Lead author of a recently published study on snake fungal disease in the journal Fungal Ecology Matthew Allender knows this all too well. While Allender was speaking with his colleagues at the Illinois Natural History Survey INHS five years ago, they observed three dead Eastern massasauga rattlesnakes Sistrurus catenatus that had large abnormalities on their faces.
He tested the snakes back in the lab and discovered the fungus that had caused their demise was Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola. Since that point, he and his colleagues have hiked around southern Illinois to find several of these snakes — and snake anti fungal other species — infected by the fungus.
A map of the range of snakes infected with snake fungal disease and bats with snake anti fungal syndrome in the United States is pictured above. Researchers recently found that the fungi that cause the two deadly diseases have similar traits. This deadly fungus appears to now occur in most states east of the Mississippi leaving lesions in snake anti fungal snakes, some of which are fatal.
In fact, researchers have observed a 95 percent mortality rate among infected Eastern massasauga rattlesnakes. To find out more about the fungus Allender and his team collaborated with a number of biologists and ecologists including members of the INHS. As they carried out their research, they found this particular fungus paralleled Pseudogymnoascus destructans — the deadly fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats and has wiped out populations across the U. And although the two fungi inhabit different ecological niches and thrive in different climates and temperatures, both seem to persist across a range of habitats and infect multiple subspecies of the animal they target, according to the researchers.
The team also found that Ophidiomyces ophiodiicolawhich occurs in the soil, can grow on a wide variety of substances and possesses many of the same enzymes present in the white-nose fungus in bats.
They also found that, like the bat fungus, the snake fungus can survive on most carbon and nitrogen snake anti fungal found in soil. The deadly fungus consumes keratin, the key ingredient in snake scales causing scabs, nodules, abnormal molting, ulcers and other skin issues, snake anti fungal. The reason for this is something the team agrees needs to be vitamins and minerals calories further, snake anti fungal.
Raudabaugh said that he wants to make sure that the fungus, which currently only resides in the U. Meanwhile, Allender said there is no indication that snake trade snake anti fungal or did not cause the disease to spread to begin with. However, snake anti fungal, Raudabaugh and Allender both agree that it is important to be careful about spreading the fungus further.
Allender said the important thing in saving snakes and other reptiles is to take note of not only snake fungal disease, but of other diseases and factors that impact them as well, snake anti fungal, including habitat loss and fragmentation, altered landscapes, and changes in water patterns to name a few. Meanwhile, the researchers are looking for answers as to why the disease is becoming so prevalent as well as what some possible cures may be.
So far, they have tried altering temperatures and humidity and maintaining a good environment, and giving them antifungal medication either orally or topically. With this research, however, Allender hopes to attract more interest to reptiles and the problems they face. My job and goals are to bring attention to those, and doing research to save populations and animals. An eastern massasauga rattlesnake slithers through the grass. An emerging snake fungal disease threatens a wide range of snake species including this one.
Enzyme in Bat Fungus Damages Tissue: Study By Dana Kobilinsky. Dana Kobilinsky is a science writer at The Wildlife Society.
You can follow her on Twitter at DanaKobi.