Translocation of snakes

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simus343
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Translocation of snakes

Post by simus343 » March 13th, 2015, 9:56 am

Last night I was cruising through my college's date bases for papers on snakes. I found a paper about translocation of snake species that had home ranges. In it, it was stated that translocated snakes move on average 3 times as much distance per day as "resident" snakes.

What I am curious about, hoping someone here has done research on, is direction of movement. Would the high movement in translocated snakes be random, or would it be semi-fixed. Gopher Tortoises, for example, will tend to move in the general direction from which they were taken prior to translocation. Say one is taken from Orlando, moved to a preserve in Alabama, the Tortoise will move in an approximately SE direction away from the translocation site.

Has anyone here done translocation studies with snakes? Are they similar in that they move in the approximate direction of their collection site, or do they just have increased wandering activity in their new homes? The research I found, did not specify if the movement was random or purposefully directional.

Any insight on this topic that can be provided would be greatly appreciated, as I am very curious. One point mentioned in the paper, is that for translocation to be used as an effective conservation technique, the effects on each species should (must in my opinion) first be understood before translocation is used as a last-ditch effort to save the animal.

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Muchobirdnerd
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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by Muchobirdnerd » March 13th, 2015, 10:20 am

I too am interested. Also can you share the original paper?

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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by simus343 » March 13th, 2015, 12:19 pm

The article can be seen here: Journal of Herpetology; December 2000, Vol. 34 Issue 4, p565-575, 11p.

I found it through the EBSCO: Biological and Agricultural Index Plus data base. They took it from the listed above Journal of Herpetology volume and issue.

I can't seem to find a way to share it though without making you access it through the EBSCO data base. The only way to access this, to my knowledge, is by subscription, I.E. a library subcribing to the data base.

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Jeff
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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by Jeff » March 13th, 2015, 6:00 pm


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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by Bryan Hamilton » March 13th, 2015, 7:47 pm

Lots of animals increase their movements and home range size after translocation, so its not something unique to snakes. There is also some evidence that when groups of snakes are translocated together, the snakes tend to move less and have higher survival.

I think you're also asking whether snakes exhibit "homing" behavior? There was a recent paper on this in translocated pythons in Florida.

http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/ ... 0efad0ba23

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gbin
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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by gbin » March 14th, 2015, 8:02 am

Bryan Hamilton wrote:Lots of animals increase their movements and home range size after translocation, so its not something unique to snakes...
Indeed, I'd say this phenomenon is actually the norm among wildlife that have been subject to translocation - and it causes a heck of a lot of problems for wildlife managers. There's a way around it, though.

In all or nearly all of these species there is an age of dispersal, a window of time beginning when they first become independent and ending when they settle into their home range be it nearby or far from where they were born. They're on the move then, to be sure, but it's not the same as the way they move when they're translocated after they've become established somewhere. In the case of dispersal they're just moving however far their nature and neighbors compel them to, and they endeavor to stay in suitable habitat throughout; they're actually looking for a new home and when they find it they quickly (and presumably happily) settle into it. In the case of (post-dispersal age) translocation they're apparently looking for the familiar territory of their old home, and they're generally quite willing to move a considerable distance and well out of suitable habitat in that (presumably very stressful) search. (My relying on rapid typing is causing me to resort to more anthropomorphic language than I should use, but you get the point.) So the key to easier, more successful translocation is to only or primarily do it with animals that are of dispersal age rather than older.

That's why I wish a lot more studies of herps (and other kinds of animals) and their translocation would endeavor to obtain information on the focal species' age of dispersal and the association of age at time of translocation with the likelihood of subsequent success. I know firsthand that it's difficult to study anything about animal dispersal, but it's important information and much more of an effort should be made to obtain it.

I'll step down from the soapbox now... ;)

Gerry

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by Bryan Hamilton » March 14th, 2015, 9:24 am

You're on to something with the juveniles Gerry. The problem I see with moving juveniles is that you lose some of the information (culture if you will) carried by the adults. This is undoubtedly more important for social species like rattlesnakes than for species like horned lizards that tend to live alone. For social species, I think the key is translocating a variety of age classes (including those naive juveniles that find new home ranges). A subset of their society. No one takes a single bighorn sheep and drops off in a new range and expects it to do well. Nor should we expect herps with strong social structure to do well when moved as singletons.

