Herper.com: Reptiles and Amphibians

Reptiles and Amphibians in the News

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Nile Croc with Attitude

Nile River fishermen state that an approximately 16-foot Nile crocodile attacked their boat, attempting to board it. They watched it eat a dog that it caught near the river. (News source.)


Virginia Box Turtles

Virginia researchers are investigating populations of eastern box turtles in that state to assess their viability. Many individuals may no longer be able to reproduce, or offspring may face too many predators. (News source.)

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Black Caiman on Exhibit

The Central Florida Zoo has put a black caiman on display in a new exhibit. The caiman is on loan from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. (News source.)

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Alabama Copperhead Bite

An Wetumpka, Alabama, woman was bitten on the foot by a copperhead in her backyard. She was treated at a local hospital. (News source.)

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Surveyor's Snake Stories

A few humorous encounters with snakes by some non-snake enthusiasts, in the American Surveyor. (Doesn't always end well for the snake...)


Frog Enzyme Fights Tumors

Amphinase, an enzyme found in leopard frog eggs, targets and attacks tumor cells. UK researchers believe it has great potential, specifically for brain tumor treatment. (News source.)

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Snake Hatching Season in India

At Bhitarkanika National Park, over 180 snake nests, including a number of king cobra nests, have been monitored and are presently hatching. While predation keeps the survival rate low for young snakes, visitors are not permitted to the park during the hatching season. (News source.)

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NJ Terrapins

267 terrapins have been killed crossing roads near the seashore at Stone Harbor, NJ, since May. At least 255 have been rescued while on the road. Terrapin barrier fences appear to be helping in other areas. (News source.)


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Solomon Islands Crocodile Attack

A six-year-old girl in the Solomon Islands is missing, believed the victim of a crocodile attack while swimming in a river. (News source.)


Glass Lizards in Illinois

A western slender glass lizard was found at Fort McCoy, Illinois, north of its recognized range in the state. DNR will try to determine if a population exists. (News source.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Reptile Tannery

An Atlanta, Georgia,-based reptile tannery (one of only seven in the world) is profiled by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Crocodilian skins are the primary skins bought and sold. (News source.)

Hawaii Snake Hunt

Hawaiian officials are on the lookout for a snake reported along the Hanalei River, Kauai. They are uncertain if it was a brown tree snake or another species. (News source.)

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Parasite for Fighting Cane Toads

Another potential weapon against invasive cane toads in Australia: parasitic lungworms. (News source.)

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Tortoise Smuggling

A shipment of "clay pots" from Tanzania to Malaysia turned out to be 76 baby leopard tortoises. The smuggled reptiles have been confiscated and are awaiting probable return to Africa. (News source.)

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Overcrowded Zoo Gharials

A zoo in Orissa, India, has bred many endangered gharials -- so many, they are overcrowded now. Up until 2000, juveniles were released into the wild, but survival rates were low, so the practice was halted. They are now looking at more effective strategies for reintroduction. (News source.)

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Gator Attacks Golfer

An 11-foot alligator attacked a Florida golfer who was trying to retrieve a ball from a water hazard. The alligator latched onto his right arm and tried to pull him into the water. The golfer used his other arm to beat off the reptile. The golfer survived with minimal injury. The gator was trapped by wildlife officers. (News source.)

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2nd Gator in Pennsylvania Creek

A second alligator was captured in Pennypack Creek in Pennsylvania. Officials are not sure if there are more to be found, but warn children to stay away from the water. (News source.)

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Vietnam: New Species

Researchers report five new snakes and five new lizards from Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park in Quang Binh province, Vietnam. Several of these are unique to the park. (News source.)


Monday, June 25, 2007

Salamander Blocks Road

A road planned in south Kitchener, Ontario, has been held up when surveys found a threatened salamander that officials refused to identify. They will assess the impact of the road before moving forward. The newspaper dug up reports that noted Jefferson salamanders being found in the area, which are threatened in Ontario. (News source.)

