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the newsletter of the


JULY Meeting: Brown Tree Snakes of Guam by Heather Waye July 2010

Volume 30

Number 7








P re s i d e n t Jennifer Hensley Vi c e P resident Sonja Koolmo

New Voice Mail: 612.326.6516 • MHS W EBPAGE :

MHS G ROUP E MAIL : R e c o r d i n g S e c re t a r y Ellen Heck M e m b e r s h i p S e c re t a r y Heather Clayton Tr e a s u re r Missy Hicks Newsletter Editor Sally Brewer M e m b e r s a t L a rge Jeff LeClere

July 2010

Volume 30

Number 7

THE PURPOSE OF THE MINNESOTA HERPETOLOGICAL SOCIETY IS TO: • Further the education of the membership and the general public in care and captive propagation of reptiles and amphibians; • 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.

Chris Smith

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.

Matt Carter


Kathy Claugherty

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:

Committees Adoption Sarah Richard Education Jan Larson

The Minnesota Herpetological Society Attn: Newsletter Editor Bell Museum of Natural History 10 Church St. SE. Minneapolis, MN 55455.0104


Sally Brewer

Library Nancy Haig We b m a s t e r Anke Reinders

Hennepin Regional Poison Center 800-222-1222 Cover Photo by Chris Friesen Brown Tree Snake (Boiga irregularis)

© Copyright 2010, Minnesota Herpetological Society. Except where noted, contents may be reproduced for non-profit, non-commercial use only. All material must be reproduced without change. Proper credit will be given including the author/photographer and the Minnesota Herpetological Society Newsletter citing: volume, number and date.

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

July 2010

Volume 30

Number 7

July Meeting – Friday, July 9, 7 P.M. Heather Waye Brown Tree Snakes of Guam Heather Waye grew up in Victoria, British Columbia and went to the University of Victoria. She worked for four years as a wildlife biologist in British Columbia before going back to school to get her PhD at Oregon State University. She has worked with a variety of herps, including garter snakes, leopard frogs, and brown tree snakes. She is now an assistant professor of biology at the University of Minnesota, Morris, and is looking forward to getting to know the herps of the midwest photo: Heather Waye

The Brown Tree Snake (Boiga irregularis) Brown tree snakes are about 15 inches at hatching and may reach 10 feet in length as adults, however, most brown tree snakes are 3 to 4 feet long. This snake is a rear-fanged semiconstrictor and is mildly poisonous, using both constriction and venom to help immobilize prey. The brown tree snake was accidentally introduced to Guam in the

late 1940s or early 1950s, probably from the Solomon Islands. A native of Australia, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands, the brown tree snake is a dangerous threat to the economy and ecology of Guam and is the subject of a cooperative program to control snake populations on Guam and prevent its spread throughout the Pacific Rim. Without control, the problems caused by the brown tree snake could spread. The snake has been sighted on

many other Pacific islands. It is believed to have arrived through cargo transported by ships or planes originating in Guam. Although no established snake populations are suspected at these locations, the possibility of an incipient population on Saipan exists. These sightings clearly demonstrate the possibility of snakes being transported to vulnerable locations.

UPCOMING MHS Meetings AUGUST – Friday, August 6th, 2010 - Benjamin Lowe: Reptiles of the Colorado Desert SEPTEMBER – Friday, Septmber 10, 2010 – TBA OCTOBER – Friday, October 1, 2010 – Jeff Ronne: Boas, What Else?


The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

July 2010

Volume 30

Number 7

N EWS , N OTES , & A NNOUNCEMENTS Construction and Road Closure Information (affects the July and August meetings)

Upcoming Hands-On Join Us! Get to Know Other MHS Members! THE REQUIREMENTS ARE EASY. You bring your own herp(s) to show and talk about to the people who stop by the table. You don’t make speeches to large audiences, you talk one-on-one to people who ask you questions about your animal. Children are invited to participate if they have an adult or older sibling with them. I n t e re s t e d ? C o n t a c t : J an Larson 507-263-4391

July Events F r i . July 16 5 - 7 pm Hastings River City Days Hastings, MN

This area of Buford closed until August 15th. Detour Routes:

MHS has been notified that a portion of Buford Ave will be under construction this summer. This will affect our JULY and AUGUST meetings. Buford Ave will be CLOSED for construction from Eckles Ave to Buford Circle from June 14th thru August 15th. (See map.) You will not be able to enter Buford from Cleveland Members will need to use Gortner to reach Buford. Gortner is to the east of the closed area and can be acessed from Larpenteur (at the north end of the campus) or Commonwealth (to the south).

