My new book!
Frogs: Inside Their Remarkable World
by Ellin Beltz

1988 HerPET-POURRI Columns by Ellin Beltz

1987 . 1988 . 1989 . 1990 . 1991 . 1992 .

1993 . 1994 . 1995 . 1996 . 1997 . 1998 .

1999 . 2000 . 2001 . 2002 . 2003 . 2004 .

2005 . 2006

This was my second year of writing for the Chicago Herpetological Society Bulletin.
We were still using dot matrix printers for part of the year, so "bold" is shown as ALL CAPS.

January 1988


the US House of Representatives without an amendment which would have postponed the use of TEDs in the Gulf of Mexico! (My poll watcher reports 270 to 147.) Several congressmen delivered impassioned speeches against "gutting" the Endangered Species Act. One said that we did not inherit the Earth from our grandparents, but borrowed it from our children. Letters and calls can make the difference with our elected officials!


prohibiting 6 pack rings which are not biodegradable (OR, AK, CA, CT, DE, ME, MA, NJ, NY, RI & VT). Plastic of all kinds has become a major threat to marine life. Ten bills have been introduced into the 100th Congress which propose control of plastic pollution problems and producers. You can write the Center for Environmental Education, 1725 DeSales St., NW, #500, Washington, DC 20036 for more information on entanglement and sea turtles.


working with Leatherback Turtles in the Virgin Islands, Mexican side-blotched lizards in Sonora, and thermoregulation of chuckwallas in southern California. For more information contact EARTHWATCH, 680 Mt. Auburn St., Watertown, MA 02272.


Being the conservation kind, I always worry when I get flyers. It seems as though some folks don't always read the fine print of the law, but whether they can't read or don't care has never been clear. However, I received a price list which says "100% legal with all paperwork" for special critters. THANKS FOR CARING!


A recent photo in the Chicago Catholic newspaper shows a nun and two students prodding turtles through a maze with what look like teachers pointers. The caption reads "one of the highlights of the recent bazaar hosted by the Little Sisters of the Poor..." cite page 6, October 23, 1987 issue.


for dumping 6,000 gallons of gasoline into the Glen Ellyn storm sewer which risked a sewer explosion and endangered lives. An 1981 incident caused $20 million in damage. The local and state police, the attorney general's office and the IL Environmental Protection Agency had investigated the matter. Let's try to get the dumping of gasoline, period, outlawed for health and safety reasons. I know a few snakes who would sleep better for it!


A Kemp's Ridley turtle was discovered in an intake pipe of the Salem nuclear power plant two months ago. Since only authorized people can handle endangered, stranded animals, Bob (and the turtle) flew to Florida for its release. Was it smiling?


was found in Delaware at the Ashland Nature Center. Jim White describes its call as closely resembling the bark of a German shepherd. The Field Guide has an "x" in the Chesapeake Bay area, but the frogs are more commonly found in fresh water swampy areas on the lower east coast and Florida.


in Amherst, MA. Mike Redmer, a particularly active CHS member wrote: Recently you mentioned the plan by Amhurst officials to install an under-road tunnel for spotted salamanders to use during their spring migrations. NBC's Sunday Night News, Nov. 11, 1987, did a spot (no pun intended) on the tunnels which were donated by Mr. Willard Rose, President of Aco-polymer Products, Inc., and self-proclaimed "Salamander Subway King." The whole system is quite interesting. A fence is used to channel the salamanders to the tunnels which have large air vents on top. These are believed to permit the salamanders to see the stars and "navigate" their way through the tunnel. Cheers!" Thanks, Mike. I only wonder if the holes in the top will let in road salt or automobile crud as well as starlight. Does anybody out there know????


was highlighted in a paper presented at the SSAR/HL & Comite Herpetologico National Meeting in Veracruz, Mexico. Also, Richard Byles of the US Fish and Wildlife Service reported the development of a satellite-sea turtle biotelemetry system. 25 Kemp's ridley sea turtles will be fitted with the transmitters during the 1988 nesting season and monitored for a year.


It was merged with the Ecological Services Division of the Interior Department's Fish and Wildlife Service. It is unknown whether the change will have any effect on the managing of endangered species. FWS said the move would make the program more efficient. It is possible that being a part of the Interior Department and not being an autonomous unit will diminish the effect of the department in reviewing or blocking dam or road building activities.


about an experiment. "Day One - Made loud noise behind frog. Frog jumped 15 feet. Day Two - Immobilized one hind leg of frog; then made same loud noise as on Day One. Frog jumped only 3 feet. Day Three - Immobilized both hind legs of frog, then made many loud noises, louder than on Days One and Two. Frog did not jump at all. Conclusion: When both hind legs of a frog are immobilized, it becomes deaf." In other words, the moral of the story is you can't leap to conclusions.


Tylototriton verrucosus is in danger. It's habitat is being contaminated by pesticides and overcollection is suspected to have had a major impact on its population. Keep your eyes out in pet shops because it is protected in India.


Malaclemys terrapin terrapin is increasing its range and density within the city limits of New York according to a recent survey co-ordinated by the Natural Resources Group of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. In the fall of 1986, a lake in the heart of Manhattan's Central Park was renamed "Turtle Lake" in honor of the other chelydrian New Yorker, the snapping turtle.


Florida Atlantic University is considering some new development, a biology facility on the present homesite for 200-300 tortoises. The 33 hectare wedge is not really necessary to the University's development plans because there are other areas within the main campus which have already been disturbed and could be used for the building. Please write to Dr. Helen Popovich, President, F.A.U., Boca Raton, FL 33431.

February 1988


"Things are going swimmingly well at the turtle houses where the endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles are growing in their buckets like weeds. We also have a number of fine little loggerhead turtles saved from being involved in an ill-advised research project some months back. All of us are looking forward to our annual Valentine Open House. Lots of visitors bring valentines to decorate the turtle houses and see how much the guys have grown. Some folks have never even seen a sea turtle before. Our event is on February 20th, 4700 Avenue U in Galveston, Texas. Every one in the CHS is invited! Y'all come." SHE ALSO ASKED that I remind everyone that the endangered species reauthorization still has to pass the Senate. We need to write and call our U.S. senators to request their vote in favor of S. 675 without TED amendments. In Illinois, the Senators are Paul Simon and Alan Dixon, with Chicago offices, 230 S. Dearborn, 60601 and at the U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510.


(The defeat of TED amendments is) "largely due to your letters and telephone calls...Because of your efforts and those of many other conservationists in Washington and around the country, the Endangered Species Act has overcome its greatest challenge since 1978. Now it's on to the Senate."


Their newest newsletter, dated December 12th, 1987, requests the pleasure of your membership for $5.00 a year. There were no reprints from CHS in this issue.


six times a year. Subscriptions are $15.00. This issue was 24 pages with color photos. Write: Greenpeace, 1611 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20009.


bred and produced their first 10 youngsters at Life Fellowship Bird Sanctuary in Seffner, Florida in 1987. It is suspected that keeping the tortoises in mixed herds of similar size animals is not good breeding husbandry since it appears females prefer to mate with older, larger, dominant males of the same subspecies.


from an exotic pet shop in Winter Haven, Florida but was recovered at a car wash.


"We need to rethink our exhibit approach...(because of a comment) made by a young adult who thought that egg-eating snakes laid bird-like eggs in birds nests as their way of reproducing instead of understanding that the bird eggs in the bird nest are food!!"


Alvin Breisch, Senior Wildlife Biologist, Endangered Species Unit, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Delmar, NY 12054-9767. Dr. Breisch writes:
"On June 11, 1983 the massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus) was listed as an endangered species and the timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) was listed as a threatened species in New York. S. catenatus and C. horridus are interpreted broadly to include all sub- species of both species, whether they are native to New York or not. The taking, importation, transportation, possession or sale of any endangered or threatened species, living or dead, or its parts, is prohibited except under permit from (this department). It is the policy of the Department not to issue a permit to possess an endangered or threatened species for a pet, as food or for similar commercial activities. Rattlesnake round-ups would not be permitted. When practical, so-called "nuisance" rattlesnakes are captured alive and unharmed and are released at a nearby den. The penalty for illegally taking an endangered or threatened species is a maximum of one thousand dollars for each offense plus an additional two hundred and fifty dollars for each specimen or fifteen days in jail or both. With the protection these species now receive, we expect their populations will slowly recover, but this recovery is limited by a low reproductive potential, a rather late age of sexual maturity, and the continued loss of suitable habitat. If anyone has information on either the massasauga or timber rattlesnake in New York, please ask them to contact me at the above address."


to a situation in Ocala, Florida where a judge ordered a young man to kill his seven poisonous pet snakes because an eastern diamondback he gave a friend bit a woman four times as she tried to "rescue" some mice. Two deputies watched as the owner shot his pets: two cobras, four rattlers and a gaboon viper. The victim of the snake bite said "I wish he didn't have to kill the snakes."


"when the CHS Bulletin comes (my employer and I) read it and spend several hours talking about the various articles. By the time I take the Bulletin home for my spouse to read it is pretty dog-eared! Needless to say, it is one of the few things we look forward to with any real anticipation. Tamar Ehlert."


is considering regulation changes for 1988-89 including a ban on sale, possession, eating, etc. gopher tortoises without a permit. The comment period is closed, the decision will be March 4th. For more information contact: Ed Wester, General Biology, 101 Cary Hall, Auburn University, AL 36849.


will be if you attend "CHAOS - ad infinitum" the newest, musical, scientific, comedy to roll out of the fertile minds of staff and friends of the Chicago Academy of Sciences. Dinosaurs reflect on the passing of their kind and a very laid back crocodile discusses eco-karmic philosophy. A few "classic CHAOS" routines have been updated, but the vast majority of the material is new. This show is faster paced than the last. The only bad part is listening so carefully to all the jokes and trying not to laugh or you will miss one. The use of film, video, slides, lights, music and staging are very impressive, especially if you have been to a CHS meeting and watched us try to use the projectors and find the lights. Tickets are $7.50, Friday & Saturday nights only through March 19, 1988. Please call... for reservations (required). Curtain is at 8:07 exactly.


whether concern for an individual animal or an entire species should take precedence. I can assume that most of us favor both conservation of wild species and the humane treatment of animals. But what happens when humane treatment and conservation collide? Consider the case of Round Island, 12 miles off Mauritius. Sailors released rabbits and goats which stripped the island of its closed canopy forest and placed 2 species of boas and two endemic species of lizards in jeopardy. Goat and rabbit elimination was halted by a humane organization. Within the last two years, rabbits were eradicated by a combination of trapping, shooting and poisoning. One species of boa appears to be extinct. Slowly, vegetation is returning. Each of us must try very hard this year to convince humane societies that reptiles and amphibians are animals, too. We also have to consider our personal environmental impact. Do we keep just one of an animal, or try to preserve the species? If already breeding, are we keeping accurate stud and captivity records. It seems that 1988 will be a year of pet and animal legislation and regulation. Local herpetological societies should make themselves known to their legislators and regulators in an attempt to become part of the review process. Otherwise, as Mr. Mulvaney noted last year, we may find ourselves regulated out of our pets. Local herpetofauna should be observed and recorded. Preservation of habitat and education of the general public are high priorities.

March 1988

Steve Barten

"I found the article 'Disarming the Armed' by Robert Marsho in the January 1988 Wisconsin Herpetological Society Newsletter to be disturbing on several counts. In it the author interviews an anonymous person, referred to as 'Todd,' who surgically devenomates poisonous snakes for himself and others without the benefit of humane or legal anesthesia, without any formal veterinary training or a license, without any mention of sterility for surgery, and without adequate concern for the important legal ramifications. And yet, the paper includes a description of instrumentation using household items, restraint methods, and surgical technique along with a helpful 'how to' diagram, enabling any reader to muddle through the procedure. - Marsho weakly justifies the article with the usual concern over censorship and a desire to present a 'controversial' topic because it is 'happening.' Organized dog fighting rings are happening too, but you won't see articles about them in Dog World magazine describing 'how to' or without condemnation in the strongest terms. In fact Marsho's lack of condemnation and upbeat, conversational tone imply acceptance or even endorsement of 'Todd's' techniques. His disclaimer, 'I strongly urge you not to attempt to perform this operation unless you have the experience or are educated significantly in this area' [the emphasis is Barten's], says, if you have experience or education, go right ahead! - 'Todd,' who works for a medical supply firm, is not in fact a veterinarian. He describes using hypothermia (lowered body temperature) for anesthesia, including enough detail to duplicate the procedure at home. This is in spite of the fact that modern veterinary textbooks emphatically state that hypothermia should not be used because it increases the risk of killing debilitated patients, increases the time it takes to metabolize any drugs administered, provides inadequate relief from pain ('Todd' describes his subjects reacting to the incisions), and can possibly cause neurological damage. In fact some of 'Todd's' subjects contracted respiratory infections as a result of hypothermia, but 'for the most part we 'Todd" could handle it.' Later 'Todd' acquired ketamine, a prescription-only injectable anesthetic, from a zoo without being questioned for what purpose he planned to use it. The zoo probably was in violation of the law for dispensing the drug in that manner, and 'Todd' for possessing it and using it without a valid prescription. -- 'Todd' is also guilty of practicing veterinary medicine without a license, using prescription medicines and performing surgery for a fee. 'One article states he charges $40 and will also teach 'anyone willing to learn' how to do the procedure. He has had no formal training. He fails to mention the use of aseptic technique, sterile instruments, sterile gloves, or a sterile surgical drape. For those who would argue they don't have a qualified veterinarian in the non-urban areas in which they may live, I would suggest they take a drive to one or don't keep the animals. Would you let a pet store owner, dog groomer, or kennel operator spay your dog? What's the difference? They know a lot about dogs and a little about the commonly used drugs, just like 'Todd' does about snakes. - There is some question whether this technique is humane. In addition to the use of hypothermia, he describes a characteristic post- operative disfiguring swelling of the head, lasting for 6 months to 2 years! Possible long term side effects of this procedure are not considered. Furthermore, operated snakes would not be able to be released to the wild. - Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there are frightening legal ramifications of this procedure. The liability of the surgeon in a fatality resulting from a failed operation would be astronomical. If the surgeon were practicing without a license, so much the worse. The described technique is no more than a vasectomy of the venom duct. We've all heard of failed vasectomies of the sperm duct in men, even when performed by highly trained, licensed physicians with all the modem technology of human hospitals. So why couldn't a devenomation procedure done in the kitchen on a wiggling snake fail? They can, and they do. The article even describes the victim of a failed devenomation surgery. In light of these facts, zoos and museums that keep devenomized snakes continue to handle them as if they were still venomous, although this practice would invalidate 'Todd's' whole reason for subjecting the snakes to the procedure, which is to turn them into pets. I'm also concerned about the liability of the Wisconsin Herpetological Society should someone read this article, try it at home, botch it, and get envenomated. - In conclusion, if the author wanted to spark controversy, he has. The printing of this article was irresponsible. A herpetological society should provide leadership for its members and in this case should have addressed the issues I bring up. And while this or a similar technique may have some place for zoo or museum animals, the practice of surgery by lay persons for the sole purpose of turning venomous snakes into private pets is unethical. A more proper disclaimer to introduce Marsho's article would have been, 'I strongly urge you not to attempt to perform this operation unless you are quite experienced with snakes in general and venomous snakes in particular, are a licensed veterinarian working for a legitimate zoo or museum, are using modern anesthetics and equipment, have a valid disclaimer of liability written by a lawyer and signed by the director of the institution and all employees who might ever come into contact with the snake (notarization wouldn't hurt), and warn them in writing to continue to handle the snake as if it were still capable of inflicting venom, just in case.' And even then, I'd have to think twice."

