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Do you ever have a question about one of your herps and wonder who might be able to provide an answer? Most people who keep pets of any kind have been is this situation at one time or another. A group of MHS members has volunteered to provide assistance. Listed below are the people and their specialties. Please be reasonable about the time of day and how frequently you call. Large pythons and constrictors Glen (Jake) Jacobsen 757-8268 Vence Jimerson 869-8547 Other Snakes John Meltzer 263-7880 John or Connie Levell 374-5422 Amphibians John Meltzer Greg Kvanbek Jeff LeClere Education Contact DavLydon

263-7880 533-7723 488-6388 550-9855

Terrestrial turtles and tortoises John Moriarty 647-1334 Ann Porwoll 489-7853 Glen (Jake) Jacobsen 757-8268 Aquatic Turtles Dennis Daly


Lizards Nancy Haig Bill Moss

789-4637 434-8684

Crocodilians Jeff Lang

(701) 772-0227

The purpose of the Minnesota Herpetological Society is: to further the education of the membership and the general public in care and captive propagation of reptiles and amphibians; to educate the membership and the general public in the ecological role of reptiles and amphibians; and to promote the study and conservation of reptiles and amphibians.


(612) 488-1383 (612) 374-5422 (612) 623-7620 (612) 925-4237 (612) 925-4237 (612) 224-7212 (612) 753-0218 (612) 757-8268 (612) 488-6388 (612) 291-1132 (612) 757-8268

Bill Moss John Levell George Richard Randy Blasus Marilyn Brooks Michele Stillinger Gary Ash Donna Calander Jeff LeClere Barb Radanke Glen Jacobsen


(612) 347-3141


(612) 221-2113


(800) 222-1222

Copyright Minnesota Herpetological Society. The contents of this newsletter may be reproduced for inclusion in the newsletters of other herpetological societies provided that the material is reproduced without change and proper credits are given to the MHS Newsletter, citing, volume, number, and date.

M[J[NNlEยงOTA l[--J[]ERJP>lET01LOGllCAlL ยงOC][lETY Table of Contents ... Upcoming meeting highlights MRS Business General Meeting Review MRS Survey Results - part 1 Snakes of Minnesota - Eastern Hognose Snakes of Minnesota - Eastern Milksnake Classified ads

3 5 8 10 12 15


From the editor... Last month's Snakes ofMinnesota had several errors. It is reprinted in full again this month. After Randy's general meeting review, I included a copy of one ofBill Lamar's flyers on his company Green Tracks. The dates may be for last year but it gives a good example of what the company is all about. Please contact him for updated brochures and information.

olfap pour holidaps beJilhd WIth magio,

wondet; and peaoe!


Next Newsletter Deadline: January 6, 1995 Send all articles, ads, & inquiries directly to the newsletter editor at: MHSEDITOR 234 West George SI. SI. Paul, MN 55107


MHS Newsletter Volume XIV Number 12

Welcome! Welcome to the Minnesota Herpetological Society! Meetings are presented on various topics, directly and indirectly, related to reptiles and amphibians. Membership rates begin at $15. If you wish to join, please visit the Membership Secretary during the General Meeting or fill out the fonn on the inside back cover of this newsletter. The General Meeting is held the first Friday of every month (except holiday weekends - see list below) at Borlaug Hall, Room 335 on the University of Minnesota St. Paul Campus. Meeting begins at 7:00 sharp. Meeting dates for 1995 January 6, 1995 February 3, 1995 (White Snake Sale) March 3, 1995 (Elections) MRS PURPOSE & BOARD OF DIRECTORS are listed on the inside front cover ofthis newsletter as well as the phone numbers of members who can answer specific animal related questions you may have. Please look for these people at the General Meeting as well. General Meeting Agenda Meetings begin at 7:00 sharp. If you are late, please enter through the back door of the lecture room, around corner to the right. The meeting consists of a brief address by the President on pertinent business followed by the introduction of the speaker of presentation. After the speaker there is a short break when you can purchase raffle tickets for an assortment of herp related items, buy books, t-shirts, check out library books in our well stocked herp library and talk to a friend or meet someone new. Following the break we have our "Critter of the Month", sort of a show-n-tell of your favorite herps. Finally we hold the raffle drawing. meeting ends by 10:00 when we must leave the room, although it could end earlier allowing for additional socializing. After the meeting, you may find many of our members at the local restaurants, still talking about herps! HELPFUL HINT: Board members and infonnation people will try to answer your questions and seek out new members but sometimes there are so many people it may be hard to find them. Just look for the information signs or members with yellow colored name tags. Meeting Etiquette We request that talking be kept to a minimum during the presentation or when board members are speaking. This is a general courtesy to the speaker as well as the members present. Believe it or not, we have had a problem due to the casual nature of the setting or we wouldn't have to state this! If you need to leave after the meeting begins, please enter and exit through the back doors. For the safety of all members, animals and our standing with the University, please do not allow children to run up and down the stairs in the lecture room or in the halls. Because the University lets us use this lecture room at no charge, all children must be with parents when in the building. Occasionally treats are donated by a member. Please make sure children take one serving to allow everyone a chance to enjoy! Sales other than MHS merchandise are NOT allowed in the meeting room, transactions may be perfonned out in the hall. Animals brought for "Critter of the Month" must stay in their cages, bags, etc, before and after "Critter of the Month". This is for the safety of the animal, too many fingers in the pot... NO venomous animals are allowed. If you have questions about this policy or feel your animal does not qualify as venomous, please contact Vice President John Levell. Final permission will be granted by John only.

