Snake Tracks Field Update for May 05, 2014

5 May

This is an update on the Snake Tracks reptile conservation and education project being conducted by Earthshine Nature Programs.

After almost six months underground in their hibernaculums (dens) both Zoe and Utsanati the Timber rattlesnakes have made their way out into the forests surrounding Earthshine.   Zoe was first to egress about two to three weeks ago and since then she has moved down to an area below the waterfall.  This is an area where I had found Zoe on two other locate days in the spring of 2012.  The area is characterized by overgrown farm fields, massive wild rose and Blackberry thickets with great solar exposure and plenty of clean water from several small springs, a small mountain bog remnant and a strong flowing creek.  My hypothesis is that Zoe uses this area to feed heavily due to the obvious abundance of rodents living in association with the shelter and food laden bramble thickets.  I was unable to visually locate Zoe on 05-04-14 due to the fact that she was sheltering within a dense area of wild rose and blackberry.

Utsanati is a different story.  He departed hibernation on 04-21-14 at exactly 11:16 am and the temperature was 59F. You may be wondering how I know this detailed information?  The answer is several weeks of persistence and hard work that finally paid off with the photograph you see below.


I was able to acquire this photograph using one of two trail cameras that I set up to monitor the several holes in the area above Utsanati’s den.  I set up the cameras several weeks ago and returned weekly to change the batteries and check the memory cards for any evidence of snake activity.  As I always do I documented all of my activities in order to bring my reptilian research activities to you, my supporters.  If you are interested in watching the full story of the Trail Cameras, all of the related videos can be found below.

Video 1:   3/21/14 Installation of the Trail Cameras.

If the video does not play try following this link to watch the video on Youtube:


Video 2: 3/31/14  A visit with the hibernating turtles and a snake camera check.

If the video does not play try following this link to watch the video on Youtube:


Video 3:  4/7/14 Another camera check and a reptilian surprise!

If the video does not play try following this link to watch the video on Youtube:


Video 4: 4/30/14  The big discovery–Utsanati’s egress from his den!

If the video does not play try following this link to watch the video on Youtube:


This trail camera project has revealed some incredible data on the life of the Timber rattlesnake in the hardwood forests of western North Carolina.

What have we learned?

1. We now have some quality location/time/date data for this one snake’s egress from his hibernaculum.

2. Utsanati may use this large hole as the primary entrance/exit to/from his hibernaculum.  He may use the other holes in the area as well.

3. Utsanati did not appear to re-enter or remain near the den in the camera monitored area.

4. Utsanati may be the only Timber rattlesnake using this den unless there were other snakes that exited the den after I removed the cameras ten days after his emergence.

5. Utsanati may share his den with at least one Eastern garter snake and several salamanders.

6. Utsanati is not alone in the forest–from snakes and salamanders on the prowl, to birds, Raccoons, Opossums and deer on important business–the area above Utsanati’s den is alive with wildlife!  Note: Photos of all of these animals that share Utsanati’s habitat–and your back yards if you live nearby–can be found in the above videos 🙂

7. Persistence and hard work pays off although we still have so much to learn.

8. Above all,  this amazing project would not have been possible without your support–


Thank you all for making the Snake Tracks and Turtle Tracks wildlife conservation projects possible.  Thank you for continuing to support Earthshine Nature Programs over the last seven years.  If the turtles and snakes could speak they would thank you even more than I because due to your support they will in turn be supported through the efforts of science being put to use in the areas of wildlife and habitat conservation.  Thank you also to the land owners in the community where these turtles and snakes live.  Thank you for taking care of these highly misunderstood but yet oh so important parts of a healthy ecosystem.

I leave you with a photo of Utsanati that I took on April 30, 2014


The story continues…


Snake Tracks is a reptile conservation and research project occurring near Earthshine Discovery Center and Dupont Forest in the mountains of western North Carolina, USA. Through the magic of modern technology and allot of hard volunteer work by a wildlife conservationist and his small crew of volunteers and students, glimpse into the lives of two wild Timber rattlesnakes and one Ratsnake in their natural habitats. For more detailed info on the project please take a look at the website at:

Follow us on our blog here at

It is our goal at ENP to promote wildlife conservation through our unique, exciting, citizen science based, hands-on education, out-reach programs, and online with our nature videos, blog and website.

We are not paid to operate ENP or to conduct wildlife conservation activities. ENP is a 100% volunteer operated and donation funded organization. It is our mission to educate you about these beautiful but greatly misunderstood animals and hopefully, to impart to you their beauty, uniqueness and intrinsic value to a healthy Earth, healthy wildlife and healthy humans.

THANK YOU to all of you who have donated to ENP over the years!! Without you this important reptile conservation and education work would not happen. If you would like to support Earthshine Nature Programs please feel free to donate by visiting

You may also donate supplies such as animal foods, medical supplies, vitamins and habitat supplies just contact us for more information on what supplies we are in need of and how to donate.

Visit to learn how you and your family, school, scout, corporate or camp group, can visit the Earthshine Discovery Center and have a wonderful fun and educational retreat!

Music by The Steep Canyon Rangers used with written permission.


Earthshine Nature Programs is in no way affiliated or responsible for ads that may appear below this line.



2 Responses to “Snake Tracks Field Update for May 05, 2014”

  1. Fred Bahnson 05/06/2014 at 7:44 am #

    Steve, Keep up the great work! Fred

    Sent from my iPad


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