Herper.com: Reptiles and Amphibians

Reptiles and Amphibians in the News

Friday, November 30, 2007

Texas Debacle

Corpus Christi Animal Control screwed up and killed a couple of snakes they apparently didn't know how to care for. 19 snakes and lizards were confiscated because two of the reptiles were larger than city ordinances allow. A judge has recently ordered the reptiles returned, to be kept by a friend of the owner's in another town where they are legal. But, Animal Control had already allowed a couple of the snakes to die and another has disappeared. (News source.)

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Big Anaconda Found

An 18-foot long, 200 lb. anaconda was found hiding behind an abandoned house in Parana, Brazil. The species is apparently uncommon in that region. It was taken to a zoo. (News source with slideshow.)


Day Gecko Invasion

The Madagascan day geckos accidentally (or intentionally) released on Mauritius are a threat to that island's native day geckos. Other species are also causing trouble. (News source.)

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Snake Conference

The Snakes of the Northeast Conference is currently taking place at University of Massachusetts - Amherst. (News source.)

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15-foot Snake Reported

Several homeless people in Stockton, California, have reported seeing a 15-foot snake along a local waterway, the Mormon Slough. It has been tentatively identified as a Burmese python, based on descriptions. (News source.)

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Mamba Bite

A soldier in the Royal Irish Regiment, training in Kenya, was bitten by a black mamba. He was treated successfully. (News source.)

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

European Frogs Threatened

Here is a study on European frog conservation, noting that some native species in western Europe are being threatened by an eastern European species, Rana ridibunda, that has invaded their territory.

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Misc Herp News

A South African man was charged with possession of a python, which he was using for healing purposes. (News source.)

The Iowa state director for political candidate Mike Huckabee is a snake enthusiast. (News source.)

Two American crocs have been confirmed in the Sans Soucí port region, Dominican Republic, concerning the locals. (News source.)

Here is a profile on a luxury resort in Oman with beaches used by nesting sea turtles.

Here is a profile on a gila monster that had to be x-rayed, and the steps taken to do so safely.

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Australia: Snake Bite

An Australian man was bitten by a large dark-colored snake while climbing Mount Warning, in New South Wales. He was airlifted out, and treated at a hospital. (News source.)

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Classic Dave Barry: Frogs in the News

Some humor from 1995.

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Vietnam Croc Escapees

A crocodile farm in Khanh Hoa Province, Vietnam, which had a large number of escapees during recent flooding is still uncertain how many might remain at large. "The company has said that of the 5,000 crocodiles it had before the floods, 216 have been found and 1,440 moved to a safer area. But it claims not to know how many are still in the farm." (News source.)

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Ukraine Croc Finally Caught

The small crocodile that had escaped from a circus earlier this year was finally caught as cold weather set in. (News source.)

[Update - the crocodile died.]

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Iguanas Attacked

Someone is shooting their crossbow at feral iguanas in Cape Coral, Florida. (News source.)

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Mountain Boomers

Here is a profile on eastern collared lizards in the Twin Lakes, Arkansas, region.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Taipan Bite

A handler at Hartley's Creek Crocodile Farm was bitten by a 2 meter long taipan while on an expedition in Cape York. He is currently stable (after a coma and 9 vials of antivenom) at the Cairns Base Hospital. (News source.)

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PNG Croc Attack

A young man swimming in a river in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (PNG), was attacked and killed by a crocodile estimated at 7 meters. Police later shot the crocodile. (News source.)

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Salamander Study

Here's a study on plethodontids showing that the single known Asian species is descended from North American ancestors.

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A Boy and his Python

Here's a story from Cambodia about a six-year old boy and his pet 20-foot python. Not a good combination... (News source.)

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Snakebite Stories

From around the world:

Hindu priests in Choto Pashla, India, say that cobra bites in their village must be treated traditionally; if they go to the hospital, it's "at their own risk." Villagers are torn, and government officials are puzzled as to why the traditional treatment seems to work some of the time (though not all the time). (News source.)

Australian doctors believe that too many deaths from brown snakes occur due to mishandling of treatment, and slow response after the bite to seek treatment. (News source.)

US Forces in Korea are warned not to play with snakes, as there are several venomous species in the area. One soldier was recently bitten by a viper while clearing brush. (News source.)

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Slider Peril

Red-eared sliders' invasive potential is hitting the Australian news again.

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Snake Surprise

A snake on the steering wheel is not something you really want to see, especially in Australia. (News source.)


India: New Caecilian

A new species of caecilian was discovered in Mahadayi Wildlife Sanctuary in the Western Ghats region of India. (news source.)

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Fishermen Detained

19 Chinese fishermen have been detained since August for allegedly poaching sea turtles in Philippine waters. (News source.)

