Monday, April 24, 2017

Living Alongside Wildlife Needs Your Help!

Greetings all! As you may know, my science communication and outreach efforts started right here on Living Alongside Wildlife; it's been so gratifying to watch the blog grow over the last eight years while it accumulated awards and nearly five million views! You may also know my work on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. For example, Slate Magazine called me the ‘Best Biologist on Twitter’ due to my work there talking to people about snakes, wildlife, and conservation biology. I am now lucky enough to communicate science to tens of thousands of people every day. 


A screenshot from my appearance on Weather Geeks on the Weather Channel speaking
about the effects of climate change on amphibians and reptiles.
Many are familiar with my science communication efforts but few are aware that this is not part of my actual job; all of the outreach I do is on my own time; time that is in short supply as I work towards finding job security. Now I need your help to make sure I can continue communicating science! Please visit me on Patreon and consider supporting my work for as little as $1 a month. If 20% of my online followers did the same I could do this full-time. Is having a biologist on call to answer your questions worth $1?

      I want to write more blog posts, I want to answer your questions, I want to write more articles. I wish I could handle all the requests I receive and act on my ideas for creating new content. You can help make it happen.

     Perhaps you appreciate what you learn from my outreach or that I am on call to answer your questions. Perhaps you are a citizen scientist that I have helped turn into a published author of scientific publications. Perhaps you’re an academic researcher that values science communication but doesn’t have the time or interest to do it yourself. Perhaps you are an advocate for wild animals and wild places and appreciate the work I do to help others value them too. Maybe you are a journalist that appreciates that I’m always available to provide a quote or help you understand a new scientific paper. Please consider helping to make sure that I can continue to do these things.


A screenshot from Fox News featuring my video giving a turtle CPR

Twitter

     On Twitter I am @AlongsideWild, the Best Biologist onTwitter, where I have over 17,300 followers and answer questions about science, wildlife, and snakes in particular, as well as offer commentary and perspective on these topics when they appear in the news. Some highlights have included:

            -Kicking off #ActualLivingScientist.



            -Live-tweeting of the 2016 Florida Python Challenge.

            

     -Collaborating with BlueAsterStudio to create informational graphics to accompany my tweets and help people learn snakes. 



      Tons of people have told me that I have helped change the way they think!




     I also maintain (@Wildlife_Return) focusing on news, research, and commentary related to reintroduction biology, with about 1,500 followers. I hope this account helps people become familiar with the developing field of Reintroduction Biology.


A screenshot from WLTZ talking about a partnership with a local brewery to
benefit our efforts to conserve the Indigo Snake in Alabama.

Blog

     Living Alongside Wildlife, which I have maintained since 2009, has become one of most popular wildlife science and natural history blog in existence. The blog receives about three thousand hits a day and is approaching five million overall and I use this platform to host snake identification challenges, write about common wildlife questions and myths, and respond to sensationalized wildlife stories that appear in the media.

Scientist Interviews   

I’d also like to continue to use the blog to interview scientists that have published new and exciting research papers, like I did here talking with Dr. Bree Putman about her research on how rattlesnakes forage and find prey, or here with Dr. Frank Burbrink, who published a paper arguing that Cottonmouths and Copperheads were actually four different species.
           
Snake Identification

            Currently one of the most popular features are my snake identification challenges. I take the pictures that people e-mail me and turn them into blog posts so everyone can learn how to identify them together.

            Wildlife Myths and Questions

I often write about common questions and misconceptions. For example, herpetologists have been hounded about pictures of impossibly large rattlesnakes for years; now they need only provide a link to this post, which has been viewed over 500,000 times.

            Guest Posting
           
            I enjoy letting other scientists publish guest posts on the blog, like this one by Dr.Michelle LaRue on Black Panthers, which has received over 100,000 views.
           
Media Response

            The blog is a great platform for responding to some of the sensational news that appear in the media, like the story about how Green Anacondas had taken over Florida or how toads were a dangerous menace to our pets.

I could do so much more with the blog. I get tons of questions that would be great topics for blog posts but I just don’t have the time. Many sensationalized stories in the media pass me by without appropriate response. I would really look forward to dedicating more time to scientist interviews to help them get the word out about their new research.

Facebook

Have you found me on Facebook, where I have about 3,300 followers and provide wildlife news and commentary? I hope to increase my engagement on that platform as I’m currently unable to even acknowledge let alone answer all the questions I receive there.

YouTube

           I hope to spend more time creating nature videos and tap into an entirely new audience. Although my use of YouTube has so far been limited, I already have nearly 400 subscribers and 1.5 million views.

Other Writing

            I have written in Slate about what an exotic species is and why conservation biologists are concerned about them, how turtle soup created a conservation crisis for turtles in our country, and how I ended up giving mouth-to-mouth CPR to a turtle in South Alabama. I really hope I have the time and opportunity to do more of this kind of writing.

In The News

I speak with journalists on a weekly basis to provide interviews, commentary and quotes to help ensure accuracy and provide an independent perspective on wildlife news. Many scientists complain about the media and how their field is represented, few work with journalists to help.

Educational Science Presentations

    I don't just talk about science online, I give presentations everywhere from classrooms, coffee shops, and even prison. 

What's Next?

