Protecting Michigan’s Rare Amphibians and Reptiles: Saving the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake
When: 6:30 pm Thursday, January 19, 2017
Where: Paint Creek Cider Mill, 4480 Orion Rd, Rochester, MI 48306
Join us as David Mifsud with Herpetological Resource Management shares his wealth of knowledge about reptiles and amphibians in our great state. Michigan is home to over 60 species of reptiles and amphibians (called “herpetofauna”). More than half are designated as “Species of Greatest Conservation Need” by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). In 2016 the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake was elevated to Federally Threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This designation has significant impacts on the conservation and management of these snakes in Michigan. This presentation will focus on rare amphibians and reptiles in Michigan, with emphasis on the Massasauga Rattlesnake, and discuss the basic natural history, threats, and conservation needs for these species.
Look for this feature early each week! Cam Mannino shares her latest observations, photos, and inspirations from Bear Creek Nature Park. Thanks Cam!
April 5-11, 2015
What a week for amphibians and reptiles! One of the best features of Bear Creek Nature Park is its vernal pools. These temporary pools appear from runoff in the spring and slowly evaporate with warmer weather. Vernal pools are perfect places for spring frogs – plenty of water and no fish to eat their eggs! So the park is now filled with their music.
Those of you who live near Bear Creek no doubt are being serenaded each night by the Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) tiny (1”-1.5”) nocturnal frogs that trill and hunt all night long. This one was sleeping on a leaf but woke when its picture was taken a few years ago.
During the day, Chorus Frogs and Wood Frogs carry on the concert. Last Saturday, Wood Frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) floated in the pool near Gunn Road. They pulse their sides to emit a duck-like croak and propel themselves forward in the water looking for mates.
I spent an hour trying to spot a Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata) from the small bridge over the vernal pool just north of the playground. Their piercing, ratchety calls literally made my ears ring as I scanned the web of branches in the dark water. Finally I saw this tiny male’s vocal sack ballooning beneath his bulging eyes as he sang. Quite a thrill!
As amphibians emerged from the mud at the edge or bottom of vernal ponds, reptiles were seeking spring sunlight. Like amphibians, they are cold-blooded animals which can’t regulate their body temperature. So basking is important. A graceful Eastern Garter Snake slipped off the warm path and under a log as I approached.
And a Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta) let its dark shell absorb the heat near the center pond.
Near the marsh, a tiny Brown Creeper (Certhia americana) spiraled up a trunk, hunting with its long, curved beak for spiders and insects in the bark. It moves like a nuthatch, but is smaller (4-5”). Here it is from a distance.
The Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) is often the first butterfly to appear in Bear Creek, having probably overwintered in tree bark. It can survive before the flowers bloom because it feeds on tree sap and decaying material. This Saturday’s Mourning Cloak fluttered off into the bushes, but here’s a slightly tattered one from later in a previous season.
And a favorite species appeared in the park again this week, a small flock of human volunteers who worked steadily and diligently pulling large patches of sprouting Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata ) just south of the parking lot.
By eliminating this leathery-leaved invasive plant near the parking lot and trailhead, Ben hopes to prevent their seeds from being tracked into the park on the unsuspecting feet of park visitors. Many thanks to this cheerful, hard-working crew for a thorough job!