Page 1






Do you ever have a question about one of your herps and wonder who might be able to provide an answer? Most people路 who keep pets of any kind have been is this situation at one time or another. A group of MRS 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 647-1334 John Moriarty 489-7853 AnnPorwoll Glen (Jake) Jacobsen 757-8268 AquaticTurtles 533-7723 Greg Kvanbek 331-8606 Dennis Daly Lizards NancyHaig Bill Moss

789-4637 488-1383

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.

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Table of Contents ... Upcoming meeting highlights MRS Business General Meeting Review MRS Election Info MRS Survey Results - part 2 Snakes of Minnesota - by Jeff LeClere Herping in the Rain - by Randy Blasus Classified ads


4 5 6

9 12 16 18

From the editor... All members see page 6 for vital electionlMarch meeting information! and... May Meeting will be moved down the hill to the St. Paul Student Center Theatre. Details and parking info in next newsletter.

Special notice: The monthly meeting of the Audubon Chapter of Mpls. will be featuring Madeleine Linck - "MN Turtles, Are They Losing Ground?". March 7, 1995 at Plymouth Congregational Church, 19th St. & Nicollet Avenue, 7:30pm.

Next Newsletter Deadline: March 3, 1995 Send all articles, ads, & inquiries directly to the newsletter editor at: MHSEDITOR 234 West George st. St. Paul, MN 55107


MHS Newsletter Volume XV Number 2

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 form 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 March 3, 1995 (Elections) April 7, 1995 May 5, 1995 ** will be at St. Paul Student Center Theatre instead of regular room


MRS PURPOSE & BOARD OF DIRECTORS are listed on the inside front cover of this 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 ofthe 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 ofherp 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 information 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 evelyone a chance to enjoy! Sales other than MHS merchandise are NOT allowed in the meeting room, transactions may be performed 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 fmgers 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 XV Number 2


One of the most eagerly anticipated events of the entire year, from a herpetological perspective anyway, is the annual reappearance of the salamanders, frogs and toads. This is particularly true for those of us here in Minnesota, considering the long and dreary winters so typical of this part of the united states. with these thoughts in mind, and with the spring thaw hopefully just around the corner, it seems only natural that the featured topic of discussion at the Minnesota Herpetological society's March meeting should focus on amphibians. In light of his long term interest in these animals, I'm sure our quest speaker, Dr. David M. Hoppe, would agree with the previous statements. A major portion of Dr. Hoppe's slide illustrated presentation will focus on the variations in color exhibited by our native amphibians, including the "famous" burnsi and kandiyohi leopard frogs. Originally classified as separate species, burnsi and kandiyohi are actually two distinctive, naturally occurring mutations of the Northern Leopard Frog, Rana pipiens. with distributions confined mainly to Minnesota, both burnsi and kandiyohi are the state's one claim to herpetological fame. In addition, Dave will also review his long term research into the correlation of habitat type to dorsal coloration in the western Chorus Frog, Pseudacris triseriata. As an added bonus, Dr. Hoppe has also promised to discuss some truly grotesque mutant amphibians discovered during recent pollution research. A professor of biology at the University of Minnesota at Morris, Dr. Hoppe has been studying the color mutations of Minnesota amphibians since 1975. He has authored or co-authored several papers on the subject including, Teenage Mutant Leopard Frogs which was published in the November/December 1991 issue of the Minnesota Volunteer. Dave has a wealth of information to share on this fascinating subject so don't miss this meeting as it promises be most interesting. See you there. JPL upcoming Programs April 1995: May 1995:

Dr. Walter Auffenberg - Gray's Monitor Lizard Dr. J. Whitfield Gibbons - Topic to Announced


MHS Newsletter Volume XV Number 2

MHS Business August Board Meeting Highlights


By Randy Blasus, Recording Secretary The monthly meeting of the MHS Board of Directors was conducted February 4, 1995, at the home of Barb Radanke. The board took the following actions:

tNCC'ME: Membership


Ub.rary flnes



733.66 642.00 541.00 161.96 .


The election committee is fmalized and we have at least one member running for each post.

It was decided to donate the MHS Turtle Fund money ($200) that had been accumulate, to a local project which is studying the habits of Blanding's turtles. The money will be used to refit radio transmitters on study animals in Hennipen Parks. This project is run by MHS . member John Moriarty.

T-shirt Safes

719.23 Rodool Sa.'a Mise

1.424.00 27.90 778_00 S(L6t

While Snake. Sale

Hcflday Banqll6l.

346.00 9261.36



"""""'& Newsletter Printing Other Prlntlnq & POitage


libtary Books Supplies

A five person legislative committee has been formed to look into model legislation and develop a plan of action.

An inventory ofthe library has been completed and several books are missing. The board will look into rep lacingsome. MHS will provide a herp hint box that will be placed at the front of the room and will be available for anyone who has a hint or question.

Refreshments DonalXlns

"'Ise Bulk Mail PermIt R&!J,lrnM Cflecio:s Cameta • Polaroid lor Hands on

Dtsplay Board /.IN Hetp Book for County libflllY Sel up Vo1c& Mall tJne

Pet far Fee & Hands on Supplies Brochures Printed R~ursemefll


laaguil Trip

InsurallCe Whl'.e Pages TOTAL EXPENSES:

5,340.50 397.66 1,571.96 156.47 539.70 239.89 50.00 179.88 75.00 8S.00 75.00 55.82 112.84 104.43 241.75 312.30 300.00 724.65 449.10 11,014.77


Presented and accepted were: Treasurer's Report, Membership Report and Board Meeting Minutes. General Meeting Highlights See Meeting Review by Randy Blasus page 5.

