Vote to determine state reptile

Vote to determine state reptile

diaremedium COLUMBUS — Nebraska Game and Parks Commission officials were putting together a series on the state symbols to commemorate Nebraska’s 150th anniversary when they noticed a glaring omission.

how to use ivermectin injection for humans “It hit us that we don’t have a state reptile,” said Lindsay Rogers, a wildlife education specialist with Game and Parks. “We thought this might be a good opportunity for Nebraskans to learn about our reptile species.”

stromectol tablety cena Täby Rogers said the team looked for species that could be found across the state. One of her favorites, the massasauga rattlesnake, didn’t make the list of finalists for that reason.

ivomec injection price south africa Huamachuco “It’s really just found in seven counties in southeast Nebraska,” she said. “Really amazing snake, but not representative of the entire state.”

Yelenendorf ivermectin tablets for sale durban The six contenders they came up with are the ornate box turtle, common snapping turtle, bullsnake, western hognose snake, prairie lizard and six-lined racerunner. New Century Environmental ecologist Mike Gutzmer said that while he likes the list, there are a few species he believes were overlooked — the softshell turtle, painted turtle and garter snake.

“It’s too bad the garter snake didn’t make the list,” the local man said. “Most people can relate to those because those are the most common.”

Gutzmer believes it could have also been an opportunity for more people to learn about the garter snake and help protect it.

“The Plains garter, it’s not that glamorous,” he said. “Unfortunately, they probably get killed in a lot of people’s gardens where they help eat insects and are good for the ecology.”

Of the reptiles on the final list, Gutzmer said he’d be happy with any of them becoming the state reptile, but he’s rooting for the snapping turtle.

“I’ve always been partial to snappers because they’re such a unique aquatic organism,” he said. “They’re the top of the food chain in their wetland areas. And they live a long time — they have a story to tell.”

Snapping turtles are common in ponds, lakes and wetlands around the Columbus area and can live for 30 years or longer. They’re also useful for environmentalists who want to look at water quality.

“They can bio-accumulate contaminants in the environment such as pesticides,” said Gutzmer “They’re a general indicator of water quality conditions.”

Game and Parks vertebrate biologist Mike Fritz said snapping turtles are famous for their size and powerful jaws. Rogers said snapping turtles get a bad reputation for being aggressive, though that’s only the case when they’re out of water.

“In the water, they’re very calm,” she said.

Fritz also said they play a big role in maintaining water quality because they scavenge dead matter.

Bullsnakes also have a bad reputation for aggression, but Rogers points out their only defense mechanism is to move quickly or bite. They are common throughout the state and a big part of the ecosystem.

“They are really great predators of mice and moles,” she said. “Without them, they’d be overrun with these species.”

Prairie lizards and six-lined racerunners are more commonly seen in western Nebraska, though Ritz said the racerunner is probably more common than most think.

“They’re one people don’t see or aren’t as visible as other ones,” he said. “They’re small and live in grass or vegetation. They may see a quick dart in the grass and not know what it was.”

Rogers is partial to the hognose snake, with its distinct upturned snout and defense mechanism.

“When it’s scared it will play dead or feign death,” she said. “Many predatory species will not eat things that are already dead.”

Fritz said the hognose is notable because of the fangs on the back of its mouth. Its primary prey is toads, which defend themselves by blowing up like a balloon, making them hard to swallow. The hognose’s rear fangs puncture the toad, deflating it.

“The hognose is probably one of the more unique species of snake in Nebraska,” said Fritz. “They’re unique both in their looks and their behavior patterns.”

So far the leader in the vote is the ornate box turtle, which Gutzmer said he’s seen crossing the highway more than a few times. Rogers said one of the turtle’s unique features is the different sexes have different eye colors: males’ eyes are orange or red and females’ are brown or green.

The box turtle can be found across the state, but Fritz said its numbers have declined because of the pet trade. Box turtles don’t reproduce until they’re 35 years old, so when pet traders take young turtles out of the wild that significantly impacts the population. And most pet owners don’t realize the turtles can live to 75-80 years old.

“People think I’m going to get this turtle as a pet, not realizing that they live as long as the person picking the pet up,” he said.

Neighboring states with state reptiles include Colorado with the Western painted turtle, Kansas with the ornate box turtle, Missouri with the three-toed box turtle and Wyoming with the horned lizard.

Regardless of which reptile is chosen to represent Nebraska, Gutzmer hopes the campaign will encourage more people to learn about these animals and work to preserve their habitats.

“Anything that raises the importance of natural habitats and wetland areas, anything that raises the awareness of natural habitat preservation, is going to be a good thing from our perspective,” he said.

Voting runs through May 31 at