We need more experimental work and more creative thinking with herp translocations and reintroductions. Consideration of age-specific and social traits are crucial. I think we can agree that moving an individual here and there has been tried and we a can do better.

Success is also a matter of perspective. When we translocate rattlesnakes, we've tended to say, 50% of the snakes died the first year, how awful. With tortoises we say, 50% lived the first year, how wonderful.

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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by Bryan Hamilton » March 14th, 2015, 9:30 am

Let me know if you need any papers on translocation. I have most of the literature on rattlesnake translocation. I know there is some work being done with narrow-headed garter snakes in NM and AZ but I'm not as familiar with those studies.

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gbin
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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by gbin » March 14th, 2015, 9:47 am

Bryan Hamilton wrote:... No one takes a single bighorn sheep and drops off in a new range and expects it to do well. Nor should we expect herps with strong social structure to do well when moved as singletons.

...

Success is also a matter of perspective. When we translocate rattlesnakes, we've tended to say, 50% of the snakes died the first year, how awful. With tortoises we say, 50% lived the first year, how wonderful.
Both excellent points, as well.

On the latter, we should bear in mind that in nature dispersal is a time of higher mortality, too. Not all young, naive individuals of a species are going to find a suitable and available home range nor settle well into it before something (a predator, competitor, dehydration/starvation or disease, a car...) takes them out. Folks need to inure themselves to some losses in any translocation/reintroduction program. Indeed, in such programs for the most critically endangered species, those which are now being bred in captivity specifically to ensure the availability of animals for reintroduction, really any establishment by the animals is rightfully considered a success. That's not to say people shouldn't or don't strive to minimize mortality in these programs, mind you...

Gerry

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gbin
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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by gbin » March 14th, 2015, 9:55 am

I was going to add but I forgot:

Bryan, it seems to me that in the case of species such as rattlesnakes, it might be best to translocate gravid females, and to do so in such a manner that the females can't leave the area where they're placed until after they've given birth, either because they're placed so shortly before parturition that they simply don't have time to go anywhere or by keeping (and as necessary supporting) them in some kind of enclosure that won't allow them to leave but will allow their newborn to disperse. Just thinking out loud here...

Gerry

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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by Jimi » March 17th, 2015, 5:04 pm

I think that gravid-female idea could possibly work if her "soft release" site was centered on a suitable hibernaculum/rookery, in the case of communally-denning species. Otherwise how could the young of the year survive their first winter? They wouldn't know where to go.
Success is also a matter of perspective. When we translocate rattlesnakes, we've tended to say, 50% of the snakes died the first year, how awful. With tortoises we say, 50% lived the first year, how wonderful.
I really appreciate this statement too. I have said it before, in multiple jobs, in a different way - if you're hung up on animal welfare or individual survival rates, having 50% of the individuals die within a year is terrible. But if your objective is to establish a new population, or to achieve something better than 100% mortality, 50% individual survival looks great.

Right now the local issue du jour is urban mule deer. We're translocating them by the hundreds to (wild) areas where their herd numbers are way down for a variety of reasons which have mostly now been corrected. Many deer managers have been saying "it won't work" simply because half will die in the first 350 or so days. I say rubbish - we will get restored herds, and also will be seen "doing something!!!" by some extremely angry people, many of whom don't want to accept any responsibility for the problem in the first place (establishing no-hunting zones within x distance of city limits, advocating for VERY permissive annual quotas for mountain lions, advocating for feeding deer in hard winters, advocating for large deer herds, sprawling their towns up into the brush, etc etc). Good times...

Finally, I like the recognition of "culture" in wildlife. No species is truly solitary, and many are far more social than we ever gave them credit for.

cheers,
Jimi

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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by simus343 » March 17th, 2015, 7:09 pm

Bryan Hamilton wrote:Lots of animals increase their movements and home range size after translocation, so its not something unique to snakes. There is also some evidence that when groups of snakes are translocated together, the snakes tend to move less and have higher survival.