Minnesota Herpetological Society Statement of Changes in Financial Position For Year 1994

Beginning Balance, Jan. 1 Add: Income If you would like to donate a refreshment, such as cookSubtract: Expenses ies, for a meeting, contact Refreshment Chair Nanette Jimerson at 869-8547. Or, please make a donation in Net Increase (decrease) our Donation Frog on the table to help us purchase coffee and kool-aid. Ending Balance, Dec. 31,1994

Other MHS Business

IGUANA FOR ADOPTION: any person not able to attend the next meeting that may be interested in adopting an iguana contact Jake Jacobsen - 7578268. This is a special cicumstance.

2632.41 9287.38 -11014.77 -1727.39 905.02

Placement of Cash Holdings For Year 1994 Cash Holdings: Cash on hand Checking Account Savings Account CD TOTAL

50.00 855.02



MRS Newsletter Volume XV Number 2

General Meeting Review

Picture This:

By Randy Blasus

1995 Photo Contest Results

Recording Secretary

By Randy Blasus

This month was the annual White Snake Sale meeting. The sale preempted any speakers, but still drew a sizable crowd. In fact, it brought members from as far away as South Dakota! The sale (our biggest fund raising activity of the year) was, as usual, quite hectic. At least it was for the volunteers. The sale provided the opportunity for members to donate unwanted and unused items for the benefit of the society. This year, we also had an unprecedented number of commercial vendors. This was because our President, Bill Moss, worked diligently and solicited many companies for donations to this sale. "Thanks" goes out to all those who volunteered their time to organize and run the sale. First, there was Delvin Jones who donates his skill and computers to organize the data. Also recognized, Marilyn Brooks who organized the sale and was the cashier. Then there was Glen Jacobsen and Donna Calander who received donation items. And to Bill Moss who was the official timer. Finally, thanks to Gary Ash, Dan Bergquist, Randy Blasus, Rebecca Helgesen, Greg K vanbek, Jeff LeClere and Connie Levell for running the behind Ibe scenes item organization, product flow and gathering purchases. All the volunteers help smooth things along and their help is greatly appreciated. This year's sale raised $1465.50, almost 46% more then last year. The number of items waS also up from 180 to 214, ahout 15% more. This money will help to insure that we can provide high quality speakers, make additions to the library and provide fimds that can be channeled into any of a variety of MRS or other functions. For a complete listing of all identified donors see a special section in the newsletter.

This years pboto contest was a success with twentyseven photos entered. All of the photos were done hy members of the society who were amateur photographers. This author entered several with little expectation of winning. In fact, the pictures were originally taken as documentation of animals caught in Ibe field and for Ibe fun of it. The camera used by this author was a moderate priced Pentax zoom 90 WR with a macro capability. This fully automatic camera allows qu~ck shooting with little fussing around. Anyway, the pornt is that anybody can take decent pictures with a little practice and a lot of film. The most fun part of this experience was probably when the pictures were picked out and blown up to larger sizes. We took our negatives to a store Ibat has one of those do-it-yourself Kodak enlargement machines. It was so easy to do and t~e process was sort of like a video game, only wllb tangible results. Many "Thanks" goes out to our Judges of the contest, A.B. Sheldon and Barney Oldfield, for their time and consideration. Also greatly appreciated are Ibe businesses who generously donated to Ibe contest, so we could have neat prizes for the winners. The donors were: Great Prints, National Camera Exchange, Proex, Ritz and, finally, the Minnesota Herpetological Society. So in conclusion, everyone is encouraged to enter next y";"', if nothing else yon can end up wilb something nice to hang on the wall! The results of the contest are as follows: HERPS IN ANATURALSEI11NG

This was also the month when we had the photo contest, which is mentioned in further detail in another section of the newsletter. Next month, we will be back on track with our normal activities. The only exception to this will be that next month will be the MRS Elections. So be sure to bring a sharp pencil and don't forget that applications for positions can still be taken right up until the ballots are passed out. Until next month, may your animals sleep well and we all look forward to a herp filled spring!

1st place 2nd place 3rd place

Dan Bergquist (Bearded Dragon) Marilyn Brooks (Wood Frog) Carrol Henderson (Marine Iguana)

HERPS wrrn PEOPLE 1st place 2nd place

Randy Blasus (Garter Snake) Carrol Henderson (Iguana At The Beach)

PEOPLES CHOICE Carrol Henderson (furtles And Lizard)


MHS Newsletter Volume XV Number 2

Attention All Members!

The MRS 1995 Elections will be held at the March General Meeting


Please arrive early ifpossible to speed to voting process and allow the speaker plenty of time.

See the next two pages for member bios of those running and board position info. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO RUN, PLEASE CONTACT RANDY BLASUS THERE IS STILL TIME!!!

This is a great chance to get more involved with your society!

