Page 1

the newsletter of the

July 2011

Minnesota Herpetological Society

Volume 31

Number 7

BOARD OF DIRECTORS President Jennifer Hensley

Bell Museum of Natural History, 10 Church Street Southeast, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55455-0104

Vice President Sonja Koolmo 763.755.1630 Recording Secretary Ellen Heck




Membership Secretary Heather Clayton 612.886.7175


July 2011


Newsletter Editor Christopher Rueber


Members at Large Jeff LeClere


Chris Smith


Matt Carter


Jacob Mee

Number 7


Treasurer Nancy Haig

Volume 31

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. 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 elec- tronic file format if possible. See inside back cover for ad rates. Submissions may be sent to: The Minnesota Herpetological Society -or- Attn: Newsletter Editor Bell Museum of Natural History 10 Church St SE Minneapolis, MN 55455-0104

C om m itte e s Adoption Sarah Richard


Education Jan Larson



Library Nancy Haig 763.434.8684


Cover Photo found on Flickr By Gore Fiendus (Jerry Frausto)

© Copyright 2011, 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 2011

Volume 31

Number 7

July Meeting - Friday, July 1st - Starting at 7 P.M. University of MN - St. Paul Campus, Borlaug Hall, Room 335 Dr. Richard C. Vogt presents..

Conservation and Ecology of Amazon River turtles in Brazil Dr. Richard C. Vogt received is Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin - Madison in 1978. Dr. Vogt’s doctoral research focused on the, “Systematics and ecology of the false map turtle complex Graptemys pseudogeographica”. During his tenure in the upper Midwest, Dr. Vogt authored and coauthor several peer-reviewed articles across a wide array of herpetological topics. Currently, Dr. Vogt is a Researcher and Curator of reptiles and amphibians at Brazil’s National

Institute of Amazonian Research. While working at the Trombetas River Reserve Field Station in the Brazilian Amazon, Dr. Vogt has collected and deposited approximately 4000 herpetological specimens in the University of Wisconsin Zoological Museum. These include the important specimen series serving as basis for his book “Natural History of Amphibians and Reptiles in Wisconsin” (1981), which is still the most comprehensive resource for Wisconsin Herpetology.

Proposed Change to the MHS Bylaws Voting to take place during the Annual MHS Meeting, Nov 4, 2011. The Minnesota Herpetological Society’s Board of Directors has approved the following proposed change to the MHS Bylaws after reviewing the responses to this item in the April 2011 membership survey.. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact any board member. All board positions have a four year limit with the exception of the treasurer. The proposed change will eliminate this distinction and impose the limit on all positions. Reason for change: Eliminating the sentence “Treasurer will have no limit to term length.” will allow all board positions to have the same term limits. Maintaining the four year limit on consecutive terms will prevent burnout and allow for a natural process of obtaining new board members.

Existing wording: Section 4.02 Term of Office. The officers and members-at-large elected at the Annual Meeting of MHS as hereafter provided, shall serve for a period of one (1) year commencing January 1. Board of Directors may serve only four (4) terms consecutively. Treasurer will have no limit to term length. Change to: Section 4.02 Term of Office. The officers and members-at-large elected at the Annual Meeting of MHS as hereafter provided, shall serve for a period of one (1) year commencing January 1. Board of Directors may serve only four (4) terms consecutively. 3

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

July 2011

Volume 31

Number 7

In case you missed the June speaker....

Saint Louis Zoo’s Efforts to Save a Rapidly Decline Species:

