Arboreal Alligator Lizards: Living Gems of the Forest

Hidden deep within the misty canopies of Mexico and Central America’s cloud forests lies a rare living gem. Abronia, also known by their common name “arboreal alligator lizards”, are special because they are unlike any other lizard. Their beauty and elegance is unsurpassed in the reptile world. They inhabit very beautiful- almost mythical- ...Read More

Eastern Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina serpentina)

Herping in a stream, I expected to find all manner of frogs and salamanders and even a few snakes but not a snapper. At first I mistook it as a rock that looked miraculously like a turtle shell then did a double take. I looked closer at this ‘rock’ and discovered what ...Read More

The Odd Couple: Tiny Frog and Giant Spider

A very interesting and bizarre relationship has been noted between some very small frog species and some very large spider species throughout the years. One of the first recorded observations was published by Cocroft and Hambler in 1989. They noted that tiny dotted humming frogs (Chiasmocleis ventrimaculata) were living alongside the large Colombian lesserblack tarantula ...Read More

Poison Dart Frogs vs Fire Ants

Those of us that have lived in the southern U.S. learn very quickly how to identify fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) and to avoid them. These nasty ants aren’t called fire ants just because they are red in color. They have a very painful sting (ask me later about having a fire ant ...Read More

Turtle Tracks and Snake Tracks winter field report and a snaky surprise!

This is a late winter video report on the status of all the reptiles in the Turtle Tracks and Snake Tracks reptile conservation and education projects currently being conducted by Earthshine Nature Programs. In the next video the students and I encounter the unexpected when we find Splinter the Rat snake out ...Read More

Striped vs Unstriped: Territory, Mates

Eastern redback salamanders (Plethodon cienerus) are polymorphic, meaning they have multiple color phases, with striped and unstriped (leadback) morphs. Several other plethontids also have striped and unstriped color morphs; such as Dunn’s salamander (Plethodon dunni), southern zigzag salamander (Plethodon ventralis), and the other two redback species, western redback (Plethodon vehiculum) and southern ...Read More

Swimming in Sand: Snake vs Lizard

A fun new study showed that the western shovel-nosed snake (Chionactis occipitalis) moves through sand more efficiently than the sandfish lizard (Scincus scincus). Both species are found in sandy habitats; the snake is found throughout the desert regions of southwest U.S. and the lizard is found in the desert regions of north Africa ...Read More

Differences in Rattlesnake and Coral Snake Venom

A recent study compared the components of venom samples from eastern diamondback rattlesnakes (Crotalus adamanteus) and eastern coral snakes  (Micrurus fulvius) and they observed a curious occurrence (Contrasting Modes and Tempos of Venom Expression Evolution in Two Snake Species by Margres et al. 2015). The researchers collected venom samples from 65 adult ...Read More

Rare Frog Breeds In Bamboo

A study of the white spotted bush frog (Raorchestes chalazodes) has revealed a previously unknown reproductive mode. The frog was thought to be extinct for over 100 years until it was recently rediscovered in Western Ghats in India. These frogs apparently breed in live bamboo. They enter the bamboo through narrow slits ...Read More

Nyarla Loves Star Trek

With a saddened heart, Nyarla says goodbye to her favorite Science Officer, Mr. Spock.   Nyarla is a huge Star Trek fan! We discovered her love of Star Trek while we were living in Portland, OR. Her enclosure faced the television in the living room and Brandon and I began noticing that when we’d ...Read More