I think you're also asking whether snakes exhibit "homing" behavior? There was a recent paper on this in translocated pythons in Florida.

http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/ ... 0efad0ba23
Based off this I am curious if smaller snakes will exhibit similar behavior. It seems very reasonable for a larger species of snake to be able to "home in" on its home. What about the possibility of something such as a red-belly snake if something were ever tried with them in states where they are protected by law. Granted, the feasibility of attaching a radio transmitter to a red-belly snake is...well it isn't very feasible unless there are some super small transmitters out there haha. Simply to test the size of snakes and homing behavior, I would be curious to test something that does not exceed 2 feet, and note how well or even if the species exhibits homing behavior.


As far as discussion involving age diversity, I find that age diversity helps a great deal with the Gopher Tortoises that I work with. While the adults do not provide knowledge of denning sites, they do provide temporary cover with their burrows, until the baby tortoises get around to digging their own burrows. The babies, that survive predation, will adapt a lot better than adults do after translocaiton and be helpful in establishing a new population. Adults tend to still wander off after the fencing used to establish their new home is removed, yet younger tortoises tend to stay, and babies born on site or hatched at our lab recognize the sites as their homes and wander very little. The flip side is, while the older the tortoise is the more likely it is to not re-establish its home, it is more likely to survive predation than a baby tortoise. We always view our translocating a success though, as a majority of our tortoises were slated to be buried, with only a few waifs in the mix.

My point with this is, based on my own experience I believe having a wide diversity of age, along with introducing gravid females to new areas is very important for increasing the potential success with translocating any animal.

Something that may help with smaller rattlesnake species for reducing wandering is to use enclosed drift fence pens similar to what is used with Gopher Tortoise. Pens used for Gopher Tort translocation trap snakes inside of them all the time. It would not work for larger species though, as I have seen medium sized Eastern Diamondback successfully climb out of one of our fences by propping itself against a 2x4.


Another note that I'd like to add on the point of the overall high likely-hood of killing snakes after translocation, I believe, to be moderately species based as well. I have moved a few boat-mutilated banded water snakes that I have observed for several years at the ponds that I moved them to. The nature of their scars makes them easy to identify, slices across the back in the mid-section and near the neck, removed ventral scales, ground up tail that is still there, and 90% removed tails. I believe the cause for the first 3 to be boat related. All four were from the same high-activity-marina.

A reason I believe for the success, is banded water snakes tend to adapt well when people capture them from the wild (although nippy and frequently full of parasites from their prey). Other snakes, such as species of vipers that tend to perish if collected from the wild, may be more susceptible to not adapting once translocated, and thus perishing once moved from wild spot A to wild spot B. I doubt predation affects the survivorship much unless the snake is a diurnal grassland species that moves about at day, exposed. Overall, there are predators of many species of snakes all over. If a nocturnal snake is moved from spot to spot, I doubt predation will be any different on the new spot, unless the overall population of the predators is higher.

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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by gbin » March 18th, 2015, 5:49 am

Jimi wrote:I think that gravid-female idea could possibly work if her "soft release" site was centered on a suitable hibernaculum/rookery, in the case of communally-denning species. Otherwise how could the young of the year survive their first winter? They wouldn't know where to go.
I didn't think this needed saying, but yes, that's what I had in mind. (Never a good idea to try to translocate/reintroduce animals to an area which isn't appropriate for them given where they're at in their life cycle. ;) ) Here in the Northeast, for example, there are plenty of known former den sites for timber rattlers that have long stood empty because of past human depredations (most especially former bounties paid for the species).

I think folks' varied observations of different herps do a good job of emphasizing that a one-size-fits-all translocation program isn't by any means best. There certainly are generalities that (broadly cross taxa and) should inform our planning from the outset, but there certainly are enough individualities involved, too, that we should endeavor to learn something about the species we're working with before we get too far along in our plans for moving them around.

Ideally no translocation/reintroduction program should be conducted without a reliable means of monitoring post-release success, as it's just so incredibly informative (in combination with other information, e.g. on sex, age at release, etc.). We've had transmitters around for some years now that are small enough even to be used on small bats, but I haven't done anything with radiotelemetry for quite a while (and never personally worked with such small species) so I don't know where the technology is currently at. If it's not yet there for species such as red-bellied snakes, there's reason to hope it will eventually get there.