MHS Newsletter Volume XlV Number 12


Upcoming Meeting Highlights January 6, 1995 Meeting

Herpetological Husbandry and Propagation An open Forum Panel Discussion

As a change of pace from our more traditional fare of an individual speaker focusing on a specific topic, January's general meeting of the Minnesota Herpetological Society will feature an open forum panel discussion on a wide variety of herpetocultural topics. In addition to a general discussion of such subjects as: housing, snbstrates, nutrition, feeding and handling techniques, disease prevention and treatment, breeding, etc., on all types of amphibians and reptiles, our panel of experienced herpetoculturists will field questions from the andience on virtually any aspect of the maintenance of these animals in captivity. Naturally, fut1her comments from the audience are not only welcome, but encourages as well. So start a list of questions and remember to bring them with, as this meeting is specifically designed to try and provide some answers. See you there! JPL

Husbandry and Propagation Panel Participants Gloria Anton A licensed wildlife rehabilitator and owner ofVivarinm Pets, Gloria is pat1icularly interested in the nutritional requirements of herbivorous reptiles including ignanas. Bruce Delles As the owner of Twin Cities Reptiles, Bruce has maintained a huge variety of amphibians and reptiles for 15+ years. Having housed virtually every species imaginable, Bruce has a wealth of practical hands on experience. Jim Gerholdt Jim has maintained amphibians and reptiles for well over 30 years and several specimens in his care have established the North American captive longevity record for that species. Mainly interested in rattlesnakes, Jim has vast experience in the proper handling and husbandry of these animals. Karl Hermann Our resident expett on "giant reptiles", Karl has maintained various species oflarge boids and several crocodilians over the past 10 years. Particularly interested in the captive propagation of boas and pythons, Karl has snccessfully bred both reticulated and Burmese pythons as well as anacondas.


MRS News/eller VO/lIIneXIV Number 12

Upcoming meeting highlights continued. ..

Greg Kvanbek Although maintaining a varied collection of herps, Greg is especially interested in amphibian husbandry and has graciously consented to serve as the panel's "Guru of Slime". Aquatic turtles are another area of interest for Greg. David Lawrence Easily one of the most successful breeders of blood pythons in the country, Dave also has bred green tree pythons on multiple occasions, so he obviously has considerable experience in coaxing finicky feeders to eat. John Meltzer The co-owner ofRJ Reptiles, John maintains and breeds one of the largest assortments of reptiles in Minnesota. Animals routinely propagated at John's facility include: Western hognose, kingsnakes, milksnakes, rosy and rubber boas, boa constrictors, gila monsters, leopard and striped geckos, among a host of others too numerous to mention. William Ness Bill has had a long term interest in tortoises, particularly their husbandry and propagation. Currently breeding both elongated and pancake tOltoises, Bill also keeps leopard tortoises and has worked with redfoots in the past.

Drive safely, keep them herys wanll, alLd dOll't make too lHalLY redicu/olls reso/ritiOfl5!! - Michele


MHS Newsletter Volume XIV Number 12

MHS Business August Board Meeting Highlights By Randy Blasus, Recording Secretary

1994 Holiday Banquet Summary By Randy Blasus, Recording Secretary

The 1994 Holiday Banquet was another success, in part The monthly meeting of the MHS Board of Directors was conducted December 2, 1994, at the Ground Round due to all who volunteered to help with setup and cleanup. Our speaker, Bill Lamar, provided another fas(the meeting was brief as usually no meeting is schedcinating presentation. One lucky lady, Ann Porwell, left uled for December because of the Holiday Banquet). with an original pen and ink drawing donated by our The board took the following actions: talented member Siri Rea. This one of a king drawing of a caimen will surely bring many complements to her The Board decided to support the Symposium on Minnesota Reptiles and Amphibians, it is tentatively sched- home (everyone was eligible to win upon paying for the banquet). Eighty-four people, members and family, uled for next spring. Monetmy contribution amounts showed up to participate in the festivities, each bringing were discussed. their goodies to share. Some of the more interesting dishes were the fillet of smoked NOIthern watersnake (a Marilyn passed out sheets requesting volunteer hours facetious title to be sure) and venison sausage. These, and notified those responsible for tracking them. along with menagerie of seemingly tame dishes by comPresented and accepted were: Treasurer's RepOli, Mem- parison, quenched the appetites of many. The pop and beer flowed freely as did the conversation with likebership Report and Board Meeting Minutes. minded souls, somewhat taking the edge off the chilling

outside weather. What more reason does one need to General Meeting Highlights Well over 100 people attended the November meeting. $84.25 was donated towards the raffle!

spread some holiday cheer then to spend time with those to whom we relate to on so rarc a level. Truly this was the highlight of the authors winter, who is all together

too sad to have it end. Tfyou can) you are encouraged to attend this function next year. think of it as the last hurrah of the year.

RAFFLE DONORS: Dan Bergquist

Virginia Larson Bruce Delles clo Twin Cities Reptiles CRITTER OF THE MONTH:

See guidelilles all page two for Critter of tile Mollfil. My apologies, 1 forgot to pick up the Critter of the Month list, 1 will print them next month. Other MHS Business If you would like to donate a refreshment, such as cookies, for a meeting, contact Refreshment Chair Nanette Jimerson at 869-8547. Or, please make a donation in our Donation Frog on the table to help us purchase coffee and kool-aid.

Volunteers Needed Volunteers are needed to help with the 1995 MRS elections. Committee members will be responsible for working on ballets, setting up election, etc. Elections are held in March. Please contact Randy Blasus, Recording Secretary if you would like to volunteer.


MHS Newsletter Volume XIV Number 12

Treasurer's Report For Month November 1994

What is the NHA?

Prepared by Marilyn Brooks. Treasurer


Beginning Balance Income: Membership Raffle Sales Donation Fines Other Total Income: Expense: Newsletter Mise Print/Post Program Library Books Supplies Refreshments Other Total Expense:

Submitted by Jake Jacobsen

The National Herpetological Alliance is a political action group whose primary purpose is to lobby for the rights fo herpetologists and herpetoculturists to keep, breed and sell reptiles and amphibians in a responsible manner. A secondary goal of the Alliance is to serve as an information resource to help herpetoculturists comply with existing laws.

265.00 63.25 226.42 59.32 217.00 830.99

Over the past ten years, many animal rights organizations have become increasingly poweful, outspoken agents who are against any ownership of animals by [humans], no matter what their purpose. Statements, such as the following, reveal the threat that these organizations pose, not just to our hobby or our livelihood, but to our entire way of life .

