Herper.com: Reptiles and Amphibians

Reptiles and Amphibians in the News

Thursday, January 31, 2008

SC Gator Hunting

Legislation to allow alligator hunting in South Carolina has hit a small debate regarding whether or not hunters (or landowners with problem gators) will be required to tie off an alligator before shooting it. (News source.)

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Toad Reintroduction

New Mexico officials are planning to reintroduce a rare subspecies of the boreal toad to Rio Arriba County, NM. The last reported sighting in that county was in 1996. Once common, the toads have been decimated by the chytrid fungus. (News source.)

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Doesn't Sound Good...

From India: "While 18,000 people on an average are bitten by snakes and 900 of them die from the poison in the state’s rural areas every year, doctors at the primary health centres mostly suffer from lack of confidence in administering the right dosage of anti-snake venom."

A WHO medical expert says most bites are treated according to the procedures found in Western medical texts, which aren't always applicable to the "reality" (not sure what that means) in Asian countries. (News source.)

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

South African Croc Attack

A 25-year old South African woman was walking across a section of the Blyde River on a fallen log, when a crocodile leaped up and grabbed her arm, pulling her into the water. Her boyfriend grabbed her other arm and managed to pull her free. She recovered at the hospital after surgeries. (News source.)

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Gecko Adhesive

University of California, Berkeley, engineers have designed a gecko-foot mimicking adhesive that is very strong but easy to separate. 42 million tiny hard plastic microfibrils are found on a single square centimeter. It takes hold when it slides down a smooth surface, rather than being pressed against. Two square centimeters can hold .88 lbs. (News source.)

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No Camouflage for Chameleons

New research proposes that the color changing in chameleons is strictly for mating displays, and has no camouflaging purpose. (News source.)

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New Skinks

13 new snake-eyed skinks have been discovered in Australia, primarily through genetic differentiation -- though a few are morphologically distinctive. (News source.)

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Cambodian Turtle Rescue

150+ "threatened" turtles were rescued from Cambodian fishermen. They were caught for food. Species was not given, but I suspect sea turtles... (News source.)

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Crotalus Horridus Fatality

A New Mexico snake breeder/educator (operator of SouthwestSerpentarium.com) died after being bitten on the thumb by a canebrake rattlesnake. (News source.)

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Feast Over Frogs

Natauloa villagers on the Fiji island of Nairai saw their first frogs, as ten dead amphibians washed ashore after Cyclone Gene. They were planning to serve and eat them (thinking them a new type of fish) at a feast before the village spokesman found out and stopped them. They held the feast sans frogs. (News source.)

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Freak Out Over Snakes

Villagers in Punjab, Pakistan, killed 103 snakes in a single day, after a man came across one while shoring up a canal bank. "The presence of large numbers of snakes spread panic among the villagers, who were moving temporarily to the nearby neighbourhoods." (News source.)

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PNG Croc Attacks

PNG officials have organized a crocodile cull after recent deaths involving humans who have intruded on crocodile territory during breeding season. (News source.)

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Lizards for Dinner

India police have raided several roadside restaurants, finding lizards being served illegally (spiny-tailed lizards and monitor lizards). (News source.)

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Snake in the Cashbox

Here is an interesting set of photos of a shop in Jeppinamogru, India, where the shopkeeper found a cobra in the cashbox. That caught the neighbors' interests...

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Monday, January 28, 2008

A New Threat to Varanus

Misguided attempts to find a cure for AIDS in Africa has led to the injection of white-throat monitor blood into patients. Besides being dangerous, and useless against AIDS, the practice could cause conservation problems for the species if the treatment becomes widespread. (News source.)

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Two Heads

A two-headed pit viper (species not given) was born at a wildlife center in Argentina. (News source.)

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Smugglers and Poachers

Pakistani wildlife officers found a partially skinned crocodile (protected) along a road in DHA. It was uncertain whether the reptile had been hunted in the wild or stolen from a breeding center. (News source.)

Two tortoise smugglers were shot and killed, three others got away, in an encounter with police in India. (News source.)

