Summertime Snake Awareness

Developer 2 (MM) - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

This Tuesday saw Roxby Downs’ first Community Snake Awareness Session and we were amazed at the turnout. Over 65 people attended the talk by Living with Wildlife principal Geoff Coombe and were even privileged enough to meet and greet some of his scaly companions. Of note; the Red-bellied Black Snake, a Tiger Snake, and the Western Brown fondly named Psycho.

Throughout the presentation we learned about not only the types of snakes we would find in Roxby and surrounds (the Mulga, Woma and Western Brown) but also how to avoid attracting them, what to wear in situations in which you might find one, and what to do if you get bitten.

Roxby's introduction to Living with Wildlife

For those of you who were unable to attend, these are a few of the most important things to remember when it comes to snakes and when dealing with them:

  1. It’s true that snakes are more scared of you then you are of them! Respect them and you shouldn’t have a problem!
  2. Stand still when you get too close, as Geoff mentioned, snakes don’t go around biting what they think are trees!
  3. Don’t give them places to hide where you don’t want them going. e.g. large bushes or garbage piles close to the house (they are only trying to hide and get out of the sun!)
  4. Wear appropriate clothing when out bushwalking etc. (long pants and closed in shoes) and;
  5. If you DO get bitten, apply appropriate first aid and get help immediately, don’t clean the wound (the venom on your skin can help identify the snake that bit you) and try not to move (you don’t want the venom to spread!).

 

A native Woma Python meeting the crowd

A big thankyou to Geoff, and his assistant Greg, and everyone who came to support this initiative, we hope that you came away with some valuable information and can feel a little more confident if faced by a snake. We sure learnt a lot!!

And if you want to know more feel free to visit Geoff Coombe’s Living with Wildlife website at http://www.livingwithwildlife.net/.  

Getting up close and personal to a Woma Python

Mulga Snake caught in mesh

Pretty Digital - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Arid Recovery Field Officer, Craig Wyatt and volunteer Zac Richardson got a surprise today when they saw a 1.7m long Mulga Snake (Pseudechis australis) caught in the Arid Recovery feral-proof fence.

“We were driving along checking cat traps as we do every morning, when I noticed a long dark shape at the bottom of the fence,” Craig explains. “As I went to have a closer look I noticed it was a Mulga Snake. The poor bugger was caught in the fence and had recently carked it.”



Craig believes that the Mulga Snake must have been on its last legs. “It was covered in ticks, and I think the struggle to get through the small gap in the mesh must have worn it out,” Craig said.

Craig brought the Mulga Snake back to the Arid Recovery office for the staff to do a closer inspection. A stomach content analysis showed that the Mulga Snake’s gut was full of worms and an entire juvenile sleepy lizard (Tiliqua rugosa)!



Although it is sad that the snake passed away, it is a natural part of life, particularly in the arid zone at the end of summer, where food and water is scarce.

If you would like to find out more about snakes in the arid zone check out our snake awareness blog.

Annual Trapping done and dusted

Pretty Digital - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Annual trapping 2014 has been and gone for another year, with a whirlwind of excitement, animals and extreme weather conditions.

The lids are securely closed on pitfall traps, equipment is packed away, and the volunteers have all returned home. Arid Recovery internship student and database queen, Bianca, has plugged in the data from Arid Recovery’s 17th year of annual small mammal and reptile trapping.

This year’s field work was challenging, thanks to our unpredictable arid zone climate. The temperature throughout the week was in the low to mid 40s, with thunderstorms threatening on the final days of trapping. Even the wet weather and stormy conditions couldn’t put a dampener on the enthusiasm of volunteers, with some embracing the change in weather conditions with an elaborate rain dance!

A total of 110 mammals were captured in 2014, with all native mammal species caught inside the Reserve. The Spinifex Hopping Mouse (Notomys alexis) was the most abundant mammal species. However, the introduced House Mouse (Mus musculus) was trapped inside the Reserve and at sites beyond the fence, and was found in traps more often than other native species, the Plains Rat (Pseudomys australis) and Bolam's Mouse (Pseudomys bolami bolami).

Bec West concentrates carefully whilst processing a Lerista (Lerista labialis)

The Leristas (Lerista labialis) were by far the largest number of reptiles captured, with 143 of these slippery suckers pulled out of pits. Other common cold-blooded captures include the Royal Skink (Ctenotus regius) and the fine-looking Ford’s Dragon (Ctenophorus fordi).

