Students Hunt Waller Creek Snakes At Night For Class Project (Watch)

Waller Creek may be the most underdeveloped asset at The University of Texas. The unassuming stream that carves its way through the length of campus goes largely unnoticed amid the hubbub.

But for the last few years, Dr. Travis LaDuc, assistant curator of herpetology for the Texas Natural Science Center, has been using the stream to study water snakes and how they adapt to urban environments.

Since 2006, LaDuc and his students have been pulling on galoshes and headlamps to wade through the creek at night looking to capture snakes that live in and around it, including right behind the Alumni Center. Luckily, no snakes in Waller Creek are venomous, though many do bite.

“Why would anyone care about these bite-y, stinky water snakes?” LaDuc asks. “Well, I think these water snakes can serve as an indicator of the health of this creek. It’s also been great for the students, who’ve learned a little bit about snake ecology.”

Once they capture a snake, the team injects it with a radio transmitter so they can find it more easily on subsequent trips. The point is to study the snakes’ living patterns and be better able to gauge how urban factors affect the snakes and the creek.

Video by Christina Murrey, The University of Texas at Austin


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