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Create an Account - Increase your productivity, customize your experience, and engage in information you care about. The FHSU Foundation is proud to announce a newly established endowed professorship to enhance support of the students, faculty, and staff of Fort Hays State University. An endowed professorship for FHSU serves as an opportunity for private donors to enhance the ability of the University to attract and retain faculty members of distinction. In concurrence with The Kansas Partnership for Faculty of Distinction, the State of Kansas will provide partnership funds, or earnings equivalent awards, which will effectively double the interest earned on the newly endowed professorship. Fort Hays State University is privileged to have many gracious donors who have created endowed professorships in the past.
Unless otherwise noted, information contained in each edition of the Kansas School Naturalist reflects the knowledge of the subject as of the original date of publication. Because of the greatly increased cost, due to the color plates, no free copies of this issue will be available. The Kansas School Naturalist is sent upon request, free of charge, to Kansas teachers and others interested in nature education. The Kansas School Naturalist is published in October, December, February and April of each year by The Kansas State Teachers College, Twelfth Avenue and Commercial Street, Emporia, Kansas. Poisonous snakes are only one aspect of the study of herpetology, which includes other reptiles, as well as amphibians.
Many persons either do not know anything at all about the poisonous snakes of our state or have a distorted group of misconceptions concerning them. The prime reason that every person should know the poisonous snakes of his region by sight and know something about their habits, distribution, and abundance is that it will ease the mind of the average individual in all of his outdoor pursuits. MYTHS: Probably no other group of animals has had the variety and expanse of tall tales credited to them as have the snakes. The poison of venomous snakes is not only a defensive mechanism, but also a highly efficient food-getting device. ABUNDANCE: The non-poisonous snakes far outnumber the poisonous kinds, both in number of species and individuals. SNAKE BITE: Venom is secreted from glands within the head, on each side behind the eyes, causing the swollen appearance of the head in this region. It has been estimated that there are fewer than 50 deaths due to snake bite in the United States in a year; most of these bites result from imprudent handling of venomous serpents. Snake venom is used to manufacture antivenin, which is injected into snakebite victims to help counteract the effects of the poison. Color pInk-brown to red-brown with 10-20 light-edged crossbands on body, narrow on top and wider at lower side. Top of head covered with numerous small scales; no paired plates (a) tail pattern alternating black and chalk white bands - WESTERN DIAMOND-BACK RATTLER (page 10). Whereas the copperhead is a rather mild-mannered snake, the cottonmouth has a vicious disposition.
Generally, eight or nine young are born in August or September, although the number of young may range from five to fifteen.
The name "massasauga" is an Indian term, meaning '"swamp dweller," a habitat preference which is evidenced more in the states to the northeast of Kansas. In northern Oklnhoma, an annual rattlesnake roundup is held, in which several hundred diamond-backs are captured. During the spring and summer the timber rattler is quite often encountered crossing roads, where its large size and slow movement often make it a victim of modern transportation.
The timber rattler has a habit of frequently spending daylight time just beneath the edge of overhanging rocks. It has been found that anyone female prairie rattler gives birth to a litter of young every other year.
This snake has a wide range over western United States, where it is probably the most common rattlesnake.
The following six snakes are representative of the harmless snakes commonly and incorrectly thought to be poisonolls by the general public. Apply suction to cuts, using either the cup from a snake-bite kit or the mouth, if there are no sores, cracked lips, or bleeding gums. As swelling progresses up limb, tourniquet should be moved ahead of swelling and additional cuts and suction should be made at edge of swelling.
Upon arrival at doctor's or hospital, antivenom may be injected after the determination for serum sensitivity. Snake bite kits are available at most drug stores and should be carried by persons or group going into areas inhabited by poisonous snakes.
