Sick

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krismunk
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:17 am
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Sick

Post by krismunk » March 24th, 2019, 12:34 am

I usually say I don't get sick. When, on rare occasion, I do catch a common cold it tends to build up slowly over a couple of days. Friday afternoon it hit me like a sledgehammer.

Saturday morning it was worse. I spent half a day in bed with the man flu, mucus dripping from my clogged up nose, sneezing explosively and feeling sorry for myself. By the afternoon I guess I was a little better. At any rate I decided to get up, get dressed, and go shopping for groceries. Five minutes after getting into the car I suddenly found myself on the freeway headed in the wrong direction. The weather was cool and cloudy so I didn't really expect much, went for a short walk to clear my head anyway. Not a bad decision...

Found 13 adders - new record for the spot - incl. the first female of the year. Also the first grass snake and the first slow worms of the year.

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BillMcGighan
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Re: Sick

Post by BillMcGighan » March 24th, 2019, 6:24 am

The weather was cool and cloudy so I didn't really expect much, went for a short walk to clear my head anyway. Not a bad decision...

Found 13 adders - new record for the spot - incl. the first female of the year. Also the first grass snake and the first slow worms of the year.
Proof again that herping is a cure-all and should be prescribed by doctors!! :lol: ;)
Good outing! :thumb:

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krismunk
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Re: Sick

Post by krismunk » March 24th, 2019, 8:51 am

At this time of year so much is happening it's interesting to follow day by day, when possible.

I did the same round today at the same time of day in somewhat similar conditions - 1-2 degrees colder, but a bit sunnier. Adder wise the result was similar, 9 specimens, 8 of them also seen yesterday, 1 fresh out of brumation at the den. Whereas yesterday all adders were basking fully exposed 2 of the 3 melanistic ones were almost fully concealed today with the scales just barely showing through the grass, typical behaviour later in the season, and I guess indicative of the main advantage of melanism in northern snakes.

The real difference, though, was in the grass snakes, just 1 at the main den yesterday, a total 16 today, including 6 just outside the main den and 6 in the immediate surroundings.

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...oh, and thanks, Bill :-)

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: Sick

Post by Bryan Hamilton » March 24th, 2019, 2:24 pm

Your title says it all. Sick post brah....

Hope you're feeling better. Those adders are spectacular.

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krismunk
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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Re: Sick

Post by krismunk » March 27th, 2019, 12:28 pm

Thanks Bryan :)

...& yes, I'm fine again - a little field time works wonders.

The grass frog mating season started today in the ditch I pass every day en route to & from work. With a little luck that means there will be blue moor frogs in the woods this weekend. They're usually just a few days behind...

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krismunk
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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Re: Sick

Post by krismunk » March 27th, 2019, 12:28 pm

Editi: Too bad you can't just delete accidental comments any more. Ah well...

Thanks Bryan :)

...& yes, I'm fine again - a little field time works wonders.

The grass frog mating season started today in the ditch I pass every day en route to & from work. With a little luck that means there will be blue moor frogs in the woods this weekend. They're usually just a few days behind...

Jimi
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Re: Sick

Post by Jimi » April 1st, 2019, 8:26 am

Nice Kris, real nice. Love those adders, esp the blackies.

Just curious - do you have any idea how old is that rock wall that the animals are using as a hibernaculum? There are of course many, many instances of wildlife taking advantage of human modifications of nature, but I'm sort of interested in how fast snakes do it for overwintering purposes. There are some stone retaining walls around here that I think are less than 20 years old, which host rattlesnakes over the winter.

cheers

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krismunk
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Re: Sick

Post by krismunk » April 1st, 2019, 12:35 pm

Jimi wrote:
April 1st, 2019, 8:26 am
Nice Kris, real nice. Love those adders, esp the blackies.

Just curious - do you have any idea how old is that rock wall that the animals are using as a hibernaculum? There are of course many, many instances of wildlife taking advantage of human modifications of nature, but I'm sort of interested in how fast snakes do it for overwintering purposes. There are some stone retaining walls around here that I think are less than 20 years old, which host rattlesnakes over the winter.

cheers
Thanks, Jimi :)

No. I don't know how old that wall is - but I'm pretty sure it's more than 20 years. A few km away there's another den in a man made structure, though, that seems much newer, a concrete pipe with the upper part of the mouth protruding from the sloping ground. In general I don't see any reason to assume there need be any waiting period before man made stuctures are put to use for overwintering.


...& on a completely different note, a few months ago I hinted at some upcoming reports from old trips abroad. I honestly don't know if I'll ever get around to it. I'm afraid the list will only get longer, not shorter. Anyway, here's a couple of random samples...