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Don't Try This At Home

Here's a profile on a snake enthusiast in India who apparently believes that drinking cobra venom means he's immune...

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Madagascar Tortoise Smuggling

Here's a BBC News article on the capture of a Nigerian smuggler who was found with 300 tortoises from Madagascar, and a general review of the problem.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Tortoise Surgery

Veterinarians at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine performed front leg surgery on a yellow-foot tortoise. Specific details are vague (they removed a piece of the humerus?) but apparently it was the first time this particular surgery was done on a tortoise. (News source.)

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Friday, January 25, 2008

CDC Report on Turtle Salmonella

The CDC is fighting back against proposals to allow turtle sales, recently releasing a report that points to turtles being responsible for illness in 33 states. (News source.)

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A 10-year old Australian girl survived a brown snake bite. (News source.)

Snakebites in Ghana may be under-reported. (News source.)

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Cane Toads

Flooding in Queensland is sweeping cane toads faster than natural dispersal rates would normally distribute them. (News source.)

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Gator Hunter

An interesting profile on an alligator hunter here.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Big Retic

The St. Augustine Alligator Farm has imported a large reticulated python from Indonesia, that measures 21 feet, 9 inches. (News source.)

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Gecko Photographed

A rare New Zealand gecko species, the Wellington green gecko, was photographed in the city of Karori for the first time in about thirty years. It's occasionally seen elsewhere. (News source with photos.)

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Womas for Dinner

8 out of 9 womas (an Australian python) that were reintroduced into South Australia last year ended up being eaten by king brown snakes. (News source.)

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Too Many Crocs

The Manila Zoo has a surplus of crocodiles in its collection, and is hoping for trades... (News source.)

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Florida Snake Owner

A Deltona, FL, man is waiting for a decision from the city commissioners as to whether he will be forced to give up his collection of 50 venomous snakes. He has the proper state permits, but that may not be enough. (News source.)

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Brown Snake Bite

An Australian woman was bitten by a brown snake while visiting a friend in Tinnanbar. (News source.)

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Cuba Ban on Sea Turtles

Cuba has banned the hunting of sea turtles on its beaches. (News source.)

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Croc Farm Keeper Bitten (then Shot)

A Darwin, Australia, crocodile farm staff member was bitten on the arm by a crocodile while he was trying to collect eggs. Another staff member shot the crocodile, managing to release his co-worker, but accidentally shot him in the arm. The man is doing fine after surgery. (News source.)

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Leatherback Journey

A leatherback sea turtle has been tracked on the longest confirmed ocean migration, 12,774 miles before the signal was lost. It was tracked by satellite as part of a project to learn more about the species' ocean movements. (News source.)

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Monday, January 21, 2008

100 Weirdest

The Zoological Society of London has released a top 100 list of the weirdest and rarest amphibians. (News source.) A sample gallery of species is here.


Cage Gives Up Cobras

Due to pressure from neighbors, actor Nicolas Cage gave away his pair of cobras (no species given). (News source.)

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Snake Catchers

Forestry officials in Nagpur, India, might give official recognition to legitimate snake-catchers, but are concerned about venom smugglers and other "fakes" in the snake trade. (News source.)

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Zoo Babies

Perth Zoo hatched out 8 rare rough-scaled pythons recently. (News source.)

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Six-Foot Rattler Killed

A six-foot eastern diamondback rattlesnake was killed when it entered a Florida resident's backyard. (News source, includes picture of snake.) (Which gives opportunity to mention again, Boss Snakes: Stories and Sightings of Giant Snakes in North America...)

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Frog Stories

A new shrub frog, called Philautus ochlandrae, has been described in the Western Ghats, Kerala, India. (News source.)

A dog in Hawaii may have died as the result of a poison-arrow frog encounter. Experts are uncertain, as the Hawaiian invasive shouldn't be as toxic as in its native habitat, but the dog might have been allergic. (News source.)

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First, the Cuban tree frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) has found its way to northeastern Florida (Clay County). (News source.)

