by Greg Mayer
It’s a bit late in the day, but I must announce that today is, at least in the USA, National Reptile Awareness Day. Happy Reptile Day to all! I must admit, as a herpetologist who joined all the major American herpetological societies while still in high school (1975), I had never heard of National Reptile Awareness Day before today. Reptiles Magazine, a fanciers outlet, is the only group I can find who are promoting it, although even they admit not to know how or when it started. Despite its obscurity, we’ll celebrate with a few reptile pictures.
First, a wild red-eared slider, a southern US turtle popular in the pet trade, and often released, but less often established, in places outside its native range, like Wisconsin.
Next, my ball python Vivian, whom I’ve had for about 18 years.
A snapping turtle from UW-Parkside, at the same alumni event as Vivian.
And we’ll finish up with a series of eastern massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus) pictures; I believe all the pictures were taken in Cass, Michigan. They were taken by my former student Eric Hileman, who did his Ph.D. at Northern Illinois University with Rich King. Eric successfully defended his dissertation on the population ecology of massasaugas just this past Wednesday, and I was privileged to be able to attend. So we can all take this National Reptile Awareness Day as a day to send this joyous message to Eric: “Congratulations. Now get back to work.”
h/t Alicia Hunt
11 thoughts on “National Reptile Awareness Day”
Yippie! I think that Raymond Ditmars would have loved this day.
The Diamondback Rattlesnake
Fork in front,
The lump in the middle?
Don’t pay any mind.
Scales up high,
Scales down low.
The lump in the middle?
You don’t want to know.
The lump in the middle?
A rabbit too slow.
Poem ©Douglas Florian. All rights reserved.
“From Lizards, Frogs, and Pollywoogs,” by Douglas Florian, light poetry not only for children, but for all.
Raymond L Ditmars! There’s a real blast from the past. I was a childhood herpetologist too
Great photos! As a lifelong herper and reptile fan I’ll always celebrate these beautiful creatures.
I used to own and breed a small collection of North American milk snakes, which I understand have now been re-classified into broader species groups, thereby eliminating many previous subspecies names. That always seemed likely to happen. Though my personal favorite snake will always be the Pale Milk, regardless of the name changes.
I lived in Western Michigan for many years and always heard about the massasauga. Never did I ever encounter one. It’s nice to see they are out there with the birds and mice and chipmunks. What a lovely pattern in their scales.
Speaking of reptiles did you see the new papers revealing the molecular basis for the loss of limbs in snakes? Mutations in the Sonic Hedgehog gene! Very cool! Two impressive studies:
I’ve always loved yet feared snapping turtles. You’d see them lumbering across the road, looking for a place to lay their eggs. They can bite right through a pretty decent sized stick, lol.
In high school I went on a science field trip to a bog (in NW Connecticut) to look for rare bog turtles. The guy leading us around said once he was sure he’d felt a bog turtle with his foot (they’re about as big as your hand), but then it turned out to be the head of a snapping turtle. HAHAHAHA, I think he jumped pretty high and didn’t lose any toes.
Now I’m missing my son’s albino Burmese python, she was such a well-tempered snake. Gave her away so his girl friend (now wife) didn’t like pets.
So do reptiles like pumpkin cheesecake?
” I had never heard of National Reptile Awareness Day before today. ”
Nor me, but it’s listed at http://www.daysoftheyear.com, along with – for today – Apple Day, Count Your Buttons Day, and Back to the Future Day (do I detect the hand of a marketroid in that?)
(And NO, repeat NO mention of pumpkins or cheesecake, which suits me just fine as my reaction to both of those is ‘blah’ and the notion of combining the two is ‘bleeeech’.)
Yesterday, by the way, was International Sloth Day (I tried, I really did) and tomorrow is CAPS LOCK DAY (oops).
For about two thirds of my life I lived in places where Massasaugas were the only rattlers. Therefore, it’s hard to take rattlesnakes seriously as a threat, even now.
I only met a wild Massasauga once in Michigan and once in Iowa. As we’d been trained at the nature center I visited, I froze when I heard the one in Michigan. It slipped away through the grass as expected. I accidentally ran over one with my car in one of the few places the species survives in Iowa. I regret that! The individual is now a specimen at Iowa State University.
Happy belated reptile day! We celebrated with the local geckos.