In total 18 different reptile species were captured and brought back to the lab for processing. To the volunteers' delight some rarer reptile species also made an appearance, with the distinctly stripy Desert Banded Snake (Simoselaps bertholdi) and the cute Crowned Gecko (Lucasium stenodactylum) keeping the crowds smiling!

 

A small Spinifex Hopping Mouse (Notomys alexis) found in a pitfall trap

Arid Recovery’s Ecologist, Cat Lynch, was impressed with this year’s trapping efforts. “Mammal captures appeared relatively low, however comparisons with 2013 trapping data shows that we caught a few more critters this year!” remarks Cat. “A wide variety of reptile species were trapped, giving all staff and volunteers an opportunity to appreciate the unique fauna of the Roxby Downs region.”

The success of Arid Recovery’s annual trapping relies on the help of volunteers.  Arid Recovery would also like to thank all of the people that kindly donated their goods and services to the annual trapping program. This includes Sodexo, Roxby Leisure Centre, Woolworths, Transpacific, RoxFM and the generous people of Roxby Downs that donated jars of peanut butter.

Annual Small Vertebrate Trapping 2014

Pretty Digital - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Arid Recovery’s annual trapping program is the longest running trapping event of its kind in Australia, and you have the opportunity to take part in the monitoring for 2014! 

Develop your skills in ecology, learn about the mammals and reptiles of the unique arid zone and meet other people that share the same passion for the environment and conservation. 

Participation in Arid Recovery’s annual trapping will give you skills in:

  • Pitfall trapping
  • Elliott trapping
  • Animal ID
  • Laboratory processing
  • Animal husbandry
  • General field skills
  • Reserve maintenance tasks

Come and join Arid Recovery’s annual trapping for 2014 

  • When: Arrive Sunday 9th February and depart on Saturday 15th of February
  • Where: Arid Recovery, Roxby Downs, Outback South Australia
  • Cost: $375 includes a 1 year membership to Arid Recovery, and accommodation and food for the duration of the event 

There is only a limited number of positions, so register your interest quickly to secure a place. 

Email volunteer@aridrecovery.org.au

Arid Recovery volunteer Paula enjoying participating in the pitfall trapping.

Museum Madness

Pretty Digital - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The South Australian Museum carefully wrapped specimens and put exhibits in boxes as they headed on the road for the last of their ‘Out of the Glass Case’ roadshow for the year 2013. Roxby Downs was the final destination for the travelling roadshow, and how lucky we were to have these special visitors.

Bringing with them a range of staff with expert knowledge on all areas including birds, spiders, fossils, and geology, the Roxby Downs community was treated to a night of discovery and wonder as the Area School library doors opened to the public for a Twilight Event. Arid Recovery was fortunate to be invited to participate in the Twilight Event, which enabled community members to see educational displays and participate in hands-on learning in a fun environment.

A regular at expos and events, Arid Recovery’s skins and skulls display proved again to be a hit, with many bidding scientists amazed at how light weight an emu’s skull is and how small a cat’s head must be! Visitors to the stall also had the opportunity to touch a range of furs, and distinguished between native and introduced animals by looking at the patterns and colourations on the animal’s coat.

The Arid Recovery office pet, Bruce the juvenile bearded dragon also came along for the evening. Bruce was extremely popular with the children, and his presence made every small child want to share their story about how they saw a lizard in their backyard in Roxby!


Local kids examine the skins and skulls display 

“Opportunities like the Community Twilight Event don’t come by Roxby Downs very often. It was fantastic to see so many members of the local community embracing the evening and bringing the kids down to learn something new and exciting,” explained Anni Walsh, Education and Community Officer. “Visiting these educational displays encourages children to use their imagination, and open their eyes to appreciate the natural wonders of our world.”

Highlights of the evening included blowing into the conical shell ‘trumpet’, witnessing fossils found in the Flinders Ranges region billions of years ago, seeing the egg castings of baby trap door spiders, touching a 10 foot python and of course the 'emu news' puppet show!

If you want to find out more about educational opportunities at Arid Recovery email education@aridrecovery.org.au

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Arid recovery is a conservation initiative supported by:
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