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Laurence M. Klauber

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Selected Journal Entries from the 1930s

Friday, March 7, 1930

Today went to Riverside and back to attend a meeting of the Interchange Committee. Started at 6:30; arrived at 9:45. Returned at 3:05 arriving at 7 P.M. Total miles 248 miles in county during daylight hours 104 went via new 6th St grade and Chesterton.
In the morning on the northbound trip it was cold and very foggy in the vicinity of Temecula and Elsinore. Stopped on several occasions to turn over boards but found no salamanders. There were quite a few toads on the road but I stopped only twice to identify. Both were Bufo boreas halophilus -- one 8 mi S. of Escondido, the other at Red Mt.
Two D.O.R. snakes were noted -- a large gopher being eaten by a buzzard at north end new Bonsall bridge and a large T. s. infernalis at Temecula (marsh on both sides.)
Coming back it was warm and pleasant. There was a large freshly killed old rattler at Perris (1 mi this side) Stopped here and looked for Xantusias but found none. Saw several nice orcuttis and some other lizards (probably skellies and utas) but couldn't identify the latter.
At 12:30 went with GM Wills to Riverside Junior College and visited with Edmund C. Jaeger until about 2 P.M. Discussed herpetolgy and had an interesting time.


Friday, May 16, 1930

Pickled specimens.

Had a long nose found run over on the road at La Mesa. Couldn't save it.

Tonight I heard the call of Bufo cognatus from specimens in my basement. While there was some resemblance to Bufo californicus yet it was much less musical; more of a chatter, less of a trill. This cognatus sound is what I heard at Yuma.

Sunday, June 29, 1930

Went out Cuyamaca to get Philip. started at 10:15 AM. Cloudy in town; hot and clear in the back country. Had trouble with ignition a little south of Julian. Walked back and got towed back. GG came out in the coupe and we went on to Camp Fletcher. Returned to San Diego about 7:15. Out by Fletcher Hills, returned by La Mesa. Total miles 142.

  1 Garter L DOR Alvarado Canyon.
1 Turtle seen alive in pond.
1 Boyles King M. El Cajon
1 Gopher L Seen alive bet. Cuyamaca and Julian (about half way) Couldn't stop with a car immediately behind. This car ran over it.
1 Calif. King L 1 mi. S. of Julian DOR
1 Gopher L caught alive at Sutherland.

This at 5:50 P.M.

Saturday, October 18, 1930

Walker told me today of an oreganus from Deerhorn flat which gives birth to 13 young (all alive) in 4 minutes.

[pencilled in] Probably a damn lie.

Friday, December 5, 1930

Dictated the first very rough draft of the propose Snakes and Autos paper. The tables up to date in preliminary form were worked out on the train going east.
Today I noted carefully the method of rattling of an adamanteus. The motion is clearly sideways that is the short way of the rattle [there was a sketch with an arrow pointing left, a blunt oval in the center, and an arrowing pointing right]. This could be seen clearly as this snake rattled (intending to quiet down) by spasmodic single or double jerks or twitches.


Thursday, January 1, 1931

Spent the morning checking unusual atrox in my collection (i.e. S.D. Co, Sonora, N.W. Arizona, New Mexico) Cook having checked the balance.
Also studied rattles and got a good idea of the method of production. For the first time discovered that the rattle is the hardened result of a hardened exudation from the under skin (not a part of the skin as previously supposed) laid down as a granular and laminated material following the corrugations of the skin below. There is much more to be done on this.
In the afternoon listened to the football game and worked on tabula and totalizing sheet forms.

Sunday, June 28, 1931

Pickled snakes today. Completed a large number of rattlers.
Noted today a mixed King which had eaten a small gopher and a large skink when carried home in a sack on the 26th had [skipped word!] by today. Gone a long ways toward digesting them. The gopher and in fact the skink as well (which had been swallowed later) were quite disintegrated.

Sunday, December 27, 1931

This morning I made the first draft of the Anniella paper for Copeia. Had to work at the office in the afternoon a/c pending rate hearing.
The present is not a good time to undertake highly involved papers because of the rate case. Can only work odd hours and it is difficult to drop and pick up complicated problems.
At present the status of unpublished paper is as follows:

  Hoover Dam: In Copeia's hands over 6 months
Snake Dance: Second galley proof returned with corrections to printer yesterday
Anniella: First draft finished today
Rattle: Outline complete. Bibliography largely complete. Measurements available but not coordinated. Biblio-references listed by subject.
Santa Fe Rattlers: Statistics compiled.
Locality Bibliography: Introduction and outline prepared. Scope discussed with Schmidt.