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Indian Python Blackout

In India, a 9-foot-long Indian python became entangled in high-tension power lines and caused an 8 hour blackout. 11,000 volts killed the snake. (News source.)


Big Snake Rumor in Illinois

A blurry photograph of a large yellow snake on the shoreline of Lake Springfield in Illinois is being used to stir interest in snake rumors. Might be an exotic release, might be an accidental, might be a color morph of a large native. No specimen is on hand to examine. (News source.)

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Crocodiles vs Poachers

In India, wildlife officials note that the large numbers of released captive-bred estuarine crocodiles is affecting the number of poachers and villagers venturing into the wildlife sanctuaries for wood and other resources. Large hungry crocodiles are an effective deterrent, they point out. (New source.)


Michigan Turtles

A researcher found that some turtle populations have drastically declined in northern Michigan. Sprawl and impulsive development appear to be the main culprits. (News source.)

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Washington State Amphibian Upsets Editor

The approval of the Pacific chorus frog as State Amphibian of Washington state has upset one Washington state newspaper editor. He thinks such nominations are a waste of legislative time. Such nominations, of course, are routinely sponsored by school children (as was the Pacific chorus frog) to introduce them to and establish their interest in the political system. (News source.)

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Roasted Sea Turtle

The Qoma people of Fiji include sea turtles as an important traditional delicacy in local festivities. (News source.)

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Cane Toad Spray

An Australian company is developing a spray that will anesthetize and kill marine toads humanely. (News source.)

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Louisiana Snakebite

A Morehouse Parish woman was bitten by a copperhead while walking the gravel drive of her trailer park. She said it felt like being hit with an ice pick. EMTs called the Sheriff dept. to deal with the snake, so that the hospital would know which antivenom to use. Doctors decide the bite wasn't serious enough to warrant antivenom, and gave antibiotics to stave off infection. They would have had to send for antivenom, which wasn't stocked by either of two local hospitals. (News source.)

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Georgia Turtle Mess

A Lawrenceville, GA, man claims he was working in cooperation with a USFWS officer when he purchased 12 baby map turtles from a Georgia DNR officer. Court documents showed that Steve Santhuff had worked in the past with USFWS as a confidential informant to the black market turtle trade. Santhuff reported this sale to federal officers and the state attorney general's office. The Georgia DNR officer then used this sale to seize Santhuff's large private collection of turtles, for which Santhuff has legal documentation. (USFWS apparently used this opportunity to award the DNR officer with a "conservation" award.) The turtles in Santhuff's collection were taken to a fish hatchery in July 2005. Since then, Santhuff claims that 200 have died from miscare. A GA wildlife biologists, Thomas Floyd, states that "only" 25% of the turtles have died. (So that's what, 125 rather than 200? Way to go...) Floyd also points out that with 350 turtles, "It's fairly obvious to connect the dots there that it's beyond a hobby." Right. Hobbyists should only be allowed to keep one or two reptiles. The take-home message? Stay out of Georgia. Santhuff has a few lawsuits in the works, to get back his turtles (that are still alive) and for compensation. (News source.)

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Alabama Teen Bitten by Water Moccasin

A 16-year-old boy was bitten on the finger by a small water moccasin while fishing, so he quickly caught it, put it in his bait bucket, and drove to the hospital, calling 911 on the way. He spent two days in the hospital before being released. (News source.)

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Krait Bite in India

An Indian woman was bitten by a 6-foot krait, but rather than seeking immediate treatment, apparently relied on local snake charmers' superstitions. She spent an hour trying to capture the snake, being bitten several more times in the process, in hopes that the snake could be made to remove the venom from her body. She died soon after arriving at a local hospital. (News source.)

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Racer Research

Maine biologists are trying to learn more about black racers in that state, which is at the edge of their northernmost range. (News source.)

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Hilton Head Diamondback

A 58-inch eastern diamondback was found on a beach at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. (News source.)


