night snakes?

Dedicated exclusively to field herping.

Moderator: Scott Waters

Paul White
Posts: 2288
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:52 pm
Location: Amarillo, Texas

night snakes?

Post by Paul White » October 22nd, 2010, 1:08 pm

Just wanted to ask; the literature says they're nocturnal, and feed on sleeping lizards.. I can't say I've got a ton of experience with these; I've found all of 3. But all of them were at dusk, not during the evening. Also, none were road cruised, all found in association with large areas with lots of loose rock slide type habitat (I wish I had a better vocab to describe it). You know, when you find a hillside with tons of small to mid sized rock cover that's pretty loose and you're sort of afraid to take the next step causae it might spill ya...
Does that mesh with ya'lls experience?

User avatar
Fundad
Posts: 5722
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:11 am
Location: Los Angeles County
Contact:

Re: night snakes?

Post by Fundad » October 22nd, 2010, 1:24 pm

the literature
What source are you referring too when you say "the literature" .

Its pretty well understood nowadays, that they're active day and night, occur in a variety of habitats. They're seen in Coastal grassland, Sage, Rocky areas, Mountains (including pine forests), Colorado desert, Mojave desert, Sonoran desert, etc etc...

Fundad

User avatar
Jeremiah_Easter
Posts: 353
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 9:48 am
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: night snakes?

Post by Jeremiah_Easter » October 22nd, 2010, 1:44 pm

what Fundad said. 8-)

User avatar
herpseeker1978
Posts: 1143
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:05 am
Location: Albuquerque

Re: night snakes?

Post by herpseeker1978 » October 22nd, 2010, 2:08 pm

I've found all mine roadcruising at night.

Josh

Robert E Weaver
Posts: 38
Joined: June 20th, 2010, 4:01 pm

Re: night snakes?

Post by Robert E Weaver » October 22nd, 2010, 7:40 pm

While it is next to possible to generalize about a genus with such a huge range, here's some actual peer-reviewed literature (sorry direct links wouldn't post) that indicates zero diurnal activity in both the field and in laboratory settings.

Weaver, R. E. and K. V. Kardong. 2009. Microhabitat and Prey Odor Selection in Hypsiglena chlorophaea. Copeia 2009: 475-482.

Weaver, R. E. Activity Patterns of the Desert Nightsnake (Hypsiglena chlorophaea). 2010. The Southwestern Naturalist 55(2):172-178.

If you want them, I can email the pdfs, along with 5 other of my papers on Hypsiglena. Other than some recent phylogenetic papers, my research is all that there is on the genus. Which, hands down is waaaay cooler than those damn Rosy Boas.....sorry JE, ;)

Cheers.......

User avatar
Indafield
Posts: 120
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:06 am

Re: night snakes?

Post by Indafield » October 22nd, 2010, 8:00 pm

Oh snap

User avatar
azatrox
Posts: 793
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 5:51 am
Location: Arizona

Re: night snakes?

Post by azatrox » October 22nd, 2010, 8:21 pm

I've seen TONS of Hypsiglena, and every single one has been nocturnal/crepuscular. 99% were cruised, but I've also seen a few night hiking desert washes.

-Kris

User avatar
chrish
Posts: 3298
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
Location: San Antonio, TX
Contact:

Re: night snakes?

Post by chrish » October 23rd, 2010, 3:22 am

I have seen hundreds of Hypsiglena over the years. I don't think I've ever seen one active during the day but my experience is limited to northern Mexico, Texas, NM or AZ. Maybe the big west coast animals are diurnal as well, but I don't think I've ever seen one in daylight other than under trash.

As for feeding, I've kept a few Hypsiglena over the years and they readlily consume almost any kind of lizard they can handle. They will also take appropriately sized fuzzy mice in captivity. I found a wild one in Culberson County TX that had eating a Perognathus flavus (Silky Pocket Mouse). I wasn't sure it it had caught it or simply taken a DOR.

User avatar
rosy-man
Posts: 317
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:43 am
Location: East of san diego

Re: night snakes?

Post by rosy-man » October 23rd, 2010, 3:52 am

Have to agree night snakes r nocturnal show me one out in daylight bet you cant..

Robert E Weaver
Posts: 38
Joined: June 20th, 2010, 4:01 pm

Re: night snakes?

Post by Robert E Weaver » October 23rd, 2010, 7:54 am

My reply was not intended to be argumentative. Just, I stongly feel that reports of diurnal activity are actually crepuscular. I have intensively studied nightsnakes in the field and in the lab. I have kept 100's in captivity (a few individuals for nearly 10 years), and they are never active during the day. Being found under a cover object during the day in my professional opinion does not constitute activity, even when a snake is presumed to be foraging. Indeed, they do ambush prey by day under cover objects, as well as actively forage for prey at night.

At last count, I have observed close to 750 individual nightsnakes (however, I stopped keeping count for WA snakes!) across most of the range of chlorophaea. So, yes, I cannot directly comment about the newly formed species in other parts of their ranges (in all honestly the species are not that different, I don't care what the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes tell us!). I have kept individuals in captivity from NM, OK, TX, and AZ, and they are indentical in everyway possible (save body size) to their northern counterparts. However, a genus with large geographic range may display some level behavioral specialization depending on the many abiotic and biotic variables.