Tom Porter of Reseda, CA

"We met last year at IHS; you impressed me as being very honest, benevolent, and intelligent. But you're the only person I know who has all three of these qualities who still supports conservation laws. My question is why? And it's a serious question; I'm not trying to persuade you that my point of view is right but to see why you reject it. I'm not talking about TEDS, but your items like 'Surprise on a dealer's price list'; where the main victim (sic) of these laws are the very amateurs you're writing for. I can't believe you just 'bought' an 'ism' and can't look at reality: how many species has conservationism saved? A. mississippensis (sic), maybe. A couple species of sea-turtles, maybe. The jury isn't in, but it looks good. Galapagos Tortoises, maybe, but it's hard to apportion credit between conservation and captive specimens. Now look at all the species captive breeders have saved; look at your own classified section ... Conservation laws don't usually fight whatever is causing extinction - they just slow it down, by circling the wagons. But it's a circle from which there's no escape. When the species is finally down to the last 1, or 3, or 7, then they're taken into captivity, but nobody's been allowed to work with them before, and their needs aren't known well enough. When we teach people conservationism, we teach them how to vote for laws that prevent them from doing any- thing else about the problem. How much better to alert them to problems they can solve at home, by working with these animals and learning to breed them. The ideology can produce the interest, and it's all that's needed. Smugglers (Pet trade smugglers) emerge as the good guys. Who (sic) prevents this: Conservation laws of just the kind you support. Do they really stop development? Unless the developer has enough pull. Do they stop highways? Do they stop cats and dogs from people outside the protected area? (sic) All they really stop is captivebreeding. Some people are just too dumb to see this. Some are so full of hatred and envy they'd like it to happen, so they can prove how terrible Man is and how right they were. Some are so dishonest they go along with what the crowd want (sic) to hear, regardless of its real effect on the species. Some people are so powerhungrey (sic) they can't resist the chance they might get put in charge of a 'permit system,' even if they know it will be counterproductive. Your column reads like a high school civics text, teaching kids who know better that every law is a good law. Why? Don't you know better? Sincerely, Tom Porter P.S. No hurry. I'd much rather get a well thought out letter months or years later, than a hasty missive showing you didn't read mine. Thanks." (Note: To avoid misquoting Tom, I have not edited his letter. Tom has also recently published in the Southwestern Herpetologists Society Newsletter, February, 1988 and the San Diego Herpetological Society Newsletter, January, 1988.)

Carole Allen of H.E.A.R.T.

composed the following reply to Tom:
"If we were all as pessimistic as your letter would indicate you are, there would be little hope indeed for our world's wildlife. Fortunately, there are many in our democratic society and elsewhere in the world who encourage and support conservation laws. Admittedly it is an imperfect world, and we could dwell on the failures of the past to protect certain species that are now gone forever, but the important point is that we learn from those failures and use them as guides to our present and future actions. -- Conservation laws exist because people want them to exist for purposes of conservation. Any law is effective only to the extent that people abide by it and enforce it, but having the law is a recognition of the need, and it is a good starting point. The rest is up to the people themselves and their society's enforcement and judicial systems. - As far as conservation of wildlife is concerned, captive propagation can be used to provide individuals of a species for restocking areas where the species formerly occurred but was depleted in various ways. It is a 'stopgap' or 'last-ditch' method, used when all other conservation measures fail to halt and reverse the decimation of a species. Obviously, to be effective, conservation must be aimed not only at preserving adequate numbers of a species so that its populations can replenish themselves in perpetuity, but it should also focus on protecting the species' environment. It does little good to maintain a gene pool of a species under conditions of captive propagation if the species has no remaining habitat to colonize. If people wanted all remaining wildlife in zoos, they would not be supporting conservation of wildlife in the wild, and protection of wildlife habitat. There are many of us who not only enjoy seeing wildlife in the natural habitat, but want the same for future generations. It will not be easy to perpetuate these renewable, common property resources, but it can be done, and we are fortunate to be among those who are helping the process along. - In the United States and elsewhere there are encouraging signs. We now have an Endangered Species Act, a Marine Mammal Protection Act, a Clean Air Act, a Clean Water Act, and so on. Our nation is among the parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Our society is demanding a better environment, and is showing a willing- ness to pay the costs to clean it up. Just because there have been despoilers in the past does not mean it is too late to do something about the state of the environment and its inhabitants. Surely there is illegal trade in protected species, but there are increasing international pressures to stem it. What is needed is greater effort rather than pessimistic withdrawal from the problems of conservation. When we support conservation of wildlife and the environment, we enhance our own quality of life and that of those who will follow us. If, after our years on this earth have passed, we have made some contribution to a better future world, our efforts will not have been in vain. - We would rather have you join in our conservation efforts than to have you opposed to or critical of those efforts. Let's work together to find some common ground for communication, cooperation and mutual support, so that you can pursue your interests as a wildlife breeder while at the same time promoting conservation of the same animals and others in their natural habitat.

Hobart Smith comments

"Strange that your California dealer should attack 'conservationism' when his breeding work is one aspect of conservationism."

Duane Smith of the Michigan Society of Herpetologists

wrote in their January, 1988, Newsletter:
"I believe that we, as hobbyists, breeders, and business people, have a definite interest in promoting the preservation and expansion of these animals; in fact, being a group that is already organized and interested in herps uniquely qualifies us to 'do something."'

A thousand praises to Steve Hammond a breeder from Louisville KY!

At the end of his most recent price list he writes:
"We are members/supporters of. Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund, The Cousteau Society, The Wilderness Society and The National Geographic Society (with addresses for all). Please join the fight to preserve our Earth's wilderness and wildlife. There is strength in numbers and by supporting these organizations and others like them you and I can make a difference."

The California Fish and Game Commission

is considering listing the desert tortoise as a Threatened Species. Populations of this reptile have come under increasing pressure from development, off-road vehicle use, grazing of native grasses by imported cattle, chemical and pesticide use and the rest of the usual list of man's degradation of the natural environ- ment. Additionally, many tortoise corpses have been found which were the victims of gunshots. It appears some folks are using them for target practice. Kristin Berry, a wildlife biologist with the Bureau of Land Management said, "We know they've dropped over 90% in the last 50 years. In the last seven or eight years, we've probably had a 50% drop in numbers and a retraction of their western Mojave habitat.' It appears there were 1,000 tortoises per square mile in the 1920's. Even in protected areas such as the Desert Tortoise Natural Area, the numbers are now no greater than about 200 per square mile. California's proposed listing would be a great benefit to this animal. I encourage your involvement in this issue. You can write letters in support of the listing to: Southwestern Herpetologists Society, P.O. Box 7469, Van Nuys, CA, 91409.

Western law enforcement oficers

seized hundreds of rattlesnakes and exotic desert animals from homes, shops and offices in Arizona and eight other states in early January. More than a dozen people were arrested and more arrests are expected after sales documents can be examined. Commercial poaching is a big business in the west. State and Federal officials report hundreds of people are engaged in trapping wildlife, much of which is protected by state and Federal laws. These animals are then resold to domestic and foreign collectors. Based on evidence seized in the raids and previous investigations, officials estimate the volume of illicit sales runs into many millions of dollars annually nationwide. Undercover investigators opened a store in Phoenix, named Black River Trading Company, to identify illegal poachers and their customers. In Arizona, several types of rare rattlers were seized in dealers homes along with hundreds of desert creatures including Gila monsters. In California, 149 snakes - including two cobras and a gaboon viper - were taken. Investigators say that the laws meant to protect rare species from extinction had placed a premium on them by making them even more sought-after by dealers and collectors. A law enforcement officer said, "To them, it's like collecting classic cars.' Gregory Laret of the CA Department of Fish and Game said, Their object is to obtain a collection that is unique and dangerous."

A twelve year old girl

successfully pried a 3 1/2 foot alligator off her after it had grabbed her legs. Her mother said, "Basically, she scared the alligator off." The child said, "It didn't hurt at all. I just looked down and there was an alligator on my leg. Save this for the next time someone calls an alligator a life threatening reptile!

A Florida development has been approved

which will evict a community of gopher tortoises and turn their 26 acre habitat into mobile home lots. The developer proposes using golf courses as the project's "open or green areas." The developer has also stated that the trees are an eyesore that would not be appreciated by the occupants of the mobile homes. A consultant said that the 26 acre tract of oaks does not need to be saved because it is small and does not provide habitat for rare or endangered species.

A hunting ban on gopher tortoises

is being considered by the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. Under current rules, people can legally trap and kill two gopher tortoises per day from October to December. The final vote will be taken on March 4, 1988.

The Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles

has passed a resolution recommending to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources modification of Georgia Game and Fish Law #27-1-30 which prohibits the use of chemicals, gas or smokers to drive animals from burrows except for poisonous snakes. The SSAR points out that other animals including gopher tortoises and eastern indigo snakes live in burrows with poisonous snakes and that those persons gassing the burrows have no way to tell if there is even one poisonous snake in a given burrow. SSAR is requesting removal of the exemption allowing this use of poisonous chemicals.

Terry Hall of the North Texas Herpetological Society

published an original description of the 'Lounge Lizard (Agama barrymanilowii) which is found in urban and suburban environments, usually near neon. Fond of grasshoppers, barflies, and especially beer nuts". (NTHS, Jan. 1988)

New members from Kalamazoo write:

"My husband and I have come in contact with you because we bought a green iguana a few months ago. The pet store we purchased it from supplied us with one of your care sheets and our iguana is thriving. Since that time we went to another pet store and looked at their lizards only to find them horribly mistreating their animals. We supplied them with a care sheet but no changes in condition were made. We called the humane society and the pet store inspector but they said no laws covered lizards. Is this true in Michigan? Is there anything we can do?"

Dear Readers (most especially newsletter editors)

the Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society is a copyrighted publication. I personally do not mind you copying word-for-word from this column as long as you properly credit the publication which so graciously publishes this column. A proper citation includes the name (or abbreviated name) of the publication, the volume, number and page. Additionally, I spend many hours collecting, typing, writing and laboring on this column and would most sincerely appreciate it if you would cite my name. This is most important when you copy my sassy comments word-for-word. Otherwise, your readers may think it is you being rude, not me. THANK YOU.

April 1988

Absolutely marvelous news

was received from the Gopher Tortoise Council! The Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission formally approved the end of gopher tortoise harvesting throughout the state. GTC has worked for 10 years to close the hunting season for this severely endangered Please write Col. Robert M. Brantly, FGFWFC, 620 South Meridian St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600 thanking him for their wonderful action and requesting that the decision be widely publicized and enforced. Additionally, new FGFWFC regulations prohibit the sale of any box turtle and limits possession to 2 loggerhead musk turtles (Sternotherus minor minor). Pet trade collectors have eliminated whole populations from their native rivers in north central Florida. As so often happens, abuse brings regulation.

New York herpetologists

search for the threatened tiger salamander, Ambystoma tigrinum. Development on Long Island has imperiled the creature, which is known mainly from a few remote sites. Andrew Sabin, a commodities broker and volunteer of the South Fork-Shelter Island chapter of The Nature Conservancy, has spent eight years searching for rare species. He said, "I'm not doing this to stop development." However, some developers and local government officials feel that he and other environmentalists are trying to ruin proposed subdivisions. Alvin Briesch, senior wildlife biologists in the Endangered Species Unit of NY's Department of Environmental Conservation said that the state would seek a largely undisturbed border of about 500 feet around the pond.

Are green tree pythons always green?

Not when they are babies! The Lincoln Park Zoo received three young ones from the Dallas Zoo. They are the first of six animals which will be part of a new breeding program. You can visit them, from 10 am to 2 pm daily, on the lower level of the Reptile House.

The Shedd Aquarium

sent off its 6 year old loggerhead turtle, Caretta caretta, on a one-way trip to Florida. The turtle was presented to the aquarium when it was a 4 pound hatchling in 1982. It now weighs over 100 pounds with a 3 foot shell. It will be tagged and released off the east coast of Florida. But does it know what a shrimp boat looks like?