Gerry

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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by simus343 » March 18th, 2015, 7:08 am

gbin wrote: If it's not yet there for species such as red-bellied snakes, there's reason to hope it will eventually get there.

Gerry
If it is there, I am curious as to the range to obtain a signal. Perhaps a slightly advanced computerized GPS system would be used if the USFWS or USDF did the study? What I have worked with on Gopher Tortoises is a battery the size of a pencil sharpener (handheld with no shavings case) and an antenna about 12 inches long. We can pick up a signal from about a mile away. Any further than that and we are out of luck and spin around blind and walk that direction hoping for a signal. If nothing, back to the truck to try a different direction :roll:.

I think it must be out there though if scientists can already say that ring-neck snakes will move a few hundred meters overground in a night. That or perhaps they are just moving that much because a 6 foot tall human is chasing after them no matter how far they move? haha

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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by Bryan Hamilton » March 18th, 2015, 8:43 am

I'm not sure I agree with Gerry that we'll have radio telemetry systems to monitor red-bellied snakes. Right now the systems are as small as they can get (less than a gram), its the battery that is adding all the weight. There are systems for bats and large insects. They just have a short battery life. And with snakes you have to implant the radio which is difficult for the small species.

One thing to consider is florescent dust. It can last a long time and would probably work well for tracking snakes. The technology was featured on "Better Call Saul" this week.

I'm also not convinced that homing is a general phenomenon in snakes. As far as I know the python paper (which has some flaws) is the first.

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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by gbin » March 18th, 2015, 12:48 pm

Bryan Hamilton wrote:... its the battery that is adding all the weight...
That's the problem, all right. We really need, not just for wildlife radiotelemetry but for all kinds of applications, some significantly new battery technology. A breakthrough. I've been listening hard for news of such for quite a few years, now, and would be eager to hear of any leads others here might come across. Miniaturization of electronics in other respects has advanced very nicely, though.

Gerry

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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by Bryan Hamilton » March 18th, 2015, 1:18 pm

gbin wrote:
Bryan Hamilton wrote:... its the battery that is adding all the weight...
That's the problem, all right. We really need, not just for wildlife radiotelemetry but for all kinds of applications, some significantly new battery technology. A breakthrough. I've been listening hard for news of such for quite a few years, now, and would be eager to hear of any leads others here might come across. Miniaturization of electronics in other respects has advanced very nicely, though.

Gerry
Big game collars have finally moved to solar power, pretty effectively. Eagles and large birds too.

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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by chris_mcmartin » March 18th, 2015, 1:32 pm

Bryan Hamilton wrote:Big game collars have finally moved to solar power, pretty effectively. Eagles and large birds too.
That's going to be harder for application to predominantly nocturnal herps. What we really need are tiny, tiny cold-fusion reactors. ;)

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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by gbin » March 19th, 2015, 6:08 am

I say that what we really need is to attract Elon Musk's interest in the problem... :)

Gerry

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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by dthor68 » March 19th, 2015, 2:35 pm

Funny, I am here today to ask a similar question. It is evident that moving adult reptiles will cause the animal some stress. How about newborn snakes?

Every fall we have some newborn rat snakes in our yard and find many dead on the roads that surround our house. I get tired of finding them dead so I took one in 2 years ago and another one in last fall. I do not want to keep them so thought maybe I could release them at a nearby State Park. I have a feeling that they are born knowing their surroundings and their place and I should either keep them or let them go in the back yard.

If Anyone here thinks that they would be better off in nearby SP than our busy neighborhood please let me know. I hate to let it go in the State Park and it get hit trying to get back to my home?

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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by simus343 » March 19th, 2015, 4:05 pm

dthor68 wrote:Funny, I am here today to ask a similar question. It is evident that moving adult reptiles will cause the animal some stress. How about newborn snakes?

Every fall we have some newborn rat snakes in our yard and find many dead on the roads that surround our house. I get tired of finding them dead so I took one in 2 years ago and another one in last fall. I do not want to keep them so thought maybe I could release them at a nearby State Park. I have a feeling that they are born knowing their surroundings and their place and I should either keep them or let them go in the back yard.