MHS Newsleller Volume XV Number 2



Friday March 3, 1995 Borlaug Hall Room 355 on the U of M St Paul Campus 7PM All Active Members

These are some of the responsibilities of the governing board PRESIDENTIAL DUTIES: Chairs monthly meetings, appoint committee chairpersons, concentrate on long range planning and act as a public spokesman. Coordinate speakers, introduce VICE PRESIDENTIAL DUTIES: presentations, assist the President and chair meetings in the Presidents absence .. TREASURER DUTIES: Maintain all MHS financial transactions and records, purchase supplies and other board directed expenditures. RECORDING SECRETARY DUTIES: Recording the minutes of monthly meetings and maintaining files. MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY DUTIES: Recording any new memberships and renewals or address changes, send out new member information and mailing t-shirts. NEWSLETTER EDITOR DUTIES: Edit and assemble newsletter, solicit articles. MEMBERS AT LARGE DUTIES: Help in the decision making process, work on special projects and generally helping facilitate the smooth operation of the Society.


MHS Newsletter VolwneXV Number 2

THE CANDIDATES For President: Bill Moss

Running for his second tenn, Education Chairperson for five years (retired), Member at Large for two, Vice President for one; member since 1989. Vice President:

Greg Kvanbek

Running for his first tenn, Member At Large for two years, Hands-On activities, Adoption Committee member; member since 1984. Treasurer:

Marilyn Brooks

Running for fifth term in this post, Newsletter Folding Chair for six years and Holiday Banquet Chair for five years; member since 1988. Recording Secretary :

Randy Blasus

Running for his second tenn, Member At Large for one year and Picnic Chair for three years; member since 1990. Membership Secretary:

George Richard

Running for his second term; member since 1989. Newsletter Editor:

John P Levell

Vice president for two years, Treasurer and frequent contributor to Newsletter, Kasota Prairie survey; member since 1989. Members At Large:

Gary Ash

Running for his second term; member since 1990.

Dan Bergquist

Running for his first tenn, Adoption committee member for two years, temporary Secretary, Hands-On activities; member since 1992.

Liz Bowlds

Running for her first tenn, Hands-On activities; member since 1994.

Michael Gaunt

Running for his first tenn; member since 1994.

Barb Radanke

Running for her second term; member since 1992.

James Rea

Running for his first term, Newsletter Folding helper, Library helper; member since 1988.

Siri Rea

Running for her first term, Newsletter Folding helper, Library helper, artwork for White Pages and Holiday Banquet; member since 1989.


MHS Newsletter Volume XV Number 2

MHS Survey Results Compiled by Marilyn Brooks

Part Three: The Newsletter 19. Are you satisfied with the newsletter? -23-Yes -6-No No. why not? Inconsistencies, continual format changes, not all coming events listed, preferential listing of events,vital information is missing or incorrect, sometimes is a bit dull but it's hard to produce a chock-full meaty newsletter, over the past year it has had a last minute paste together look, and almost always late. What do you like about the newsletter? Responses are listed based on the number of times they were mentioned: Articles, coverage of club activities and upcoming events, new style and professional appearance, speaker review and preview, the snake of Minnesota series by Jeff LeClair, humorous articles, ads, number you can call for help. I also want to add that two members have a humorous way of looking at the positive by answering : it comes out every month and before the meeting. What do you dislike about the newsletter? Several of the responses tie into one another: too short, not enough articles (a lot of members said this), and more pages. Everyone as a member can do something to improve the Newsletter each and every month - Write something for the newsletter (see question 21). The Editor can only use what is received. The following responses are listed based on the number of times they bring back newsletter review, were mentioned: news & announcements out dated or absent, Inconsistencies, constant font changes, too much cut & paste layout, disorganization, poor ad section, not indexed well, unreliable completion timing, and no photos. 20. Any articles or feature suggestions? Two requested items are already in the newsletter, that being the Treasurer's Report and there Survey Results. I guess one of the obvious responses makes a good poi nt "a short notice on how to present an article for the newsletter might help bring in new contributors. " There were a lot of suggestions, mostly requesting articles on Minnesota animals, conservation, member prOfile, and a

question and answer section. Then there were requests for breeding, care and history of animals. And, of course, the list of specific animals that members want to see. 21. Would you write an article for the newsletter? -18- Yes -10 - No No, why not? For everyone that said yes, please contact the Editor or just submit the work to the Editor. All new stuff would be greatly appreCiated. To the members who said no, I think you COUld. The Editor Is there to help someone that has an idea for an article, but needs help getting It in final form (typing, spelling and grammar can be fixed later write first). As far as the responses that you do not have expertise - you have everything you have learned so far, because there is someone out there who does not know it yet. The newsletter does not just rely on articles either; it uses artwork, news clippings, articles from other Newsletters, herp hints, book reviews, and any other tidbit you have. 22. Given that " costs over $18 per year to proVide members with a newsletter. would you be willing to pay $20 per year for the basic membership? -23-Yes -7- No Why? Many members may not be aware that there are several levelS of membership. If you are currently at the Basic level, next time you renew your membership increase to a . Contributing or Sustaining level. This would enable the membership income to help contribute more to MHS and to help offset the cost on the newsletter. The Board recognizes that not everyone is rich (so noted by the response we got), therefore we are holding off dOing anything about it now. The other consideration that was brought up was the cost of membership to the value for members who do not attend meetings. If you wish to have more infonnation on one or more of the above questions or answers, please call me or the President.