A toadally awesome

Bufo marinus will be listed in the next edition of the Guinness Book of World Records. The marine toad, known only as "Toad A" weighs 5 pounds 1 1/2 ounces and is 9 nine inches square. Marine toads have been introduced to many areas around the world and have been implicated in disturbances to many local species. If proposed regulations are accepted in New York, the keeping of one of these overstuffed amphibians will require a permit.

Sentancing is expected

for Mike Fabing, owner of the infamous, "life threatening" Burmese pythons known as "Adam" and "Eve" on April 19th. At that time the defendant may have some input on where his snakes will be kept pending appeal. Newspaper clippings I've been sent have listed the creatures as 18 to 20 feet in length. Honestly! Actually their rough lengths are: Eve 15', Adam 17', Crusher (a boa constrictor) 6' and the now deceased alligator, 42". Obviously, calling every boa over 6 feet in length, "life threatening" is silly - unless you are a hamster.

A Federal Grand Jury

in Los Angeles returned a 29 count indictment charging an inspector with the Fish and Wildlife Service with conspiracy, receiving bribes and illegally importing more than 50,000 animals protected by the CITES treaty. The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to bring eight shipments containing live boa constrictors, iguanas, caimans, mud turtles and tegus from Colombia to the US through Panama. The FWS inspector indicted allegedly permitted the shipments to enter the US. The estimated retail value of the animals was over $400,000. Investigation continues for other unindicted co-conspirators. This is reportedly the first corruption case brought against any FWS inspectors. Somehow, $8.00 per animal seems too little to risk one's life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

Paul Edwards of the Nebraska

Herp. Society recently gave a presentation on the International Husbandry Symposium held in Chicago last summer. Their newsletter reports "His presentation focused on the nice looking ladies...


herp. notables..." Either this indicates Paul's particular herpetological speciality, or makes a statement about the scientific impact of IHS.

Greetings to the newly formed

Tucson Herp. Society! We received their very first newsletter, neatly printed and full of interesting information. If you wish to become a charter member, send $10 to: David L. Hardy, MD, THS, PO Box 31531, Tucson, AZ 85751-1531. Please refer to this column.

The California Department of Fish and Game

has formed the California Advisory Committee on Herpetology. Two members of the San Diego Herp. Society are members of the committee which has as its priorities the preparation of a rule permitting the commercial captive propagation of native California herps, annual review of protected and prohibited species, the clarification of the "bag limits" for collectors and other timely topics. Persons wishing to make comments to the committee are urged to write Vince Scheidt, c/o The San Diego Herp. Society, PO Box 4439, San Diego, CA 92104-0439.

The most venomous animal on Earth

is not a snake! International Wildlife Magazine conducted a survey of medical and zoological experts which revealed that Australia's box jellyfish, which can kill a swimmer in as little as 30 seconds, should be considered the most poisonous animal. Number two is the beaked sea snake, Enhydrina schistosa. Most human victims are Southeast Asian fishermen, killed when they accidentally net snakes along with the rest of their catch. Next are the blue-ringed octopus, the stonefish, scorpions, the funnel-web spider. The rest of the list are terrestrial snakes: the taipan, the eastern brown snake of Australia, the king cobra and the black mamba.

The good news/bad news department.

Hostilities in Nicaragua - as unfortunate as they are - mean good news for sea turtles. Practically all commerce in that war torn nation has stopped, including trade in and killing of sea turtles. However, Panama's political difficulties may slow approval of that nation's first marine park, Isla Bastimento. Leatherback, green and hawksbill sea turtles, all critically imperiled, nest on the beaches there.

The flattened musk turtle,

Sternotherus depressus, and the Alabaman red-bellied turtle, Pseudemys alabamensis, have been added to the US list of Endangered and Threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The musk turtle has been reduced in both numbers and extent of range by collectors, disease and loss of habitat due to silt and water pollution. The red-bellied turtle seems to only nest on an island in the lower floodplain of the Mobile River. Birds, most espcially the fish crow, are very fond of turtle eggs and humans use the beaches for recreation. Neither are very helpful to reproductive success. Pet trade collectors further threaten the red-belly.

Two protesters from Earth First

chained themselves to a fence at a city park in Taylor, TX during the local rattlesnake roundup. Another 10 people picketed stating that the roundup disturbs the central Texas environment and harms wildlife. My personal thanks to those committed individuals.

The Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish

Commission will permit hunters to legally "harvest" alligators next September for the first time in 26 years. Environmentalists pointed out that hunting may have endangered the animal in the first place and that people are likely to get hurt since the law prohibits the use of firearms to hunt gators. Officials expect the hunt to net about 1,500 animals. Currently about 1,000 are killed each year for research and 3,000 are killed after they become a "nuisance." Well, at least they're not following the famous cartoon's advice about what to do when you're up to your ears in alligators, they have few enough swamps left as it is!

"Eat your dinner before it eats you!"

proclaimed the London Evening Standard atop an article about the popularity of farm-raised alligator meat in England. Recent recipes for the critter include Alligator Pimavera and Szechuan Spicy Alligator. In a "blind" taste test, volunteers were fed pork which they had been told was alligator. Many of them couldn't eat it! They claimed it was too fishy, too scaly and too swampy to eat. Did they wash it down with Gator Aid?

Members interested in participating

in drafting a proposed exotic animal law should get a copy of the 3rd draft from the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study Group, c/o Parasitology College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602. After you have had a chance to read it - your comments will be most welcome. This is an opportunity for all herpetoculturists to become involved in what may become "model" legislation for the keeping and breeding of exotic herps.

A local member

recently visited a pet store in the far southwestern Chicago suburbs. After looking at the herps, he asked the owner if the store would be interested in buying some of his hatchlings. He reports the owner said no, because the snakes in question would grow to more than four feet. He had been visited by a representative of the Department of Agriculture and the Illinois Department of Conservation who informed him that snakes over four feet are now illegal! I know the Department of Agriculture has sweeping powers under the Pet Shop Regulations, but wouldn't it be nice if they would publish and let us all know their regulatory decisions?

Fellow subscribers to

Herpetofauna News are about to be in for a shock. If you are a member of the Fauna and Flora Preservation Society, you will continue to receive your copy in the mail. To save costs, copies for non-members will be distributed only through other societies and in batches of 10 or more. Herp societies should consider signing up for 10 copies. I'm sure your members will be most interested in this excellent publication, and it's still cheap. Write Tom Langton, FFPS, c/o Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London NW1 4RY.

After a month of careful thought,

I would like to say a few words to Tom Porter, whose letter was featured in last months' column.
Personally, I believe that "conservationism" has not saved any species. Earth has experienced cyclical extinctions, usually at 26 million year intervals. The current wave of Man-induced extinctions falls at the 13 million year mark. Even if we, as caring human beings, are working to "save" animals, who is to say that they will remain "saved?" What if we, the little people, work to "save" animals, only to find that humans have so degraded the atmosphere that nothing on Earth will survive? I think that "conservationism" is a wholistic approach to the problems confronting our generation. I oppose the production of toxic wastes, but I can do little about it. I oppose rampant development, but cannot singlehandedly stop it. I oppose the fouling of our air and water, but can do nothing, alone. "Conservationism", which you so roundly condemn, is the joining together of many people with a common hope - that our children, and theirs, will be able to breathe the air, drink the water and see at least a little of the biological diversity that once was planet Earth. Captive propagation has a very unique and valuable role. However, I cannot agree with you that pet trade smugglers are "good guys." Mammalian smugglers routinely kill mothers to capture young. Fish collectors use sodium cyanide to flush tropicals from their home waters and into plastic bags, killing coral and other reef animals. Bird collectors capture spectacular animals, then bind them into small packages and attempt to smuggle them into this country - killing thousands along the way. I can't imagine the average illegal reptile collector cares for the animals as individuals, merely as living dollar signs. The pet smuggling trade is a trail of death from beginning to end. Legal and responsible importation does occur. Our zoos trade and acquire endangered animals regularly. Many zoos have established breeding programs for all kinds of animals. Typically, however, they refuse to release "extra" animals to non-professionals. Why? Because of bad experiences with unscrupulous individuals in the past. It is a shame that the actions of the few have corrupted what could otherwise be a wonderful cooperation between amateur and professional. I suggest you read "The Last Extinction" edited by Les Kaufman and Kenneth Mallory, published by New England Aquarium/The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA 1986. You may better understand "conservationism" and its desperate importance to our planet. I did not appreciate your venom, nor some of your more personal remarks, but I can try to understand your pain and frustration. Please let's try to work together for the salvation of Earth - the only home we're likely to have.

Thanks to all who have sent material for this column!

May 1988

Turtle lovers are requested

to boycott all shrimp and shrimp products until the operators of Gulf Coast shrimp boats install their TEDs. The TX shrimp boat owners were offered a diesel fuel rebate from the State of TX, in the amount of $975,000. This would have been enough to pay for aTED on every boat in the area. We thought we had this all sewn up, until Federal Judge, Patrick Car, issued an injunction on all TED use. The Justice Department will file a motion to vacate his injunction. However, many Louisiana and Texas shrimpers are fishing outside the 15 mile limit and many have stated that they'll never use a TED. The cheapest TED is made of netting and costs $50.00 per net. The "Georgia Jumper" TED, invented by shrimper Sinkey Boone, costs about $210 per net. Jane Scheidler of the Houston Audubon Society is coordinating the "Don't eat shrimp" effort. You can contact her at (713) 932-1639 if you or your organization can help. There are approximately 500 female ridley turtles, Lepidochelys kempii left on this whole planet. I doubt if any of us will die if we can't eat shrimp, but a lot of turtles will die if TEDs aren't in use on all U.S. shrimp boats, and soon!

The Endangered Species Act

has still not been voted on by the U.S. Senate. Please call your senators at (202) 224-3121 today! Ask if they support or co-sponsor S-675 without any amendments that would allow shrimping without TEDS. Also, ask them to contact you to let you know how they voted - when they've voted. Call your local public library if you want the exact office number, their name, or party affiliation, or mailing address - if you prefer to write.

The New Mexico Herpetological Society

requests your help! The First Annual Wild West Rattlesnake Roundup was held in Alamogordo, N.M., April 15-17. Please write Jim Stuart, President, NMHS, Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131 to find out how you can help make this event the last annual RRU there!

With the theme of,

"Rattlesnake roundups are educational only if you are a student of abnormal psychchology," The Greater San Antonio Herpetological Society is diligently working with about 20 other conservation groups on the issue of Rattlesnake Roundups in TX. You can contact: Jim Seippel, Chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee, GSAHS, Austin, TX.

The International President

of the Lions Clubs wrote me that if we can provide proof that local Lions Clubs are participating in rattlesnake roundups, the Public Relations Manager of the International Lions will be happy to discuss local participation in these types of events. Please write Mr. Pat Cannon, Public Relations Manager, Lions Clubs, 300-22nd Street, Oak Brook, IL 60570-0001.

Those new members in Kalamazoo

got results from their local pet store! The manager of the store agreed to a meeting after being given a copy of a proposed flyer which read "(store) Kills Its Pets...abuses include: no UV lighting, rotting food...rotting lizard in heat rock..." The flyer went on to provide the name and address of the local paper and information on an animal rights group. The manager met with the reptile lovers to prevent the distribution of the flyers and, I'm happy to report is now making every attempt to care for his reptiles properly. Thanks, Kristen and Josh for caring!

The New York Times

reports that an ancient, American Indian petroglyph was discovered overlooking the Bronx River. It was in the shape of a turtle. It may have been carved between 400 to 1000 years ago by Delaware Indians as a clan design or a symbol of the creation myth. The rock has been moved to the Botanical Gardens.


Footwear had a great ad in People! A snake slithering beautifully on a tennis sneaker with a caption that they "...(do) not promote the use of authentic reptile or exotic animal skins in the manufacture of any of its products."

In a recent letter

in Practical Homeowner, some NY residents mentioned the problem they were having with snakes in their 150 year old basement. The suggestion given was to seal all the cracks and holes in the basement. What I think their columnist left out for these poor people is that the snakes are probably down there for rodents!

Keith Sutton answered questions

about the new Arkansas Game and Fish Commission code regarding turtles in a recent article in Arkansas Game and Fish Magazine. Aquatic turtles may be taken by persons with appropriate permits. No box turtles may be taken since the state wildlife code contains no provision for their harvest but does protect all wildlife, including non-game. Residents may keep up to six box turtles as pets - as long as they aren't ornate box turtles. The species is rare in Arkansas and has declined throughout its range because of agricultural land modifications and roads - where hundreds die every year. Turtles aren't the only creatures on the "hands off" list: cave-dwelling species, non-game birds, bats, endangered species and hellbenders are no longer legal quarry in the state.