Turtles in the News

Various turtle nesting and hatchling news:

The only green sea turtle nest found in Texas this year was at the Padre Island National Seashore. (News source.)

92 Kemp's ridley sea turtle hatchlings were released at South Padre Island, Texas. (News source.)

Diamondback terrapins began nesting along Assonet Bay, Massachusetts. (News source.)

The drop in nesting sea turtles at Rantau Abang, Malaysia, has impacted the number of tourists visiting that area. (News source.)

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More OOP Reptiles

A few other reptiles found where they don't belong:

A young corn snake was found in a UK garden. (News source.)

A 5-foot alligator was pulled out of a Pennsylvania river. (News source.)

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Pit Vipers Released

Twelve McGregor's pit vipers were released into the Philippines' wild after rehabilitation from a smuggling attempt. (News source.)

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Missouri and Box Turtles

Missouri has added the three-toed box turtle as the state reptile, along with the crayfish as the state invertebrate. (News source.)

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Snake Man of South Africa

Details on "The Snake Man of South Africa," Austin J. Stevens and his new book, here.


Pine Snake and Development

New Jersey housing development opponents have discovered the presence of northern pine snakes near a potential development site, and are trying to use that in their fight. (News source.)

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Cleveland Zoo Breeding Toads

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has spent 10 years trying to breed the endangered Puerto Rican Crested Toads, and this year have 20 new offspring to raise. (News source.)

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Two-Headed Snake Dies

A two-headed albino black ratsnake held at the World Aquarium in St. Louis died of natural causes. (News source.)

Turtle Causes Accident

A New Jersey woman swerved to miss a turtle on the highway, hit a guardrail, tumbled down the embankment, and flipped on the car's roof. A car following the woman flattened the turtle. (News source.)


Maltese Lizard

Three males of the endemic lizard, Podarcis filofensis kieselbach, were reintroduced to St. Paul's Islands, Malta. Researchers had found more females on the island than males. An ongoing rat erradication program is attempting to eliminate that predator as much as possible. (News source.)

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A nine-year-old boy in California was bitten by a rattlesnake, then treated at an emergency room before being transferred to UC Davis. (News source.)

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Australia Kills Smuggled Reptiles

Packages of garden gnomes and pottery hiding live snakes and lizards have been intercepted by Australian customs. The smuggled reptiles came from Britain. All were killed due to "quarantine." (News source.)


Sea Turtle Surgery

A loggerhead sea turtle underwent surgery for a head injury at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. (News source.)

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India: Croc deaths

Two crocodiles have been found dead in the same Vishwamitri river where a man was recently killed. Natural causes were blamed in one case, while the other is yet undetermined. (News source.)


Monday, June 18, 2007

Florida Burmese

A 10-foot albino Burmese python was discovered in south Ft. Myers. A trapper removed it. (News source.)

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Arkansas Alligator Farm is 105

The Arkansas Alligator Farm & Petting Zoo is celebrating their 105th anniversary this year. It has 200 alligators, farm animals, and several exotic species on display. (News source.)

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Snake Thief Bitten

A Florida man stole several snakes out of a shed marked "Poisonous Snakes," and ended up bitten in the process. He was found wandering a Wal-mart in the middle of the night, bleeding. Employees called authorities, who discovered five snakes (two being Hopi rattlesnakes, the other three harmless) in his car's trunk. The man was airlifted to a hospital. (News source.)

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India: Crocodile Kills Man

A 22-year-old man was killed by a crocodile while bathing in a Vishwamitri canal. Locals tried to drive the reptile away, but couldn't save the man. (News source.)

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

India: Two Killed by Snakes

Two women in Orissa were killed by venomous snakes. One was bitten while working in a paddy, the other in unknown circumstances. (News source.)

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Various Tales: Pythons on the Loose

A few more snake stories:

A two-foot python was found basking in New Hampshire. (News source.)