MHS Volunteers Needed M N S t a t e Fa i r Exhibit Aug. 26 to Sept. 6 The State Fair. Exhibit created by MHS is still looking for volunteers to help maintain the Native Minnesota Reptiles exhibit in the DNR building during State Fair hours. Volunteers receive free tickets into the fair for the day they check and clean cages and can enjoy the fair for the rest of the day. To sign up, contact:

Beth Girard Ph 612-616-8431


The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

July 2010

Volume 30

DNR Asks Citizens to Give Turtles a Brake

Number 7


MN DNR News Release (June 11, 2010)

Each year at this time, female turtles move from lakes, ponds, wetlands, rivers and streams to nesting areas, where they deposit their eggs in self-excavated nests. Unfortunately, many nesting areas are separated from the turtles’ wintering areas by roads. Turtles are often observed crossing roads as they make their way to nesting areas. “Many turtles and other species are killed on Minnesota roads each year, especially during the nesting season,” said Carol Hall, herpetologist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. People can help reduce road mortality for turtles in these ways: ■ Allow unassisted road crossings. When turtles can safely cross roads unaided due to a lack of oncoming traffic, allow them to do so. Observe from a distance and avoid rapid movements as doing otherwise will often cause turtles to change direction, stop, or seek shelter within their shells. ■ Maintain direction of travel if road crossing assistance is necessary. Turtles should be moved across roadways in as direct a line as possible, unless doing so would definitely put them in peril. If people see a turtle or other animal on the road, they should slow down and drive around it. Many people want to help turtles cross the road which is understandable. THE BEST APPROACH IS TO LET THE TURTLE CROSS UNASSISTED.

June 2010 Sarah Richard, Adoption Chair Minnesota Herpetological Society 612-781-9544

After lasts months bonanza, it was nice to have a fairly quiet month. We placed within the society: 2 Corns 2 Bearded Dragons 1 Tree Frog 1 Leopard Gecko The Red Eared Sliders went to a sanctuary and one of the Beardeds may be coming back next month. We are still looking for a home for a juvenile Nile Monitor. His foster says he is filling out fast and while his leg won't grow back, being tri-pedal doesn't seem to slow him down at all. Thanks again for all your help.

Sarah Richard Adoption Chair

Help Wanted: Critter Spotters The DNR Minnesota Biological Survey is looking for sightings of certain snakes (western hognose, smooth green snakes, rat, gopher, blue racer), ground squirrels (Richardson's, Franklin's) and white tailed jackrabbit. Send date, location, and your phone number to: or call 888-345-1730. For more information, visit this site: from Minnesota Conservation Volunteer; May/June 2010 issue


The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

July 2010

Volume 30

Number 7

JUNE MEETING REVIEW: Brad Birchfield and Jeremy Sloan-The Unique Herps and Habitats of Arkansas–An Overview of Herping 'The Natural State' by Ellen Heck Photos by Sonja Koolmo

The speakers for June were Jeremy Sloan and Brad Birchfield from Arkansas. The Arkansas Herpetological Society is more loosely organized than the MHS, and Brad and Jeremy actually met online. After a few months they decided to meet, and in between conversing over rattlesnakes, they discovered they actually work for the same company – a trucking firm in Fort Smith – in the same building, but on different floors. According to Brad, Jeremy is the brains of the pair and Brad “just likes to talk”. For their talk, Brad said they had decided to focus on the more odd and rare species in Arkansas. First up was the Ozark hellbender, cryptobranchus alleganiensis bishopi, a large salamander found in northern Arkansas in the Spring and Black Rivers. They prefer very cold freezing cold water Neither Brad nor Jeremy have ever actually found one of these animals, as their habitat is a bit too cold to make for a comfortable herping experience. Next were several species of cave salamanders. Eurycea lucifuga are found in the limestone caves of the Ozark plateau, an area characterized by short rolling hills and hardwoods. These animals are found within the mouth of the caves, where the temperature remains stable at about 50°. The Grotto salamander, eurycea spelaea, is another cave dwelling salamander. However, they are found inside the caves, and so have the residual eyes typical of cave dwelling species. They are found in caves with running, rather than still, water.