September 2017

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March 2018

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May 2018

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October 2018

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Jimi
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Re: Sick

Post by Jimi » April 1st, 2019, 4:09 pm

Sweet animals, nice trips. What's that under the blackberry vines, an Ottoman viper? Love those guys. I had a pair for a while, and got live babies from them one spring. Lovely creatures, just lovely. And in the dead cactus thing? I can't see anything but a little face. Some sort of racer or whipsnake?
I don't see any reason to assume there need be any waiting period before man made stuctures are put to use for overwintering
For opportunistic shelter or resting during the active season, I tend to agree. At the most extreme, who hasn't stopped on a road to hop out and run down a snake, only to have the little sucker zip right under your car? Overwintering is different; it's profoundly dangerous, with severe consequences for "bad picking". I can't generalize to all groups but with vipers there's a strong tendency to site fidelity, via (at least; there may be others) the mechanism of scent trailing back to the den they were born at or near. For example in many US rattlesnakes at least, gravid females "rooK" at or near their den, where they also give birth. First-year babies can spend some time with mom, and then make a short foray away for a couple of months. But they follow conspecifics' scents back to where they were born. It's sort of like anadromous fishes returning to their natal streams after some time at sea - they sniff their way "home".

In both cases however there's also a "straying rate", where some small percentage of folks don't go home every single year. Often this is done by subadult or adult males, who instead of "home" go somewhere else instead. The rate is pretty low, just a few percent of the population a year. How those strayers know how to arrive at somewhere that somebody else lives (presumably somebody to breed with?) is - as far as I know - a mystery. Perhaps they just go random, and mostly fail? Or they employ some technique, and those that are successful pass on their genes? Without this straying you can imagine the inbreeding would be dreadful...

Anyway the point of all this is that in vipers at least, there does indeed "need" to be some "waiting period". In novel hibernacula, whether manmade or natural (e.g. where a large tree is partially uprooted by winds, offering passage underground via root-holes, or maybe when formerly-shaded talus is scourged with a severe fire or insect mortality event), presumably such an opportunity is first located by adult males, and eventually after a few years of use they are joined by adult females, and soon those give birth there, and now you've got a resident population until the den silts in, gets shaded out, or whatever.

I think it would be a most interesting experiment, to have a "neighborhood" of known occupied dens (perhaps in an area of ~ 5 miles x 5 miles or so), with a number of instrumented animals scattered throughout, and then create some good artificial dens in and around the neighborhood. The purpose would be to get at this question of who finds, how fast, and then what happens.

You might find this interesting (note the "original" den, which "had to be" destroyed ~2007, was also manmade ~1980-1984): https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q ... -UEisEedgk

cheers

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krismunk
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Re: Sick

Post by krismunk » April 2nd, 2019, 11:16 am

Thanks, Jimi :)

I look forward to reading the paper when I have a few minutes...

I am by no means an expert on over wintering but overall I think our European vipers don't take communal denning to the extremes your pit vipers do. While they do mostly return to the same spots these need not accommodate many individuals and I believe they tend to be more opportunistic. Likewise, even though females will return to the same areas near the over wintering sites to give birth, there are no rattlesnake style rookeries, the young dispersing quickly post partum.
Jimi wrote:
April 1st, 2019, 4:09 pm
What's that under the blackberry vines, an Ottoman viper? Love those guys. I had a pair for a while, and got live babies from them one spring. Lovely creatures, just lovely. And in the dead cactus thing? I can't see anything but a little face. Some sort of racer or whipsnake?
Yes, it's an Ottoman viper, sweet find indeed :)

...& the rasta snake is a young western Montpellier snake in a Euphorbia (interesting plants, btw, and not only because they pack a substance that is basically weapons grade chili - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resiniferatoxin).

Here's another juvie from the same day:

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Jimi
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Re: Sick

Post by Jimi » April 3rd, 2019, 11:06 am

Thanks for the link on that Euphorbia. Hot damn:
Resiniferatoxin has a score of 16 billion Scoville heat units
So, a jalapeno pepper being about 3000 Scovilles...madre dios!!! Sixteen thousand...million. Over 5 million times stronger than a jalapeno. Whoa.

Many of our vipers - particularly the lower-latitude or -elevation ones - are also predominantly opportunistic and solitary in their overwintering. But of yours - I wonder about some of the ones in harsher situations, like at 1500m in the Urals or Carpathians. I'd think safe dens would be quite a limiting factor, on the landscape. It could force snakes together. Have you ever herped such situations? I'd sure like to, some day.

Back to the Euphorbia outing - what's that little fattie you sent the follow-up pic of? A little puff adder? Cute baby, whatever it is.

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krismunk
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Re: Sick

Post by krismunk » April 3rd, 2019, 11:56 am

Jimi wrote:
April 3rd, 2019, 11:06 am
Many of our vipers - particularly the lower-latitude or -elevation ones - are also predominantly opportunistic and solitary in their overwintering. But of yours - I wonder about some of the ones in harsher situations, like at 1500m in the Urals or Carpathians. I'd think safe dens would be quite a limiting factor, on the landscape. It could force snakes together. Have you ever herped such situations? I'd sure like to, some day.

Back to the Euphorbia outing - what's that little fattie you sent the follow-up pic of? A little puff adder? Cute baby, whatever it is.
Of coruse there are places where safe dens are a limiting factor.

I would love to find an adder north of the Arctic Circle one day.

...& yes, that's a puff adder. 10 minutes back I had stopped to check a stick snake and been passed by the only other car I saw on the road that night. 5 minutes after that happened I found a freshly hit young puffie. Imagine my relief at finding the second one.

Here's an adult from two days later (crappy pic because my camera went on strike and my cell phone is really old and really cheap...):

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