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VOL. 16 NO.2

MINNESOTA HERPETOLOGICAL SOCIETY Newsletter Volume 16 Number 2 February 1996


News, Notes, and Announcements.......................................................... Ecoviews: Gas That Frog, How States View Critters by Whit Gibbons......... Notes from the Hinterlands: Ice Capades by Todd Daniels........ .................... $1,641.25 by Bill Moss........................................................................ Snakes of Minnesota - Black Rat Snake by Jeff LeClere.............................. Thank You MHS Volunteers by Bill Moss............................................... MHS Business....................................................................................

The Minnesota HerpetologIcal Society is a

nonprofit organization associated with the:

1 5 6 8 9 11


MUS VOICE MAIL: (612) 624路7065 E-mail:

President: Bill Moss (612) 488-1383

Membership Secretary: MHS Statement of Purpose: to further the education路 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.

George Richard (612) 623-7620


Sean Hewitt (612) 935-5845 MHS Board of Directors

Adoption Chair:

Glen Jacobsen (612) 757-8268 President Vice President Membership Secretary Recording Secretary Treasurer

Editor Member at Large Member at Large Member at Large Member at Large Member at Large

Bill Moss Greg Kvanbeck George Richard Randy Blasus Marilyo Blasus John Levell Gary Ash Dan Bergquist Barbara Radauke lames Rea Sirl Rea

SNAKEBITE EMERGENCY Hennepin County Regional Polson Center

(612) 347-3141 Minnesota Poison Control System Local: (612) 221-2113 Out of State: (800) 222-1222

Editor: John P. Levell (612) 374路5422 Minnesota Herpetological Society Newsletter is published monthly by the Minnesota Herpetological Society. Manuscripts and advertisements may be submitted in any format, 3 112 inch IBM or Macintosh compatible disks preferred. The publication deadline for ads is always the weekend of the MHS general meeting. Submissions should be sent to: MHS Editor, c/o The Bell Museum of Natural History, 10 Church St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455-0104. 漏 Copyright Minnesota Herpetological Society 1996. Contents may be reproduced provided that all material is reproduced without change and proper credit is given authors and the MHS Newsletter citing; volume, number, and date.

MRS Newsletter Volume 16 Number 2 Page 1

News, Notes & Announcements Upcoming Meeting Highlights March Program: Captive Husbandry & Breeding of the European Fire Salamander Guest Speaker: John McGrath I've always felt tbat one of the world's prettiest ampbibians is the European Ftre Salamander, Salamandra salamandra. Thougb not widely kept in tbis country, tbe Fire Salamander is a fairly bardy terrarium inbabitant and not at all difficult to breed. It's various subspecies occur througbout a large portion of Europe. It is somewbat unique in that it is primarily terrestrial, unlike most of tbe more aquatic members of the family Salamandridae (newts). It is also a live-bearer, which is a defmite benefit to the bobbyist since you don't have to worry about maintaining larvae. Our speaker, John McGrath, has been working witb this species about ten years, and they have reproduced for him the last seven years. John currently maintains three subspecies of tbe Fire Salamander and be is now working on second generation reproduction, a relative rarity among salamander keepers. He is also working with a new orange and black color morph of this already stunning looking animal. John is a native of Missouri and has been interested in amphibians and reptiles his entire life. Living in Missouri, he is conveniently located near some of the ricbest salamander diversity in the world, that of tbe Ozark and Appalacbian Mountains. In addition to Fire Salamanders, John keeps and breeds many different salamander species, while his wife, Glenda, is a breeder of Red-footed Tortoises. Jobn is also a founding member and past President of the Mid-Missouri Herpetological Society. John's talk will cover pretty much everything that you might want to know about Fire Salamanders including; terrarium set-ups, feeding, courtsbip, breeding, and even a bit about the natural bistory of these animals. For those of US new to the captive maintenance of tbe order Caudata, John will also discuss the basics of salamander and newt busbandry. I expect tbis to be a very informative and entertaining program, as Jobn has lots of slides of tbese colorful creatures. So I hope to see everyone, including all of you amphibian enthusiasts, at the March meeting. As this is also our annual Elections meeting, we'll first vote and then enjoy John's beautiful slides. Of course, you're more than welcome to bring along a tailed ampbibian friend to share during Critter of tbe Month if you want to. As always, other ampbibians and reptiles are welcome too. See you tbere. Location: Borlaug Hall, U of M SI. Paul Campus Date & Time: February 2, 1996 - 7:00 p.m. Please note that regular meeting features including tbe MHS Library, Critter of the Month & MHS Store return tbis month. Greg Kvanbeck.

Board Positions This is a synopsis of the candidates running for positions on the MHS Board of directors and includes a brief listing of their activities in bebalf of the Society. Remember, anyone can run for office as long as they feel tbat they able to field the responsibility of attending Board meetings and carrying out Board directed activities. These are all volunteer posts. People interested in running for a position are to contact the Recording Secretary. Nominations can be received up until the nigbt of the General Meeting prior to the dispensing of tbe ballots. The President will ask at that time for any nominations from the floor. President: Gloria Anton Running for her first term, Renaissance Festival participant for seven years, past Treasurer: member since 1986. Vice President: Michael Gaunt Running forbis first term, Renaissance Festival participant, Hands-on activities, Camp Ripley Blanding's survey: member since 1994. Treasurer: Marilyn Brooks Blasus Running for ber sixth term, Newsletter Folding Cbairperson for seven years (retired), Holiday Banquet Cbairperson for six years, Hands-on activities: member since 1988. Recording Secretary: Michele Stephen Running for her first term, Renaissance Festival participant, Handson activities: member since 1994. Membership Secretary: George Richard Running for bis second "official" term (appointed part way into 1994 by Board), Renaissance Festival participant, Handson activities: member since 1989. Editor: John Levell Running for his second term, past Vice President, past Treasurer, contributor to the Newsletter, Kasota Prairie Survey organizer: member since 1989. Members at Large: Dan Bergquist Running for his second term, Adoption Committee member for three years, temporary Recording Secretary, Hands-on activities: member since 1992. Chase Delles Running for his first term, Renaissance Festival participant, Hands-on activities: member since 1989. Donna Gaunt Running for her first term, Renaissance Festival participant, Hands-on activities: member since 1994. Nancy Haig Running for ber ftrst term, past Memberat-Large, past Librarian, 1990 Midwest Committee, Herp Assistance: member since 1983. Barb Radanke Running for her fmt "official" term (appointed midyear), Renaissance Festival participant, Hands-on activities, MHS Member Survey Committee, Newsletter Folding volunteer, past Member-at-Large: member since 1992. Mark Schmidke Running for his first term, HandsOn activities, Renaissance Festival participant, Frog and Toad Survey participant: member since 1992. Randy BIasus

MHS Newsletter Volume 16 Number 2 Page 2

Reptilian Nightmare Like the chimera of myth and nightmare, the saltwater crocodile could have been conjured from the depths of human fear. Its rough-hewn body is a monstrous mix of dragon and stegosaurus, its head an enormous grinning vice with sawblades for jaws. The most ferocious of the world's 23 crocodile species, it is also the largest, weighing up to a ton and stretching to lengtils exceeding 6 meters (20 ft.). More widespread than any other crocodile, the "salty" prowls coastal areas, swamps and rivers throughout Southeast Asia, from India to northern Australia and New Guinea. Throughout its range, the creature inspires fear and loathing among humans for its unfortunate habit of eating livestock and stray villagers. It can leap 2 meters (6.5ft.) above the water to snag quarry. Two decades ago scientists believed the saltwater crocodile was plunging toward extinction, a casualty of rampant commercial trade in skins. Now protected by law in 14 of 18 countries where it occurs, the animal is showing clear signs of recovery despite continued illegal hunting and habitat destruction. The best news comes from Australia, where the salty's population has grown large enough to sustain a program of ranching and managed commercial trade. Scientists recently have discovered that, beneath its leathery exterior, the saltwater crocodile is something of a softie. "The females are as careful of their eggs and offspring as birds," explains biologist James Perran Ross. Whatever one's opinion of man-eating reptiles, he submits, "things that look after their babies can't be that bad,"

Editor's Note: The preceding article, written by Jim Watson, is an extract from a 20 page photo essay entitled; Charisma, originally published in the JanlFeb 1996 edition of International Wildlife.

