Nestled in Windsor, Ontario, Canada is the Ojibway Park Prairie Complex. This nature preserve is home to at risk and endangered species, including the eastern fox snake and the Butler's garter snake.
Recently, biologist Jonathan Choquette has been researching road mortality in Ojibway. He discovered that 91 snakes had been struck by traffic, with at least 30 of them being endangered species. The snakes were killed on two busy roads that connect Windsor to La Salle, Ontario.
Snakes will often cross roads to look for mates, search out food or water sources or to move to hibernation spots. The paved roads also soak up the sun's rays, creating a great, but dangerous, basking spot for these scaly creatures.
Both the fox snake and garter snake are a harmless reptile to humans. While they may seek out human buildings or piles of rubbish to hide in, they don't wish to cause the inhabitants any harm, nor are they capable to cause harm. What are ways that the nature preserve could help out these beautiful endangered snakes from being ran over by automobiles?
In spring and summer watch for activity on the road! It's not the chicken crossing the road, it's the turtle, and it's on a mission! Find out what it's doing and how to help it below!
This time of year many turtles cross the road looking to nest or to reach new habitats. Unfortunately, much of their territory has been bisected by our turtle-unfriendly roads. Snapping turtles are a particularly common sight to see in the road, as they often looking for a nesting site. Other turtles and tortoises may be looking to live in a new area, searching for more food, water, or other resources. Turtles can often be hit in the road, but fortunately they can have someone in their corner: you!
The most important thing to remember about turtles and tortoises is that they are stubborn. If you stop in the road, grab the turtle, and face it in the opposite direction it was moving in, it will turn around and go back in the road. The best course of action is to move the turtle to the side of the road it was trying to reach. If you encounter a snapping turtle, use a stick or other long object to prod it in the direction in needs to go in. If no stick is available, only grab the snapping turtle from between the back legs. Anywhere else on the body CAN and WILL be in biting range, due to snapping turtles' long necks!!! And finally, the best thing you can do is to keep your eyes on the road! Seeing them early on will give you a chance to safely pull over and help out!
While going on a leisurely walk in a Spring, Texas nature preserve, I heard the lovely call of the female barred owl. What I wasn't prepared for was the monkey-like sounds that came next. It seems that mated pairs emit "monkey calls".
Barred owls are found in treed swamps and old-growth forests. Their range includes the eastern United States to Minnesota and east Texas, up to Canada and across the Pacific northwest. They nest in tree cavities near water and at night they hunt rodents and other small animals.
Although they are still a common and widespread species, they have declined in areas of the south with the loss of swamp habitat. They generally lay between 2-3 white eggs and take around a month to hatch.
If you want to observe these beautiful birds of prey, try hiking quietly in nature preserves close to swamps, bayous, or coniferous forests at dawn or dusk. However, the best time to hear them, or perhaps see them, is at night. Often if you hear their calls and repeat it back to them, they will fly down closer to you for further inspection and answer your call. Don't forget to bring your binoculars and your camera! These gentle-faced owls don't disappoint with their 43 inch wing span and inquisitive demeanor.
We've made it to the land of Blue Bonnets, even if they're not in season until next year! The air is hot, the sun is strong, and the people are welcoming! Last week we spent two days traveling from Michigan to Texas, and we're excited to say that we have arrived and are ready to bring our best! We've only been here a few days and we've already come into possession another species-an invasive species-the Mediterranean House Gecko, Hemidactylus turcicus.
The Mediterranean House Gecko is a small gecko that naturally lives in the Mediterranean region. They are highly adaptable and flourish in regions with climates similar to their native region. They are often found in homes and other human structures, and are voracious consumers of moths and other insects! Originally from southern Europe and northern Africa, they secretly traveled with ancient humans across the old world, reaching far into Asia. In modern times they have expanded to the Caribbean region and the southern United States. They have few predators in their introduced locations and are even considered beneficial by some cultures.
They are a fortunate species to actually have an increasing population, and while some are collected for the pet trade and others are killed by human activity, they are flourishing. Females lay clutched of 1-2 eggs several times a year. While they are relatively harmless, it is important to make sure we do not accidentally introduce species to regions where they may be harmful!
Last week some of our staff visited Joy Preparatory Academy in Detroit, Michigan to deliver reptile books and magazines to the school! The children there love reptiles and are excited to read about some of their favorite animals. Their passion for these animals is definitely thanks to the work of Ms. Angela Bowen, the Middle School science teacher, whose passion for wildlife has shaped these children's appreciation for animals! We'd also like to give a thanks to Mrs. Jessica Rice, the principal, who helped set up the date, greeted us at the door, and eased our load carrying magazines by calling the eighth graders to help us out!
One of our missions is to educate children about wildlife and inspire them to be active stewards of the Earth. It was great seeing not only the middle school students reading the magazines but the kindergarten students flipping through the pages! While the kindergartners may not be able to read more than a few words now, we hope the magazines drive the children to want to read and ask elders to read the passages for them.
Work like this always makes us feel good to make a difference in not only animal lives, but human lives as well. We love to give back to our communities. Seeing the smiles on the children's faces is what makes all our hard work and efforts worthwhile. This is what life is all about and we are proud that this is what our company, REPCO, represents.
Did you know that all 8 species of pangolins are threatened with extinction? Shockingly, more than 1 million pangolins have been traded internationally, illegally. This has made them the world's most trafficked mammal.
But wait, you may be asking yourself, exactly what is a pangolin? Pangolins are a small mammal that lives between Asia and Africa, weighing 4-5 pounds. They eat ants (up to 70 million a year!) and termites, and have protective scales that cover their body. When pangolins get scared, they roll in a protective ball, much like the hedgehog. They often only give birth to one baby after being pregnant for 140 to 300 days, depending on the species.
