Creature Feature: Honduran Milksnake

Honduran Milk Snake

Lampropeltis triangulum hondurensis


Reptiles Alive Name: “Soy”

Hissstory: Soy was transferred to Reptiles Alive from another wildlife education organization in April 2008.

RA Diet: Frozen mice that are defrosted and warmed up before being served.  Mmm mmm good!

Natural Diet: Milk snakes will eat small mammals, eggs, and other reptiles – even other snakes!

Range: You can find Honduran milk snakes in Nicaragua, Northeastern Costa Rica, and the Caribbean slope of Honduras.

Habitat: Honduran milk snakes live on the forest floor of tropical rain forests.

Size: Honduran milk snakes are one of the largest species of milk snake in the world!  They can grow over 5 feet long.

Lifespan: Milk snakes typically live around 20 years.

Reproduction: Female milk snakes lay 3-24 eggs which hatch in around 10 weeks.

 Due to their beautiful colors, milk snakes are highly valued in the wild animal pet trade.  Even though these snakes are pretty, they don’t make good pets for most people.  Like all snakes, they will not play with you or want to cuddle.  Most pet reptiles end up unwanted, sick, or worse.
Cool Facts: Milk snakes use quick, jerky movements so that their bands flash, startling predators. Their bright colors signal danger and often confuse predators, making these snakes hard to follow. Other animals in the rain forest may use the same defense such as colorful parrots and highly venomous coral snakes, which milk snakes resemble.

Some people say the poem “Red touch yellow, kill a fellow.  Red touch black, venom lack” to help them remember if a snake is venomous or not.  The problem is,  there are SO MANY different species and subspecies of milk and coral snakes that the poem does not always work!  So at Reptiles Alive, we teach you this poem:

Red touch yellow, leave snakes alone.

Red touch black, leave snakes alone.

Pocomoke City Discovers Reptiles Alive!


Last Saturday morning, March 20th, I packed up the Reptiles Alive van full of great animals including Sunshine the python, Logan the Nile monitor lizard, and B.A. the alligator.  We  drove across the Chesapeake Bay down to Pocomoke City, MD – home to the Delmarva Discovery Center.

Pocomoke is a historic Eastern Shore town located right on the Pocomoke River. Last year, the awesome new Delmarva Discovery Center (DDC) opened to the public. The DDC features exhibits that tell the story of the Delmarva’s natural and cultural history.
As we set up and got ready, we had a huge crowd excitedly waiting to see the first show.
We started each of the three shows that day with a couple of animals native to the Eastern Shore: Lucky our black rat snake and T Rex the snapping turtle.100_1325

Then we featured an animal from the other side of our planet: the Australian blue tongue skink, Mystique. Next, we learned why we should all be really grateful there are no mommy pizzas when we met Logan the Nile monitor lizard.
The alligator B.A. (which stands for “Bad Attitude” helped us learn alligator love songs. Last but definitely not least, we met Sunshine, our albino Burmese python. The audience, as usual, went wild for Sunshine.

Big thanks go to the Delmarva Discovery Center for hosting this fun reptile festival. We are hoping to make this an annual event, so start planning your trip to Pocomoke City for next year.

Amphibian Action!

After the snowiest winter in Washington’s recorded history, the amphibians have finally made their way to the vernal pools to signal the beginning of spring. They are bit later than usual in this area. Late February is typically when spring peepers, wood frogs, and spotted salamanders make their first appearance in the DC area. This year, due to abnormally harsh winter conditions, they were about two weeks or so behind.

Last Friday night a few of the team members from Reptiles Alive had the special opportunity to visit a wetland area that is usually off-limits to the public. Off limits because it is behind a shooting range! We were invited by master naturalist Greg Zell along with a handful of other professional herpetologists and naturalists.

We met up at dark in the cool rain. Perfect weather. Well, maybe not perfect for humans, but definitely perfect for amphibians! On the road into the park, we discovered our first amphibians of the night – American toads!