MHSNewsletter Volume XV Number 2

MHS Volunteers YOU'RE FANTASTIC!! Volunteer



1. A person who perfonns or gives his sen'ices of his own free will. 2. A person who renders aid, pelforms a scn"icc, or assumes an obligation voluntarily. We (I) tend to complain about the number of MRS volunteers for various projects through-out the year without really thinking about how much the membership really gives to the society. It is said that if any organization can get 10% volunteerism, it is doing wcll. In 1994, MRS had over 36%. This works out to 3251 hours donated by 107 people, Without you 107 people, MRS would not be able to do nearly the things we do now, I am vety proud of the membership of the Minnesota Herpetological Society, Listed below are the names of the people that the various committee chairpeople have compiled, A few years ago the board decided to do something to recognize our voluntecrs, Once a year we present a MRS coffee mug to evetyone with 10 or more hours of volunteer ism as a token of our appreciation, These mugs will be presented at the March membership meeting, Mistakes happen and someone or some hours may hayc been missed or incorrect so please let me know before the meeting if something is wrong, Once again, Thank you all! Bill Moss Moss, Bill Stillinger, Michele LeClere, Jeff Brooks, Marilyn Bosman, Fred Bosman, Liz Levell, John Blasus, Randy Delles, Bruce Wilber, Marla Kvanbeck, Greg Jacobsen,Jake Hakomaki, Nancy Hewitt, Sean Levell, Connie Lydon,Dav Bergquist, Dan Houle, Gidget Meissner, Ted Anton, Gloria Backer, Mike Wahl, Doris Stephan, Michelle Calander, Donna Luper, Nancy Rea, Siri Larson, Virginia

194 161 146 121 110 110 107 105 100 100 91 90 77 76 75 62 61 60 60 58 55 55 53 47 47 44 42

Ash, Gary Delles. Chase Brice. Lindsay Richards. George Radanke. Barb Larson. Alex Rea. James Moriarty. John Wesely. Sand\' Wesley. Brad Larson. Beau Larson. Jan Larson. Merle Good. Norm Jones. Dell'in Richards. Sarah Allen. Julie Rca. Karin Brewer. Sail)' Delles. Brandon Jimerson. Vencc Porwall. Ann Gobel. Tim Klatt. Jeff Thiss. Eric Paiter. Lynn Hoppe. Dayc

'40 40

16 :1-1

:12 31 31

29 2X 28 2() 21i 26

2S 2S 25 24

2-1 I~

18 I~

IX I(}

1(, IS

1-1 12

Kwong, Alan Boulds. Liz Haig. Nancy Boron. Cathy Boron. Da\'e Hoeye. Candy Hoeyc, Cindy Hacye. Ken

Hoeyc. Laura Jimersoll. Nanette Scheiber. Becky Scheiber. Terry Schmidke. Mark Dnnculm路ich. Rachyl HUOlll(lS. Ian Rea. Jose Stacy. Don Ull'enes. Derek Antoll. Kris Germann. George t-.1unson. Dayc Os!. Dallas Sheldon. AB, Chen,,,,,'. Todd Br<lucks. Ancirea Galli. Joan

Lcsllcy. Dm'c

12 II II 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 9 9 9 9 9 8 8 8 8 8 7 6 6 6

Linck, MadeJiene Nelson, Mark Weber, Larty Daly, Dennis Haig, Bruce Helgeson, Becky Lang, Jeff Meitzer, John Allen, Brett Larson, Derek Larson, Dominique Smelser, Chetyll Smelser, Karston Gerholdt, Jim Richards, Megan Richards, Zach Bagge, Dave Bagge, Lou Bagge, Ross Meltzer, Ruth Buttenhoff, Paul Cher"an),. Julie Perneckc. Tom Statz. Jodi Statz, Roger Thiss. Kath)'

6 6 6 5 5 5 5 5 4 4 4

4 4 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 1





OKAY'S MONITOI\ LIl1\KD AT THE APRIL 7, 1995 MEETING OF THE MINNESOTA HERPETOLOGICAL SOCIETY Friday Evening 7:00 pm U of MISt. Paul Campus Borlaug Ball Room 335

Guests Welcome!


MHS Newsletter Volume XV Number 2

A Special Thanks To all who donated! The White Snake Sale set a new sales record this year thanks to a number of companies, fellow herp societies and many individuals who all donated to our cause. To these people we are very grateful for it is this income that allows us to do things like donate the books to the county libraries this year, donate to conservation causes both in and out of state and to keep our dues at their current level for at least another year. We would also like to thank those of you who came to the sale and purchased these items. Many of you overbid the value of the items you bought knowing it was a donation to MHS. We urge your support of the following companies and herp societies for generously donating to our cause.

Bush Herpetological Supply

Perfecto Manufacturing Inc.

Chicago Herp Society


Colorado Herp Society

Rep-Cal Research Labs

Energy Savers Unlimited Inc.

Reptile and Amllhibian Magazine

Florida Beer Brands (Gator Lager T shirts)

RJ Reptiles

Krieger Puhlishing Company

Serpents Tales Books

Mardel Labs

Southwestern Herp Society

Nekton USA Inc.

Tetra TCl'rafauna

Neodesha Plastics

Tropical Concepts

New England Herp Society

Zoo Med

Bird International

The following MHS Members donated items to the auction: Jim Gerholdt John Levell Dan Bergquist Virginia Larson Fred and Liz Bosman

Day Lydon Jane Hain Chase Delles Greg K,"lI1bec),

And many more of you who just dropped items off without us knolYing Irho you were. Thanks again!


