Hiking the DC Metro Area

Shell

ArachnoVixen AKA Dream Crusher AKA Heartbreaker
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Thanks Shelley :)

Still chasing my unicorn. Unfortunately, I think this disease is also impacting other species:

http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/disease_information/other_diseases/snake_fungal_disease.jsp

I sent my pictures to USGS and they put me in touch with a researcher at the University of Wisconsin. He sent me the following reply:

Thank you for sending along your observation and pictures. We cannot diagnose Snake Fungal Disease without having actual samples from the animal, but the signs on that snake do look consistent with the disease. In addition to the lumps on the animal's body, it also looks like the lower jaw may be infected, which is common in many snakes with this disease. The other thing that I find very interesting is the color of the lesions on the body. The typical coloration in this species is the result of a mixture of yellow and blue pigments (there actually are no green pigments in the skin). When green snakes die, they turn blue because the yellow pigment deteriorates much more quickly than the blue pigment. I suspect that the skin in those infected areas is dying which is giving the lesions the blue coloration.

As far as the other snakes in the area are concerned, I would keep an eye out for additional cases. However, I would not be too alarmed just yet. We are finding that these infections are quite widespread, but may only be having impacts on populations under certain circumstances (we are currently studying this). We are not sure whether most snakes eventually overcome the infections or go on to develop more severe disease. It is good to know that the snake you observed was otherwise acting healthy. I have seen snakes with less severe infections acting lethargic.

If you encounter freshly dead snakes with signs of the disease (which I realize almost never happens), feel free to contact me and our lab may be able to test the animal. We can also sometimes test biopsies (if their collection is coordinated through the appropriate state agency and conducted by a veterinarian) and even shed skins if they contain signs of infection (the scabs or thickened areas of skin are usually obvious on the shed skins).


His comments on pigmentation were interesting. That explains why the lesions on green snakes would look markedly different than those pictured on the USGS site. I guess I won't jump to any conclusions just yet. It was just alarming to find two snakes suffering from some form of infection within a short period of time.

That's all quite interesting, very unfortunate for the local snake population, but interesting. I had no idea about the pigment in the skin of green snakes, that's pretty neat.

I will continue to watch, and wait, for you to find your unicorn ;) You've definitely got me slightly obsessed with it too now, haha.
 

pnshmntMMA

Arachnobaron
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Seriously jealous. Do you actively search and turn over things or just stumble upon them? I STILL cant find anything and I live right on Loch Raven.
 

Shrike

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Seriously jealous. Do you actively search and turn over things or just stumble upon them? I STILL cant find anything and I live right on Loch Raven.
Both. I usually spend about 4-5 hours at a site. Flipping cover objects will yield a lot of finds, but other than that, I think the most important factor is to slow down and really take in your surroundings. Like Aesop said, slow and steady finds more snakes.
 

Shell

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What Matt, no field trips this past weekend?? :p The first thing I check when I get on AB is this thread to see if you've found your unicorn yet lol.
 

Big B

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It is beautiful there and lots of critters and such to look at. How is the crime rate, housing costs?
 

Shrike

Arachnoprince
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What Matt, no field trips this past weekend?? :p The first thing I check when I get on AB is this thread to see if you've found your unicorn yet lol.
Ugh, it's too hot right now. All of my unicorns are in hiding.

---------- Post added 07-17-2013 at 10:26 AM ----------

It is beautiful there and lots of critters and such to look at. How is the crime rate, housing costs?
Crime isn't so bad, although you'd definitely want do your homework before deciding where to live. Housing costs, unfortunately, are high. The further out from DC, the lower they get. The trade off is a longer commute. As long as I have access to the Metro, I don't mind the commute. I just grab a seat and read a book.
 
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Shell

ArachnoVixen AKA Dream Crusher AKA Heartbreaker
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Ugh, it's too hot right now. All of my unicorns are in hiding.
I hear ya, it's been ridiculously hot here too. I will just keep waiting and watching this thread I suppose lol.
 

pnshmntMMA

Arachnobaron
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Both. I usually spend about 4-5 hours at a site. Flipping cover objects will yield a lot of finds, but other than that, I think the most important factor is to slow down and really take in your surroundings. Like Aesop said, slow and steady finds more snakes.
I hear boxies come out during storms and rain to cool off on hot days. Might go out saturday if it rains. Any suggestions? Ill be at the reservoir.
 

Shrike

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I hear boxies come out during storms and rain to cool off on hot days. Might go out saturday if it rains. Any suggestions? Ill be at the reservoir.
Sounds like you're on the right track. After rain is a great time to find box turtles, although I'll bet it has more to do with foraging for food than cooling off. There are lots of worms, slugs, etc. to be found after a rain event. You can find box turtles in a variety of habitats, and in surprisingly dense, challenging terrain. I even found one sitting in 3 inches of water in wet meadow. I probably sound like a broken record, but the best thing you can do to find more reptiles and amphibians is to really take your time out there. In the case of box turtles, they're often hiding in plain sight, relying on their shell patterns to camouflage them, and the shell itself to defend them if they get discovered.
 

pnshmntMMA

Arachnobaron
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Sounds like you're on the right track. After rain is a great time to find box turtles, although I'll bet it has more to do with foraging for food than cooling off. There are lots of worms, slugs, etc. to be found after a rain event. You can find box turtles in a variety of habitats, and in surprisingly dense, challenging terrain. I even found one sitting in 3 inches of water in wet meadow. I probably sound like a broken record, but the best thing you can do to find more reptiles and amphibians is to really take your time out there. In the case of box turtles, they're often hiding in plain sight, relying on their shell patterns to camouflage them, and the shell itself to defend them if they get discovered.
Awesome thanks! Ill be sure to report back with pictures.
 

pnshmntMMA

Arachnobaron
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SUCCESSSS!!!!!' Gf found a HUGE female EBT in the woods about to cross a busy road. Got her outta dodge. Safe and sound.
 