Now, the caveat is, these snakes are constantly surprising me. I have [email protected]#tloads of behavioral data on these awesome snakes, almost too much at times to sift through. Indeed, they feed on a wide-range of terrestrial vertebrates (they do not eat inverts!). Live almost anywhere, are active at temps ranging from 9-40 C, and occasionally display pseudo-constriction. So, can an individual wander out onto the surface during the day......maybe. But, until I see it firsthand in the field or in the lab, I'll argue (in a good natured way) that they are not diurnal.

Robert

Paul White
Posts: 2288
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:52 pm
Location: Amarillo, Texas

Re: night snakes?

Post by Paul White » October 23rd, 2010, 8:40 am

Oh, I would agree they were all crespecular (sun had begun to set/just begun to rise) but that's not (at least to my understanding) the same as nocturnal. Part of that may be selection bias of course; the parks around here don't like people out tracking about after dark too well, even if it's techinically within the rules. But I'd have thought I'd have road cruised one at least once even with the crappy cruising here.
The literature I refer to is "Texas Snakes" Werler and Dixon BTW.

Dr. Weaver, do you have PDF's available of your articles? I like night snakes (and every other snake...) and am always willing to learn more about them! Particularly the species changes, cause those caught me entirely flat footed.

hellihooks
Posts: 8025
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 7:12 am
Location: Hesperia, California.
Contact:

Re: night snakes?

Post by hellihooks » October 23rd, 2010, 9:43 am

Robert E Weaver wrote: So, yes, I cannot directly comment about the newly formed species in other parts of their ranges (in all honestly the species are not that different, I don't care what the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes tell us!). I have kept individuals in captivity from NM, OK, TX, and AZ, and they are indentical in everyway possible (save body size) to their northern counterparts.
Robert
At least with Rosys you can tell one locality from another... :crazyeyes: :lol: :lol:
That aside... one of my favorite snakes... :thumb: Up in my area of the Mojave, a primary food source for nightsnakes are Night Lizards, which actually do exhibit crepuscular activity, so I can imagine a nightsnake coming out into the open at dusk (or dawn), pursuing a Night Lizard... but have yet to see it happen.... :shock: jim

User avatar
Fundad
Posts: 5722
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:11 am
Location: Los Angeles County
Contact:

Re: night snakes?

Post by Fundad » October 23rd, 2010, 10:09 am

Is not sitting on the surface under objects ambushing prey and moving about under the objects during the day, equal to Active!!!!

YES IT IS!!!



Here is a couple examples..

In 99 while hiking in the local hills of LA county I observed a night snake crossing a dirt road, on a warm April morning at 10 am in broad daylight.

in 04 my son and I were walking a well know canyon near palm springs on a warm June afternoon, the daytime highs were in the high 90's. The sun was still up on the horizon. When my son lifted a very hot (temped with temp gun at 105) shot up piece of tin, and found a night snake that was crawling under it, and no holes were under the tin. I am guessing that that tin temp was well over 130 degrees during the heat of the day, and there is no way that night snake would have sat under it the whole day.

back in the 80's my father and I had several boardlines we checked twice, while herping. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon, on we found night snakes in the afternoon only (indicating durnal activity).

Not to mention the amount of night snakes observed under rocks, boards, tin, and trash during the day.

Robert, I would love to read your papers. If you could email them to me at [email protected] I would be thankful. Thats great stuff. :thumb: Night snakes are under appreciated..

Fundad

User avatar
reptilist
Posts: 653
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 8:30 am
Location: Clifton, Arizona

Re: night snakes?

Post by reptilist » October 23rd, 2010, 10:48 am

I've seen quite a few, and they were all bellied up to the bar taking the frost off a cold one after working the day shift.

:beer:

User avatar
Jeremiah_Easter
Posts: 353
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 9:48 am
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: night snakes?

Post by Jeremiah_Easter » October 23rd, 2010, 2:59 pm

I'm going to have to echo fundad's opinion plus I'll add one more. About three years back I (and two other forum members) found an adult Nightsnake near Death Valley that was actively crawling in the partial shade of a bush at ~9 or 10 am. Obviously that one didn't read Weavers papers ;)

All the others I have found active (meaning crawling) were at night. So is it that night snakes are nocturnal? Or is it that they are just more likely to make large above ground movements at night. Obviously they are active in the day, just maybe not on the surface as much.

Robert E Weaver
Posts: 38
Joined: June 20th, 2010, 4:01 pm

Re: night snakes?

Post by Robert E Weaver » October 23rd, 2010, 4:17 pm

I give up. Just for fun, I'll add these 3 diurnal observations to my total. Which means nightsnakes are diurnal .0039 % of the time. Sure, I guess that makes them diurnal. Anybody else want to make additions? Yes, that was total sarcasm.

JE, of course they read my papers... :roll:

User avatar
Fundad
Posts: 5722
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:11 am
Location: Los Angeles County
Contact:

Re: night snakes?

Post by Fundad » October 23rd, 2010, 7:04 pm

I give up. Just for fun, I'll add these 3 diurnal observations to my total. Which means nightsnakes are diurnal .0039 % of the time. Sure, I guess that makes them diurnal. Anybody else want to make additions? Yes, that was total sarcasm.