Thursday, February 18, 1932

Talked on Snake Dance at San Diego Musuem this afternoon.

Theo. Tausch a collector was in today and tried to sell me some snakes. He had many queer yarns to tell. He collects rattlers for a living. Got 1400+ at some point in Napa Co in one day. Rattlers don't like blue. He picks them all up with his bare hands. Has only been bitten twice. Gets 50¢ a pound for the common ones. Largest rattler he ever caught was 9 1/2 feet long near Roosevelt Dam in Ariz. Has found dens of 50 or 60 in San Diego, usually all one kind together. He also finds ruber mild tempered. He can trail rattlers by sex gland smell in spring. He thinks they travel up to 60 or 70 miles from their winter dens (in Colorado) and has checked this by tying threads to rattles.

Friday, September 9, 1932

Spent all day and evening measuring fangs.

Tuesday, March 14, 1933

Today saw a snake-bite case at the County Hospital. Took out preserved snakes and let the victim check them. He identified the culprit as oreganus.
He said he picked up a rock to smash a rattler (it was in mixed rocks and brush) and a second rattler which he had not seen bit him in the hand.
He slashed the wound and bled considerably. He got a dose of antivenin in about 10 minutes; a second dose was given at the County Hospital at 3 P.M. He was bitten at 10 A.M. The snake was about 3 ft long.
When I saw the patient he looked pretty sick. The local symptoms were mild; but the systemic symtoms [sic] seemed serious. Evidently considerable shock. Also a rash.

Friday, April 14, 1933

This afternoon started at 3:30 with Philip on a trip to Laguna Hanson, B.C. A clear, cool windy day.
1 C. ruber DOR Dulqura Summit Brush. S
1 M. lateralis DOR Cotton wood Brush M. Saved.
Met the rest of the party Rivera, Barnes, Cota, Barrett, Clark, Bater, Ted Myers at Tecate.
Had some little difficulty getting across in spite of advance preparations by Rivera.
Hyla regilla heard at Zacatosa.
Arrived at the Steam Shovel where we camped at 8 P.M. Alt. 4710. road after leaving the main road is rather rough.
Temperature this night 27° F. Too cold to sleep after 2 A.M. Up at 4 to tend fire. Rest of party up at 5.
Miles for the day 85; 41 in SD. Co.

Tecate   0
Valentin 11
Branch Road to Neji 29
Zacatosa 32
   (Leave main highway
Japa 34
Palo Gacho 42
Steam Shovel (Camp tonight) 44
San Pedro 57
Laguna Hansen 70

Saturday, April 15, 1933

Before we started this morning a few logs were turned over and dormant skellies and utas were found beneath.
Started from camp at 7:15. Stopped to hunt 4 mi. W. of Steam Shovel and got Xantusia henshawi, skellies and orcutties. Also at 7 mi. S. and 8 mi S. and hunted for a short time. It is now 9 A.M. and quite warm. Many Utas are seen crossing the road. This is a high rolling mesa. Utas seen every hundred feet or so all along here. The road is rough and rocky. A small mitchellii was collected in the rocks 8 mi. S. of the Steam Shovel at alt. 5500. Utas seen again 10 mi. S. Hunted for quite awhile in granite in a park 11 mi. S. of the Steam Shovel. Orcuttis were common here but not collected. The granite does not flake properly for X.h. We found our first graciousas here. The altitude was 5600 ft. One skink seen but not collected at San Pedro, 13 mi. S. of Steam Shovel. Two Hypsiglenas were found under a large, thick side flake 2 mi. S. of San Pedro. Orcutties were seen 3 mi. S. of San Pedro, and graciosa 3 mi. N. of Laguna Hanson. Arrived at Laguna Hanson at noon. 26 miles today. 5620 ft. alt. Cota shot a racer.
Around Laguna Hanson orcutties were quite common but wary as usual. Skellies and graciosas were also seen and one X.h. was collected.
Most of us hunted until about 2:30 and then gave it up as it turned quite cool, windy and overcast. Looked like rain for awhile. All the way down to the lake is a rolling high mesa with scattered trees, first a park, then a divide etc. Laguna Hanson is a pair of lakes, the eastern shallow, the western deeper and more permanent but smaller in area. There are scattered pines about, and many huge granite boulders, smooth and rounding but with almost no flakes. Garter snakes are reported plentiful.
In the late afternoon hylas were croaking in the upper lake. Walked down to the lower lake but nothing of interest was found, except one garter snake.
Hunted at both lakes in the evening but got only 3 hylas. To bed at 9 P.M. in the lodge. Quite cold; about 30° F.