    More blog posts, more articles, more interaction on social media, what about videos, podcasts and expeditions? You can help make it happen.








Friday, April 21, 2017

Snake Identification Challenge of the Week: Little Brown Buds






Can you identify this snake for me pls.   Thank you 

Leon C.



    I recently got home from a week long vacation. When I took my dogs out to pee I noticed a small snake curled up on a towel that I use to dry the dogs feet before I let them back in the house.
    I live in central Alabama and am unsure what kind of snake this little guy is. He has a distinct patten that I haven't been able to find any other photos of. His head was small compared to his body size and appeared to be somewhat of a pointed shape. I have included a picture I took of him before getting him out of my yard. Thanks for your time!


Kevin C.
Alabama


Dear Dr. Steen:

My child found this little snake under a toy in eastern 
Powhatan, VA. We have had rain nearly every day for over a week. This snake is only about 6" long. I think it is harmless but want to be sure. Apologies for the photo quality. Could you please let me know what this is?

Thank you!

LC
Virginia





Kay S.
Alabama











Hello,
I live in Enterprise Alabama. A friend sent me this picture asking for an id, I generally can I'd most of our local snakes even juvenile but I'm unsure of this one there is just not enough colors or patterns. I'm almost sure it's not a venomous species but like I said I'm not completely positive on this one. If you could help that would be great. I really hate for people to misidentify our snakes and kill them.

Thanks

Chad T.
Alabama



From Cary, North Carolina.

Conor M.



What Are These Snakes?
-----

Snake Identification Post Ground Rules

-Guesses are welcome and encouraged. Don't worry if you're not an expert, wrong guesses allow us to talk about how to distinguish between the various species and that's why I run these posts.

-If you can't explain why you think a snake is a particular species, go ahead and just say what you think it is. But otherwise please do let us all know how you identified the animal. If you're wrong, we can explain why. If you're right, this helps everyone learn how to identify snakes, which is the point of these posts.

-This is not a pop quiz, any kind of research is encouraged and I hope you will engage with other commenters to try to figure these snakes out. I will eventually chime in with my thoughts.

-Assume I know what kind of snake is in the picture. I run these posts because they are outreach opportunities. Please don't send me private e-mails with your guesses, include them below.

-Remember, the person that sent me the picture is probably reading your comments. Although it is frustrating to know that many of these snakes have been killed, these people do want to learn more about them. More snake knowledge will lead to fewer snakes being killed. Don't hate, educate.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Snake Identification Challenge of the Week: A Bunch of Tail-shakers.





Can you please identify? (From Texas) I can't tell between a rat and rattler. It looked and sounded like a rattle on his tail. 

Janeil M.
Texas











Found on porch in South Carolina.   Man bit and very ill after attempting to shoot it.

Chris M.
South Carolina










This i think is a timber rattler. It has its back end off. Looks like it was cut by lawn mower but it didnt happen in my moms yard. It was 50 to 100 feet from street, in grass under big pine tree upside down...

??
Missouri



I was hiking this weekend and came across this snake. I can't decide if I think it a western or a pacific ad people I've shown the pic say.

Matt S.
?



Mr. Steen, 

I ran across your blog after finding a rattlesnake this morning. I've been curious about the type of rattler it is. Don't worry, although I'm sure it was dead I was still not going to risk getting very close. Took the pictures out of the window of my truck. 

This is in Anderson county in eastern Kansas. It may be hard to judge the size, but I'd estimate he's about 2 feet long. He's got 6 rattles, so obviously not a baby, but I don't know how big they get after 6 sheddings. 

The second snake I photographed last fall, also in Anderson county, about 10 miles from the one I saw today. It was alive and not near any homes so I just took his picture and let him go about his business. He's about the same size.

The rattlesnake that is usually found around here is the timber rattlesnake. But being so small after 6 sheddings I'm thinking Massasauga. 

Can you tell from the photos what type of snake it is? 

Thank you, 
Tom M.
Kansas




I think this is a rattlesnake but would really like to know for sure for future reference.  I live in Placerville, California.  Found him under a crate next to the garage.  He seems young, and I couldn’t see any actual “rattles” but he shook his tail at me (you can see in the photo) and kept lunging at the pole we used to put him in the bucket. He’s about a foot and a half to 2 feet long.

Janet B.
California

What Are These Snakes?
-----

Snake Identification Post Ground Rules

-Guesses are welcome and encouraged. Don't worry if you're not an expert, wrong guesses allow us to talk about how to distinguish between the various species and that's why I run these posts.

-If you can't explain why you think a snake is a particular species, go ahead and just say what you think it is. But otherwise please do let us all know how you identified the animal. If you're wrong, we can explain why. If you're right, this helps everyone learn how to identify snakes, which is the point of these posts.

-This is not a pop quiz, any kind of research is encouraged and I hope you will engage with other commenters to try to figure these snakes out. I will eventually chime in with my thoughts.

-Assume I know what kind of snake is in the picture. I run these posts because they are outreach opportunities. Please don't send me private e-mails with your guesses, include them below.

-Remember, the person that sent me the picture is probably reading your comments. Although it is frustrating to know that many of these snakes have been killed, these people do want to learn more about them. More snake knowledge will lead to fewer snakes being killed. Don't hate, educate.