When climhing rocky ledges or turning over logs or rocks, don't place hands where you can't see. The Biology Department of the Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia is sponsoring its second Audubon Screen Tour Series during the current school year. Plan now to attend the 1959 Workshop in Conservation, which will be a part of the 1959 Summer Session of the Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia, June 2 to 19, and June 22 to July 10, 1959. As in the past several years, the Workshop will cover water, soil, grassland, and wildlife conservation teaching. An anonymous donor, who is a graduate of FHSU, contributed $500,000 to establish the professorship. The nominations for the professorship are initiated at the department level and the qualifications are determined by the donating party. The Partnership requires the gift to come from single or joint donors, not from general funds or fundraising drives. These professorships continue to enrich the University and strengthen the educational foundation that FHSU is so passionate about preserving. Her technique was wonderful and her bread looked absolutely fantastic,” said Mary Molt, assistant professor.
These misconceptions run from plain misknowledge about the range or identification of poisonous snakes to fancifully elaborate stories in which there mayor may not be the barest thread of fact. Most persons have heard so many false stories about snakes that they develop a fear of all snakes. In Kansas, they retire for the winter in places where the temperature will not get below the freezing point. As the stories go, there are snakes that can put their tails in their mouths and roll downhill hoop-like, snakes that are capable of milking cows dry, snakes that fly into pieces when struck and later reassemble into whole snakes again, snakes that charm their prey, and others too numerous to mention here. Whereas some of the snakes strike and hold the prey within their jaws until the poison has rendered it helpless, others only strike and follow the trail to where the victim falls.


The jaws are wonderfully adapted for this purpose, having the bones on each side of the jaws attached to their mates on the other side by an elastic ligament, and the upper and lower jaws also joined by such an attachment. In the United States, there are approximately 95 species of nonpoisonous snakes and only 19 species of poisonous ones, including 15 rattlesnakes, one copperhead, one cottonmouth, and two coral snakes. The amount of poison ejected at anyone strike varies from a part of a drop to 2 cubic centimeters, depending upon size and kind of snake, and time elapsed since last venom ejection.
The poison glands and ducts remain and other teeth can still scratch the skin, allowing entrance of the venom. The venom is injected in graduated doses into horses, which build up an immunity to the venom. Even in Kansas, there are some non-poisonous snakes which exhibit either the tail or eye characteristics given for poisonous snakes, but none have the pit. Although nocturnal, it likes to sun-bathe, and it is frequently seen basking along shorelines, stretched out on low branches or upon the bank. In the eastern part of the state is the form that occurs eastward of Kansas, characterized by the dark belly; the lighter-bellied form extends westward from eastern Kansas into states to the southwest.
A hiker should always look beneath any rocks of this sort before using the rock as a resting place. Antivenin may be administered by a person other than a doctor, but this is recommended only in cases where a doctor or hospital is not readily accessible.
This series consists of five all-color motion pictures of wildlife, scenics, plant science, and conservation, personally narrated by leading naturalists. Such topics as geography and climate of Kansas, water resources, soil erosion problems and control, grass as a resource, bird banding, wildflowers, conservation clubs, and conservation teaching in various grades will be discussed. In order to be awarded the professorship, the faculty member must be teaching within the College of Arts and Sciences. In addition to demonstrating excellence in teaching, research, and service, the faculty member is also required to conduct faculty seminars or presentations, provide annual reports on activities, projects, and academic leadership, and serve on the Council for Institutional Effectiveness. Send orders to The Kansas School Naturalist, Department of Biology, State Teachers College, Emporia, Kansas. There are 97 species of herptlles in Kansas: 9 salamanders, 20 frogs and toads, 15 lizards, 40 snakes, and 13 turtles. These may be in rocky ledges, beneath the soil, below the roots of trees, or in protected places of human design, such as grain bins, cisterns, cellars, and silos.
Some of these tales deal specifically with the poisonous power of snakes or with snakes that are venomous.
The copperhead is more insectivorous than the rattlesnakes, and the cottonmouth feeds upon other creatures that inhabit the edges of waterways. This allows the jaws to be spread apart and lowered, making an opening capable of taking in a food item actually larger in diameter than the snake! In Kansas, there are six species of poisonous snakes (two should hardly be counted) and 34 species of non-poisonous snakes.
It probably need not be pointed out that these features can be seen only when the snake can be examined closely.
