Herper.com: Reptiles and Amphibians

Reptiles and Amphibians in the News

Friday, February 29, 2008

Pet Shop Inside Theft

A California reptile specialty store thinks an employee is behind a series of stolen reptiles (subsequently sold elsewhere) worth $2,600. (News source.)

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New Zealand Frogs

Maud Island frogs (a New Zealand endemic) have been found breeding in the wild for the first time. (News source.)

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Sea Turtle Prosthetic

A green sea turtle that lost three flippers to sharks will be fitted with a prosthetic flipper so that won't just swim in circles. (News source.)

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

India: Varanid Poaching

Two Hakki Pikki tribe members were busted selling monitor lizards for meat by a CID officers. (News source.)

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PNG Antivenom Debacle Continues

Remarks made by a PNG pharmacy director (defending his company's sale of India antivenom for PNG species) have been ridiculed by herpetologists and toxinologists. (News source.)

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Giant Pliosaur

A fossil pliosaur discovered in 2006 has been confirmed as the largest marine reptile ever, with an estimated length of 50 feet. (News source.)

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Python vs Chihuahua Mix

Python won. An Australian family's small pet ended up a meal for a 5m carpet python. (News source.)

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Green Turtle Death

A large female green turtle died after being rescued off an Australian beach, apparently from having swallowed a plastic bag. This isn't an uncommon occurrence, as the turtles mistake floating plastic bags for their jellyfish prey. (News source.)

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Sanibel Croc

A lone female on Sanibel Island is the northernmost crocodile in the New World. (News source.)


Turtles and a Tortoise

Nine juvenile sea turtles were released at a Florida beach after rehabilitation from red tide poisoning. (News source.)

A pet tortoise in the UK piled up the dry straw substrate in her terrarium under the heat lamp, and almost burned the house down. (News source.)

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Australian Snake Bites

A Beechmont, Australia, man was bitten while moving a red-bellied black snake from his yard. He was treated successfully, no antivenom required. (News source.)

A Staffordshire bull terrier saved a three-year-old Australian girl from the bite of a brown snake. The dog was treated successfully. (News source.)

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Australian Snake Bite

An Australian woman was bitten by an eastern brown snake seven times, but survived after a month in intensive care. (News source.)

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India Snake Farming?

In response to the cultural instability with snake charmers made illegal in West Bengal, there are plans to create state-sponsored cooperative snake breeding farms (after a Chinese model), apparently for venom extraction. Might there be a possibility of harmless native species bred for the pet trade? India's wildlife laws may be too strict for that... (News source.)

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Frog Release

Taronga Zoo (Sydney, Australia) is releasing a number of boorolong frogs (the first bred in a zoo) back into the wild to help boost native population numbers. (News source.)

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Everglades Alligator Farm

Here is a profile on the Everglades Alligator Farm.

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Fish Poisoning Gharials?

A crocodile expert suggests that toxins accumulating in the skin of tilapia are poisoning India's gharials. (News source.)

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Gecko-Mimicking Bandages

Some US researchers have devised a waterproof sticky bandage based on principles found in some geckos' sticky feet. (News source.)

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Big Fossil Frog

A 9-lb relative of today's horned frogs was found fossilized in Madagascar. With a 16-inch body size, it was far larger than modern species, found in South America. (News source.)

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Snake Charmers

Marrakesh, Morocco, snake charmers are facing calls for tourism boycotts, by a French animal rights group. The group alleges cruelty, the snake charmers claim the group is ignorant of actual practices. (News source.)

India's ban on snake charming is stirring more trouble, as native snake charmers in West Bengal (an estimated 100,000) are claimed to be on the verge of starvation, having no ration cards or voter identification cards. (News source.)

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Frog Farming

Here is a fascinating profile of a Vietnamese frog farmer who started out small and has become a millionaire (VND) raising the amphibians.

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Austria: OOP Boa

Two Austrian teenagers found a boa constrictor (no picture shown, so we have to assume the identification was correct) in between merchandise at a supermarket. They took it home and checked with police, who told them they could keep it, for now, while they try to figure out where it came from. (News source.)

