S.O.S: Save our Snakes (from landscape netting)

Every year we get calls from gardeners about snakes trapped in their soft plastic landscape netting.  Landscape netting is often used to protect fruit and vegetables from nibbling deer, birds, and rabbits.  Unfortunately, it can be a death sentence to snakes, birds, and small mammals.

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Tony carefully restraining the first Copperhead while his coworker cuts away the netting

Small animals become trapped in the net and as they struggle to free themselves,  get even more tangled up.  The netting not only traps the poor animals, it also causes very serious injuries due to the thin plastic cutting into their skin and muscle.

If a human does not intervene, it is a long, slow and sad death for any trapped creature. Some animals are lucky – they are found and rescued.  Recently our very own TuataraTony was called upon to rescue two copperhead snakes that had become entangled in landscape netting in a garden in Great Falls VA.

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Tony (right) and his coworker helping to free the second trapped Copperhead Snake

Tony and other professional Naturalists, Wildlife Educators and Animal Rehabilitators are experts at handling all sorts of animals.  If you find a creature in need of rescue, contact your local animal control agency for help.

Alternatives for protecting crops do exist: Fences 8 feet tall or taller will protect areas from deer.  Using chicken wire, wire mesh, kennel fencing, or snow fencing attached to fence posts will protect against most animals, including rabbits.

If deer are your main problem, you might also consider an electric fence. Motion sensors that trigger a blast of water can scare off birds and other wildlife from fruit trees and bushes. And a good old fashioned scarecrow (especially if it has bright, shiny, moving parts) is always a festive addition to any garden.

Here are some great links for more suggestions on how to save your garden without hurting snakes or other wildlife:

A Gopher on the Golf Course

There are lots of gophers on the golf courses in northern Nevada, and I’m not talking about the little brown furry rodents that Carl Spackler went to war with in the movie Caddyshack.  Nope, the gophers I’m talking about are long and scaly.  I’m talking Gopher Snakes!

Whenever I visit my Dad at his home in Sparks NV, I  spend time in the surrounding desert searching for snakes and lizards.  The Great Basin desert is a harsh area characterized by very little rain fall, cold winters and hot summers, and it is mostly rocky and covered in sage brush.  Although many people associate deserts with snakes, I usually don’t find very many snakes or lizards besides western fence lizards.  In fact, I am able to find more reptiles in northern Virginia than in northern Nevada.

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So, I was talking with my Dad and some of his golfing buddies and they started telling me about the snakes they see on the golf course.  They described seeing many gopher snakes sunning on the greens and in the rough.  My Dad offered to take me snake hunting on the golf course he is a member of — I was excited!

The weather in Sparks can be unpredictable — to say the least.  In June, it can be 90 one day and then snow the next day!  The day we set off on our golf course snake safari it was about 80 — but the wind was blowing down from the snowy Sierras at about 30 miles per hour.  I wasn’t sure if the snakes would be out in wind like that.

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Snow on Mt Rose, NV in June

 

Dad received permission from the course manager to take me on a “tour” of the course.  We got on our golf cart and began our adventure!

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The views are spectacular in Nevada — you can see forever.  It was so nice just to be out enjoying our day.  Dad was careful to not to get in any of the golfers’ way and he knew right where the snakes were most likely to be.

Dad was also careful not to hit any fence lizards that were on the cart path.  (Fore! little lizards)

Then we totally lucked out!  Not only did we find a beautiful gopher snake, we found him eating a vole!  (Voles are little furry mammals that Carl Spackler would not approve of.)

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What an awesome day.  And the best part was how appreciative Dad and his friends were of the snakes.  They respected and protected the snakes  from other less herpetologically informed golfers.  Thank you guys!

A Quick Trip to Calvert Cliffs

Aaaaah… Spring!  It was 80 degrees with a stiff breeze when my brother Hawksbill Will and his friend Yuko (who were both visiting from Hawaii) and I headed out for a day trip to Calvert Cliffs State Park.

starting-the-hike-225x300Calvert Cliffs State Park is located in Calvert County, MD along the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay.  The park features 13 miles of hiking trails, salt and freshwater marshes, a sandy beach, and fossils from ancient marine creatures.

The park also features an abundance of lizards, snakes, turtles, frogs, and salamanders — my kind of place!

It was the first really warm day in almost 2 weeks.  We encountered our first herps in the pond near the parking lot.  Loads of red-bellied slider turtles and eastern painted turtles were basking on logs in the warm sun.  As we hiked further along the trail, we came upon a large freshwater marsh that was filled with even more turtles.  It was like turtle nirvana!

how-many-turtles-300x225In the same marsh, we also saw a few of Maryland’s largest frog species, the American Bullfrog.

bullfrog-263x300We also found a few red-backed salamanders and saw five lined skinks and one fence lizard.

cv-and-bay-300x225Once we reached the Bay, we spent some time eating lunch and looking for fossils and sea shells.  The air was very warm, but the water was icy cold.  That did not stop my adventurous brother, though, he dove right in and went for a swim!!!  Burrrr!

