Field Study Conducted by Zoo Staff
The San Antonio Zoo has been involved in the study of endemic Mexican herpetofauna for over thirty years, twenty six of those in direct collaboration with the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (UANL), Mexico. Staff from the Zoo’s Reptile Department travel to Mexico at least twice a year to participate in ongoing field studies as follows:
Life History Traits of Crotalus polystictus; a Long-Term, Mark-Recapture Study
Since 2003, the Zoo has supported a mark-recapture study of a dense population of the endemic Mexican rattlesnake, Crotalus polystictus. This particular species inhabits agricultural regions near Atlacomulco, Mexico. Snakes are collected from May through September each year, with gravid females retained until parturition and then marked, measured, and returned (along with neonates) to their point of capture. To date, over one thousand individuals have been measured and marked. Resulting data on reproductive trade-offs and life history traits from this population residing in a heavily disturbed area will inform conservation strategies for rattlesnakes living in and near human populations, and for Mexican rattlesnakes in particular.
Captive Husbandry/Reproductive Strategies of Endemic Mexican Herpetofauna
Throughout its collaboration with UANL, the Zoo’s studies have focused on the requirements of maintaining specialized endemic Mexican species in captivity. The Zoo, along with UANL, has had great success in propagating a wide range of Mexican endemics, and staff regularly participate with UANL biologists in joint in situ and ex situ field projects. These include reptile and amphibian surveys for the states of Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, and Coahuila; studies of the natural history of the Texas alligator lizard in Chipinque National Park, Nuevo León; studies of the natural history of the Tamaulipan rattlesnake; and studies of social interactions, photoperiod manipulations, environmental changes, and diet of Mexican endemic herpetofauna to develop effective captive husbandry protocols.