The American alligator, alligator mississippiensis, was almost extirpated from the state in late 1970’s, but have been re-introduced to their historical range. This program has been so successful that the state now issues 30 tags each year for hunting. They are still a bit intimidated by people, however, and will avoid contact as much as possible. According to Brad, Speakers Jeremy Sloan while describing a trip to and Brad Birchfield capture one, they are spooked brought a number of by incandescent light bulbs, not Arkansas herps to bothered at all by LED. accompanied their Accordingly, they were able to presentation. (left) Jeremy get alongside an alligator and with an Emoryi Ratsnake lower a dip net in front of its and (above) Brad with an nose to capture it. Eastern Coachwhip. Unfortunately they had forgotten facts about water and light and that objects in water There are two types of spadefoot toad are larger than they appear to be. They did found in Arkansas. The plains spadefoot, spea bombifrons, can be found oxbow lakes eventually manage to get the alligator into the boat and tape its mouth shut, but off the Arkansas River. They have a small attracted quite an audience from the nearby range and occur only in one spot quite a campground while doing so. ways from Oklahoma, where are plentiful. There are 36 species of snakes Hurter’s spadefoot toad scaphiopus hurterii indigenous to Arkansas, of which 6 are used to be considered a sub-species of the venomous. These include several species of eastern spadefoot, but is now classified as lampropeltis, both milk and kingsnakes. In its own species. Arkansas, the speckled holbrooki, is not as Alligator snapping turtles macrochelys yellow as specimens from Missouri and temminckii tend to be found all over the Kansas. However, they live up to their state. They can weigh up to 70 lbs and are very primitive looking. A permit is required name; Brad showed one photo of a kingsnake in the process of eating a to collect them. copperhead. The Eastern collared lizard, crotaphytus The black ratsnake can be found all over collaris, is known locally as a “mountain state and are quite opportunistic; Brad boomer”. These generally appear then the described removing one specimen from a temperatures reach the upper 80’s and are found in the north and northwestern parts of farm where it had moved into the chicken coop and ate a large number of eggs. the state.

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

The queensnake, regina septemvittata, is found along the Mulberry River, the only place west of the Mississippi that this snake is found. It is however plentiful in Tennessee. Its diet consists entirely of premolt crayfish, making it almost impossible to keep as a pet.

July 2010

Jeremy agreed it is a very difficult snake to handle. Anyone picking one up can expect to be bitten multiple times, and experience made even more unpleasant by the snake’s habit of aiming for the face. Of the 6 venomous species of snake in Arkansas, 5 are pit vipers. These are the copperhead, the cottonmouth, the pygmy rattlesnake, timber rattle and western diamondback. None are Four of protected or species of Arkansas’s concern, although the western venomous diamondback be become snakes listed as a species of concern. were also The copperhead is the in a caged most common terrestrial Western Pygmy display. snake and comes in two Rattlesnake varieties – the southern and the osage. Southern There are Copperhead Texas Coralsnake more true southern than osages, with a certain amount of intergrade between the two. They are found all over the state and are “pretty frisky”. Unlike many species, the babies look pretty much like the adults with a bright green “lure” on their tails. They have a very good camouflage patterns and usually freeze when Western Cottonmouth Southern Copperhead startled, allowing them to blend in. The cottonmouth has an almost cult status in Arkansas, where they The Eastern coachwhip, described as a are commonly believed to be aggressive, black racer on steroids, tends to be rosy with a tendency to chase people. This pink towards its tail. A very quick and reputation is undeserved; they are fairly agile snake, it hunts lizards, frequently docile but have a habit of gaping when moving through tall grass with its head startled. Supposedly they will attempt to raised 6”-12” above the ground. Brad and

