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minnesota herpetological society

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st T i m e A g e F n e R a s in ! ’ t I

• RenFest Info

• Building a Frog Pond

• The Origin of “Crocodile Tears”

AU GUS T 20 0 6

VO LU M E 26

NUMBER 8


Board of Directors

President Bruce Haig

BELL MUSEUM

OF

NATURAL HISTORY, 10 CHURCH STREET SOUTHEAST, MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA 55455-0104

Vice President Tim Banovitz

Recording S ecretary Ellen Heck

Membership Secretary George Richard

V O I C E M A I L : 612.624.7065 • M H S W E B P A G E : HTTP :// WWW. MNHERPSOC . ORG M H S G R O U P E M A I L : H T T P :// W W W. G R O U P S . YA H O O . C O M / G R O U P / M N H E R P S O C

Treasurer Nancy Haig

August 2006

Newsletter Editor Asra Halvorson Members at Large Fred Bosman David Dewitt

Carmelita Knudson

Committees

Education Jan Larson

Library Tim Banovitz

Webmaster Anke Reinders

Volume 26

Number 8

The Purpose of the Minnesota Herpetological Society is to:

Sarah Richard

Adoption Sarah Richard

The Minnesota H er pet ol og i ca l S o c i e t y

theMHSwebmaster@yahoo.com

• of • •

Further the education of the membership and the general public in care and captive propagation reptiles and amphibians; Educate the members and the general public in the ecological role of reptiles and amphibians; Promote the study and conservation of reptiles and amphibians.

The Minnesota Herpetological Society is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. Membership is open to all individuals with an interest in amphibians and reptiles. The Minnesota Herpetological Society Newsletter is published monthly to provide its members with information concerning the society’s activities and a media for exchanging information, opinions and resources. General Meetings are held at Borlaug Hall, Room 335 on the St. Paul Campus of the University of Minnesota, on the first Friday of each month (unless there is a holiday conflict). The meeting starts at 7:00pm and lasts about three hours. Please check the MHS Voice mail for changes in schedules or cancellations. Submissions to the Newsletter Ads or Notices must be submitted no later than the night of the General Meeting to be included in the next issue. Longer articles will be printed as time and space allows and should be in electronic file format if possible. See inside back cover for ad rates. Submissions may be sent to: The Minnesota Herpetological Society Attn: Newsletter Editor Bell Museum of Natural History 10 Church St. SE. Minneapolis, MN 55455.0104

Copyright 2006, Minnesota Herpetological Society. Except where noted, contents may be reproduced for non-profit, noncommercial use only. All material must be reproduced without change. Proper credit will be given including the author/photographer and the MHS Newsletter citing: volume, number and date.


The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

July Speaker Review

By Ellen Heck, Recording Secretary

The speaker for July was Rebecca Christoffel. She worked a number of years in Madison, as wildlife outreach specialist and is currently working on her doctorate at Michigan State. In 1992 she started presenting reptiles to the public.

Over the years, she has encountered various perceptions of reptiles, and especially snakes, and their conservation from the general public. A commonly held idea seems to be that conservation is not needed – “they aren’t like white-tail deer” (although this is true; white-tail deer are abundant while

August 2006 Volume 26

the snakes are endangered). Rebecca’s main focus of study is the Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus). This species was listed as threatened in Minnesota in 1996 and federally as endangered in 1999. Most people, however, do not seem to be aware of their protected status.

Not a lot of research has been done in the past as to people’s perceptions of reptiles and the reasons for them. In 1980, research showed that 78% of rattlesnakes were disliked. In 1997 it was shown that although most people supported conservation of wildlife, they didn’t seem too enthusiastic about including snakes. There is a general idea that snakes are not really wildlife. A survey of people who admitted to

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killing snakes showed that 53% felt they had to do it for “protection”, 16% said they did it because they hated snakes, 8% admitted it was due to fear and 23% gave no reason. What this shows is that people kill snakes because the see it as necessary.

Rebecca also pointed out that when she was choosing a photo to put on a brochure, she had to pick one where the snake had its head down on its body. She had found that people thought a snake with its head up was ready to strike. Those of us who keep snakes or have observed them know that this is not the case, but the misinterpretation of a snake’s body language can lead to someone perceiving the snake’s interest as threat.

Rebecca is initiating a public education and outreach program in southeast Michigan. She picked this are because there is a large population of people and good habitat for the rattlesnakes. Her emphasis is on teaching people to co-exist with the snakes. To do this she assesses people’s attitudes, develops educational material, is working on a local resource network, holds educational workshops, both for people directly involved in conservation and private landowners, and works with wildlife/outdoor writers to provide balanced media coverage. Rebecca also did research into people’s attitudes towards snakes. Her target group was people who either have snakes on their property or who visit areas that have snakes. She conducted both personal interviews and a mail survey. In the personal interview, she had people place pictures of various herps (a frog, a toad, salamanders, a turtle, a garter snake and a rattlesnake) along a pair scales, first a love/hate (Continued on page 6)

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The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

August 2006 Volume 26

Number 8

News, Notes, & Announcements Rodent Sales for August will have a strict cut-off date of July 29th. There will be no extra sales at this meeting.