MHS Newsletter Volume XV Number 2

Snakes of Minnesota by Jeff LeClere Northern Watersnake

(Nerodia sipedon sipedon)

Description Northern Watersnakes are one of the larger medium-sized Minnesota snakes. They range in length from 24 to 55 inches and may be quite heavy bodied as adults. There are so many pattern and color variations in certain populations, and in individual N. Watersnakes, that to list them all is not feasible for the length of this article. Generally, they have light brown or reddish markings on a brown or grayish ground color. The markings are bands on the neck and become blotches on the back. There are smaller alternating spots on the sides and the ones closest to the ventral scales have a tendency to be red. The tail is ringed. The belly is white with brown or red half-moon shaped markings. These markings are sparse or absent anteriorly and become much more numerous posteriorly. Sometimes, there is a yellow, orange, or pink stripe running longitudinally down the center of the vent. The crescent shaped markings may still be present with this stripe, but if they are not, there may be very small gray or brown dots scattered randomly about the belly. Larger adults may be a solid brown or black when they are dry. Newborn Northern Watersnakes have a gray or very light brown ground color with striking black or dark brown bands and blotches. The crescents on the belly usually have no red but are solid black or brown instead. Subadutts are quite reddish in overall appearance. Subspecies Nerodla sipedon has three subspecies; the Northern Watersnake (N. s. sipedon), the Carolina Watersnake (N. s. insularum), and the Lake Erie Watersnake (N. s. williamangelsi). Only the Northern Watersnake occurs In Minnesota. Range Being a snake of the water, it is not surprising to find that this snake follows the Mississippi and St. Croix river systems in Minnesota. A few records indicate that Northern Watersnakes are found centrally in the state via the Minnesota river, but these records are only sightings at the date of this article's publication. Habitat The Northern Watersnake is, as its name implies, a snake of the water. Ponds, marshes, streams, river backwaters, and lakes provide the correct habitat for this serpent. Thick vegetation along the banks with small shrubs and trees afford basking opportunities that are important for this species. Habits This snake is diurnal, even during hot weather. It may be observed basking upon branches, shrubs, tree roots, and along the banks of waterways, often in large numbers. Young and newborn Watersnakes may be found hiding beneath logs or flat rocks close to water. They are wary and will slip off their basking perch at any sign of danger. Some may swim with their heads above water to the other side of the bank or swim back to the shore in a semi-circle. Others will dive to the bottom and anchor themselves to logs, branches, rocks, or other debris. Most will resurface within five minutes, but they are capable of

MHS Newsletter Volume XV Number 2


remammg there for an hour and a half! If cornered, they will flatten their jaws and bodies making themselves look like ribbons! They will strike and bite viciously and repeatedly. If picked up, they will release musk and fecal matter, and in very nervous specimens, regurgitating any recently eaten meal. Even after being held for some time, they will not miss an opportunity to bite, and their saliva contains anticoagulant properties that make the lacerations bleed profusely. Northern Watersnakes are active from April to October, spending their winters in rock crevices they have migrated to. There are' often other species of snakes hibernating with them. Neonates of this speCies will often hibernate communally and in relatively large numbers when compared to the adults. Some may hibernate near their summer sites if suitable dens such as burrows, large rocks, bridges, or dams exist. They emerge in spring and migrate back to their summer SITes close to water. This is where copulation takes place. Many males may court one female at the same time. The females are usually quite a bit larger than the males. The pair usually will select a basking perch such as a shrub or branch overhanging water for copulation. Matings have been observed on the banks or even in the water, however. During breeding, both snakes may make undulating movements with their bodies and the pair may remain locked up for an hour or more. Young are born alive in late June into August. They are roughly 6 - 10 Inches at birth and are pugnacious like the adults. Five to sixty young may be produced in a single litter or a couple litters a few days apart and there Is a fantastic account of 99 young born in a litter to one femalel


MHS Newsletter Volume XV Number 2


Northern Watersnakes are active hunters and may hunt both day and night. They feed on a wide variety of animals associated with water. Fish, amphibians, baby turtles, young snakes, worms, leeches, insects, crayfish, and mammals are consumed. They eat small meals every day or every other day and hunt by patrolling the water next to the shore for food. They sometimes swim through a school of small fish with their mouths wide open and swallow anything they can catch or herd fish into a shallow area of water and then create a barrier with a loose coil of its body. These snakes are not constrictors and simply swallow prey alive. Care

Northern Watersnakes may be very nasty snakes, but they can be tamed to various extents, depending on individual temperament. Many will remain high strung. One of the biggest misconceptions with this snake is that it must be kept aquatic. It is, in fact, better to keep them as you would keep other North American colubrids (such as King or Rat snakes) because keeping them too moist will cause their skin to blister. These blisters are troublesome to be rid of. Large aquariums (15 gallons or up) or homemade wooden cages work the best. They need only a small water dish to soak in. Indoor/outdoor carpet or newspaper is easiest to keep clean. Wood shavings or similar substrates are not recommended because they will stick to aquatic food items. A hide box is nice as are branches for basking. Ventral heat is acceptable, but an overhead basking lamp seems to work much better. Make sure the snakes environment is kept from 82 to 90 degrees during the day with about a 10 degree drop at night. Basking is important for these snakes, so place branches under the lamp. A UV lamp would not hurt eitherl A natural looking vivaria is attractive and these snakes will thrive in them. Although they are large snakes, most are pretty good about not uprooting plants or destroying natural setups. A larger swimming area may be given to them but make sure they have more than adequate land area (it is important that they are able to dry off completely). Again, a basking area should be added on one side of the terrarium and a cool retreat on the other. Feeding these snakes is usually not a problem, but they are not like other snakes in this respect. Feed them a large variety of food items and feed them every other day. Small meals of fish or amphibians may be offered several times a week. These prey items will usually contain parasites so freeze them if possible. Mice can be offered and these snakes will sometimes eat them without ever having to scent them, especially if the snakes are kept at the warmer end of their temperature range. It is well worth the effort to wean your Watersnake onto frozen thawed mice for several reasons. First, they are nutritionally complete. Second, fish and amphibians pass through the digestive system quickly. Mice take longer to digest so you use less food items and have to offer them less often (once or twice a week) and appear to put more weight on the snakes. Third, mice are available in the winter much more readily than fish and for sure amphibiansl Weaning techniques are easily performed due to the Northern Watersnakes reliance on their sense of smell to locate and identify food. Scenting mice with fish or frogs will work until the snakes develop a visual feeding response. Many specimens will slither up and take food from your fingers. Another method is to offer the snakes a bowl of live fish and add a few pinkies. The snake will usually frenzy (a very good reason to keep these snakes separatelyl) and swallow anything it catches. Gradually increase the number of pinkies and decrease the number of fish. Scented pieces of beef, liver, or other meats provides some variety, too. Remember, these snakes are not constrictors so NEVER offer it a live mouse.