Steve Hammond replies to Tom Porter:

"I read Tom Porter's essay "The Kiss of Death" in the premier issue of The Vivarium (publication of the American Federation of Herpetoculturists) and found it quite though provoking. In this essay, he makes some very valid points. I would recommend anyone interested in conservation and the future of herpetoculture to read it - with an open mind. However, I found Mr. Porter's letter to you in last month's CHS Bulletin somewhat disturbing to say the least. Surely Tom realizes that there are other animals on the planet besides "herps" and that a great many of these animals are seriously threatened with extinction. How many individuals could start a Black Rhino or a Humpback Whale captive breeding project? Even if species are saved in captive breeding programs it will be a sad state of affairs if they no longer survive in the wild. Conservation of nature is a spiritual necessity of the highest order. Supporting conservation does not have to mean supporting ill conceived laws restricting amateur hobbyists. Private breeders should be commended and supported, not restricted. As most herpetoculturists know, there is still a lot of prejudice in this society against "herps" and snakes in particular. This is reflected in much of the proposed legislation pertaining to the rights of herpetoculturists. The article by Michael Fabing in the last CHS Bulletin, is but one example of this prejudice. There are a lot of "herp" enthusiasts now, and if we bank together we can protect our rights to pursue our hobby. That is the idea behind the newly formed American Federation of Herpetoculturists...Most if not all herpetologists believe in evolution. The stages of evolution are particularly obvious in this animal group. Belieiving and knowing this, we then realize that man didn't spring forth fully formed to dominate and destroy lesser lifeforms, but rather evolved out of these forms, and thus, many is integrally linked to the rest of nature the Earth is the universal mother. But now she lies raped and dying by the side of the road. Will you stop and help? Or will you just stick your head in the sand, pretend that all is grand and hope that everything turns out ok? I would hope you would consider joining any of these groups - all are fighting for our Mom! Greenpeace, PO Box 3720, Washington, DC 20007 $15; World Wildlife Fund, 1250-24th St. NW, Wash., DC 20077-9735 $15; The Cousteau Society, 930 W. 21st St, Norfolk, VA 23517-9984 $20; The Wilderness Society, 1400 Eye St. NW, Wash., DC 20005 $15; The American Federation of Herpetoculturists, PO Box 1131, Lakeside, CA 92040 $20; The Nature Conservancy, 1800 N. Kent St., Arlington, VA 22209 $15.

Robert Marsho replies

"I would like to clarify and then respond to Steve Barten's chastising commentary, which appeared in your newsletter bulletin *March, 1988), concerning an interview the Wiscondin Herpetological Society published in our January, 1988 newsletter, "Disarming the Armed." In Steve's review of our interview he either misunderstood or wasn't clear on what was said. I would like to address those points so that everyone is clear on them. First of all, as Steve mentioned, I did open up the interview with the statement: "I strongly urge you not to attempt to perform this operation unless you have the experience or are significantly educated in this area." However, Steve left out or overlooked the following sentence, which I felt further emphasized the potential dangers in duplicating this procedure; it went on to say, "It can be very dangerous and life threatening for you and the reptile." ... Steve also misrepresented what Todd said about hypothermia as a use for anesthesia in the interview. Todd said, "This way bothered me..." Another error in Steve's commentary was that he claimed the zoo gave Todd the drug, Ketamine. That's not true! The zoo provided Todd with the name of the drug that they were using; the name only. He got the actual drug from an independent source. The reason he wanted the drug is because he wanted to do the procedure as humanely as possible. Still another point Steve attacks is Todd's $40 fee for doing the procedure for other people's venomous snakes, calling it "practicing veterinary medicine." I'm not going to get into the legalistic diatribes of this argument but I feel I should share with your audience why Todd asked for a fee and let your readers decide. Todd thought the fee was a fair cost because he would have to provide care and feed for the snake until he was able to get it to eat its food dead. The reason for that is obvious, a devenomized snake can't kill its food anylonger (sic). Then too, after the procedure he would have to care and feed it while it's under observation for any possible post operative difficulties. Furthermore if he would do it for free, he felt everybody, including their mothers', would be beating down his door to do this procedure to their newly caught snakes and in this way he felt the $40 fee would also put some financial buffers, in such a way, that it would prevent this likely phenomena fron occurring. Lastly, he felt someone who could afford the fee would mostly likely (sic) be a responsible adult. Finally, Steve finishes off by questioning the sanity in publishing such a descriptive interview for public consumption. Well the WHS constitution does not allow for Steve's definition of "responsible leadership," that is, our constitution does not allow our elected and/or appointed leaders to practice their paternalistic wisdoms in a discriminating fashion in regards to what kind of information should be published for membership consumption. Our constitution provides for a participatory type of democracy whereby the President presides but the membership govern (sic) and in theory, the writers of our constitution believed, if the membership is going to govern intelligently they have to be informed for better or for worse. The newsletter policy when I was editor was to do the interview, the whys, hows, and the wherefores (sic); not to judge! I left that for our members to do. They judge, we print! But just for the record the WHS is guilty of publishing a descriptive way of devenomizing venomous snakes but the original sin was committed by a licensed veterinarian. It was his published paper that Todd and his friend learned the procedure from. Robert L. Marsho P.S. Thank you for your informative commentary." To avoid misquotation, I did not edit Robert's letter. EB

Steve Barten replies

to Robert Marsho's letter: Surgery by unlicensed non-veterinarians is morally, ethically, and legally wrong. A person must be a graduate of an accredited college of veterinary medicine and pass both state and national licensing examinations to legally practice veterinary medicine. The person described in the recent devenomation article had not completed either requirement. To anesthetize animals with Ketamine, a prescription-only controlled substance, without the benefit of a valid prescription is also illegal. The reptiles receiving Ketamine underwent increased risk because their surgeon was not trained or licensed to use anesthetics. Inhalation gas anesthesia, which requires a gas anesthetic machine to use, is preferred over Ketamine for most surgical procedures. The subject also described how to use hypothermia (lowered body temperature), enabling any reader to duplicate his surgical efforts using only a refrigerator. This was in spite of the fact that it is ineffective and inhumane as an anesthetic, so using it "bothered" him. Snakes feel pain as much as any other animal or man. The publishing of the devenomation article by the WHS was justified by pointing out that the original description of the devenomation procedure was written by a licensed veterinarian. The original description appeared in a scientific veterinary journal for other veterinarians to apply to zoo, musuem, and research animals, NOT HOUSEHOLD PETS! The veterinarian who wrote the scientific article also signed his name to his article. The author and the WHS have the First Amendment right to publish whatever they deem fit. Never the less, as a herpetologist I am concerned about the strong prejudice the public holds for anything relating to snakes. Laws that prohibit the ownership of snakes often result. One such law, restricting the ownership of all wildlife is currently being considered in Wisconsin. Articles promoting the devenomation of snakes by untrained persons cannot help but make herpetologists as a group appear irresponsible and thus deserve whatever legal restrictions come about. As a veterinarian, my concerns must lie with the unfortunate reptiles forced to endure this surgery. If my protest has caused just one person to reconsider duplicating this technique, I can feel my efforts have served a purpose. Sincerely, Stephen L. Barten, D.V.M."

Lest anyone think

that Steve is defending veterinarians because he feels that vets should do all procedures and get all the money, I would like to tell you a story...Those of you who were subscribers to the CHS Newsletter and have your September 1986 issue handy, may wish to look up my article therein. I described picking up a turtle which had been struck by a car and was badly cracked, bleeding and having what would be called seizures, if it had been human. What I left out was that when we arrived at our hotel in the middle of Iowa, I called Steve's service (even though I did not know him very well, and it was 10:30 at night) and left the hotel phone number. About an hour later, Steve called back and after advising me how to care for the animal, apologized profusely for not having called sooner. He had just come out of the delivery room with his wife, and their second child! Steve has a marvelous, personal committment to the care and well being of his patients.

Walt Whitman

once wrote "After you exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, love, and so on - have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear -- what remais? Nature remains: to bring out from their torpid recesses the affinities of a man or woman with the open air -- the sun by day and the stars of heaven by night."

June 1988

Whilst NOAH exalts on larks

let's share marvelous reptile monikers...Teachers in Needham, MA share a 20 lb. boa constrictor with young school childen. The boa's name is Julius Squeezer. No children have as yet been eaten by this terribly dangerous reptile. Local CHS members have a tiny snapper, named "Jaws." In accordance with Bulletin policy, if I use what you write, I must use your name, so don't send anything of which you may be embarrassed!

World Wildlife Fund

provided $11,000 for a sea turtle population study on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. While this was the only project specifically aimed at herps, other projects including funding for reserves and rainforest studies benefit local reptiles and amphibians.

Turtle crossing signs

have been posed in the Weaver area of Wabasha County in southeastern Minnesota and motorists are advised to slow down on the rural highway near Minneiska. The only other area of the U.S. known to have turtle crossing signs is Cape May, NJ.

In the never-ending debate

on Salmonella and tiny turles, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA 254: 237-239 & 265) and BioScience (38, 2: 76-79) have added to the controversy. In the early 1970s, the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta estimated that 280,000 cases or 14% of all cases of human salmonellosis in the US could be classified as turtle associated. Ron Siebeling of Lousiana State University in Baton Rouge has been studying salmonella in turtles since 1974 and was instrumental in working with some turtle farmers to develop an egg dipping program which appears to produce disease-free hatchlings. In 1975, the Food and Drug Administration enacted legislation prohibiting the distribution or sale of red-eared sliders within the US. Canada banned pet turtle importation in 1976. From 1976 to 1978, over 1 million eggs were treated and almost 2000 hatchlings examined for infection. Untreated eggs showed a 70% infection rate versus 0.15% in treated eggs. The turtle industry contacted the FDA and requested a reversal of the domestic ban. Since the gentamicin sulfate was labelled "for turkey egg dipping" and was not approved for use on turtle eggs, the FDA could not allow domestic marketing of these hatchlings. The Louisiana State Legislature passed a bill requring all farmers to use the "Siebeling method" of anitmicrobial sanitization to treat turtles intended for export and pet distribution. However, some farmers do not use the process. Recent figures suggest that 3 to 4 million turtles a year are exported. Of these, about 60% are shipped to the Far East. A sterile plastic bubble has been invented to ship disease-free turtles, isolated from contamination from other animals. If you have comments on this issue, please write the Food and Drug Administration, Washington, D.C. 20215.

The Desert Tortoise Preserve

Committee would like to thank each and every person who wrote supporting their request for land acquisition funds for the Desert Tortoise Natural Area and the Chuckwalla Bench Area. Congress appropriated $600,000 from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to purchase private inholdings on these properties. They are trying to obtain additional funding. For information on how you can help, contact: DTPC, P.O. Box 453, Ridgecrest, CA 93555.

Former U.S. President,

Jimmy Carter wrote that rattlesnakes smell like bobwhite quail, which is why so many bird dogs, sniffing ou their prey, wind up with snake bites!

Rattlesnake Roundups have suddenly

become a "hot" news item. It all began in the Chicago Tribune on April 24 with an article by Paul Weingarten. He wrote, "So now, in one of the most quixotic crusades in the history of the environmental movement, activists from 26 animal rights and ecology groups in Texas have banded together to transform the deadly rattlesnake into the latest ecological darling." The lead-off article in Time Magazine, May 23 features a picture of "Miss Snake Charmer" and a Texas rattlesnake. It looks as though the snake's mouth has been sewn shut. Of the 15 or 16 paragraphs, only one voices any ecological concern. The Tribune's address is 435 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60610 and Letters to the Editors of Time can be addressed to the Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, NY 10020 and must include writer's name, address and home phone. I strongly urge everyone concerned with the rattlesnake roundup issue to write Time and suggest a followup story on dispensing gasoline in unlicensed containers, cruelty to animals and ecological shortsightedness. Short and succinct letters stand a better chance of being published, but an outpouring of protest from the herp community couldn't hurt.

The Pine Barrens tree frog

, the state of New Jersey, Ocean City College, South America and Africa share a common project. The college needed a bridge, state endangered tree frogs lived in the swamp to be bridged, and the state Department of Environmental Protection provided construction requirements and details. The first choice material was a super hardwood from South America, but civil disturbances forced the use of bongossi wood from Africa which is so hard that carpenters had to drill and peg the bridge together. A five-year post construction survey will monitor use impact. The 100 foot bridge spans the 6 foot stream with 150 foot walls on either side of the bridge to prevent roadkills.

The New York Times reports on some behavior

that must be of paramount interest to Dr. Miller. Researchers have determined that geckos incubated at 79 degrees hatched female, while those at 90 degrees were males. They also found that the few females that hatched from eggs at higher temperatures ("hot females") behaved as if they were males at maturity, courting "cold females" and repelling the advances of true males. The researchers discovered that an underlying effect of incubation temperature is to permanently set the hormone balance of female geckos. Aggression in both males and females appears to be related to incubation temperatures since those incubated at high temperatures are significantly more agressive than those from cooler eggs.

If you hear of any planned

balloon launches, please try to persuade the organizers to tether the balloons and bring them down again after the ceremony as was done at the Pan American games in Indianapolis. As balloon launches have become more popular, beachcombers and researchers have been finding increasing numbers of balloons at high tide mark - and in the throats and stomachs of dead marine animals. A recent launch used 500,000 balloons marked "Triangle Coalition" from as many as 1,000 schools in an effort to map weather patterns. Each balloon had a card to be mailed back to the Coalition. An activist in New Jersey suggested that cards found on New Jersey beaches should first be turned over to the local authorities for littering citations!

July 1988

The Brevard Sea Turtle

Protection Society has been prevented from using all-terrain vehicles to patrol beaches at night. A member of the Society complained to the police that spotlights on the estate of Gannett Company Chairman Allen Neuharth were too bright. Bright lights disturb nesting instincts and the city of Cocoa Beach has an ordinance against them. Lights must be turned off along the beaches in Brevard from May 1 to October 31. Cocoa Beach police had inspected Neuharth's lights two weeks before the complaint and asked that some of the lights be turned off. The night of the complaint, Cocoa Beach police phoned Neuharth and at 12:15 am, a police officer inspected the lights and felt they violated the ordinance knocked on his door. Neuharth told the officer that the lights were in compliance and wrote a letter to the Mayor of Cocoa Beach complaining of late night harrasment, "...I also know, as I'm sure you do, that sea turtle soap-boxers are like all other special-interest pressure groups. They get carried away with their causes..." He also threatened a lawsuit if he was bothered again. The day the letter was received, the Sea Turtle Protection Society was told they could not use their ATVs because they did not have a special permit, even though city code enforcement and police officers have ridden with group members for the past two years. The society requested a special permit and received a written denial from the Cocoa Beach City Manager. The President of the Society, Peter Bandre said that the society will not be able to patrol the 6 mile stretch of beach without the ATVs and said, "As it is now, hatchlings in Cocoa Beach are doomed." Since Gannett Publications produces USA Today, Mr. Neuharth has a ready forum for his views and apparently has friends at City Hall who will block any further permit requests. This really seems a bit immature on Mr. Neuharth's part. Certainly turning off a light or two at 12:15 am is not the end of the world. All we can do is buy our local paper, not USA Today, and hope that he will realize that many people support conservation of sea turtles, even if that means he cannot turn night into day on his exclusive beachfront estate.

