Herp Update: Musk Turtle, Herp Activity, Fundraiser – November 18, 2021
Eastern Musk Turtle
Friend and conservation ally Sue Morse of Keeping Track sent the photo below of a tiny hatchling Eastern Musk Turtle. She was out searching for turtles with Dean B who took her to Niquette Bay in Colchester. Niquette Bay is the only place in northern Vermont from which we get regular reports of this species. We do get reports from the southern end of Lake Champlain as well as from Lakes Hortonia, Bomoseen, and the Poultney River.
I suspect that many people assume they are looking at a small Snapping Turtle when they see an Eastern Musk Turtle. However, musk turtles only grow to about 5 inches in length, have a smooth, oval, and domed carapace (back shell), a short tail, and two white lines on their faces (see our photo comparison) Please keep your eyes open and camera ready for this species next spring. Any sighting of this species is valuable. Right now they are all at the bottom of their respective lakes, ponds, and rivers.
Recent Herp Activity
Kate Kelly took her own children and a few neighbors to the North Street, New Haven crossing area last Friday night November 12 and found 18 Eastern Red-backed Salamanders, 17 Four-toed Salamanders, and 9 Blue-spotted Salamanders still moving uphill to wintering habitat. She also found a Green Frog, American Toad, and Eastern Newt that were out and about. She and her neighbors made only one pass up and back through the crossing area and then headed back home for dinner.
My daughter Birch Andrews reported many Northern Leopard Frogs moving on the same day across Old Jerusalem Road in Leicester. They are moving in the opposite direction than other amphibians this time of year. In this case they were moving from fields and swales to Otter Creek to spend the winter tucked under cover objects on the bottom of the river. They don’t burrow into the mud. There is not enough available oxygen there. We have a report of them hiding under Northern Map Turtles in the Lamoille River. Fisherman have reported them from the stomachs of fish caught while ice fishing.
Our Annual Fundraiser
As of this (Thursday) afternoon we have raised approximately $6,000 of the $25,000 needed for next year’s Herp Atlas Work. I don’t take any of that money to pay myself. It does pay my assistants Cindy Brown, Kate Kelly, and Matt Gorton. We are really hoping to have scanned and entered all of our old slides and prints by the end of this winter. That way they will all be available inside our database and future generations will be able to access them. Matt has also been adding lat-long coordinates to thousands of our older records.