469.00 126.06 100.00 47.97 28.73 . 15.00 381.39 1168.15

Net Income:


Ending Balance


Letter to the Editor In regards to Jeff LeClere's article on Pet Shop Observations, the article states that pet stores keep reptiles improperly. Not all pet stores are like the one in the article, many of them take pride in their reptiles and do their best to maintain them properly, like you and I do with our own collections. I am not saying all pet stores do a great job maintaining their reptiles, and we as a society need to help them, but there are good pet stores that carry great reptiles. The buyer must shop around and find a good reptile source. They are out there. Jodi Aherns

" ... We call on the US government to act aggressively to end the International trade in wildlife ... " "Commerce in domestic and exotic animals for the pet trade should be abolished." Reprinted from The Animal's Agenda, Nov 1987, Vol. 2, No.9. The threat that these organizations pose is a real one, as is evidenced by the many local ordinances that severly restrict the keeping of reptiles and amphibians as pets. Most of these restrictive ordinances were first proposed by radical activist groups, but they were enacted by decent citizens who were misguided and unenlightened about the subject ofherpeology.

Continued on next page ...

MHS Newsletter VaiumeXIV Number 12

Who is the NHA?


individuals and groups such as the MHS, to teach the proper handling, care, and You are! Because only you canjoin the NHA importance of reptiles, to the public and civic and help stop the radical animal rights leaders will help deter potential extremists movement. They will not stop at local from passing ridiculous laws. Get involved ordinances. Their ultimate goal is the abolition with your local government, schools and of all animal ownership. Without your community groups to teach them about herps. membership, NHA can accomplish nothing. Ifpeople don't feel threatened, they are less By becoming a member ofNHA today, you inclined to complain to officials and those can help show our public officials that we are officials will be less inclined to pass hasty, responsible, law-abiding citizens whose biased, and inappropriate laws. In addition we activities are not harmful to [humans1or need to write to our local congressman to animals, and are usually beneficial and stress the need for tougher shipping standards, educational. collection standards, care, housing, etc., of those animals that are traded internationally Editors notes: the above was NOT written by and locaily, as a potential remedy to the abuse these animals currently face instead ofall out Mr. Jacobsen, only submitted by him. Ifyou would like more irifo, please contact Jake as he bans if we insist on still marketing them. is a member of the NHA. Ifhumans were more responsible and On a personal level, I'd like to clarify that not respectful in their handling and care of our fellow animals species, there would be no need all animal activist groups are as extreme as this letter defines, many are only interested in for extremist laws that restrict the loving responsible pet owner. Of utmost importance, stopping the abuse of animals, such as those used in scientific experiments, and the trade of we need to realize that not all animals make wild animals not suited as pets, such as good pets. Sometimes it is better to enjoy a bobcats and rare species. Some laws banning wild animal as a WILD ANIMAL, in it natural wild or dangerous pets are justified; rare and habitat. I'm sure that most animals taken exotic species are being taken from the wild at fi路om the wild like it better there than some an alarming rate because there is a market for stuffY cramped cage. Be responsible in your them. Other species were just not meant to be choices for pets. Ifyou don't buy, dealers kept captive. In addition, for everyone turtle, won't sell. - Michele. bird, lizard or snake that makes it to your local pet store, dozens die in transport due to mishandling, overcrowding, malnutrition, dehydration, and stress. Unfortunately, the mismanagement, neglect and cruelty of the few has caused the overrestricted actions that effect the many. We read or hear about one person who mishandles a pet rattlesnake or abuses horses or runs a puppy mill, and the city government acts on those isolated cases by passing laws that effect the responsible pet owner. Action by


MHS Newsletter Volume XIV Number 12

MHS General Meeting Review by Randy Blasus, Recording Secretary

Northeastern Peru is an amazing place as well as is most of South America. The sheer diversity of life in these tropical areas is most impressive, not necessarily in the number of individuals, but rather by the diverse number of species. Around Iquitos, there are some 275 species (150 kinds of reptiles and 125 kinds of amphibians) and over 120 genera. All this from an area which comprises less then a 200 mile radius. Bill Lamar began by g~ v~ng us a brief look at the habitat of this area of the world. Shown were the Andes, the Amazon and its tributaries, many forest types, and even South America's version of the peat bog. In the forest, the canopy towers over everything, providing only brief glimpses of the sun through areas of windfalls. Of the many microhabitats available, though, the cloud forest is perhaps the most spectacular. There terrain, that's almost vertical, is densely covered in vegetation. Here streams often give way to spectacular waterfalls. These riparian micro-habitats host a rich diversity of life forms. The climate, is as one would expect, very moist and humid. Here season fluctuate and there is not even a well defined rainy season. On the lower basin this becomes a concern where flash flooding can raise the water levels 30 or more feet, making mooring a challenge. Some of the reasons for pursuing research in this area are: why are there so many species and why here? The data collected is used to piece together the distribution of the animals and

to correlate that with geological episodes of the past. Pulling together all the locality data is an immense task. This is specially true considering that the two main methods of locomotion are by canoe and by foot. Various unique animals were pictured during the evening among these were a few which are quite familiar. A number were shown of animals that have no common name and others that are in dire need of reclassification. Few subjects were easily acquired because of the natural camouflage sported by them and by the dense habitat in which the live. Many tropical creatures feature cryptic coloration that allows them to escape notice of predators, prey and scientists alike. Studies have shown that animals, like the coral snakes, utilize their coloration along with ritualized movement to confuse the enemy about the size, number and direction of travel of its' intended victim. The red shade of the Coral snake is also thought of as a warning color and has been shown to be one that is hard to perceive and track when in motion. These and other adaptations developed over the millennia help to ensure the survival of the animal and the species in its' natural habitat. Many slides were shown of the areas' inhabitants, both human and herp, but nothing can replace being there in person. Bill encourages us to visit these remote places. It would prove to be a once in a lifetime trip and one that future generations, unfortunately, may not have the luxury of experiencing.


MHS Newsletter VaiumeXIV Number 12

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• ... and frogs, lizards, croes, turtles, birds, mammals. In fact, if it's alive, we'll find it, watch it, photograph it, help you learn about it .