After putting on our rain gear, we crossed the shooting range walking over millions of broken clay targets until we reached the wetlands.  Immediately someone yelled “Spotted!”  Then more shouts were heard, and we realized, we were in the middle of hundreds, possibly thousands of spotted salamanders!  It was AWESOME!  They were everywhere!  Large female salamanders were being surrounded by 5 to 10 males at a time.  Salamanders were almost everywhere you pointed your flashlight, crawling through the mud or swimming like fish in the cold, clear water.  After an hour or so, spermatophores from the males began to fill the water as the ancient amphibian breeding rituals took place. It was the most amazing salamander sight I have ever witnessed.



We spent a few hours observing them, photographing them and discussing them before we all decided it was time to come in out of the rain and dry off.  A few of us headed to Dogfish Head to warm up and have a late night dinner, but that, is another story…

Sea Turtle Volunteer Application

Dear Applicant:

Thank you for your inquiry into the 2010 season of the Hawaii Island Hawksbill Turtle Recovery Project. We will begin selecting applicants in early 2010. The following is some background information on our project and a description of the volunteer duties and requirements.

Since 1989, volunteers have assisted project biologists with monitoring, protecting, and collecting baseline data on nesting hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata). The endangered hawksbill is very rare throughout the world. Hawksbills in Hawaii face numerous threats, including non-native predators, invasive plants, artificial lights, vehicular traffic, and ocean debris. While approximately 90% of documented nesting in the Hawaiian Islands occurs on the southern coastline of Hawaii Island, only 100 nesting turtles have been tagged since 1991. Typically 5 to 15 nesting turtles and 25 to 50 nests are documented per season.

For the 2010 season, approximately 15-30 volunteers will at any given time be needed to monitor the nesting beaches from June to December (possibly later). Volunteers commit to work on the project for a minimum of 10 weeks and preference will be given to applicants who can commit to a longer term. Exceptions can be made for Hawaii Island residents who are able to provide their own housing and transportation to and from the National Park.

Applicants are not required to have prior experience working with sea turtles. Successful applicants will be self-motivated, conservation-minded, and able to get along well with others. A positive attitude, diligent work ethic, and a love for the outdoors are a must.

Turtle Volunteers must:

* Be at least 18 years of age.
* Possess a valid driver’s license (U.S. or international).
* Possess current first aid and CPR card
* Be able to commit to work on the project for a minimum of 10 weeks. Preference given to those able to commit longer. (for exceptions, see above).
* Be able to hike up to 12 miles over rugged lava terrain in difficult conditions with a 30+ pound backpack.
* Be able to hike and work in vog (sulphur dioxide emitted from the nearby volcano, which can be problematic for people with respiratory concerns).
* Be able to get along well with others.
* Be able to stay awake late at night.

Turtle Volunteer duties include:

* Camping from 6 up to 12 consecutive nights at remote beaches with a project technician or other trained volunteers.
* Conducting nightly watches (from 5 p.m. until at least 2 a.m.) to observe nesting turtles and emerging hatchlings.
* Hiking up to 12 miles (one-way) over rugged lava terrain with a 30+ pound backpack to reach field sites.
* 4-wheel driving on long, bumpy roads to reach field sites.
* Day-checking other nesting beaches on a regular basis to look for signs of turtle activity by hiking up to 12 miles (one-way) or 4-wheel driving.
* Handling adult turtles, which includes restraining, measuring, applying flipper tags, and checking for injuries.
* Ensuring that hatchlings reach the ocean by monitoring nests that are ready to hatch, rescuing stranded hatchlings, and excavating nests.
* Recording baseline data, which includes keeping a field notebook, filling out data sheets, drawing maps, and entering data into the computer.
* Controlling predators by baiting and checking live-traps daily and euthanizing mongooses, feral cats, and rats using carbon dioxide gas.
* Picking up trash and debris along the coastline.
* Photographing turtle activity if needed.
* Interacting with and educating the local community about sea turtle conservation on a regular basis both in the field and in formal presentations.
* Assisting project technicians with logistics such as equipment and camp maintenance, vehicle inspections, office work, and various other duties as assigned.
* Keeping volunteer houses clean and following all housing policy rules.(if living in housing)