Memphis Zoo has

successfully bred their Colorado River toads. By the end of July, thousands of offspring will transform. What's the best way to handle that many toads? Charles Beck, Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians, joked, "Stir-fried!" Seriously, the toads will be made available for adoption by other zoos. They are also incubating seven shield-nose cobra eggs which should hatch in about a month. Beck said they have a "kind of cute little snub nose like a bulldog or pomeranian."

A security guard in Orlando, FL

saw an animal struck by a car. He thought it was a cat, but it turned out to be a 4 pound, 9 inch Bufo marinus with a broken leg. A FL biologist speculated that recent mild winters may have enabled the toads to migrate further north than usual.

An endangered Lepidochelys kempii

nested in a specially constructed artificial beach in Clearwater, FL intended to provide space for this imperiled species. The young female laid 21 eggs which were later moved to a turtle hatchery. It is not yet known whether the eggs are fertile.

The Audubon Zoo

in New Orleans, LA, just opened a "Reptile Encounter." Included are anacondas, pythons, boas, eyelash vipers, coral snakes, spiting cobras, sea turtles and poison arrow frogs. The zoo hopes that visitors will be more informed and positive about herpetofauna. San Diego Zoo opened a tropical rain forest exhibit with crocodiles, pythons, and water dragons as well as mammals and birds. SDZ staff hope that the "Tiger River" display will heighten awareness of the fragility of tropical ecosystems. Rodent lovers will enjoy the new MouseHouse at the Bronx Zoo in New York City. 32 species of snakefood are on display ranging from a half-ounce mouse gerbil to 4 pound slender-tailed cloud rats. When last seen, "Spot" was slithering east!

The unfortunate death

of a 4-year-old girl in Englewood, FL, and the concurrent publicity, may obscure some facts about human/alligator relations. The child was throwing rocks and kicking the water and may have even kicked the alligator which seized the her then dragged her body away where it was discovered after the animal had been killed by FL Department of Game & Fish officials. Long-term residents said that it is up to people to stay away from the gators, but newer "seasonal" residents said that the pond ought to be fenced and the animals eliminated. Since 1948, there have been 95 "unprovoked" attacks in Florida - and 6 deaths. Last year, 3,853 gators were killed by humans. According to state game officials, the chance of being attacked is about the same as getting struck by lightning. The first official alligator hunt since 1962 will start September 1, up to 3,000 will be killed. This number is in addition to the gators killed by private individuals and licensed hunters after they have interfered with humans. Trapper Lee Kramer was quoted, "Some say we've got a gator problem, but I say it's a people problem. Most of the time folks get into trouble when they start pestering the animal."

A baby alligator wandered

into a back yard in Memphis, TN, and has been claimed by a family and Memphis State University. The school says the gator may be the same one stolen last year, the family claims to have bought it for a pet in LA. MSU will keep it pending the return of a biology professor who will be able to determine if the marks on the animal correspond to those used in his research project.

A swanky Manhattan restaurant

is in hot water with turtle fans after offering "Potage a la Tortue" in imitation of the dinner in an Oscar-winning movie. The chef says that the soup is made from snapping turtles. In Detroit, a New York entrepeneur has opened the "Rattlesnake" restaurant, and was photographed wearing one of those horrible, stuffed rattler string tie clasps. According to the restaurant critic of the Detroit Free Press, the food and service are as terrible as the owner's taste in clothes.

The American Museum

of Natural History is collaborating with the National Park Service in a systematic survey of an historic colony of box turtles - some of whom may have been alive during the Civil War. 13 of the 375 turtles marked in the study were also marked by John Treadwell Nichols, a founder of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, curator at AMNH, and a relative of the family who owned the 613 acre estate. Since the Nichols turtles were marked in the 1930's, the area around the estate has been developed, eliminating habitat, and increasing the use of pesticides, road salt, mowers, heavy machinery, and trucks.

The Marine Mammal Stranding

Center found 81 stranded sea turtles in 1987. Only one, a Kemp's Ridley survived and was returned to Florida. Of the 80 "dead on beach" turtles, one leatherback was found to have balloons in his intestines which had caused his death. The Center also "turtle sat" 4 loggerheads en route from NY to FL. Since MMSC is on a shoestring budget, the turtles were fed oily mackerel which may have helped them to pass the latex balloons which were later found in their enclosure. I urge herpetologists to support the MMSC, P.O. Box 773, Brigantine, NJ 08203.

Ellen Nicol,

has reluctantly resigned the office of secretary of the Gopher Tortoise Council, but will remain the editor of their newsletter as well as processing dues and maintaining the membership list. Russ Burke has devised "a burrow bug" which can run a video camera into burrows. You can contact him at (904) 574-2434 or 893-4153 if you would like to rent the bug.

Diamond-backed terrapins

in Sea Isle City, NJ are the focus of an intensive educational effort. The turtles cross roads to lay eggs and it seems some drivers deliberately run over them. Schoolchildren have drawn posters, residents and visitors "adopt" turtles and every year 25,000 "Sara the Sea Isle Turtle" coloring books are distributed nationwide.

"Help a toad across the road"

sign-thief was apprehended and fined 25 pounds as well as being ordered to return the toad-warning sign to the police. The Flora and Fauna Preservation Society suggests that any such "interesting" signs be strongly fixed to their posts. I wish they would offer them for sale again. I'm sure plenty of American frog/toad fanciers would like to hang one in the herp room.

Robert Zappalorti,

was featured in "My Pine Barrens Land," a television program broadcast by WNJS-TV, Camden, NJ. He was shown tracking and examining a rare timber rattlesnake. I saw him at the SSAR/HL/ASIH meeting last week and must say stardom hasn't spoiled him a bit!

The Massachusetts Audubon Society

has four herpetology expeditions planned in 1988: Belize, Costa Rica, Australia, and the Peruvian Amazon. For further information contact: MA Audubon Society, Lincoln, MA 01773 (617) 259-9500.

A Tortoise Village

is being constructed in the Massif des Maures, in southern France. It will contain facilities to breed and rehabituate Hermann's tortoises donated by the public. For further information, write SOPTOM, c/o 84 Westboure Park Villas, Bayswater, London W2 5EB.

We usually think of Swedes

as law-abiding, conservation- ists, but for six months from July 1, 1987 to December 31, 1987 a relaxation of the ban on international trade led to a total of 60,000 reptiles passing through the country on their way to destinations worldwide, including the US. A recent report highlights the deficiencies in Swedish imple- mentation of CITES and indicates that their CITES measures are effectively non-existent. The Swedish World Wildlife Fund and the CITES Secretariat are considering measures to improve the situation.

ROMMY, The First Phylogenetic Rock Opera

premiered at the SSAR/HL/ASIH meeting in Ann Arbor, MI. Performed by people better known to the herpetological community for the high quality of their research than their skill with an electric guitar, this fast-paced and exciting show had vibrancy, power and drive! "In jokes" abounded, but even my 12-year-old daughter understood and enjoyed the plot. In brief, Rommy (CHS member, Paul Chippindale) seeks the best way to make sense out of his research data. He is guided by Randy Mooi, as "The Supervisor," Dr. Bogart (as himself) and Dr. Phenetico (Bob Murphy). Les Lowcock outdid himself on lead guitar and vocals, accompanied by Hugh Griffith, Larry Licht, Ross MacCulloch and Bob Murphy who played his drums with the abandon of that marvelous character from the Muppets. ROMMY will be presented in Toronto in November and possibly at the World Congress of Herpetology in Canterbury, UK. Hopefully, they will make a video of this wonderful performance - and make it available to herp societies worldwide. If you have a chance to see it - GO!

Regular readers of, and contributors

to this column know that while members are encouraged to send in clippings, few are ever thanked - by name - in print. I would like to make a very special exception this month for Mr. William Burnett of Memphis, TN. Ever since this publication was the "Newsletter" he and his mother sent in every herp-related clipping they can find! My personal thanks to everyone who contributed this month.

August 1988

Chinese fossils will be exhibited

at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the Boston Museum of Science and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in 1988 and 1989. Dr. Eugene Gaffney, Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at AMNH selected fossils from the Beijing Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleonanthropology with an emphasis on those which illuminate the origins of modern turtles, crocodiles and mammals. The exhibition, "From the Land of Dragons," will include 23 specimens from AMNH and 42 fossils from China. The exhibit will illustrate current research on the sequence of evolution. Traditionally, scientists have grouped species on the basis of general resemblances and the dating of fossil remains. Currently, the order in which the identifying characteristics evolved is used to establish relationships. To visually diagram the branching of various groups, drawings (called cladograms) will be on display with the fossils. Dr. Gaffney said he "didn't pick the biggest and most bizarre," but a 24-foot long slab of rock containing the skeletons of nine dicynodonts and a skeleton of a 40-foot long Datosaurus can certainly be considered both big and bizarre!

The Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission

approved the trapping and killing of up to 3,425 alligators in 28 designated areas during the 30-day fall alligator season. Each hunter has been given a 15 animal limit. More than 5,000 hunters met the deadline to apply for the 235 licenses offered in Florida's first legal alligator hunt in 25 years. The hunts will occur at night. Trappers will have to use snares, harpoons, spears or similar weapons to get the animal close enough to kill. The only firearm allowed is a "bangstick," a pole with a shotgun shell on the end that is used to kill a gator once it is snared and brought next to a boat. The license fee for Florida residents is $250, plus a $30 tag fee for each alligator killed. Non-Floridians will pay $1,000 plus the tag fee. All licensed hunters will have to attend a six-hour training session in early August. Gator meat sells for $5 a pound and the record sales price for the hides is $42.72 per linear foot (February, 1988). The alligator population in Florida has doubled since 1973 to its present total of about 1 million animals. The "nuisance alligator program" has been killing about 3,000 per year since 1962.

A catfish farmer in Mississippi

has found his affection for nature stretched a little too far. Sherman Yates said he has always loved wildlife, but when he saw a 300-pound alligator with "a whole mouthful of my fish," he just had to call in the authorities. He said, "I've heard of being generous, but let's not get ridiculous." The gator apparently came from the Yazoo National Wildlife Refuge seeking food and water in the midst of the drought. Catfish harvesting at the pond has been temporarily halted awaiting the arrival of Game and Fish hunters.

Memphis State University

is willing to give up the gator they claimed might have been part of a research project to the family who said it was their pet. Dr. Jim Payne, Chairman of MSU's biology department said that the Robertson family can have the gator, but he added, "I don't think it's a very good idea to have an alligator for a pet, much less giving one to a 5-year-old boy."

A National Geographic film crew,

is working on an Explorer segment to be aired on TBS-Cable in the fall. The producer, Susan Winslow, said that scenes of alligators in their natural habitat will be intercut with film from the Orlando area showing "nuisance alligators." Kent Vliet, a biologist with the University of Florida, who has filmed alligators close enough to touch (in the breeding season, no less!) commented, "by definition, a nuisance alligator is one the Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission gets a call on, whether it's doing anything or not." There was an increase in complaints following the incident in Englewood in June. Dennis David, an alligator biologist with the game and fish commission said they "get 50 to 75 calls a year...big gators eating people's cats, things like that...More callers seem to be just concerned about a gator in their lake. We offer the same assurances we always have." Those assurances include a suggestion not to feed alligators which may lead to the animals losing their natural fear of man. They also recommend not swimming in areas known to have alligators and most specifically not swimming at night.

How to get laws passed against big snakes...

An 8-foot long Burmese python disappeared in April from its owner's Northglen, CO apartment where it had been loose while a custom tank was being built. Animal experts searched everywhere, but found no trace of the 60-pound snake and guessed that "Baby" had slithered down a toilet or out through a hole in the wall. The Chicago Tribune reported on July 11th that a new tenant in the same apartment opened a cupboard drawer and found the snake. The snake's owner was delighted and apparently the new tenant was overwhelmed as well.

Fun City is really an urban jungle

according to George S. Watford, head of rescue services for the New York City chapter of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Last year, the Society aided 5,304 exotic animals - a category that includes everything except dogs and cats. Keeping exotic animals is against New York City health codes, but Watford has seen alligators, baboons, bears, caimans, chimpanzees and giant snakes in his 28 years on the job. He said nothing tops the 16-foot Burmese python that police discovered protecting a drug dealer's apartment in the borough of Queens. "I've never seen anything that large, anything that weighed more than me in the snake area. And I weigh 200 pounds," he added. The Society was involved with a sea turtle found in a bathroom in Manhattan and terrariums full of spitting cobras in Queens which had killed their owner. Once captured, exotic animals are given to zoos, sent to animal farms or released in the wild when possible. Watford said, "We take a dim view of the killing of any animal."

The Wall Street Journal

had a quite unsympathetic article about Allen Neuharth's brush with the Brevard County Sea Turtle Society and quoted a letter he wrote to the mayor, "I have literally helped put Cocoa Beach on the map." The mayor replied, "Following lengthy review of this matter, the City Manager and Police Chief have issued clear instructions that should prevent any recurrence of the type of action to which you were subjected."

Florida State Wildlife Officers

arrested four people and confiscated 1,088 sea turtle eggs after a stake out on a beach known to be a nest site for threatened loggerhead and endangered green sea turtles. The suspects apparently raided 10 or more nests in one evening and were caught with eggs in their car about 75 miles north of Miami. The maximum penalty is $1,000 and a year in jail. Unfortunately, the eggs were retrieved too late to save them.

