From the bloggers at Gr8Lakes Camper.
This spring, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources put out the call for people to report the herptiles – reptiles and amphibians – that they observe across the state. The request is part of an atlas project, designed to monitor the presence and distribution of “herps” across the state.
“It’s for all species, common or rare,” said Lori Sargent, a DNR wildlife biologist who keeps track of Michigan’s herptiles. “The other day I got a call about a spotted turtle (a threatened species) in an area where they’d never been spotted before.
“There are not a lot of people working on herps, even at universities,” she continued. “They’re not a game species. They’re not high-profile.”
While herps don’t usually evoke the same warm and fuzzy emotions folks often express about other wildlife, there’s one group of herptiles – snakes – that brings out the opposite reaction. Snakes have gotten a bad rap ever since Adam and Eve and that apple, and it doesn’t seem to have changed since.
“We’re hearing of more of kids who are afraid of snakes,” Sargent said. “Maybe this will help educate people that snakes are valuable at both ends of the food chain. They keep rodent populations in check. They’re important. And they’re cool.
“I get pictures of a dead snake with a note – what kind is it? People are so quick to kill them and then identify them. What did snakes ever do to you? They’re mostly harmless.”
Snakes are legless reptiles that inhabit a wide range of habitats, cold-blooded creatures unable to generate their own heat. They are most comfortable in warm weather and pass the winter in frost-free shelters, often below-ground burrows. They typically breed in the spring; some lay eggs, others deliver live young.
To read the full story by Gr8Lakes Camper, click here.