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Fungus killing rare southern Illinois rattlesnake

February 22, 2012 at 11:25 AM

The Associated Press

CHAMPAIGN — Wildlife researchers say a fungus rarely seen in the wild is killing southern Illinois rattlesnakes that already are in decline.

Wildlife veterinarian and University of Illinois visiting instructor Matthew Allender says that in 2008 biologists reported to him that they’d found three eastern massasauga rattlesnakes with debilitating fungal infections in a southern Illinois park.

The snakes died within three weeks of their discovery, and a fourth snake with the fungus was discovered in the same park in 2010.

Allender later identified the pathogen as Chrysosporium, a fungus that plagues portions of the pet reptile industry but is not normally seen in the wild. He later heard from other biologists about similar infections in timber rattlesnakes in the northeast U.S.

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