Wheezing like an exhausted Darth Vader,

female leatherbacks struggle up Malaysian beaches to lay eggs unaware that official egg catchers are stowing them in sacks to be incubated at enclosed hatching areas. Local residents are allowed to harvest eggs only after 40,000 young have hatched and made it to the ocean. Nesting sea turtles also attract international tourists. Even though pamphlets aimed at tourists discourage bothering nesting females, the behavior of some local turtle watchers can be appalling, especially on Thursday nights - the start of the Muslim weekend. Peak laying season is late August, but turtles appear almost every night from July on. For further information, write the Malaysian Tourist Information Center, 818 West 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90017.

Health problems in a population of snapping turtles

and other "top end" predators are an indication of continuing pollution problems in the Great Lakes. The New York Times reports the turtles have impaired reproduction and exhibit a "wasting syndrome" which involves inexorable weight loss and body deformities. The causes of this ongoing pollution problem are subtle but include: leaching hazardous waste sites, disturbed river sediments which hold poisons deposited years ago and farm runoff. Additionally, some otherwise unexplained poisons fell from the skies from sources as far away as Latin America. Toxic chemicals continue to recycle through the food web, from water to top predator, to decaying predator corpse and back into the water again. Also, unknown pounds of long-banned toxins lie at the bottoms of tributary rivers and are continually washing down into the lakes. The good news is that the problem is being studied at all and I hope that the U.S. and Canada can come to an agreement to work on this subtle, complex and expensive situation.

"A stirring eve of hiss 'n' tell"

was the title of the Chicago Tribune Tempo article about the June CHS meeting. Magda Krance and a photographer attended our annual extravaganza and produced a well-written and informative article about our members and their pets. I thought from watching the photographer at work that he was primarily taking pictures of snakes, but when the article was published, half the pictures were of 6-foot or less snakes and half were of turtles. Ms. Krance repeated several of Martin Turunen's horribly punny snake names including Jake the Snake, Monty Python, Othello the black king snake, Sneka and David Boa. She continued, "Nothing brings out the members, though, like the Show & Tell, which may say something about their exhibitionist tendencies, or at least their bravery. These, after all, are people eager to stand up and speak publicly while trying to control writhing, sometimes recalcitrant reptiles." All in all we should be very pleased about this article - quite a change from articles about escaped snakes, killer gators and irresponsible herp owners.

Dear Readers, and most especially Newsletter editors

Part 2... Although most of you have gotten much better about sourcing the CHS Bulletin crediting the author (usually me). I'm sure you know how long it takes you to type and edit your newsletters. Since my column is LONGER than the usual offenders' ENTIRE publications, I'm sure you can appreciate how long it takes me to write (not copy) the items in this column and will understand my prideful request for specific acknowledgement. I would hate to have to publically mention each and every one of you in a future column...

Thanks to all who contributed this month!

Keep those cards, letters, and clippings coming...I do truly appreciate your help!

September 1988

Last month, I mentioned a population

of snapping turtles with heath problems. An alert reader sent me some additional details...A midwife on Cornwall Island called a Ward Stone, a biologist at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and asked if there was any connection between his survey of local wildlife and the illnesses she had observed in the people and animals of the Island. He looked, and discovered very high levels of heavy metals, pesticides and toxic chemicals in the flesh of snapping turtles. The PCB concentration was as high as 800 parts per million (ppm). The law of the state of New York considers anything over 50 ppm hazardous waste. Cornwall Island lies in the middle of the St. Lawrence River between New York State and Ontario, Canada. It is chilling to think that this area is drenched in toxic chemicals when we read in our history books that the water of the St. Lawrence was drinkable during our Revolutionary War.

The Senate passed the Endangered Species Act

reauthorization 93-2 on Thursday, July 28th, 1988, four years after the original authorization expired on October 1, 1985 and seven months after the House voted 399-16 for a similar package to renew the program. Final action depends on House and Senate negotiators working out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. However, the Senate approved a compromise concerning TEDs that will delay implementation until May, 1989. Additionally, a state circuit court judge in South Carolina put a restraining order on the use of TEDs in that state. Even though 2,000 adult carcasses have washed up on South Carolina beaches and the fact that there are less than 600 nesting Kemp's ridley females worldwide the shrimpers claim that beachfront development and dredging along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts has reduced nesting habitat killing more turtles than they do. South Carolina state officials are studying an appeal of the order. In July, a United States Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld the legality of the Federal regulation adopted last year and ordered shrimpers to start using the devices September 1. Horribly, the end of August is the end of the nesting season for 1988. I wonder how many will die before TEDs are in use.

Two Kemps ridley sea turtles hatched

in mid-August at the Clearwater Marine Science Center in Florida. UPI reported that the one ounce, palm-sized babies are believed to be the first hatched in captivity. Meanwhile, the state of Florida has advised all who hold permits allowing them to move sea turtle eggs to leave them alone, if at all possible. Research has shown that moving eggs changes the temperature of the hatchlings and therefore their sex. "Cooler" eggs produce more males - which isn't especially helpful for endangered populations. The state also urged local governments to limit the use of beach cleaning machines. Now the $64,000 questions - can they keep ATV's, illegal harvesters, predators and other slime away from the eggs; and wouldn't it be simpler to use artificial sources of heat on the protected (moved) eggs?

Setting precedent in DuPage County,

charges of keeping life-threatening reptiles were dropped at the request of Assistant Illinois State's Attorney Carmen Polo. He said, "We would have had to prove that the snakes are life-threatening to people, and the herpetologist we consulted couldn't really testify in good faith that ... a python doesn't really attack anything it can't eat. The law against keeping dangerous animals apparently was designed to prevent people from harboring venomous reptiles like cobras." It's kind of a shame that Tom Fabing's prosecutor didn't come to the same conclusions...

Oldies radio station WCXR-FM

in Rockville, Maryland withdrew their live turtles from a turtle race and replaced them with mechanical toys after complaints were received that the animals were being exploited. The turtle race was planned to promote a concert by the 1960's group, The Turtles.

Steve Reichling, of the Memphis Zoo

recently collected three hellbenders under permit from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission from the Spring River. Hellbender habitats at the zoo have cool, running water and plenty of oxygen in the water. They have been decreasing in the wild as rivers with cool, running water and plenty of oxygen have been destroyed or modified by man. The zoo hopes to breed its ugly but nifty amphibians.

Widespread population decline of native amphibians

has researchers "toad-ally" mystified reports High Country News. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologists in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming are unable to find leopard frogs and boreal toads in over 90% of their native habitat. In the San Juan Mountains of New Mexico and the Wasatch Range in Utah, entire populations are gone. Although biologists suspect that acid rain, toxics, pesticides, development and other habitat destruction may be responsible, none have been able to determine exactly why. Colorado biology professor Cindy Carey said, "In my view they're a critical indicator species. Something's killing them, and it's very widespread. What does that mean in terms of the future of other species, or people for that matter?"

"Buyer Beware!"

a booklet available from The World Wildlife Fund, 1250 - 24th St., NW, Washington, DC 20037, lists guidelines on U.S. restrictions on import of products made from endangered species. Reptiles skins and leathers are made into shoes, belts, handbags and other nauseating items. If companies or individuals bring or import these items into the U.S., the items will be seized and the malefactor fined. If you see these items displayed or advertised, the local enforcement department of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife would like to know:
  1. products made from most crocodile skins (here you need the booklet!);
  2. most lizardskin products originating in Brazil, Paraguay, and a number of Asian countries, including India, Nepal, and Pakistan;
  3. many snakeskin products originating in Latin America - including Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico and Paraguay - and some Asian countries like India; and
  4. all sea turtle products, including tortoiseshell jewelry and combs, leather, eggs, food products, and creams and cosmetics made with turtle oil.
Enforcement of the Endangered Species Act, The Lacey Act, The CITES Treaty and The Marine Mammal Protection Act is complicated by wildlife being illegally killed or collected in one country, smuggled into another, and then exported with false permits to a third, which makes its origin hard to trace.

While we're on the subject of reptile "fashion,"

how do CHS members feel about fake snake, mock turtle and pseudo lizard? I always thought that using fake furs, feathers, fins, leather, etcetera was a step in the right direction - but recently a good friend, and CHS board member was upset that I have a handbag with a strip of plastic snake. (I also have several fake belts, combs, pins and so forth - the legacy of presents and purchases over many years.) His point, and a valid one upon reflection, was that using anything that looks like reptile may encourage demand for reptilian accessories and pressure on endangered populations. Now I'm wondering how others feel about this.

The stench of 1,500 dead baby crocodiles

alerted the authorities to an illegal shipment of 8,000 from Colombia to Taiwan. Illegal trade in endangered wildlife has boomed to an estimated "value" of $1.5 billion a year. The CITES Treaty has been ratified by 95 countries, including the U.S., most of Latin America (but not Mexico), and many Asian, African and European nations. Signatories are supposed to enforce bans on commercial trade in endangered species. Jean-Patrick Le Duc, an enforcement official for the CITES organization, said total trade - both legal and illegal, in wildlife amounts to $5 billion a year - with illegal trade about 30% of the total.

Although I am not in any way

attempting to link this statistic with the previous paragraph, the Pet Industry Joint Action Council reported that in 1987, Americans spent $22.9 million on reptiles and amphibians. I am really pleased by the number of price lists I receive from dealers who list all their stock as captive-bred. This takes an immense amount of pressure off wild-caught animals and is certainly an activity to be encouraged. Unfortunately, some pet store people don't seem to be plugged into the network of dealers and are still offering lots of captured animals. Do conservation a big favor when you are through with your pricelists, give them to a pet store owner with wild stock!

A local pet store recently offered

"Aquatic Turtles, 1/2 off." I just had to wonder which half!

Nearly 40 community service and animal-control officers

attended a class in early August on how to handle snakes and other unusual "animal problems." Al Jurs, president of the Illinois Animal Control Association reported that western Chicago area police have had half a dozen snake reports in six years and two have involved constrictors over 7 1/2 feet. On June 18, Rolling Meadows police beat a fox snake to death in a restaurant parking lot with their nightsticks. After public complaints to the police, his organization arranged the class. John Mellyn, a CHS member from Wauconda, demonstrated proper handling techniques using a few non-poisonous snakes, a 9 foot boa, a pygmy crocodile, a Gila monster, a snapping turtle and a malnourished alligator which had been found in Crystal Lake! Newspaper photographs show John coaxing the boa into a plastic trash can and coaxing an animal-control officer to handle a very small snake.

The only park in Queensland, Australia offering

insight into the nature of saltwater crocodiles celebrated its 13th birthday this year. The Drum reports that their collection includes yellow-faced whip snakes, taipans, other snakes, lizards, monitors, tortoises, fresh and saltwater crocs and a 1.6kg cane toad (Bufo marinus) named "Mighty Martha." Peter and Ann Richardson, the owners of the Dreamtime Reptile Reserve, to encourage a greater understanding and tolerance of Australia's reptiles.

Typical, typical...

Special Publication 6 of the Illinois Natural History Survey, titled "The Natural Resources of Illinois: Introduction and Guide" contains only two pages on snakes and amphibians are shunned even though reptiles and amphibians constitute a significant number of Illinois vertebrate animals. If you still want a copy, send $10 to the INHS, 607 E. Peabody Dr., Champaign, IL 61820.

CHS member Karen Furnweger

was among the dedicated volunteers who conducted this year's Frog and Toad survey for the Illinois Department of Conservation. Surveyors travel a 10-mile route, stopping every 1/2 mile and counting frog and toad calls three times during the breeding season. This year was more difficult than usual because of our drought. However, the routes chosen for the Survey may not be ideal, according to an experienced local herpetologist. The routes follow those of the bird survey, and we all know that frogs don't fly. I worked a route last year with Ken Mierzwa and Steve Barton. One of the stops was exactly in front of a gas station in beautiful, downtown Barrington - completely surrounded by suburbanization on all four sides. Dutifully we stopped and listened and heard nothing but cars, people, and dogs. The IDOC might wish to add other, potentially more fertile routes for the 1989 survey.

Our generation had dime store red-ears,

kids today have Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, heroes on the half shell. More than 100 TV stations will show the animated cartoon series starting October 1. There's even a Turtle Force Fan Club, and a video!

A 7 foot tall scaly lizard with glowing red eyes

reportedly attacked a Bishopville, South Carolina man while he was changing a tire in June. In July, a woman reported that her car was scratched and clawed near the swamp. Local residents are calling the creature "Lizard Man." A local radio station offered $1 million for its capture after 14 inch footprints appeared on a dusty road. The sheriff is sending plaster casts to the FBI. Entrepreneurs are hawking Lizard Man T-shirts and the whole episode threatens to put Bishopville on the map and keep several tabloids busy for months!

With stories like the last two

maybe we should change the "Dog Days" of August to "Reptile Days!" Thanks to everybody who contributed this month - from Southern New Jersey to sunny California and points in between - dedicated CHS members send articles and clippings without which this column would be much shorter than it is. Will you join these special people? Please address your contributions to me, c/o CHS...

October 1988

The Pacific Northwest Herp Society

strikes again! Some promoters from El Paso, Texas who had worked with the Warden Lions Club last year on a a rattlesnake roundup (RRU) tried to get the Mount Tahoma High School to use one of these reprehensible events for a fund raiser. Dick Dorsett and others from PNHS, convinced the school of its need for massive insurance - and the event was cancelled. PNHS also put together a successful live reptile show for another high school which had been interested in an RRU. Way to go!

Atlantic City gamblers are warned

not to let frogs cross their path on their way to the casino. Seems only bad luck may follow. With the current increase in urbanization in Atlantic County, pretty soon there won't be any frogs to worry about...