An 8-foot boa was found along a Louisiana highway. The chief deputy recognized the one-eyed snake, and was able to return it to its owner. (News source.)

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

More on Philly Snake Hunt

Most media are still painting the possible loose snake in Philadelphia as a cat-killer, but at least one journalist is now portraying the animal correctly, here.

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Reptile Expert Honored

Reptile expert Ernest Liner, of Louisiana, has been given an award by the Southwestern Association of Naturalists for his contributions to herpetology. (News source.)

California Gator

A four-foot alligator was found and captured on the Sacramento River delta. It is being held by authorities until a home can be found for it. (News source.)

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Florida Teen Helps Turtles

A teenager in Tallahassee relocates turtles in drought-stricken ponds and hazardous areas. (News source.)


Friday, June 15, 2007

Herp Movie Posters

A curator at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Kansas, collects movie posters featuring reptiles and amphibians. (News source.)

Florida Iguana Problems

Feral iguanas in West Hialeah are causing problems for South Florida Water Management District officials. They are digging burrows into the sides of canal banks, which might make them unstable when water rises. (News source.)

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Fossil Turtle Shell

A South Carolina man discovered the shell of a fossil leatherback sea turtle, approximately 5 x 4 feet in dimension. (News source.)

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Reptiles On The Loose

A few recent cases of boids roaming free:

One large shed skin found in Virginia. (News source.)

One Burmese python found, and another boid believed loose in Pennsylvania. (News source.)

And a five-foot alligator captured in an Ohio marsh. (News source.)

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rattlesnake Study

Ressearchers in St. Louis are tracking timber rattlesnakes in two counties to see how the snakes adapt to housing development. (News source.)

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Sea Turtles Wanted

Spain is planning to breed sea turtles (and establish local breeding sites) to help control jellyfish outbreaks along their beaches. (News source.)


Toad Tunnel Didn't Work

A famed "toad tunnel" built in Yolo County, California, to protect amphibians crossing roads was apparently rarely used. The local toad population appears to have vanished. (News source.)


Irish Kingsnake

A kingsnake was found wandering in Ireland, County Donegal. It was taken in by a local menagerie. (News source.)

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Dog-Eating Gator Captured

An aggressive 8-foot alligator in South Carolina was captured and harvested for meat after it ate a beagle-mix named Truffles. (News source.)


Chinese Box Turtle Threatened

Chinese researchers state that the golden-headed box turtle may become extinct within ten years in Anhui Province. Less than 100 are believed to exist there in the wild, and Anhui Province villagers claim they haven't seen one in five years. It is a popular, and expensive, menu item in China. (News source.)

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Gecko Adhesion

Researchers have been studying the gecko's adhesive foot hairs and discovered that the hair's angle is critical. At 30 degrees, it can withstand enormous force, but at 90 degrees, it quickly releases its hold. (News source.)

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Alabama Girl Bitten by Snake

A 7-year-old girl in Troy, Alabama, was bitten by an unidentified venomous snake and treated at Children's Hospital in Birmingham. (News source.)

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Side-Blotched Lizards Dressed by Mother

Here's an unusual finding. Side-blotched lizard females are able, during pregnancy, to secrete certain hormones that directly affect the pattern of blotching in their offspring. The babies will end up with either stripes or blotching, depending on how many specific colored throats (orange, yellow, or blue) the mother notices among males in her immediate social grouping. (News source.)

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Cuban Tree Frogs in Florida

Cuban tree frogs are becoming more of a threat to Florida's native amphibians. An extension paper has been written on it by a Univ. of Florida assistant professor. (News source.)

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Massasaugas in Ohio

Here is an interesting article on massassaugas at Cedar Bog, in Ohio.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Strange Fossil Reptile

Paleontologists have published the description of a fossil reptile with a long neck and gliding capability. Mecistotrachelos apeoros was found in a quarry along the Virginia/North Carolina border. (News source.)