The Armenian Viper By Ellen Heck The June speaker was Matt Edgar, Keeper of Herpetology at the St Louis Zoo, speaking about Armenian Vipers. The Zoo established a conservation program in 2004, part of the WildCare Institute, to study and preserve these and several other related species of mountain viper. The project manager is Jeff Ettling, who incidentally will be a speaker at this year’s Midwest Symposium. First off – Armenia is a small near east European country about the size of Maryland, near Turkey, Georgia and Iran. It is primarily Christian, although surrounded by Muslim countries, formerly part of the Soviet Union. It has a population of approximately 3.2 million people, two-thirds of whom live in the capitol city of Yerevan. There are 86 species of reptiles, 20 of which only occur in the region. Despite the name, Armenian vipers are also found in Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan and possibly Iraq. They are not a large snake, males getting up to one meter and the females slightly smaller. Montivipera raddei generally has a gray, brownish-gray or black body with brighter yellow, orange or red splotches along their backs. They are generally found on rocky slopes between 1000-2500m above sea level. The areas tend to be grassy and rocky without many trees. Currently, they are listed as near-threatened. The population of the vipers has decreased dramatically over the past few decades as the human population has increased, along with agriculture. The snakes are diurnal, and as more land is cultivated, there are more encounters with humans, which not infrequently result in the snake being killed. Also, the populations of the snakes tend to be fragmented. Cattle and sheep are grazed in the grasslands and the rocky habitats moved to allow cultivation. Overcollection is also a problem, although Armenia has strict laws about this and enforces them. Most animals in private collections are originally from Turkey. Although there was some work done in the 1960’s, there is no real baseline data on the snakes, so the first step has been to collect some. Initially, a site was picked in the Khosrov reserve in central Armenia. Some radio tracking was attempted and samples collected. However, despite the plentitude of snakes, the site was difficult to get to and work in so later research has been conducted in 2 other sites.


The first site is the Erebuni reserve near Yerevan. The site is basically a valley, with cultivation along the bottom and some grazing of animals. Radio telemetry was used to tack the movements of 20 snakes. The speculation was that they would move faster through the cultivated areas. However, there was a slight setback when the radios – from a new company – had a 100% failure rate within 5 weeks, resulting in no data getting collected in 2007. However, a second attempt was made in 2008/2009, when the old transmitters were used. The data collected verified the assumption about the movement. The second site is Shikakhogh reserve on the Meghri Ridge in southern Armenia. This is an isolated area and uncultivated. The site also has more cover for the snakes, which helps protect them from predation. It is at a slightly higher elevation and has been left completely alone in the two decades since the fall of the Soviet Union. The snakes here have a different appearance than the ones at the other site – they tend to be heavier bodied, leading to speculation that they have a much more abundant food supply. This will be studied in the upcoming 2011/2012 seasons, when prey from both site will be trapped and catalogued. They are also more melanistic and may be a subspecies, although it will take the results of the blood work to determine this for certain. Also to be studied is the difference in ranges between the 2 sites. If the speculation is correct, the snakes at the northern site would tend to be larger if the prey is in fact less abundant. The adult snakes tend to eat rodents and other small mammals, although the young are less picky, eating insects and lizards as well. Work at the Erebuni site is conducted from Yerevan, which of course has all the amenities of the capitol city. However, the isolated Shikakhogh site is a different matter. Originally, personnel used to sleep in tents as there are no buildings around. People are dropped off with the supplies necessary to get them through. Given the location of the park, there are a number of predators, including bears, wolves, Persian leopards and even hyenas. Recently however the Wildcare Institute donated enough to get a trailer with outhouse. This is used not just by US

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

July 2011

Volume 31

Number 7

researchers, but their Armenian colleagues and researchers with the WWF, who do mammalian research in the reserve. The research team always includes a vet to help with the surgical implantation of the radios. They usually stay about 2 months but have trained the local researchers on the equipment, so readings of the current locations of the snakes gets taken at least once a week. The results of the home range study in the northern site showed no difference in the ranges based on gender, although they definitely prefer the steppes habitat and the cover it provides. Courtship behavior was also observed. A previous study describing “courtship” behavior was in fact describing combat. Although the vipers tend to be “a bit ornery” in captivity, in the wild they are far more inclined to flee than fight. St Louis Zoo site snakes/armenianviper.htm

Upcoming Hands-on Event Schedule July 15, 5:30-7p Rivertown Days July 16, 12:30-2:20p Rivertown Days Aug 20 - Oct 2 Sat and Sun All Day Renaissance Festival Shakopee, MN

Contact: Jan Larson

Looking to meet other MHS members? Help assist the society achieve it’s goals of educating the public? Or just have a good time showing off your herps? Here’s the perfect opportunity! Here’s the deal- Bring your herp(s) to one of the shows listed above, and talk about them. That’s it! You don’t have to be an expert, you’re not giving speeches. Most of the time you will find that people are more than open to hearing about our misrepresented critters. Sound fun? Great! There are just a few requirements: Bring only healthy animals. Make sure you know the basics about your animal; What they eat, how long they live, adult size, cage needs. There is no size limits as long as the handler can comfortably keep control. We do not let viewers pat them on the head and do not allow them to directly hold the animal. If the animals are very young, display in a cage is recommended. Children may participate as long as they have adult supervision.

