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minnesota herpetological society


Information edited/removed to respect privacy concerns.

Road Turtles & Wildlife Conferences page 6

New Phabulous Phenological Phinds! page 3


V O LU M E 27


President Bruce Haig

Board of Directors


Vice Presid ent Jennifer Hensley

Recording Secretary Ellen Heck

Membership Secretary George Richard

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

December 2007 Volume 27, Number 12

Newsletter Editor Asra Halvorson Members at Large Sarah Richard David Dewitt Carmelita Knudson Jeff LeClere

The Purpose of the Minnesota Herpetological Society is to:


Education Jan Larson

Library Ted Schave


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

Adoption Sarah Richard


Webmaster Anke Reinders

• 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 2007, 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.

L...------- s The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

December 2007

Volume 27

Number 12

A Piece of MHS Newsletter History: Those “Phabulous Phenological Phinds” Revisited

Throughout the ‘80’s and into the 90’s the MHS ran a regular newsletter column entitled “Phabulous Phenological Phinds” in which members would report their herpetological findings each month during the active season. Recently, the MHS received an interesting packet in the mail. June Graham, a 10 year old girl from Washington, was visiting her grandparents at their cabin in Ottertail County, Minnesota. She encountered several herp species during her stay, which she expertly reported to the Minnesota Herpetological Society. The reports came complete with Township, Range, and Section and photographs…very impressive! Aside from a few notations and a cover letter from her mother, Bonnie, all the information was handwritten by June herself and all of the photographs were taken by June as well. One species, the Snapping Turtle, is a new county record for Ottertail County. When I asked June about her future endeavors she said that she “wants to work a part time job to protect wildlife.” The “Phenological Phinds” are reprinted below exactly as they were written by June:

Species: Gray Treefrog

Date: 8 – 20 – 2007 Time: 2:00 PM Weather: Cloudy State: Minnesota County: Ottertail County TWP# 136 Range# 041 Section: 35

Habitat: Found on our washing machine which is kept outside the cabin under a canvas cover. The cabin is located on the lakeshore of Star Lake. There are trees and shrubs surrounding open areas of grass. Observations: The pads on the toes were wider than the toes.

Species: Western Chorus Frog

Species: Snapping Turtle

Date: 8 – 22 – 2007 Time: 11:00 AM Weather: Sunny State: Minnesota County: Ottertail County TWP# 135 Range# 041 Section: 09

Date: 8 – 21 – 2007 Time: 9:45 AM Weather: Overcast State: Minnesota County: Ottertail County

Observations: The frog was very small about the size of my thumb.

Habitat: In the shallows of a large muddy pond.

Habitat: A grass damp opening in the woods about 50 feet from a pond.

Site Found: Pelican Rapids – right in town in the mill pond created by the town’s dam.

Observation: It was a baby snapping turtle about 6” (?) long. It could stretch out it’s neck really far about an inch. -Submitted by Jeff LeClere


News, Notes, & Announcements

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

December 2007

Volume 27

Number 12

November Adoption Report

You’re Invited!

MHS Holiday Banquet Potluck

When? Saturday, December 8, 2007 Setup starts at 5:00pm. Banquet starts at 6:00pm

Where? St. Paul Student Center (just east below the hill from Borlaug Hall)

How much is it and what should I bring?: $5.00 per person, kids under 5 free. Bring your specialty to share in any one of the following categories: • Appetizer • Salad • Main Dish • Vegetable • Dessert Send reservations to: Liz Bosman

Please include name, number attending, payment, category of what you’re planning on bringing, and contact information (phone or email). MHS will provide beverages, plates, flatware, napkins.

MHS’s November Election Results

President: Vice-President: Treasurer: Recording Secretary: Membership Secretary: Newsletter Editor: Members-at-Large:


Jen Hensley Dave Dewitt Nancy Haig Ellen Heck Chris Smith James Soos Christine Danathar Kathy Claugherty Jeff LeClere Pete Kazeck

by Sarah Richard, MHS Adoption Chair

After a quiet start we ended up with a banner month. 28 Animals found homes (we are looking for permanent homes for some Common Boas and a Sulcata.) Thank you to every one who put in for animals. I am always amazed at the help I get from everyone.

Boa (3) Ball Python (3) Dumerals (2) Corn Snakes (3) Columbian Rainbow Baja Calf Rosie Mexican Rosie Kenya Sand Boa Reticulated Python Bearded Dragon (2)

Fat Tail Gecko Spiny Tailed Iguana Red Eared Sliders (2) Neo Tropical Slider Box Turtle Ornate Box Turtle, Three Toed Box Turtle, Eastern Testudo Greek Alligator


To Bill Moss, for several errors and misspelling his mother’s last name in the MHS’s October issue. Here are the corrections: Second to last paragraph: On a personal note, it was my mother who encouraged... (instead of "encourages") Whatever we had, she always took an interest in - that is until the day I came home with a live bat, but that's... (instead of "tht's") One of the neighbors... (instead of "neighbor")

Last paragraph: Anyway, please put this into the general find on behalf of Joan D. Harty. (instead of "Anyway, please put this one onto the general fund on the behalf of Joan D. Hardy.")