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Salmonella Death

It looks like a baby map turtle might be responsible for the death of an infant (the article is not specific, but it looks like this took place in Florida). Salmonella meningitis was the cause of death. The family is planning to sue the flea market where they got the baby turtle. (News source.)

Without trivializing the tragedy here, let me point out two things brought up by the article: 1) the problem here is not that a baby turtle was involved, but that a turtle of any size was brought into the home with an infant. All reptiles (and dogs, cats, etc.) have the potential for carrying salmonella. The rule about baby turtles is in place because small children have a bad habit of sticking things in their mouths; obviously, that wasn't a factor in this case. An infant is incapable of doing that, so it isn't the size of the turtle that is an issue. It's just a common sense health issue. Infants and reptiles (and most other pets) don't mix. 2) the ban on selling turtles under four inches is limited to business sales; the FDA has an exemption for non-commercial sales.


Photo Captures Snake Biting Dog

A Victoria, Australia, woman took a picture of her terrier mix, thought she saw something flash, but didn't realize that the dog had been bitten by a tiger snake. Over the next few days, the dog fell sick and had to be euthanized. It wasn't until she developed the film that she realized she had photographed the snake biting the dog. (News source, with photo.)

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Australia: Snakes are Moving

With summer approaching in Australia, snakes are starting to move out, and snake catchers are being called in more frequently. (News source.)


Hospital Costs for Snakebit Girl

A Beaufort, SC, family has run into serious financial problems with the costs for treatment when their three-year old girl was bitten by a copperhead Memorial Day weekend. They had over $90,000 worth of bills. The Beaufort Memorial Hospital wiped their $42,000 bill clean, but the family still has $49,000 remaining for payment to Medical University of South Carolina Hospital and other centers. Oddly, the catastrophic insurance held by the family didn't cover the necessary $42,000 worth of antivenom. (I'm not certain if that is standard, but it shouldn't be; maybe the costs were just higher than the ceiling.) (News source.) Donations can be contributed, see ellysnakebitefund.org.

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Snake Art for Auction

An interesting carved piece of aboriginal Australian art (depicting a snake on a limb) is going up for auction. The artist was Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri. It is expected to fetch more than $20,000. (News source.)

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India: Crocodilians Released

40 "alligators" have been released by the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department into the River Chambal. I'm guessing the correct word is "gavials." Oddly, the article goes on to quote alligator facts (e.g, only found in China and America) taken off Wikipedia or wherever, but doesn't recognize the discontinuity. (News source.)

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Gharial Program

A captive breeding program for gharials is being set up in Assam, after a female was rescued from a fisherman's nets. (News source.)

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Mutilated Sea Turtle

A dead mutilated flatback turtle was found on a Western Australian beach. Police are investigating. (News source.)

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Misc. News

First, there's a brief profile on turtle specialist Jeffrey Lovich here.

Also, information on a new book,
The Ecology and Behavior of Amphibians, here.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Croc Attack

A 19-year old man was killed by a crocodile while swimming in the Komati River in Mpumalanga, South Africa. Police are searching for the body. (News source.)

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Jacksonville Zoo Herp Curator

The Jacksonville Zoo (FL) has announced that Dino Ferri will be their new curator of herpetology. (News source.)


False Gharial in Thailand

It appears that a false gharial has been reported (and photographed) in Sattahip Lake, Thailand. The species hasn't been reported in that country since 1970. The photographs are not great, but it is a crocodilian, and has a profile consistent with Tomistoma schlegelii. (News source.)

Note, this is not the same species as the true gharial, Gavialis gangeticus, which the news source confuses.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Marianas Sea Turtle Arrest

A Micronesian man was arrested for possession of a green sea turtle. (News source.)

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Pygmy Rattler Bite

A 73-year old man was bitten on the foot by a pygmy rattlesnake while in the Everglades. He was airlifted to a hospital. (News source.)

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Tree Frog Study

Some UK researchers are investigating the skin properties of tree frogs that bask in the sun. (News source.)

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thailand Frog Farm

Here is a brief profile on a 23-year old frog farm in Thailand, where over 10,000 frogs are raised in individual plastic bottles.

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King Cobra Breeding Center Starts Up Again

A captive breeding program for king cobras in Mangalore, India, has restarted, though apparently with some opposition. (News source.)

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Skinning Gators

Here is a brief profile of a working Louisiana alligator farm, Vermilion Gator Farm, with notes on how gators are skinned for their hides.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Croc Theme Park

Crocosaurus Cove, a three-story crocodile theme park, is under construction in Darwin, to open next year. A featured attraction at the $29 million facility will be Burt, the albino saltwater crocodile. (News source.)