... you'll travel with some of the biggest names in the field ... veteran field herpetologists, top-notch curarors, professional herpetoculturists. This is your chance ro roam the tropics with people like Bill Lamar, Louis Porras, Terry Vandeventer, Dave Grow, Dick Ross, and a host of similar talents .

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• ... like the Amazon, the most mythical of rivers ... set in the world's largest rainforest -like the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica's last great wilderness .

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•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• THE AMAZON with CHARLES RADCLIFFE AND BILL LAMAR ............ 20-27 AUGUST (with optional I-week extension) THE AMAZON with BILL CHRISTIE ....................................................... 17-24 SEPTEMBER THE AMAZON with DAVE GROW .............................................................. 01-08 OCTOBER YAVARI EXPEDITION (AMAZON) with BILL LAMAR .......................... 01-15 OCTOBER THE AMAZON with LOUIS PORRAS and BILL LAMAR ......................... 15-22 OCTOBER (with optional I-week extension) THE AMAZON with ROD LOWMAN and BILL LAMAR ...................... 05-12 NOVEMBER (with optional I-week extension) THE AMAZON with MIKE DEE and BILL LAMAR .................................. 10-17 DECEMBER (with optional I-week extension) THE AMAZON with TERRY VANDEVENTER ......................................... 24-3 (with optional I-week extension)

CALL 1-800-9-MONKEY for our free broch~ GREEN TRACKS, INC. P. O. Box 5299 Tyler, Texas 75712-5299 USA (903) 593-7170 FAX (903) 597-5131




MHSNewsletter Volume XIV Number 12

MHS Survey Results Compiled by Marilyn Brooks

Part One:

The Society

The following is summarized to condense down. The original questions are repeated and underlined. Percentages are based off of 30 completed surveys. And summations by me are in bold. 1. What do you find most attractive about the society in general? Check all that apply. The top five reasons were: - 87 % - MeetingJlearning from others WITh similar interest - 73 % - Monthly newsletter - 70 % - Education focus - 56 % - Specialized Herp library - 56 % - Level of member's expertise 2. What addttional services could the Society provide for you? A variety of answers were listed with increase on legislation having the most response. I thought I would pass on a couple of the other ideas: Reptile sitting cooperative and Cage cleaning service. The Board will be looking into all the suggestions. 3. What would you like to see added or changed in the Society to make it better for all? The greatest response came In as increasing the focus on conservation and educations, with a few additional suggestion (like more field trips). 4. List three fund raising ideas you think would be successful for the Society. There was 35 proposed ideas to this question. The Board and I will be looking into the feasibility of these.

5. What could you do for the Society? List all that

llJll2!楼,. The top five responses were: - 83 % - Attend meetings - 57 % - Submtt an article for the newsletter - 43 % - Assist in fund raising events - 40 % - Lobby legislation pertaining to herps - 37 % - Become a board member 6. Have you ever participated in any education programs (Hands-on)? -23-Yes -7-No The main reason why not was lack of time, followed by 'distance away. Would you be interested in participating in the future? - 25 - Yes - 4 - No If you've participated in the past but have路 stopped, please tell us why? Again the main reason why was the lack of time. 7. Would you consider being listed in the MHS Whtte Pages or Newsletter as a Hem Assistance Person helping with Question from members about certain animals? -20-Yes -9-No 8. Would you be interested in a progressive dinner? -10- Yes -13-No 9. Would you be interested in going on a field trip . with the society? .. -27-Yes -2-No Each of the how to choices were very close at about 50% on Charter Bus, Car路 Pool, or Meet at Site. The top three where to favorites were: Wildlife Refuges(70%), Wetlands(60%), and Out of State Zoos(47%). 10. Would you be interested in seeing other members collections and set-ups? -24-Yes -5-No " you wish to have more information on one or more of the above question or answers, please call me or the President.

MHS Newsletter Volume XlV Numher 12




MHS Newsletter Volume XlV Number 12

Snakes of Minnesota by Jeff LeClere

Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon nasicus nasicus) Description This is a medium to large Minnesota snake that may be 24 to 46 inches long and has a very stout body. It is hot considered venomous. Spotted specimens have a brown or yellow ground color with darker brown or black spots. These alternate with smaller dark spots on the sides. The blotches may turn into rings on the tail. There may be red or orange pigment in the skin between the scales, and this pigment may occasionally infringe upon the scales themselves. Some populations and older adults are a solid color that mayor may not have remnants of blotches. The ground color on solid individuals may be black, gray, or olive. Olive is the most common solid color phase in Minnesota. The labials are light colored on all the variations. Regardless of dorsal coloration or pattern, the belly is yellow, gray, or pinkishsometimes with gray or greenish mottling. The underside of the tail is always lighter colored than the belly. Eastern Hognoses always have a dark longitudinal blotch behind each eye extending some distance onto the neck. The rostral scale is enlarged, pointed, and keeled as in the Western Hognose, but it is not as upturned. The scales are keeled, and the anal plate is divided. Subspecies There are no recognized subspecies of the Eastern Hognose snake. Range Minnesota Eastern Hognose snakes seem to follow the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers, as this is the source of most of the records to date. Cass and Hubbard are the northern-most counties in which these snakes are found in Minnesota. Habitat Eastern Hognose snakes are not as choosy about their habitats as their western cousins. Heavily wooded areas, prairies, and grasslands are common habitats. Like Western Hognose snakes, however, these snakes prefer sandy or loamy soil in which to burrow. Eastern Hognose snakes are found in damper situations as they feed heavily upon amphibians. They are also found under flippable cover (as that afforded by rocky hillsides or logs) more often than Western Hognoses. Habits Heterodon platyrtiinos will fan its head and neck much like a cobra when alarmed. Loud and prolonged hissing is accompanied by short jabs with the head as often away from the attacker as toward it. The snake will not open its mouth to bite, and Hognose snake bites originating from anger or defense are rare. If the attacker continues to press upon the Hognose, it will open its mouth, writhe as if in pain and finally roll onto its back with its' mouth open and tongue hanging out. It cannot be induced to move. Because the snake keeps it's mouth open during the entire 'death scene: lining at the back of the mouth closes off the opening to the esophagus to prevent the swallowing of dirt. This is also aided by an increase in saliva, which may run out of the mouth (readily seen when the snake is picked up), taking