1996 Postage Stamp Preview Three postage stamps depicting amphibians and reptiles will be issued by the U.S. Postal Service in 1996: the American Crocodile, the Wyoming Toad, and the San Francisco Garter Snake. The heIp stamps are part of a set of 15 endangered species postage stamps, all of 32 cent denomination. The scheduled month of issue for these stamps is October. This upcoming stamp release has been announced in the Jan. I, 1996 edition of Linn's Stamp News. James Rea.

A Toad Abode Some critter houses are easier to make than others. Unless you're using an old shoe or a dried gourd, it takes a little effort to pound together a bird or bat house, especially if you want to get the dimensions right. But a toad house is easy enough for even the most constructionally-challenged to make. And giving these homely but helpful amphibians a homestead in your

garden can mean many fewer holes in your flowers and vegetables when the growing season rolls around. That's because toads are big bug-eaters. When I was a child, my pet toads would eat any bug that was smaller (and slower) than they were -- even giant grasshoppers! It was amazing to watch my favorite toad, Gro, wolf down a huge grasshopper, then rub her stomach contentedly with one stubby "hand." To invite toads to call your garden home, take a beat-up or cracked clay pot and break out a piece of the rim to form an opening. Look around this winter to fmd out-of-the-way places in your yard where you can put your toad house or houses. Once spring arrives, place the clay pot bottom路up in a shady site, with the opening at ground level. That's all there is to it -- your toad abode is open for business! One word of warning, though: If you bave outdoor cats or dogs, a toad house may not be the best idea. Pets generally won't pick up a toad more than once in their lives, but when they do, it's a sight The toad will defend itself by squirting a noxious fluid into the dog's or cat's mouth. The result is one quickly dropped toad and a pet that's foaming at the mouth. This is unpleasant but harmless for the animal -- you might try washing its mouth out with water or giving it some water in a bowl -- but it's pretty scary-looking. Editor's Note: The preceding article, written by Ellen Phillips, originally appeared in the Vol. 12, No. 30 issue of Nature News, the newsletter of the Nature Book Society. Readers should be advised, however, that the attempted ingestion of toads is by no means "harmless" to dogs, cats or humans. The glandular skin secretion of toads of the genus Bufo is actually a fairly potent toxin, and larger species such as the Marine Toad, Bufo marinus, and the Colorado River Toad, Bufo alvarius, can cause serious illness or death to animals and/or humans mouthing them. JPL

MHS Newsletter Volume 16 Number 2 Page 3

Serpentarium Owner Stands by Faith in Healing Venom Bill Haast slid back the top to the large metal box. The cobra popped up immediately and spread its hood in anger. The snake weaved back and forth and side to side, making a loud hissing sound. Haast placed his hand in front of the cobra, about 6 inches from its fangs, from which a few drops of venom would be enough to kill an ordinary human being. But Haast, who is 85, is no ordinary man. The snake lunged four times, Each time, Haast pulled his hand back, just out of range -- and just in time to keep from being bitten. His timing has been off a few times. He has been bitten 162 times by venomous snakes. Some venom is so poisonous it can kill an elephant. Haast ahoost died twice. But he has been injecting himself with snake venom since 1948 and has built up such powerful antibodies to it that his blood is used as an antidote for snake-bite victims. Haast also believes the snake venom has kept him healthy and holds the potential to help people afflicted with multiple sclerosis and other diseases. "I've never been sick a day in my life, except for snake bites. I've never been to a doctor. I've never had the flu, not even a cold." Does the venom hold some secret to health? "Come back in 15 years when I'm a 100, and if I still look like I do today, then I would say yes," Haast said. Haast believes snake venom can be useful against arthritis and other diseases. He produced a drug in the late 1970s, and a Miami doctor used it to treat people for multiple sclerosis. But the Food and Drug Administration closed down the clinic where the drug was used. Haast bought 3 1/4 acres in Miami for $3,250 in 1946 for his first serpentarium and sold it for $1.5 million in 1984 when he moved to Salt Lake City. Haast left South Florida for six years, distraught and discouraged. He was deeply disturbed by the death of a child at the serpentarium and tourist attraction he ran south of Miami -- the child fell into a crocodile pit and was attacked. And he was discouraged by the FDA's rejection of what he saw as a ground-breaking work in rmding a medical use for snake venom. In Utah, Haast continued extracting venom for antivenom for bite victims and research. He found he missed Florida's climate and landscape and retUIned six years ago. His new serpentarium is along a crushed-rock road not far from Punta Gorda. He no longer does shows for tourists as he did in Miami. He has about 400 snakes. He extracts the venom from snakes each day and sells it to laboratories. A gram of venom from an African tree snake goes for $6,000, sea snake venom for $3,000. Cottonmouth venom commands $60 a gram. Haast was born in 1910 in Paterson, NJ. He caught his first snake when he was 7. A copperhead bite put him in the hospital when he was 12. He had grabbed the snake by the tail, learning right quick that was the wrong way to do it.

He came to South Florida in the late 1920s where he worked with a man who had a traveling roadside snake show for tourists. The Depression dried up business, so Haast pitched in with a man who ran a liquor still in the Everglades. The job gave him an opportunity to catch snakes. During World War II, he flew with Pan Am crews that delivered food and medicine to Africa and Asia. The trips allowed him to buy exotic, poisonous snakes in remote places. Haast opened the serpentarium in 1948, performing for tourists. He was confident that cobra venom specifically held the secret to curing or maybe even preventing many diseases. Haast's vigilance in building up his own immunity to snake venom also has helped other bite victims. In 1969, he made an emergency trip to save the life of Bob Elgin, director of the Des Moines Zoo. Elgin had been bitten by a snake and blood transfusions from Haast saved him. Elgin wrote to Haast for years. "Each morning when the sun comes up, I think of you," one letter said. Editor's Note: The preceding article, author unknown, originally appeared in the Jan. 28. 1996 edition of the News-Press, the daily newspaper of Fort Myers, FL.

Tortoise Village, a Sanctuary in France Only six inches long when fully grown, Hermann's Tortoises seem miscast as stars of the turtle world. Yet, thanks to fans, the last native French land turtles have a bright future. The ranks of Hermann's Tortoises had dwindled as homes, vineyards, and roads shrank their habitat in Provence. In 1988 writer and fIlmmaker Bernard Devaux created TortOise Village in the mountains of St. Tropez. The preserve acquires turtles, often from pet owners, treats the ailing or injured, and releases about 500 a year in the wild. "One of our aims is to make people understand that tortoises are not domestic pets," says Devaux. A highway bisects prime turtle habitat, so Tortoise Village lobbied successfully for turtle tunnels. It also convinced Michelin to relocate a proposed tire-testing track, a victory hailed at a 1995 conservation conference held at the refuge. All told, some 90,000 turtles now roam the countryside. Editor's Note: The preceding article, author unknown, has been reprinted from the Jan. 1996 edition of National Geographic magazine.

