Herp Update: videos, snake hotels, ratsnake, vernal pools—July 12, 2022

New herp videos available

Our Herp Atlas videographer and editor Matt Gorton has posted a couple more of our short videos on YouTube.

Snake Hotels

Putting out artificial cover is a time-honored method of survey and monitoring for snakes. Many people have scatted old roofing tin or plywood boards in hopes that snakes would use them to hide under. The researcher would then come along a few weeks later and look under those pieces of cover to see what species of snakes might be using it.

These cover pieces hide snakes from predators and hold heat. One fellow herper simply left his old truck cap out in a sunny spot. As I recall, he found five different species of snake under that cap over the years.

When used for survey purposes, only a few scattered pieces of cover are needed. When used for monitoring populations, many pieces of cover are laid out in transects. We have 46 artificial covers laid out on the edge of two fields in Lincoln. We used two pieces of 21 x 14 inch slate flagstone with a divider in-between to create a space for the snakes. We used slate since it heats up during the day and holds the heat through much of the night (see photos).

However, our snake covers don’t attract large species of snakes such as Eastern Ratsnakes and Common Watersnakes. As a result we started creating snake hotels. The design for these snake hotels is the result of our success at finding snakes of many species (including large ratsnakes) in covered lumber piles. So, instead of taking people’s lumber piles apart, we created miniature covered lumber piles we call snake hotels and put them out in good snake habitat.

At one of our first hotels in Benson, we found three large ratsnakes together in one of our hotels. At our snake hotel in Bristol we recently found 30 Common Gartersnakes and 1 DeKay’s Brownsnake during a single check. We have created a video for you to show you what our hotels look like. Check it out at:

Eastern Ratsnake

On a recent survey for Eastern Ribbonsnakes in Castleton, we found a 1/2-grown Eastern Ratsnake and took advantage of the opportunity to film this short video to show you how to catch a snake, and to show you how Eastern Ratsnakes can climb trees. It is an amazing thing to watch. They climb trees to access birds eggs, fledglings, and small mammals for food. They often hide in the center of hold hollow trees and bask on their branches. Check out our new ratsnake video at:

Vernal Pools

Our colleagues with the Vermont Master Naturalist program put together a ~ one hour program on vernal pools that contains lots of interesting information on the many species found in and around those pools. You can check out their video at:

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