What Lies Beneath: Salamanders in the Basement

Most people go the entire winter in Northern New England without seeing a single reptile or amphibian, but those that do almost always find them in the same place: their basement. Usually the culprit is a Spotted Salamander, but the list of species that turn up in people’s basements is endless.  In many ways, basements […]

Baby Wood Turtles: A 2019 Highlight

While adult turtles have very high survival rates from year to year and can live exceptionally long times, the life expectancy of a hatchling is very short. Indeed, most turtle nests don’t survive (nest failure rates are often greater than 90%), and out of the small percentage of hatchlings that do make it to the […]

On Snails and Slugs: A Wood Turtle’s Perspective

Years ago when I first encountered a Wood Turtle with a viscous brown goo oozing out of its mouth I thought something was wrong. Generally speaking, whenever a turtle has a runny nose, eyes, or slime coming from its mouth it is bad news, and a disease pathologist I sent some pictures to suggested the […]

On Myths and Milksnakes

One of the most common, yet misidentified, snakes in Northern New England is the Eastern Milksnake. Unlike species such as Northern Watersnakes, which are often confused for similarly-patterned Copperheads or Cottonmouths, the Milksnake is mistaken not only for Timber Rattlesnakes, but also another venomous species that doesn’t actually exist: the “checkered” or “spotted adder”. Early […]

Smooth Turtle Leeches

Few aquatic organisms in freshwater environments elicit such strong negative reactions as a leech. They are gross, slimy, bloodsuckers and they creep people out. For those willing to dig a little deeper into their biology, however, leeches are very fascinating animals. For starters, leeches are hermaphroditic and some provide parental care to their young. Then […]