M I N N E S O T A HERPETOLOGICAL S O C I E T Y N
E W S L E T T E R
IN THIS ISSUE: SEPTEMBER’S SPEAKER WITH FRANK ZIEGLER LAST MONTH’S SPEAKER’S KATHY CLAUGHERTY COMO COTTAGE & REN FEST: IT’S NOT JUST FOR LIFERS.
President Jennifer Hensley Vice- President David Dewitt Treasurer Nancy Haig Membership Secretary Chris Smith email@example.com Recording Secretary Ellen Heck News Letter Editor James Soos
firstname.lastname@example.org MEMBERS AT LARGE Jeff LeClere Pete Kazeck Christina Dunathar Kathy Claugherty COMMITTEES Adoption Sara Richard Education Jan Larson
Library Carmelita Pfar Webmaster Anke Reinders
Cover Animal the Angry Garter Snake By Sonja Koolmo
Minnesota Herpetological Society AUGUST 2008
MHS VOICE MAIL: 612.624.7065 MHS WEBPAGE: HTTP://WWW.MNHERPSOC .ORG GROUP E MAIL : HTTP ://WWW. GROUPS.YAHOO.COM/ GROUP/ MNHERPSOC The Purpose of the Minnesota Herpetological Society is to: • Further the education of the membership and the general public in care and captive propagation • 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 Newsletter is published monthly to provide its members with information concerning the society’sto all individuals with an interest in amphibians and reptiles. The Minnesota Herpetological Society 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. 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 Please send email to email@example.com
THE NEWS LETTER OF THE MINNESOTA HERPETOLOGICAL SOCIETY
A LETTER FROM THE NEWSLETTER EDITOR Hello Everyone, So far it’s been a fast and fun summer for all of us. Fall is just right around the corner with Ren Fest here and soon enough the leaves are going to start to change in colors. Field herping season is just about to close as well. So I am making a request for those of you who have gone field herping to send us your pictures. This is for those who have caught some wild critters or those who just went for a walk and took some beautiful landscape photos. Let’s see them, one and all, and share with your fellow herp members your past spring and summer. Your Newsletter Editor James Soos
COMO COTTAGE & REN FEST: IT’S NOT JUST FOR LIFERS. Written by Christina Larson The Renaissance Festival is in full swing now, and if you are a new member, there’s no better way to get to know active Minnesota Herpetological Society members and get involved in the Society than by volunteering for a couple of weekends at Como Cottage. I know, you’re thinking to yourself, “But I don’t know if I have a suitable animal.” Well, I didn’t even own a reptile or amphibian when a friend of mine talked me into going for a weekend. You’ll find that some folks will have an extra animal or two that they are willing to train you to handle and present to the public. If not, the tortoise pen can always use a person to guard the tortoises and talk to the public. Either way, you will have an opportunity to spend a day or a weekend (or several) talking about one of your favorite topics (herps). “But I don’t know anyone!” Hey, we were all once newbies, and we remember what it was like to feel out-of-place. Most of the Core members (“Core” simply means people who worked more than the Festival-required minimum hours last year to earn a plastic pass now) will be absolutely delighted that you are there. The added benefit to volunteering at Cottage is that you will get to spend a lot of time with fellow MHS members, and working side-by-side with people is a great way to get to know them. Oh, and if you’re thinking, “But I don’t have a costume!” then have no fear. Como Cottage does maintain a limited stock of costumes, courtesy of the never-ending vision and dedication of a few of our fabulous Core members (who dream of having everyone perfectly outfitted in period wear). Shoes are perhaps the most challenging, so if you have the opportunity to purchase some simple black ballet flats, you’ll have handled the toughest item yourself. And finally, “But I don’t know what to say to the public.” You will find that you don’t need to know how old your animal can live to be in the wild, or the Latin name of the species and genus, or how many babies it can have. Most people simply want to know 1) its name 2) what it is 3) how old it is and sometimes 4) what does it eat? Oh, and 5) can I touch it? You’ll share the same information with person after person, and it’s all worth it when you see a child’s face light up with wonder, or an adult who’s terrified of snakes finally overcome the fear enough to lay a fingertip on a scaly hide.