MHS Newsletter Volume XV Number 2

Breeding may be attempted after the snakes have gone through a cooling periqd of one to three months at about 50 degrees F. Introduce the pair after both snakes have fed a few times. Multiple males to one female will be much more productive than single pairs. Female Watersnakes will eat throughout their entire gestation period and it is important to keep her well fed at this time. Remove the young as soon as you find them as the adults are known to eat the young (this is not very common but the possibility exists). Separate the young, if possible, as well. They should eat even before their first shed and present no problems. Many that refuse to eat at first may eat later and sometimes you just get those stubborn one (or ones). If the parents are wild caught and you know where they were taken, you may release the young near the water at that place.

References Behler, John L. and F. Wayne Knopf, Inc., New York. Breckenridge, W. J. 1944.



The Audubon Society Field Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of North Ameri:a. Alfred A.

Reptiles and Amphibians of Minnesota.

Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Colins. Miflin Co., Boston.



of Mi1nesota Press, Mklneapois.

A Field Guide to the Replies and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North Amerk:a. Houghton

Oldfield, B. L. and J. J. Moriarty. 1994. Amphibians and Reptiles Native to Minnesota. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapol~. Rossi, John V. 1992. Snakes of the United States and Canada. Krueger Publ~hing Co., Malabar. Trutnau, Ludwig. 1979. Nonvenomous Snakes. Barrons Educatkln Series. Vogt,


Carl. 1981. Natural


of the Amphibians and Replies of Wisconsin. Miwaukee Pubic Museum, Milwaukee.


MHS Newsletter Volume XV Number 2

Herping in the Rain by Randy Blasus The cool fall day began quietly wijh soft clouds far overhead. By the afternoon these same clouds were laden with moisture and hanging threateningly low. It was the type of fall day most people dread, that is, unless your a herper. While not everyone may find favor in 'slimy animals,' such as frogs and salamanders, the prospect of finding a few herps late in the season can usually draw out the most indifferent of herpers. With these weather conditions in mind, I called my always able, ¡if not overzealous partner, Jeff to ask if a night of amphibian searching would be objectionable. I was forced to move the receiver to a more comfortable distance from my ear when he cried an emphatic, â&#x20AC;˘ YESI OH, YES!" Plans for the evening hunt were discussed only briefly; while a much more animated conversation occurred on what we may possibly find this night. As I left the house to rendezvous with Jeff, the sky, which had become increasingly dark and ominous, began to issue forth with a heavy downpour. Mother Nature's fireworks illuminated the sky and served to push back the gloom for brief seconds. It looked to be a very promising night with the conditions favorable for the migration of many amphibians. After we boarded, a direction was indiscriminately picked, and we were off. We did not plan where to begin this trip, nor did we use some 'inside information' or 'gut instinct' (although my partner has been described as a 'herp magnet) to find our quarry. Rather the decision was made on the basis of limited available time. So in keeping with that theme the trip was to be short and local. We were afraid that this limitation may prove our undoing and cause the trip to be uneventful. As we later found out, this was not going to be a problem. Our first stopping point caught us completely by surprise as we were barely out of the city. Many anurans were attempting a perilous road crossing in the heavy evening traffic. I pulled off to the side of the road as quickly as possible to begin our first foray. The rains had tapered off to a light mist as we began to catch as many of the hoppers as possible and to asses the identijy of the many unlucky victims. In the half an hour we spent there, we caught and released twenty juvenile Green frogs (Rana clamitans), two juvenile Wood frogs (Rana sylvatica), two adult Leopard frogs (Rana pipiens) and seven American toads (Bufo americanus); all were found within a haH mile segment of road. Most of the road kilis were found to be Green frogs followed by American toads with the fewest dead