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Snakebite Treatment Tragedy

A South African baby, treated for snake bite (probably puff adder) on her toes, not only had four toes amputated, and a fasciotomy on the leg, but due to problems incurred when a nurse incorrectly inserting an intravenous drip in her left arm, doctors decided to amputate that arm. (News source.)

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Gecko Behavior

BBC's Life in Cold Blood series has been advertising various segments lately. The latest involves a day gecko "begging" for honeydew from a plant-hopper. It is an interesting behavioral partnership, though they don't know what the plant-hopper gets out of it. (Maybe the reassurance it won't get eaten...) (News source.)

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UK: Natterjack Concerns

Chytrid fungus has been found in Walney, Cumbria, raising concerns for the local natterjack toad population. (News source.)

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Venom Smuggling

Bangladesh officers arrested four traders with 12 lbs of cobra venom. It appeared to have been smuggled into the area. The traders were trying to sell it locally. (News source.)

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More Antivenom News

First, the Australian Broadcasting Commission will be screening a documentary on corruption and scamming in PNG, creating an illegal market for antivenom, and making it difficult to acquire legally. (News source.)

Second, the Echitab Study Group, with UK support, will be setting up an antivenom production facility in Gombe, Nigeria, with governmental approval. (News source.)

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Two Recently Described Snakes

Two interesting snakes have been described recently in Zootaxa.

The first is a new species of false water cobra, called Hydrodynastes melanogigas. (At present, I've only seen the abstract, not the full paper.) From the abstract:

"A new species of Hydrodynastes is described from the State of Tocantins, Central Brazil. The new species is distinguished from all congeners by having a melanistic color pattern, with head and dorsum of the body mostly dark-brown to black; absence of postocular stripe; venter grayish-brown, with dark rounded blotches outlining two lateral stripes which become gradually paler towards the posterior region of the belly, disappearing after midbody."

The second is a species of Pseudoboa, a group of nocturnal prey-constricting colubrids. Pseudoboa martinsi is a "brightly colored species" in the Amazon basin of Brazil. (abstract)

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Scorpion Venom for Medicine

OK, not a herp, but interesting: a peptide (GaTx1 peptide) from the Giant Israeli Scorpion, Leiurus quinquestriatus hebraeus, may help researchers understand how to control cystic fibrosis and other secretory diseases. (News source.)

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Malaysia: Just Say No to Turtle Eggs

The Turtle Research and Rehabilitation Group at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu has launched a campaign to get 1 million Malaysians to pledge not to eat terrapin or turtle eggs for the rest of their life. (News source.)

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PNG Antivenom

PNG is evaluating plans to create a more efficient antivenom distribution system, as well as possibly outsourcing antivenom production to Central America or Asia. (News source.)

(Personally, I'd like to see North American antivenom production come down to $50 a vial, also, but I doubt that's going to happen with traditional methods. I've heard rumors of alternative methods, but don't know if anything is actually panning out.)

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Early Nesting Record

A leatherback nest in February at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center is the earliest ever recorded in Florida. (News source.)

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Crocodopolis: World Record Crocs

The online magazine, Crocodopolis, has announced the Crocodilian World Records Project, with the first phase focusing on record alligators. For details, go here.

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PNG Lizard Search Cancelled

The search for a "Komodo dragon" reportedly roaming loose on the west coast of PNG has been called off, as it appeared to be a case of hysterical rumors with no substantial evidence that such a lizard was actually present. It may have been a hoax, or a misidentification. (News source.)

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No Dogs Allowed (Off Leash)

A Florida woman (originally from Ohio) didn't realize the dangers of letting her small Cairn terrier off leash near fresh water. The dog ran towards the water and jumped in, and was promptly eaten by a resident alligator. (News source.)

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Reptile Encounters

A Zambia man fought off a crocodile that attacked him in Southern Province. (News source.)