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climb into fishing boats to attack people, but it is more likely they have mistaken the boat for a log. According to Brad, there is an unofficial statistic showing that cottonmouths – and 12 gauge shotguns have sunk more boats in Arkansas than anything else. They get to be 3’-4’ in length and are easily distinguished from watersnakes when swimming as their whole body seems to almost float on top of the water. When viewed from above, their eyes cannot be seen. They tend to be very unfussy eaters, even feeding on roadkill. Their venom is not particularly potent, but necrosis f the tissue surrounding a bite is pronounced. strike on water There are 3 rattlesnake species. None of them are protected and they tend to be found in the rural areas of the state. The timber rattlers tend to have mild tempers, and will seldom even bother to rattle when disturbed. The western diamondback’s range is more or less confined to the Oklahoma border in the west. They tend to be on the large side – 5’ or more – which Brad attributed to the lack of breeding opportunities available to them. They tend to be found in some very inhospitable habitats with nearly vertical slopes. The western pygmy rattlesnake is a pretty little snake, averaging about 18”, but described as being “not a very good handler”. The sixth venomous snake is the Texas coral snake. It is confined to a small range in the south. They tend to stay undercover, coming out after heavy rainstorms. Their bands of color go all the way around their bodies, but despite being a member of the cobra family, they have a poor venom delivery system. They need to chew on their prey to get a good bite and only eat other snakes.


The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

Minnesota Herpetological Society Board Minutes for May 8, 2010 The meeting was called to order at 6:10 pm in room 108 of the Student Union. Renaissance Festival The committee would like to reserve a campground site for volunteers this year. The tents would be donated. MAF charges a $50 refundable deposit and a fee of $160. This would be a separate funding, independent of the blanket $500 allocated to the committee for supplies. Motion to pay the campground fees: Jeff; 2nd: Sally. Motion passed. There may be other repairs requiring additional funding, but these would be considered on a case-by-case basis. OLD BUSINESS Rodent Sales: Matt will be taking over the order side of the rodents Phones: All billing issues with the University have been resolved and the line cancelled. The second Skype line has been cancelled and the fee refunded. NEW BUSINESS Audit: Marilyn Blasus and Sarah Szabo will be on the audit committee this year.


July 2010

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Number 7

St Croix: The county wants to incorporate plans for evacuating exotic pets, including reptiles, into their general emergency plans. Ellen will follow up with them on issues including liability and their expectations regarding material.

Prepared by Missy Hicks for the June Board Meeting

Member At Large: A vacancy was opened for one of the Member At Large positions. Motion to appoint Matt Carter to the vacancy: Sonja; 2nd: Missy. Quorum had been established and motion passed with six aye votes.

Beginning Checkbook Balance: Income: Membership Raffle Adoptions Rodent sales Hands-Ons Clothing sales Total income:

$340.00 $74.00 $175.00 $417.00 $0.00 $296.00 $1,302.00

Del Jones email: The New Mexico herp society is acquiring land for the conservation of the remaining wild bolson tortoise population in New Mexico. Their goal is to get $290,000; $140,900 has already been raised. They are basically asking for contributions.

Expense: Programs Adoptions Rodents Newsletter Refreshments Supplies

$199.12 $60.00 $00.00 $382.50 $00.00 $00.00

Letter to Reptiles Magazine: Jeff has a copy of an open letter to Reptiles Magazine, requesting that they cease running ads for animals that are wild-caught. He will forward this to the board for review and an email vote.