being the Wood frogs (no Leopard frog casualties were found). The Eastern roadside, which was layered in crushed rock, sloped abruptly to the edge of a small lake whose shoreline was ringed in a brief cattail barrier. Most of the live animals were found here as they prepared to make the hazardous trek to the opposite side. The Western ditch rose abruptly into a mostly deciduous upland habitat. At the north end of the tract, the trees narrowed to a point and declined into a cattail swamp. Beyond swamp and woodlands, was a very steep railroad grade which hid another smaller lake and formed the Western boundary of the area as well as the Northern limit where IT crossed the road. All the animals appeared to headed toward this western side. This makes sense for Wood frogs, who overwinter on land, but not for the Green frogs as they prefer to overwinter in water. Perhaps this migration was brought on by population stress or possibly the second pond may provide a better wintering grounds by being deeper. We did not investigate these questions, but by commenting on this behavior we kept our interest high. Also found at this location were a few other roadkills. One Garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis), two Painted turtles (Chrysemys picta) and four hatchling Snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) had also fallen victim to rush hour traffic. We could not find the nest of the Snapping turtles, but the terrain and soil was perfect for burrowing. Feeling we had better move on, the journals were updated and the animals released in their direction of travel. Anticipation then began to mount for further findings. Several miles farther on, I spotted a sign that looked promising. It indicated that a nature area and a golf course were to be found down a side road. Anything natural would likely contain a lot of good habitat. However, the golf course and its concomitant chemicals, which can be devastating to amphibians, kept us from being too optimistic about our chances of finding a large population on this route. Only a short way down the road, Jeff spotted and caught a large and beautifully patterned Wood frog which was brought back for photographing (it was released a few days later back at its home). Our drive soon came to an end, though, as the road was barred for the night. As we cruised back up the cattail lined drive, only a few small American toads were seen bouncing heavily across the tar (which they probably were using to warm themselves) leaving us the road as they moved on into the increasingly cool night.

MRS Newsletter Volume XV Number 2

Back on the main road, our route became confused and random because of a large number of detour signs. Trusting to fate and the moist condITions, we continued on undaunted. Occasionally, frogs were spotted moving to and fro, but they were far outnumbered by the remarkably good performances given by fallen leaves. What the survival tactic is for these amphibian imitators escapes me. Perhaps IT is just a test of our resolve as naturalists. However, our next find was to be more interesting. Near several small swamps a medium Sized Tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) was captured by Jeff. This animal was interesting because tt displayed extremely reduced spotting and a light dorsal coloration. Unfortunately, the lighting in the car did not provide very good illumination for accurate observation and it was not kept for further examination. After several more construction detours, we turned down a narrow tar drive. The road divided a cattail bog in two and was surrounded by a coniferous tract. Driving slowly down this rain slicked route, numerous small bumps appeared ahead of us. These bumps were soon to be identified as Gray treefrogs (Hyla verSicolor), the first of the evening. This species abounded here and because of the small amount of traffic very few were found. Also numerous in this area were American toads; most of which averaged in size about half that of the treefrogs. This habitat and ITS hosts continued for the next several miles broken only by small stands of trees. Only occasional stops were made and those were just to verify that the species had not changed wtth the distance. As the night was growing late, we increased our speed and passed out of the lowlands. The ground began to rise sharply out of the swamps to once again become


wooded. During this habitat change no herps were spotted alive or dead. Just as quickly, though, the woods opened up and were replaced by tall grass fields. In less then a mile, the habITat had changed dramatically from swamp, to woods and finally, to field. The fauna had correspondingly changed dramatically in this same short span. It was here that the last major find of the evening occurred. Jeff yelled, "Salamander!" and I slammed on the brakes. He disembarked, even before I had fully stopped, and returned triumphantly holding a medium sized and very active Tiger salamander. Scanning the road after our first specimen was found, we caught no less then路 eleven more of these animals in the span of fifteen minutes and a distance of one quarter of a mile! While most of the creatures appeared to be juveniles, Jeff found a specimen that was over ten inches in length! Unfortunately, tt had been hit by a passing car just bad enough to insure tts demise. The accident had been recent because tt had not yet fully succumbed. In fact, these animals could not have been about, in any numbers, much earlier as was evidenced by lack of road killed specimens. It seemed that their odyssey was just beginning. Looking at my watch and judging how early I would need to get up and leave for work, I suggested that this evening now be called to an end. It is always nice to end on a high point, this was definttely onel Jeff agreed and we turned towards home; all the way back we remarked on what an incredible evening it had turned out to be. Never did we think that such a short outing would bring such prolifiC finds, nor did we expect to see the boundary between species and their habttats so clearly defined. It would indeed be a night to be fondly remembered during the long winter to come.


MHS Newsletter Volume XV Number 2

Classified Ads 1.0.0 = male, 0.1.0 - female, 0.0.1 = unknown, ad rates on inside back cover of newsletter

30" American alligator, 3 Ft water monitor, 3-4 ft nile monitor, all long term captives (2+ yrs), healthy. Also feeder rabbits, frozen only, $1.00 lb. Call Dan (612) 1.1 Comsnakes, 2.5 yr old + cage, $35 ea, $50 for cage, 489-8396. or best offer. Call Ryan (612)938-8615.

For Sale

1.1 No. pines - 1992 hatchlings, $125 pro 1994 albino San Diego gophersnake, $50. Dav (612)550-9855. African spurred tortoises (Sulcatta), variety of sizes, also leopard tortoises, adults to CB hatchlings. Call Mark Domka (612)822-7996.

Aug '94 hatchlings all feeding on frozen mice: Comsred albino, normal & Okatee; white oak phase grey rats, mex. black kingsnakes. 0.1 mex black king, 5 yrs. Call Connie or John Levell for prices (612)374-5422.