Cover photo Crested Gecko © Jim Gerholdt


L...------- s The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

December 2007

Volume 27

Number 12

November Speaker Review: Mark Bee Breeding Choruses and Cocktail Parties: A Frog’s Perspective on Hearing in the Real World

by Ellen Heck, Recording Secretary

November’s speaker was Mark Bee. Mark has been a professor at the U of M for the last two years in the department of biology, evolution, and behavior. He has been studying how frogs hear in complex acoustic environments, known as the “cocktail party problem”. This is a common issue with almost every species, including humans, which rely on acoustic communication. When many individuals are speaking, it is extremely difficult to pick out a single voice. It is also a health issue in humans; people who have difficulty hearing and/or have hearing aids have many problems with it. It also affects certain types of technology, such as human voice recognition systems. In frog populations, vocalization is used primarily for breeding, although it is also used to define and defend territory. In a breeding chorus, the overlapping noise can impair the signal detection and signal localization of the frogs. Several studies have been done regarding how males will deal with the masking noise of a chorus, but Mark’s study focused on the effect the noise has on females. He used both gray and Cope’s gray tree frogs. He picked these two species because they are abundant, have very similar calls but are distinct species, have populations that overlap and are very loud. Their calls are generally 85-92 decibels at 1 meter. Choruses of them are deafening; Mark and his students frequently wore earplugs when doing fieldwork. They also don’t get very stressed by being studied; the same frog can be tested, and then retested 5-10 minutes later.

When breeding, the females pick a mate based on call alone. When the male calls, the females head towards them, rather than the other way around. The females tend to prefer a more robust call. However, since the chorus provides some confusion, there is the possibility that this helps provide genetic diversity in the breeding population. There are four basic steps to the process: detection, recognition, localization and discrimination. The basic test setup used was a circular enclosure built of chicken wire covered with black cloth. Speakers were place at various points around the enclosure. One would play the “desired” call

and one or more played the masking chorus noise. The frog was released in the center of the enclosure and a camera recorded the results. The setup is illuminated with infrared light, since the frogs can’t see in infrared. Tests were performed initially without the background noise, to determine the response of the female without any interference. The frogs tend to take a hop in response to each call, in a zigzag fashion rather than bee lining towards the sound. Without the masking chorus, however, the female found the call 100% of the time. With the masking chorus, the call had to be significantly louder for the females to find it; about 67 db as opposed to 42 db.

Another question studied was the effect of traffic noise on breeding populations. In Minnesota, there are many water sources next to major highways. Upon testing, it was found that the traffic on the highway was a fairly constant 77db, with peaks of about 100db. The noise was recorded and tested on the frogs. It was found that the results were about the same as for a masking chorus – the frogs required about a 25 db shift in call volume to overcome the traffic noise with any probability. There are several ways frogs (and other species) deal with the effects of masking noise. One common way is spatial release from masking, or SRM. This is basically a fancy way of saying they physically distance themselves from the noise. When tested in the lab, the frogs responded faster and more accurately when the speakers were separated than right next to each other, although it was not absolute.

It was also found that the frogs react to temporal fluctuations in the background noise, or “listen in the gaps” across multiple frequencies. The difference between modulated, co-modulated and unmodulated noise is almost too subtle to be detected just by listening. However, it has a significant impact on listening – the call had to be almost twice as loud to be effective in an un-comodulated environment. x


The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

December 2007

& Volume 27

Number 12

(§) - - - Road Turtles Wildlife Conferences

By Asra Halvorson Photos by Jenny Newgard


he weekend of November 2-4, my friend Jenny and I attended the Midwest Regional Conference on Wildlife Rehabilitation in Brainerd, Minnesota, put on by the Minnesota Wildlife Assistance Cooperative. Now, neither of us actually do any wildlife rehabilitation, but both of us are interested in the well-being of all animals and the natural world, and both of us would like to get involved in “wilder” pursuits in the future.


In the past couple of years, I’ve had several experiences in dealing with orphaned or injured wildlife; each time I would bring the animal to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota in Roseville. The last and most memorable involved a painted turtle that I found on my way to visit my parents in Warroad, Minnesota. The turtle was upside down in the middle of the road, but didn’t look too smooshed, so I stopped the car and ran back to where the turtle lay. There was blood on the ground, but the turtle was actually alive, much to my surprise. I had a plastic bin in my car that I emptied out, placing the turtle inside for the rest of the ride to my parents. Once there, I called around, trying to find a wildlife rehabilitator in the area. The area DNR officer gave me the number of a woman who rehabilitates birds, but there was no one who rehabs reptiles. I called down to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, and they tried to give me

numbers of people over in the Duluth area, which ends up being almost as far a drive as down to the cities. (Have you ever seen Warroad on a map?) I ended up having to bring the turtle back down with me to Roseville, making sure to

My first shell-wiring!

