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Chat Week 98 Transcript
12/12/98 - Gerold Merker

jeffb - Our next guest Is Gerold Merker
jeffb - Gerold has written many articler for a number of magazines including Reptiles, Reptile & Amphibian, and The Vivarium
jeffb - Gerold is going to talk about herping the southwestern usa and perhaps give us some backround on some of the articles he has written

Gerold Merker - Greetings to the group....I am ready for the first question
jeffb - Ok I have th first gerold....
jeffb - Of all your collecting ventures out west what has been your favorite>
Gerold Merker - Why I would have to say west Texas, Arizona, California, it is quite hard for me to pick just one spot...each region has too much to offer!

JeffL - what is your favorite snake?
Gerold Merker - My favorite snake is any North American kingsnake with the emphasis on North America. Primarily Arizona Mountain kingsnakes and California Mountain kingsnakes....

Fata - I grew up in NV and although it is desolate in was always quite prolific when it came to herps....have you also been there,and what are your thoughts about NV if yes
Gerold Merker - I have been to Nevada, and found it to be rich in herpetofauna...we have seen more Great Basin rattlesnakes there than anything else
Fata - beauties aint they? and thanx

GP-38 - What has been your most interesting DOR you have found?
Gerold Merker - A Sonoran coachwhip with a young of the year Western Diamondback rattlesnake in its gut.
Gerold Merker - I have also found DOR green rat snakes, Big Bend milksnakes, alterna, and Mexican milksnakes...those were more heartbreaking

Marcus1 - In your opinion where is the best place to hunt for L. p. pyromelana, in terms of number and quality of specimens?
jeffb - Langtry (LOL)
Marcus1 - I thought someone would say "Orlando in August." LOL
Gerold Merker - I would say any of the sky islands in southeastern Arizona during the onset of the monsoons.
Marcus1 - sky islands? I'm not familiar with the term...
Gerold Merker - Any of the isolated mountain ranges in southeastern Arizona such as the Santa Rita mountains.

Mattmorelia - Have you found/observed Gilas in the field? And if so what do you feel their population status is? (truly endangered?)
Gerold Merker - We have seen them on numerous occasions in Arizona and sw New Mexico. They are doing fine in any area away from heavy populations.
Mattmorelia - Good!!! Glad to hear that!

phrynosoma - What species of Horned Lizards have you seen?
Gerold Merker - solare, cornutum, modestum, douglassi (now called fernandezi), platyrhinos, coronatum
phrynosoma - wow
phrynosoma - both subs of platyrhinos?
Gerold Merker - Just the northern.
phrynosoma - have you seen any crosses? i heard that there are a few platyrhinos x mcalli, is that true?
Gerold Merker - Not to my knowledge and m'calli is one I have never observed.
docH - I've seen a few but they were all young

RazorBackHerps - can you tell us about gilas, are they hard to come across. I know they are protected!
Gerold Merker - It is easy if you know when to go and where to go...I really am not an expert on gilas, but have seen 20 on dumb luck.

triaspis - I have heard it said that triaspis eggs do better in a drier medium (much drier than 1:1) your experience is that true? can you suggest a medium ratio?
Gerold Merker - I bred triaspis in 1984, 1985, 1986, and 1987 -- the medium was 1:1 by weight vermiculite to water and all fertile eggs hatched!
triaspis - do you have any ideas on why their reproductive success in captivity is so low?
Gerold Merker - I only wish I knew...but I really think one trick is to use multiple males and keep the adults separate except for breeding.

JeffL - Are there any special projects that you are currently working on? eg.. articles, books, experiements.
Gerold Merker - Yes, Eastern Collared Lizards are our new breeding project...I also help with a field biologist, Barney Tomberlin, in sw New Mexico and se Arizona.

docH - You said the emphasis was on "North American" kingsnakes? How do you define North America
Gerold Merker - Any kingsnake in the United States with an emphasis on western kingsnakes!

Fata_Morgana - have there been any experiences or findings in your journeys that you alone may only be aware of that you could share with us?
Gerold Merker - About the most interesting find was molossus x scutulatus naturally occurring intergrade on the western side of the Chiricahuas.

Igmom - I grew up calling them Horny Toads....Texas Horned Lizards? I know they are endangered and we Texans aren't allowed to keep them. Was wondering if you have seen them in the field and if you feel they have any chance of a comeback without some sort of intervention on the part of herpers.
Gerold Merker - Texas horned lizards have a special status in Arizona and New Mexico, but they are not bothered by fire ants there. We have seen dozens every year in west Texas - rain or droght.
Gerold Merker - I know they are hurting in the eastern part of Texas....
Igmom - But we've lost a lot compared to say 30 years ago?
jeffb - in texas fire ants, habitat destruction, pesticides and cats are the primary problem w/fireants leading the pack
GP-38 - Fireants hurt.
Fata_Morgana - killing FL herps too
Igmom - That's why I wondered why they wouldn't like some help in trying to re-populate from herpers.

jeffb - Gerold I want to thank you for being our guest tonight
Gerold Merker - It was my pleasure and I really hope to do it again soon!


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