Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Your Friendly Neighborhood Nature:A guide to suburban herping

Your Friendly Neighborhood Nature

A guide to suburban herping

Say you live in the suburbs. And you want your good dose of herping. Only problem is that you're not quite sure how you can herp in the suburbs. Well, this is how. Do you have a park nearby? If so, then you probably have a lake. Go during warm months of the year. Visit the lake for turtles, or if it's a less used park and is more wild, maybe even water snakes! If the park allows it, you can go after dark to see and hear frogs and toads. If you're almost anywhere in Florida, during most of the year, sit out on your porch or sun room and wait for anoles to show up. Do you have chickens or a wood fireplace? If so, then look under the wood and near the chickens for a chance at seeing rat snakes, especially if you're in a wilder suburb. There can be reptiles and amphibians almost anywhere! Even a puddle has a chance at having frogs. You can make your yard better for reptiles and amphibians too. You can create a pond! This pond can be a large, in-ground lake or just a box or wading pool filled with water, as well as cover objects and a ramp. I did this for the "If You Build It, They Will Come" project and saw frogs in my yard far more than I had previously.  You can also install PVC pipes in the ground to provide shelter for tree frogs. Bird feeders may attract rat snakes, and you can use pieces of wood, metal, or black plastic as coverboards. In many cities, your grass can get to a certain height, so, as long as it doesn't get beyond that height, you may wish to create a non-mowed section to provide shelter for wildlife. You may also want to register your yard as a habitat with the National Wildlife Federation, whose plaque does provide some merit for city-wide restrictions. Getting a birdbath may attract rat snakes to eat the birds, tree frogs to lay eggs in it, or, if it's stone, lizards to sun themselves on it. Also, there are some cautions. If you have stray cats in your neighborhood, adopt them if possible. This will keep them from becoming predators of native wildlife. If you have a pond, treat it with Mosquito Bits or Mosquito Dunks to keep it from becoming a health hazard. If you have dead pets or other animals, treat them responsibly. Bury them or do something other than leaving them around. This may attract unwanted creatures and again, could be a health hazard. Furthermore, it always helps to have excuses. What we suggest is to use common objects as habitat. If you have a pond, if it's big, say it's a pool and the cover objects are kids' toys. If it's small, say it's a bird bath. If you have PVC pipes for tree frogs, paint them and say they're yard art. Also say that any coverboards you have are yard art. Anyway, hopefully this will help you be more successful at herping your suburbs. I'll see you next time on Alli's Snakes.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Your Paper's Writing-Parody of Lips Are Movin

If your paper's writing, if your paper's writing
If your paper's writing, then you're lyin', lyin', lyin', hey
If your paper's writing, if your paper's writing
If your paper's writing, then you're lyin', lyin', lyin', hey

Boy, you misdescribe these snakes
Tell me that there's not cobras in that place
You need to be replaced.
You treat 'em like they come from outer space
You're the media
People believe you
You tell them something but it ain't true
And what we got is more than enough
Stop that something you do

You can tell them 'bout the pythons
And you lie-lie-lie, lie-lie-lie, lie-lie-lie
But you treat them like they're cobras so
goodbye-bye-bye
Bye-bye-bye

I know you're lyin
'Cause your paper's writing
Tell me do you think I'm dumb?
I might like snakes
But I'm not stupid
Writing round in circles with your pens
I give you snakes, you give me cobras
Saying that this will soon be done
But I know you're lyin
'Cause your paper's writing
You guys should know now that I'm done

If your paper's writing, if your paper's writing
If your paper's writing, then you're lyin', lyin', lyin', hey
If your paper's writing, if your paper's writing
If your paper's writing, then you're lyin', lyin', lyin', hey

Hey, baby, don't you bring them fears
About the snakes, the snakes, hey, oh
You only write it when they're not here
You need replaced, replaced, hey, oh

You can tell them 'bout the pythons
And you lie-lie-lie, lie-lie-lie, lie-lie-lie
But you treat them like they're cobras so
goodbye-bye-bye
Bye-bye-bye


I know you're lyin
'Cause your paper's writing
Tell me do you think I'm dumb?
I might like snakes
But I'm not stupid
Writing round in circles with your pens
I give you snakes, you give me cobras
Saying that this will soon be done
But I know you're lyin
'Cause your paper's writing
You guys should know now that I'm done

Come on, stop!

If your paper's writing, if your paper's writing
If your paper's writing, then you're lyin', lyin', lyin', hey
If your paper's writing, if your paper's writing
If your paper's writing, then you're lyin', lyin', lyin', hey

I know you're lyin
'Cause your paper's writing
Tell me do you think I'm dumb?
I might like snakes
But I'm not stupid
Writing round in circles with your pens
I give you snakes, you give me cobras
Saying that this will soon be done
But I know you're lyin
'Cause your paper's writing
You guys should know now that I'm done

Friday, March 20, 2015

"Rattlesnake Roundups-Rounding up the problems?" An opinion essay

Rattlesnake Roundups-Rounding up the problems?