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

note the exact location and mile marker where I originally found the turtle, so that it could be dropped off where I had found it. Weeks later, I received this postcard:

“The western painted turtle you found in the road and brought to the wildlife center was treated for several cracks in the shell. By 9/15 he was healthy and fully healed so was released into the wild!” It is from this experience that I began to feel like I could actually do more for wildlife. Since that time, I’ve stopped the car and gone back countless times to see if a critter could be saved.

…Which brings us back to the conference. This was a great experience, and though I don’t plan on doing any rehabbing in the near future, Jenny and I attended every conference lecture we could to soak up as much information as possible. The most informative part for me was a workshop on turtle shell repair. Now, I had done some online research about shell repair when I had the cracked turtle in my possession,


" ,,,,,.~ a

December 2007

Volume 27

Number 12

but I had no clue how any of these procedures were done. Epoxy and fiberglass? Wire? Dental acrylic? How was it all done? How did they fix my cracked turtle at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center?

In my extreme naivety, I had originally assumed that there would be some live animals. Not so. We got to the lab room, and there were several piles of thawing turtles with cracked shells, all obviously deceased, and some “juicier” than others. I was more than a little apprehensive, as fondling dead things just doesn’t seem to come naturally to me. However, I was determined to get as much out of this as I could. I crossed my comfort zone and put on my rubber gloves. The vet who taught this workshop, Katherine Belisle, was great! She had a slideshow of different turtles with cracks, and talked through the whole process, including a physical exam to determine if the turtle could, in fact, heal properly (i.e., is there any paralysis?). After the slideshow, she picked up a cracked turtle, and then demonstrated the shell-wiring technique as well as the epoxy/fiberglass technique, and made it look pretty easy.

Continued on page 8

,., ~

1 \\,.,,_ ,\10 "'"

Dr. Belisle explains what I’m supposed to do with all that shell all over the place.


The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

December 2007

Volume 27

Number 12

(§) - - - Then it was our turn. I had chosen a turtle that was a little more smooshed than others, and a little juicier. (Looking back, I probably should have looked for an “easy” one for my first time around.) We took turns using the dremel drill in order to wire our turtles closed.

My turtle’s carapace was in three pieces, so I had to do three different wirings around the front, practically monopolizing the instructor’s time because I didn’t want to hurt the deceased turtle, and wanted to make sure that his shell would be able to theoretically heal with the job I had done. Now, I can’t see how folks can actually do this with a living turtle, much less an enormous angry snapping turtle. My experience was incredibly difficult, and I ended up flipping the turtle over, on its side, upside down, trying to get at the right angle. The drill got stuck several times and was running out of battery. One of my wirings broke. I apologized profusely to the dead turtle, whose eye had popped out and was staring at me disapprovingly, knowing that if it were


Trying hard not to screw it up. Sorry, turtle!

alive, it would be thinking it would rather be on the road than with this moron.

I eventually got the carapace completed, but the bridge area (which joins the carapace and the plastron) was in really tough shape, and the workshop ran out of time. I would have had to use the epoxy and fiberglass to try to patch the sides of the bridge, Dr. Belisle said.

Now, I realize that I still don’t have the knowledge to run out there and wire some turtles that I find on the road, but I have a much better understanding of the whole process, and a much greater respect for those who do this procedure. Not only do they go through this whole process, examining, cleaning the wound, wiring or epoxying the shell, and so forth, but they also must care for the turtle until the membrane lining the inside of the shell heals, making the turtle “watertight” again. So, I just really have to thank the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Roseville for taking care of “my” turtle. It’s really an amazing process. x

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

December 2007

Volume 27

Number 12

MHS Treasurer's Report

Prepared by Nancy Haig, Treasurer

For October 2007 Beginning Checkbook Balance: . . . . . . . . . . . 21,911.32

Income: Membership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430.00 Library Fines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0.00 Raffle. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 420.00 Adoption . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160.00 Rodent Sales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 647.00 RenFest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,250.00 Donations from RenFest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 588.94 Donations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 375.00z Sales* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20.00 Total Income: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,890.94 Expense: Newsletter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 388.30 Misc. Printing and Postage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0.00 Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50.00 Supplies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0.00 Rodents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 996.41 Hands-On . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0.00 Adoption Cost . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60.00 Voicemail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92.32 Renfest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 248.43 Total Expense: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,835.46

Cash Increase/(Decrease): . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,055.48

Ending Checkbook Balance: . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23,966.80 Placement of Cash Holdings

Checking Account . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23,966.80


Did you miss your invitation to the Holiday Banquet? Check out page 2 for the invite, and for more information go online at There’ll be a speaker, art raffle, great food, and great times! Please come!

Cash on Hand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155.00

Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24,121.80



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


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


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 #


Address City, State, Zip, Phone


List in MHS Directory?



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 #



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.


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


Next Meeting: Friday, December 7, 2007 7:00 PM Room 335 Borlaug Hall, U of M St. Paul Campus MHS Voice Mail: 612.624.7065

MHS Web Page:

Vol. 27 (2007), No. 12