MRS Newsletter Volume XIV Number 12


much of the dirt with it. If it is righted, it immediately rolls onto its' back again. Not until the snake feels safe will it right itself and continue on with its normal activities. Eastern Hognose snakes are more elaborate with their act than the Western Hognoses, and even though they will perform the act in captivity for a longer period of time, they soon quit 'acting' in captivity. Eastern Hognose snakes are diurnal and actively hunt for food. They may be observed basking in early morning and again at dusk. They are one of the few snakes that digs its' own burrows although they do not live in them for prolonged periods of time. Logs, rocks, boards, and other cover are used-especially just before shedding. These snakes breed in the spring. They are oviparous and lay 10 - 30 eggs in a sandy area. The eggs hatch in about two months and the young are 5 - 12 inches at hatching. They are much brighter colored than the adults. H. platyrhinos hibernate from October to late April in mammal or self constructed burrows. Food Eastern Hognose snakes consume amphibians; ,mainly toads, and use their snout to dig them up as toads spend much time in self made burrows. They also consume small mammals, birds, birds' eggs (ground nesters), insects, lizards, snakes, reptile eggs, and carrion. They are immune to the toxic secretions that toads produce via the partoid glands. Hognose snakes are opisthoglyphous (having fangs at the back of the mouth) and they use this feature to 'deflate' toads which may puff themselves up with air to unswallowable proportions. I mentioned earlier these snakes were non-venomous, but there is some evidence that they may be mildly venomous (see "Snakes of Minnesota" MHS newsletter Vol. XIV No. 10). Although there have been many cases of Heterodon envenomation, its toxicity is controversial. McAlister took extract from the salivary glands of H. platyrhinos and injected white mice, spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer), Fowler's toads (Bufo woodhousei fowleri), and chorus frogs (Pseudacris triseriata) in the thighs. The mice were unaffected. Fifteen of the seventeen amphibians died within two days. Subcutaneous hemorrhage, edema, and inflammation led him to conclude that the 'venom' is hemotoxic. Other authors have concurred that this genera of snakes is venomous others discount it. Anderson tried several times to induce a H. platyrhinos to envenom ate him. He even made an extract and administered it to himself. It produced nothing more than slight burning. More studies must be done to give a more concrete answer. Even so, it may be concluded that individual sensitivity plays the most important role in producing a malevolent affect. Bacteria can not be discounted in these cases. With as many people that have had toxic symptoms from Hognose snakes, there are many who have not. I have had a H. nasicus chew and embed one fang into my thumb without producing any ill effects, but I have a friend that did get a reaction from one. I have also experienced some of the swelling and itching described for some of the Heterodon accounts, to a lesser degree, from a Yellow Rat snake (Elaphe obsoleta quadrivittata). A study conducted on a greater number of humans and different species of amphibians, reptiles, and mammals may provide better answers. Care Eastern Hognose snakes are more difficult to keep than the Westerns. Ten to fifteen gallon tanks or a 24 x 18 x 12 wooden cage is suitable for adults. Newspaper or indoor/outdoor carpeting is acceptable, but due to their burrowing nature they will spend hours ripping up the paper or carpeting looking to penetrate a mammal burrow. With their tough, bony rostral scale, they are extremely resistant to nose rub but it is better not to take chances. The snakes are also uncomfortable if they display this behavior frequently and for long periods so something must be changed. Aspen shavings, soil, or an intermediate size of gravel or sand may be used. A heavy untippable water dish is a must because these snakes will


MHS Newsletter Volume XIV Number 12

push it around or tip it over as they burrow under it. Ventral heat is good but a light kept on for 10 to 12 hours a day may be better. The temperature should be about 75 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and can drop into the upper 60's at night. If you keep a warm herp room, supplemental heat may not be necessary. Feeding can be a problem as these snakes may refuse everything except toads in captivity. You can scent mice with toads with some success. Some will take unscented mice in time but there are some that will never switch over. It is best, however, to make every effort to switch them over to mice to reduce the number of feedings per week and to reduce parasitism. Many wild-caught Hognoses will stop feeding in the fall and winter no matter how warm you keep them. Such snakes should either be released in the same place they were caught or hibernated. Although there are not many reports of H. platyrhinos breeding in captivity, breeding can be accomplished if the adult snakes are hibernated for about three months. The temperature should be 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. In the spring, introduce the, pair. Separate the snakes after you notice the female is gravid. Always provide a nest box 2 or 3 weeks after this time. Check the box and cage frequently so the eggs do not dry up or get eaten by the female Hognose. The female may continue to eat through the gestation period, so do not use lack of appetite as a key! But if she does refuse food, chances are she is gravid. Once you find eggs move them to an incubator with high humidity. In another month or two the young should hatch. Try feeding the young pinky mice as they might take them right away. Most will not, however, so try scenting them. If at all possible, try not to ever introduce any amphibians unless you have the means to supply them on a regular basis and get your babies dewormed when necessary. Males become mature after their first year and females become mature in almost 2 years. If you have success breeding Eastern Hognose snakes, write down notes. These are not produced at all (it seems) compared to the Western Hognose snake. References: Behler, John L. and F. Wayne Kmg. Knopf, Inc., New York. Breckenridge, W. J. 1944.


The Audubon Society Field Guide 10 !he Reploos and Amphibians of North Amerta. Affred A.

Repmes and Amphibians of Minnesota. Universny of Minnesola Press, Mmneapolis.

Conanl, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. Mifllin Co., Boslon. Hornfeldl, Carl S. and Daniel E. Keyler.


A Field Guide to !he Reptiles and Amphibians of Easlem and Central North America. Houghton

1987. MHS Occasional papers, Vol. 1, NO.3.

Le Clere, J. 1989. Hognose snakes. Oldfield, B. L. and J. J. Monarty. 1994. Amphibians and Reptiles Native 10 Minnesota. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis. Rossi, John V. 1992. Snakes of !he Unned States and Canada. Krieger Pubblishing Co., Malabar. Trulnau, Ludwig. 1979. Nonvenomous Snakes. Barrons Educational Senes. Vogl, Rthard Carl. 1981. Nalural HiStory of Ihe Amphibians and Repffies of Wisconsin. Miwaukee Public Museum,M ilwaukee.