Unfortunately, pangolins are poached for chinese "medicine". They are falsely believed to cure cancer, help asthma, reduce swelling, increase blood circulation, etc. In Africa and Vietnam they are often consumed as the pangolin meat is thought to prolong life. Those who practice voodoo or Juju believe pangolins have magical properties.
Many conservation groups like WWF, Pangolin Conservation and SavePangolins.org are currently working to end the illegal poaching of these endangered mammals. By working with governments and helping educate others, we can help save this amazing species before it is too late! Support your local zoos and conservation, societies to help protect our Earth's wildlife.
While helping a friend film an episode at a zoo in Texas, I got offered a chance to help open a reptile zoo outside of Detroit, Michigan. So, while my staff will continue to do our wildlife outreach programs down south, I will be spending some time up in the north and having some new adventures.
I've been able to work with some pretty cool animals while I've been up here. Scaleless rat snakes, sulcata tortoises, and three legged alligators just to name a few! And I believe I am going to have to add the rhino ratsnake to my must-have list! What an amazing snake.
While Michigan is not much of an adjustment from Western New York, it is quite different from my time in Texas. Flowers are just now starting to bloom and the grass is becoming green. The weather is a bit up and down with some nights still dipping in the 30's. I am looking forward to the warmer weather and checking out some of the local wildlife and doing some new filming.
I plan on enjoying this chapter of my life while I am here, but I admit I am also looking forward to my return down south. If you are in the Michigan area, look me up! I'd be happy to go to your school, party, or event and bring some of my amazing animals. Stay tuned for more upcoming adventures-you never know where I'll show up!
Deep in the scrublands of the Brazilian Caatinga, lives a little frog known as the Greening's Frog (Corythomantis greening). But this is no ordinary little frog. The Greening's Frog's head is covered in deadly spines that inject its victims with toxins more potent than the venom of Brazilian pitviper snakes.
This frog is one of two first known frogs to be venomous (The other venomous frog also calls Brazil its home). While many frogs and toads can be poisonous, venomous frogs deliver their toxins into the bloodstream of the predator as opposed to the predator ingesting poison. These venomous spines grow out of the frogs' skulls.
The Greening's Frog lives in holes on rocks and trees, with the head appearing to be very similar to the barks of trees, making the frog hard to find for predators. They close the holes up with their body, only leaving the venomous, spiny head exposed. This also helps maintain humidity inside the hole and reduce water loss from the body.
Nature is so amazing! We are still finding new species on this planet, and perhaps many undiscovered species have recently become extinct as we continue habitat destruction. This is one of the reasons we must continue our mission of educating as many people possible, so that we may continue to conserve our precious ecosystems!
“Now this is a story all about how my life got flip-turned upside down…”
In 2010 I was entering my last year of high school and I was beginning to take on more responsibilities. Between homework, studying, and preparing for the next day, I began helping take care of the animals. At this point in time, we were focusing on animal breeding. Our goals were vastly different back then! When I graduated in 2011, I was in a bit of a mental hard spot regarding how I wanted to continue my life. The recession was in full swing, and for anyone graduating at this time the world was intimidating. Ultimately, I chose to stay with my parents and help their fledgling business. This was a smart move.
I quickly learned a lot about how to manage a business, but my primary role was taking care of the animals, as well as receiving a healthy dosage of fecal matter from our animal friends! We also became accustomed the tedium that is business work as well. For example, we once spent an ENTIRE MONTH organizing a collection of over 12,000 old reptile magazines! We slowly refocused our business to educational programs, and that’s where the fun began! Over time, my role began to shift within the business. Before, I had been the “Reptile Maintenance Manager”. Now, with a much more diverse collection of animals as well as my knowledge becoming greater and more important, I recently became the Assistant Director and Wildlife Educator. This was a proud moment for me, especially working as the wildlife educator, because seeing the crowds or birthday attendees become so excited is such a great experience.
I am now into my third year performing shows. I was nervous in the beginning, but after continuing to do shows, my confidence and excitement grew. Now it’s a blast, getting everyone to laugh, stare in awe, and rush as fast as they can to get in line to touch the animals. After a program I always feel great, because I made everyone excited, happy, and inquisitive, while teaching everybody new facts and opening them to new ideas. I look forward to continuing to do shows down in Texas, meeting new people and making new friends!
The green cheek conure is a small parrot that is sometimes seen in the pet trade. It is native to Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, and Mato Grosso. This species of conure is endangered in its natural habitat (CITES II). They are typically 10 inches long and are mainly green in color with blue primary wing feathers, a maroon tail, a brown/black/gray crown, and a red abdomen. Males and females look alike.
These birds live in flocks of 10 to 20 individuals and live at treetop level in forests and woodlands. They eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and seeds and lay 4-6 eggs in a clutch. The green -cheeked conure can learn tricks, but they do have a limited vocabulary compared to other parrots. They are intelligent and are known as having a big personality in a small body. Time and patience can cure them of biting behavior. Their lifespan can be 30-40 years, although they often only live an average of 10 years in captivity due to their owners not giving them the proper diet. In aviculture (keeping and breeding birds) they can come in cinnamon, yellow-sided, pineapple, and turquoise color mutations.
The green cheek conure (Pyrrhura molinae) can make a wonderful companion pet for the individual dedicated to their proper care, socialization, and long lifespan. To learn more about these beautiful birds and see the green cheeked and the pineapple green cheeked conures in person, contact REPCO Wildlife Encounters for a booking at your school, library, event, or other special occasion.
About Crystal Poyfair