Rat snake Tracks Field Report for late 2014.

28 Dec


This is an overdue update on ENP’s newest reptile conservation and research project Snake Tracks: Ratsnake Tracks.  This project is being conducted at The Academy at Trails Carolina by naturalist Steve O’Neil and his natural resource and conservation management and wilderness therapy students as part of Steve’s ongoing reptile focused wildlife conservation citizen science projects.

In Rat snake Tracks we follow in the tracks and trails of two wild adult male Rat snake’s known affectionately as Master Splinter and Apollo.

The first snake in the study is Splinter.  We found him just outside the nature center in the fall of 2013.  Shortly thereafter he was fitted with a radio transmitter, treated for internal parasites, fed lots of yummy mice, and then overwintered in the nature center to await his release in the spring.

In early May of 2014 Splinter was released and radio tracking commenced.

Over the summer Splinter spent most of his time in large, old Oak trees and in and around the buildings on campus.  He frequented attics and crawlspaces of unused and used buildings as well as large, hollow habitat trees.  We believe he is using these areas as foraging, thermoregulating and sheltering sites.

For more on Splinter’s story read my previous blog post.

In mid summer, Steve and his students encountered another large, male Rat snake just outside the nature center.  This snake was named Apollo in honor of the Apollo moon missions, and it was decided that this snake would join Splinter in a multi-year radio telemetry study of their natural movements in the forests surrounding the nature center.

A photo from the day we found Apollo


In late August Apollo was given a radio transmitter and later released at his capture location.  View Apollo’s transmitter implantation and release in the video below.

If the video does not play try following this link to watch the video on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjvVB5EmNdQ

Later in the summer we produced an extended length documentary video following both Splinter and Apollo over the remainder of their active seasons. In this video follow my students and I over several months as we search for and find the snakes high in Oak trees, on the ground, in buildings and bushes, and finally, in hibernation.  Please view the video below for all the details of this fascinating new reptile conservation and citizen science project. 

If the video does not play try following this link to watch the video on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSoSTeEP3Yw

Where will Splinter and Apollo go next?


Follow this blog to stay up to date with the adventures of Master Splinter and Apollo the Rat snakes.



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 animals live.  Thank you for taking care of these highly misunderstood but yet oh so important parts of a healthy ecosystem.

The story continues…


What is Rat snake Tracks?

Rat snake Tracks is a reptile conservation and research project occurring near 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 Ratsnakes in their natural habitats. For more detailed info on the project please take a look at our website at:


Follow us on our blog here at www.earthshinenature.wordpress.com

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.

What is Earthshine Nature Programs?

Earthshine Nature Programs is a separate entity from Earthshine Discovery Center and is a 501c3 non profit. 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 www.earthshinediscovery.com 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.



One Response to “Rat snake Tracks Field Report for late 2014.”

  1. Phillip Laxton 01/29/2015 at 10:26 am #

    I loved the article! Thanks for a well written report. Great pictures of some big rat snakes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: