Black rat communal nest

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joecop
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Black rat communal nest

Post by joecop » August 13th, 2012, 7:27 pm

Last year a buddy of mine called me from Poolsville and told me his neighbor was cutting down a tree and lots and lots of baby snakes were crawling out of the holes near the bottom. He knows I love snakes and tried to move as many a possible. He said there were "hundreds" coming out. LOL. Of course I did not believe him, even though this guy underestimates the size of big deer and never seems to overexaggerate anything. So he sent me a pic of a five gallon bucket with 50-75 hatching black rats in it and stated he had already moved a bucket full down to the woods. I figured the tree was taken down and the snakes would move on to lay somewhere else. WRONG. Yesterday he said the guy was now removing the stump from that tree and the same thing was happening. He again stated he moved over a hundred hatchlings to the woods but this time there were also eggs in the base. (he obviously could see them this year with the stump opened up). I told him to try and get the eggs before the guy kills all of them ripping the stump out. The neighbor agreed to wait a day before tearing out the stump. My buddy took a large plastic tub over and filled the bottom with mulch. He removed 70-80 eggs and placed them in tub but ran out of room. He removed another 140 eggs and made a makeshift nest 100 yards away, near a barn. I went over tonight and was actually impressed with the job he did. He used large barn wood slabs to protect the eggs from varmits. The eggs are at 79 degrees, the same as the soil in the stump and out of the direct sun and burried in soil removed from the stump itself. The eggs in the tub were pipping when I got there. (at least many of them were). I need to go back over for further shots because my dumb a-- forgot to put the memory chip in my camera and when I got home had zero photos!!! With the eggs in the tub pipping and all the hatchlings that were out already I think the makeshift nest eggs should hatch no problem.
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I have never seen a large communal nest like this and have to wonder how far these snakes are traveling to get to this stump! Has to be close to 30 different females. Shame the stump was removed but I give credit to my buddy for saving them and am glad the neighbor did not kill them. Many would have.

joecop
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by joecop » August 13th, 2012, 9:57 pm

Wow John. I had no idea 44 eggs had been recorded with a black rat. I was kind of going by what I have seen with ones I had when I was a kid and several gravid DOR's I have seen. I had a clutch of 18 from one when I was young, and two I saw last year DOR had 12 and 9 eggs. I guess there could have been way less then twenty something or thirty then huh!!! Still a heck of a lot of females had to use this stump, that is for sure. Thanks for the info.


Joe

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kyle loucks
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by kyle loucks » August 14th, 2012, 2:06 am

Wow! This is really amazing! Thanks Joe.

joecop
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by joecop » August 14th, 2012, 4:40 am

Your welcome guys! Thought some folks here would find this quite interesting. There is another very large dead tree about thirty yards away from this one that also is hollow at the base. I will have to come back next spring and see if maybe some of the females use that tree now that this one is gone. Would be pretty cool to see for sure. Sucks about my camera because I had some good habitat shots and pics of the makeshift nest, ect. I have to see if I can get back out there soon and re-take them or have my buddy walk next door and take some to send to me. Beautiful country where this house is for sure.


Joe

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brick911
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by brick911 » August 14th, 2012, 4:55 am

Coolest post of the year perhaps? Without looking, I hope you put this on the big forum!

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brick911
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by brick911 » August 14th, 2012, 5:25 am

Actually, its up against some of yours. (In my book.)

herper1
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by herper1 » August 14th, 2012, 8:41 am

Can you post the pic of the bucket of babies?

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billysbrown
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by billysbrown » August 14th, 2012, 9:41 am

That is really neat, but I even think it might be worth writing up for Herpetological Review as a natural history note. Then again I think that a lot and maybe this is more common than I realize. Nate, what do you think?

Billy

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DMong
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by DMong » August 14th, 2012, 11:09 am

Simply AWESOME stuff, Joe!! This is truly what many biologist's and herpetologist's dreams are made of. Those huge numbers are simply mind-boggling, and I hope to god you can get this acknowledged by the right sources in time! This must happen far more than anyone could imagine, but how many people have ever been lucky enough to have seen any of this?............not many! To know there was up-welling bucket loads of hatchlings continuously pouring out of this big stump is just unreal!.

I can only imagine your frustration when you got home and anxiously awaited to see these photos uploaded, only to see that there were ZERO pics!..........ARRRRGH!!!! :( I would have been cursing myself for quite a while... :lol:

Killer post regardless of some of the pics you weren't able to get, because you explained very well what transpired and I could just visualize in my mind how incredible this must have been to experience.......WOW!!. The photos you did manage to post illustrate very well what took place at that very spot!