MHS Newsletter Volume


xrv Numher 12

Snakes of Minnesota by Jeff LeClere

Eastern Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum) Description A medium sized Minnesota snake that is 24 to 52 inches in length, but quite often maintains a slender build. It is non-venomous. Although this snake's blotched pattern remains consistent, its general coloration is quite variable. Some specimens can be beautifully light colored, having a light gray or brown ground color and bright to rust red body blotches. Others can look a lot like Fox snakes (Elaphe vulpina), having a general brown coloration. Still others can be a dark gray with little or no difference in color between the ground color and blotches, only the black borders (which are always present) indicate the presence of blotches. There is an alternating row (sometimes two) of lateral spots on the sides. These vary in size, but are never as big as the dorsal blotches. The belly is white with clusters of black checkers scattered randomly about the venter. Often there is a pink or peach wash to the general ventral coloration. There is a light V or Y marking at the back of the head, but this is sometimes replaced by a light spot. The snout is usually white. The scales are smooth and the anal plate is single. Subspecies The Eastern Milk Snake is the only subspecies of Milk Snake in Minnesota. Speculation of the possible occurrence of the Red Milk Snake (L. t. syspila) in Minnesota has yet to be thoroughly investigated. Counties in the south central and southwestern portion of the state border this snakes' northern range, according to some authors. The Red Milk Snake also intergrades with the Eastern Milk Snake in Iowa; this plane of intergradation apparently does not involve Minnesota. Even if it does, the occurrence of pure L. t. syspila in southeastern Minnesota is slight, and near impossible to substantiate. Range In Minnesota, this snake follows the Mississippi, Minnesota, and a small portion of the St. Croix rivers as the present records surround these systems. Habitat Rocky hillsides provide the favored habitat in Minnesota. Farmlands, grasslands bordering woodland and rock outcroppings, especially near waterways, are used. Habits Milk Snakes are diurnal in the spring and fall becoming largely nocturnal in summer. They are very secretive and are rarely found in the open. They spend much of their time hiding beneath logs, rocks, boards, bark, and other debris. Occasionally they may climb in search of food or to escape severe flooding. They endure many temperature extremes hiding under tin or rocks in hot weather when other species of snakes are underground, or hiding beneath rocks or boards with water or mud under them. Wild caught Milk Snakes can look extremely worn, having many scars, skin lesions, (especially before a shed) or stub tails.


MHS Newsletter Volume XIV Number l2

This snake is active from April to September. Most Milk Snakes move away from their rocky outcropping or mammal burrow hibernaculums to farms and grasslands with suitable food and cover during the summer. A few remain nearby their overwintering spots, however. Mating takes place in spring or early summer. The female lays about 10 eggs in an area selected for its high humidity and warmth. Gestation is from 28 to 39 days. In the fali the young Milk Snakes hatch from their eggs. They are 5 to 10 inches at hatching and are at their most spectacular coloration they will ever have. They are bright white or gray with rich pure red blotches. Milk Snakes are usually apt to coil, strike and bite when captured. Even after they are picked up, they may turn and chew on fingers or the arm of the person holding it. They also vibrate their tails and musk. They strike with a short, forced hiss and try to quickly slither away and under cover when they get the chance.

Food Milk Snakes feed on a wide variety of animals including mice, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, reptile eggs, birds and birds' eggs. They are a type of King Snake and will consume venomous snakes when they chance upon them. They are at least partially immune to the venom of the venomous snakes in their range and many venomous serpents will use defensive tactics other than biting to protect themselves from King Snakes. Young snakes comprise a large portion of a baby Milk Snakes' diet, but they are not found to be a significant food item for adults. Milk Snakes are constrictors and kill their food by suffocation. Care Milk Snakes can make suitable captives, if they will feed. Aquariums with a secure top or shoe/sweater boxes make good cages, as do wooden ones. The main thing is to keep the humidity high without keeping them wet. They will develop skin lesions that are troublesome to be rid of when kept too moist. Many substrates can be used. Newspaper or the larger aspen shavings work well. Ventral heat is recommended over lights as these snakes do not bask very often except in the spring and fall. They should be maintained at about 80-85 degrees F. during the day. Feeding is variable because some Milk Snakes will eat right away and regularly. Most, however, will be fastidious at first and then eat at irregular intervals. Some will never eat. For stubborn snakes, a hide box may be necessary. Dipping a rodent in egg yolk or 'scenting' them with a snake or lizard may produce results. Wetting the rodent (preferably a pinkie) and sticking shed pieces of snake or lizard skin on them does work, too. Breeding should be attempted with well aCClimated specimens only. Hibernating an underweight Milk Snake is disastrous. Qualified specimens should be hibernated at around 50 degrees F. for three months or more. Allow them to feed before placing them together and if they are not of comparable size, keep an eye on them! This should be done even with similar sized snakes. Do not be too discouraged if they do not breed right away. Separate them and try again a few days later. These snakes have a tendency to breed late and the first copulation may take place a week or two after your other species have bred. Give the female a warm, humid nest box, and check it regularily-females are known to eat the eggs! The young will hatch in a month or two. The young are problematical feeders, so it is best to release them ONLY IF YOU KNOW BOTH THE PARENTS CAME FROM THAT SAME AREA! Do not release them in an unfamiliar area or a place you know has Milk Snakes, but are unsure that is where their parents came from. The young maybe persuaded to eat young lizards or snakes of other species. Some may be assist fed portions of mice until they are large enough to eat pinkies comfortably. There are young Milk Snakes that will eat mouse legs with no assistance at all.

MHS Newsletter Volume XIV Number 12



Beh~r, John L. and F. Wayne King. Knopf, tnc., New York.

Breckenridge, W. J. 1944.


The Audubon Society Field Guide to the Repnles and Amphibians of North AmeriCa. Alfred A.