507-263-4391 5

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

July 2011

Volume 31

Number 7

The North American FieldAmerican Herping Field Association Four Corners area in Colorado/Utah/New Mexico/ The North Herping (NAFAssociation • (NAFHA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to uniting HA) is aThe non-profit organization dedicated to uniting private professional herpetologists the common goal of understanding, conserving and Northamateur, American Fieldand Herping Association (NAFHA)toward is aArizona non-profit organization dedicated to uniting amphibians and reptiles of Norththe America. amateur,amateur, privatemanaging and professional herpetologists toward • common Frenchtown Conservation Area and in Louisiana private andthe professional herpetologists toward goal ofRoad understanding, conserving managing and reptiles of North America. • Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania the common goalthe of amphibians understanding, conserving and The centerpiece NAFHA a continent-wide database (, where field herpers of managing the amphibians and of reptiles of is North Ameri• Maryland Herp Atlas in Maryland all experience levelsis enter their finds. In less than years, our Peninsula database has 75,000+ The centerpiece of NAFHA a continent-wide database (, where fieldtoherpers ofrecords. ca. • fiveDelmarva ingrown Delaware/Maryland/Virginia Whatlevels is done withtheir this finds. data? In Various agencies - both governmental and NGOs can request all experience enter less than five years, our database has grown to 75,000+ records. • Everglades in Florida data with for approved including- academic studies, population What is done this data?purposes, Various agencies both governmental and NGOsmanagement, - can requestconservation, and the The centerpiece of NAFHA is a continent-wide database formationpurposes, of herp-related laws. Data requests approvedmanagement, by the persons' whose data is being data for approved including academic studies,are population conservation, and the requested. (, where field herpers of all exIt’s no secret thathave herpetofauna are poorly studied, even the database still requests in its infancy, seven database requestswhose already been made, approved, and formationThough of herp-related laws.isData are approved by the persons' data is being requested. perienceThough levels the enter their finds. In less than five years, in an area as settled and developed as North America. delivered, related to database the Texasrequests Natural have Diversity Database, the Missouri Herp the databaseincluding is still inrequests its infancy, seven already been made, approved, and Atlas, our database has grown to 75,000+ records. What is This database project and the related surveys should inof the state ofrelated California’s “Species of Special Concern” list, the Missouri rewrite ofHerp the US Forest delivered,rewrite including requests to the Texas Natural Diversity Database, Atlas, the Service’s done with this of data? Various agencies -“Species both governcrease ourthe knowledge amphibians and reptiles – their “Forest Sensitive Species” list, and USGS project to measure the genetic diversity of southern California's rewrite the state of California’s ofa Special Concern” list, rewrite of of the US Forest Service’s mental and NGOs can request data for distribution, abundance, and the health of populations. pond turtle populations. “Forest Sensitive Species” list, and a USGS project to measure the genetic diversity of southern California's approved purposes, including academic studies, popuOver time the database will assist in the tracking of pond turtle populations. Persons who enter data into database can the leveltrends. of privacy of each Specific localitythe eflation management, conservation, and thetheformation of choose population Every littlerecord. bit helps - through information and GPS data are never publicly available under any circumstances. Publicly hidden areable Persons who enter data into the database can choose the level of privacy of each record. Specific locality herp-related laws. Data requests are approved by the forts of NAFHA, conservation agencies havedata been kept strictly confidential and cannot be viewed even by other NAFHA members. information and GPS data are never publicly available under any circumstances. Publicly hidden data are persons’ whose data is being requested. Though the to verify the species being protected on their land and strictly confidential and cannot be viewed even by other NAFHA members. databasekept is still in its infancy, seven database requests better manage their NAFHA also organizes and conducts herpetological surveys of have already been made, approved, and delivered, populations; state and private NAFHA herpetological surveys NAFHA public also organizes and land. conducts herpetological surveys of have already including requests related to the Texas Natural Diverparks have been public andincluded: private land. NAFHA herpetological surveys have already sity Database, the able to update their   Missouri Herp