This is one of my favorite posts and stories of all time, and I've been around the block a few times regarding snakes......

Kudos to the guy who saved as many hatchlings and eggs as possible, and for doing such a fantastic job of setting them up again! :beer:

Let's hope out of all those eggs left to hatch there is a cool locality-specific morph for the hobby to enjoy for many years to come... ;)

ps, I agree that this needs to be posted on the main forum and elswhere for more people to see. :thumb:

cheers, ~Doug

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Cole Grover
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by Cole Grover » August 14th, 2012, 11:56 am

Dude, unreal. That's crazy-lots of eggs. I take it you haven't moved?

-Cole

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incuhead2000
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by incuhead2000 » August 14th, 2012, 12:13 pm

Awesome! Hope they all get a good start and I wish I had a yard with a stump full o' snakes!

joecop
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by joecop » August 14th, 2012, 12:49 pm

Thanks guys! Yeah, the camera thing will eat at me forever. I will get back over there and try to get some habitat shots, as well as shots of the man made nest and hopefully hatched eggs! This is one of those stories that if someone told you this stuff you would laugh when they left and dismiss the crazy exaggeration. Of course, now we know they are seldom, but sometimes true. I am lucky that he at least took some cell phone pics or you guys would have been calling BS on my story!!! LOL If anyone here knows of someone who wants to do a study on this site let me know. I can probably get permission for such a study. To add to everything he found a hit by the lawnmower hognose 50 feet from the stump last year. My buddy used to rent this house and lived there while his house was being built 300 yards away. His wife said they would see black snakes ALL the time on the porch. The house is REALLY old and I can only imagine has loads of rat snakes living in and around the place. (obviously).


Joe

dragoncjo
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by dragoncjo » August 14th, 2012, 2:10 pm

Last year as part of the permit we were able to hatch out rat snake eggs that were found (no longer allowed)...a guy who worked for a conservation organization called up that he had removed a tree fallen across a trail. Inside the log was around 75 black rat eggs (eggs were hatched out, not by me, released). I've also found communal nests of other rat snakes species, what is good for one is good for many. I've gotten corn snakes that laid 20+ eggs and black rats are much bigger, I would guess that was 4-5 females which probably represent a den no more than a couple 100 yards away. Those snakes will lay there eggs there just over and over but will transition to something new quickly as long as its close by.

Joecop any chance you can create a new spot in the woods that will be nice and safe, a chip up wood pile would work well.

joecop
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by joecop » August 14th, 2012, 2:25 pm

I can't see how four to five females laid this many eggs. He removed 210 eggs along with well over one hundred hatchlings. I have been herping around here for 37 years and have seen many black rats with eggs. I did not know about them having laid 44 eggs before, but I have not seen anywhere near that many from one female and would think that is the high end and an extreme amount. The average from the ones I have seen would be in the teens. But who knows how many there were. We probably will never know. There is another large dead tree very close to this one and I bet they start using that tree now. I did not spend too much time there yesterday due to the light fading. I will go back out and look around more soon. I would bet these snakes are brumating under the old house, which is thirty feet from the stump.


Joe

dragoncjo
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by dragoncjo » August 14th, 2012, 2:55 pm

i misread, I thought there was only 120 eggs. Maybe 10-15 which is really a ton of females using one site.

joecop
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by joecop » August 14th, 2012, 4:00 pm

The kicker is there were eggs shells all over the place and they had moved tons of hatchlings already that can be added to the over two hundred unhatched eggs. I would have loved to know what the actual total egg count was in that stump.


Joe

Sean
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by Sean » August 14th, 2012, 4:36 pm

...

joecop
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by joecop » August 14th, 2012, 4:46 pm

Sean, I have told him countless times how thankful myself and others are that he did this. Mind you, he is NOT a snake guy, and just has asked lots of questions about them over the years because he knows I like them. His wife can't stand them. However, they both took the time and effort, along with is children, to save these animals because they appreciate and love nature. Wouldn't it be nice if all non-snake people were like this!!

Joe

Sean
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by Sean » August 14th, 2012, 4:56 pm

...

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Mattlesnake King
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by Mattlesnake King » August 14th, 2012, 5:52 pm

i just pooped a little bit.