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Rattlesnake Bite

A pregnant woman in Texas was bitten by a rattlesnake. Doctors turned to the Gladys Porter Zoo for antivenom. (News source.)

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

New Pit Viper?

A three-member team in India appears to have discovered a new species of viper in Arunachal Pradesh. Genetic testing is in progress. (News source.)

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Smuggled Reptiles

6 Bangledeshi nationals were arrested for possession (on the wrong side of the India border, it looks like) of 10 endangered reptiles: king cobras and elongated tortoises. (News source.)

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Sea Turtle Conservation

Two conservation groups are requesting that the loggerhead turtle be classified as an endangered species with USFWS. Currently, it is only classified as threatened. (News source.)

An overview of the USFWS' work with sea turtles can be found over at Mongabay.

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Brown Tree Snakes

Micronesian leaders have formally asked US Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to put together an official policy with procedures to keep the brown tree snake out of their islands. The snakes were inadvertently introduced into Guam after WW2, after the military moved equipment there from the Solomon Islands. (News source.)

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Turtle Protection

A permanent fence has been set up along US 98 in Alabama, to prevent the endangered red-bellied turtle from becoming DOR. (News source.)

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Boa in Louisiana

It gets monotonous to put up all the articles noting wandering pet snakes, lizards, etc., but here's a 7-foot boa constrictor that was recently found crossing a yard in Bastrop, Louisiana. (News source.)

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Man Charged with Intent to Lick

A 21-year old Kansas City man was charged with possessing a Colorado River toad, with intent to lick it for hallucinogenic purposes. (News source.)

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Texas Regulations

Some details here on the proposed regulations in Texas covering possession and sale of non-native venomous and larger species of constrictors.

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Croc Capture

Here's an odd story of an Australian man's capture of a small saltwater crocodile, so that it could be moved to a less populated area.


Hong Kong Herp Crimes

First, two men and a woman were arrested for selling mislabeled crocodile meat, punishable by up to 5 years in jail and a $500,000 fine. Monitor lizard and snake meat is often sold as crocodile meat. (News source.)

A smuggler was caught bringing in 15 snakes and 22 lizards from Indonesia, mostly baby pythons and monitors. (News source.)

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Amphibian Breeding Strategies

A researcher is suggesting that alternative breeding strategies by amphibians are an attempt to avoid parasites, etc. From the Eurekalert:

"Brian Todd, a researcher at the UGA Odum School of Ecology Savannah River Ecology Lab, explains that most amphibians start their lives in water (tadpoles are a good example), and then make their way onto land as adults and return to the water to breed. But there are other breeding strategies as well. Take, for instance, the Darwin’s frog, the species that swallows its eggs and, a few weeks later, regurgitates its young. Or the marsupial frog, a species that carries its eggs on its back until they hatch. Several species lay eggs in small puddles on land or high up in trees where they hatch as miniature versions of adults, bypassing the larval stage entirely.
"Researchers have hypothesized that natural selection favored these non-traditional breeding strategies as a way to avoid predatory fish or the risk of a breeding pond or stream drying up. In a review article published in the November issue of The American Naturalist, Todd argues that the diversity of reproductive strategies that amphibians employ might also be influenced by the benefits that come from avoiding viruses, fungi and other parasites."

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Gator Fatality

A man who attempted to elude police officers jumped into a pond behind a Miccosukee Indian Reservation casino. Onlookers shouted to warn him, but he was dragged under and killed by a large alligator. (News source.)

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Natterjack Conservation

Farmers in Co. Kerry, Ireland, (or at least specified zones in the county) are being offered payments to dig shallow ponds for the rare natterjack toad. (News source.)

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Indonesia Sea Turtle Hatching Center

A sea turtle-hatching conservation center has been set up off Indonesia's Karimunjawa archipelago (north of Central Java), on the 56-hectare Menjangan Besar Island. Eggs are collected, hatched on the island, then released. (News source.)

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Death Adder Bite

An Australian gardener was bitten on the hand by a death adder and hospitalized. He said he had a worse time of it when he was bitten by a brown tree snake. (News source.)

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Bronzeback Legless Lizard

A rare specimen of the bronzeback legless lizard was found near Coober Pedy, South Australia. The species was first discovered in 1890, but the next specimen wasn't discovered until 1977. (News source.)


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Albino Gree Tree Pythons

Here's a profile of an Alaskan herpetoculturist who is working on an albino green tree python project.

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Goldfish Bringing Disease to UK Frogs

Goldfish bred in US farms and imported into the UK appear to be spreading red-leg disease. (News source.)

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Gator Hunting

A profile on some Florida gator hunters here.

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Tortoise Move

A number of gopher tortoises in Brevard County (FL) are being relocated to Pasco County due to developing Rhodes Park into soccer fields. Costs are running up to $162,000 for the project. (News source.)

