Fourth Annual Long Island Natural History Conference















Spreading Adders? Ecology and Natural History of the Eastern Hognosed Snake on Long Island

John Vanek, PhD candidate, Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory at Southern Illinois University

Historically widespread and abundant across Long Island, the Eastern Hog-nosed Snake (Heterodon platirhinos) was once so common that it could be collected by the hundreds on Rockaway Beach. Today, few people have even heard of a "hognose snake," let along observe one in the wild. Declines in this fascinating species are both enigmatic and predictable, with some populations disappearing for no apparent reason, while others succumb to the region's oppressive urbanization. However, recent field studies suggest that some populations may persist in higher numbers than once thought, display unique phenotypes, and utilize novel habitats. Radio-telemetry has revealed these populations also exhibit small home ranges, communal nesting, and the ability to thrive in harsh environments. Conservation of this once quintessential Long Island species will require different groups of stakeholders to work together and ensure habitat preservation, habitat connectivity, and the management of invasive species and subsidized predators.

John Vanek is a PhD student in the Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory at Southern Illinois University where he studies the urban ecology of Striped Skunks. He is a native of South Huntington, NY, and went on to earn a BS in Wildlife Science from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He then completed an MS in Biology at Hofstra University, studying the biology of Eastern Hog-nosed Snakes on Long Island. He has been fortunate enough engage in field research involving Black Bears, Timber Rattlesnakes, Chorus Frogs, and Eastern Hellbenders. In his spare time, he updates the NYS Chapter of The Wildlife's Society facebook page, goes herping, and plays with his Australian Cattle Dog, Carlin. Email: