Tuesday, March 16, 2010

House of Herps #4 - St. Patrick's Edition

Welcome to the 4th edition of House of Herps, the monthly celebration of all things herpetological (i.e. amphibian and reptilian). This issue is dedicated to St. Patrick, the first herpetologist. Above we see him pointing out some of the ophiological fauna (snakes) of Ireland.

More about St. Patrick later. First the marvelous musings of the herpetologists who have followed in Patty's footsteps:

Since we are on the subject of amusing pictures of snakes, check out this Western Hognose from Ted MacRae at Beetles in the Bush. It is doing an excellent impersonation of a dead hognose, including some unbelievable and gross details you can read about here. This is also an important herpetological find, since the Western Hognose was previously unknown in this area.

Here is another amusing snake photo, this one a Garter Snake from Nate at The Drinking Bird. Not only is it fun to see his son discover herpetology, but the whole trip sounds like it was fun. Especially since Nate was on his Bird-a-Day Challenge and not really looking for snakes.

The final entry in the amusing snake category is from one of the House of Herps carnival coordinators, Jason Hogle. OK, maybe this photo is not so amusing, but Jason's reaction when he came across this Diamondback Water Snake is pretty funny. That is, if you are the kind of person who laughs at the misfortunes of others. Anyway, read about Jason's adventure here, at his blog Xenogere.

Next we move to another part of the reptilian world, the turtles. As far as I know, St. Patrick had nothing to do with turtles, so we lose track of the theme here. But that's OK, we pick up a new track with JSK's post on turtle tracks. These are some well-preserved tracks. The ones I see are usually all smooshed and smeared. See more at Anybody Seen My Focus?

Continuing on our turtle track, our next post comes from yours truly, John at Kind of Curious. If you would like to learn seven ways that terrapins have evolved to live in brackish (semi-salty) water, this is the place to go. The post contains a link to an article about terrapin conservation, including how to Adopt-a-Terrapin.

Our next post is where we segue from the reptiles to the amphibians. Bernard Brown at Philly Herping manages to find both on a recent herping trip. We also learn from the banner at the top of Bernard's blog that the words herpetology and herpes are both derived from the Greek word herpein, meaning "to creep". I wonder if the virology bloggers have a "House of Herpes" carnival?

Moving to the amphibian world, what better place to start than with sex? Cindy at Dipper Ranch teaches us how male newts are able to hold onto their slippery partners. Learn the details, and more about underwater hanky panky, at Cindy's blog. Oh my, someone please tell St. Patrick to avert his eyes!

While St. Patrick is still looking the other way, we are going to go from sex straight to murder. The other coordinator of House Of Herps, Amber Coakley of Birder's Lounge, brings us "CSI: Toad". As one of her commenters observed, "I kinda figure that anyone visiting a nature blog should be prepared for some real nature. If you can’t stand the gross stuff, you’d better stick with something safer, like scrapbooking." If you really want to see what this snail is crawling on, check out Amber's post.

We leave the amphibian world with a beautiful set of photos of two Pacific Tree Frogs. These are from Jill Wussow at "Count Your Chicken! We're Taking Over!". Jill has some awesome photos on her blog, and on her companion photography website.

As promised, I will close with more about St. Patrick. Legend has it that back in the first century AD, St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland. Today this is seen as an allegory for his conversion of many Irish to Christianity. The snake is a common symbol of the devil, and converting people would be seen by Christians as driving out the devil. National Geographic offers a more scientific explanation for why there are no snakes in Ireland.

Have a Happy St. Patrick's Day!


  1. Wow. I didn't know anything about the mythology of St Patrick and the snakes. Here I thought it was all about green beer.

    What a clever edition, John! Thanks for hosting.

  2. John, great job! I didn't know about the herpetological tie-in to St. Patrick, either - thanks for that bit of trivia. I know what hard work it is to put together a blog carnival, and I sure appreciate such an entertaining edition.

  3. Excellent job, John. The St. Patricks tie-in was great!

  4. Jason, Amber, Ted: Thanks for the kind words. It was fun hosting! John

  5. Great job, Johh. Love the St Patrick's twist you threw in!

  6. Nice collection, and great variety, John-- thanks!

    I heard that the "snakes" St. Pat drove out were the Druids, who were said to revere (among other things) the adder. Great cartoon!

  7. love the links, the commentary and the cartoon!! wonderful edition!

  8. Johnny, Sally, Arati:

    Thank you for your compliments! Sally, you are correct that Ireland at the time was mostly Druid. I guess I was over-simplifying the story. Don't get me started on the whole shamrock/trinity debate! :)

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