An Inventory of the Amphibian and Reptile Fauna of Ichauway

Gery Rat SnakeResearch Team: Dr. Lora L. Smith (Assistant Scientist), Christopher Borg (Research Technician III) and Anna Liner (Research Technician)

The diverse habitats at Ichauway support an equally diverse array of herpetofauna. To date, 85 species have been documented on the property (52 reptiles and 33 amphibians), including rare or unusual species such as the alligator snapping turtle (Macroclemys temminckii), Barbour's map turtle (Graptemys barbouri), gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus), eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi), flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum), striped newt (Notophthalmus perstriatus), and Florida gopher frog (Rana capito aesopus). We are currently validating presence of each species either by photo-documentation or by collecting voucher specimens. As part of the inventory, we have begun a study to examine the growth, longevity, movements, and habitat use of several snake species. We are focusing primarily on nine species: eastern indigo snake, Florida pine snake, southern hognose snake (Heterodon simus), eastern diamondback rattlesnake, gray rat snake, eastern kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula getula), eastern coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum flagellum), eastern hognose snake (Heterodon platirhinos), and canebrake rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus). Survey methods include “road riding,” and opportunistic captures. When snakes are encountered they are captured, pit-tagged (Passive Integrated Transponder; Biomark Inc., Meridian, OH), and morphometric data are collected. Additionally, environmental data are collected at the site of capture. Capture locations are then plotted onto GIS images. To date, 41 individual snakes representing seven species have been captured.

Research in progress, publications forthcoming.

Funded by: The Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center