 

Hawai’i Hawksbill Sea Turtle Report

HAWAI‘I ISLAND HAWKSBILL TURTLE

RECOVERY PROJECT

2010 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS

Prepared by Will Seitz, Lauren Kurpita, and Liz Ransom February 2011

Aloha Honu‘ea Ohana! The 2010 hawksbill turtle nesting season is pau! For the last nine months, over 40 diehard turtle volunteers and interns tirelessly monitored and managed Hawai‘i Island’s southern coastline for hawksbill nesting activity and protected endangered turtle nests. This season was highly successful with 39 nests found and protected at six beaches: ‘Āpua Point and Halapē (in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park), and Kamehame, Koloa-Nīnole, Pōhue Bay, and ‘Āwili Point outside the park. Additionally, an olive ridley nest was saved from the surf and protected at ‘Āwili Point (pictured here).
Similarly to the 2009 season, the 2010 season was one of the longest on record. Honu‘ea field season is almost year round now, with this last season extending from April 2010 to mid-January 2011. We identified 12 individual nesting hawksbills and one olive ridley. There were likely more unidentified elusive nesters and nests. Of the 12 hawksbills, seven were returnees from previous seasons, while the other five were newly tagged. These five new recruits now bring the total number of tagged adult female hawksbills on Hawai‘i Island to 105. The olive ridley was only the fourth documented olive ridley nest in Hawai‘i state history. About 4,000 hatchlings safely reached the ocean from the 40 total nests including the olive ridley. Over 80,000 hatchlings have reached the ocean since the project began in 1989. There is hope for the honu‘ea! The following are site summaries:
Āpua Point: One newly tagged turtle laid four nests at this oasis. Families from Kalapana who were camping at the beach were able to observe this nesting turtle. As usual, these hatchlings here were helped across the cobblestones to the ocean. We estimate that over 200 hatchlings reached the water here thanks to volunteer assistance.
Halapē: The most popular backcountry campground in HAVO had two returning nesters that laid ten nests. One of the nesters, Barnacle Betty, was a returnee from 2004. The other turtle was tagged in 2007. Volunteers informed campers who were able to witness nesting turtles and hatchlings. This was especially needed since the nests were located in front of the campsites. Turtle personnel helped put out a wildfire that was accidentally started by campers. Personnel also worked with the Park Maintenance and Vegetation crew and the Wilderness Volunteers to control invasive koa haole that was encroaching on the nesting habitat. An estimated 547 hatchlings reached the ocean from this beach.
Kamehame: Four turtles and 10 nests were documented at this hawksbill nesting mecca. We suspect there were several additional nests as well. Kamehame had the most nesters and nests in the State. Two of the turtles were newly tagged and the other two were returnees. One of them was tagged way back in 1996 and had not been seen for 10 years. The other was seen two years ago, and during the interval was satellite tracked by NOAA residing off leeward Maui. From the 10 nests, we estimate that over 1,345 hatchlings reached the sea. Volunteers also assisted with habitat restoration by removing non-native plants.
Punalu‘u: Some community members reported seeing hatchlings near the pavilion at a small pocket beach. However, we were unable to locate a nest here.

Kōloa-Nīnole: One newly identified nesting turtle laid three nests at this site near Punalu‘u. Sadly, all three nests were unsuccessful due to exposure to high tides. In addition, another returning nester was seen here. We suspect that she nested undetected at another nearby beach, Kāwā.
Pōhue Bay: Nine nests from two returning hawksbills were protected and over 1,300 hatchlings reached the ocean at this important nesting site. One of the turtles was a returnee from 2005 and the other from 2007. Interestingly, both of these nesters were sighted by divers off of Maui in the years between nesting seasons. Including the turtle from Kamehame, there were at least three nesters this year that travelled from Maui to nest in Ka‘ū.
Āwili Point (Road to the Sea): One newly tagged hawksbill laid three confirmed nests and possibly two more. At least 248 hawksbill hatchlings reached the sea here from two highly successful nests. A third nest was unsuccessful due to heavy rains in the fall. The biggest surprise of the 2010 season was when an olive ridley turtle laid 88 eggs in the tidal inundation zone of the beach (pictured here) and were rescued by volunteers and translocated to higher ground. She was newly tagged. The nest was a huge success with 80 hatchlings safely reaching the ocean thanks to the efforts of the volunteers.
Keauhou, Punalu‘u, Horseshoe, Kahakahakea, Hāli‘ipalala, Humuhumu Point: No nesting was observed at these beaches. Beach checks were limited to daylight hours, so we could have missed signs of nesting activity since wind and tides may erase tracks made during the night.