Atlas, the rewrite of included: the state of California’s “Species of Special Concern” lists of amphibians * Tejon Ranch Conservancy, Escondido Creek Conservancy, San list, the *rewrite of the US Forest Service’s “Forest SensiandSan reptilesand present; Dieguito River Conservancy, Soquel Demonstration Forest, Tejon Ranch Conservancy, Escondido Creek Conservancy, tive Species” list,Angel and Conservancy, a USGS project toCalifornia measure the Forest, and state agencies Island State Park in Dieguito River Soquel Demonstration and *of Great Parkpond in Nevada genetic Angel diversity southern California’s turtle have been able to Island StateBasin ParkNational in California * Santa Catalina Mountains, and track the sensi* Great Basin National Park in NevadaSanta Rita Mountains, populations. better McDowell SonoranSanta Conservancy in Arizona * Santa Catalina Mountains, Rita Mountains, and the tive herp popula* Chatfield Park Colorado Sonoran Conservancy in Arizona Persons McDowell who enter data into theindatabase can choose tions and adjust * Four Corners area inSpecific Colorado/Utah/New Mexico/Arizona Chatfield Park in Colorado the level* of privacy of each record. locality their management * Frenchtown Road Conservation Area in Louisiana * Four Corners area in Colorado/Utah/New Mexico/Arizona information and GPS data are never publicly available plans accord* Delaware Water Gap inArea Pennsylvania * Frenchtown Road Conservation in Louisiana under any circumstances. Publicly hidden data are ingly. NAFHA was * Maryland Herp Atlas in Maryland * Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania kept strictly confidential and cannot be viewed even by recently thanked * Delmarva Peninsula in Delaware/Maryland/Virginia * Maryland Herp Atlas in Maryland other NAFHA members. by the Tejon Ranch * Everglades Florida * Delmarva Peninsula in Delaware/Maryland/Virginia Conservancy for * Everglades in Florida NAFHA also organizes and that conducts herpetological collecting formed of their It's no secret herpetofauna are poorlysurstudied, even in andata area that as settled andpart developed as case Northfor a $15.8 America. This database and the related surveys increase our knowledge of amphibians and veys of public and private land. NAFHA herpetological million grant thatand facilitated the of 62,000 It's no secret that herpetofauna areproject poorly studied, even in an areashould as settled developed as purchase North reptiles – their project distribution, abundance, and theshould health of Overthat time the now database will assist in This database and the related surveys our knowledge ofwill amphibians surveys America. have already included: acresincrease ofpopulations. amazing land be and protected from tracking of population trends. little of bitpopulations. helps - through efforts of NAFHA, reptiles –the their distribution, abundance, andEvery the health Overthe time the database willconservation assist in   development. agencies have been able Every to verify thebit species protected on their land and conservation better manage their theRanch tracking of population trends. little helps being - through the efforts of NAFHA, • Tejon Conservancy, Escondido Creek Conpopulations; state parks have been able to update their lists of amphibians and reptiles present; and state agencies have been able to verify the species being protected on their land and better manage their servancy, San Dieguito River Conservancy, Soquel If you would like more information, NAFHA’s homepagencies have been better track sensitive populationsand andreptiles adjust their management populations; state parks have able beentoable to update their listsherp of amphibians present; and state plans Demonstration Forest, and Angel Island State Park in age explains the local chapters, conservancy projects, accordingly. NAFHA was recently thanked the Tejonand Ranch Conservancy for collecting agencies have been able to better track sensitive herp by populations adjust their management plans data that California formed part of their case for a $15.8 million grantsurveys, and database contests: that facilitated the for purchase of 62,000 acres of amazing accordingly. NAFHA was recently thanked by the Tejon Ranch Conservancy collecting data that • Great Basinpart National Park in be Nevada Check the outpurchase what NAFHA is doing your area, get on land now protected fromgrant development. formed ofthat theirwill case for a $15.8 million that facilitated of 62,000 acres ofinamazing • Santa Catalina Mountains, Santa Rita Mountains, your local NAFHA forum, sign up for the land that will now be protected from development. and the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy in Arizona database, and start making a difference whileprojects, field herpIf you would like more information, NAFHA's homepage explains the local chapters, conservancy • Chatfield Park in Colorado ing! surveys, and database contests: Check NAFHA is doing inprojects, your area, get If you would like more information, NAFHA's homepage explains the out localwhat chapters, conservancy