Sunday, April 16, 1933

Up this morning at 5:45. Started for home at 8:15. A clear cool day with considerable wind. Temperature at this time about 35° F. A few hylas were croaking.
The cold wind was too much for the lizards and they were not nearly so plentiful as on the previous morning. We stopped at a number of places to collect but with indifferent success. All through here the granite fails to flake.
Hunted for quite a while 8 mi. E. of Valentin. Here Xantusia henshawi was quite common but I lost many as they were quick. Pried off one very large side rock and found deep in the crack a large dark X.h. quite cold and dormant. This shows they do go deep into the rocks. Skellies, orcutties, utas were all common here. Got 1 Mitch. in the rocks. He saw me first and buzzed under my feet. Had to shoot him to prevent his escape in the rocks. Reached Tecate at 4 P.M.; still cold and windy. No trouble crossing.
Barnes came up with a small gopher from Zacatosa (afterwards found to contain the hind remains of a large skelly) 2 T.o.h. found under a log at Laguna Hansen and a large black oreganus that had been sunning itself in a pancake coil amongst pine needles. This snake was very black like the Arizona oreganus and like them changed color notably on preservation.
1 C. ruber M DOR Cottonwood Brush.
1 P. c. annectens S DOR Jamul Fields.
Reached home at 5:40; cold and cloudy.
Miles today from Laguna Hanson 110; miles in S.D. County 41.

Sunday, April 30, 1933

Spent the day milking snakes and pickling specimens; also packing material for shipping.
Milked 4 Oreganus, 2 ruber, 6 mitchelli (all from Cape San Lucas) and 36 lucasensis.
Got everything fairly well cleared up.
Noted yesterday a P. vertebralis that disgorged three quail eggs.
Noted today a M. f. frenatus that contained the head and neck of a small snake, probably chilomeniscus but will be checked later. (Yes, chilomeniscus)
Found in a medium lucasensis found several large fangs and several small ones. The latter could have come only from a small rattler as they were not immature adult fangs. Also there was gravel. (On second examination they proved to be solid teeth).

Friday, May 5, 1933

Today outfitted Tony Green for his proposed six-weeks trip into Lower California with Tom Ballantyne. Gave him 2 Winchester single-shot rifles, 900 shells (he has some left over from a previous trip in addition), partitioned box with 12 -- 1/2 gal. glass jars, 1 -- 3 gal milk can, 1 1/2 gal. formalin, 2 ram rods, 1 flash light, tags, wrapping cloth, steel wool, map, collecting directions, etc. Gave him full instructions and agreed to pay 50¢ per snake and 5¢ per lizard up to at least $50.00 with restrictions as to the number from each place.
Out to dinner tonight.

Sunday, June 4, 1933

This morning we started from Yuma for home at 7:30. Took much time packing the specimens so they would successfully withstand the desert trip which afterwards proved unnecessary as it was quite cool and windy all day, in face cold in the mountains. It was overcast on the desert.
We first stopped at the sand hills and collected a number of Umas alive. We found they usually buried themselves in the sand in the vicinity of bushes growing on the sides of long slopes at the critical angle. By digging away the sand below a general slide would be caused. The lizards would then try to keep themselves buried by swimming upstream like trout. When thus discovered they were easily caught. Some appeared to be quite deep, 4" or more. Out of one bush we got 4 or 5 more than we saw take refuge there...

Monday, July 3, 1933

Today Fred Lewis in the yacht Stranger returned from Cedros, Cape San Lucas and Guayanas. Snakes were secured only from Cape San Lucas. Although Capt. Lewis left word at Cedros on the southbound trip that he would buy up to 100 snakes and horned toads none were forthcoming on the return.
But at Cape San Lucas he was more successful and bought about 270 snakes of which about 220 were rattlers. Of the harmless snakes most were red racers in the usual gray and yellow colorations but there were 4 gopher snakes, 2 boas, 1 conjuncta[?], 2 patch-noses. The rattlers were largely lucasensis but there are a few mitches and still fewer enyos. A good many are quite thin; they piled up in a corner of the large cage today and suffocated 7, 5 lucasensis and 2 mitches.
I secured the remains of the first trip of lucasensis and racers, except 4 lucs. which are feeders.
Tonight pickled the 7 specimens which died.
Met Capt. Lewis for a few minutes at 9 AM when they docked; he left promptly for the north.

