Sunday, December 03, 2006

copperheads in connecticut

i saw a copperhead once (a young one) in west hartford reservoir. that was years ago. i'm scared of MANY things (like bugs. ALL bugs except lady bugs) but i've never been afraid of snakes. funny, huh

Snakes On The Brain Chuck Smith Traveled More Than 1,800 Miles In The State Tracking Copperheads

By STEVE GRANT Courant Staff Writer December 3 2006
Venturing off a hiking trail in Meriden, Chuck Smith scrambled up a steep hillside of fallen, craggy rocks known as talus. Beside a slab of rock about 3 feet long by 3 feet wide, he stopped."Somewhere under that rock, in this jumble of talus, there are a lot of copperheads," he said. Dozens of them, hibernating for the winter.Smith was part way up the side of one of the state's most distinctive geologic features, the Metacomet Ridge that runs north-south through the center of the state, a ridge that is lapped on both sides by ever-developing suburbia.That ridge is also the epicenter of the Connecticut range of the copperhead, a poisonous snake that tends to run 30 inches long in these woods. And when it comes to the copperheads of Connecticut, nobody knows them like Smith, a University of Connecticut graduate student finishing work on a doctorate degree.The Willington resident hiked more than 1,800 miles in central Connecticut for three years studying the copperheads, visiting the ridge an average of five days a week for eight months each of those years. Virtually every moment he monitored the movements of copperheads, after implanting radio transmitters in 35 males and females.Not only has Smith advanced scientific knowledge of the species, said Kurt Schwenk, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UConn who is Smith's adviser, but more important it was carried out long-term, involved a large number of animals and therefore yielded insights that a less ambitious study couldn't produce.........

A MALE COPPERHEAD basks in early fall before moving several hundred yards to the same location used the past two winters. He’s one of dozens of study subjects that UConn doctoral candidate Chuck Smith monitored for three years. (CHUCK SMITH)

CHUCK SMITH walks along a trap rock ridge in Meriden where copperhead snakes hibernate during the winter. Smith has been studying Connecticut copperhead snake populations for three years, using radio transmitters to monitor their movements. (RICK HARTFORD)

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