   The Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup is apparently coming up. Let me describe this to you. Lots of alcohol-crazed people massacring rattlesnakes for no apparent reason. What's wrong with this? Well, for one thing, if you kill the rattlesnakes, you're essentially inviting plague-carrying rodents. Do we really want another Black Death? I think not. But why would people do such a thing? Why would a decent human being ever kill animals for no real reason? We have the ophidiophobiacs, or in the comic strip Frank and Ernest's terms, the lack-toes intolerant who kill rattlesnakes because they're scared of them. We have the alcohol-crazed, who normally wouldn't mindlessly kill rattlesnakes but are because they're under the influence. Then we have the religious, who identify snakes with evil and kill them in the name of their religion. Remember the legend of how St. Patrick drove the snakes (druids) out of Ireland? The religious at rattlesnake roundups are essentially modern St. Patricks. Then we have the just plain mean, who kill rattlesnakes for the sake of killing. These people were guided in the wrong direction and just plain can't be fixed. Then, we have the uninformed and traditionalists, who go the traditional way of the rattlesnake roundup and don't know about the ecological havoc they're wreaking. Then we have the fashion-crazed, who just want their rattlesnake boots. Don't they know that murdering animals is not in this year? There might also be other groups like the Texas natives who do anything pertaining to Texas, the havoc-wreakers who just want to kill and cause chaos, and in some cases people who think rattlesnake rattles are lucky. Now, what's wrong with all this? Picture a world where plague-carrying rodents are everywhere, pestilence is king, and humans that aren't dying are ignorant. This is you soon, Texas! But there is a way. There is a light at the end of this deep dark ignorant tunnel. There is a little thing called the Texas Rattlesnake Festival, which actually celebrates rattlesnakes instead of killing them. Support this event, tag your positive pictures of live rattlesnakes with #rattlesnake2015, and light a candle in your window in honor of these poor rattlesnakes. Remember, as was once said about cancer, the best way to beat rattlesnake roundups is together. And we will be the Reptile Legion, for we are many.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Can you make it through this post without saying "Aaaw"?

Hissies! They're cute, snaky, cuddly, can fly, and are copyright Neopets 1999-2015! What more could you want? And frankly, they're adorable. Here are the rules. Read all of this post! If you saw "Aaaw" or other equivalents such as squealing in delight, you lose! Now then, let's begin.

This Hissi giving a baby a ride.

This Baby Hissi enjoying a lollipop.

This squishy Plushie Hissi.

This Hissi giving a wingless Neopet a ride.

This Grey Hissi. He wants some of your love.

A Maraquan Hissi who just has to dance.




So how about it? Did you say "Aaaw"? Or did you squeal in delight? I bet you did.









Factors effecting precision of radio telemetry in indigo snakes

When researching snake ecology, you might want to track it via radio telemetry. This means that you can know where the snake is and what it's doing without the snake knowing, and you can track it with a computer. But, for other animals, like birds, triangulation is used, which involves doing bearings of direction at two locations, and then using said bearings to estimate where the animal is. But that introduces a much larger chance of error. But, telemetry in snakes has many ways it could go wrong. If your snake is on flooded habitat or dense vegetation, you might not be able to track it, and many snakes spend a lot of time underground or in very thick vegetation, or even underwater! And what if your snake is brumating? And, not to mention, for triangulation, snakes are down-to-earth literally, and having a transmitter that's very low could cause issues in triangulation. Even though, apparently, triangulation is not commonly used in studies of reptiles and amphibians, it may be critical to determine just how accurate triangulated telemetry can be for snakes.

A radio telemetry study was done on Eastern Indigo Snakes as a part of a movement and resource selection study. During the study, a lot of snakes ended up on private land the landowner did not allow access to. During those instances, typical triangulation was used. To determine said snakes' locations, multiple estimators and beacon tests were used and linear error was predicted.

The study was done on the southern 40 kilometers of Lake Ways Ridge in Highlands County, Florida. The study area was a mix of natural habitats including scrub, scrubby flatwoods, mesic flatwoods, forested wetlands, and non-forested wetlands. There were also cattle ranches, citrus groves, and rural and urban development. Eastern Indigo Snakes were searched for using road-cruising and visual encounter surveying around burrows belonging to Gopher Tortoises. However, about 90% of captures were done when tracking other snakes or traveling from field site to field site. Snakes were chosen for radio transmission in a way that distributed the transmitters as evenly as possible among the sites. Smaller snakes got smaller transmitters and larger snakes got larger transmitters. However, at no time did the transmitters exceed 2% of the snake's body weight. Snakes were taken to the Small Animal Hospital for the necessary surgery for transmitter installment. Once the snakes had recovered, they were released into the nearest burrow or brush pile to where they were captured. Each snake was located every two days using a Yagi antenna and a R-1000 receiver. Beacon tests were done throughout the study on telemetered snakes that had accessible locations and did not appear to be moving based on the transmitter signal. 

Radio transmitters were implanted into 32 Eastern Indigo Snakes. Two individuals were lost less than 30 days after release, probably because their transmitters failed. The results had shown that distance to the estimated location of the animal had the strongest effect on linear error, which was consistent with triangulation studies done in the past. Angular error was increased with magnified distance from the transmitter. Reducing the distance between the scientist observing and the animal is often necessary to maintain reasonable accuracy. The low vertical height of the transmitters may have also reduced accuracy. When animals spend large amounts of time underwater or in thick vegetation, it also may reduce the accuracy of transmissions. The position of the snakes had very little effect on the error, except for beacon tests, in which most located snakes were moving. Either way, the results suggested that triangulation may not be sufficient for snake radio telemetry studies. It was suggested that triangulation should be avoided in said studies and beacon tests should be used instead to measure linear error of triangulation.


Bauder, Javan, Barnhart, Patrick. "Factors Affecting he Accuracy and Precision of Triangulated Radio Telemetry Locations of Eastern Indigo Snakes (Drymarchon couperi)" Herpetological Review, 45(4), 590-597. 2014.