Newsletter Folding Let's take a moment to thank Marilyn Blasus for serving as Chairperson of the Newsletter Folding Committee for the past several years. Marilyn is currently training me to assume that duty. In addition to involvement in many MHS activities, Marilyn will remain chairperson of the Holiday Banquet, as well as being a candidate for MRS Treasurer. Consider all that

MHS Newsletter Volume 16 Number 2 Page 4 she contributes to the Society, Marilyn is a treasure her own self. And thank you to the Heroes of the Blizzard who volunteered at the newsletter folding on Jan. 17th. Braving hazardous driving conditions, those attending were; Dan Bergquis~ Marilyn and Randy Blasus, Jeff LeClere, John Levell, and Karin and James Rea. What dedication! As luck would have i~ we got an inch of rain instead of a foot of snow. It was too close to call. Volunteers are invited to sign up for newsletter folding at the monthly general meetings. All newsletter folding participants receive volunteer hours good toward one "priceless" MRS mugs. Newsletter folding takes place at 7:00 pm in the usual room in Borlaug Hall on the Wednesday which falls 16 days before the general meeting (subject to rescheduting). Help is needed to collate, staple, inse~ tab, and label newsletters to prepare for mailing. If the printer commences to fold the pages for us, we may have to change the name of this activity from "folding" to "assembly." James Rea.

Thank You Festival Volunteers! We completed another successful year at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, this year receiving the Best of Parade Award for one of the largest, most consistent groups in parade. Of course, it wouldn't have been possible without the help of so many people. Overall, MHS members put out the best showing - 53 volunteers contributing 643 two hour shifts for a total of 1286 hours. 25 Como Zoo Docents and 5 Junior Docents did 147 programs for 294 hours, and the Minnesota Companion Bird Association had 14 members as guests of ComolMHS contribute 48 shifts for 96 hours. Realize that these hours are ONLY time actually spent "on fence" doing hands-on to the public, and doesn't included any time contributed behind the scenes or during the year. The "Core" Committee, headed by Bruce Delles for MHS and Mike Backer for Como Zoo Docents, included; Bill Moss, Nancy Hakomaki, Gloria Anton, Liz & Fred Bosman, Michelle Stephan, Sean Hewitt, Doris Wahl, Judi Brumfield and Marla Wilbur. Hats off to these people for taking the extra time spent making costumes, scrounging items from garage sales, planting & gardening, cleaning, cooking, animal care, and other johs to numerous to mention. Also thanks to Gidget Houle who cared for the bam animals on weekdays, to the Waltons who provided the barn animals to be cared for, and to Bruce Delles for many additional reptiles so we'd have enough animals for people to handie. We also had quite a few "converts" (a polite word for "addicts") who ended up working every weekend and who have promised to be back again next year! The following individuals participated in the 1995 Renaissance Festival: 70+ hrs; Nancy Hakomaki, Mike Backer and Gloria Anton. 60+ hI's; Sean Hewitt, Michelle Stephan and Judi Blumfield. 50+ hrs; Fred Bosman, Mike & Donna Gaun~ Bill Moss and Bruce Delles. 40+ hrs; Sean Menke, Dennis Daly, Liz

Bowlds, Jared Kirby, Jim Hoffman and Jeff LeClere. 30+ hrs; Lindsay Brice, Liz Bosman and Shelley LeTendre. 20+ hrs; Franke Forstner, Doris Wahl and Mark Webber. 10+ hrs; Sandi & Brad Weseley, Kathy & Dave Boron, and Brandon Delles. 1 - 9 hrs; Jeff Klatt, Ginny and Alex Larson, Beau, Merle & Jan Larson, Dominick & Derek illveness, Keith Tucker, Barb Radanke, Jake Jacobsen, Gordon Merck, Sarah, Zachary & Megan Richard, and Mark Schmidtke. Again, many, many thanks to all of you who helped make this year another super special success!! Remember 1996 Festival is only 6 months away! Gloria Anton.

Toads and the Tube Frasier and Friends may be favorite television shows among America's human viewers, but those programs don't even rate among TV-watching toads, which prefer the cable offerings of BUG-TV, the all insect cable station. Okay, BUG-TV does not really exis~ but couchpotato toads are definitely in the making. This is happening by design, not accident, as biologists at ·Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant seek to discover whether pollution is linked to significant declines in amphibian populations around the globe. James Gillingham, a biologist at the university who helped develop BUG-TV, puts toads in front of a computer screen, then shows them computer-generated images of crickets. The toads respond as if the technocrickets are real, tongue lashing the screen in an effort to snare one of the little video temptations. "We hope to compare the responses of healthy toads with the responses of toads that have been exposed to pollution or too much ultraviolet radiation," says Gillingham. "This may tell us how the environment is affecting their behavior and, ultimately, their populations." BUG-TV may never win an Emmy award, but it may help to clarify the connection between amphibian declines and such factors as orone depletion or global warming. Editor's Note: The preceding article, author unknown, has been reprinted from the FeblMar edition of National Wildlife magazine. JPL. • Reptiles· Amphibians ~-inveriebrates. Small Mammals -;FIsh;-sTrds. Complete line of Cages, Food, Books & Supplies for ALL Animals

& 2363 University Ave. W., SI. Paul, MN 55114 (612) 647-4479

MHS Newsletter Volume 16 Number 2 Page 5


Gas that Frog: How States View Critters By Whit Gibbons In Georgia, by state law you cannot keep any native species of lizard or snake as a pe4 with one exception -- venomous ones are legal. You can keep a 6foot Diamondback Rattlesnake in your bedroom, but don't get caught with a garter snake. In California, you cannot catch or keep a San Diego MounIain Kingsnake, an Orangethroat Whiptail Lizard or a Western Pond Turtle. However, if you have a bulldozer, you are welcome to destroy as many as you like to build a shopping mall. These are some of the state laws found in a new book, "A Field Guide to Reptiles and the Law" (1995, Serpent's Tale Natural History Book Distributors), by John P. Levell. The laws regulating the capture, possession and overall treatment of reptiles and amphibians are given for all fifty states. This book will be a valuable reference source for anyone interested in knowing the rules governing these animals in their own state or comparing regulations among states. Surfmg through the book for fascinating provisions in the laws is also fun. For example, in Kansas you can possess up to five reptiles or amphibians if you have a hunting license. A list of 14 permissible capture techniques is given. Although firearms are allowed, "fUlly automatic weapons" are not. Let's give that little Leopard Frog a fighting chance. But all is not lost in Kansas if you are feeling disarmed. Among the list of acceptable capture methods are deadfalls, crossbows and poisonous gas. What on earth are they hunting in Kansas? Hawaii has no native reptiles and amphibians, unless you count sea turtles and a sea snake. More than a dozen nonnative lizard and frog species have become established on various islands, but no native ones exist. So, instead of listing species that you cannot harm or remove from the state, Hawaii lists hundreds of species that cannot be brought in. For example, it is illegal to possess any snake in Hawaii. The only exception is that a zoo is permitted to have two of each non-venomous species. But both must be males! No fun being a snake in Hawaii. The rule for Jackson's Chameleons, an African lizard popular in the pet trade, is that they "may be possessed only on the islands of Hawaii, Maui, and Oahu." It's illegal to transport your chameleon between islands. Reptiles and amphibians have clearly been an afterthought among many state legislatures. And I am sure that some laws have been passed for a particular situation that was important to one lawmaker and inconsequential to others. Or sometimes laws are written in certain ways simply for convenience. For example, Alaska has lots of hunting and fishing laws already in place, but only one native reptile. The Garter Snake, therefore, is classified as a game

animal. All Alaska amphibians, meanwhile, are by definition "fisb," even wben tbey live on land. To take a toad from Juneau to Fairbanks requires an Alaskan Fish Transport Permit. Not to be outdone in tbe mix-up-yourvertebrates category, Louisiana law declares that no aUigator skin can be sold without a Fur Buyer's License. The book is an outstanding compilation of rules and regulations that reveals the level of conscientiousness of some states in attempting to protect their wildlife. Florida has strong native wildlife regulations for most species and lists over two dozen reptiles and amphibians with special protection. The influence of the late Archie Carr on attitudes about marine turtles is also evident. Florida bas stringent regulations about artificial lighting on nesting beaches for sea turtles. Florida laws also show concern for freshwater turtles, permitting possession of only one specimen of the Alligator Snapping Turtle. In contrast, Louisiana bas no upper limit on commercial taking of adults of tbis fastvanishing species. Laws change, and tbe book will need revision in a few months. Ironically, it may actually basten change in the laws of some states, once people compare bow different states protect their native wildlife. Perhaps citizens, known to politicians as voters, will encourage their state legislators to place a higher value on this component of their natural heritage. Editor's Note: Dr. J. Whitfield Gibbons is professor of ecology at the University of Georgia and is the division head at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory in Aiken, South Carolina. Probably best known for his books including; Their Blood Runs Cold, The Life History and Ecology of the Slider Turtle and Keeping all the Pieces among others, Dr. Gibbons also writes a weekly syndicated column for the New York Times Regional News. The preceding article is one installment of this column and has been provided for publication in the MHS Newsletter through the kindness of Dr. Gibbons.


