August has been an exciting month on the snake project portion of the Lake Erie Wetlands Wildlife program although we didn’t encounter many new eastern foxsnakes and there have been fewer sightings reported by visitors to Rondeau Provincial Park. Snake activity seems to be winding down as we work our way into September. Many of the snakes that we have been tracking spent a lot of their time inside logs, underground, up high in trees, and inside sheds. Of the four female snakes that we have been tracking, Ravioli and Rick gained a significant amount of weight during June and July and then suddenly lost 100-200 g. Either they were on a very successful weight loss plan or they have laid their eggs. It seems that with mating season over and the eggs laid for the season, many of the snakes are playing it safe, remaining in cover and fattening up for the winter hibernation.
We recaptured a 300 g snake on the road that had a decimal coded wire tag (DCWT). We insert decimal coded wire tags into snakes that are 50 g or less to allow us to determine if the snake has been previously captured. Our guess is that this snake was captured and tagged 2 or 3 years ago. We also captured some juvenile foxsnakes during our cover board surveys that appear to be from last year. Cover board surveys involve placing wooden planks and other materials in areas where snakes may exist, then checking under and around them regularly. It is hoped that snakes will be attracted to these boards either as cover to hide under or as heat surfaces on which to bask. We are hopeful that our next surveys will yield some freshly hatched from this season. They typically hatch in late August or early September and weigh 10-15 g.
On August 19th, we teamed up with the Rondeau Provincial Park staff and the turtle research team to host Reptile Day. We had the opportunity to use the Visitor Centre’s resident foxsnake, Pants, and talk to the public about the importance of this endangered species and our research at the park.