Herper.com: Reptiles and Amphibians

Reptiles and Amphibians in the News

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tracking Leatherbacks

British marine biologists from Aberystwyth University have tagged two female leatherback sea turtles nesting in Dominica to determine why they picked those particular beaches. Satellite tracking will show their movements for the next 9-12 months. (News source.)

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PA: Toddler Bit by Snake (Garter Snake, That Is)

A two-year old child was from Fayette County, Pennsylvania, to the Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh, after being bit by a snake. Turned out, it was a harmless garter snake. (News source.)

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Lost Reptiles

Dominic Monaghan, of Lost, had accumulated a variety of local invertebrates and herps, including a chameleon, while shooting with the series in Hawaii. He released them back into the wild when returning to the mainland. (His character has apparently been killed off.) (News source.)

Savannah River Ecology Lab

Attempts are still being made to save UGA's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, after major funding was dropped by Dept. of Energy. Much of the ongoing research involved reptiles and amphibians. (News source.)


Salamander Hunt Finds Marijuana Operation

While hunting salamanders in the Mackey Ford Wildlife Area, Pickaway County, Ohio, (south of Columbus), a state wildlife biologist discovered a greenhouse operation. 10,455 plants were found. (News source.)

Casselberry Lizards

More monitor lizards may be loose in the town of Casselberry, Florida. After police shot at one large lizard, residents claimed to have seen at least two more in the neighborhood. (News source.)

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Rattlesnake Bites College Student

A college student was bitten and paralyzed for almost a day, while clearing brush for his mountain bike in a California canyon. The rattlesnake was not caught, but based on the effects of the venom, it is believed to be a Mojave rattlesnake. More than 40 doses of antivenom were used, and he is now in stable condition. (News source.)

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Viper in the Hospital

An elderly heart operation patient got a shock when he saw an adder (Vipera berus) on the floor of his room in the intensive care ward at a Croatian hospital. He used his walking stick to kill it. Staff found a shed snake skin in a large bunch of flowers that had been brought in for a patient. (News source.)

Smuggled Tortoises Intercepted

India's Border Security Force intercepted a group of elongated tortoises being smuggled from Bangladesh into India. They were found in a sack hanging under a bridge. (News source.)

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Texas Blind Salamander Rejected

The Texas Blind Salamander was nominated as Texas' state amphibian, but effectively vetoed by the Governor, who claimed it had too limited a range to represent an entire state. A director for the San Marcos River Foundation jumped on this decision, claiming it was consistent with the Governor's actions (wanting to raise pumping caps due to drought conditions), stating that those would affect the salamander's habitat. (News source.)

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Arkansas Alligator Season

USFWS has approved the Arkansas GFC request to establish an alligator season for at least one year. Hunt is restricted to one of two brief periods (several days in length) and one specific location. A permit is good for one gator at least four feet long. (News source.)


Sea Turtles Start To Nest in Florida

The first sea turtle nest of the season has been found for Pinellas County on Treasure Island. 115 nests were found last year along 28 miles of beach. (News source.)


Gator Hoax

An email circulating with pics of a large alligator carrying a deer in its jaws, allegedly from a pond near Garber, Oklahoma, is a hoax. The owners of the pond are trying to set the record straight. (News source.)

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NC Frogs & Toads Guide

North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has produced a field guide and cd with the calls of all 30 native frogs and toads. It can be ordered from NCWildlife.org. (News source.)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Borneo Killer Croc

Human remains were found inside a large crocodile in Sarawak, Borneo, after it was killed by villagers following the death of a plantation worker. The remains will be tested to determine if they are that of the worker. At least two other large crocodiles have been seen in the river nearby. (News source.)


Rattlesnake Bites Toddler

A two-year-old child was bitten on the ankle by a rattlesnake along a trail near Boulder. Paramedics were able to start treatment as soon as the child reached the trail's parking lot, then transported to a hospital. (News source.)

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Malayan Pit Viper Venom in Medicine

65 hospitals are participating in a study for a trial drug utilizing an anticoagulant from venom of the Malayan pit viper. The drug is hoped to help break up blood clots in ischemic stroke victims, reducing greater brain cell damage. (News source.)

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Gator Hunting Permits

Florida's alligator hunting permits will be available from June 12 to June 18 on a first-come basis. There are 4,500 available, with the season running from August 15 to November 1. A permit allows up to two alligators. (News source.)


Poached Gator Eggs

A central Florida man was caught poaching alligator eggs on the St. Johns River. (News source.)

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Water Dragon Research

A Griffith University student is studying Australian water dragons to examine their interspecific communication, adaptability to conditions like drought, etc. (News source.)

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Police Shoot at Monitor Lizard

Police officers fired at a large monitor lizard that has been residing in the Lost Lake subdivision of Casselberry, Florida. They believe they hit it, though it evaded capture. Residents state they were unable to get much information on the event from the police, and many believe the animal should have been trapped, instead. The lizard is suspected to be dead. (News source.)

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Pennsylvania: Juvie Gator Found in River

A young alligator (less than five feet in length) was captured in the Yough River, Allegheny County, PA. It was discovered by a local fisherman (and veteren police officer) who promptly called the Fish Commission to catch it. (News source.)

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Pakistan Croc Attack

A cattle farmer was bitten by a crocodile near Haleji Lake, Pakistan, resulting in serious injuries. (News source.)


India: New Legless Lizard

Scientists in Orissa, India, are reporting the discovery of a new legless skink in the genus Sepsophis. It was found in the Khandadhar hills. Other rare species have been discovered in the region, including a new species of Boiga (cat-eyed snake). (News source.)