ERIC THISS (612) 470-5008 FAX (612) 470-5013 464

5esond Street.





MHS Newsletter Volume 16 Number 2 Page 6

Notes from the Hinterlands (Dodge County in Southeast MN)

Chapter 4: Ice Capades By Todd Daniels DearJohn, . It was the best of times; it was the worst of, wait. It was a dark and stonny night, or dark and snowy night? Nope, doesn't sound right. Call me Is~m.ael--THAT'S IT! Once you get that absolutely ongmalfirst sentence down, the rest is gravy. Todd.

Call me Ishmael. Call my wife Lauri, or She Who Must Be Obeyed. Call my Rottweiler Maggie, or She Who Must Be Spayed. I awakened in the dade of December 220(1, the shortest day of the year: the Winter WatchamacaIlit. Lauri had gotten up at 4:00 a.m. and gone in to work early. Yet I was not alone in the bed. I felt the presence of Evil near me; I rolled over to find my face inches from the cold unblinking gaze of Mittons, our house cat. She has those soulless demonic yellow eyes that only jet-black cats have. I suspected she had been trying to suck the very living breath out of me while I slept. Criminy, I thought, if I can't breathe decently I might as well start smoking again and enjoy not breathing decently. I tbrew back the sheets, sending Mittons flying, and got dressed. On my way downstairs I flicked the powerstcip switch that controlled the lighting system in Asian the Red-footed Tortoise's two-level condominium. He blinked a moist-eyed tortoise good morning at me. I bravely set my jaw to face the next horror of the day. She lay waiting at the foot of the stairs, like a Troll under a bridge: Maggie, the Rottweiler from Hell. She lay perfectly still on her side, but as I rounded the banister I saw her eyes roll white, like the eyes of a shark before it bites one in half. I sprinted past her into the kitchen flung open the fridge door and grabbed the container ~f sliced beef liver. "Here, Daemon, here," I shouted as the great beast charged into the kitchen. "Eat this and trouble me no more!" She gobbled the liver and took a nap. I threw together a quick breakfast of penguin e짜gs, hash browns and reindeer bacon, chuckling as I pictured Santa two days hence wondering why he COUldn't ge! enou,짜h lift to go airborne. "Blitzen? Where are you, Blitzen? I once again scalded my mouth trying to drink coffee directly out of the carafe. I held an ice cube to my lips and hoped Sir John the Levell-headed would score a mug soon. The east horizon was just barely brightening as I donned the many layers Of outerwear necessary to survive for more than a few minutes in the brutal, unforgiving cold of the Hinterlands in deepest winter. Maggie and I went out and, though she's only 1 27/32 years old, we did our Math lesson together. She drilled a perfect zero in the snow (see Fig. 4); that's all the farther she can count.

Rotties aren't known to be precocious youngsters. I, meanwhile, was writing out pi to 35 significant figures on a nearby snowbank (see Fig. 3). "Whoa," I muttered "Not hard to tell when I had two Old Mill Lites the night before.1!

I checked the safety on myoid Springfield "ought-six" and scanned to the north for UPS trucks carrying boxes of prairie dogs. Nothing. Satisfied, I struck out toward the southwest in the permanent twilight of a Dirge December. We paused at a clump of boxelder trees and I scrutinized the branches for two full minutes ~fore spying the Boxelder Boa, Boa boxelderus dirgii (see Figs. 1 & 2). This fascinating herp is characterized by rough, gray-black lateral and ventral surfaces. The dorsal aspect is snow-white. Thus this most northern of boas blends in perfectly with its habitat. This herp dines exclusively on the Snow Bat, Myfeeter coldus, which, of course, roosts during the day in boxelder trees. The batwing bulges in this particular boa's midriff indicated that he, too, had breakfasted well. Maggie and I continued on our morning constitutional and headed onto the ice of Wally's Pond. I knelt and tapped the ice with my walking staff to gauge its thickness (the ice's thickness; I already knew how thick the walking staff was). I straightened up. "Eight inches thick, Maggs," I said. "About the thickness of a Rottie's skull," I continued, glancing at the beast as she drooled and smiled up at me, a vacant but happy gleam in her eyes, and wagged her nonexistent tail. "Just think, all around us are turtles, snakes, frogs and toads burrowed into the banks, waiting for Spring's thaw to awaken them. Nothing active in the winter except for Boxelder Boas the occasional Insulated Toad, Bufo thinsukltus, and, and.:." My voice trailed off to a whisper. The one other winter herp was too terrifying even to say its name out loud. An involuntary shudder went down my spine. "C'mon, girl, let's get back to the house." We set off through the two-foot deep snow in subzero temperatures. The wind had picked up and it was snowing harder now. We came upon what appeared to be a recent fICe-ring and some willow branches arranged as a lean-to. A couple gnawed yak ribs protruded from a snowbank, and there was a greasy piscine odor to the place. Whoa, I thought. Could the legend be true? The legend to which I was referring was, of course, the legend of the Lost Tribe of Olaf. Eight hundred years ago N~rwegian Vikings were thought to have sailed a Viking ship all the way to Hudson Bay. Their ship became icebound, so they marched south into what was later named Minnesota and lived off the land for many generations before mysteriously disappearing. The only evidence they left behind was the Rosetta Stone, the pagan "Sacred

Classified Ads 1.0.0 = male, 0.1.0 = female, 0.0.1 = unsexed c.b. = captive bred, o.b.o. = or best offer

For Sale Adult Long Term Captive Monitors. 1.1.1 Varanus dumerili, 1.0 V. jobiensis, 0.0.1 V. niloticus omatus. Also 2 adult tegus. Some cages, mice, rats and rabbits. Please caIl for more details, all trades considered. Dan (612) 772-9315. 2.1 Dumeril's Boas, Acrantophis dumerili, c.b. babies 10/95. Feeding well on small mice. $250 ea. Desert Kingsnakes c.b. 8/95 $25 ea. Call Connie or Jobn (612) 374-5422 2.3 Spotted Pythons, Antaresia macuiosa, C.B. 7/95 $95 - $125 ea. 2.2 Bay of LA Rosy Boas, Lichanura t. saslowi, CB 9/95, excellent feeders $95 - $125 ea. 1.1 Mexican Rosy Boas, Lichanura t. trivirgala, CB 9/95 $75 ea. 5.4 Kenyan Sand Boas, Eryx c. loveridgi, CB 9/95, from bright orange parents, $50 - $75 ea. Will also trade for Aesculapian Rat Snakes, Elaphe longissima, or Pueblan Milks, Lampropeltis t. campbelli. Uli Sacchet (612) 937-5838. Mice and Rats. Call Little Critters (612) 421-0097 Rabbits - Fryer size, current listed market price. Discounts for orders of 6 or more. Rat size $1.50 ea. or 6 for $7.50. Adults $2 ea when available. All sizes currently available. Call Jim Daluge (612) 295-2818. 1995 HERPETOLOGICAL DlRECTORY. Valuable info source containing private & commercial breeders, wholesalers, foreign exporters, US/foreign societies, foad sources, supplies, publications, more .....$15. MCNisa. Great Valley Serpentarium, 2379 Maggio Circle, Unit C Ladi, CA 95240, (209) 369-7737, Fax (209) 369-7737.