Tuesday, July 4, 1933

Spent the entire day milking rattlers from 7 AM to 6 P.M. these being the snakes from the Lewis collection brought in yesterday. In this series there were the following:

   6  3Not milked. Died first.

Thus the total number of snakes milked today was 224 and the amount of venom secured far exceeded any other yield because of the relatively large amount from the lucasensis.
Lucansensis is a quiet snake much like ruber -- quite different from atrox. It is easy to catch and hold and does not fight. The venom yield is relatively large. In nine juveniles the venom was clear and coloreless; in the adults it was yellow and decidedly cloudy. Most of these specimens seemed to have fairly full glands. A few only had bad fangs. We carefully tested several with double fangs -- either with two solidly fixed or with one very slightly moveable and in several cases both fangs unquestionably discharged venom. They were separated by a card and the blobs were seen to appear by different observers at the discharge lumens.
Mitchelli from the Cape Region continues in this large series to have a distinctly smaller head and smaller venom yield than the S.D. Co. specimens. The venom is clear and yellow. It has a white precipitate when mixed with tap water probably a/c of the chlorine. This was not shown by the other venoms and should be followed up. These mitchellii were very violent and hard to handle compared with the lucasensis notwithstanding their small size.
The enys give a somewhat cloudy yellow venom. They are easier to handle than the mitchelli. Venom is small in quantity. The sides of the head feel very rough compared with the other species.
One enys gave birth to about 7 young prematurely tonight. The patterns are clear but the scales could only be counted with difficulty especially on the head.

Monday, October 2, 1933

Tonight attended the organization meeting of the San Diego Reptile Club.
[Frank] Gander -- a medium Cal. boa (exhibited) ate baby mice readily, taking a total of 18 from time to time. Also tried to swallow a small sparrow. In eating mice it seizes in the mouth by any part and then quickly rolls around the prey. After that it works around to the head. Ate one dead mouse. This boa actually dug holes, or enlarged a hole by working the dirt out.
Wm Debonne -- Termites (termopsis) are the best food for all lizards such as horned toads, fence lizards, whiptails etc. He demonstrated with Coleonyx which readily ate them.
Coleonyx also eats roaches, butterflyes and bees. The [sic] are the easiest lizards to feed. They are quite timid and will run away from food if it touches them. They rub bees vigorously in the ground to kill them. Have also taken bits of meat and bread.
Whiptails will eat almost anything. One ate 27 termites at a sitting.
Sheldon Campbell -- talked on the importance of keeping records.
David Regnery -- told of his desert hunting trips. Altogether he has got 11 leafnoses. Keeps desert snakes in sand. Leafnoses do well. They prefer to burrow under rocks. They are fed by putting the head of a termite in their mouths; they then swallow the insect readily. One has a temper (acquired in captivity) and will hiss and strike.
Gophers and king's eat young sparrows and also dead sparrows (shot). They seem to prefer to get a mouse by going into a hole after it.
A shovelnose would take termites off the tip of a stick. Fed every week on 2 or 3 termites.

Sunday, December 7, 1933

Milked 45 rattlers of the South Dakota series and pickled 25. Also made 10 rattle speed records. Noted a conflue with one hemipenis protruding and dried; another with bumps along the back evidently some kind of disease.
Spent balance of time on rattles. Some progress.
Proved quite certainly that rattle speed varies with temperature.

Saturday, March 17, 1934

Went out to Scripps Institution to hear McEwen lecture on the Coefficient of Racial Likeness. Very interesting and quite along the lines of recent studies. Bailey along - a fine clear morning. 28 miles.
2 Gopher L DOR Grass Morena
1 Oreganus M DOR " La Jolla
2 Gopher S DOR " Pac. Beach

Spent most of the afternoon cleaning up in the basement. Also started working over "head length" section of the rattle paper in the light of additional knowledge of statistics, particularly dispersion. Also taking advantage of added material since work originally done.