JE, of course they read my papers... :roll:

There is more than 3 oberservations here..

It really comes down to you requiring the night snakes to be crawling on the surface, to consider them active. I consider them active when they come to the surface *(even if underground right AT the surface or under a rock, board etc), to thermo, hunt, or find a place to sitand wait. Even if not venturing out into open areas often unless dark.

More night snakes are found during the day under surface cover, than by nightdriving..

We would like to read your papers.

Fundad

User avatar
Jeremiah_Easter
Posts: 353
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 9:48 am
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: night snakes?

Post by Jeremiah_Easter » October 23rd, 2010, 7:10 pm

Weaver, you do know that if you weren't in this discussion I'd be championing the nocturnal nature of the Nightsnake :D :D :D

User avatar
Andreas Kettenburg
Posts: 45
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:00 pm
Location: Ventura County, Ca

Re: night snakes?

Post by Andreas Kettenburg » October 23rd, 2010, 7:23 pm

I have observed more Hypsiglena under surface objects during the day then I have driving at night.

Just saying is all.


Andreas......

The Lone Herper
Posts: 3
Joined: October 23rd, 2010, 8:16 pm
Location: Ventura County, California

Re: night snakes?

Post by The Lone Herper » October 23rd, 2010, 8:36 pm

I know if I flip one during the day- 'cause I don't flip at night- that the Kingsnakes will likely be out as well. At least that's my experience here in Ventura County.

Taylor Henry
Posts: 273
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 7:28 pm
Location: Southern California

Re: night snakes?

Post by Taylor Henry » October 23rd, 2010, 8:38 pm

I'm sure there aren't very many accounts of seeing night snakes out in the open during broad daylight... I've seen tons of night snakes under some sort of cover during the day. If you think about it, if you are underneath something, chances are there won't be a whole lot of light. I guess a good question is, are nocturnal and diurnal characteristics produced by some internal biological clock or from actual light exposure?

Another observation to add: I once flipped a 4x8 in the afternoon and saw a night snake swallowing a small fence lizard.

So in regards to activity in the day time, I would say that definitely counts. Whether or not the night snake thought it was night time under the board... I'm not sure.

The Lone Herper
Posts: 3
Joined: October 23rd, 2010, 8:16 pm
Location: Ventura County, California

Re: night snakes?

Post by The Lone Herper » October 23rd, 2010, 8:40 pm

Taylor Henry wrote:I'm sure there aren't very many accounts of seeing night snakes out in the open during broad daylight...
The largest individual I ever saw was on the surface in mid-day. Very strange indeed...!

Paul White
Posts: 2288
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:52 pm
Location: Amarillo, Texas

Re: night snakes?

Post by Paul White » October 23rd, 2010, 9:24 pm

good question about fossorial species and activity periods. It seems that some animals are more tied to temperature than time (C. atrox springs to mind) and will be out day or night if the temps are right, where other snakes are usually crespecular, diurnal or nocturnal or a combination; for instance I don't find coachwhips out at night much if at all, even if the temperatures are down. But for snakes that are mostly active under ground, or under cover (in yucca piles or rock piles or whatever)...how much does it matter?

Robert E Weaver
Posts: 38
Joined: June 20th, 2010, 4:01 pm

Re: night snakes?

Post by Robert E Weaver » October 23rd, 2010, 11:02 pm

I told you guys, you win! But, let's plow onward. In above posts, I only read 3 specific accounts of diurnal activity (AND YES, BY ACTIVITY, I MEAN ACTIVE, ENERGETIC MOVEMENT ACROSS THE SURFACE). If you define activity to include everything under the sun, right down to physiological extremes, than no snake is ever inactive (which is silly). Please, by all means, everyone recall as many diurnal observations as you can, and then please give the proportions. I mean, animals that are considered carnivorous (e.g. felids, hyenids) consume a smattering of plant material, does that make them actually omnivores? What is the cutoff to be classified as both? 70/30, 80/20, 60/40......or 99.9961/.0039?

I guess a good question is, are nocturnal and diurnal characteristics produced by some internal biological clock or from actual light exposure?
Yes, circadian rhythms are under the control of the pineal gland (body), among a few other endocrine components. This is also why you find far fewer nightsnakes under a waxing gibbous or full moon. Oh wait, I am sure someone will chime in to prove otherwise. However, they will lack the numbers to test such observations statistically rigorous manner.
Weaver, you do know that if you weren't in this discussion I'd be championing the nocturnal nature of the Nightsnake
I hate you JE....... :evil:
I have observed more Hypsiglena under surface objects during the day then I have driving at night.

Just saying is all.
What kind of numbers are we talking about? Over 95% of the nightsnakes I find are on roads. Before anyone questions my time spent flipping of cover objects....don't.

So in regards to activity in the day time, I would say that definitely counts. Whether or not the night snake thought it was night time under the board... I'm not sure.
Again, regardless of the hour of day, being under an object, immobile, not moving......simply waiting, is not activity! I know it's a question of semantics, but if you say otherwise than no snake is ever inactive. I too have found nightsnakes feeding undercover objects during the day. The key word, being under........in complete and total darkness!!!!!