Male albino Burmese Python for breeding loan. Call: Dan (612) 772-9315. Looking for current & back issues of herp related magazines, symposia, joumals & newsletters from around the world: U.S., England, Europe, Australia, Africa, etc. Call Joel (814) 724-8351, PA.

Miscellaneous BREEDlNG lNVENTORY SURVEY: Everyone keeping live reptiles and amphibians is asked to contribute to this annual report. Please submit the following info current Jan. 1st of each year: (1) Inventory of collection, list numbers and sex, (2) list of 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 info to: Frank Slavens, P.O. Box 30744, Seattle, WA 98103. Fax: (206) 546-2912. SEA TURTLE SURVIVAL LEAGUE, announces its' line of eco-promoting sea turtle merchandise, for a free catalog write: Sea Turtle Survival League, P.O. Box .. 2866, Gainesville, FL 32602-2866 or call (800) 6787853. Will fmd or provide "homes" for any and ail unwanted venomous snakes and crocodilians. For more info contact: The Exotic Dead Comer (612) 545-5127. GREAT VALLEY SERPENTARIUM, a private museum and breeding facility offering a wide selection of c.b. colubrlds, boids and lizards. Open to the public. Write or fax for free price-liSt. Great Valley Serpentarium, 2379 Maggio Circle, Unit C Lodi, CA 95240, (209) 369-7737, Fax (209) 369-7737.

Wanted ALL THE SHED SNAKE SKlNS IN THE WORLD, Always, to use at hands-on programs to give to kids. Bob Duerr (612) 541-0362. Wanted: Any Day Geckos (Phelsuma). Call Dean R. Montour (612) 257-2462. Herp related news clippings, original articles, artwork, cartoons, etc. for publication in the MHS Newsletter. Authors and artists will receive compensation in the fonn of volunteer hrs, good towards one "priceless" MHS coffee mug. Send submissions to: MN Herp. Soc.! Editor, c/o Bell Museum of Natural History, 10 Church St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455-0104. My female Rough-scaled Sand Boa is ready to breed this year. Looking for a male as a breeding loan. Call Chase; (612) 374-5422.

P.O. Box 5818

CALENDAR OF EVENTS Mar. 1, 1996 MHS Annual Election Meeting. Guest Speaker: JOHN MCGRATH, Topic: EUROPEAN FIRE SALAMANDERS. Borlaug Hall, U ofM, St. Paul Campus. 7pm. Mar. 30, 1996 Great Lakes Declining Amphibians Conference. Milwaukee Public Museum, 800 W. Wells St. Milwaukee WI 53233. Pre-registration $5.00. For more info Contact: Gary S. Caspar (414) 278-2766, fax (414) 278-6100, Emall- Apr. 12, 1996 MHS General Meeting. Guest Speaker: TERI SCHWEISS, DVM. Borlaug Hall, U of M, St. Paul Campus. 7pm. Apr. 12-14, 1996 Amphibians and Reptiles of Indiana: A Symposium in Honor Of Dr. Sherman A. Minton, Jr. Indianapolis, IN. For more info Contact: Harriet A. Rodenberg, University Place Conference Center and Hotel, 850 Michigan St., Indianapolis, IN 46202-5198 (317) 274-5053. Apr. 13, 1996 Annual All Florida Herpetological Conference. Gainesville, FL. Rietz Union, University Campus, University of Florida. For more info Contact: Dr. David Auth (904) 392-1721. May 3, 1996 MHS General Meeting. Guest Speaker: JOHN MELTZER. Borlaug Hall, U of M, St. Paul Campus. 7pm. July 13-14, 1996 International Reptile Breeder's Convention. San Diego Concourse Plaza Hall, San Diego, CA. For more info Contact: Ray Busby (800) 497-3550. July 24-29, 1996 39th Annual Meeting of the SSAR. University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS. For more info Contact: Cathy M. Dwigans, Academic & Professional Programs/Continuing Education, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045 (913) 864-3284, fax (913) 864-5074 Aug. 17-18, 1995 National Reptile Breeder's Expo. Radisson Twin Towers Hotel & Convention Center, Orlando, FL. Contact: Wayne Hill, P.O. Box 3277, Winter Haven, Fl 33885 (813) 294-2235. Sept. 14-15. 1996 Mid-Atlantic Reptile Show. Maryland State Fairgrounds, Baltimore, MD. For more info Contact: Tim Hoen, Maryland Herp. Soc., 2643 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218-4590 (410) 235-6116.

MRS Rodent Sales

SYMPOSIUM IN HONOR OF DR. SHERMAN A. MINTON, JR. 12-14 April 1996, Indianapolis, Indiana

Mice: pinkies $6.00 dozen fuzzies $6.00 dozen adults $9.00 dozen Rats:

pups adults

$10.00 dozen $12.00 six $24.00 dozen

For pickup at monthly meetings only. Orders must be placed at least one week in advance of date of meeting at which frozen rodents are to be delivered. Place orders with Terry Scheiber (612) 440-7482. All proceeds from MHS rodent and merchandise sales go toward the operating costs of the society such as; speaker fees, library purchases, charitable donations, etc. The MHS is a completely volunteer rUIl, non-profit organization.

ANIMAlIA EXOTICA, INC sriecler Owned & Operated

Handfed Baby Birds Reptiles, Other Exotics 882-0337 1939 W: Burnsville P!<wy Burnsville. MN 55337


he Indiana Academy of Sciences is sponsoring a Symposium in April of 1996 in honor of Sherman A. Minton, Jr. on the occasion of the publication of his revision of the Amphibians and Reptiles aflndiana. The symposium will be held 12-14 April 1996 in Indianapolis at the Indiana UniversitylPurdue University Conference Center. Dr. Minton is well known for his work on venomous reptiles, the reptiles of Pakistan; the regional herpetology of the midwest, and popular books on herpetology. The Symposium will include a Friday evening (12 April) dinner featuring Whit Gibbons as the after dinner speaker. The morning program of the Saturday Conference (13 April) will focus on the career of Dr. Minton with talks by Carl Gans (Minton'S work on the reptiles of Pakistan), David Hardy (pitviper bites), Bernard Bechtel (abnormalities in reptiles), and Harold Voris (venomous sea snakes). The afternoon session will focus on "Hoosier Herpetology" and the publication of Minton's revision of his classic monograph on the herpetofauna of Indiana; biologists working on the amphibians and reptiles ofIndiana will present brief overviews of their research and provide a perspective on herpetological research in Indiana today. On Sunday (14 April) there will be optional field trips. For registration information, contact: Harriet A. Rodenberg (Minton Conference), University Place, Conference Center and Hotel, 850 West Michigan Street, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202-5198, USA. Tel. 317-274-5053; Fax: 317-274-3878; e-mail:

MHS Newsletter Volume 16 Number 2 Page 7 Skink of the Blue Tongue" ceremony, and the Hayfield Megalith, which subsequently turned out to be a rusted out 1950 Nash Rambler in a pasture. But it was worth a few tourist bucks. Anyway, this Lost Tribe of Olaf was kinda the Sasquatch of Minnesota. The Tribe supposedly summered hidden in the wilds of the BWCA near Ely, and followed the Yak herds south by night to Dirge County in the winter. Some said they (the Tribe, not the Yaks) dumped lye into pristine Dirge creeks to make lutefisk. I never gave these rumors much credence, being a regular Doubting Toddas.

blows supercooled humid air over the victim until the prey is frozen solid. Then the serpent picks up the living ice cube in its jaws and drops it from a considerable height. The victim shatters into bite-sized pieces for the snake to consume at its leisure. All this passed through my mind in a millisecond. Then I heard the great serpent inhale hugely, and I knew I was finished. I think I must have blacked out then, for I remember little else. Perhaps I dreamed of men in furs firing fiery arrows at the snake, and shouts in a Scandinavian tongue. Perhaps; I don't know. I awakened lying on the floor in my living room, in front of the woodburner. My snowmobile sui~ mittens and wet boots had been removed. Maggie snored contentedly off to one side. Criminy, I thought. Did 1 dream all of this?? I got to my feet shakily and looked around the house. Nothing seemed to be missing save a six-pack of Old Mill Lite and REO Speedwagon's second album, RE.O. T.W.O. And in its place was wedged ... ... a piece of lutefisk.



