Conserve Wildlife Blog

Archive for the ‘Reptiles’ Category

Happy World Snake Day!

Friday, July 15th, 2022

by Christine Healy

An eastern garter snake stands out amongst fallen beech leaves. Photo Credit: Nikki Griffiths

July 16th is World Snake Day! This day of recognition was established to increase awareness
and raise appreciation for these most polarizing of creatures. People tend to have an extreme
opinion when it comes to snakes; They are loved and revered by some, loathed and vilified by
many. Mythology, religion, and pop culture are riddled with snake imagery and, though these
media sometimes align them with healing, transformation, and fertility, they often proliferate a
connection between them and evil intentions. Whether learned or not in Greek legend, the
Medusa, with her living locks, is universally recognizable and her beheading is counted among
the greatest achievements of the hero, Perseus. Norse stories give us Jörmungandr, the
serpent son of Loki, hated by and responsible for the death of his uncle, the beloved god Thor.
The Bible symbolizes the devil himself as a snake in the Garden of Eden and, in this form,
provides the temptation responsible for original sin in Christian teachings. More recently, we
watched as ophidiophobia (fear of snakes) became the Achille’s heel of everyone’s favorite
archeology professor, Indiana Jones, and read about how the ability to communicate with
snakes was a defining characteristic of Lord Voldemort, the most notorious dark wizard of all
time.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that works such as these are responsible for a negative public
perception of snakes. Rather, I think they capitalize on a rampant unease associated with
snakes to encourage their audience to sympathize with the protagonist. The truth is, snakes can
be dangerous, particularly if they are venomous. Snakes can and do kill people, sometimes
stealthily, which defies our view of humans as the universal apex predator. This, naturally,
instills anxiety. But it’s also not the full story.

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Uncovering Urban Reptile and Amphibian Diversity

Monday, November 8th, 2021

by Christine Healy, Wildlife Biologist

Coverboards are typically placed along ecotones, where species diversity is expected to be greatest. The corrugated tin board, pictured above, was positioned along a forest edge where larger deciduous trees meet a more open, sandy landscape.

How do you survey for animals that spend most of their time hidden under leaf litter or wedged between fallen tree limbs and rocks?

In the case of reptiles and amphibians, the answer is to use coverboards!

Coverboards are materials that are intentionally placed within a potential habitat, often along ecotones (where different habitat types- e.g., wetland and forest, field and forest, etc. come together) that trap moisture and retain heat, creating favorable conditions for our “cold-blooded” (ectothermic) friends. Researchers often arrange coverboards in long transects or arrays and collect data on the diversity of the community underneath the boards as compared to the surrounding environment. This technique was used by NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife to survey for herptiles in 17 wildlife management areas in the early 2000s (Golden, 2004). A total of 30 species were recorded during the first year of the study, including long-tailed salamanders, pine barrens tree frogs, and northern pine snakes, all of which are listed as threatened in New Jersey.   

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CWF In The News: WOBM 92.7 highlights Great Bay turtle garden

Monday, December 7th, 2020
A female terrapin pauses while crossing Great Bay Blvd in Little Egg Harbor, NJ.

Shawn Michaels from WOBM News 92.7 recently visited the Conserve Wildlife Foundation and New Jersey Fish & Wildlife managed Great Bay Terrapin Habitat Enhancement Project and took the time to share his thoughts and some pictures from his visit.

Thank you Shawn for spreading information about our project and sharing these wonderful photos of the turtle garden!

You can read an except from the article below.


Photo by Shawn Michaels

If you live here at the Jersey Shore then there is a good chance you have seen a turtle or two trying to cross the road. This project ”turtle gardens” is located on the bay in Little Egg Harbor Township on Seven Bridges Road. The purpose is to give area turtles a place to lay eggs that’s out of harm’s way.

This is a fantastic project to help turtles which often are hit by cars trying to find areas to lay eggs. You may have seen signs around the Jersey Shore ”turtle crossing” to alert you to watch for turtles on area roadways usually late spring through summer.

Click here to read more: This is a fantastic project the ”Turtle Garden”

CWF In The News: Conserve Wildlife Foundation Reports Turtle Garden Success

Friday, September 18th, 2020

by Ethan Gilardi

A rehabilitated adult female northern diamondback terrapin that was released in late 2009 after being injured by a motor vehicle along Great Bay Blvd. © Ben Wurst

Northern Diamondback Terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin terrapin) are a native species of New Jersey turtle, inhabiting the brackish waters of the state’s coastal salt marshes and estuaries. The survival of the species depends on the ability of female turtles to access safe nesting habitat every summer, a struggle for the species these days with roadways disconnecting large swaths of their habitat. To help give females a better chance of successfully reproducing, CWF partnered with New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife last year to create a half-acre “turtle garden” at a former marina within the Great Bay Wildlife Management Area.

CWF Habitat Manager Ben Wurst took Pat Johnson of TheSandpaper.net to the site recently to survey the success of this new turtle garden and walk through what it takes to save a species like the diamondback terrapin.

Check out the except below!


It’s diamondback terrapin hatching season in the newest turtle garden established by the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey in the Great Bay Wildlife Management Area. Project Manager Ben Wurst has been monitoring the 50 or so nests that were created this spring to protect them from predators so the hatchlings could have a fighting chance of survival.

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WILDLIFE WEDNESDAYS SUMMER PROGRAM MAKES A SPLASH FOR ASBURY PARK STUDENTS

Friday, August 7th, 2020

by Morgan Mark, CWF Intern

CWF took Asbury Park School students on a virtual field trip to the Sedge Island Natural Resource Education Center in Barnegat Bay.

Asbury Park elementary schoolers participating in the district’s Summer Enrichment Program have had a wild reason to look forward to Wednesdays this summer – Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s virtual Wildlife Explorers Program sponsored by New Jersey Natural Gas. 

CWF Director of Education Stephanie DAlessio has been teaching students about the wildlife that lives, breeds, and migrates in their community. Virtual field trips, engaging lessons, and live webcams have exposed elementary schoolers to a gamut of topics ranging from oystercatcher adaptations to ocean litter.

This two-month curriculum reinforces the Asbury Park School District’s emphasis on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) and gives students access to nature right from their own homes. To participate in activities authentic to biologists, students have been recording weekly observations and data in science field journals, holding meaningful discussions about the environment, and completing at-home activities.

“New Jersey Natural Gas has been involved in the Asbury Park community for nearly 70 years,” said Tom Hayes, the Director of Customer and Community Relations. “Strengthening sustainability and engagement in our communities, especially educating about our environment, are the main focus of our community involvement, so this is exactly the type of program we are excited to be a partner on.”

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