Second, a profile on the European wall lizard (Podarcis muralis) in Victoria, British Columbia. (News source.)

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Frog Leg Fest

The 17th annual Fellsmere Frog Leg Festival in Florida drew thousands of people, and served up 7,000 pounds of frog legs and 3,000 pounds of gator tail. (News source.)

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Stupid Lawyer Tricks

In order to get felony charges reduced (for a woman who stabbed her husband's bearded dragons during a fight), a defense attorney is trying to argue that bearded dragons aren't actually pets. (News source.)

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sea Turtles Released

16 sea turtles that were rehabbed after a red tide incident were released at a Melbourne, FL, beach. (News source.)

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Too Many Carpets

An Australian man didn't have a permit for a second carpet python that he rescued, so ended up in court, getting a fine and losing the snake. (News source.)

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New Geckos

Four new geckos in the genus Cnemaspis have been described from Vietnam. (News source.)

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Malaysia: Death by Toad

During a fishing trip, a Malaysian man caught and cooked a toad, eating it and its eggs, sharing it with his nephew. Shortly after, they began foaming at the mouth and vomiting. They were rushed to the hospital, but the man died on the way. The nephew is recovering. (News source.)

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Boss Snakes

Now available, Boss Snakes: Stories and Sightings of Giant Snakes in North America. More details here.

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New Anoles

A 2006 expedition to Serrania de Tabasara, in the Panamanian highlands, found four new anole species. The expedition found a new salamander and two more new anoles closer to to Costa Rica in the western highlands of Cordillera Central. (News source.)

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Alligator Swarm

Alligators swarmed a group of swimming (probably stray) dogs, taking one under while the other two dogs escaped. (News source)

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Victoria Frog Fences

$250,000 (Aus) has been spent building frog fencing along roads in Pakenham, Victoria, Australia, to protect growling grass frog breeding grounds. (News source.)

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

South African Croc Stories

Here is an interesting narrative with crocodile stories from the Pongolo River in South Africa.


Fluffy's New Home

Fluffy, the 24-foot reticulated python on loan to the Columbus Zoo last year, proved so popular with visitors that the zoo persuaded the snake's owner (herpetoculturist Bob Clark) to sell her. (News source.) A pic of the snake here.

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Volunteers Needed in NC

North Carolina WRC is looking for volunteers to join the Calling Amphibian Survey Program, to help map out frog/toad populations in the state. (News source.)

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The Church Turtle

A United Methodist church in Florida has a box turtle that lives in the atrium. It's a friendly turtle that comes when called and plays with visitors. From the news:

"Churchie's home, alongside a statue of Saint Francis of Assisi, consists of a large confined area with a palm tree, monkey grass, oyster plants, mulch and natural plant vegetation. Head Custodian Conan Gross observed Churchie hanging on the pants leg of a roofer working at the church after some damage in the 2004 hurricanes. The roofer was surprised at the extra weight on his leg as he went up the ladder, and more surprised to see Churchie hanging on affectionately.
"The turtle likes to grab Conan's shoe laces and will gently latch on to most anyone, but especially to Conan or Churchie's main caretaker, Kevin Oldebloom, who maintains the atrium."

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Bullfrogs in Oregon

Here's another article on the non-native bullfrog's impact on other species in Oregon. (News source.)

And on a similar topic, because bullfrogs are eating so many baby western painted turtles in Oregon, there are plans to raise the turtles in captivity for release after they are too big to be eaten. (News source.)

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Ohio Species of Concern List Revision

Five herps will be added to Ohio's species of concern list, if a revision is approved: smooth earth snake, smooth green snake, queen snake, ground skink, and Blanchard's cricket frog. (News source.)

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

NY Massasaugas

A study on a colony of eastern massasauga rattlesnakes in New York, near Syracuse, shows that the population is stable. (News source.)

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Another Croc Attack?