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Red-Eared Sliders in New Zealand

Here is a brief discussion of the invasive potential of red-eared sliders in New Zealand, following an escaped or released turtle found in the Kawau Stream.

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Friday, November 9, 2007

Tortoise Research

An interesting article on Galapagos tortoises here.

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Sea Turtle Mortality

It looks like there is an average of one adult sea turtle a day dying off the coast of Bahrain. (News source.)

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Amphibian Research

First, an article on research into frogs in Sri Lanka.

Also, some research into the occasional cross-breeding of spadefoot toad species.

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Snakebite Lawsuit

The family of a woman who died from a rattlesnake bite (bitten during a "snake-handling" service) is suing the hospital, claiming the nurses made fun of the woman instead of saving her life. (News source.)

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Crocs in Restaurants

The crocodile is showing up in more Vietnamese restaurants. (News source.)

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Bufo Fatality

Another case of a dog killed in southern Florida, after biting a marine toad. (News source.)

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Michigan Thieves Caught

Turns out that the thieves of reptiles, birds, and other exotic animals that hit the Belleville, MI, Animal Magic sanctuary and some specialty pet shops a while back are a couple of Livonia, MI, guys who run their own animal education programs (thoseanimalguys.com). Many animals were recovered, but some apparently had been sold off earlier. (News source.)

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Croc Pets

Pet crocodiles in Darwin, Australia, are creating some controversy. (News source.)


Python vs Cat

An Cairns, Australia, woman found her 5-year old cat being eaten by a carpet python after it was let outside in the morning. The cat's owner was sad, but didn't blame the snake. (News source.) [I'm going by the photo in the article, regarding identification of the python.]


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Botanic Gardens & Deadly Snakes

Rangers are microchipping the eastern brown snakes that roam in the Australian National Botanic Gardens. (News source.)

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Garter Habitat Project

A $5 million contract to create giant gartersnake habitat in (or at least near) Yuba County, CA, has been approved. The habitat will be an extension of Gilsizer Slough, which is already preserved. (News source.)

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Snakes Seized

Malaysian wildlife officers seized 115 cobras from a trader. (News source.)

[I can't tell what exactly the charges would be; he apparently only declared 1400 snakes, but had over 1500. So are the 115 cobras just what he underdeclared, or specifically illegal in and of themselves? There were some animal cruelty charges, also, due to caging conditions. I'm guessing the snakes were headed to the Chinese food markets.]

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Big Python Sighted

Stories of a "giant python" said to be four meters long are making the rounds in Algiers. The head, according to one witness, was the size of a giant potato. (News source.)

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Vietnam Turtle Poachers Caught

A truck carrying turtles and snakes was intercepted by forest rangers in Quang Binh province, Vietnam. (News source.)

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Exotic Venomous Article

Here is a USA Today article on venomous sales in the US. The article is a little haphazard. (How significant, really, is the Wyeth decision to stop making coral snake antivenom? Should have been some discussion of the hurdles facing hobbyists who want to bring in and stock their own non-native antivenom...)

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Snake Farming in Nepal

Commercial snake farming is being considered as an economical alternative to agriculture for a Nepal tribe (the Netuwa people, who have been have been traditional snake catchers for centuries). (News source.)

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Bangladesh Charmer Dies

A Bangladesh snake charmer, who started the country's first commercial snake farm, has died after being bitten by two cobras he was playing with. (News source.)

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Snake Soup Illegal

Restaurants in Guangzhou, China, that are caught selling snake dishes will be fined up to 100,000 yuan (about $13,000). Snake soup is popular, but illegal after a fatal epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome a few years ago. (News source.)

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Saturday, November 3, 2007

Tenarife Facility

The giant lizard breeding facility in Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera, Tenarife, is using natural methods for hatching eggs of the endangered species. Last year, incubator methods produced far more males than females, so they are hoping this produces a more number of both genders. (News source.)

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Friday, November 2, 2007

Albino Softshell

An albino softshell turtle was found in Lake Poyang in east China's Jiangxi province. (News source.)

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Timber Crime

A Muncie, Indiana, man was charged with possession and transportation of a package of baby timber rattlesnakes after carrying them on a public bus. (News source.)

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Australian Croc Jailed

An aggressive crocodile was put behind bars by police after lunging at fishermen. It will be moved to a croc farm. (News source.)

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Newt Regeneration

Research into the regeneration of amputated newt limbs points to a specific protein that supports the cellular growth. (News source.)

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Australian Snakebites

Two recent cases:

A teenage girl was treated for a suspected snake bite on the back of her neck in NSW. She had been hiking. (News source.)

A two-year old Queensland boy was bitten by a whipsnake. (News source.)

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