If pattern is obvious, crossbands not narrow on mid-back and top of head not copper-colored (Note: extremely restricted range in Kansas) - COTTONMOUTH (page 7). Common where it occurs, the copperhead is probably the most abundant poisonous snake in eastern Kansas. It is thought that this contrasting tail color is used as a lure to bring prey within striking distance of the small snake.
This snake belongs to a group of small rattlesnakes called "ground" or "pygmy" rattlers, which are differentiated from the larger rattlers by having paired scales on top of the head, as have the copperhead, cottonmouth, and non-poisonous snakes.
The young are fully capable of inflicting a dangerous bite as soon as they are born - and quite willing to do so! The timber rattler occurs only in eastern Kansas and is only locally common, at scattered localities. This rattlesnake is common in western Kansas, where it frequents rocky open regions, grassy prairies, and agricultural areas. This is the "blow viper," "spreadhead viper," "spreading adder," or other equally ill-named snake usually found in dry sandy areas. This snake and the yellow-bellied water snake, of very similar appearance, are the most often noted snakes along creeks, rivers, lakes, and ponds. Heavy body, dark appearance, and mean disposition give this particular snake a bad reputation.
Also more properly called the black rat snake, a descliptive title which is particularly apt. A beautiful jewel of a snake, this small creature has been credited with the ability to milk a cow dry! If the snake is poisonous, typical symptoms will appear rapidly: bruised appearance at bite, noticeable swelling, and intense pain.
There will be lectures, demonstrations, discussion groups, films, slides, field trips, projects, and individual and group reports. The turtles of Kansas have been described in a past issue of The Kansas School Naturalist (April, 1956), and an issue on the lizards of the state is in preparation. A person who knows what poisonous snakes he can expect to encounter in a given area need only learn to identify these and realize that all other snakes, lizards, frogs, toads, salamanders, and turtles do not have a poisonous bite, and, therefore, he need not fear them. With the warm days of spring, the snakes emerge from their winter quarters and set about finding food and mates. The teeth of both the upper and lower jaws are recurved, pointing inward, and as each section of the jaw can work independently, one side secures its grip while the other side moves forward. They are hollow, with one end connected to the poison duct and the other end having an opening on the front edge near the tip.
Most victims are less than 20 years of age and most bites occur on the hands, feet, arms, or legs. It is most frequently found in the vicinity of rocky ledges in oak-hickory-walnut woods, but it ranges widely, so that individuals may be found in almost any habitat during summer months. A combination of large size, wide distribution, abundance, and touchy temperament give this distinction to this snake. It prefers the deciduous forest where Iimestone rock cutcrops as ledges, but may wander into cultivated fields and open areas during late spnng and summer. In eastern Kansas it has been found only in the Pittsburg vicinity, and any "prairie rattler" east of Wichita or Manhattan is usually the massasauga.
It has a threatening defensive bluff which consists of spreading the fore part of the body cobra-like, hissing and striking (but with mouth closed).


More than any other Kansas snake, this one gives rise to stories of the poisonous cottonmouth being distributed throughout eastern and southern portions of the state.
Occasionally, this large snake may find where hen eggs are available and become a nuisance in the hen house, but the wise farmer who allows one of these snakes to stay around the barn and corncrib will reap dividends from the destruction wrought upon the rodent population. The illustrations on page 14 were taken by these same two, using a Polaroid Land camera, photofloods, and graduate student George Ratzlaft as victim. With a knowledge of the poisonous snakes, a person can avoid places where these snakes might be found. After mating, the sexes separate and each individual snake goes its own way, to forage for food for the rest of the year. The fangs are also fastened to a moveable bone, which enables the fangs to be folded back against the upper jaw when the mouth is shut and erected and directed forward when the mouth is opened to strike. A warning is necessary at this point - reflex action can cause an apparently "dead" snake to bite, so do not handle "dead" snakes with the hands; use a stick.