Repmes and Amphibians of Minnesoia. University of Mmnesota Press, Minneapolis.

Conant, Roger and Joseph T. COHOlS. Mifflin Co., Boston.


A Field Guide to the Reptiies and Amphibians of Eastem and Central North AmeriCa. Houghton

Oldfield, B. L. and J. J. Moriarty. 1994. Amphibians and Reptiles Native to Minnesota. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis. ROSSi, John V. 1992. Snakes of the Trutnau,



States and Canada. Krieger Pubishing Co" Malabar.

1979. Nonvenomous Snakes. Barrons Education Series.

Vogt, Richard Cart. 1981. Natural History of the Amphibians and Repties of Wisconsin. Miwakee Public Museum, M路iwaukee.


AlHS Newsletter Vo!umeX/V Number 12

IT'S HERE! The only guide to amphibians and reptiles of the Upper Midwest - includes maps and identification aids. This is the book we've been waiting for! MHS members Barney Oldfield, a veterinarian, and John J. Moriarty, wildlife specialist for Hennepin Parks, have combined 25 years of experience and study to produce this fabulous book. 256 pages, 7 3/8 x 10 1/2 inches 116 color photographs, 49 maps

cloth/jacket, $25.95

How do I get a copy? you might ask. MHS will have books for sale at the meeting at a REDUCED cost to MEMBER ONLY! Price is $22.00, $4 off retail. If you can't make the meeting we can ship you a copy for $22 + $2 shipping & handling. Copies sent in the mail will be signed. Non members may purchase the book for $25.95 (+ $2 S & H). IN ADDITION ... MHS will be donating $1 of every book sold to the MHS Conservation Fund. This fund will be used to help a reptile and/or amphibian based conservation fund. Remember, ALL proceed from the sales ofMHS merchandise go towards the operation of the society, donations, etc. MHS is NON PROFIT.


MHS Newsletter Volume XIV Number 12


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Herp Photo Contest!



Now is the time to start taking pictures! If you have already taken a few, then start sorting through them looking for that Perfect photo. This contest is scheduled to take place in the


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Here are the rules:



1. Prints may be entered by any current MHS member. 2. A contestant may enter up to 5 prints. 3. All entries must be turned in at or before the January meeting or postmarked by December 31,1994. 4. Entries will be returned if accompanied by a self addressed stamped envelope. Entries may also be picked up at the February meeting. 5. Prints may be 4"x 6", 5"x 7", or 8"x to". They should be mounted on cardboard or matboard that is at least 8"x 10", but no larger then 1I"x 14". Framed prints are discouraged. 6. The entrants name, address and category needs to be on the BACK of every print mat. DO NOT place names on the front of mats.


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The 3 Categories are: 1. mack and White Prints 2. Color Prints: Herps in a natural setting 3. Color Prints: Herps with people

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ALL ENTRIES ARE ELIGIBLE FOR THE PEOPLES CHOICE AWARD! This category is voted on by the membership at the February meeting.

!aPRIZES INCLUDE: $25 worth of enlargements at Great Prints $25 gift certificate at National Camera Exchange





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~**NOTICE** National Camera Exchange has offered to members of MHS who ~

~are entering the photo contest, a 20% discount on enlargements or picture devel- ~I ~oping at the National Camera Exchange located in DINKYTOWN (1327 SE 4th


St). Please say you arc entering the MHS Photo Contest in order to get discount. is good through December 31, 1994.

~ Offer







MHS News/elle/' Volume XIV NUll/be/' 12

Classified Ads 1.0.0 = male, 0.1.0 - female, 0.0.1


unknown, ad rates on inside back cover of newsletter

For Sale

lanistic and anerythristic corns, $20; "intermontana"

Emoryi, $75; mex.mex., exceptionally bright, $50; Mexican black kingsnakes, most pure black, $35; gray"Animal TRACKS" since 1986 - Complete animal manbanded kingsnakes, light, bright, Blairs, $75-100; leopagement software for managing your personal animal ard geckos, $20; surplus adult snakes avail. Quantity collection or field notes for herpslbirds/mammals. IBM discounts avail. All calls returned. Joel (814)724-8351. compatible. Full program $100.00. Working demo $10.00 deductible with purchase. For more info or or3.4 Carpet pythons, handpicked '93 breeders expo, undering: Frank Slavens, P.O. Box 30744, Seattle, WA related, $175-200. Pager 643-8778, hm 774-6786. 98103. Ph. (206)542-6751. Fax (206)546-2912. Baby Burmese pythons, captive born, $50 each. ConTwo 0.0.1 caimen alligators, 2 ft long, will trade for a tact Jay Whitesel at (507)367-2470. snake or $60 ea or $100 pair. Will deliver to Minneapolis area. All calls returned - (701)772-9148 or Captive bred children's pythons, $125; Brazilian rain(701)746-1055 - ask for Janet or Todd. bow boas, $250; Columbian rainbow boas, $85; Hogg Island boas, $350. Due May/June, can deliver to Twin 30" American alligator, 3 Ft water monitor, 3-4 ft nile Cities. Contact Mark Wendling (319)857-4787. monitor, all long tenm captives (2+ yrs), healthy. Also feeder rabbits, frozen only, $1.00 lb. Call Dan (612) 489-8396. African spurred tortoises (sulcatta) large variety, call (612)822-7996.

Wanted Help wanted! (I) Register/sales-evenings & weekends; (2) Animal Maintenance Technician-daytime M-F; (3) Office computer entry-afternoons or evenings. Vivarium Pets/Twin Citites Reptiles - 861-8868.