1.0 CB 93 desert rosy boa, $100; 1.1 CB 93 Mid Basa All the shed snake skins in the world, always, to use at rosy boas, $300 pr; 2.2 CB 91 Mexican rosy boas, $300 hands-on programs to give to kids. Bob Duerr 541pr; 3.3 CB 91 coastal rosy boas, $250 pr; 1.1 CB 94 0362. Columbian rainbow boas, $175 pr. Trades considered for CB bluetongue skinks, Dumeril's boas,jungle carpet Misc. pythons. Can deliver to Twin Cities. Contact Mark Wendling (319)857-4787. BOA SURVEY: Please write for my questionnaire on Solomon Island boas, Candoia carinala paulsoni, cap- boa constrictor reproduction. Even if your animals have not reproduced, please respond if they are at least 4 tive bred subadults, feeding well on dead mice, $75 years old and have had the opportunity. In return for a $175. Neonates born 1/4/95. Steph Porter, St. Paul, completed survey you will receive a chart showing the MN. (612)690-2589. subspecies, their scale counts and range. William Joy, P.O. Box 300703, Arlington, TX 76007, USA. INTERFREE to a good home: 0.0.1 common green iguana. NET: 7223.220@COMPUSERVE.COM Approximately 2.5 yrs old, paranoid, bad disposition, can't be handled. Made nuerotic by cats when young. Healthy, good eater. Call Mike (612)647-0930.

HERP CLASSIFIED (Formerly Fauna Classifieds) Monthly classified for herpetofauna, food, supplies, literature, societies, much more ... excellent information Hatchling speckled kingsnakes, $20; black ratsnakes, source, worldwide circulation, published since 1983. $12. Contact D.K. Compton at (612)872-7266 days and Send .33 cent stamp for free sample. Write: $14/yr, weekends. $26/yr, first class. MCNisa. Great Valley Serpentar"Animal TRACKS" since 1986 - Complete animal man- ium, 2379 Maggio Cir, Unit C, Lodi CA 95240, (209)369-7737, Fax (209) 369-3907. agement software for managing your personal animal collection or field notes for herpslhirds/mammals. IBM 1995 HERPTOLOGICAL DIRECTORY Valuable incompatible. Full program $100.00. Working demo formation source containing private/commercial breed$10.00 deductible with purchase. For more info or orers, wholesalers, foreign exporters, US/foreign societies, dering: Frank Slavens, P.O. Box 30744, Seattle, WA food sources, supplies, publications, more ... $15 98103. Ph. (206)542-6751. Fax (206)546-2912. MCNisa. See above address and number. Two 0.0.1 caimen alligators, 2 ft long, will trade for a snake or $60 ea or $100 pair. Will deliver to Minneapo- GREAT VALLEY SERPENTARIUM A private museum & breeding facility offering a wide selection of lis area. All calls returned - (701)772-9148 or captive bred colubrids, boids and lizards. Open to pub(701)746-1055 - ask for Janet or Todd. lic. Write or fax for free price list. See above address.


MHSNewsletter ValllmeXV Number 2

Classified Ads Continued. .. MHS 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.

1625 NE Highway 10 Spring Lake Park, MN 55432 Phone (612)783-1612 Fax 783-0650

Hours: M-S 10-7 Sun 10-5

For Sale or Petting Zoos Parties or Promotions ANIMALS OF WALTON'S HOLLOW Exotic & Farm Animals

MISC. MRS also offers an assortment of other herp related items for sale at the general meetings including: books magazines posters notecards t-shirts

Dennis Steinlicht

buttons stickers bumper stickers patches

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

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

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

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-F 10-8, Sat 10-6, Sun 12-5 (612)861-8868 6519 Nicollet Ave. So.

Richfield, MN 55423


MHS Newsletter Volume XV Number 2


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 January 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 mtist 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 yonr 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:$.l0 per word. Business Cards: $5.00 per month. One month only Three or more months $7.50 per month Quarter page ads: $10.00 per month Half page ads: $20.00 per month $15.00 per month Full page ads: $40.00 per month $25.00 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, St. Paul, MN 55107.

MEMBERSHIP AND T-SHIRT ORDER FORM MINNESOTA HERPETOLOGICAL SOCIETY NAME(S) ________________________________________________________________ ADDRESS, ___________________________________________________________________

CITY ____________________________ PHONE __________________________

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HERP RELATED INTERESTS: ______________________________________________________


NEW ____ RENEWAL ____ _-----"SUSTAINING .....$60.00

__--1TNSTITUTION ....$25.00

____CONTRIBUTING ..... $30.00

____-"BASIC .... $15.00

Are you currcntly (or will be) a University of Minnesota student? _ _ (check if yes) HOW DID YOU HEAR OF MHS? ___________________________________________________

T 路Shirts Circle Choice

Two Designs

($17.00 includes postage)

North American Turtles Iguana (Head Shot)

Indicate how many of each size ADULTS:





Please cnclose payment. MAKE CHECKS PAYABLE TO: Minnesota Herpetological Society. Membership is for 12 months from date of joining. A receipt will be scnt only on request. Allow 6-8 weeks for processing. MAIL TO: Minnesota Herpetological Society, Bell Museum Of Natnral History, 10 Chnrch Street South East, Minneapolis, MN 55455-0104


Non-Profit Rate u. s. Postage



Mpls.MN Permit No. 2275




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Attn: MHS Recording Secretary 3224 Idaho Avenue S st. Louis Park, ~1N 55426




Vol. 15 (1995), No. 2  

Minnesota Herpetological Society Newsletter

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