SPECIAL MAHALO to Minky Markiewicz the last two decades of volunteering for Resources Management Division! THANK YOU! We wish you the best on your new journey. We will miss you!
Mahalo for your support! We want to acknowledge our supporters and partners: Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hawai‘i Natural History Association, National Marine Fisheries Service, World Turtle Trust, UH-Mānoa Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit, Three Mountain Alliance, ‘Imi Pono No Ka ‘Aina, Ka‘ū High School, Hawai‘i County, Trust for Public Land, Yamanaka Enterprises, Nani Kahuku ‘Aina, Americorps and Kupu, Hawai‘i State Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, UH-Hilo, and the Big Island ‘ohana!!!

HUGE MAHALO to all the 2010 season interns and volunteers:

Randy Bacon
Ryan Belcher
Dave Bouck
Carrie Boyle
Wes Briones
Cole Burgess
Amy Comstock
Robbin Dilley
Reni Driskil
Natalie Folsom
Vanessa Foster
Nichole Gaskill
Joe Grandelski
Laura Griffin
Zu Gonzales
Malia Lehua Heimuli
Matthew Holl
Jenna Huskinson
Aleysia-Rae Kaha
Trevor Johannsen
Scarlett Kettwich
Selma Kettwich
Emily Leucht
Minky Markiewicz
Summer Maxwell
Stacie Miller
Monica Oey
Kelly Peebles
Brad Peterson
Liz Ransom
Michael Rawls
Kenny Riley
Jessica Robertson
Angie Salonikios
Hannah Shimabukuro Thelma Tomich
Katie Turner
Sasha Vallieres
Diane Ware
Sophie Wilhoit
Jamie Willeke
Colin Wirth

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Rachel is an awesome instructor and very good with many kids. The reptiles were fascinating. This was a great birthday party for my daughter and her second grade class.read more

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We invited Reptiles Alive for our birthday party. Ms. Rachel did a wonderful job to educate the kids about the fun facts of Reptiles and also kept them entertained and focused. It’s not a easy job facing a bunch of 7-year-old boys and 3-year-old preschoolers. We highly recommend Reptiles Alive show. It’s fun and full of knowledge!read more

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We had Reptiles Alive join us for a country club event and they did an outstanding job! Ashley was amazing and so professional. She was very interactive with the children and played the role perfectly. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience!read more

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20:20 28 Mar 18

We’ve been working with Reptiles Alive for the past 4 years now and they show up and show out every time. Everything from booking to the day of is efficient and friendly. At our past event, presenter Liz did 6 shows back to back for our campers, which is truly impressive and phenomenal. We will continue to work with Reptiles Alive for years to come and really appreciate the work and educating that they do!read more

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Lydia Vanderbilt

21:09 05 Apr 18

Reptiles Alive gave an awesome show at our elementary school! The presenter was so much fun and really engaged the children. Very cool reptiles and a great interactive meet and greet at the end. The kids loved it!read more

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I am in charge of grade level assemblies at our school and our 3rd grade has RA in for their Rain Forest show every year to reinforce the things they have learned about in class. This is my second year working with them and I have been absolutely thrilled with the interaction to book the event and with the presenters. They engage the kids and help make them a part of the show. I can’t say enough about this wonderful program and the amazing people that work there.read more

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Kim Painter

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We love this show at our preschool!! The kids have so much fun and learn a lot! They are very organized and always start on time. We have always had a wonderful experience with Reptiles Alive and can’t wait to have them back again!read more

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Melissa Jones

15:06 20 Apr 18

Reptiles Alive LLC visited our 1st grade friends and did the “Reptiles Alive!” show. They exceeded all of our expectations and were excellent at keeping the students engaged. The students have talked about it for days after, even repeating some of the facts they have heard! I would highly recommend Reptiles Alive!read more

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Reptiles Alive was a MAJOR hit at the Mattie Miracle Walk & Family Festival. Rachel was incredibly professional, engaging, and clearly loves what she does. She made the show and meet & greet fun for both kids and adults. Can’t wait to have Reptiles Alive back next year to our event. We received a lot of positive feedback from our guests and we were thrilled to see how well attended the show was at our event. Thank you Reptiles Alive!!!read more

Peter Brown

Peter Brown

01:58 22 May 18

Caroline did an awesome job for our kindergarten Reptiles Alive performance. She held their attention and told fun stories. The reptiles are so cool! Every time she introduced a new reptile, the kids were amazed. I recommend the “meet and greet” time as well. My students will never forget touching a boa constrictor! Thanks Reptiles Alive!read more

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Michelle Baldwin

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