Ian Jessup is the name (as if we all couldn't figure that out by looking to the left
). I've been a reptile crazed lunatic since the age of 7. Now with 22 years under my belt, a college degree later this month, and a direction in life to follow, I'm really just starting to come into my own. I'm originally from Maryland, but I was an Army brat growing up, so I've been all over the East Coast at one point in time or another. Moved to Colorado in '96 and fell out of field herping until just a few years ago. I retired from my first "official" career in 2005, which was working formally in the pet industry. Pretty much got sick of it and ended on a high note.
I've been attending college at Metropolitan State College of Denver since spring of '05. I've been a "poor starving college student" since, and can't wait for those days to come to an end... sometime. I'm a double major in Biology and Chemistry at Metro, my emphasis is Cellular & Molecular Biology, and I have a keen interest in protein chemistry. The plan right now is to work towards a PhD in Biochem/Cell/Molecular Bio and do work in the field of Toxinology, more specifically drug design and delivery from snake venom origins. I've been doing some research work on the venom of C. v. viridis
for the last year. I wish I could say something productive about it. But alas, research is a frustrating affair, and I was not able to complete it to a point of relative satisfaction (for numerous reasons I will leave unspoken, but I can always be asked about them in person). However, rest assured fellow Crotalus aficionados I will not leave this particular line to lay incomplete. I'll carry it with me as I continue on and will complete it somewhere else along the line. I'm the kind of person that cannot leave something unfinished... EVER!
I'll come back to the C. v. viridis
in a moment. First, I'll delve into some background on my specific herp interests. Presently, I am the vice-chairperson for the http://www.ratsnakefoundation.org
, an international non-profit dedicated to the conservation and dissemination of husbandry information there of. I've held multiple roles for the RF, and it was a rat snake that set me on this journey back when I was 7 years old. Pantherophis obsoletus obsoletus
, to be exact. Since those summer days in the Catoctin Mountains of MD I have played with keeping a lot of reptiles. But I have come back to my roots... sort of. I'm presently and permanently enamored of the Asian rat snakes belonging to the Orthriophis taeniurus
species complex, and am the responsible party for the June article in Reptiles
magazine. Outside of rat snakes; I am also a huge fan of Varanids, particularly the dwarf and arboreal species, Psammophiine snakes of Africa, the "common name" rat snakes of South America, and Poison Frogs.
When it comes to field herping, though. My true passion is in the search of Crotalids. I love Rattlesnakes like it is no one's business. Ever since my first experience with a Timber in the Catoctin Watershed, I have been hooked. To this day, the Timbers of my homeland still hold near mythological status in my mind. I spent some time last summer getting reacquainted with these rattlesnakes of my childhood. I joined up with Rattlesnake Biologist, William H. "Marty" Martin for several days worth of "Timber counts." The man has a magical quality for finding Timbers, which comes only from having studied them for a helluva lot longer than I've been alive.
Marty is the short guy in the middle, I am standing behind him, my father is on the far left. It was an unbelievable experience, and I'd do it again without a moments hesitation, no matter what kind of hell I'd have to bushwhack through.
Female Timber, waiting patiently in line to deliver her brood at a log where...
...this particular female was still in the process of delivering...
That first female was, in fact, no more than 3 or 4 feet away. I sat between the two of them and shot photos. They had the most spectacular NON-reaction to our presence I've ever seen in a Rattler. Both were completely nonplussed by our presence. This particular area was littered with numerous gravid females, all within a 20-30 yard region in the woods. I believe we counted 8 or 9 in total! Just a taste of what I saw that summer, as there were many more sightings, like this...
...the trophy animal of the trip. A gravid female, dark- or black-phase Timber! She was magnificent. And also found in an area with multiple gravid females, postpartum females, a couple of males, and a couple of copperheads. All, literally, within spitting distance of each other!!! We almost tripped over, or fell on top of, some of these snakes!
(Just a quick FYI, the smaller images in the above series are not mine, but were taken by Jeff Hall, the guy standing between my dad and Marty in the group photo above. My images of those particular animals aren't as awesome as his due to my lens fogging up from the extremely high humidity on those days.
The larger images, however, are mine)
But getting back to herping in the Rocky Mountain Region, and my research with C. v. viridis
. I began the research last summer. The previous summer I had gone out with a new friend, and fellow herper, and done some excellent photography with the snakes of a particular area not-so-far from the Denver-metro area. As a matter of fact, I know that there are several individuals on this forum who know EXACTLY
where these research animals of my personal interest can be found. I've grown quite fond of them. So much so, that I am saddened by activities carried out by others, including fellow field herpers (I'm being too generous, of course. Raping and pillaging the landscape is an insult to field herping), that I have observed in this area.
I consider this my personal best! This snake is responsible for igniting my research interest. It was a real trooper when it came to photography. The first Prairie I had ever encountered.
Sadly, this is my last year in Colorado. I'm leaving for the east coast this fall/winter to continue on my chosen career path with a small side venture prior to graduate school, and that oh-so-illustrious PhD I seek. I'm going to miss these viridis
. I've learned a great deal about them, and from them. I have several hypotheses about elements specific to their own evolution, particularly venom composition, from observations I've made in the field.
With that said, there are a few things I'd REALLY like to accomplish before I bid my farewell to Colorado. First, I'd like to locate and photograph S. c. edwardsii
in the field before I leave (this trip has been planned, and it will be the one trip I will definitely make, if I only manage to make one last trip in Colorado). The second, and the one I will need the most help to achieve is to locate and photograph C. o. concolor
. That trip is gonna require a run out to the extreme western part of the state, and I presently have no clue how I am going to accomplish that AND locate and shoot the Midget-faded through my lens. Maybe someone can assist me in this goal.
No worries though. I'm still going to be around this community. I'm glad to be here, even if I am really new. And I can't wait to contribute from the other regions I will undoubtedly be spending time.