Herp Update: Recent Herp and Human Activity – January 22, 2024

Annual Fundraiser

As I hope you know, we are in middle of our annual fundraiser.  We have now raised $8,358 of our goal of $20,000 for this year.  Our thanks to the 81 people who have contributed so far.  If you are not one of those 81 people, please do consider a donation.  You can also help by forwarding this e-mail to anyone you think might be supportive.

To learn more or to contribute, visit:


Recent Herp Activity?

None, thankfully!

With the colder weather during the last two weeks, we have not received any reports of reptiles and amphibians on the move and that is how it should be.

Still receiving and entering reports

We still are receiving and entering reports, but they include things like annual reports of monitoring efforts that took place over the last field season, or reports from people who photographed herps earlier during the year and are just now getting around to reporting them.

Recent Human Activity

On the Vt Herp Atlas

Earlier this week, I sent an Excel spreadsheet of 697 reports to Jodi Shippee at Vermont Fish and Wildlife.  These were reports of S1-S3 species that we entered into our database this past year.  She then will enter that data in the Fish and Wildlife database for their use.  This transfer happens every year at this time.  Due to their limited budget and human resources, they are usually a couple years behind us in entering data.

Erin Talmage (Vermont Herp Atlas and Birds of Vermont Museum) and Brittany Mosher (UVM) put together a threat matrix that we used to evaluate the species we either have labeled as Special Concern or those that should have that label. The label Special Concern does not result in a protected legal status like listing it as threatened or endangered.  It just raises a flag that we should be watching this species carefully to see if it needs additional legal protection.

Using their threat matrix, the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Scientific Advisory Group (chaired by Jim Andrews, Vermont Herp Atlas) has made some changes in the species given Special Concern status. These changes have been made now on our VtHerpAtlas.org website and will be made soon by Vermont Fish and Wildlife in their database and documents.  One of the species we decided to label as Special Concern is the Smooth Greensnake (see below).

a green snake sits on gravel

Smooth Greensnake, photo by Rosy Metcalfe

The Smooth Greensnake is an egg-laying, open-herbaceous habitat specialist that appears to be declining in Vermont.

a snake hatches from an egg

Smooth Greensnake hatching from an egg, photo by Kiley Briggs


several oval white eggs lay on the ground with soil and plants around them.

Smooth Greensnake eggs, photo by Kiley Briggs

Early successional habitat is decreasing and when old fields or pastures are kept open by machinery, mortality of snakes often results.  Habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, and habitat degradation are all threats.  In addition, since this snake eats only insects, pesticide use is also a threat.

We asked Molly Parren to temporarily shift projects and draft some best management practices (BMPs) for the Smooth Greensnake that we can distribute.

We recommended some other changes that I will discuss briefly in future Herp Updates.


You may be interested in joining us for either of these two events.  They are free and open to the public.

Amphibians & Wildlife Underpasses in Monkton

Thursday, January 25, 2024
6:30 PM to  8:00 PM
Monkton Central School in Monkton

For more information on this event visit:


The Snakes of Vermont

Thursday, February 8, 2024
7:00 PM to 8:30
Ilsley Library in Middlebury

For more information on this event visit:



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