Project Simus was initiated in 1995 by Jeff Beane and Tom Thorp, as an effort to gather and maintain information on the natural history, status, and distribution of the southern hognose snake (Heterodon simus) in North Carolina.
The project has since been expanded to include potential gathering of information on all Sandhills reptiles and amphibians and Sandhills/longleaf pine communities in general.
Included has been radiotelemetry on southern hognose snakes, northern pine snakes, eastern coachwhips, and eastern chicken turtles. Besides small grants from NCHS, the project has received support from the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences, Three Lakes Nature Center and Aquarium, Davidson College, North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, and a number of other institutions, agencies, and individuals.
Some phases and goals of Project Simus include:
- gathering as much data as possible on the southern hognose snake in North Carolina, including compiling all known records of occurrence.
- studying southern hognose snakes, northern pine snakes, eastern coachwhips, and eastern chicken turtles via radiotelemetry, to learn about their basic natural history (home range size, microhabitat preferences, activity patterns, feeding and breeding habits, hibernating behavior, etc.).
- opportunistically gathering other data on Sandhills/longleaf pine ecosystem fauna and flora, especially other reptiles and amphibians unique to Sandhills habitats.
- salvaging road-killed or otherwise dead specimens for the research collections of the NC State Museum.
- captive breeding and longevity studies.
- educating people about Sandhills/longleaf pine ecology, the plight of H. simus and other species associated with longleaf pine ecosystems, and conservation in general.