Company in the evening - Kuhns.

Sunday, March 18, 1934

Still working on head-length. Pickled a few specimens in the afternoon.
Discovered this afternoon that mitchellii from the Cape is clearly a valid subspecies based on head size. Always thought this looked queer but never appreciated the extent of the difference until I examined the Cape material brought in by Lewis last summer.

Sunday, April 15, 1934

Miscellaneous work in the morning.
Worked on the dispersion of head lengths today and made some progress. Proved definitely that C. mitchellii pyrrhus is a perfectly good subspecies.

Wednesday, June 20, 1934

Attended the meeting of the Western Division of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists in Berkeley all day. Heard a number of interesting papers, especially one by Bollin on species differentiation. Took lunch with Prof. Grinnell. Met V.M. Tanner, Svihila [?] and a number of other herpetologists for the first time.
Started south at 5:10 arriving at Bakersfield at 11:50. Saw only one dead snake and didn't stop for this. A cool evening.

Sunday, September 23, 1934

Worked in the morning.
Went out to the Brookfield Zoo [in Chicago] in the L at abut 2 PM, arriving at about 3 and stayed in the Zoo until 6:30, returning to the hotel at 8. Found the reptile house tremendously crowded so that it is very difficult to see anything on Sundays or holidays. Went in to see Mrs. Wiley who shortly came into her office. We talked snakes and their care for an hour or more and then went out and looked at reptiles. First looked at those to which access is had from the rear of the cages; then after the people had gone out we looked over the others particularly those in the aluminum cages.
Mrs. Wiley has much of the material which she brought down from Minneapolis, some of which she has had for many years. A two headed turtle is doing well; it has grown to be a large animal. The rattlers are not exceptional; she has a good pink tigris from near Tucson, a number of good horridus, a S.D.Co. mitch and 2 rubers sent by Cook. One very large atrox from Texas is doing well; this she has had for a long time. It weighs 13 lbs, but is not so very long; probably does not exceed 5 ft. He holds a pose when desired. While he rattles when handled, he does not offer to bite. She ties ribbons and hats on him. To me the most interesting specimens were her home raised atrox. These are California or Arizona stock - probably a mixture of the two; they have the usual creamy color (There was by contrast one very dark atrox from Texas, about the darkest I have ever seen). Of the first atrox brood there were 9 or 10 and 8 or 9 survive today. They were born on the 17th of June, 1932. Of these 4 have complete strings 3-15s and 1-14 (a female) and one is 15+1c. The rest have lost rattles. These are the finest complete strings I have ever seen.
There was a second brood born to the same parents; of these only 1 remains. They were born July 9, 1933. this one had 8c rattles.
For mites she uses soap and water, with good success, although not perfect. The snakes are put in sacks and then the sacks are put in soapy water over night. She is much troubled with other diseases.
Her experiments lead her to believe that Oreganus venom is much more neurotoxic than Cerbeus; however as she described them there were too few to be conclusive. She finds Oreganus venom very powerful.
She seems to handle all the venomous snakes. I saw her handle puff-adders, Australian coral snakes, Australian black snakes, and tiger snakes. With king cobras she uses more care but states that she has force fed, alone, both king cobras and mambas. The king cobras (one 14 ft. long) look in every way more dangerous than the mambas. The cobras would be far too powerful to handle by force. The mambas are much lighter and slimmer.
Australian black snakes bite each other, seemingly without effect.
Saw a very beautiful Central American Coral Snake; also a small B. atrox.
She has a number of Galapagos iguanas -- one sea iguana doing well on apples, bananas etc. Australian pythons are plentiful. There are a number of boas and 3 regal pythons; one 22 ft.
There are many interesting Australian lizards including skinks of various kinds, water dragons (5 young) and 2 Fulled [?] lizards. The water dragons hang around in a tree. There is some Spanish material. A beautiful green sceloporus. She tried small lizards in the large center cage but the large lizards ate them.
There is a large Yuma king snake raised from an egg from a specimen she got from Cook. It is very dark; the bands are hardly visible.
She hatches eggs by putting them in moistened leafmold, then covers with bark. Then warms with a light (with reflector)about 10" above. Moisten from time to time.
She has to do much forced feeding, but seems to be successful in this.
A green-headed snake from Central America was another handsome snake.
She has an alligator weighing over 200 lbs, raised from the egg.