An Israeli man milking venom at the country's only venom extraction facility was bitten by a viper. He was hospitalized, and experienced severe symptoms: "He vomited, had abdominal pain, and his blood pressure went dangerously low. Soon, the palm of the bitten hand became severely swollen, causing the doctors to fear that the swelling could spread throughout his body." Antivenom stabilized him, and the arm was saved. (News source.)

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PNG Crocodile Attack

In PNG, a crocodile dragged a 15-year old boy into a creek. The boy's father was unable to prevent the attack, but tried to block off the creek with a fishing net to prevent the crocodile from moving into the main river. He went for help, returning with others who killed what they believed was the same crocodile. No signs were found that the boy had been eaten, so a search for the body was in progress. (News source.)

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Sea Turtle Rehab

Here's a profile on the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, a sea turtle hospital.

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Croc Surgery

A 14-year old African dwarf crocodile at the Assiniboine Park Zoo (Canada) underwent surgery for removal of a corneal ulcer. (News source.)

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Friday, February 8, 2008

Alligator Farm Crash

A driver suffering a seizure went off the road and through the exterior fence at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, knocking down some signage. No animals were harmed (or escaped). This is the third time in 5 years a car has run into the Alligator Farm. The stretch of road has had 29 crashes over the last 5 years. (News source.)


Komodo Dragon Rumors in PNG

Lae city, in Papua New Guinea, has Komodo dragon rumors, as stories of a giant lizard are being passed around, along with the rumor of an expatriate offering a bounty on a Komodo dragon that was supposedly smuggled into the country as an egg, raised up, and which got loose to terrorize the countryside. (News source.) (Rumor story here.)

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Arafura Filesnake

You can listen to an mp3 about the unusual characteristics of the Arafura filesnake. (News source.)

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Gharial Investigation Continues

Live gharials are been captured and tested to acquire baseline data, so that researchers can figure out what's killing the species in India. (News source.)

"Post mortem analysis of dead Gharials found ulcerated lesions in the stomach and some inflammation in the intestine. Absence of external injuries rules out accidental death or poaching. Toxicological and pathological examination of the organs of the dead gharials by the IVRI, Bareilly, and ITRC, Lucknow found lead concentrations between 0.7-1.4 ppm. Liver and kidney tissues indicate degenerative changes. Presence of various stages of protozoan parasite was also detected. Autopsies conducted on 4 dead gharials on 27th January, 2008 revealed significant gout – both visceral and articulate. Even the feet and tail joints had uric acid deposits. Gout is indicative of kidney failure as a result of toxic poisoning or disease. However, the gharials seemed in good health condition with fat deposits."

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Nine Days of Labour

A lizard, the skink Egernia whitii, will, under warm light conditions, spread the births of its live young over a period of up to nine days. Under reduced light conditions, the births happen quicker, so that the offspring can take advantage of the light as soon as possible. (News source.)

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Thailand Lizard Scandal

Well, not really, but apparently a couple of monitor lizards found mating behind the Government House in Bangkok set reporters into a frenzy. It's been suggested that the lizards somehow represent the government, as the Thai name for the lizard is also a derogatory term. (News source.)

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Australian vs Red Tape

The president of the Southern Tasmania Reptile Club bred several native lizards with the intent of giving the offspring away to children, but government departments won't allow him to do so, despite previous assurances that it would be OK. He wanted to do this to keep children from collecting them in the wild, which is legal with a permit. But, once again, short-sightedness in governmental "wildlife conservation" agencies gets in the way. (News source.)

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Crocodile News

Here's an article at LiveScience on crocodilian digestion.

Chinese parents won a lawsuit against a crocodile farm where their child was killed by a croc. The boy and some friends had snuck over a fence to a staging area, then slung rocks at the reptiles and hit them with sticks. One croc lunged at the boy, and pulled him underwater, where he was eaten. The keeper was not at his station, and other conditions brought the court in the parent's favor. (News source.)

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Monday, February 4, 2008

Toads Kill Crocodiles

Ten freshwater crocodiles were found dead after eating cane toads, "on Auvergne Station near the Northern Territory and Western Australia border." (News source.)