Anyway, it's late, it has been fun. I'll say it again, you guys win, I lose. I am gonna go drink beer and watch some anime. JE, I am gonna go burn my Diamondback Trading Cards now! Well, no, not really. I like them too much.

Robert

User avatar
azatrox
Posts: 793
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 5:51 am
Location: Arizona

Re: night snakes?

Post by azatrox » October 24th, 2010, 12:22 am

Hmmm....

Seems to me that if I had an out of state herper that asked me how to find nightsnakes, I'd definitely tell him to cruise desert roads at night before I'd tell him to look for them in the middle of the day.

I imagine that if one were to (hypothetically of course) add up all the instances where nightsnakes were found at night and compare those to all the instances where nightsnakes were found (ACTIVE) during daylight hours, one would state with a reasonable amount of confidence that nightsnakes were, on the whole, nocturnal in nature.

My personal experience allows me to state that nightsnakes (more so than many other species) are by and large nocturnal creatures...Does that mean that NO nightsnake has EVER IN THE HISTORY OF NIGHTSNAKES EVER been active during the day? No...it means that if one sees a nightsnake probability would indicate that such an observation was done at night or during crepuscular hours.

Geez people...I'm sure there are much more controversial things to piss and moan about.

-Kris

User avatar
Fundad
Posts: 5722
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:11 am
Location: Los Angeles County
Contact:

Re: night snakes?

Post by Fundad » October 24th, 2010, 4:06 am

Geez people...I'm sure there are much more controversial things to piss and moan about.
Anyway, it's late, it has been fun. I'll say it again, you guys win, I lose. I am gonna go drink beer and watch some anime.

Je wiz fellas This conversation is being taken way to seriously.. Its a conversation, nothing personal here, your all Great people.. :thumb:
What kind of numbers are we talking about? Over 95% of the nightsnakes I find are on roads. Before anyone questions my time spent flipping of cover objects....don't.
With ALL due respect Robert, I have 30 ++ years of experience myself. And a 95 to 5 ratio is NOT a ratio I have seen or even HEARD of... For example in the laguna mtns its common to see 2 to 5 a day in March, a mtn furhter south 10 + a day flipping is a normal day... In Az in the hottest dryest places fall,and winter produce several night snakes a day. In calif Night snakes are seen throughout the fall and winter in good numbers flipping... No sir it's more like 75-25 day-night, at least In my observations... If your going to try an convince the masses these winter snakes are on the move at night in 40 degree temps, your going to need observations of that night activity during that kind of temps..


Reminder just a discussion not a fight or anything, I mean no disrespect whatsoever.. :thumb:

Fundad

User avatar
regalringneck
Posts: 563
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:20 am

Re: night snakes?

Post by regalringneck » October 24th, 2010, 4:16 am

.... Robert, I too have a genuine diurnal observation for you; a muggy august am in the sonoran desert & my attention was brought by the tiny squealing of a redspotted toad dragging along a hypsiglena chewing on its hind leg (odd how many snakes cant seem to figure out where the head end is on anurans). The little toad was soon incapacitated & swallowed in reverse. This all occurred in a sandy arroyo. The fact that I have nearly 30 years of continuous field experience in Hyp-hab ought to be an indice of how often these guys are out in daylight.
The presence of Hypsiglena & Masticophis has surely made the western aridlands a very dangerous place to be a lizard!
I too have a pm to you for a copy of those .pdf's, ... be nice if you could post a link here for everyone to access them.

I think your dietary analysis ought to include what happens when these wee terrors get inside the chicken coop... wheres dat white meat :<}

Image

Paul White
Posts: 2288
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:52 pm
Location: Amarillo, Texas

Re: night snakes?

Post by Paul White » October 24th, 2010, 7:48 am

I never meant to cause arguments...I was just wondering if they might be more crespecular than strictly nocturnal! Eeeesh.
Neat little snakes. Harder to find than the big guys. But now I know a place to look for them locally too for next season :mrgreen:

Robert E Weaver
Posts: 38
Joined: June 20th, 2010, 4:01 pm

Re: night snakes?

Post by Robert E Weaver » October 24th, 2010, 8:42 am

Arguing? Nah, no way. By past forum standards this has been more than civil. Sorry, I am a numbers guy, and it's always good to have specifics to back up statements. But really, my comments were all in jest, except for the ones at JE, whom is now on my bad side again..... :lol:

Those CA snakes are clearly insane, much like other CA residents..... :crazyeyes:

hellihooks
Posts: 8025
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 7:12 am
Location: Hesperia, California.
Contact:

Re: night snakes?

Post by hellihooks » October 24th, 2010, 8:50 am

I've probably only night cruised a couple of nightsnakes... one in Newberry springs and one in Whitewater.... 90% of the nightsnakes I have seen have been flipped in the daytime. I consider them 'fossorial' more than nocturnal or diurnal... that will come out at night, because it's dark! :lol:
Fundad clued me into this little tidbit, (in regard to another species) that "moisture is a more important factor than temperature"... and in my (addmittedly somewhat limited) experiance with nightsnakes, I found this to be true. All the nightsnakes I flip (whether under rocks, yucca or AC) it's always moist... regardless of the temperature.
don't get me wrong... I'm NOT trying to argue with any of you guys who have had lots more experiance with nightsnakes than I... just reporting what I have observed. jim

User avatar
chrish
Posts: 3298
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
Location: San Antonio, TX
Contact:

Re: night snakes?

