Setting up artificial cover for the first time

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Philrezin1
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Joined: October 11th, 2012, 1:11 pm

Setting up artificial cover for the first time

Post by Philrezin1 » June 20th, 2013, 1:56 pm

Hello everyone, my name is Phil Rezin and I am new to this forum. You can find my profile in the "Midwest" forums for those of you interested! Let me preface this post by saying I did look for a while for previous posts on this forum about artificial cover and didn't find what I was looking for, so I would appreciate any help. I have never set up artificial cover before and I have a cabin in Adams County, Wisconsin where I'd like to try (I'm near Quincy Bluffs :)). I've had success finding eastern hogs, red-bellied's, garters, smooth green's, and brown snakes. I'm sure it's a somewhat acquired skill and that I probably can't mess up throwing boards on the ground, but I was hoping I could get some advice on placement in the landscape mosaic, what materials work best, and if anyone has any tricks. I have mostly plywood, a single roofing tin, some carpet, and a large piece of a glass table to use. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks, Phil Rezin

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muskiemagnet
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Location: kaukauna, wi

Re: Setting up artificial cover for the first time

Post by muskiemagnet » June 20th, 2013, 3:04 pm

phil, we need to get together. i scouted quincey this spring before the snow left. my friend kyle was there last sunday to take a peek. all the snakes you mentioned are good. here's more possibilities. glass lizards(seen them in neceedah), five-lined skinks(seen them in a bunch of places near there), racers(DOR in the area a bunch of years ago), bulls(not likely, but the soil is right. depends on how far north they have gotten along the wis. river), timbers? historical records show them in the middle of adams, masassauga. (they are historically known from the area and i find it hard to believe that they have not held on due to the expansive areas surrounding adams/juneau counties.

like i said, we need to get together.

-ben

Philrezin1
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Joined: October 11th, 2012, 1:11 pm

Re: Setting up artificial cover for the first time

Post by Philrezin1 » June 20th, 2013, 4:37 pm

I'd be game, I'll be there tomorrow around 2-3 until Sunday morning, so let me know! My email is [email protected]. My parents bought the trailer/cabin a long time ago, but I have only been able to herp it about once every year or two :( so I don't know the area well at all. Now I'm at a point that I can get up there more, which is why I'm laying the cover! We have 5-lined skinks all over (although they seem to be less common now), as well as the blue-spotted salamander I believe. I've been herping all my life, but have a lot to learn and definitely don't really know the area, so again I'd be glad to get together.

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chris_mcmartin
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Re: Setting up artificial cover for the first time

Post by chris_mcmartin » June 20th, 2013, 7:29 pm

Just one guy's opnion:

Boards at the base of the bluffs. Boards at the top of the bluffs. Clear as much vegetation as possible before placing--weedeater use may help.

Put the tin out as well.

The carpet may also be useful--leave part of it overlapping itself. I've found snakes in the folds here in KS this year.


And for the poetically inclined:

As for the glass,
I'd pass.

joconnor
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Re: Setting up artificial cover for the first time

Post by joconnor » June 20th, 2013, 9:01 pm

Phil , another technique you can use is "stacking " layers of plywood .Different species will be attracted to the "layers " just as Chris mentioned for the carpeting .Generally the lower levels will be damp ( depending on rain fall , etc )As the wood ages it will crack /splinter providing even better cover for certain species .It will also attract rodent prey for the larger constrictors . Good luck
Joe

Philrezin1
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Joined: October 11th, 2012, 1:11 pm

Re: Setting up artificial cover for the first time

Post by Philrezin1 » June 20th, 2013, 9:43 pm

Really encouraged by the help! Thanks alot! Ive read a book on snake hunting by Phil and Will (i think?) and they suggested stacking certain things like roofing tins. I think their reasoning was it would be a heat gradient? Glad to know i should try to stack the plywood, and great tip on rolling over the carpet! I've read I should be looking for habitat heterogeneity when laying also? And Chris, my land is very close to the bluffs but I wont be laying near any actual bluffs... That would be awesome though!
I guess describing my land would be beneficial.... I live near an open marsh/mature forest. The soil is sandy and the topography is hilly with old growth oak. The pond ranges from what would appear to be a lake to something of an ephemeral pond. It seems to be shrinking as of late, and I've never caught anything but amphibians in it (and turtles). There are larger pond/lakes that are on public land. The lakes all seem to be alkaline? Not sure if that gives anyone a better "feel"?!

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chris_mcmartin
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Re: Setting up artificial cover for the first time

Post by chris_mcmartin » June 21st, 2013, 4:05 am

Philrezin1 wrote:I've read I should be looking for habitat heterogeneity when laying also? And Chris, my land is very close to the bluffs but I wont be laying near any actual bluffs... That would be awesome though!
Habitat heterogeneity--I'd shoot for "ecotones" (transitions between one type and another), such as the edge of the woods. Put some AC at the edge, some out into the clearing/field, some just inside the woods, etc.

Re: bluffs, my idea would be to try to put AC between your nearest access to the bluffs, and wherever you perceive the reptiles to likely be moving between the bluffs (possible hibernacula) and summer ranges. Check your newly-made "rest stops" in spring and fall.

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Jon Wedow
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Re: Setting up artificial cover for the first time

Post by Jon Wedow » June 21st, 2013, 6:32 am

For plywood thickness can be important. When laying tin/plywood you may want to consider throwing some spacers between layers. A big fat hognose may appreciate this foresight ;) If your boards aren't on a sandy soil you may want to scrape a couple trenches with your foot or throw a branch under the boards to leave some space underneath. This can be especially important with bigger boards otherwise they tend to sink right into the ground and stay wet underneath. Try to use 1/4 inch thickness or generally thin pieces of plywood if you can. In areas where you have seen the Smooth Greensnakes, put out some small sections of carpet, some in folds (little sample pieces from a carpet store work perfect!) and they may use them as egg laying sites. Also there is a type of landscaping cloth or some sort of interior fabric from older cars that seems to be amazing for snakes! Any of the lighter carpets which fold easily and don't hold too much water will have the same effect. Good luck and keep us posted!

Philrezin1
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Joined: October 11th, 2012, 1:11 pm

Re: Setting up artificial cover for the first time

Post by Philrezin1 » June 25th, 2013, 5:26 pm

Hey all! I was with my wife and daughter and didn't check my email until after the weekend, so I apologize Mike (I'll get at ya next time I'm up!) I will say I did a shitton of hiking, cruising, and herping and really didn't find much at all :(. I was going to be totally skunked but I turned up a stunning male 5-lined then 15 minutes later found an equally gorgeous painted turtle cruising across my lawn. Spent hours at TNC sites, state preserves, and cruising roads, but found both my herps on my property! I did get around to laying a bunch of A.C. down at various sites, but in all honesty there is so much natural cover down that I flipped and that didn't equate to any herps that I'm just cautiously optimistic. I also did some relatively extensive scouting of new areas, and finally hiked over the bluffs! Thanks for all the help and advice! I will post photos once I get a photobucket going!

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