SEASONAL INCIDENCE OF CAPTURE AND REPRODUCTION OF FIVE FOSSORIAL SNAKE SPECIES IN WEST VIRGINIA

  • Walter E. Meshaka
  • Thomas K. Pauley
  • Danielle F. Wright
  • Kelli-Marie Herrick

Abstract

Museum specimens of five species of fossorial snakes collected in West Virginia during 1930–2000 were examined to determine monthly incidence of capture, adult body sizes, reproductive cycle, and clutch characteristics. Captures occurred over the shortest time in the year in the Eastern Earthsnake (Virginia valeriae valeriae) and Northern Red-bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata occipitomaculata) and were longest in the Northern Brownsnake (S. dekayi dekayi). Male gonadal cycle conformed to the temperate pattern, whereas that of females tended towards a tropical pattern. Incidence of females nearing oviposition or parturition was highest during June–July for all species, and length of their reproductive seasons were generally in keeping with those of northerly populations of the respective species. Mean clutch sizes were largest in the Northern Brownsnake (mean = 20.5) and smallest in the single oviparous snake, the Eastern Wormsnake (mean = 2.8). Adult body sizes were similar to respective populations elsewhere within their ranges. The Mountain Earth Snake (V. pulchra) was the least represented species in this study. A meaningful degree of predictability existed in the life history traits examined in our study as they related to geographic trends of this Allegheny snake assemblage.

Published
2017-03-29