Post by chrish » October 24th, 2010, 9:22 am

This is an interesting discussion, but it seems to reinforce one idea for me. Nightsnakes are nocturnal except for the west coast where they are found out in the day on rare occasions.

Fundad, while your statistics may be true on the west coast, I would bet I find 10 (or more) nightsnake on the road for every one I flipped in the Chihuahuan desert. In far west TX they are literally trash snakes on the road, but hard to flip. In south TX, I probably find more by flipping than roadhunting (or about equal?), but I have NEVER found one out crawling in the day and I do a lot of walking and road driving in the day down there.

For comparison, I have found Lampropeltis alterna out crawling in the late afternoon and know of half a dozen other diurnal records. That doesn't make them diurnal.
Same for Bogertophis subocularis. I've seen many dozens (triple digits?) of these snakes and I have seen a total of one individual out in the mid morning. They are still nocturnal.

Being under rocks or cover in the day does not constitute diurnal activity for most snakes. How far underground would that have to be to qualify as "inactive". 2 feet? 4 feet?

I used to find Hognosed Snakes and Racers under trash in Houston at night. Does that make them nocturnal?

Taylor Henry
Posts: 273
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 7:28 pm
Location: Southern California

Re: night snakes?

Post by Taylor Henry » October 24th, 2010, 9:26 am

hellihooks wrote:"moisture is a more important factor than temperature"
I completely agree with this statement. I've seen them in many different temperature variations, but when found under cover, the majority have been under something that had moisture under it.

hellihooks wrote:I consider them 'fossorial' more than nocturnal or diurnal... that will come out at night, because it's dark!
That's pretty much the reverse of what I thinking, but I think your explanation makes more sense.



I kind of asked this before, but

Do you consider the terms nocturnal, diurnal, etc to describe and animal's level of activity in accordance to the time of day? And if so, what would you consider the night snake to be? Or do you consider those terms to describe being active in differences of light or darkness. And if so, can you term fairly fossorial animals as being nocturnal, diurnal, etc.

The Lone Herper
Posts: 3
Joined: October 23rd, 2010, 8:16 pm
Location: Ventura County, California

Re: night snakes?

Post by The Lone Herper » October 24th, 2010, 11:03 am

azatrox wrote:Seems to me that if I had an out of state herper that asked me how to find nightsnakes, I'd definitely tell him to cruise desert roads at night before I'd tell him to look for them in the middle of the day.
I encountered half a dozen one night road-cruising in the Mojave Desert. In Ventura County, most are flipped in my experience. The last four I saw were flipped in one day right after a good rain.

-Mark-

hellihooks
Posts: 8025
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 7:12 am
Location: Hesperia, California.
Contact:

Re: night snakes?

Post by hellihooks » October 24th, 2010, 11:32 am

Taylor Henry wrote:
hellihooks wrote:"moisture is a more important factor than temperature"
I completely agree with this statement. I've seen them in many different temperature variations, but when found under cover, the majority have been under something that had moisture under it.

hellihooks wrote:I consider them 'fossorial' more than nocturnal or diurnal... that will come out at night, because it's dark!
That's pretty much the reverse of what I thinking, but I think your explanation makes more sense.



I kind of asked this before, but

Do you consider the terms nocturnal, diurnal, etc to describe and animal's level of activity in accordance to the time of day? And if so, what would you consider the night snake to be? Or do you consider those terms to describe being active in differences of light or darkness. And if so, can you term fairly fossorial animals as being nocturnal, diurnal, etc.
If you're specifically asking me... I don't know how the majority of biologists would characterize those terms. As a Biological Psych major, I can say that circadian rhythms are endogenously generated, (via the Suprachiasmatic Nucelus) although typically modulated by external cues such as sunlight and temperature. What the snakes are responding to, conditions or rythyms, I don't know. If anyone might know, perhaps Dr. Weaver would.... jim

Taylor Henry
Posts: 273
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 7:28 pm
Location: Southern California

Re: night snakes?

Post by Taylor Henry » October 24th, 2010, 11:52 am

I meant the question for anyone, but yeah that is definitely what I learned in my psych class as far as causes for human sleep patterns. Like you said, it would be interesting to know how snakes relate. I believe most vertebrates have the same regulatory components in the brain, but whether or not they all function the same way in this case, i'm not sure.

hellihooks
Posts: 8025
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 7:12 am
Location: Hesperia, California.
Contact:

Re: night snakes?

Post by hellihooks » October 24th, 2010, 12:55 pm

Taylor Henry wrote:I meant the question for anyone, but yeah that is definitely what I learned in my psych class as far as causes for human sleep patterns. Like you said, it would be interesting to know how snakes relate. I believe most vertebrates have the same regulatory components in the brain, but whether or not they all function the same way in this case, i'm not sure.
I think so too... look at the 3rd eye on iguanas.... sensitive to light only and (far as I know) ties directly into the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus which triggers the release of neurotransmitters/hormones that produce wakefulness. For fossorial snakes, a reasonable guess would be that a combination of rythyms/conditions produce the activity 'curve'. jim
BTW... every living organism, from bacteria to plants, on up, respond in some fashion to circadian rythyms.