July Critter of the Month

Free Stuff! Watch for Great Giveaways!

Wow. After 25 years we sure have accumulated a lot of stuff.

The MHS board is reviewing our archives and eliminating unnecessary duplicates. For the next few months we will be giving away the extras at the general meetings. So check out the giveaway table for those back issues of Occasional papers, MHS newsletters and past years of other Herp societies newsletters you’ve been wanting. First come first dibs!

Hands On!

Tuesday, August 8, 2006 at the General Mills picnic from 47:30pm. You will be well fed! Contact Jan Larson for more information and directions.

July Adoption Report

This month, a Malaysian box turtle and a small burmese python found homes through the Adoption program A redeared slider is still in need of a permanent home. If you are interested in this animal, contact the Adoption Chair.

Ed Austin Bearded Dragon

Rebecca Christoffel Elaphe (Pantotheris) Obsoleta 4

Cover Photo by Jennifer Hensley, RenFest Chair


The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

August 2006 Volume 26

Huzzah! It’s RenFest Time Again!

• If you are bringing your own animal. (We do have plans set up if you do not but would prefer if it if you bring your own because you know your animal best.)

By Jennifer Hensley

Dust off those shoes! Bring that Renaissance costume out of the back of the closet. It is here, the 2006 Renaissance session out at Como Cottage! We are in need of volunteers once again! Last year we had a great time, with over 33 people earning core status. If you already have your plastic badges they will be stamped and delivered by Judy Brumfield soon. Picture day for those that earned for 2006 will be announced soon. Those people are as follows: 1. Roger Allard 2.Rachel Anding 3. Linda Bittner 4. Fred Bosman 5. Liz Bosman 6. Andrea Braucks 7. Judi Brumfield 8. Connie Curry 9. Chad Danathar 10. Christy Danathar 11. Chase Delles 12. Amanda DeWitt 13. Dave DeWitt 14. Heather Evans 15. Nancy Hakomaki 16. Ellen Heck 17. Jennifer Hensley 18. Caitlin Holmstrom 19. Jody Holmstrom

Number 8

20. Ken Holmstrom 21. Marie Hulslander 22. Pete Kazeck 23. Christina Larson 24. Richard Lucas 25. Josh Mahlow 26. Jen Manna 27. Anna Miller 28. Lily Morris 29. Bill Moss 30. Jeff Printy 31. Sarah Richard 32. Mark Schmidtke 33. Todd Turner

The Festival runs weekends from Aug 19th – Oct 1st 2006 which includes Labor Day and September 29th which is better known as Festival Friday. This year we are trying something new for sign up. You must be in current standing as MN Herpetological Society Member (see George Richard if you are unsure if your dues are up to date). Please email starbrst72@msn.com or call Jennifer at 612-309-2458 prior to the Wednesday of the weekend you want to work with the following information: (remember you must work 2 two hour shifts to gain admittance into the festival for that day) • Days you wish to work

• Hours you wish to work (two hour intervals on a first come first serve basis (everything phone or email is time stamped) • Shows you prefer to see (also granted on a first come first serve basis)

• How you would like to be contacted with the hours you will be scheduled if you would like to know ahead of time (i.e. by email or phone and please provide that contact information) Hours for working are as follows: 9am – 11am 11am – 1pm 1pm – 3 pm 3pm – 5pm 5pm – 7pm

Orientation and final clean up of cottage will be Sunday August 13th at 9am. If this is your first year to join us please make sure you are there.

All people interested may also want to join the Minnesota Herpetological Society List Serve at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Mnherp soc/ , we have been participating in several Parades over the summer and this is the best place to get more information on those. We are forming as well a Pot Luck committee; please see me (Jennifer Hensley) if you are interested.

We will be having a cottage clean up and assessment on July 23rd at 9am. Please come willing to work!

You too can become a member of the Como-sapiens.

For any questions or other information please contact Jennifer Hensley. Thank you and here’s to another great year!

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The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

(Continued from page 3)

scale, then a like/fear. Unsurprisingly, the turtle was loved and liked, while snakes, especially the venomous one, were hated/feared. It does, however, document the relationship between hate and fear, at least as far as snakes are concerned.

Also, most people, while willing to share their property with the other animals, tend to not want to share with snakes. This is usually due to perceived safety issues. Although most people were in favor of frogs for their pest control uses, only 1 in 60 like listening to them sing.