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Sunday, February 3, 2008

More Parthenogenic Komodos

The Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas has hatched a couple of male Komodo dragons from eggs laid by an unfertilized female. This is the third documented case of parthenogenesis in the species. (News source.)

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Turtle News

71 poached Asian box turtles were released into the wild in the Philippines. (News source.)

Illegal fishing trawlers are entangling sea turtles, leaving them to die on the beaches of India's Gahirmatha marine sanctuary. Police have been asked to help with patrols. (News source.)

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Saturday, February 2, 2008

USFWS Targets Boas, Pythons, and Anacondas

You knew it was going to happen eventually. Rather than working honestly with the herpetocultural industry, the USFWS is sneaking around, trying to weasel regulations through which may very well ban pythons, boas, and anacondas as "injurious pests." Never mind, of course, that these snakes would never survive long in most areas of North America.

In their Notice of Inquiry, they start off with scare tactics: "The importation and introduction of constrictor snakes into the natural ecosystems of the United States may pose a threat to the interests of agriculture, horticulture, forestry; to the health and welfare of human beings; and to the welfare and survival of wildlife and wildlife resources in the United States." This is nothing more than unsubstantiated and groundless fear-mongering (pandering to a regional entity, the South Florida Water Management District). What has happened in the Everglades is tragic, but that is a very special case, and has no bearing on herpetoculture in Pennsylvania, Missouri, Utah, or wherever else. States are perfectly capable of dealing with this issue, if necessary, without Federal interference. (See, for example, the recent crackdown in Florida on boids, without outright bans.)

Public comment is being solicited, a legal requirement (though of course, there's been no active attempt to engage herpetoculture). We have until April 30, 2008, to make our case. They are only accepting comments through the Federal Rulemaking Portal, or you must mail a letter to:

Public Comments Processing,
Attn: RIN 1018–AV68,
Division of Policy and Directives Management,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
4401 North Fairfax Drive,
Suite 222,
Arlington, VA 22203

They will not accept comments through email or fax. You must include your full name, city, state, country, and zip code. They will be publishing all comments, which may include your personal information.

Now, they appear to be asking for comments on specific questions dealing with number of breeders and herp businesses in the country, state regulations, potential impact of native species, etc. Be aware that anti-herp groups may use this as an opportunity to make irrational charges about the potential impact of feral boids in regions where no boids could survive and breed.

Please take the time to read through the Notice of Inquiry and to make comment on these issues; you don't have to be a big snake owner to recognize this as an irrational and unnecessary response to an issue that requires a more serious approach.

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New North American Frog

A recent study has described a new species, the Cajun chorus frog, Pseudacris fouquettei, from "Louisiana, Arkansas, western Mississippi, eastern Texas and Oklahoma and far southern Missouri." (News source.) (Color photo.) (Description abstract.)

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Friday, February 1, 2008


A two-year old girl in New South Wales, Australia, was successfully treated for snakebite on the arms. (News source.) Update: Further details, it was a dry bite.

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Pet Store Robbery

A Tennessee pet shop was robbed by a man who took off with cash receipts and 13 snakes (pythons, boas, and corn snakes). (News source.)

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More Crocodile Attacks

Authorities in Mozambique report that three people have died and two others injured this month in separate crocodile attacks, bathing in the flooded Zambezi river. (News source.)

In Swaziland, a hippo apparently killed two fishermen, who were then eaten by crocodiles. (News source.)

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Kin to Crocs

Brazilian paleontologists have described a new 5 1/2 foot terrestrial crocodilian in the fossil record. "The long-limbed and extremely agile animal, dubbed Montealtosuchus arrudacamposi, roamed arid and hot terrain that is now Brazilian countryside." (News source.)

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Snake in the Rough

A South African golfer's tournament game ended abruptly when he followed a ball into the rough and got bit by a night adder. He was quickly hospitalized and successfully treated, but since he had left the course, tournament officials wouldn't let him continue playing. (News source.)

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