Robert E Weaver
Posts: 38
Joined: June 20th, 2010, 4:01 pm

Re: night snakes?

Post by Robert E Weaver » October 24th, 2010, 2:32 pm

No, these threads are the best kind (ones that are just photo contests are nice, but you learn very little). I am taking nothing personal at all. Everybody has observations to contribute, whether they get published in journals or not doesn't matter (well it does, but that sounds awful elitist). Although, I wish more FHF users collected these data in a manner that would lead to published results in peer-reviewed literature.

Indeed nightsnakes will attempt burrow in even somewhat compacted soil. In captivity, when kept on loose soil and provided with rocks they seem to prefer to remain unburied under rocks. If given no rocks, they will burrow down by day and then become active during the night. Again, micro-behavioral responses to locale climatic conditions may lead to some snakes actively moving on the surface (If you see this again, please gather some data, take a picture and send it to me????). Of course in the PNW snake cannot make the mid-winter movements observed in CA and AZ. They do, however, make nocturnal movements in early March and late October when temps are less than favorable. I have collected nightsnakes in WA moving between 0100 and 0300 in October during rainstorms, when temps are around 5-8 C. And many are very active at 10 C.

With regards to chronobiology, even with the better understood mammalian and avian models, physiologists have a less than complete understanding of how and why animals respond to circadian cycles. Even the role of well known hormones such as melantonin isn't well known. I am not a physiologist by training, but a behavioral ecologist.

I think our use of the terms, nocturnal, diurnal, fossorial are convenient, but certainly bias toward our perspective and not the organism in questions. We have a very large barn on our property with a sizable colony of Myotis spp. Now, during the day the upper reaches of the barn is black as night and the bats flit about back and forth....does this make them diurnally active? No, but again the use of these terms is really of no consequence.

Overall, nightsnakes are easily one of the most abundant snakes in eastern WA. However, they are hard to find when flipping rocks. If one engaged in just this method, one would surmise they are very secretive, or truly rare. When I do find them (again experience may vary) under cover objects in can be moist, or dry underneath.....during periods of rainfall or droughts. Now, evolutionarily speaking nightsnakes are a sub-tropical, tropical snake living in a temperate zone. Their skin has a very low lipid content (thickness doesn't matter for moisture retention) so moisture is very important to nightsnakes. Snakes in captivity drink like crazy and are prone to dehydration. So finding them under rocks on a damp sub-surface isn't surprising, and I certainly won't debate that. Areas of eastern WA actually receive less rainfall than many parts of southern CA and AZ (< 5", most of which is snowfall), and you can find them under rocks when it's very dry out. Other times, I can easily find a few dozen road-cruising in a night, then head out by day and find none even after flipping every damn rock worth flipping. Now, I know they will go very deep into talus and underground. I had a specimen brought to me by a WSDOT road-crew that was dug up during the day some 6 feet into a hillside during June of 2005. On a CWU herpetology class trip, some undergraduates flipped a rock practically the size of a stove, embedded some 16" into the ground. Don't ask me why they did, but it produced a very large female nightsnake. Talk about being fossorial, but diurnal.....again, I don't think so.

Sorry, but if I wasn't completely obsessed with these snakes (and other small cryptic snakes) I wouldn't keep going :). I think once before I asked for solid, organized data contributions on nightsnake ecology from TX, CA....etc, which would allow myself to do a meta-analysis on their ecology from across the range of the genus. Alas, I had no takers. Snakes continue to surprise us. Someday, some one will publish an account of a rattlesnake eating a fish along a river. Then someone on FHF will say, "oh yeah, I see that all the time!"

Robert

User avatar
Jeremiah_Easter
Posts: 353
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 9:48 am
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: night snakes?

Post by Jeremiah_Easter » October 24th, 2010, 3:09 pm

Then someone on FHF will say, "oh yeah, I see that all the time!"
Are you insinuating that FHF people are dishonest? Or that they fail to report scientifically significant findings? Your statement could be read either way and I sure hope its the latter.

User avatar
M Wolverton
Posts: 424
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 1:46 pm
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: night snakes?

Post by M Wolverton » October 24th, 2010, 3:49 pm

The driest part of WA is the Pasco Sub-Basin @ 7+ inches of precipitation annually.

Undoubtedly drier than parts of SoCal and AZ.

Robert E Weaver
Posts: 38
Joined: June 20th, 2010, 4:01 pm

Re: night snakes?

Post by Robert E Weaver » October 24th, 2010, 4:44 pm

No, my point was people on FHF make some pretty damn amazing observations that unfortunately get reported nowhere else.

I can't find the DOD report, but a few areas on both the Yakima Training Center and Hanford (or ALER) site receive ridiculously low rainfall amounts. It may have been 5-6" (not less than <5", which may have reflected a extreme yearly deviation from the average), but less than anywhere else in the mid-Columbia and its sub-basins. It was a non NOAA/NWS or UW climate center report, which may lessen its value. My salient point was, unlike southern CA or AZ, such numbers are inflated because of snowfall. Thus negating any positive effects on surface activity of nightsnakes.