There have been several recent articles lately in the news about a crocodile attack in northern KwaZulu-Natal, and I've been uncertain about whether they represent more than one attack on a teenage boy. This article suggests that there have been two similar attacks, possibly by the same crocodile.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Smuggler Indicted

A Chico, CA, man and an unknown conspirator in Singapore have been indicted in federal court for trafficking in smuggled tortoises. (News source.)

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Turtle Amendment Not Actually a Repeal

The amendment recently mentioned is not a repeal of the current ban on sales of small turtles, but could lead to that. Or, it could lead to the ban of all pet reptiles. No, not kidding here, and not an overstatement. The idiots who put together the amendment are pushing to place all pet reptiles on equal footing, which might just give the ammunition that anti-reptile groups need to stop American herpetoculture if the industry doesn't do something about it soon. They're betting everything on the salmonella-free turtes, which is fine for turtle farmers, but they shouldn't be screwing around with the rest of the reptile trade. From the Natchez Democrat:

"The U.S. Senate recently passed a farm bill with the 'Domestic Pet Turtle Equality Act' attached, which will either open the market to pet turtle sales or close the market to all reptile pet sales.
"The amendment to the farm bill was added in the Senate, however, and a joint House-Senate committee has to work out a final version of the farm bill to send to the president for signing.
"If the amendment survives the committee and the president signs the bill, within 60 days the Food and Drug Administration will be required to test all of the salmonella-related pets on the market.
"If pet turtles test within a 10 percent prevalence of salmonella among the other animals, the Secretary of Agriculture will have to conduct a study about how turtles can be sold safely as pets.
"Once that study is competed, the Secretary of Agriculture has only two options, to either lift the turtle ban or to ban the sale of other salmonella-related animals."

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Toad Traffic

Some Berks County, Pennsylvania, developers will be adding signs within a development warning traffic of the presence of the state-endangered Eastern spadefoot toads. (News source.)

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Gharial Deaths Continue

The Indian gharial epidemic continues, with over 100 dying on the Chambal river in the last 6 weeks. The cause is still unknown, but lead traces have been found in some bodies. (News source.)

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MD Herp Law Changes

Maryland DNR is planning some changes to the herp regs, adding 6 more turtle species to the regulated species list, with a few other herp species receiving increased protection. (News source.)

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Lancelin Island Skinks

Introducing the rare endemic Lancelin Island (Australia) skink to a nearby island in 2003 has paid off, as 133 skinks have grown to what is thought to be about 500 skinks. (News source.)

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State Reptile for Colorado Coming?

Students are trying to get the western painted turtle appointed as Colorado's State Reptile. (News source.)

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Red-Bellied Turtles

A state-threatened turtle in Pennsylvania, the red-bellied turtle, may hold up construction work on a new casino. (News source.)

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Croc Stories

Uganda rangers captured a 4 1/2 meter-long female crocodile that had been aggressive toward herdsmen and fishermen along River Kafu. It was relocated to a private crocodile farm. (News source.)

A 6-meter long crocodile has killed and allegedly eaten a teenage boy and his younger friend, and possibly a third person, in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The boys were fishing in the Sibhicayi River when they were attacked. (News source.)

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Australian Snake Bite

A Melbourne, Australia, woman and her dog were both bitten by a snake in her yard. The woman is stable, but the dog died. The species of snake isn't given, might be unknown. (News source.)

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Snake Trapper

A Maryland no-kill snake trapper is profiled here.

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Monday, January 7, 2008

Turtle Amendment Passed?

I haven't really kept up on this, but the Natchez Democrat is reporting that the recently passed Farm, Nutrition and Bioenergy Act of 2007 (H.R. 2419) included an amendment repealing the small turtle sales ban (though noting there may be an effort to repeal the repeal). Turtle farms now process eggs to eradicate Salmonella (or some do, anyway; I'd like to see confirmation that all turtle farms do this). The process goes:

"Once the turtles start to lay their eggs on the levees around the turtle ponds, the eggs are gathered daily, and all dirt is removed from the eggs before they are soaked for 10 minutes in a water and Clorox solution.