Total Expense Cash increase/(decrease)


Treasurer’s Report for May 2010

Ending Checkbook Balance:




Placement of cash holdings Checking account $11,485.41 Paypal acct $0.00 Cash on hand $175.00 Total $11,660.41 Notes: Income Expense

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

New Monitor Lizard Discovered in Indonesia ScienceDaily (April 27, 2010)

A newly discovered species of monitor lizard, a close relative of the Komodo dragon, was reported in the journal Zootaxa by a professor at UC Santa Barbara and a researcher from Finland. Sam Sweet, a professor in the department

Varanus obor, the Sago monitor, or Torch monitor lizard. (photo credit:: Valter Weijola)

of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology at UCSB, and Valter Weijola, a graduate student at Abo Akademi University in Turku, Finland, are the first to describe the distinctive lizard, which lives in the Moluccan islands of east Indonesia. Sweet is an authority on monitor lizard biology. The scientific name of this lizard is Varanus obor; its popular names are Torch monitor and Sago monitor. It's called Torch monitor because of its bright orange head with a glossy black body. Obor means torch in Indonesian. It is a close relative of the fruit-eating monitor

July 2010

lizard recently reported from the Philippines. The Torch monitor can grow to nearly four feet in length, and thrives on a diet of small animals and carrion. The Torch monitor exists only on the small island of Sanana in the western Moluccan islands. A unique aspect of this geographical region is the lack of mammalian predators, which may have given reptiles the space to evolve as the top terrestrial predators and scavengers. Several million years ago, this island was situated near New Guinea, and it is possible that the lizard lives on as a relic from that period. It is the only black monitor in its lineage, and the only monitor species anywhere that has evolved red pigmentation. Weijola discovered the lizard last spring, and returned with Sweet in late 2009 for five weeks to do studies and take photographs of the animal. The Torch monitor is most common in the coastal sago palm swamps and belongs to the mangrove monitor, V. indicus group.

How Important Is Geographical Isolation in Speciation? ScienceDaily (May 1, 2010) —

A genetic study of island lizards shows that even those that have been geographically isolated for many millions of years have not evolved into separate species as predicted by conventional evolutionary theory. Professor Roger Thorpe and colleagues Yann Surget-Groba and Helena Johansson, at Bangor University, UK, reveal their findings April 29 in the openaccess journal PLoS Genetics. Since Darwin's study of the Galapagos

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Islands, archipelagos have played a central role in understanding how new species evolve from existing ones (speciation). Islands epitomize allopatric speciation, where geographic isolation causes individuals of an original species to accumulate sufficient genetic differences to prevent them breeding with each other when they are reunited. Current day Martinique in the Lesser Antilles is composed of several ancient islands that have only recently coalesced into a single entity. The phylogeny and geology show that these ancient islands have had their own tree lizard (anole) species for about six to eight million years. Capitalizing on the islands' meeting, the authors genetically tested the lizards for reproductive isolation from one another. In using selectively neutral genetic markers, the authors saw that these anoles are freely exchanging genes and therefore not behaving as separate species. Indeed, there is more genetic isolation between conspecifics from different habitats than between those lizards originating from separate ancient islands. The findings reject allopatric speciation in a case study from a system thought to exemplify it, and suggest the potential importance of speciation due to differences in ecological conditions (ecological speciation). "The next step is to identify the genes controlling the traits influencing the process of speciation," said Roger Thorpe


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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.


Order your MHS Rodents today! see new phone# below for orders Mice


Pinkies Fuzzies Hoppers Adults

$7/dz $7/dz $8/dz $10/dz

Weaned Sm Adult Med Adult Lg Adult Jumbo

$17/dz $18/dz $24/dz $30/dz $36/dz

For pick-up at monthly meetings only. Orders may be placed the following ways: 1. at the meeting for the following month 2. emailing your request to: 3. calling the MHS voicemail: 612.326.6516 Orders MUST be placed 10 DAYS IN ADVANCE of the date of meeting in order to guarantee availability.

Advertising Policies 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 (3) consecutive months, after which time they may be resubmitted.

MHS AD RATES Business card 1/4 Page 1/2 Page Full Page

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

*12th month is free on a one year commitment

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.



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Parking generally available after 6 p.m. Please park in the pay parking lot. Parking in outside ring is by contract only.

MHS Voice Mail: 612.326.6516

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Lower Buford Circle

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Next Meeting: Friday, July 9, 2010 7:00 pm Room 335 Borlaug Hall, U of M St. Paul Campus

This newsletter is printed on recycled paper.


Vol. 30 (2010), No. 7  

Minnesota Herpetological Society Newsletter

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