A stuffed frog

is available to help students study anatomy without sacrificing animals. The 39-inch soft sculpture opens to reveal major organs arranged in lifelike order. Designed by Nannette Henderson, 1987 teacher of the year among North Carolina community colleges and costs about $100.

1,389,734 pounds of frogs' legs

were imported into the U.S. from January to May this year, of which approximately 75 percent were from Bangladesh. However, that country joined India and China in a frog export ban scheduled to last three years due to an insect population explosion. Frog-leg freaks may be in for a dry spell since only one frog-farm, Frogleg Ranch, remains in Florida. It ships up to a ton of frogs' legs a day. Bill Seefeldt, owner of Life Cycles Research Company in Dade County, Florida announced recently that his company will have meaty, farm-raised albino bullfrogs on the market by 1990.

Ever heard of an explosive hardened frog?

(A railroad frog is the curved metal piece which permits trains to be moved from one track to another.) Seems as though railroads in the U.S. have had early maintenance failures with their manganese frogs and spring frogs and have issued written rules telling their field workers just when to repair or remove their frogs. Now, is there a market for explosive manganese frog legs?

200 to 400 tadpoles have been recalled

by the owner of a garden supply center in Newcastle, northern England, prompted by fears that - when mature - the bullfrogs may gobble up the gentler denizens of British garden ponds. U.S. Rep. Jack Buechner (R-Missouri) issued a statement which said, "lest the tiny creatures of Britain croak, it is far better that our Missouri bullfrogs be recalled. Sounds like a horror film - `The Bullfrogs That Ate Britain'..." The owner of the garden center said that environmentalists were - after all - leaping to the conclusion that the pet frogs would be released in the wild.

Alligators of tremendous size

, flushed down New York City toilets have been a staple of the urban legend circuit for years. Now the city's Department of Environmental Protection is selling a tee-shirt which shows an alligator crawling out of a manhole, with the caption "The Legend Lives." If you know someone in the Big Apple - send 'em seven bucks and tell them to call the DEA at City Hall to get you one.

Worried about being eaten by a crocodile

in Australia? The Territory Insurance Office in Sydney is offering insurance policies which offer a payout of $40,465. The premiums are $8.10 for six months. The only drawback is the attack must be fatal.

A pet that bit off the arm that fed her

will be reunited with her owner of 23 years. "Charlene," a 6.5 foot saltwater croc had been exiled to a crocodile farm after the attack. The owner said, "It was my fault...I put my hand in the bucket and didn't give her a fish." He claims he will be keeping the pet at an arm's length. The question is, which arm?

"More dangerous than gators"

is what a veteran trapper calls the press and protestors in Florida's first sanctioned gator hunt in 25 years. Hunt protestors include environmentalists, animal rights activists and folks who didn't get one of the 238 licenses issued this year. With the hide and meat worth up to $1,000, interfering in a gator hunt can be costly - and not just to the animal. Dennis David, the alligator-program coordinator for the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission suggests that as hunters profit from the hunts, they will "develop as a constituency to rally behind protection of the habitat where these creatures reside." In other words, when you're up to your arse in alligators - don't drain the swamp, protect it!

After 18 years of cautious courtship,

a pair of radiated tortoises at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo became the proud parents of a trio of tiny tortoises. Another clutch is expected to hatch later this year. LPZ's Zoo Review reported, "The moral of the story? Slow but steady wins the rance - and for the endangered Madagascar radiated tortoise, it may just help win the race against extinction."

The 59th Annual Krebs, Oklahoma Turtle Derby

raised about $5,000 for the town of 1,800. Local children gather box turtles which are released after the race. Previous events have built the town hall, the fire house, purchased fire trucks and other needed community improvements. Pittsburg County used to be even more productive of turtles than it is now. A town councilman was quoted that the local kids "used to bring 'em in by the hundreds." Whether this is due to effort on the part of the collectors, habitat decline or other causes was not mentioned in the article.

A colony of turtles that lived in the Freer Gallery of Art

have been split up among the employees for temporary housing while the Florentine Renaissance style museum is being renovated. Years ago a staff member had released a pair in the courtyard fountain, the parents of those currently displaced. A Smithsonian spokesman said that all the turtles and their offspring will be returned to the courtyard after construction has been completed. Maybe they should start a Smithsonian Turtle Club!

Although shanghaied by tourists to Ohio

, "Buckeye," a gopher tortoise, was returned to his home state through the kindness of a nature center, an Audubon Society Chapter and Piedmont Airlines. The tortoise had been released on a 200-acre wildlife preserve in Ohio and was taken to the nature center but it wouldn't eat. So, Rebecca Evans, an intern at the center, called Piedmont and asked if they could fly him home! They did and Marilyn Kershner, Tampa Audubon Society President, picked him up at the airport, had him checked by a vet and released him at Upper Tampa Bay Park. Reportedly, when she put him down, she told him to "Go-pher it!" There is however a serious side to this story... Removing gopher tortoises from Florida is not only cruel but against the law and since no one knows exactly where "Buckeye" was taken from - it was impossible to return him to his real home. Releasing animals in an area from which they did not originate can cause many problems: they may be immune to disease agents which against which the new population has no defense (think about what happened to the American Indians when they caught smallpox from the Europeans!); they may harbor parasites; they can interfere with scientific study results; they may not be able to handle the weather and predators in the foreign location; and they may alter the local gene pool. So when in doubt, don't release - contact a knowledgable local herpetologist/biologist for his or her best recommendation for a safe release site. There are some areas such as North Park Village in Chicago that are isolated from wild populations and have been so completely altered from their original state that reintroductions are not only permitted, but encouraged. Try to find a place like this for animals for which foreign release is the only option. Please do not release animals in an environment which will be deadly for them. Poor "Buckeye" would have died in Ohio's winter if a local predator didn't get him first. Another thing this story brings to mind is for us to try not to collect anything which we are not willing to keep forever or committed enough to return the creature to precisely where it came from.

Hurricane Gilbert

may have altered or destroyed the beach at Rancho Nuevo Sea Turtle Sanctuary, the only known breeding location for the extremely endangered Kemp's ridley turtle. The 15-mile stretch of beach on Mexico's northern Gulf coast was directly in the path of the center of the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history. What the turtles will do when they find their beach changed or gone is unknown. It is believed that baby turtles "imprint" on some unknown feature of their "birth beach" and return to it when they are old enough to breed. In 1947, naturalists counted more than 40,000 female turtles ashore and nesting at Rancho Nuevo. However, in the last two seasons, only about 500 turtles have used the beach each year. Mexican marines guard the beaches with "shoot-to-kill" orders to deter egg poachers. In an effort to establish a second breeding location, about 2,000 eggs a year are removed from the sanctuary and hatched on Padre Island Nation Seashore near Corpus Christi, Texas. The "headstart" program was started in 1978 and it seems as though the released turtles are either not old enough to breed, or are not using the Padre Island site. There have been a couple of isolated reports of female Ridleys at Padre Island, but it is not known whether these were part of the headstart program. Shrimp fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico are resisting the use of Turtle Excluder Devices which would reduce their waste finfish and turtle catch. The shrimpers claim the "dead zone" around the mouth of the Mississippi, loss of habitat and water pollution are more responsible for the turtle's decline than they are. I wonder if they have ever heard the phrase, "If you're not part of the solution - you're part of the problem?"

A large-volume dealer in exotic leathers

sent a flier advertising his "great discounts" on large quantity orders of snakeskin, iguana, lizard, elephant and other animal skins which have been made into boots to a member of the Pacific Northwest Herpetological Society. Persons who find this type of product objectionable are urged to write the manufacturer: Cowtown Boots, PO Box 26428, El Paso, Texas 79926.

Which is more dangerous to the other...

men to cottonmouths, or visa versa? Dr. Charles Blem, a professor of biology at Virginia Commonwelath University in Richmond, has been studying the habits of brown and northern water snakes and water moccasins for 12 years. He said that the cottonmouths are "...a fragile population. Developers build on the hibernation sites, then they come up in somebody's back yard and get clubbed. If you come back to the Appomattox River study area in 10 years, between the snake hunting and the destruction of habitat...I bet the cottonmouths will be gone altogether."

Accidentally or on purpose

a water snake was shipped inside a hose attachment from a vacuum cleaner plant in France to a home in Wales. "It gave us a hell of a shock," said the Welsh homeowner, "It was a greeny-brown color, with a white collar. I've never seen anything like it." Talk about living in a vacuum!

Secret Service 2, snakes 0.

Agents guarding Mrs. Dukakis shot and killed two snakes after the animals frightened the candidate's wife while she was visiting friends in Nantucket. She was even sent to a hospital to be checked for venom! The deceased are believed by herpetologists to have been harmless, ordinary milk snakes. I'm surprised that highly educated people like Mrs. Dukakis and the Secret Service agents didn't consider that the snakes were most likely harmless. OK, herpetologists...let's redouble our education efforts in 1989 - maybe even set up a milk snake "defense fund" to illustrate our point.

Bob Zappalorti was called in

by the 5-member police department of Island Heights, New Jersey to capture "Colossus," a 3-foot, escaped golden tegu. Police had been getting reports of a crocodile-like animal roaming the streets for about a month and then captured a 2-foot lizard on someone's lawn. When the owner showed up to claim this one - he confessed to police that Colossus had escaped too. Apparently someone left the tops off their cages... The Atlantic City Press called Bob "a local version of `Crocodile Dundee'." That's probably the only thing about this incident he will remember with fondness. Now I know that the tegu's owner isn't a C.H.S. member and hasn't been exposed to our relentless (and righteous) nagging on the subject of the responsibility of reptile ownership, but I simply find it hard to believe that anyone could be so STUPID as to forget to properly cage TWO lizards at the same time. Don't be in the least surprised if in a couple of months the Atlantic County Commissioners enact a regulation prohibiting the ownership of at least some kinds of reptiles. It's people like this - as I've said before - that get the rest of us in trouble. So, if you know of reptile keepers that don't belong to at least one herp society (preferably this one) URGE them to join. We can't protect ourselves from restrictive regulation if we don't prove to the powers that be that a lot of us are responsible and concerned pet owners - just like cat fanciers, birders and dog owners.

Have you had a shocking, melting or burning experience

with a Terrafauna, Inc. "Sizzle Stone," "Hot Block" or other reptile heating device? If so, please write to Dez Crawford, P.O. Box 80747, Baton Rouge, LA 70898. He's collecting accounts of incidents and requests that you type (or write so he can read it) a letter outlining: when, where and how the accident occurred; the kind of animal involved; how long you had the product; whether or not the product got wet; and any other details relating to the occurrence. Your report will be submitted to a Federal government compliance officer who is researching the safety of these products.

An anonymous herp. society published

a request from their conservation committee for dead land developers. They are offering a ten-cent bounty. Now you know who you are and I just want to tell you that as humorous as this may appear on the surface - this kind of fun and games could seriously impact our attempts at serious, working relationships with developers in the future. None of them have suggested killing us, just raping and pillaging our own Mother Earth and all her creatures. No matter our personal feelings, let's be nice, huh?

The marketing of inappropriate animals for pets

prompted a letter from New York Turtle and Tortoise Society member, Allen Salzberg to the New York Times. He says, "This marketing has included the sale of every type of animal from monkeys and lions to poisonous snakes and such relatively common animals as the Malayan snail-eating turtle...which starves to death within one year of captivity...the illicit marketing of other "exotic" animals by the pet industry needs to be scrutinized more by the press and the government." Now let's all try to convince our regulators not to ban the possession of all "exotic" reptiles - just the ones that don't do well as pets. Our own Dr. Mike Miller is putting together a list of "likely-to-die" herps for the upcoming edition of the C.H.S. "Care-in-Captivity" series. Please send your suggestions for animals to be included on this list to me (at the address inside the front cover) and I will pass them along to him. If we don't get together and decide, we may very well end up with another ridiculous law like the Illinois legislation banning so-called "dangerous reptiles."

Wanna frogwatch in Will County?

Dave Mauger, Natural Resource Manager with the Forest Preserve District of Will County, has initiated "Project Frogwatch." The methodology and goals are probably similar to the Illinois Frog and Toad Survey - and he needs volunteers. If you would like to listen to frogs get sexy - call Dave at (815) 727-8700. Projects like this can be a lot of fun for the participants, I've even heard of human romances that began as environmental projects!

Clippings are respectively requested

from all of you who haven't yet invested your 25-cents in this column. Five avid newspaper watchers contributed this month. Out of our membership of about 850 that's a percentage so low I couldn't get my adding machine to work it out! (By hand, it rounded out to 5 one hundreths of one percent.) PLEASE send clippings, notes, letters, etc. to me, c/o CHS. Your help will be most gratefully appreciated - not only by me - but by every C.H.S. member!

November 1988

Fun City as Urban Jungle, part 2...

Notes from Noah reports that more than 8,000 dogs bit humans in one year. The next runners up are: people biting other people - 802; hampsters nibbling people - 72, snakes biting people - 18 and finally, 15 incidents of rabbit bites. According to the New York Daily News of June 6, 1988, two snapping turtles - each weighing over 50-pounds - were discovered by sewage treatment workers in the Bronx Grid Chamber, a facility which removes large objects from effluent prior to treatment. An ASPCA spokesman said that snappers get into the sewers during heavy rains, when floodgates that normally keep river water out are opened due to the heavy flow. I wonder if the ASPCA workers' slogan should be "it was a dirty job, but somebody had to do it?"