"After that, they are cleaned in a commercial washer.
"'We run them through an egg washer manufactured for chicken eggs,' Evans said.
"Once washed, the eggs are placed in a special vacuum tank to eradicate any salmonella. After that, they are placed in incubation trays until they hatch, at which time a state veterinarian certifies they are salmonella free."

[Note: Here is the amendment in question, the Domestic Pet Turtle Equality Act.]

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Sunday, January 6, 2008

Documentary Set-Ups

Apparently, some people in the UK are surprised that captive animals are often used to create scenes in wildlife documentaries. Attenborough's "encounter" with a spitting cobra in his latest documentary involves a captive animal, for example. (News source.)

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Mountain Yellow-Legged Frogs

A small population of mountain yellow-legged frogs in the San Gabriel Mountains (California), and less than 100 are believed to remain in the wild. Regulations set up by the Forest Service to protect the surrounding habitat are coming into contention with climbers who want to cross the area to reach a popular crag. (News source.)

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Anaconda Attack

An anaconda attacked a 7-year old girl in Brazil, and was dragging her away before a young man grabbed a machete and killed it. (News source.)

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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Rubber Snakes to the Rescue

Crows have been swiping large white stones from an Australian government building's pebble garden, apparently thinking they're eggs (as they drop them in an attempt to smash them open). Rubber snakes are being employed, and seem to be keeping the birds at bay. (News source.)

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Friday, January 4, 2008

Gator Sanctuary

An alligator sanctuary is planned near Athens, Michigan, if the zoning commission permits. (News source.)

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Sea Turtle Smuggler in Court

A Chinese national pleaded guilty in US Federal Court to smuggling hawksbill sea turtle shells (and items made from the shells). (News source.)

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More Salamanders

Three more salamanders (two Bolitoglossa and one Nototriton) have been discovered in La Amistad National Park, Costa Rica. They will be described later. (News source.)

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Albino Alligators Stolen

Seven rare albino alligators were stolen from Federal University's zoo in Matto Grosso, Brazil. (News source.)

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Snake Venom Trade

India is reporting a thriving illegal market in snake venom, though it is uncertain why anyone is buying it. There may be a drug-connected use. (News source.)

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Sea Turtle Deaths in 2007

The Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network notes that sea turtle deaths increased in some zones along the Florida coast in 2007, mostly due to red tide. (News source.)

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Australian Python Stories

A carpet python mistakenly swallowed four golf balls that had been set in a hen's nest to encourage egg-laying. The farming couple took it to a vet. After recovering from surgery, the snake will be released into a sanctuary. (News source.)

Another python (probably a carpet) sunk its teeth into a Moreton Island tourist's ankle, wrapped around the leg and wouldn't release. Emergency personnel killed the snake and released the woman. (News source.)

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Sea Turtle Stories

Australian researchers had previously moved several sea turtle nests further up the beach from the water, which appears to have saved them from recent king tides and swells that hit the beach. (News source.)

A documentary in the making focuses on 25 years in the life of a loggerhead sea turtle. (News source.)

Three people in Kenya died after eating the meat of an endangered sea turtle. (No mention of what tainted the meat.) (News source.)

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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Brown Snake Bite

An Australian man was bitten on the toe by a small brown snake, while working in his shed. (News source.)

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Mountain Chicken Frogs

Mountain chicken frogs are being collected in captivity in Dominica to preserve the species after a population drop due to the chytrid fungus. (News source.)

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Tougher Laws in Florida

New rules for Florida herp owners:
"Anyone seeking to own a python, green anaconda or Nile monitor lizard is now required to get a permit and microchip. The reptiles must be caged. Owners have to answer questions about basic reptile care and have a 'bite response plan.' There's also an annual $100 fee.
"A permit is also required for red-eared slider turtles. It's illegal to allow the turtles to reproduce, and all eggs must be destroyed.
"More information about the reptile permits is available on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Web site, MyFWC.com/permits."

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Golden Mantella Project

A conservation effort to preserve two newly discovered populations of the golden mantella in Madagascar is receiving a boost from the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund. (News source.)

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