Aug '94 hatchlings all feeding on frozen mice: Cornsred albino, nonmal & Okatee; white oak phase grey rats, mex. black kingsnakes. 0.1 mex black king, 5 yrs. Call All the shed snake skins in the world, always, to use at Connie or John Levell for prices (612)374-5422. hands-on programs to give to kids. Bob Duerr 5410362. Day geckos-Phelsuma madagascariensis g/'andis C.B. '94, $50 ea; banded caimen, 3 ft., $150. Call Craig Misc. at (612)934-7239. 1.0 Central American boa, 5 ft, $100; l.l Cal king, 34.5', $175 pr; 1.1 Eastern kings, 4', $145 pr; l.l Florida kings, 4-4.5', $145 pr; l.l prairie kings, CB 94, $50 pr; l.l speckled kings, 2-4', $125 pr; 5 scarlet kings, CB 94, $15 ea; I green iguana, 5', $100; 5 plumed basilisks, CB 94, $60 ea; 0.1 redfoot tortoise, 13", long term captive, $175. Call (612)388-2872.

l.l snow cams, young adults, $50 ea $90 pr; 1.0 amelanistic com, beautiful adult, $35; 1.0 normal com, big adult, $25. Call Becky evenings (612)699-8031. 1994 hatchlings, avail now! Western hognose, feeding on pinks, going fast, $30; exceptional Pueblan milksnakes, $50-75; ghost and creamsickle corns, $30; ame-

Snake skins tanned. Call Jane for more info at 7247437. BOA SURVEY: Please write for my questionnaire on

boa constrictor reproduction. Even if your animals have not reproduced, please respond if they are at least 4 years old and have had the opportunity. In return for a completed survey you will receive a chart showing the

subspecies, their scale counts and range. \ViIliam Joy, P.O. Box 300703, Arlington, TX 76007, USA. INTERNET: 7223.220@COMPUSERVE.COM


MilS Newsletter VolulIIe XIV Number J2

Classified Ads Continued... MRS Merchandise

Desert Water Reptiles, Inc. (Reptiles, Fish, Birds and other Furry Critters)


Pinkies - $6.00 doz. Fuzzies- $6.00 doz. Adults - $9.00 doz.


Pups - $10.00 doz. Adults - $12.00 six $24.00 doz.

Orders taken by Terry Scheiber only. Must be at least one week in advance of general meeting where they will be delivered. Tel: (612)440-7482.

M-S 10-7

1625 NE Highway 10 Spring Lake Park, MN 55432 Phone (612)783-1612

Sun 10路5

Fax 783-0650


For Sale or Petting Zoos

Parties or Promotions ANIMALS OF WALTON'S HOLLOW Exotic & Farm Animals

MISC. MHS also offers an assortment of other herp related items for sale at the general meetings including: books





bumper stickers patches


Dennis Steinlicht


Bill & Jean Walton 5425 Peterson Road White Bear Lake, MN 55127-6713 (612)426-8163

Featuring .. .IAMS ... Natural Life ... Science Diet Tetra ... Toppers ... Other Specialty Foods

Look for sales of merchandise at the far right hand

side of the meeting room. Transactions can be handled before the meeting, during the break and after the meeting ends if time allows. All proceeds

from the sale of MRS merchandise goes towards the costs of running the society such as: Speaker fees, library books, charitable donations, etc. MRS is a nonprofit organization and is volunteer run.

VIVARIUM PETS A Full Line of Pet Supplies & Unusual Pets

6519 Nicollet Ave. S. Richfield, MN 55423

Gloria Anton 612-861-8868

Largest Selection or Reptiles & Amphibians in Minnesota Cages, Books, Feed & Supplies

M路F 10路&, Sat 10路6, Sun 12-5 6519 Nicollet Ave. So. (612)861-8868 Richfield, MN 55423


MHS Newslefter ValulIle XIV NUlIlber J2


JOHN & RUTH MELTZER (612) 263-7880


BREEDING INVENTORY SURVEY: Everyone keeping live reptiles and amphibians is asked to contribute to this annual report. Please submit the following information current Janumy 1st of each year. (1) inventory or your collection, list numbers and sex, (2) list all species bred during the previous year, (3) any longevity records, (4) please print clearly, your name, address, and telephone number as you want them listed, (5) please do respond. Send all information to: Frank Slavens, P.O, Box 30744, Seattle, WA 98103, Fax: 206-546-2912.

TIMBER RATTLESNAKE - LIMITED EDITION PRINT BY DAN KEYLER This print is from an original pen & ink drawing and is limited to an edition of 141 signed and numbered prints. Each print will cost $15 and can be personalized upon request. MHS members interested in purchasing a print should contact the artist at MHS meetings or by calling (612)347-8760 (W) or (612)933-2055 (H), Proceeds will be used to recover printing costs and further Timber Rattlesnake research in Minnesota. So place your order soon they won't last long!

CLASSIFIED AD INSTRUCTIONS: Ads are run as a free service to paid members. MHS takes NO responsibility for legality or health of animal advertised here. Ads may be run for three consecutive months at which time ads may be re-submitted. The editor reserves the right to omit ads when space is limited so as to allow all members a chance to advertise. Size of ad is limited to four (4) typed lines or one (I) standard size business card. DEADLINE for all newsletter items is one week before the general meeting. NON MEMBER & EXPANDED SIZE ADS: Line ads:$.l 0 per word. Business Cards: $5.00 per month. Three or more months One month only $7.50 per month Quarter page ads: $10.00 per month $15.00 per month Half page ads: $20.00 per month $25.00 per month Full page ads: $40.00 per month

Six or more months $5.00 per month $10.00 per month $15.00 per month

Send all newsletter items to: Minnesota Herpetological Society Newsletter Editor, 234 West George Street, SI. Paul, MN 55107.

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NEW ____ RENEWAL ____ _----"SUSTAINING ..... S60.00

__INSTITUTION .... $25.00

____CONTRIBUTING ..... $30.00

____ BASIC .... $15.00

Are you currently (or wiII be) a University of Minnesota student? _ _(check if yes) HOW DID YOU HEAR OF MHS? ________________________________________________________

T-Shirts Circle Choice

Two Designs

($17 .00 includes postage)

North American Turtles Iguana (Head Shot)


Indicate how many of each size LARGE___ SMALL___ MEDTUM


Please enclose payment. MAKE CHECKS PAYABLE TO: Minnesota Herpetological Society. Membership is for 12 months from date of joining. A receipt will be sent only on request. Allow 6-8 weeks for processing. MAIL TO: Minnesota Herpetological

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Vol. 14 (1994), No. 12  

Minnesota Herpetological Society Newsletter