Robert

Robert E Weaver
Posts: 38
Joined: June 20th, 2010, 4:01 pm

Re: night snakes?

Post by Robert E Weaver » October 24th, 2010, 4:59 pm

Found one of the reports from the DOE/DOD......gives an average of 10 cm (ca. 3.93") of precip. at low elevation sites on the Arid Land Ecology Reserve (ALER), that is beyond dry! However, it was prepared by some PhD's from WSU, and we all know you can't believe what us academic types say!

User avatar
AndyO'Connor
Posts: 1019
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:14 pm
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: night snakes?

Post by AndyO'Connor » October 24th, 2010, 6:06 pm

I think the discussion brings up a valid point that we humans try to use words like nocturnal or diurnal as absolutes when they really should have a much more flexible meaning as would apply to many animals. So here's a few devil's advocate questions. If you sat and watched an area where you commonly flipped nightsnakes in SoCal or AZ, all day long, how many of the nightsnakes you know are there would come to the surface? Does surface activity alone define whether the snakes are active/inactive? If you stayed and observed the same area full time for several days, and had the gear to view in complete darkness, would they ever come to the surface and if so, under what conditions?

If you really did add up every night snake each have you seen active on the surface without being flipped, during any hours of the day, whether hiking or on a road, over all of the combined years between all of you, would you consider the species nocturnal, diurnal, or crepuscular? (Probably all would agree nocturnal or crepuscular, but that doesn't mean you will never find one out during daylight hours) Would the numbers compared to where they were found change across their range? (I'd think so) I've been a field herper since I could walk, which isn't very long, I'm only 27, and I've only found around 2 dozen night snakes since I started herping in their range, and all but one were road cruised. The one was the snake JE referred to, we found active during daylight hours, on the surface, but it was in a slightly shaded area, another 30 minutes or so and the bush it was found in would have been in full sunlight.

If you find a dark cave, and exploring it in the middle of the day, you start noticing bats (widely accepted nocturnal, no?) flitting about, and then you see a lyre snake eating one, how would you categorize lyre snakes? (I know Lyre snake activity has been "debated" before the crash and don't mean to swing the discussion to a new species, but I am pretty sure most of us agree on what Lyre snakes are considered as far as activity goes, but The above scenario seems fairly feasible).

In the end, in Washington anyways, if I want to find night snakes, I road cruise well after dark.

Paul White
Posts: 2288
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:52 pm
Location: Amarillo, Texas

Re: night snakes?

Post by Paul White » October 24th, 2010, 6:51 pm

No, my point was people on FHF make some pretty damn amazing observations that unfortunately get reported nowhere else.

Well, how are we supposed to report things *and* be believed? There's some biologist here but most of us are avocational with little or no actual training in biology. Until the last year or two I couldn't have probably told you if I found something really out of the ordinary. And then there's the documentation...how much is sufficient? Who do I report to? How does it get recorded? I know the email for our state herpetologist (for turning in ornate box turtle and horned lizard sightings) but is he the person to report other weird things to? Say I found something odd, like maybe a species of cnemidophorus in a location it hasn't be verified before...or something like a blacktail rattler in the western part of the panhandle. do I send it to him, or a local herpetology prof, or a museum? Who would be the best one to send it to? Who'd believe it and think it worth their time to follow up?




I had no idea lyre snakes ate bats :)

Robert E Weaver
Posts: 38
Joined: June 20th, 2010, 4:01 pm

Re: night snakes?

Post by Robert E Weaver » October 24th, 2010, 7:43 pm

Hey Paul, Andy (whom posted above) can tell you how avocational (and in some cases, every bit as qualified as so called professionals) herpers can gather some data (or a single observation) and report it. In many cases you have to be familiar yourself with the appropriate literature (e.g. conducting a library database literature search). Herpetological Review is one source for submission, published by the SSAR. For your neck of the words, The Southwestern Naturalist, published by SWAN accepts submissions of all kinds. The Texas Journal of Science is another for your area. For me, with regards to journals with a regional focus, it's the Northwestern Naturalist, or Northwest Science. Anyone can join these societies and submit papers or if the journal publishes them, small notes.

Now, often it takes more than a simple range extension, and more than a new county record (except in the case of HR). Associate Editors, and Editors are usually tasked with "fact checking". A simple email to a known researcher can also aid in verification. Some of the amazing photos posted here of snakes eating a novel prey items are more than enough for a small note or two. You don't need conduct hypothesis driven, statistically tested experiments to get published. If you, for example, are hiking along and see male-male combat in whatever species, take pictures, maybe time the duration of the bout.....record the weather, temps (if you can).....etc. Then head home, do a quick search of the literature (using JSTOR, PubMed, Web of Sciences, even Google Scholar works in a pinch). Viola! You may have a publishable account that will be available to some poor, starving grad student whom works on the under-funded field of snake behavior!

I have went on this rant before. I just like to encourage people here to cross the line and begin making additional (and yes, in many ways more substantial) contributions to the field of Herpetology.

