Thursday, May 31, 2007


Yesterday I found a rattlesnake in one of my traps! Holy smokes!!! Look how fat he is. Well it could be a she... I didn't get close enough to sex it!!
This snake is the most dangerous snake in the bay area. The toxin degenerates your tissue and is painful, but I hear the hallucinations are quite good. If you are in to that. It is quite a surprise to open the lid to a trap and see this beast inside. It sure does get your heart pumping.

My job is dangerous, Let's see...
1) Poison oak...lame
2) Lyme Disease brought on by tick bite
3) Snakebite
4) Falling down a steep slope
5) Mountain Lion attack
6) Coastal Bears

I need hazard pay!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

what is it you do again???

The other day someone asked me what I did for a living. After trying to explain that I look for rare and endangered snakes in the bay area and getting the customary "ew, sick" response, I decided it may be better to explain using pictures. Hence this blog post.

So. I look for rare and endangered snakes. I don't tromp around the field looking for them (well sometimes), but use the miracle of science to do our work for us. We construct trap lines to catch the snakes. We drag some heavy lumber to a research site and set them up. This involves digging by hand a small trench, hammering stakes to hold up the fence, screwing the fence to the stakes and back filling the dirt so a snake cannot go under the fence. Manual labor rocks! Theoretically, the snake cruises through the grass and comes across our trap line. They hit the wall and instead of going over, tend to go along the boards to the awaiting trap at the end of the line.
Many of these trap lines are on steep slopes like this one. These ones are a pain in the butt to check, especially when it is hot outside!!!
Luckily many are also on flat, level ground so checking them are a breeze. They can be in some pretty locations too.
Here is one example of a trap at the end of the fence. There is a lid on top to open and check what is inside. We have to check these everyday to assure we do not kill anything in our traps. Here are some of the more common animals we see every day
A wide variety of species end in our traps. we have Microtus californicus...
Sceloporus occidentalis, the western fence lizard, very common,
Elgaria multicarinata, the Southern Alligator lizard,
Some of the snakes we catch include, the Pacific gopher snake,
which sometimes eats the MICA species...
The California King Snake, one of my favorites,
they are very docile and calm and one can hold them in thier hands without fear of the snake biting and pooping on you,
see, look how cute they are...
and finally the endangered SF garter snake. This is the main snake we are searching for and one needs to be permitted to even touch them. It is a big deal when we see an SFGS in our traps and we need to get a permitted biologist to handle them.

In a nutshell, that is what I do, I hike around and look in traps. It can be fun but after a while, especially when it is hot and steep, and snakes are pooing on you, the magic fades and you don't want to work anymore. But then you realize that you are hiking around outside and getting paid so it puts things in perspective a bit.
So if you are hiking around and see our traps, please, please do not touch. As you can see we can fine you and I will personally beat your a** if you mess with them. Lots of sweat and work went into setting these up and we need to get data so please leave them alone.

any questions?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Holy smokes it really is hot...

today in SF it is supposed to be 90 degrees!!! In the CITY!!! The temperature never gets that hot! I am going to the beach!