The focus of this study was to determine if any of Vermont's rare snake and lizard
species utilize the talus (rocky debris) and ledge areas of Shaw Mountain. The main
study site consisted of a talus area and a rocky ledge on the south facing side of the
mountain. A secondary study area comprised the adjacent field, pasture and farm
buildings. This location appears to have favorable habitat for reptiles, and because
some species have been reported in the surrounding area, it is reasonable to assume
they might also be utilizing the Shaw Mountain site. Specifically | wanted to know if
Vermont's rare snakes, Easter Racer (Coluber constrictor), Eastern Ratsnake (Elaphe
alleghaniensis), Eastern Ribbonsnake (Thamnophis sauritus), and Timber Rattlesnake
(Crotalus horridus), were using the talus area as winter denning sites, and if the only
lizard species in Vermont, Common Five-lined Skink (Eumeces fasciatus), are using the
rocky ledges as permanent habitat. There are reports of targeted snake and lizard
species at the site but we have no photographs or specimens to confirm the findings.
The field research was conducted in the spring of 2005 on sunny days when the outside
air temperature was between 12C (53F) and 25C (80F). Observations were made at
the site using passive and active search methods. The study resulted in no sightings of
Eastern Racer, Timber Rattlesnake or Common Five-lined Skink. Three Eastern
Ratsnakes and one Eastern Ribbonsnake were observed at the secondary study site.
The main conclusion is that this is not a site heavily used by rare species. The site
appears important to Common Gartersnakes (Thamnophis sirtalis) which were
observed along the talus and in the secondary study area. Because we have had
reports of Common Five-lined Skinks at the site, a longer study may be useful in
determining if a population exists there.