SEPTEMBER’S SPEAKER: FRANK ZIEGLER I first became interested in reptiles and amphibians as a child; I would catch toads and turtles in the ponds in my backyard in New Brighton, and at cabins in Pine & Stearns Counties. I also looked for herps when I went camping with the boy scouts and on family excursions. I kept various herps as pets, starting with those I caught, then moving on to newts and iguanas. I have a number of books and recordings of herps. I have had numerous experiences teaching children about reptiles & amphibians in various classrooms and with the St. John’s University Arboretum (2003 graduate). I took part in the “1,000 friend of frogs” program with Tracy Fredin at Hamline University while in high school, which is when I also first joined the MHS. In 2001 I spent the summer doing a herp survey for the St. John’s Arboretum. The information I compiled can still be seen on the website http://www.csbsju.edu/arboretum/land_steward/plantsandwildlife/reptiles.htm I started studying European Herps in the Fall of ‘01 when I studied abroad in Austria, and then much more so as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Romania from 2005-07. I incorporated herp education into classes I taught to children of all ages, and sometimes got other volunteers interested too. I was lucky enough to work with some of the top herpetologists in Romania and visit areas such as the Danube Delta and the Carpathian & Machin mountains. I am currently involved in a frog survey covering Eastern Stearns County funded by St. Cloud State University, where I am currently studying Biology and Hydrology.
THE NEWS LETTER OF THE MINNESOTA HERPETOLOGICAL SOCIETY
AUGUST SPEAKER MHS’S VERY OWN KATHY CLAUGHERTY By Ellen Heck
The speaker for August was Kathy Claugherty, talking about proper iguana diet. Kathy, an MHS member since 2002, worked with a local iguana adoption group before founding her own group, the Resource for Iguana Care and Adoption. She felt she wanted to emphasize education, and provide a source of accurate information to combat the plethora of misinformation available. Kathy describes the steps towards the proper care of iguanas as F-E-L-T-S – Food, Enclosure, Lighting, Temperature and Socialization (she includes humidity with temperature, as she couldn’t think of an acronym that would include it). Further details on the other basics can be found on her website. The first thing to remember about feeding iguanas is that they are herbivores, not omnivores, insectivores or carnivores. In fact, it has been found that too much (or basically, ANY) animal protein in their diet can lead to gout. This is a disease that is hard to diagnose externally, but can be indicated by thickness in the neck. Annual blood-work is a much better method of diagnosis. It can also indicate any problems in the animal’s calcium/phosphorus balance. The second diet must is variety. Although proper nutrition needs a balance between calcium and phosphorus – about a 2:1 ratio -, food that is “bad” because it is high in this or that can be fine if fed in small amounts. Metabolic bone disease in iguanas is usually in the form of nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism. It can be prevented with proper diet and UVB exposure. Kathy recommends a mix of 70% leafy greens, 20% edible flowers and 10% fruit. This should be chopped and mixed before feeding. The chopping is important, given the nature of the iguana’s digestive system. They have a special organ called a hind-gut, located between the intestines. The organ houses bacteria to break down the cellulose, and accounts for 30-40% of the nutrient absorption. Leafy greens to feed: collard, turnip and mustard are best, and dandelions are good if they are not sprayed. Romaine is a popular choice, although not as good as the darker greens. Iceberg lettuce should be used for stuffing tacos only! Vegetables can be added to the mix, if pre-chopped – green peppers, green and wax beans, snow and pea pods. Winter squashes, such as butternut and acorn, parsnips, carrots, zucchini and yellow crookneck can be used as well. Cucumber can be used sparingly if the animal is a bit dehydrated, but should be in general be avoided.
