Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Readers Write In: What are These Guinea Snakes and What are They Doing?

   Most of the snakes we are asked to identify are from North America (but not always). However, today we must get into a Guinea state of mind. The following pictures just arrived courtesy of Andrew Durso (author of the snake-centric blog, Life is Short, but Snakes are Long). A friend of his from Guinea came across these snakes on his way to work and he wants our help in figuring out what they are. The animals are involved in what is most likely a serpentine menage a trois: two males are courting a female.

I'm afraid I won't be much use identifying the snakes because I am stumped. I have no expertise in the animals from this part of the world. But, I know there is someone out there who can help us out....

What are these snakes?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Readers Write In (with Video): What is this Giant Snake Swimming in my Pond?

   It's been a while since we've had any readers write in with their wildlife questions, probably because the e-mails I receive tend to be biased towards snakes...and lately most reptiles have been quietly waiting out the winter underground. Not in central Florida though...Today I received the following e-mail and video (which may remind you of some classic footage you might have seen of the Loch Ness Monster):

We are in Davenport, Florida right by Disney. This was filmed on February 11th, 2013. The area is in the process of being cleared for some light agricultural use. A licensed nuisance wildlife trapper (which might translate to yahoo with a gun depending on who you call) told me it was a python. He wants to shock the pond and "shewt'er win she rhuns!" Forgive the sarcasm, but I didn't appreciate the "Shoot'em up" approach he had. Someone from The Serpentarium in St. Cloud, Florida says it is a Cottonmouth. Someone else says it is a Brown Water Snake. Someone else said Ratsnake. Now the youtube video muted it a little, so I should tell you there are markings that become more prominent closer to the underside. I can see them in the youtube video, just not as well as in the original video.  Hope you can help identify our guest.

Davenport, Florida

O.K. readers, you know the drill. What is this Loch Ness Monster of Davenport, Florida? As always, be sure to tell us how you came up with your answer. Guesses are welcome.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Friday Roundup: How to Avoid Polar Bears When Trick-or-treating and Crocodile Attacks...on Elephants

 It's a busy time of year for Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake conservation. The Center for Biological Diversity recently initiated a lawsuit alleging that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is dragging its feet on protecting the species and 48,000 people signed a petition asking Whigham, Georgia to stop killing animals as part of their annual festival, the last of its kind in the state. Meanwhile, Opp, Alabama (the only other town left in the southeastern United States that holds an event to celebrate unregulated harvest of native wildlife), is planning their annual rodeo. 

While some say that Opp and Whigham are behind the times, rounding up invasive pythons is apparently a new trend in Florida.

In the past, I've walked along the beach and tossed back hapless fish and crabs that had gotten caught in the waves and found themselves beached on shore. I may have hesitated though, if one of those fish was a Great White Shark.

The best wildlife photographs of the year, by Smithsonian.

Excellent summaries of the natural history of Leaf-nosed Snakes and Gaboon Vipers, by Andrew Durso.

Darren Naish provides a fascinating summary of a potentially common event: crocodiles attacking elephants.

When we hear about mercury showing up in nature, we often think of it accumulating in things like tuna and swordfish and we worry about the consequences of eating too much of these ocean predators. The scary reality though, is that it shows up in all kinds of animals, and it is harming more than just us.

This Georgia man prefers his sea turtle eggs poached.

The Macauley Library and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have announced that they have made available over 7,000 hours of animal noises. One of my favorites: the sound of someone walking along the edge of a pond and dozens of young bullfrogs squeaking as they jumped into the water. It's hard to imagine that they'll soon sound like this. On that note, compare the sounds of a baby American Alligator to a bellowing adult.

Man in Pennsylvania doesn't follow rattlesnake harvest rules. Wildlife officer arrives at house, sees rare and protected turtle...confiscates it. And the lesson learned is, better just to stay inside?

It's not just hard to estimate the size of rattlesnakes, trying doing so for Whale Sharks, the world's largest fish.

Tips for trick-or-treating in northern Canada when you don't want to be eaten by a Polar Bear (along with other information regarding the complicated conservation of this great beast).