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Cane Toads in Samoa

A cane toad has been discovered on Samoa, and other sightings have been documented, causing officials to start an awareness campaign to help prevent its full introduction. The pest species is already found on American Samoa and Fiji. (News source.)

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Crocodile Disguise

A crocodile researcher disguises himself as a crocodile to infiltrate a colony of Nile crocs, on Dangerous Encounters, National Geographic Channel. (News source.)

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Pennsylvania Herpathon

An interesting idea, used here for a television program. (News source.)

Just Plain Dumb...

What not to do: threaten someone with a live cottonmouth. Four suspects were arrested, one had been bitten. The snake got away. (News source.)


Saturday, June 9, 2007

Croc Egg Harvesting

There's controversy over the desire of Queensland crocodile farms to harvest eggs from wild nests. (News source.)



Two more cases of snakebite:

A Colorado Springs judge bitten in Ute Valley park. (News source.)
A Montana Highway Patrolman bitten while climbing a slope to photograph an oversized load. (News source.)

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MBTA Wants No Protection for Spotted Turtles

The MBTA is trying to renege on its agreement to protect spotted turtles in habitat where the transportation authority wanted to put a new rail line. The agreement was to put in and monitor turtle crossings. Apparently, because the turtle is only "rare" and not "endangered" anymore, it doesn't need that help. (News source.)


10,000 Chinese Alligators Need New Home

A Chinese research center started breeding the endangered Chinese alligator nine years ago, and now has over 10,000 of the animal in a severely overcrowded facility. They only expect to release a few (6) into the wild this year, where only 200 are known to survive. (No reasons given on why no further releases are planned. Habitat loss?) They are looking at alternatives, like selling them to zoos around the world. (News source.)

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Army Moving Tortoises

The U. S. Army is expanding the National Training Center Ft. Irwin, in the Mojave Desert, so is moving an estimated 700 to 1,000 endangered desert tortoises. It has awarded a 5-year, $6.9 million contract to ITS Corp. to track down, relocate, and monitor the tortoises. (News source.)

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Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle Nests

118 Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle nests have been found on Texas beaches so far this year. Only 102 were found last year. This year's count is the largest since record-keeping began in the 1980s. (News source.)


Thursday, June 7, 2007

More Sea Turtles Tagged

Another research project using satellite transmitters to track sea turtles: this time it's loggerhead sea turtles off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. (News source.)

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Alligator Bites Fisherman

A South Carolina man was bitten by an alligator while he attempted to unhook a fish from his line. (News source.)

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Oldest Gopher Tortoise

Gus the gopher tortoise turns 85 this year. There will be a birthday party at his home, the Museum of Natural History in Halifax. (News source.)


Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Turkish Tortoise Smuggling

Turkish police caught a foreign citizen attempting to smuggle 8 endangered tortoises (species unnamed) out of the country. (News source.)

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Indiana Teen Bitten by Copperhead

A teenager canoeing on Sugar Creek thought he saw a small water snake swimming by, so picked it up to look at it. It turned out to be a small copperhead, which bit him. He was treated overnight at a hospital in Indianapolis. (News source.)

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A robotic tuatara is being used in the field (Stephens Island, New Zealand) to help biologists better understand that species' complex courtship and breeding behaviors. (News source.)


Salmonella Case

Two young boys were hospitalized with a case of salmonella poisoning, apparently from the same strain found on their lizard. So... wash your hands, folks. (News source.)


A Boy and His Box Turtle

A story about an Oklahoma box turtle... (News source.)


Poached Turtles

17 out of 270 sea turtles illegally poached by Chinese fishermen and confiscatedd by authorities are now at the Sabah Museum in Malaysia. The specimens include green and hawksbill sea turtles. (News source.)

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Snakes Confiscated in Israel

Someone apparently tried to smuggle some African reptiles and invertebrates (including a number of venomous snakes) to a zoo in the country of Georgia. Israeli customs agents confiscated them at the Ben Gurion International Airport. (News source.)

