Following on from my piece on toad crossings, today's BBC Radio 4 nature program concerned snake crossings in the US. These tiny, harmless snakes are often mistaken for sticks and ran over.
I particularly liked the idea of coming up with road measures, such as speed bumps, to create crevices for snakes to cross safely in. Similar projects have been investigated for mammals such as tunnels and bat bridges, not always successfully.
We can make some use of these unfortunate casualties. The People's Trust for Endangered Species run an annual survey, where members of the public report sightings of dead mammals called 'Mammals on Roads.' From this we are able to get information on species distributions and population declines. I'm lucky enough to have access to these data, and am currently analysing hedgehog population trends since 2001.
You can take part in the survey annually from July http://www.ptes.org/?page=454
The Midland Brown Snake found in the eastern United States, like many snake species migrates between winter hibernation areas and summer habitat in the Spring and Autumn. In many areas, even including the wilder or more rural areas and within State Parks where it is found, this means having to cross roads. To this small harmless snake the length of a pencil, a tarmacadamed road surface which holds the heat seems the ideal spot to pause to raise the body temperature on that journey but is also the cause of its demise. Its size and colouration means it is effectively invisible to passing traffic. While the Midland Brown Snake is not under conservation concern, the number of snakes being killed each year is high and some populations are endemic to specific areas.