Rebecca also sent out a mail survey to a carefully selected 2000 recipients, and received 60% back. One thing that was asked was what would be the preferred rattlesnake population. At one end was none or an at risk population. In the middle was a small or isolated but healthy population, and on top was a widespread, healthy population. Most people wanted the first option. She also asked people what their response would be to sighting a snake, with options of do nothing, call and ask for identification, have it moved or kill it. The more times a snake would, hypothetically, be sighted increased the likelihood of killing it. Over 300 people said they would kill a snake on the first sighting, despite its protected status and a possible misidentification of the snake.

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Rebecca emphasizes that to change the situation, you need to deal with why people are so intolerant of snakes and emphasize co-existing with them. In addition to providing training for natural resources and land management personnel, she has organized a volunteer snake responder network. The idea is that when a landowner calls in about

August 2006 Volume 26

a snake, someone goes out. Rather than automatically moving the snake, the volunteer talks to the owner about them, and how moving the snake will almost certainly result in its death. If the snake absolutely must be removed, it is moved as short a distance as possible from its home range. Public workshops are held for people who have reported seeing snakes, and others who may use land where they may be found. Also, many outdoor reporters and writers are invited, in an attempt to get balanced media representation of the snakes. A number of pamphlets and books are available on a variety of subjects, including how to encourage snakes on your property, how to discourage snakes on your property, and recognizing and treating snakebites. This includes 8 essential snakebite safety tips, and describes the typical snakebite victim – not someone just wandering through an area and being bitten, but an 18-35 year old white male who was deliberately handling the snake with bare hands. Alcohol is frequently a factor as well. You are far more likely to be bitten if

Number 8

you were a dog.

Based on pre- and post- workshop surveys, both the like and knowledge level goes up but the fear stays about the same. Why do people fear snakes? In part it is because most encounters with them are unplanned and tend to be startling. Cultural factors come into play; although snakes are revered in many places in the world, they are biblical villains in this country. The threat they pose is over-exaggerated, due in no small part to Hollywood portrayals and shock-oriented nature programs. To change people’s perceptions, you need to address these factors. One of the best ways is by example. When exhibiting the snakes, handle them correctly. Present the back and tail, rather than the head. The idea is not to represent them as warm and fuzzy animals, but to instill respect for them. In other words, you don’t have to like them, but there is no reason to be afraid of them. They were, after all, almost the national animal.


The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

Crocodile Tears

To weep crocodile tears is to put on an insincere show of sorrow. Origin

The allusion is to the ancient notion that crocodiles weep while devouring their prey. Crocodiles do indeed have lachrymal glands and produce tears to lubricate the eyes as humans do. They don’t cry though. Whatever emotion they experience when finding and devouring prey we can be certain it isn’t remorse. There are reports of references in French that date the belief back to 1230, although I’ve not been able to confirm those. The myth appeared in print in ‘The Voyage and Travail of Sir John Maundeville’, circa 1400:

“In that contre ... ben gret plentee of Cokadrilles ... Theise Serpentes slen men, and thei eten hem wepynge.”

(In that country - there are many crocodiles - These serpents slay men, and then, weeping, eat them) All of the very early citations refer directly to the myth of crocodiles weeping. It isn’t until the 16th century that we find ‘crocodile tears’ used with our current meaning. Edmund Grindal, Archbishop of York and of Canterbury was the first to use the phrase with the implication of insincerity, in 1563, (re-published in Strype’s ‘Life of Grindal’, 1711):

“I begin to fear, lest his humility ... be a counterfeit humility, and his tears crocodile tears.” http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/104800.html

August 2006 Volume 26

Number 8

MHS Treasurer's Report

Prepared by Nancy Haig, Treasurer

For May 2006 Beginning Checkbook Balance: . . . . . . . . . . . 16,369.65

Income: Membership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 140.00 Library Fines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0.00 Raffle. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92.25 Adoption . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 320.00 Rodent Sales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 261.00 Hands Ons. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0.00 Sales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40.00 Other* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0.00 Other* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0.00 Total Income: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 853.25 Expense: Newsletter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 388.30 Misc. Printing and Postage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 300.00 Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 444.20 Library . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0.00 Supplies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0.00 Hands-On . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0.00 Refreshments. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0.00 Rodent Cost . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 427.14 Adoption Cost . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80.00 White Pages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 464.48 Donations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0.00 Other* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91.61 Total Expense: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,195.73

Cash Increase/(Decrease): . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (1,342.48) Ending Checkbook Balance: . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15,027.17 Placement of Cash Holdings

Checking Account . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15,027.17 Cash on Hand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155.00

Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15,182.17

Treasurer’s Notes: Income: Expense: Program: June speaker travel Other: Voicemail

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J

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

August 2006 Volume 26

Number 8

P a g e r e H v erpe u

•• •• •• •• •

••

•••••••••

• •• • • MHS’s Juve Herpers sell orange and root beer floats at the July meeting. A great day for a cold treat! •• • ••••••••••• Got a good tip or idea for the Juve Herper Page? Email Dan Monson. See you at the meeting! -Dan FishMan

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The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

August 2006 Volume 26

Number 8

GARDENING Q&A: If you build a frog pond, the critters will come

a barrier to small rocks and roots.