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Texas Turtles Regulated

Texas has made some changes in regulations to allow research into how commercial turtle harvesting affects the population. They are banning all but the commercial take of common snapping turtles, soft-shell turtles, and red-eared sliders from private waters. (News source.)


Leatherback Beach

A professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne is trying to ensure protection of the last major Pacific nesting site for the leatherback turtle, Las Baulas National Marine Park in Guanacaste. (News source.)

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Frog Fall

Villagers in the Spanish village of El Rebolledo (in Alicante) reported thousands of tiny frogs ("the size of a fingernail") falling from the sky. A climatologist reported it was not uncommon for a whirlwind to suck up frogs from a body of water and deposit them elsewhere. (There is not enough detail to determine whether in fact any frogs fell from the sky, or if the villagers just assumed such upon being inundated with a large hatching season.) (News source.)


Loxahatchee Turtle Decline

The turtles of Loxahatchee ('Turtle Waters') Groves, Florida, seem to be disappearing, (for any number of possible reasons) and the town is considering restrictions on catching turtles from the canals. (News source.)


Bill to Lift Ban on Baby Turtles

NPR's Morning Edition reviews the bill seeking to lift the ban on sales of baby turtles in the US. Includes mention of the process some turtle farmers are using to minimize salmonella.

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"Killer" Corn Snake

Another case of media panic over a harmless reptile. The headline is "'Rope' Was Killer Snake." Turned out to be a wandering corn snake. (News source.)

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Horned Toad Derby

Coalinga, California, just held their 71st annual Horned Toad Derby. It was a quick race, the winner making it in 10 seconds, maybe less (no mention of length of track). (News source.)

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Video: Goodbye Reggie

Reggie the Alligator was captured this past week, and Jacob Soboroff from the LA Observer has a video online with recap.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

King Cobra Study Halted

India's Karnataka Forest Department has withdrawn permission for renowned herpetologist Romulus Whitaker to continue his study of king cobras in their natural habitat, apparently due to political maneuvering by a former employee with a grudge. No official charges have been made, but the innuendo encouraged animal rights-activist MP Maneka Gandhi to solicit an inquiry. Whitaker is well-known for having started a conservationist snake park and crocodile bank in Chennai. (News source.)

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Snakes Smuggled into South Africa

South Africa's environmental management inspectors (the Green Scorpions) confiscated a shipment of 13 venomous snakes from the Czech Republic. The snakes were smuggled inside video cassettes. The species noted aren't particularly uncommon in captivity: "three albino monocle cobras, found in southern Asia, three Arabian or Palestinian saw-scaled vipers, two Nubian spitting cobras and two taipans." The taipans were a PNG subspecies. Investigation is ongoing. (News source.)

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Cambodian Softshell Rediscovered

Conservationists found a rare softshell turtle in Cambodia, previously feared to have become extinct. The turtle and its nesting ground were found during a survey of the Mekong river. (News source.)

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Young Gator Abandoned in VA

Another small alligator was found roaming outside its native range. Discovered under a car in Stafford, Virginia, it was taken in temporarily by a VA reptile zoo. Officials believe it was originally taken from the wild by someone who later released it. (News source.)

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Barton Springs Salamander

The Daily Texan has a long article on current protection efforts for the endangered Barton Springs salamander, believed to number 400 or so in the wild.

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Marbled Salamanders in NH

New Hampshire Fish & Game Department is looking for marbled salamanders, which have their northern limits in the southern tip of that state. A recent search for them in vernal pools came up empty, but F&G are optimistic that the species is still found in NH. (News source.)

Bacteria Shows Potential for Amphibian Protection

Of several reasons cited for amphibian species decline around the world, the chytridiomycosis fungus is particularly devastating. A bacteria (Pedobacter cryoconitis) found on red-backed salamanders, however, appears to ward off the fungus. Researchers at James Madison University have isolated the bacteria and are conducting experiments that show some early success. Much has yet to be done, but there is potential for a "vaccine" in the future. (News source.)

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Herp Society versus Fourth Graders

A group of fourth-graders has nominated the bullfrog as the state amphibian of North Carolina. Members of the NC Herpetological Society, however, disagree with the choice because it is not particularly unique to the state, and has already been chosen as a state symbol by several other states. Legislators are divided, some noting that several lesser-known species nominated by the NCHS are only found in certain parts of the state. (News source.)


No Gator Found In NJ Pond

Officials in Camden County, NJ, have spent the last two weeks looking for a suspected crocodilian in a pond at Hopkin Lanes Park. No confirmation was found, so the county has opened the park up to the public again. Whatever the animal was, it was seen twice on May 11, once by a visitor and then by a park police officer. (News source.)


Reggie the Alligator Captured

The alligator in Los Angeles' Lake Machado was finally captured this week after two years of sightings and $180,000 spent on capture efforts. Reggie was taken to the Los Angeles Zoo. (News source with video.)

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Gharial & Babies

There's a great image of a gharial with youngsters from the Nandankanan zoo in India at the Daily Mail. They plan to raise this latest batch of gharials for a few years, then reintroduce them into the wild.


CT Scan for Sea Turtle

Veterinarians at Florida Veterinary Specialists recently did a CT scan of an injured sea turtle (species not given). The sea turtle had been hit by a boat prop and is unable to move its back legs. Its future status for rehabilitation and release is unknown until the extent of the injury can be determined. (News source.)

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Snake Smuggling

Custom officials at Cairo, Egypt, stopped a man who was trying to smuggle about 700 live snakes into Saudi Arabia as pets and store displays. Species aren't noted, except to state that two were cobras. (News source.)