Edible flowers, like nasturtium and dandelion, are favorites, but it is critical they not be treated with chemicals. It can take up to 6 months for the chemicals to be flushed from the plant, so either gather carefully or grow your own. Blueberries and mangos are the first choices for fruit, as they are low in phosphates. Other good options are strawberries, bananas, kiwi and grapes. Again, sparing use is the key to feeding the fruit. Kathy’s directions on peeling mangos – cut the skin around the fruit, scoop out the soft flesh and slurp the juice off your fingers, because it’s good. Vitamins and calcium can be added in special circumstances, but Kathy feels that a proper diet, coupled with proper UVB exposure, is all the iguanas need. Of course, in the case of a sick animal, supplements may be needed. Or if the food they are being fed has been frozen. The freezing process causes the food to lose nutrients, and should be used as a supplement rather than the main staple of the diet. B vitamin supplements can be added to frozen food. Frozen food should be avoided with hatchlings and juveniles. If dry food is used, it should be alfalfa rather than corn based
PLEASE DO NOT FORGET THE RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL The Minnesota Renaissance Festival weekends August 16th through September 28th, also Labor day and Friday September 26th. For the most up to date information please join the listserve at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ mnherpsocrenfest/ If you are planning to come out on a weekend please email your intentions to Comocottage@gmail.com before the Tuesday night of the week you wish to work. Thank you, Jennifer Hensley, President
THE NEWS LETTER OF THE MINNESOTA HERPETOLOGICAL SOCIETY
THE EXTRAORDINARY, ORDINARY GARTER SNAKE My most extraordinary encounter with wild reptiles actually occurred with a very ordinary serpent—the common garter snake. It was years ago in the spring. The weather was so wonderfully mild that my family and I decided to take a walk in Spooner Park, Little Canada. We were walking on a path that wound along the south side of the park, with a small ravine on our right and a little hill with a few trees rising to our left. As we came around a bend, my eye caught a flurry of movement. The entire hill was covered with garter snakes of all sizes--from tiny babies to the largest, thickest garter snake that I have ever seen. There were so many writhing all over the hill that you couldn’t see the blades of grass beneath them. I even spotted a very tiny garter snake riding on the back of a very large snake as it slithered away. Excited, I thrust both hands into the midst of the serpents and came up with two middle-sized garter snakes. I wanted to show my children how to catch and safely hold a wild snake, so I explained where to clasp the serpents and encouraged each of them to gently hold one. My husband declined to touch them. (He’s not a snake person.) We soon released our two annoyed garter snakes, which made their escape as swiftly as the hundreds of others had. I was amazed at how quickly they had all dispersed. I’m not sure why so many garter snakes were all in the same spot at that particular moment. I didn’t notice any mating activity, so my guess is that they were emerging from brumation at the very instant we were passing by. (Talk about luck!) I suspect there was an underground cavern nearby where they had all been holed up for the winter. I have never had the luck to see such a sight again, although I have spotted solitary garter snakes near the water in the same area, and even came across one on the path in the midst of swallowing a frog, with just the legs and webbed feet protruding. Sometimes in the spring I still go to Spooner Park, hoping to catch a glimpse of the garter snakes sliding back into sunlight after a long Minnesota winter. Odds are slim that I’ll be at just the right place at the exact second they emerge. But then, what were the odds the first time? ---Renee Valois
The Adoption Report Another car full of reptiles were successfully rounded up, delivered and placed: a Box Turtle 4 Painted Turtles 3 Snappers 3 other misc water turtles 1 huge Spiny Soft Shell (17 inches) 1 Florida Soft Shell a small Alligator a Savannah Monitor an Iguana a Bearded Dragon a nice looking Corn Snake and two ball pythons As always, thanks to all the people who stepped up to the plate and took home an animal or four. Without peoples willingness to open their homes and hearts to these guys, I couldn’t keep this up month after month. Sarah Richard Adoption Chair Minnesota Herpetological Society
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