If Anyone here thinks that they would be better off in nearby SP than our busy neighborhood please let me know. I hate to let it go in the State Park and it get hit trying to get back to my home?
Based on everything above it is a tough call as to what would happen if released. They may live, they may not. As was stated, it is unlikely that a smaller snake such as a gray rat, red rat, yellow rat, etc, would exhibit homing behavior, but I don't know of any actual studies regarding this, so I wouldn't know for sure.

So long as they stay hidden in a tree stump for a while to get their bearings, then start hunting food, they should be fine.

For future baby rat snakes around your house, you could translocate them early off as babies to the park. They may still die from predation, out-competition for resources from other animals, and such - but that is all natural and happens to many baby snakes any ways. Future individuals would be better off in a SP in my own opinion, so long as they are moved there right away at a very early age. Although, rat snakes do wander a bit at night, so if its a small SP, they may stray onto a nearby highway. I have lots of snakes in the neighborhood that I live in and see far more dead on the nearby highway than I do in my neighborhood. Yet, I hear about even MORE being axed up in my neighborhood, than I see DOR.

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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by gbin » March 19th, 2015, 4:14 pm

It's not at all clear to me what exactly you're asking.

Do you mean that you have two snakes, one you collected as a hatchling two years ago and one you collected as a hatchling last fall, and you're wondering whether you could now release them in one place or another? If so, at this point I don't think it matters much where you release them, as the chances of their surviving seem rather slim. Releasing them (anywhere) might well be against the law in your state, too, and even if it's not it's very likely against the rules in your nearby state park. I strongly recommend that you keep them or find others who would enjoy keeping them in your stead.

Or do you mean that because of your experience with those two snakes, you'd like to know what to do with future hatchlings you find? In that case, I'd recommend just moving them off the road and then leaving them to fend for themselves. I know it's not fun to find them dead on the roads around your house, but doubtless they die on the roads around your nearby state park, too. You might not be doing them any harm by moving them from one (suitable) place to another (presumably suitable) place at that young age, but you won't be doing them any favor, either. And in this situation, too, your nearby state park very likely has rules against you releasing such animals there. I recommend that you try to look past the road mortality you're seeing around your place and just be glad you live in an area where the snakes are still doing well despite how humans have modified it.

Gerry

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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by dthor68 » March 19th, 2015, 6:00 pm

Sorry, yes both snakes were collected from my yard as newborns in the fall of both 2013 and 2014. I pretty much had already come to the conclusion that releasing them at the local SP was not a good idea for many reasons. Could you tell me why would their chance of survival be any different at this point, especially the one collected just 5 months back? The only part of life he missed was hibernation.

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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by Bryan Hamilton » March 19th, 2015, 7:49 pm

dthor68 wrote:Could you tell me why would their chance of survival be any different at this point, especially the one collected just 5 months back?
One reason would be the social structure I mentioned, snake culture. In rattlesnakes, the neonates follow mama back to the hibernaculum and then imprint on it. Your snakes may have missed their chance at that. I'm not sure where you're located, but at higher lattitudes hibernaulum are more important than lower lattitudes.

Black rat snakes are thought to be less social than rattlesnakes so it might not be as important. Of course 10-15 years ago we didn't really give much thought to social interactions in rattlesnakes, so who knows how important they are to other snake species?

Look into the legally of releasing a captive snake in your state. In lot of states (maybe all of them), its illegal to avoid introducing diseases into wild populations. You should probably call your state wildlife agency.

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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by simus343 » March 19th, 2015, 9:39 pm

Yeah...I sort of forgot that releasing in SPs is illegal, and "in general" in some states :roll: ...kind of don't want to be doing that...haha, and for good reasons. Mistake on my part. I don't know if it has been completely removed yet as a hypothesis for cause or not, but one believed "origin-cause" of Ophidiomyces (SFD) is release of captive snakes.

Not to mention, it seems from my own public experiences, the average Jane n Joe can't tell corn snake from python

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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by dthor68 » March 20th, 2015, 6:11 am

There is not much social structure among Rat Snakes in SC. In fact, a 4' Rat Snake was found hibernating "alone" in our attic 2 years ago. There is a good chance that snake is the mother/father of the juveniles I have in captivity. Like I said, I will not let them go in the SP. If I do let them go it will be in my back yard. As far as introducing some disease to the wild population, are you serious? I understand better to be safe than sorry but this is not the European Settlers we are talking about. They have been kept in clean, sterile conditions the entirety of their lives. The wild population would pose more of a threat to them. Don't get me wrong I understand the concept well but I am not some kid who is tired of their pet store, man made corn snake.