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regalringneck
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by regalringneck » August 15th, 2012, 8:30 am

.. wow, thats quite a find alright, im not convinced however theyre all rattys, im thinkin racers are more likely, thus id sure like to see a pic or 3 of that bucket of neonates, or perhaps others still in the area. It'd be nice too to know where this occurred; state / county. A google earth view of the surrounding hab. would be insightful as well. Its hard to understand why evolution would result in litteraly so many huevoes in one basket ... seems like a skunk or racoon would work overtime to tunnel under there? It would also seem to indicate these nesting sites are limited and that the prey for said neonates is virtually unlimited.
As others have stated, this should be a published note.

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joecop
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by joecop » August 15th, 2012, 10:57 am

John---agreed.
Regalringneck---They ALL appear to rat snakes. I talked with him today actually and he has not seen anything but rats. The tub he has, which I thought had 70-80 and counted 77 in the pic, he said has ninety when counted, all are hatching and are all rat snakes. He was shown the difference last year when this happened and knows what rat snake babies look like. I asked him to find that photo with all the snakes in the bucket. The only pics he had this year with the buckets had his kids in them. I did however have him send a shot of some of the babies prior to release. Here ya go!!
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kyle loucks
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by kyle loucks » August 15th, 2012, 12:19 pm

Since ratsnakes are one of my favorites, this is probably my favorite post this year. Thanks Joe!

joecop
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by joecop » August 15th, 2012, 1:31 pm

My pleasure Kyle. The fact that you guys like this as much as I do makes it all worth while!! I still cannot get over it. Just crazy to me.


Joe

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Brendan
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by Brendan » August 15th, 2012, 3:25 pm

Awesome. Nature never ceases to amaze.

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[email protected]
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by [email protected] » August 15th, 2012, 3:55 pm

That is absolutely astounding!

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Dalton Lund
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by Dalton Lund » August 15th, 2012, 4:35 pm

This is amazing. I have never seen anything like it, I vote best post of the year. You did add all of those as individual records right? :lol:

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Ross Padilla
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by Ross Padilla » August 15th, 2012, 4:59 pm

Incredible post, Joe. That was one heck of a find. Luckily you had a friend willing to capture all those babies. Big props to him as well. :thumb:

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Jon Wedow
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by Jon Wedow » August 16th, 2012, 5:57 am

I think this is also my favourite post of the year! Rat snakes aren't doing well around here so to see something like this would be a dream!

Like somebody mentioned I wonder if you could create a suitable nesting spot nearby? Maybe a caged nest box to keep predators out. Also I wonder if you used some of the rotting wood that's left over if it would hold on to the scent that they are following!

Thanks for sharing!

will lattea
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by will lattea » August 16th, 2012, 7:17 am

This is great!! I know of a tree near a stream that has good root holes that serve as a hibernacula for black rats, racers, garters, waters, and queens- but I've seen what appeared to be multiple clutches of black rats coming out in late summer as well... but no where near that many!! Makes ya wonder just what these guys are really up to...


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:beer:

Joe Mahoney
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by Joe Mahoney » August 17th, 2012, 5:12 am

Awesome observation Joe.

I found this hollowed out tree a couple years ago in that I suspect the same thing is going on. Unfortunately, I have not had a chance to get back there, but your story is making me want ot go check it out. Wish there was more time in a day/week/summer, lol.

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joecop
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by joecop » August 17th, 2012, 7:53 am

Thanks Joe. Yep, I would bet they are probably laying in that tree. Good stuff.


Joe

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kyle loucks
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by kyle loucks » August 17th, 2012, 11:59 am

I was hiking yesterday... this post had me checking ever single freakin big ole decaying tree...

joecop
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by joecop » August 17th, 2012, 1:41 pm

hahahaha. TOO FUNNY Kyle.. Bet you are not the only one doing that. I know I will be checking them!!


Joe

herper1
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by herper1 » August 17th, 2012, 4:44 pm

I found an old rotten tree once with a hole in the side. I stuck my head in and looked down and there were 2 racres coiled up at the bottom.

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DaneConley
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by DaneConley » August 18th, 2012, 1:49 pm

.

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Dougsnake
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by Dougsnake » August 23rd, 2012, 8:35 am

Great post Joe , Thanks for sharing this
Your having a good year all around.

joecop
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Re: Black rat communal nest

Post by joecop » August 30th, 2012, 6:22 pm

Just an update---my buddy called and said all of the eggs have finished hatchling that were in the tub pic. Stated all but a few hatched out and he released them close to the stump site. He is checking on the makeshift nest tomorrow to see how they made out. I am hoping they hatched out fine.


Joe

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