Herper.com: Reptiles and Amphibians

Reptiles and Amphibians in the News

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Malaysian Snake Charmer

Here's a brief profile on a 16-year old Malaysian snake charmer.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Crocs in Sri Lanka

Were saltwater crocodiles introduced into Ceylonese moats centuries ago? Interesting article on crocs in Sri Lanka here.

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Snake Charmers

In India, snake charming is illegal (apparently a conservation measure). Generations have passed along this tradition, and the current tribe members (bedias) are trying to band together and get governmental notice, as they have no other means of sustaining themselves. (News source.)

You'd think this would be good test case for commercial snake farming, venom extraction facility, etc., wonder if something along that line would be feasible.

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Tortoise Smuggling

657 star tortoises were discovered being smuggled through Chennai airport. (News source.)

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Mice: The Other White Meat

Traditionally, mouse sales at the Chau Hung Town, Vietnam, markets have gone to python owners. Now, mice are a delicacy and restaurants have increased their demand, raising prices on the rodents. One dealer sells 4 to 5 tons of mice every day. (News source.)

She said mouse prices usually rose during the Mekong Delta's flooding season so python breeders were often priced out. True enough.
"Within 30 minutes, tens of python breeders were shaking their heads with disappointment because they couldn't buy mice at An's stall.
"'Mice in the U Minh District are favored most because they are fat but gentle,' An said. 'People don't like the kinds of mice that live in forests and are thin and savage.'" ...

"Restaurant chefs are fond of giant mice because of their tasty meat.
"'Now people fear bird flu if eating chicken and duck meat and the "blue-ear disease" of pigs if eating pork,' said Diem, the owner of a restaurant which specializes in field mouse dishes.
"'It's safer to eat mice.'" ...

"He said his job was dangerous because snakes also hunt for mice at night.
"He's often seen snakes lying in wait outside mouse nests and once he trod on a snake's tail.
"Many mouse hunters quit after being bitten by poisonous snakes."

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

India: To Remove or Not to Remove

There's some community tension between those who want (often venomous) snakes to be removed from their yards, and those who think that's just paranoia. (News source.)

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Christmas Snake Bite

A New Zealand tourist was bitten by a brown snake (most likely) on Main Beach in Australis's Gold Coast. (News source.) The victim says there should be warning signs on the beach. (News source.)

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Attenborough on Herps

David Attenborough has filmed his last wildlife documentary, to come out in 2008. It's on reptiles and amphibians, titled Life in Cold Blood. (News source.)

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New Gecko

A new gecko from Vietnam has been described: Cyrtodactylus pseudoquadrivirgatus. (News source.)

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Crocodile Attacks in Malawi

In Malawi, just fetching water can be a life-threatening experience. Crocodile attacks are rampant. (News source.)

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Nutrient Pollution Drives Parasitic Infections

Amphibian deformities derived from parasitic infections are driven by nutrient pollution (increased levels of nitrogen and phosphorus), according to a new study. The nutrients cause algal blooms, which increase the number of snails, which release more parasitic trematodes, which form cysts in amphibians, causing developmental anomalies. (News source.)

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Croc Farm Targeted

Thieves have hit a South African crocodile farm, with several small crocodiles and building materials being taken. (News source.)

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Murder by Cobra

A man in India was sentenced to life today for killing his 2nd wife (of whom his current 1st wife knew nothing about) with a cobra in the bed. The snake charmer who sold it to him, and suggested the plot, was also sentenced to life. (News source.)

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Prison Snake

An inmate in a Philippines prison found a snake crawling around and made a pet of it, getting bit a few times before getting sick enough to ask the guards for help. The news article calls it a rattlesnake, but that's obviously not correct; probably some sort of viper. (News source.)

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Gecko Stickiness Research

Research continues into the adhesive properties of gecko feet... (Eurekalert.)

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The Cost of a Snakebite

Here's an article discussing the costs for treatment of an elderly Canadian man who was bitten by a pygmy rattler while vacationing in Florida.

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Australian Snakebite

A 28-year old Dayboro, Australia, man was airlifted to treatment after being bitten on the leg by a brown snake while cutting grass. (News source.)

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Croc News

The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust has hatched six Cuvier's dwarf caiman, the first time for that species in South Asia. (News source.)

The Taiwanese veterinarian who lost his arm to a crocodile has had it reattached. (News source.)

A Russian crocodile smuggler was caught red-handed at the Cairo International Airport with baby crocs, turtles, and lizards. He was deported, and the animals confiscated. (News source.)

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Habitat Splits Hurt Amphibians

"Habitat split," or "human-induced disconnection between habitats used by different life history stages of a species" was recently identified as a primary cause for the decline in amphibian species diversity in the Brazilian Atlantic forest. (News source.)