Robert

User avatar
regalringneck
Posts: 563
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:20 am

jg : ah yes ... ewe would think ...

Post by regalringneck » October 24th, 2010, 8:32 pm

.... a forum like this could serve as such a medium on occasion RW ... but a few "puffers" were permitted & decided to play foro-policia ... & refuse to entertain so much as county data ... never mind the basic who/what/when/where/ information ... the presumption was this constituted a green lite to the hordes of poachers & commercial villains lurking .... so .... we gots what we gots ... :<} ...

User avatar
chris_mcmartin
Posts: 2433
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 11:13 pm
Location: Greater Houston TX Area
Contact:

Re: night snakes?

Post by chris_mcmartin » October 24th, 2010, 8:54 pm

Robert E Weaver wrote:Viola!
Musical instruments are not germaine to this discussion. :lol:

I like what you say regarding encouraging amateur herp enthusiasts to contribute to the body of knowledge...might like to quote you on that for a "project." Can you PM?

User avatar
Fundad
Posts: 5722
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:11 am
Location: Los Angeles County
Contact:

Re: night snakes?

Post by Fundad » October 24th, 2010, 8:55 pm

Being under rocks or cover in the day does not constitute diurnal activity for most snakes.
You and I will have to disagree with this one. IMHO being on the surface is Equal to being active. Thermo, eating, sit and waiting, etc is a important part of survivial. Which means they are active. Night snakes are found in the WINTER in AZ in the some of the driest desert areas around under rocks and trash, maybe you and Robert should do some winter flipping. :lol:


Really glad to see no one is taking any of this thread personally, it is, after all just a discussion..

Robert Many of us our making contrabutions, http://naherp.com/search.php?sort=r_tim ... _owner=430
1,500 and still going..

I went hunting today and flipped 4 night snakes, I will add photos and details later. 2 were found under objects with NO holes under them and its been cold. its my opinion they made diurnal movements to get there.

If weather patterns don't allow for nocturnal activity nights snakes are indeed diurnal, even if moving about under cover, or just under the surface. In march in the mtns of Mexico, when night time temps in the 30's night snakes are found in large numbers under cap rocks with no underground access. You be hard pressed to convince me these snakes are crawling at 45 degrees on the surface at night to get these rocks

Interesting discussion, (as chrish pointed out) The night snakes behave differently in different places. My orginal response was to Paul, in trying to help him score a night snakes. And indeed he can find them during the day. So
there, I win. jk LMAO :lol: And regardless of what anyone says, I bet "I" could flip some, active night snakes, during the day in Texas. :crazyeyes: :lol: :twisted:

Fundad

Robert E Weaver
Posts: 38
Joined: June 20th, 2010, 4:01 pm

Re: night snakes?

Post by Robert E Weaver » October 24th, 2010, 9:27 pm

If you sat and watched an area where you commonly flipped nightsnakes in SoCal or AZ, all day long, how many of the nightsnakes you know are there would come to the surface? Does surface activity alone define whether the snakes are active/inactive? If you stayed and observed the same area full time for several days, and had the gear to view in complete darkness, would they ever come to the surface and if so, under what conditions?
Andy, that is a great idea!
I win. jk LMAO :lol:
Well, duh. I already said that.



So, I was re-reading some editorial comments for the SWN paper (I think I sent it to some of you already). Fundad, they agreed with your definition of diurnal activity (grrrrrrr.....), and because I wanted to make them happy I too use the term "diurnal foraging behavior" (this was also coined in a 1999 paper by Rodriguez-Robles et al.), so I conformed with little to no argument (unlike here). I was kicking and screaming the whole time. I even re-read where I had to remove the sentences referring to crepuscular activity, since they saw it as either diurnal or nocturnal period......again, I argued very little. Ah, the things we do get to published.
when night time temps in the 30's night snakes are found in large numbers under cap rocks with no underground access
In the PNW, You can find them under basalt "cap rocks", by day. But there are vertical fissures and cracks that lead to the tight seals around the top. Anyway, as long as it stays a civil discourse, I await the photos of your finds!
I like what you say regarding encouraging amateur herp enthusiasts to contribute to the body of knowledge...might like to quote you on that for a "project." Can you PM?
You bet, send one my way.


Robert

Paul White
Posts: 2288
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:52 pm
Location: Amarillo, Texas

Re: night snakes?

Post by Paul White » October 24th, 2010, 10:53 pm

hell I"m just looking forward to finding more next year. My season is done I think (I haven't found a snake since september). The parks I herp have started to close at 6pm on weeknights and 8pm on weekends so it limits my time spent. I love how public lands have hours leaving them open only to people that don't work :roll: I gotta connect to some land owners or something cause this is flipping silly.

hellihooks
Posts: 8025
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 7:12 am
Location: Hesperia, California.
Contact:

Re: night snakes?

Post by hellihooks » October 25th, 2010, 6:23 am

Didn't someone actually post a pic of a crote eaing a fish, a couple of years ago... :shock: :lol: :lol: I'll be doing a little flipping this morning in a locality I've never seen a nightsnake at before... but ya never know till ya go.... :thumb: jim

Post Reply