Shared dorm style housing can be provided at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The housing is located near the project’s office and National Park’s visitor center in a rainforest environment at an elevation of 4,000 feet. Bedrooms are shared by multiple volunteers. A $10 per work day food stipend will be provided, although additional funds are needed to supplement this stipend for basic needs and entertainment. Furthermore, a vehicle will not be provided for personal transportation.

It can take several weeks for your application to be processed, so please be patient. You will be notified of your status by either phone or e-mail. If you are accepted, a detailed information packet will be sent to you. You must arrive at least one day prior to your orientation date, which will be scheduled when you are accepted. Transportation to and from the National Park from Hilo is provided on your arrival and departure dates.

If you have any questions or would like to find out more information, please contact us by either phone (808) 985-6090 or e-mail


Mailing Address: Hawaii Island Hawksbill Turtle Recovery Project

Resources Management Division

P.O. Box 52

Hawaii National Park, HI 96718

E-mail Address: Fax: (808) 985-6029

Thank you for your interest in protecting Hawaii’s hawksbill turtles.

2010 Hawaii Island Hawksbill Turtle Recovery Project Volunteer Application

Name: ________________________________________________________________________

Address: ______________________________________________________________________

Phone: Day ( ) ____________________ Evening ( ) __________________________

E-mail address: _________________________________________________________________

Birthdate: _____________________________________________________________________

How did you find out about this project?_____________________________________________


Why do you want to volunteer for this project? ________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________




Dates available to volunteer: __________________________ to __________________________

Predator control is a high priority of this project. Volunteers are trained in the procedure of dispatching mongooses, feral cats, and rats using carbon dioxide gas. All volunteers are required to euthanize trapped predators. Are you comfortable with this aspect of the program? YES NO

Do you possess a valid driver’s license (U.S. or international)? YES NO

Many of our sites are accessible only by 4-wheel drive. Do you have any 4-wheel drive experience? YES NO Can you drive a standard transmission? YES NO

Will you be able to provide your own sleeping bag and large frame pack?

Sleeping Bag: YES NO Pack: YES NO

Are you currently certified in First Aid and CPR? YES NO


Name and Location of Universities or Colleges Attended or Attending: ____________________


Major area of studies: ____________________________________________________________

Degrees obtained:_____________________________ Date obtained:______________________

Pertinent Courses: ______________________________________________________________


_______________________________________________ (Attach a separate sheet if necessary)

Outdoor field experience:

Describe relevant experience: _____________________________________________________



Work Experience from two of your most recent jobs:

1. Name and address of employer: _________________________________________________


Name, phone #, and e-mail address of immediate supervisor: ____________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

Your job title:__________________________________________________________________

Dates employed:______________________________ to ________________________________
Average number of work hours per week? ___________________________________________

Description of Duties: ___________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________ (Attach a separate sheet if necessary)

2. Name and address of employer: _________________________________________________


Name, phone #, and e-mail address of immediate supervisor: ____________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

Your job title:__________________________________________________________________

Dates employed:_______________________________ to _______________________________

Average number of work hours per week? ___________________________________________

Description of Duties: ___________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________ (Attach a separate sheet if necessary)


List three work or school related references who know about your qualifications for the position.
Name: ___________________________________ Title: _______________________________

Address: ______________________________________________________________________ Phone: ( ) ___________________________E-mail:_____________________________

Name: ___________________________________ Title: _______________________________
Address: ______________________________________________________________________

Phone: ( ) ___________________________E-mail:_____________________________

Name: ___________________________________ Title: ______________________________

Address: ______________________________________________________________________

Phone: ( ) ___________________________E-mail:_____________________________

Signature of applicant:__________________________________ Date:_____________________