Take the LEWS genus Nerodia and combine it with all the crazy action of a rodeo roundup and you have Nerodio. Nerodio is the
annual Lake Erie Watersnake population census. Held for two weeks every year late May/early June the census is used to help
establish population estimates for LEWS on the Lake Erie Islands as mandated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service recovery
plan. Over the past decade, over 15,000 watersnakes have been marked and recaptured.
Nerodio can be a lot of work. On a busy day Team Snake can catch up to 200 snakes that all need to be weighed, measured, and
tagged. But Team Snake also likes to have themselves a good time as they are snakin’. A couple examples of annual Nerodio
activities include drinking Brandy Alexander’s on Kelley’s Island and discovering washed up “Gifts of the Lake” in the process of
looking for snakes on the beach. This mix of good hard snakin’ and fun has led to Nerodio becoming pretty popular. Many working
members of Team Snake will actually use up some vacation time to come up to the islands and help catch snakes! Over the years
Nerodio has had hundreds of volunteers come help out from dozens of different organizations and universities.
Nerodio 2006. Green Island.
Photo courtesy of Chad Waffen.
Injecting a LEWS with a PIT tag that can be used to tell us
if this individual has been captured before.
The 2009 Nerodio was a great success, especially considering that Mother Nature did not shine down
on us favorably the whole time. At the end of the two weeks over 1500 LEWS were captured! Over 60
volunteers came to help this year representing places such as Northern Illinois University, Toledo Zoo,
Columbus Zoo, USFWS, Ohio Division of Wildlife, Kentucky DNR, St. Joseph's College, Baldwin-Wallace
College, The College of Charleston, F.T. Stone Lab, Greater Cincinnati Herpetological Society, Toledo
Herpetological Society, and the Northern Ohio Association of Herpetologists.
The data that Nerodio has collected has shown that that LEWS recovery goals have largely been met
and the US Fish and Wildlife Service is moving forward with the delisting process. But do not fret
fellow Nerodio lovers, once the LEWS is delisted there will still be at least 5 years of population
monitoring to follow!
Rich King trying to measure a HUUUUGE Lake Erie Watersnake at the 2009 Nerodio
The only good place to process snakes on Green Island? In a rowboat of course.