Ii' r::=--:e:Boa,

3.14159265359 .... Fig. 3: pi out to< 35 sig-figs

Boa boxelderus dirgii

Maggie's whimper stirred me from my reverie. In the time I had been standing there musing, the wind had increased and visibility was down to twenty feet. Windchill was an estimated minus 6.02 gadzUlion. I headed out toward where I thought the farmstead must be, but I knew we were in trouble. Tears blown from my eyes. froze to my cheeks. My mustache too, was frozen hard-now what could that be? On the verge of panic, I tried to run and tripped over a fallen snow-covered tree trunk. As I struggled to my fee~ I thought There isn't supposed to be afallen tree over here ...and then the blood froze in my veins as the tree trunk began to curve and lifted from the ground. I turned to my left and saw the cold gaping maw of the most terrifying winter denizen in North America: the Giant Snow Snake, Megaiceus stupendicus. This was a truly massive specimen, more than 25 feet in length (that's an estimate, because I could only see twenty feet) and roughly 7.67 feet in girth (given c =2m, assuming diameter of 2.44 fee~ r of 1.22 feet, and rounding pi off to 35 sig-figs). Its head alone was over four feet long, studded with two ice-blue eyes which showed not a whit (sorry, Dr. Gibbons) of mercy. Its cruel mouth was festooned with countless recurved teeth: veritable icicles of death. I craned my neck back and observed, like a true amateur herpetologist about to die, that it had four rows of teeth on its upper palate and two rows on its lower jaw. The Giant Snow Snake's modus operandi was as brilliant as it was deadly, I remembered with fleeting admiration. The snake will straighten itself out in the snow looking for all the world like a snow-covered fallen tree. When an unsuspecting prey animal (deer, yak, reindeer) ventures close enough, the snake rears up, inhales mightily, and

o Fig. 4 Zero

Well that's enough (and perhaps too mUch) from Dirge County. Todd. Editor's Note: Dear Todd, Thanks for all the info on Minnesota's wonderful winter herpetofauna. I really don't get out very much during the winter, so all of the species you mention are animals of which I know absolutely, positively nothing about (see Fig. 4 above). From what you say in your letter, most of the foul weather critters active down in your neck of the woods seem almost as obnoxious as some of the species I have to put up with during the summer (you know, when the temp might actually reach +30). Among the mild weather herpetofauna I find particularly annoying are those incredibably prolific Fanbel! Snakes, Lampropeltis autobelticus, and the equally common Innertube Snake, Snakus fakus rubberi. Anyway, glad to hear about your miraculous escape and I'm really SOrry about your burnt lips. Hopefully you'll be able to snowshoe your way up here in March to pick up your mug. If not, I'll send it along with my next shipment of prairie dogs, ok. I just hope old lost Olaf and his boys don't frod out or they'll all expect one too! Talk to you soon. John.

MHS Nesletter Volume 16 Number 2 Page 8

$1,641.25 By Bill Moss. That's the new all time record total for the MRS White Snake Sale. About 90 of you die-hard Minnesotans bmved the -20 degree temperatures to attend our major fund-raising event on February 2. You got some great deals on some great items donated by commercial herp supply vendors, as well as MRS members. I myself found things tbat I just COUldn't pass up (a camouflage bat with a rubber alligator head sticking out the front is just one of those things I didn't think I could possibly live without!). This money goes a long way toward funding MRS without having to raise membership dues. It helps to get those great speakers you are used to, purchase necessary supplies, make donations to other herp related projects where we feel we can make a difference as well as provide cash for the reservations we are going to have to make this year in preparation for the Midwest Symposium MRS is hosting in 1997. We couldn't bave pulled it off without the hard work of many MRS members. These people solicited donations, numbered and cataloged all of the 406 items donated, collected the items from the tables, set out new items for each of the four lots that we auctioned, and distributed purchased items at the end of tbe auction. For belping out at tbe auction, I would like to tbank; Gloria Anton, Gary Ash, Dan Bergquist, Marilyn and Randy Blasus, Michael and Donna Gaunt, Nancy Hakomaki, Sean Hewitt, Del Jones, Greg Kvanbeck, Barb Radanke, and James and Siri Rea for all the hard work. Well Done! In addition, I want to thank all the Bell Museum Starr for tbe inconvenience of having to deal with all the packages that carne in from out-of-state vendors. As a way of thanking them for their contributions, please support the businesses and their products listed below. Their donations make the difference between the $500-$600 White Snake Sale totals of a couple of years ago to what it is today. In the following list an * indicates a local business. All About Pets * Bloomington Vet Clinic • California Zoological Supply Cornell University Press Energy Savers Unlimited Glades Herp Inc Leaping Lizards Mountain Meadow Products Nekton-USA Inc. Ocean Nutrition Perfecto Mfg Co. Pillstrom Tongs


Pretty Bird International * Python Products Inc Rep Cal Reptile and Amphibian Mag. Reptiles Magazine Serpents Tale Southview Animal Hospital Tetra Terrafauna The Remarkable Reptiles • Twin Cities Reptiles • ZooMed Laboratories


Thanks to the following MRS members for making donations to the White Snake Sale. Gloria Anton Dan Bergquist Randy and Marilyn Blasus Kathy and Dave Boron Fred and Liz Bosman Andrea Braucks Dennis Daly Michael and Donna Gaunt Becky Helgeson Sean Hewitt

John and Connie Levell Dan Keyler Greg Kvanheck Bill Moss Barb Radanke The Rea Family Teri Schweiss DVM Michelle Stephan Russ Tess


MHS Newsletter Volwne 16 Number 2 Page 9

Snakes of Minnesota By Jeff LeClere

Black Rat Snake Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta Description: Black Rat Snakes are among the largest of Minnesota's snakes. Adults range from 40 to 74 incbes in lengtb. The record length is 101 inches (Conant and Collins, 1991). It is non venomous and, as it's name implies, is generally a black snake, although very few specimens are completely pitch black. Most adults have sbiny, unmarked black beads and necks with brigbt white labials. Dorsally, tbe bodies are black or brown witb white, yellow, or red in between the scales or on the scale tips as well. In most cases these bigbligbts accent a blotcbed pattern tbat is much more evident in young specimens. Posteriorly, tbe snake becomes solid black again. Ventrally, the throat and neck are white. At tbe middle, black or brown invades the wbite and posteriorly tbe ventrals are a sbiny bluisb black. The anal plate is divided and the scales are weakly keeled dorsally becoming smooth on tbe last two or three scale rows on tbe sides. The young are brigbtly patterned with black or dark brown blotcbes on the back and sides on a white or Iigbt gray background. This pattern fades quickly and specimens reach adult coloration in about two or three years. Young are about 11 to 13 incbes at birth. Subspecies: Elaphe obsoleta contains about five subspecies. Only one, tbe Black Rat Snake, Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta, occurs in Minnesota. Range: This subspecies bas a very broad range througbout Eastern North America, from soutbeastern Minnesota to nortbern Louisiana and east to tbe eastern seaboard. In Minnesota, this snake bas a very small range. Only two southeastern counties (Olmstead and Houston) bave documented records and less tban five individuals have been recorded for the entire state. I have found Black Rat Snakes in the soutbern portion of A1lamakee County, Iowa, the next county south of Houston County, Minnesota. If you see a Black Rat Snake in Minnesota, report it to the DNR or the MHS. If possible, try to get a good photo of the specimen for positive identification. Habitat: Black Rat Snakes prefer beavily wooded habitats. They are one of the few Minnesota snakes tbat are actually found in deep woodland areas. They are found on the north and east sides of bluffs while most other snake species are usually found on the otber side of the bluff. Hahits: Black Rat Snakes emerge from their rocky crevice retreats in late April or early May. They bibernate with many other snakes species, most notably Timber Rattlesnakes, Racers, and Bullsnakes. Many Black rat Snakes move to the other side of the bluff, but individuals may be scattered along tbe entire bluff. They are diurnal