I will not bring anymore rat snakes into my home, being responsible for a life sucks. One person said that if I find a snake on the road just remove it from the road to a safe spot. From my experience I am not so sure that this is good information. I have on two occasions removed rat snakes from the road in rural areas only to find them dead in the exact same spot on my return trip home. I wonder if removing them from a spot causes them confusion which makes them go back the way they came? Maybe the best thing to do would be to shield the snake from oncoming traffic and let it remove itself from the road. With rat snakes that could take a while as they tend to freeze and kink up whenever they feel a human/auto presence.

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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by gbin » March 20th, 2015, 7:18 am

I'm sure your husbandry is good, dthor, but there is still the potential for disease transmission if you keep any other snakes besides those two rat snakes, or even if you don't keep any other snakes but have done so in the past. You said you've kept those two snakes "in clean, sterile conditions the entirety of their lives." I'm sure you must realize that was an exaggeration; real sterility can be hard to achieve, let alone maintain for a short time, let alone maintain for an extended time. And real sterility could indeed be what's required to keep a captive snake from being exposed to a pathogen resident in another captive snake, even if they aren't being kept in the same cage or at the same time. It's not all that likely that disease would be introduced into the wild this way, no, but the results could be devastating if it happened. That's mainly why so many states now forbid the release even of native animals that were only kept in captivity for a relatively modest time, unless it's done as part of an official program that incorporates meaningful quarantine for and relevant testing on the animals involved.

As to how long you've kept those two snakes and what that means in terms of their likelihood of success if you release them: Captive animals in general don't do well when released into the wild, especially if they were captive early in their lives, when so much of their learning occurs about how to survive in the wild. I don't know for certain and I don't see how anyone could know for certain, but the situation you've described, where you took neonatal snakes out of the wild and then kept them in captivity in one case for several months and in the other for over a year, sounds to me like a death sentence for them if you now set them free. They've learned that food, water and shelter come from you, not how to obtain same for themselves in yonder wood, and it may already be too late for them to unlearn that.

I understand what you're saying about snakes coming right back into the road after you've moved them off. Probably that happens to at least some extent even if you take care to notice which way they were traveling when you discovered them and then accommodate that. But you certainly don't want to do anything that results in your becoming roadkill (such as standing around in the road waiting however long for them to pass), yourself! ;) Maybe you could try moving them just a bit further away when the roads seem particularly busy?

But snakes in human settings are sometimes going to die at human hands (or under humans' car wheels, as the case may be), there's no getting around that. Let me ask you, though, if you could pick up every single snake anywhere within crawling distance of your home and the roads that surround it, and move them all far away to someplace safe (from humans, anyway; don't forget that snakes die even in the most natural of wild places), would you do it? Not me! Never mind whatever role they might be playing in (whatever remains of) my local ecology, I wouldn't want to deprive myself, my loved ones, my neighbors, etc. of the opportunity these snakes present for people to occasionally encounter these representatives of nature (even if some people don't actually care or worse are downright hostile toward them). In general people care most about what they know best, and the more separate wildlife are kept from people, the worse off both are going to be. I wouldn't want to deprive these animals of the habitat, either; if they're still managing to eke out a living around my home, then there are thankfully still things about the area where I live that enable it to provide for them. May it always be so, I say, even if they occasionally get killed by someone's car or shovel rather than by more natural means.

Gerry

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: Translocation of snakes

Post by Bryan Hamilton » March 20th, 2015, 10:25 am

One of the paradoxes of working with wildlife is that you realize the magnitude of human impacts on wildlife and a lot of the mitigations we take make things worse....

There is some good advice here for trying to help snakes out. Its clear you all want to do the best thing and help the critters out.

There is also a group in your area called SE PARC (Southeastern Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation). They have some advice for dealing with the exact issues we're talking about here. Check them out. PARC doesn't have the presence here but they should.

http://www.separc.org/

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