Q. On a recent edition of “Virginia Home Grown,” your guest converted a poorly drained area into a water feature with a fish pond and a frog pond. I have a natural streambed that runs across my 2.5 acres and I want to turn part of it into a steady stream with ponds.

Be sure to leave enough plastic around the top to extend about 6 inches beyond the edge, and hide the plastic by covering it with rocks.

Richard Nunnally

My question is, what are the basic guidelines for a frog pond as opposed to a fish pond?

A. My guest on that show was Carol Heiser of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Heiser said the only real difference between a frog pond and a fish pond is that a frog pond has no fish. And because fish eat frog larvae, she advised against buying fish to stock it.

Instead, let nature colonize the water feature for you. Aquatic insects will find it and lay their eggs; frogs will seem to appear out of nowhere and move in; birds will stop for a drink; and you’ll enjoy many moments watching the critters.

Your dry streambed should receive about five hours of sunlight a day but also be shaded from the heat of a summer afternoon.

Lay a thick plastic liner, ideally 30-45 mil black plastic, over this barrier.

Once you know the approximate length, width and depth of a pond, check with a garden center for the size and type of pump you need to keep the water circulating.

Plants are an important component of a water feature.

Heiser suggested choosing some that will be submerged, some that will be emergent and some that will float. You can also put ferns and other suitable ground covers around the edges.

The plant material is critical because frog larvae graze on it; insects lay their eggs on the leaves; and all aquatic organisms need places to hide from predators. Nunnally, Richard. (2006, July 8) Gardening Q&A: If you build a frog pond, the critters will come. Richmond TimesDispatch. Retrieved July 9, 2006 from http://www.timesdispatch.com

The shade helps minimize algae growth and provides added protection for the amphibians, which are sensitive to temperature fluctuations. The water feature should be near vegetation, perhaps at the edge of a flower bed or next to a tree or large shrub.

Start small and make sure all sides of the pond are sloped to make it easier for critters to crawl in and out.

Line the bottom and sides with 4 to 6 inches of construction sand or a discarded piece of thick carpet. This will serve as

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G E T YOUR ME S SA GE TO Y O UR T AR GE T A UD I EN CE W I T H A 1 / 4 PA G E A D. $10 PER MONT H $ 1 10 P ER Y EA R *

*112th month is free on a one year commitment Advertising Policies

MHS AD RATES

Business card 1/4 Page 1/2 Page Full Page

$5/Month $10/Month $20/Month $40/Month

$55/Year* $110/Year* $220/Year* $440/Year*

* Note: 12th month is free on a one year commitment

New

MHS Ad Policy: The MHS assumes NO RESPONSIBILITY regarding the health or legality 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 omission. Classified Ads: All active members are allowed a classified ad, run free of charge as space permits. Ads may be run three consecutive months, after which time they may be resubmitted. Corresponding members are allowed a complimentary business card advertisement monthly as space permits. Due to federal restrictions on non-profit mailing permits, we are not allowed to run ads for travel, credit, or insurance agencies. Submissions: All advertisements should be submitted to the MHS Editor, Bell Museum of Natural History, 10 Church St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455. Deadline is the night of the General Meeting for inclusion in the next newsletter. Make checks payable to: Minnesota Herpetological Society.

Minnesota Herpetological Society Membership Application

Renewal Membership# Type Check #

Name

Address City, State, Zip, Phone

Email

List in MHS Directory?

Yes

No

Herp related interests

Active Memberships:

Sustaining ($60/year)

Contributing ($40/year)

Basic ($20/year)

Corresponding Memberships: Commercial ($25/year, 2 business card ads/year) Required check info. Drivers Lic #

State

DOB

Please enclose the proper payment with your application. Make Checks Payable To: Minnesota Herpetological Society. Membership is for 12 months from the date of approval, a receipt will be sent only upon request. Mail to: Minnesota Herpetological Society, Bell Museum of Natural History, 10 Church St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455. Please allow 6-8 weeks for processing.

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MINNESOTA HERPETOLOGICAL SOCIETY BELL MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY 10 CHURCH STREET SE MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55455-0104

Non-Profit Rate U.S. Postage PAID Mpls, MN Permit No. 2275

ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED

POSTMASTER: PLEASE DELIVER BY AUGUST 1

Next Meeting: Friday, August 4, 2006 7:00 PM Room 335 Borlaug Hall, U of M St. Paul Campus MHS Voice Mail: 612.624.7065

MHS Web Page:

www.mnherpsoc.org


Vol. 26 (2006), No. 8