even during hot weather, thougb tbey do move at nigbt on occasion. These snakes can be very difficult to find in their wooded babitat. Farther west, tbey frequent more flat, open areas, sucb as meadows and grasslands wbere they are more likely to use cover, so one may flip tin, boards, and rocks and tum up many of tbese snakes. In Minnesota, western Wisconsin, and northeastern Iowa, they do not use tbat type of cover nearly as much. Instead tbey often climb trees up to 40 feet higb and may spend days hiding in the hollows of trees. When approacbed, Black Rats usually remain motionless. With tbeir cryptic black coloration, they become almost invisible against tree bark or even wbile resting on tbe dark forest floor. A few specimens are sometimes found under rocks along bluff outcroppings or roadcuts, but to search for these snakes in their vast forest babitat, I rely more heavily upon road cruising on bo~ bumid nigbts just before or just after a storm. Early spring and late fall are also good times to go nigbt cruising for this species. There may be more Black Rat Snakes in Minnesota than existing records indicate, as tbis snake spends most of its time in areas wbere other snake species are not normally found. Because of tbis many berpers simply do not look in places were these snakes are likely to be found. Even so, bow do you look for black snakes in tbe bollows or brancbes of trees 40 feet up in tbe air? When first caugb~ most Black Rat Snakes will bite, a1tbougb most will calm down readily. Still, some are nervous and will thrasb and strike even after long periods in captivity. Tbey will vibrate their tails, wbicb often produces a rattling sound causing it to be slain as a rattlesnake by farmers and locals. Otbers kill it simply because tbey are startled by a 5 or 6 foot long black snake. These snakes breed in the spring and the female deposits about 15 eggs in rotting wood in late summer. In tbe fall, the eggs batcb. Black Rat Snakes USUally migrate back to tbeir bibernation dens in October. Food: The adults usually consume rodents. Mice, chipmunks, voles, shrews, even full grown squirrels bave been reported in it's diet. Because of tbeir climbing ability and time spent in trees, tbese snakes probably prey on birds and birds' eggs most beavily of all Minnesota snakes. The young will feed on frogs, especially treefrogs, lizards and young mice. A juvenile Black Rat I caugbt on a road just before a storm had eaten a Gray Treefrog, Hyla versicolorlchrysoscelis complex. Care: Black Rat Snakes are not difficult to take care of. They may vary greatly in individual disposition, bowever. The main thing is to make sure tbey feel secure, so providing a "bide box" is essential. Black Rat Snakes will require a large cage. A 20 to 40 gallon long

MHS Newsletter Volume 16 Number 2 Page 10 aquarium will work or you can make your own. Astroturf or newspaper will work for a substrate, but many specimens will hide under these materials or push them around and scrunch them up. Try using aspen shavings if turf or newspaper does not work. Always provide fresh clean water, but the bowl must be heavy otherwise large adults will spill the waier. Ventral heat is useful and a dome light on one side of the cage is recommended to keep the temperature in the upper 80's Fahrenheit during the day. Climbing branches are useful in this case, as many Black Rat Snakes will spend time using them. A Rat Snake's body is flat on the bottom (many references say it is shaped like a loaf of bread) instead of being rather round as in other species of snakes. This allows them to grip bark easily and scale large trees effortlessly. This also allows them to find their way out of cages easier, so make sure the lid is secure. These snakes may have a real problem with noserub, just like the other Minnesota Rat Snake, the Fox Snake, Elaphe vulpina. A secure, dark hide box will often times take care of this. If it does not, try making the snake's enclosure bigger or smaller. Unlike many Fox Snakes, however, Black Rat Snakes will usually eat readily and consistently in captivity, especially young captlve produced specimens. Black Rat Snakes are usually afforded some type of protection where they occur in the wild, but fortunately they are readily available from breeders or pet stores. Breeding may be carried out in the same manner as with many other Minnesota snakes. A hibernation period of about three months at 500 F is recommended. Warm them up and feed them a couple times, then (if possible) place two males together. They mayor may not combat. I have never seen nor heard or read of wild Black Rat Snakes combating, but I have had them do it in captive situations, although not often or consistently. AIl have resulted in successful breedings with females. I usually put both males in with her. After breeding, all snakes are separated and the female is fed heavily until she stops eating. I watch for the pre-egg laying shed. After this shed (sometimes before) I introduce a hide box. I use plastic shoe or sweater boxes full of damp sphagnum moss with a hole cut in the side. After the eggs are laid, I move them to the incubator where they are kept at 82° to 84° F. After 50 to 60 days the young hatch. They usually feed well on pinkie mice and even stubborn ones have all eaten pinkies scented with Gray Treefrogs, Spring Peepers, or Chorus Frogs. You will notice that the young will rapidly get darker, especially after their first year. There are also a couple of albino Black Rat Snake strains - all of which are attractive. These keep their young looking pattern throughout their lives. They will be ready to breed at three or four years of age.

Oldfield, B. L. and J. J. Moriarty. 1994. AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES NATIVE TO MlNNESOTA. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN. Rossi, John V. 1992. SNAKES OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA: KEEPING THEM HEALTHY IN CAPTIVITY. VOL. I, EASTERN REGION. Krieger Publishing Co. Malabar, FL. Staszko, Ray and J. G. Walls. 1994. RAT SNAKES: A HOBBYISTS GUIDE TO ELAPHE AND KIN. T.F.H. Publ. Neptune City, NJ. Vogt, Richard Carl. 1981. NATURAL HISTORY OF THE AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES OF WISCONSIN. Milwaukee Public Museum. Milwaukee, WI.

California Zoological Supply has been serving the globe w~h cold·blooded animals since 1977. We are always interested in purchasing quality captive~bred animols. ~"'rm ,i

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Bibliography: Roger and Collins, Joseph T. 1991. A FIELD GUIDE TO REPTILES AND AMPHIBIANS OF EASTERN AND CENTRAL NORTH AMERICA, 3rd edition. Houghton Mifflin. Boston, MA.


-Reg--;l,:if C..:;£3C"JO e.::·~s!r ctcrs-Tcr:Jllt...:.OS--H ClrtJ-



JOHN & RUTH MELTZER (612)263-7880

MRS Newsletter Volume 16 Number 2 Page 11




I would like to thank you, the MHS Volunteer, for the gift of your time and labor to the society. In 1995 you volunteered 3419 hours toward the fulfilhnent of the goals ofMHS. You 108 volunteers equal 31 percent of our membership donating time to MHS projects in 1995. Anytime an organization achieves over 10 percent volunteerism , it is considered above average. MHS members are far and above average. We all benefit by your continued enthusiasm. As a small token of our appreciation, MHS will present to those of you with 10 or more hours of volunteer time the most coveted of awards, the "Holy Grail" of modem herpetology, the "official" MHS Coffee Mug. These will be given out at the March meeting, so please plan to attend. I know many of couldn't spare the time to make the 10 hour margin, but I am no less gratefulfor the time that you could spare. If any corrections are need to be made to tbis list, please contact me as soon as possible. I don't want to mistakenly leave anyone out. Thanks again, Bill Moss - MHS President. OVER 90 VOLUNTEER HOURS Blasus, Marilyn Moss, Bill Hewitt, Sean Stephan, Michelle Hakomaki, Nancy Blasus, Randy Bosman, Fred Bosman, Liz Anton, Gloria Backer, Mike Wahl, Doris 40 TO 89 VOLUNTEER HOURS Gaunt, Donna Gaunt, Micheal LeClere, Jeff Levell, Connie Levell, John Boulds, Liz Larson, Jan Delles, Bruce Larson, Merle Delles, Brandon Jackobsen, Jake Daly, Dennis Kirby, Jared Kaufman, Dave Delles, Chase Larson, Beau Rea,James Hoeye,Ken Hoffman, Jim 20 TO 39 HOURS Thiss, Eric Brice, Lindsay

