Early copperhead gathering in Arkansas – 08/19/2005

  • October 30, 2013 at 7:40 pm #902

    Fri Aug 19, 2005 8:59 pm

    Copperheads gather early in Ark. this year ………………………
    Associated Press
    LITTLE ROCK – It happens every year: large numbers of copperheads gather
    and move in unison to dens for hibernation. But it happens in October,
    not July or August. Now the common event has become an uncommon and
    inexplicable one.

    “I know for a fact that all these snakes didn’t just wake up one day and
    do this,” said Chuck Miller, whose Marion County yard has been overrun
    with the pitvipers. “Something’s making them do it. They know something
    we don’t know. There’s got to be something more to this.”
    Nearly 100 of the snakes are using a cedar tree as a sort of meeting
    place, and neither Miller, an outdoorsman and former snake owner, nor
    scientists who have traveled to the rural north central Arkansas site to
    study the phenomenon, know why.

    Stanley Trauth, a zoology professor at Arkansas State University, said
    the snakes normally gather to move to hibernation sites in the fall.
    Trauth has traveled to Miller’s property to conduct research on the
    snakes’ behavior.

    “With this hot weather we didn’t anticipate such a grand movement of so
    many snakes. In the fall they aggregate in fairly large numbers, so it’s
    quite an unusual event,” Trauth said in a telephone interview Monday.
    Miller agrees. “If it were October, no one would know about it. It
    wouldn’t be that strange,” he said.

    When the snakes first started showing up three weeks ago, Miller said he
    was a little concerned that no one would believe how many were visiting
    the cedar tree, so he began collecting the reptiles. He saw 20 the first
    night, he said.

    One of his friends contacted Trauth and the research began.
    Trauth and one of his graduate students traveled to Miller’s property
    and embedded a radio transmitter in one of the snakes for tracking
    purposes. Other snakes also had tags clipped to their scales.
    Miller said seven of nine tagged snakes were taken a quarter-mile away
    from the tree and released, but have since returned to the tree and been

    Trauth said the copperheads gather at the tree to leave their scent. By
    rubbing the tree, other copperheads know that it is a marker on the way
    to a den site, he said.

    But Trauth is only guessing that the snakes are preparing to move to a
    den for hibernation.

    “All we can do is speculate as to what this is right now. This might be
    a precursor to an actual event. But having the numbers there that he’s
    had, it just makes you wonder what’s going on,” Trauth said.

    A gathering of copperheads like the one in Miller’s yard has not been
    documented before, Trauth said. Though he can’t yet explain why it’s
    happening, he can say for sure it’s not for mating or feeding.
    All the snakes that have been gathering at the base of the tree are
    adult males. Copperheads also like to feed on cicadas, but the insects
    haven’t appeared in the area in large numbers this year.
    The best guess, Trauth said, is the snakes are moving to hibernate as
    – they’re just doing it earlier than normal.

    All Miller knows is, it’s weird.
    “It’s like seeing a bigfoot or something walk across the yard; if you
    don’t keep them, no one will believe you,” he said.

    Here is the attached url.
    I’m sorry, you will have to make it tiny.
    It was also posted on CTTUSA by, I think< westbumble from Montana.

    Here is the tiny url for the link http://tinyurl.com/77khn

The forum ‘Strange Animal Deaths’ is closed to new topics and replies.