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Rattler with Elapid-like Toxin Elements

Sequencing of the venom of a western massasauga brought a few interesting aspects to light. "A cocktail of recognized venom toxin sequences was detected in the library, but the venom also contained three-finger toxin-like transcripts, a family of poisons thought only to occur in another family of snakes (Elapidae). The team also spotted a novel toxin-like transcript generated by the fusion of two individual toxin genes..." (Eurekalert.)

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Sea Turtle Conservation Pays Off

Conservation of sea turtle nesting sites is paying off, with notable increases in nesting numbers at four protected beach sites over the last few decades. (News source.)

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Giant La Palma Lizard Rediscovered

The thought-extinct giant lizard of La Palma, Gallotia auaritae, may still be around. A 300+ mm lizard was found by José Antonio Mateo, from the species recovery center on La Gomera. (These are in the Canary Islands.) A search is planned to hunt for more of the lizards. (News source.)

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Alligators & Anti-Scarring

An anti-scar drug is being developed based on research on alligator embryos, where researchers found transforming growth factor beta-3. (News source.)

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Bully Crocs

A researcher at the Darwin Crocodile Farm is looking into farm-raised crocodile social-interaction. Bully crocs can create problems when they pick on runts, making the latter unprofitable for farming. (News source.)

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Monster Saltwater Croc Reported

Fishermen along the Keep River, Australia, say they saw a monster 5meter+ long crocodile. They had mistaken it for a rock ledge, until it opened its jaws. It disappeared into the river before they could photograph it. (News source.)


Squirrels Scent with Rattlesnakes

California ground squirrels have another means of fooling their rattlesnake predators. They take rattlesnakes' shed skins, chew them and lick the scent on parts of their body. This helps fool any rattler who might investigate a sleeping squirrel's burrow. (News source.)

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Crazy Carl's Cricket Farm

A profile here, on a new New England cricket farm.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Turtle Hospital

Sea World, in the Gold Coast, Australia, is taking care of a record number of injured sea turtles in its veterinary facility. (News source.)

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OH: Bullfrog vs Salamander

Some students in Ohio are trying to push the Bullfrog candidate for state amphibian now that the Spotted Salamander has gained some political progress. (News source.) Seriously, how dumb are the teachers who are pushing for the bullfrog vote just to "get students involved"? If you're going to name a state amphibian, let it be imaginative, interesting, and worthy of the name. (For that matter, the spotted salamander is a bit mundane also, but it's at least a common emblem in various Ohio wildlife or wetlands groups.)

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Another Use for Snake Venom

A UK skin care cosmetics company is releasing an anti-aging cream that contains a synthetic based on a temple viper peptide, which blocks neuromuscular contractions that cause wrinkles. (News source.)


Jollyville Salamander

The USFWS agrees that the Jollyville Plateau salamander deserves protection, but it has to wait in line. (News source.)

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Smuggling to Ireland

A package of various common pet-store arachnids and herps from a US pet shop was confiscated by Irish customs. The package was labeled "aquatic plants." (News source.)

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Michigan Regs

Michigan is contemplating a change in rules to ban commercial takes on reptiles and amphibians. (News source.)


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ohio's Amphibian

The spotted salamander was approved by the state senate as Ohio's state amphibian; it now has to pass the House. (News source.)

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Tortoise Product Smugglers

Punjab, Pakistan, wildlife officials confiscated 26 cartons of smuggled tortoise meat and 5 bags of shells. (News source.)

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Cat & Snake

An Australian cat wandered home with a venomous copperhead (an Australian elapid) around its neck. Wildlife rescuers removed the snake. The cat had been bitten, and suffered some paralysis later, but was treated with antivenom and is expected to recover. (News source.)

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Gharial Mortality

21 endangered gharials have died recently in the Chambal River, India, possibly due to bacterial disease (though uncertain.) Conservationists are alarmed. (News source.)

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More Croc Attacks

A 19-year old Zimbabwe man from Nyabira was killed by a crocodile while swimming near Darwendale Dam. The croc first attacked another man, but released him and went after the victim. (News source.)

A Papua New Guinea man was killed by a crocodile on the Wareba River in Ambasi district, while he was fishing. Recent flooding has displaced many of the reptiles. (News source.)

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sea Turtle News

First, a profile on a eco-tourism sea turtle nesting site in Suriname.

Second, red tide is being blamed for the deaths of 14 juvenile green sea turtles this week. (News source.)

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Large 'Glades Python

While feral pythons are not uncommon in Vero Beach, FL, a significantly sized (16-footer) was recently killed by a large roadside bush mower. (News source.)

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Toad Loan

The World Bank is loaning Tanzania 3.5 million for environmental protection of the habitat of the endangered Kihansi Spray Toad. Captive-born toads are expected to be released in stages over the next year. (News source.)