LeTendre, Shelly Moriarty, John Haig,Nancy Ulveness, Derek Rea, Karin Radanke, Barb Rea, Siri Kvanbeek, Greg Boron,Dave Ash, Gary Boron, Kathy Bergquist, Dan Jimerson, Nanette Webber, Mark 10 TO 19 VOLUNTEER HOURS Calander, Donna Kwong,Alan Schmidke, Mark Gennann, George Hoppe,Dave Scheiber, Terry Larson, Virginia Miller, Chris Jones, Delvin Wesely, Sandy Wesley, Brad Daniels, Todd Merck, Gordon Haig,Bruce Porwell,Ann Howard, Michael Good,Norm Richard, Sarah Larson, Alex Meissner, Ted Richard, George Wilbur, Marla

DIDN'T QUITE MAKE 10 VOLUNTEER HOURS Galli, Joan Linck, Madeliene Kowalski, Jim Kowalski, Tamara Nelson, Mark Weber, Larry Brewer, Sally Hoeye, Cindy Klatt, Jeff Tucker, Keith Roedler, Anna Braucks, Andrea Ulveness, Dominique Cisewski, Tina Nielson, Greg Lang,Jeff Meltzer, John Miller, Diana Huomas,lan Boelter, Alyssa Jopp, Richard Oldfield, Bamey Richard,Megan Richard, Zach Sheldon, A.B. Helgeson, Becky Pemecke, Tom Schraer, Jon Statz, Jodi Statz, Roger Danculovich, Rachyl Katayama, Nina Stacy, Don Kwong,Neal Sorenson, Soren Kwong, Laura Levell III, John

MHS Newsletter Volume 16 Number 2 Page 12

Board Meeting Highlights

January 1996 Treasurer's Report

By Randy Blasns, Recording Secretary

Prepared by Marilyn Brooks Blasns

The monthly meeting of the MRS Board of Directors was conducted on February 3rd at George Richard's home. A quorum was present. The board took the following action: The Board is placing money into a CD in order to receive interest. It will be a six month account so the money will be available for Midwest expenses, if necessary. Bill received some of the overdue books that the Librarian reported missing last month. The Board approved the purchase of several new books for the Library. The Board also approved a $200 dollar budget for the Librarian. MRS now has an E-Mail address. Discussed were the Volunteer hours, White Snake Sale, Newsletter, Insurance and Photo Contest. Presented and accepted were: Treasurer's Report and Board Meeting Minutes. Membership Report not available.

Beginning Check Book Balance


Income: Membership Raffle Sales Donations Fines Other Total Income:

260.00 63.00 128.87 83.82 2.00 4.00 541.69

Expense: Newsletter Misc. PrintIPostage Program Library Books Supplies Refreshments Other Total Expense:

643.73 50.00 45.94 15.00 136.66 882.33

MHS Member Honored! Congratulations to MRS member Anna Roedler who was named St. Paul Parks and Recreation Youth Volunteer of the Month for December 1995.

Net Income/Loss: Ending Check Book Balance: Funds Allocated to Unpaid Expenses: Funds Available:

(340.64) 4,130.61 4,130.61

Conservation Fund Balance:

~ !0L1

For Sale or Petting Zoos Parties or Promotions Dutch

English Spot

Jim's Rabbit Shack

.~.7.r~(~ 0~


Where Spots Are Tops JtM DALUGE 8700 Jaber Ave. N.E.

Monticello. MN 55362 (612) 295-2818



BloomIngton VeterInary

Ylo~.'l3TJL Hospital, P.A. 8830 Lyndale Avenue South. Bloomington, MN 55·120 TEL: 884-3228 • FAX: 884-7357

fA Sweeney DVM

W.H. Sweeney DVM

Hospital Hours M-T-W-T 8:00 AM TO 9:00 PM FRIDAY 8.00 AM TO 6.00, PM SATURDAY 8.00 AM TO 1.00 PM

Please Ask /oiJl' Dr. Weber

ANIMALS OF WALTON'S HOLLOW Exotic & Farm Animals Bill & Jean Walton 5425 Peterson Road WhiteBearLake,MN 55127-6713 (612)426-8163


Advertising Rates and Instructions

Amphibian & Reptile Information

Classified Ads: Are run free of charge to paid members. Non-member rates are ten cents per word. per month. Ads may run three (3) consecutive months, after which time they may be re-submitted. Business Cards: Institutional members may run one standard sized business card free of charge. Non-member rate for standard

Specific questions concerning ampbibians and reptiles are best answered by contacting the following individuals at the numbers provided. Please remember to be reasonable about the time of day and bow frequently you call. Amphihians & Reptiles in Minnesota John Moriarty (612) 482-8109 Greg Kvanbeck (612) 533-7723

sized business cards is $5.00 per month. Display and Expanded Size Ad Rates: Ad Size Month 3+ Months 6+ Months 1/4 Page $10.00 $7.50 $5.00 1/2 Page $20.00 $15.00 $10.00 Page $40.00 $25.00 $15.00 (All prices are per month) SubmissIons: All advertisements should be submitted to the; MHS EdilDr, Bell Museum of Natural History, 10 Church SI. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455. MAKE CHECKS PAYABLE TO:

Other Snakes Large Boas & Pythons John Meltzer (612) 263-7880 Karl Hennann (612) 730-6265 Jeff LeClere (612) 488-6388 Glen Jacobsen (612) 757-8263 Aquatic Turtles Terrestrial Turtles Gary Ash (612) 753路0218 John Moriarty (612) 482-8109 John Levell (612) 374-5422 Glen Jacobsen (612) 757-8263 Crocodilians Lizards Jeff Lang (701) 772-0227 Nancy Haig (612) 434-8684 Bill Moss (612) 488-1383 Amphibians Greg Kvanbeck (612) 533路7723 John Meltzer (612) 263-7880

Minnesota Herpetological Society.

MRS Ad Pollcy: The MHS assumes NO RESPONSIBILITY regarding the legality or health of any animal, or the quality or legality of any product or service advertised in the MHS Newsletter. Any ad may be rejected at the discretion of the Newsletter Editor. Due to space limitations Unpaid and Complimentary advertisements are subject to occasional


MEMBERSHIP AND T -SIDRT ORDER FORM MINNESOTA HERPETOLOGICAL SOCIETY NAME{S) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ ADDRESS, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ___

CITY _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ___ PHONE ___________________________

STATE _ _ __





NO ____


HERP RELATED INTERESTS: ____________________________________________________


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

INSTITUTION .... $25.00

____CONTRIBUTING..... $30.00

__---"BASIC .... $15.00

Are you currently (or will be) a University of Minnesota student? ___{check if yes) HOW DID YOU HEAR OF MHS? ____________________________________________________

NewDesign Bull Snake T-Shirts ($14.00 each includes postage) SMALL___

Indicate how many of each size MEDIUM_



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 Society, Bell Museum Of Natural History, IO Church Street South East, Minneapolis, MN 55455-0104


Non-Profit Rate U. S. Postage



Mpls.MN Permit No. 2275




+ 1174 12/99 G

Attn: MHS Recording Secretary 3224 Idaho Avenue S St. Louis Park, MN 55426



Vol. 16 (1996), No. 2  

Minnesota Herpetological Society Newsletter

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