Although generally nocturnal during most of its active season, its habit of lying in the open during the daytime among dried leaves in patches of sunlight and shadow causes the pattern to blend perfectly with the background. It is on the basis of this single specimen that it is counted as one of the snakes of Kansas! It is hardly a member of the Kansas snake fauna, having been found only twice in the state, both times in the southeastern corner. Failing to intimidate its opponent, the snake will contort its body convulsively and roll onto its back - apparently dead. These rapid-moving snakes may come at a person who is in line with the snake's preconceived idea of an escape route. Entirely harmless, but with a vicious disposition, these snakes feed upon small fish, frogs, and other creatures that inhabit their neighborhood. This reputation was acquired because this snake was frequently found in barns, where it had gone in search of mice, a favorite food item. Any interested person may enroll in the first section; enrollment in the second section is limited to those who have an established interest in conservation and some teaching experience. Many persons think that the poisonous "fang" of a snake is the structure which is frequently flicked in and out of the snake's mouth.
The power of a strike imbeds the fangs into the skin of the victim, and muscles force venom from the glands through the duct and hollow fang and out of the opening at the tip.
The best way to be able to identify a poisonous snake is to know all of the venomous snakes of your region by sight. The many general reports of water moccasins in Kansas refer to the mistaken identification of the harmless water snakes that are common throughout most of the state (see page 12). It should occur, although presently unrecorded, in south-central Kansas along the Oklahoma line. Ordinarily, it is a mild-mannered snake, one which will seek to escape direct contact with man, but its size and habit of living close to human habitations necessitate considering this rattler dangerous.
It will remain inert unless rolled over onto its stomach; then it will roll onto its back again - the only proper attitude for a dead snake! The color pattem might be confused with that of the poisonous coral snake (not found in Kansas). The color plates of nonpoisonous and poisonous snakes were painted in water colors, using live and preserved snakes as models.
Because of the rather small size, usually inoffensive disposition, and the low toxicity of its venom this snake should be placed on the nonfatal list for adults. Young cottonmouths are patterned quite like a wide-banded copperhead, but the colors are not so reddish. Ground color may vary from a light gray to yellow, with the black chevron-shaped blotches of the back uniting with lateral blotches to form crossbands.
This is uncalled for destruction - a non-poisonous snake should no more be killed than a song bird. The king snakes, rat snakes, bull snakes, racers, and many smaller snakes lay eggs in early summer. Elderly persons, those in poor health, or small children could find the copperhead bite fatal, however.
The small size and usually docile disposition of this snake tend to place it upon the nondangerous list, but its venom is extremely toxic, and any bite from a poisonous snake is dangerous. The diamond-back prefers dry open plains and canyons, where it feeds upon small rodents, young rabbits, and occasionally, birds.
It appears to be active in the daytime, whereas the other poisonous snakes are mainly nocturnal.
The color varies in individuals from blue-green to olive or olive-brown; underside is yellow. These eggs are deposited in a spot suitable for hatching, generally beneath a rock or in the soil. Four of the many untruths about poisonous snakes are (1) rattlesnakes cannot cross a horsehair rope - they can! When approached they quite often hold their ground and open their mouths widely, revealing the white lining of the mouth, a habit which gives them their common name. The ground color varies somewhat from buff to gray; the snake generally has a faded appearance. The ground color varies from a light gray to green, and the pattern of dorsal blotches with alternating rows of lateral blotches may cause it to be confused with the smaller massasauga, but the scales on top of the head are all small on the prairie rattler, whereas paired plates are present on the massasauga (see diagram, page 6). The pit vipers have venom which is more hemotoxic (destructive to blood), whereas the coral snake, which belongs to the cobra group, has a venom which is neurotoxic (destructive to nerves). This heavybodied snake is dangerously poisonous and, contrary to popular belief, can bite underwater.
In Kansas, water snakes, garter snakes, poisonous snakes, and some smaller snakes give birth to living young in late summer or early fall. With the coming of cooler weather, the snakes leave their summer feeding grounds and travel to places where they will hibernate for the winter. Features news, sports, arts, opinion and classifieds.Columbus Campus & Parking Map - Columbus StateThe Columbus Campus (downtown campus), with maps, parking map, directions, visitor information and building guide.



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