Thursday, July 05, 2007

Gone to Idaho

Just wanted to put a little note in here notifying everyone that from July 6th-13th I will be going to Idaho to attend an Earthwatch project called Wildlife Trails of the American West. Here's a brief description about the project I got off of Earthwatch's website:
"Human expansion and development have made ours a fragmented world, isolating wildlife species and threatening their survival. In 1987, conservation biologist Dr. Bill Newmark discovered that even U.S. national parks aren't large enough to sustain some mammal species. Wildlife corridors are a logical solution, but designing a corridor that animals will actually use requires understanding why and where an animal moves and how it uses available resources. The closest thing to actually getting inside an animal's head is examining wildlife trails, which provide a cumulative history of animal movement. That's precisely what Newmark and Dr. Eric Rickart are doing with Earthwatch teams in magnificent mountain landscapes of the American West." If you would like to read more about it click on the link above. So there will be no blog entries until I return. I hope to have lots to tell and bunches of photos to share. Talk to everyone when I get back!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Eastern Coachwhips- Fighting or Mating??

A friend of mine was fortunate to come across and photograph a pair of coachwhips that he believed were fighting. Fighting among male snakes known as a "combat dance" is a competitive behaviour when competing for females during mating season.
Note the bite marks on each snake below denoting the aggressiveness of the bites. When coachwhips bite they have a tendency to jerk back allowing their teeth (that are curved towards the back of their mouth like most snakes) to tear into the flesh of the prey.
Later he sent me a short video he captured that got me to thinking- are these two males fighting or a male and female mating? In some species during mating the male will bite the female while trying to copulate with her, but in such an aggressive way? I'm of the opinion that it was a male and female mating. To view the video go here and if anyone has an opinion let me know. I found a video on YouTube of two male rat snakes (looks like yellow-bellied racers to me) fighting for comparison. Go here. Interesting stuff.

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