.  Yes, I need to starting blogging.  As the Center for Snake Conservation continues to grow, I want and really need to record its milestones here for everyone to read, share,and comment on.  Plus – YOU DESERVE TO BE INCLUDED IN OUR SUCCESS! I will strive to write a daily blog (maybe even more than one a day) to inspire us all to promote snake conservation in our lives.  With this blog, you will get to know me, the other folks behind the Center for Snake Conservation, what we are doing DAILY for snakes, our dreams, our wishes, and our plans. I certainly will enjoy this journey with you!

Cameron
Executive Director
Center for Snake Conservation

Is there a question you are just dying to ask about snakes? Send it to blog@snakeconservation.org and maybe I will pick your question to discuss and enjoy.

Here is a quick photo for you to enjoy while I work on new blogs – a very pretty Eastern Mudsnake taken by JD Willson. Mudsnakes are amazing predators that eat giant salamanders called amphiumas. They occur in the southeastern United States.

Eastern Mudsnake

Snake Pinwheel:

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Why Count Snakes – Reason #1: It is fun!

Why count snakes during the Center for Snake Conservation’s Spring Snake Count?

The Snake Count starts May 18, 2013 and I am writing a short blog post each evening to get us excited about it.  Each post will contain a reason to get outdoors and count snakes.  You can sign up and learn more about the Snake Count at http://www.snakecount.org.

Reason #1:  Counting snakes is fun!  Trust me.  It is a lot of fun!  Getting out and flipping rocks, looking in holes, and looking in bushes for snakes is like unwrapping presents – you never know what you are going to get until you find it.  The thrill of spotting a snake is a just that – a thrill.  It is exhilarating and fun to spot a snake before anyone else or in a place least expected.  It may be a greensnake in a bush that your group of friends all walked right by and you found it.  It may be a rattlesnake that let you know of its presence with its rattle before you even saw it.  It may be a watersnake high in a bush about to plunge into the creek below if you get too close.  SPOTTING SNAKES IS FUN!  Don’t believe me?  Get out and try it.  The challenge alone is fun and exciting but when you spot a snake you will be forever hooked.

Below are a few examples of snake spottings from previous outings – enjoy and have fun spotting snakes.

Rough Greensnake in a bush – Photo by Cameron Young

Prairie Rattlesnake in grass – Photo by Cameron Young

Brown Watersnake in a tree – Photo by Mandy Johnson

Cameron Young is the Executive Director of the Center for Snake Conservation.  Cameron has a rarely matched passion for snakes in the field and brings his experience and knowledge to all people who are willing to listen.  To learn more about Cameron, please visit http://www.snakeconservation.org/board-members/cameron-young