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Back To On Campus Home December 15, 2005 Volume 32, Issue 4 Home

IN FOCUS

Snake Eyes

Hannah Shepherd interacts with a curious  rattlesnake.

Eleven-year-old Hannah Shepherd interacts with a curious
rattlesnake during ‘pre-lecture fun’ activities at Welch Hall on Nov. 18. The snake exhibit was part of the Environmental Science Institute's ‘Hot Science — Cool Talks’ lecture series coordinated by Jay Banner, director of the Environmental Science Institute. At the event, Dr. Travis J. LaDuc, a herpetologist at the university, discussed ‘The Striking Behavior of Rattlesnakes.’ The lecture dispelled some of the myths surrounding rattlesnakes by sharing insights into their natural history gained through the use of high-speed videography, thermal imaging cameras and radio transmitters. These technologies have opened new avenues of research on the physiological and behavioral limits of not only rattlesnakes, but of other animals. LaDuc offered suggestions on how best to avoid encounters with rattlesnakes. Coupled with a better understanding of rattlesnake biology, LaDuc expressed the hope that rattlesnakes can be respected as an integral component of the natural landscape that play an integral role in maintaining the balance within ecosystems.

Photo by Christina Murrey