Nova Scotia Herpetofaunal Atlas

Bog at Black River, NS (photo courtesy of Jim Wolford)
 Our Atlassers

This page is devoted to our atlassers:

The atlassers that volunteer their time for the NS Herp Atlas Project vary in age and come from a variety of backgrounds and occupations.  What they have in common is their interest and dedication to the success of this project.  Without their efforts, this project would not be possible.

In 2000, our volunteer list has expanded significantly. Currently, there are over 100 atlassers, of which a significant proportion are private citizens that are not associated with any organization or agency.  Much of this expansion has been through word of mouth which has brought in people from a wide range of backgrounds.

We currently have landowners atlassing their properties, sport fishing enthusiasts sighting herps while catching fish, high school and university students alike who interested in their natural surroundings observing herps.  The list of scenarios is much longer.

We would like this page to be a forum for our atlassers;  where they can share stories, herping tips, photos and other information about herping, and where they can get in touch with one another if, say, they wanted to find other atlassers in their area to go herping with.

Recent Herp Atlasing Activities (June 26, 2001):

So far in 2001, the NS Herp Atlas Project has had the opportunity to go out into the field with atlassers and potential atlassers to do some herping.  The Cape Breton Highlands National Park (CBHNP), Ingonish, hosted a herp atlas workshop in May, and in June, the Eastern Mainland Field Naturalists (EMFN) hosted a talk and field walk.  Some photos of those trips are shown below.  For more details about these events stay tuned for our next Newsletter (due June, 2001).  Click thumbnail to enlarge photo.

Here, some of the atlassers at CBHNP are looking for Redback Salamanders (it was too early though!).

During an early afternoon visit to a beaver pond near CBHNP headquarters we heard Northern Spring Peepers and Eastern American Toads calling.

CBHNP staff got involved and currently have their own,  program in place based on what they learned about the NS Herp Atlas Project (they will provide us with all of their data!).

At this firepond near Crystal Cliffs, Antigonish, the 28 people that participated in the walk hosted by the EMFN are scouring the area for herps.

There were numerous Green Frogs, a brood Redback Salamander eggs, a Maritime Garter Snake, juvenile Wood Frog and Juvenile Eastern American Toad.


Submitted Sept. 19, 2000
David Raniseth, Atlasser

I am impressed with the database which has been set up on the NS Herp Atlas Project website.  It allows me to review records of other people in the Province, as well as the different sightings for particular species in Nova Scotia.  From a random check of other atlassers records, I am somewhat surprised that a significant number have only 1 or 2 records, given that the project is well into its second year.

I grew up in a semi-rural/residential area just outside of Sydney, and I have subsequently returned to Cape Breton.  I have lived in the Glace Bay area for the past 15 years.  While growing up, I followed my older brother's example and looked for snakes, frogs and salamanders.  Since my return, I have resumed this search in the area around my home.  Based on my previous experience in looking for snakes in the Cape Breton lowlands, I make the following observations:

a)  MARITIME GARTER SNAKE - These are the most commonly observed snake, and they also seem to be the most widespread in terms of habitat.  I have seen them in many types of terrain with the exception of dense woods, urban centres, and areas immediately contiguous to the ocean.  I have seen them on occasion with other garter snakes, as well as with redbelly snakes; but this is the exception, not the rule.

b) MARITIME SMOOTH GREEN SNAKE - Previously I had only seen very few of these colourful snakes; however, since I registered as an atlasser last May, I have noted five of them.  I would expect that they are quite widespread in their distribution, but not as much as garter snakes.  Their coloration and their secretive habits likely prevents them from being seen as often as the garter snakes.  None of the green snakes that I have seen were near any other snakes.

c)  NORTHERN REDBELLY SNAKE - There are many areas where green snakes and garter snakes were present , but redbelly snakes.  Curiously, when I do find a redbelly in an area, I can generally find several more.  It would appear to me, that although their distribution is not as great as the garter snake, redbelly snakes are quite numerous where they are found.  The redbelly snakes are also often found in groups of 2 or 3, frequently under the same piece of cover.

d)  NORTHERN RINGNECK SNAKE -  Mr. Gilhen's book, "Amphibians and Reptile of Nova Scotia" notes that this snake is found in Cape Breton; however, until about 5 years ago, I had never seen one.  I have since heard of 2 other sightings in the Cape Breton lowlands in the past few years, however, it appears that this snake is the least common or the least commonly seen in Cape Breton County (other than the Northern Ribbon Snake which is rare province-wide).

I will follow this correspondence at a later date, with my observations on frogs and salamanders in this area.  I believe that the idea of a Herp Atlas for Nova Scotia is tremendous.  It is my sincere wish that it proves to be a great success.

Yours truly,
David H. Raniseth

This page will continue to be a work in progress, fuelled by the input of our volunteer atlassers.

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