This summer’s project

MSc student Gustav gathers radio telemetry data

Radio tracking of grass snakes

This summer we will start a new project to explore how adaptable snakes are to new environments. We will also try to find out where they lay their eggs in the absence of artificial egg-laying sites (composts and manure heaps). This summer our MSc student, Gustav, from SLU in Uppsala has on a daily basis been radio-tracking six pregnant females grass snakes in Stockholm. Three of them are local snakes and the other three were brought from another population. We want to test whether the “new” Snakes can find nesting sites as easily as the local snakes. This is important for understanding how changes in the environment and loss of artificial heat-generating nesting-sites affect the snakes. We use external radio transmitter and have developed our own non-invasive method of attaching them to the tails.

When snakes lay eggs, we will examine the nest using equipment that measures temperature and humidity to see if they have chosen an optimal location. We will also evaluate their movement patterns and choice of microhabitats. Among other things, we will get GPS coordinates and readings of their body temperature (the radio transmitters will record this information). We work with permission from the County Administrative Board and the Stockholm northern animal ethics committee.

By Simon Kärvemo

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