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Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Copperhead Bite

A woman was bitten by a copperhead in South Carolina, but didn't realize it at first. She thought it might just be an insect bite, but experienced swelling, pain and other severe reactions. She required surgery on the hand and eight days of hospitalization. (News source.)

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Cane Toad Virus

Scientists have been working for five years on a virus that will keep cane toads from reproducing. (This should effectively halt the spread of this introduced species in Australia, similar to the success with introduced rabbits.) They are now testing the virus to make certain it only affects the toads and not native species of amphibians. (News source.)

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Herpetologist Profile

Herpetologist Zoltan Takacs and his research on snake toxins are profiled by the Chicago Tribune. He grew up in Cold War Hungary and now investigates such questions as, why doesn't a cobra's venom kill the snake itself? (News source.)

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Monday, June 4, 2007

Suriname New Species

Twenty four new species of animals were discovered in Suriname rain forests following an expedition and follow-up survey. One is a brightly marked Atelopus toad which may be a new species. (News source with photo.)


Komodo Dragon Kills Boy

An 8-year-old Indonesian boy was killed by a Komodo dragon unexpectedly met in the brush on that island. It bit and shook the boy before being driven away with stones thrown by the boy's uncle. The boy later died from the injuries. This was the first fatal attack in 33 years. (News source.)


Cane Toad Cannibalism

Australian scientists are suggesting that conservation efforts attempting to reduce the population of the introduced cane toad focus on the species' prediliction for cannibalism. Adult toads will wave a toe on one of their hind limbs to lure in small toads, then pounce. (News source.)

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Sunday, June 3, 2007

Frog Legs: An Early Czech Delicacy

Archaeological evidence shows that frog legs were eaten by Czechs several thousand years ago. Bones of the hind limbs of male frogs (almost 900) were found in an excavation of kitchen remains near Prague. (News source.)

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Saturday, June 2, 2007

Strange Snakebite

A Nova Scotia man claims that he was bitten on the toe, through his boot, by a black 30cm long snake. This occurred on a wooded path near Dartmouth. He told police he then had fever and chills. There are only five species of snakes in Nova Scotia, all harmless. A member of the NS Herp Society suggested it was a melanistic garter snake, which of course would not be able to bite through a boot, and is harmless anyway. The "symptoms" are not really indicative of snakebite. (News source.)

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Gopher Tortoises

Developers of a mall in Florida are planning to move gopher tortoises out of the way, while a group of mall opponents is fighting the move. (News source.)

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Herp Editorials

It's that time of year when newspaper columnists relate their experiences, good, bad, strange, and humorous, with various reptiles. Here are two of them.
First, a columnist relates how he once grabbed a gator's tail (not really a good idea), and second, a columnist discusses fear of snakes.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Crocodile Escapee

A circus in the Ukraine lost one of their crocodiles. The approx. 3-foot reptile escaped from the seaside circus into the Azov Sea, and has been seen swimming there. It's mouth is taped up, but beachgoers have been warned. (News source.)

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Snake Found in Traffic

The Tarrant County, TX, newspaper, Star-Telegram, notes that, "Commuters may have been shocked Thursday to see a Burmese python merging into traffic near Interstate 20. But apparently not as confounded as the constrictor. Police rescued the 5-foot snake about 4:15 p.m. on the eastbound I-20 service road near the Collins Street exit."
The snake was placed with an animal shelter. I'll should note that the picture of the snake accompanying the article shows that it is a boa constrictor, not a python.

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Turtle Bites Man

A drunk man was attempting to persuade a snapping turtle not to cross the road, and ended up getting bit. A Public Works Director relocated the turtle. (News source.)

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Bangladesh Snake Charmers

There are approximately 500,000 snake charmers in Bangladesh, and about 5,000 of them live in the town of Porabari. It's a vanishing occupation, as charmers take up other professions and send their children to school. (News source.)