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A 7-year old Florida boy was bitten on his bare foot by a water moccasin. The bite was treated with 12 vials of antivenom. (News source.)

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Crocs in Mozambique

Mozambique is starting a crocodile census, to determine if it would be economically feasible to begin exporting crocodile products (skin and meat). (News source.)


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Chinese Protect Turtle

What may be the last female Yangtze giant soft-shell turtle is being protected now with an armed guard at the Changsha zoo, in Hunan Province, where it has lived for over half a century in obscurity. (News source.)

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British Columbia Cobra Bite

A Surrey, B.C., man was bitten by his pet cobra, and may lose a finger (or a hand). Hospital doesn't want to administer antivenom yet. (And, correctly refuses to give the home-made "antivenom" concoction a friend sent to the keeper.) (News source.)

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Australian Snakebite

A Melbourne golfer was bitten on the leg by an unidentified snake while searching for a lost ball. (News source.)

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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Frog Exhibit

St. Louis Zoo is putting in a new exhibit, Awesome Amphibians, to celebrate the AZA's 2008 "Year of the Frog." (News source.)

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Turtle Tricks

A psychologist has apparently spent 10 years teaching his box turtle to do tricks (play dead, run, roll over) to help children learn to overcome obstacles. (News source.)


Friday, December 7, 2007

New Giant Spitting Cobra

A new species of "giant" spitting cobra was described from Kenya. Naja ashei reaches almost nine feet in length. The late James Ashe, founder of the Bio-Ken snake farm, first caught the snake in the 1960s, and suggested it was a new species. (News source.)

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Sea Turtles Released

Two rehabilitated sea turtles were released today near Sarasota near the Mote Marine Laboratory. (News source.)

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Elephants and Frogs

A study at Kruger National Park is looking at the effect elephants have on frog populations. (News source.)

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Florida Regs

Florida zoos and dangerous animal owners have a few new regulations to keep up with, regarding contact lists for adjacent property owners and emergency plans. (News source.)


Albino Gator

The NEW Zoo in Wisconsin is buying a small albino alligator to put on display with a $10,000 donation. (News source.)

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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Australian Snake Bite

A New South Wales woman was bitten on the hand by a brown snake while she was gardening. She is recovering in the hospital. (News source.)

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Toad Fight Continues

Efforts to stem the tide of cane toads in Darwin, Australia, appear to be working. (News source.)

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Uganda Croc Attack

A Uganda man was killed by a crocodile while bathing in Lake Victoria. He is the 19th to be killed by a crocodile in that region this year. (News source.)

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Croc Found Dead

A large man-eating saltwater crocodile was found dead in Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary in Orissa, India, where it had become a tourist attraction. Preliminary findings suggest natural causes. (News source.)


Louisiana Cookbook

Alligator and rattlesnake make it into a new cookbook, "After the Hunt," by Chef John Folse. (News source.)

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Doberman vs Cobra

A pet Doberman managed to kill a seven-foot cobra that wandered into a home in Tamil Nadu, India. (News source.)

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Gopher Tortoise Crime

Two Indiantown, FL, men were caught trespassing on private land and injuring a gopher tortoise. (News source.)

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Tadpoles Go Home

Several hundred Puerto Rican crested toad tadpoles are being sent back to their homeland after being hatched at the Miami-Dade zoo. (News source.)

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Anaconda Suspected

The St. Charles Village pond (Trinidad) has something lurking in it, fishermen claim. An anaconda is suspected. (News source.)

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Newt Pond Protection

There's a bit of controversy over a decision to set aside 5,000 acres of land containing striped newt ponds in the Apalachicola National Forest south of Tallahassee, Florida, protecting it from off-road recreational vehicle traffic. (News source.)

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Smuggler Pleads Guilty

A San Francisco pet shop owner has plead guilty to smuggling baby Fly River turtles from Australia. (News source.)

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Reptile Fossils from Blue Hole

Excavations in a Bahamian blue hole (a water-filled sinkhole) have come up with fossils of a terrestrial crocodilian, a large tortoise, and several other creatures that became extinct after the islands became inhabited. (News source.)

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Monday, December 3, 2007

Queensland Rules

Queensland has released a new set of laws regarding crocodiles in that Australian state. (News source.)

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Maui Coqui Project

The Maui Invasive Species Committee has a coqui eradication project in the works. (News source.)

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Sunday, December 2, 2007

Alligator Meat Promoted

A segment on the Today show recently promoted alligator meat as a healthy diet choice, being lower in fat than beef and chicken. (News source.)

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India: Crocodile Attack

A 25-year old man was killed by a crocodile while fishing in the Bhitarkanika national park area. (News source.)

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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Lizard For Christmas

An alligator lizard popped out of a tree purchased for Christmas in Hawaii. Apparently it was confiscated, but no word on whether it was destroyed or given to the zoo. (News source.)

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