Shrike

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SUCCESSSS!!!!!' Gf found a HUGE female EBT in the woods about to cross a busy road. Got her outta dodge. Safe and sound.
Very cool! I always try to help critters along their way when I can. Unfortunately, there aren't many good patches of habitat these days that aren't riddled with roads. I see a lot of dead turtles (not to mention snakes and other herps) every year.
 

pnshmntMMA

Arachnobaron
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Very cool! I always try to help critters along their way when I can. Unfortunately, there aren't many good patches of habitat these days that aren't riddled with roads. I see a lot of dead turtles (not to mention snakes and other herps) every year.
Figures I didnt have my good camera when we found her. DOH!

Question, if there is one, is it safe to say there are more in the immediate area? I know males are territorial but I imagine if its suitable for one EBT to live there, there must be more close by. Have there been any studies done on population overlap or anything like that that I could read up on?
 

Shrike

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Question, if there is one, is it safe to say there are more in the immediate area? I know males are territorial but I imagine if its suitable for one EBT to live there, there must be more close by. Have there been any studies done on population overlap or anything like that that I could read up on?
I think that's a fairly safe assumption. I know at the locales I've been to, I've found multiple individuals. I'll say "fairly safe" because many populations around the country are in decline. Here's one unfortunate example: http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/Scientist/PopulationEstimationBiometry/13. BoxTurtles.pdf

I'm not familiar with any specific studies, but many have been done. You might try google/google scholar and see what turns up. Try searching for "Eastern box turtle range." What I do have is a fantastic book that you should check out: Turtles of the United States and Canada, by Ernst and Lovich. They write "The home range of box turtles of all ages and both sexes overlap; the turtles frequently occur together and seldom show antagonism. Movements with the home range vary from random meanderings to fairly direct transverses. In many cases, certain routes are used repeatedly. Some box turtles use only one portion of the home range at a time and may take several days or weeks to transverse the entire range. Some have a divided home range and travel between the divisions at infrequent intervals. Some individuals make occasional trips outside the range; these trips may include searches for nesting sites." You can see these turtles habits can be varied! The book also lists numerous citations for home range studies (Niederriter and Roth 2004; Donaldson and Echternacht 2005; Cook 2004 are a few of the more recent ones), stating that range usually increases with age, and referencing an overall species home range area of 0.02 to 19.2 hectares.

I highly recommend this book, especially if you're interested in turtles. It's a bit expensive, but worth every penny.

---------- Post added 08-11-2013 at 07:44 AM ----------

Absolutely amazing thread. I read all 8 pages for the first time today.
Thank you! There will be more to come.
 

pnshmntMMA

Arachnobaron
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I think that's a fairly safe assumption. I know at the locales I've been to, I've found multiple individuals. I'll say "fairly safe" because many populations around the country are in decline. Here's one unfortunate example: http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/Scientist/PopulationEstimationBiometry/13. BoxTurtles.pdf

I'm not familiar with any specific studies, but many have been done. You might try google/google scholar and see what turns up. Try searching for "Eastern box turtle range." What I do have is a fantastic book that you should check out: Turtles of the United States and Canada, by Ernst and Lovich. They write "The home range of box turtles of all ages and both sexes overlap; the turtles frequently occur together and seldom show antagonism. Movements with the home range vary from random meanderings to fairly direct transverses. In many cases, certain routes are used repeatedly. Some box turtles use only one portion of the home range at a time and may take several days or weeks to transverse the entire range. Some have a divided home range and travel between the divisions at infrequent intervals. Some individuals make occasional trips outside the range; these trips may include searches for nesting sites." You can see these turtles habits can be varied! The book also lists numerous citations for home range studies (Niederriter and Roth 2004; Donaldson and Echternacht 2005; Cook 2004 are a few of the more recent ones), stating that range usually increases with age, and referencing an overall species home range area of 0.02 to 19.2 hectares.

I highly recommend this book, especially if you're interested in turtles. It's a bit expensive, but worth every penny.

---------- Post added 08-11-2013 at 07:44 AM ----------



Thank you! There will be more to come.
Excellent! I cant wait to check it out. Does it have stuff on aquatic turtles?
 

Shrike

Arachnoprince
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This little beauty visited my window at work today :)


Chinese mantis, Tenodera sinensis
 

pnshmntMMA

Arachnobaron
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Shrike talk about luck. A friend said his wife watch a boxie lay eggs near her office. Well the other day she noticed the lawn service had showed up for the first time for months. The guy on the Zero Turn was headed for the area the boxies frequent. She ran over and stopped him and found the cutest little baby boxie, still with an egg tooth. She couldnt find any others or adults. The lawn company cleared out that entire section of meadow including logs, shrubs, and every aspect of a suitable habitat. So glad she found it. They let me take him in since I had room and they dont. Cute little guy. Size of a nickel! Great eater.

 

Smokehound714

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Shrike talk about luck. A friend said his wife watch a boxie lay eggs near her office. Well the other day she noticed the lawn service had showed up for the first time for months. The guy on the Zero Turn was headed for the area the boxies frequent. She ran over and stopped him and found the cutest little baby boxie, still with an egg tooth. She couldnt find any others or adults. The lawn company cleared out that entire section of meadow including logs, shrubs, and every aspect of a suitable habitat. So glad she found it. They let me take him in since I had room and they dont. Cute little guy. Size of a nickel! Great eater.

D'aww.. Sucks when you see good habitat get destroyed for the lamest reasons..
 
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