on your localcontests: NAFHA forum, sign up for the Check database, andisstart making a difference surveys, and database out what NAFHA doing in your area, get while fieldNAFHA herping! forum, sign up for the database, and start making a difference while on your local field herping!

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

July 2011

Volume 31

Number 7

Board Meeting Minutes for June 4th, 2010 The Meeting was called to order at 6:13pm in Room 108 in the Student Union. Old business Phone – There is a quirk in Skype that requires all phone numbers assigned to the same account to be set up the same way. Therefore, the adoption line will be dropped for now. Survey – There was a good spread of responses to the survey. The biggest complaints were not starting the meetings on time and the noise levels. There was a 50/50 split on whether people used the library. However, most people like the idea of it, so the library material will be reviewed and upgraded or discarded, as necessary. Having both electronic and mailed copies of the newsletter is the most popular choice.

New business

Breckenridge Books – Because of the donation the MHS made, we have received 5 hardcover and 10 softcover copies of the book. It was decided Upcoming Speakers and Events that one hardcover copy should be put into the August: Dan Krull: When Animal Shows Attack library, one donated to this The Impact of Animal TV Shows year’s symposium auction, one held for our sympoOctober 21-23, 2011... sium in 2011, one held for the banquet this year and 27th Midwest one for the live auction in Herpetological Symposium next year’s WSS. 7 of the Has everyone marked their calendars? softcover copies will be sold by lottery at the June By now you should know that’s when we meeting and the rest held are hosting the 27th Midwest Herpetological for the banquet. Symposium. A description of the Symposium was handed out at the April General Meeting and an early bird registration form was included in May’s newsletter. These will soon be available on-line. Now we are calling for MHS to become more involved as we ask for volunteers to help out in a variety of ways. We will need Vinnies and Vannas to help with the auction, members to man the registration tables and hospitality suite, gophers to help the speakers, do odd jobs and more. So mail in your registration forms or turn them in at the next meeting and be prepared to sign up for volunteering at a great event. See you then.

Red-Eared Sliders - Jeff has been in contact with Lynn DeVries from northern Iowa, who is creating a RES sanctuary. He plans on accepting animals from several surrounding states, and would set MHS to have June as the intake month. Jeff will follow up with him for more details.

Archiving – Kathy got some estimates on costs - The Midwest Symposium Committee for scanning the old newsletters. On the assumption Renfest – The money of 2160 11”x17” pages, from 2009 has been recovered. According to the cost would be $250, plus $25 for a dvd of records, 2007 is reconciled as well. 2008 still the images needs to be resolved. Motion to adjourn: Jeff; 2nd: Chris. Meeting adjourned 10:01pm. 7

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

July 2011

Captive Bred Redfoot Tortoises

Volume 31

Number 7

Treasurer’s Report for June 2011 Prepared by Nancy Haig

Beginning Balance



My captive bred Redfoot’s are F2’s (their parents are also captive bred) and come from Guyana origins. I currently have 5 hold backs from my 2010 clutches and 2011’s hatching now. Each is 3 – 3 1/2 inches long and 175-200 grams in weight. Perfectly healthy with none of the typical pyramiding. $90 each with care sheet and lifetime support from a person with 40 years of tortoise experience. or 952-221-9748

Membership Raffle Adoption Rodent sales Donations Misc Donations HandsOn Midwest Registration

$325.00 $94.50 $300.00 $336.00 $48.00 $68.00 $430.00

Total Income $1,601.50 Expense: Newsletter Program Adoption/Vet Vol Awards Supplies Midwest

$290.40 $671.80 $60.00 $376.31 $31.94 $0.00

Total Expense $1,430.45

June Adoption Report Herps Placed in June: Alligator (3ft female), Bearded Dragon, 4 Yellow Eared Sliders, 2 Eastern Box turtles, 2 Boas, 2 Ball Pythons,, African Rock Python, Patternless Burmese, Pueblan Milk Snake, Cornsnake


Cash Increase/Decrease


Ending Balance


Placement of cash holdings

Checking Account TCF/Paypal Paypal Cash on hand

$16,663.90 $429.42 $157.93 $175.00

Total $17,426.25


Non-profit Organization U.S. Postage Paid Twin Cities, MN Permit no. 92275


Next Meeting: Friday - July 1st - 7:00 pm Room 335 Borlaug Hall, U of M St. Paul Campus

MHS Voice Mail: 612.326.6516 MHS Web Page:

This newsletter is printed on recycled paper

Vol. 31 (2011), No. 07  
Vol. 31 (2011), No. 07  

The Minnesota Herpetological Society Newsletter