The first report of a heretofore unknown salamander,

Ambystoma tigeinum, was recently published in a regional herp. society newsletter. Ok, so it's just a silly typo - but think of the lasting impact some silly typos of herpetological history have had. The prime example is the name of Ambystoma itself. In the original description the animal was called both Ambystoma and Amblystoma. This would seem to be a massive situation of "so what" except for the fact that herpetologists have been arguing over the describer's intended meaning ever since. Some have twisted logic and themselves inside and out and have suggested Ambystoma is a contraction of "ana stoma buein" which supposedly means something like "to cram into the mouth." Others have proposed it was formed from the Greek words "ambyx" and "stoma" which would render "cup-mouth" and a third school (myself included) feel that Amblystoma is probably what Tschudi had in mind in the first place. Amblystoma would be composed of "amblys" meaning "blunt" and "stoma" meaning "mouth." Both words are Greek and since describers have a marvelous habit of stealing word parts from one another, for example, the use of "amblys" for the marine iguanas and numerous other critters, readily suggests that Tschudi's typesetter screwed up royal which is not hard to do when you are trying to exactly place little pieces of lead upside down and backwards at a profitable speed. Now really, fellow herpers, in this day and age of electronic typewriters and computers - can't we take a few extra moments to proofread? Some poor schmucks in the 24th century may spend three weeks of their lives trying to find the type specimen for this spurius Ambystoma.

More information on Salmonella

in tiny turtles was recently provided by Mary Anderson of Roanoke, VA in the Tucson Herpetological Society Newsletter. Apparently, in summarizing articles from JAMA and BioScience (see Bull. Chi. Herp. Soc. 23(6)97-98), I left out two very important facts: 1) Salmonella bacteria is often latent and/or its count is too low to detect until the turtle is under stress; and 2) turtles can easily be recontaminated by the bacteria. Additionally, she wrote of recent (illegal) shipments to five mid-western states. All had been certified as disease-free by the Louisiana Livestock Sanitary Board - but, when tested by the Wisconsin State Hygiene Laboratory, two lots registered 66% and 70% infected. She wrote, "In addition to all this, there is the danger of creating gentamicin resistant Salmonella and Arizona as has been found when the dip gentamicin is used for poultry. Also it is well known that the dip treatment has not brought the solution to the problem of Salmonella in turkeys for which it was approved by the FDA...It is important that letters be written to FDA

Food and Drug Administration, Washington, DC 20215

...You can be sure that there will be no shortage of letters from the turtle industry and pet dealers." I am truly sorry if I misled any of our readers into thinking that the egg-dip was the miracle cure for Salmonella and I wish I had the additional sources of information available to Ms. Anderson. Please, if you see anything on this issue in magazines or newspapers - send it to me. I derive this column based on other people's articles, sometimes it can be like the children's game of "telephone" and sometimes like the old computer adage - garbage in, garbage out. My thanks to Dr. David Hardy, the Tucson Herp. Soc. and Mary Anderson for setting the record straight. By the way, does anybody out there know why turtles have Salmonella bacteria in the first place?

Snakebite Emergency?

Call the Minnesota Poison Control System number for out-of-state bites: 1 (800) 222-1222.

Congratulations to the Minolta Aquarium

and Reptile World for their first Canadian captive propagation of seven little Nile Monitors. Folklore concerning giant lizards includes: in Thailand, Varanus salvator is considered a creature of evil, it's bad luck if one enters the home; in Borneo seeing a monitor or lizard during a wedding forecasts an unlucky union; and natives on the islands of Bali and Komodo construct wicker baskets to cover human corpses with one side left open as an invitation to the "dragons" to feed on the deceased believing that the spirits of the dead are thereby given their deserved rest in peace. Hopefully the new Canadian babies will be neither bad luck nor lacertan undertakers.

If you need help relocating animals

(particularly desert tortoises) in California, you can call their Department of Fish and Game CDFG at (213) 590-5132, ask for Jim St. Amant or (714) 597-8235 and ask for Frank Hoover. The CA Turtle and Tortoise Club has been sanctioned by the CDFG to accept captive tortoises and relocate them with families who wish to "adopt" a tortoise.

The Tucson Herp. Society is involved

in an effort to save smuggled iguanas, tarantulas and other creatures from government incinerators. In cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, THS plans to open a wildlife station on the U.S.-Mexican border to care for creatures confiscated by border officials from pet smugglers. The 200-member society was founded in January after learning that 3,000 confiscated iguanas had been incinerated in August, 1987 by U.S. border officials at Nogales. Dr. James Jarchow of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, said he found the fact that 2,000 to 3,000 green iguanas were being smuggled into the U.S. monthly "quite astounding." He also said that this volume is "bound to have a devastating effect on the iguanid population" in tropical regions of southern Mexico, where most of them were trapped. Smugglers usually pack the iguanas and snakes tightly in boxes carried in car trunks. Mexicans also trap iguanas for food. Dennis Caldwell, a member of THS, said some rip open the females for their eggs, sew them up again and turn them loose, unaware that the animals are thereby doomed. The THS and federal officials are aware that even if the proposed station opens, it may only be a partial solution. Not only are the feds just catching a fraction of the animal smugglers - but what can be done with that volume of tropical animals? They can't just be turned loose in Arizona - they'd die of the heat and lack of humidity. I just wish we could demonstrate the beauty and necessity of nature to the burgeoning Third World human populations. They have at least as much to lose as we do from the deforestation and elimination of their native flora and fauna, maybe more. Unlike Americans, many third worlders can't turn up the air conditioner and run out to the local grocery store for food to be cooked on their electric stoves. "Conservation-ism" isn't just a fad anymore - it's a necessity.

Good news, bad news in the sea turtle department...

A 1,000-pound leatherback turtle, estimated to be about 70-years old, washed ashore in Laguna Beach, CA recently. It had been shot in the back six to eight times and the corpse was described as "bullet-tattered." While that is the most grisly turtle death I've heard of lately, the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, NJ stranding reports from May through July, 1988 include 10 dead loggerhead sea turtles. Causes of death range from being hit by boats to plastic ingestion. The good news is that 5 juvenile turtles (both ridley and loggerhead) were recovered from the cooling water intakes of the Salem Nuclear Power Facility. All were tagged and released. Also, the Center for Environmental Education reports, "Congress resolved once and for all that offshore shrimp fishermen will have to start using TEDs next May 1, 1989...This tremendous victory was made possible by the letters and telephone calls that many of you made to your representatives...On June 29, 1987, the National Marine Fisheries Service in the Department of Commerce issued final regulations requiring some shrimp fishermen to use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) at some times...based upon joint industry/conservation community recommendations and comments from thousands of citizens...Two federal courts have rejected challenges to the TED regulations...On July 11, 1988, the Fifth Circuit Court, Louisiana, delayed the effective date of the

TED use

regulations until September 1...The SC Supreme Court upheld the regulations in the face of these challenges from the SC Shrimpers Association...During 1988, the National Marine Fisheries Service plans to spend nearly $1.2 million in demonstrating the construction and use of the various TEDs. Several industry organizations are actively assisting in these efforts." If you would like a copy of the 3-page letter from which these quotes were taken, write Michael Weber, Vice President, CEE, 1725 DeSales Street, NW, Washington, D.C. and request his letter of October 3rd, 1988. And Carole Allen, of H.E.A.R.T., wrote me to say that they're all waiting and hoping that the turtles will return to Rancho Nuevo. She has had a literally tragic summer. All those who have met Carole know that she has been unyielding in her efforts to have TEDs implemented. I hope that all whom she has touched would contact her soon, offer to help or just say "hi." I think she'd be happy to hear from you.

A Tulsa teller was surprised

when a baby garter snake emerged from the keyboard of her typewriter. Miss Gaddy, bless her heart, did not scream or use any "SSS" words, she just took a break - and returned to work on a different typewriter.

At center stage in Bay Area politics

is the endangered San Francisco Garter Snake, Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia. Joan Thomas reports in the BAARS Newsletter that this creature has singlehandedly managed to get criminal charges filed against the S.F. Water Department, delayed construction at the S.F. International Airport and temporarily halted plans for a $1.3 million dollar visitor center at Ano Nuevo State Reserve. Just imagine what they could do with two hands! Urbanization has slowly intruded on wetland areas near San Francisco, causing a decline in the number of snakes. Habitat protection through construction delays has met with a mixed response. Despite the efforts taken so far to save the snakes' habitat, environmentalists worry that damage will continue. Marya Hart, a BAARS member, said that developers "don't realize that the snakes have been there for centuries and that they've built an airport on top of them," and worries that as the snakes are pushed into smaller and smaller areas, many will slither out onto Highway 101 and join other flattened fauna on the road to extinction.

A tiny bug threatens giant tortoises

in the Seychelles Islands. A French scientist is studying how to wipe out mealy bugs that have infested plant life on Aldabra where more than 150,000 giant tortoises live. Tons of tiny toads horrified residents of a retirement complex in New Port Richey in early October. Bob Steiger, Pasco County agricultural extension agent, said "There are millions of them out there right now. We've had a couple dozen calls about them. They're saying the ground's alive with them." The manager of the complex said, "our toad count is high and growing. You just have to see it to believe it." The county extension agent was quick to point out that even though people may be upset by the invasion of these amphibians, they are - after all - toadally harmless, and actually a benefit because they eat mosquitoes.

Hunters, a lot - Gators, 0.

Florida's 30-day alligator season closed October 1st. Hunters managed to overturn boats, shoot themselves and do many other interesting things in and around thinning out the Florida alligator community, estimated at about 1 million. It is interesting to note that even though a few hunters ended up in the water amidst their quarry, no gator attacks were reported. One angry reptile reportedly bit a boat after being harrassed, but even after the hunter's son was knocked overboard - the gator ignored him. The boy's father said, "I saw my son walk on water." Two men were arrested for illegally shooting a 7 1/2-foot alligator in the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Preserve. One had applied for a permit but was not chosen. They face potential penalties of a year in prison and a $100,000 fine. Final kill totals will be released soon, they are expected to be in the 3,000-4,000 animal range.

Shooting animals usually results in a lot of hysteria,

for example the consternation up in Lake County, Illinois. Seems as though the Forest Preserve District is dismayed at the incredible destruction to a Nature Preserve caused by an overpopulation problem. Local homeowners are screaming because the District wants to shoot "Bambi." Deer and alligators are creatures about which the public became concerned when their numbers were declining. Both are becoming a nuisance now that they're protected. I just wish that we will have such success with other conservation programs - like saving the sea creatures - that one day my grand kids can debate the pros and cons of too many turtles, whales, porpoises and other now critically endangered species. I have a dream . . .

I would really like to thank

both people who sent in clippings this month. What's really neat is they sent in three batches of clippings. Now, how about the rest of you? Is anybody out there? Does anybody care? Or should I just pack it up and let you read nothing but Herp. 88 and highly technical articles? I get such great feedback when I meet y'all in person - I really can't believe that nobody has scissors, envelopes and 25-cent stamps. Perhaps it's the Post Office's fault - I hear they're planning a name change, to the U.S. Snail.

December 1988

A 3,000 mile "range extension"

was published in the cover caption of December Earthwatch Magazine: "Dr. Robert Greene, curator of the Queen Victoria Musuem in Tasmania, uses a pocket lens to get a closer look at an unidentified salamander species while working with Dr. Skip Lazell and Earthwatch volunteers on a biological survey of Tasmania, in 1981." Our very own `Commander Salamander' pointed out that there are no salamanders in Tasmania, Australia or Asia below the equator!!! After a careful examination of the cover picture, it was noted that the creature in question has an external ear hole - leading to the conclusion that it is a member of either the family Agamidae or Scincidae. Members of both these lizard families occur on Tasmania. One hopes this error was made by the editorial staff. . .

Rancho Nuevo appears o.k.

after being directly in the path of Hurricane Gilbert. Jane Scheider of the Houston Audubon Society reports that Patrick Burchfield, curator of reptiles at the zoo in Brownsville, TX, flew over the site. Jane says, "My gut feeling is that the Ridleys will be okay...they have survived thousands of years of hurricanes -- nature is not the problem." Earthwatch reports that about half of green and leatherback turtle eggs further south at Quintana Roo were wiped out in the 15-foot tidal surge associated with Gilbert. Tundi Agardy, the principal investigator at the Quintana Roo site, and volunters had moved 22,500 eggs to guarded corrals to preclude poaching and predation. She reports that all the hatcheries and volunteer quarters were wiped out by the storm - along with the entire nearby town of Puerto Morelos. Although Earthwatch didn't say whether this conservation project will continue in 1989 - there are two other Earthwatch programs for sea turtle conservation: "Endangered Carribean Turtles" led by Teresa Tallavest and Jaime Collazo in Puerto Rico and "Saving the Leatherback Turtle" led by Robert Brandne, Susan Basford and Ralf Boulon in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. For registration information contact: Earthwatch, 680 Mt. Auburn Street, Watertown, MA 02272. Please mention C.H.S. when you write!

Smoke from Brazilian forests

burned to provide farmland or cattle ranges has been implicated as an additional contributor to greenhouse gases. The destruction of 77,000 square miles of Amazon rainforest may account for as much as ten percent of last year's global production of carbon dioxide. This area is equivalent to one and one half times the area of the state of New York. NASA's satellite photos show that the fires follow the route of the new Cuiaba-Porto Velho road, financed by the World Bank as a "development" scheme for a state in southeastern Brazil. Some observers say that half of the state is now deforested - with a concurrent loss of trees, flowers, and animal habitat. However, Jose Sarney, President of Brazil, announced a series of measures aimed at slowing the rapid destruction of the Amazon rain forest in an emotional televised address. He said, "We must contain the predatory actions of man." Also, the American Forestry Association announced a campaign titled "Global ReLeaf," and donated saplings to major U.S. cities. They urge Americans to plant 100 million trees by 1992. A power company building a coal-burning plant in Connecticut announced it would sponsor the planting of 52 million trees in Guatemala to offset the 15 million tons of carbon dioxide which will be emitted during the expected 40-year lifetime of the plant. Trees planted anywhere contribute to reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide worldwide. Since we, and our favorite critters, don't breath carbon dioxide, let's plant some trees ourselves. Call it "Herp-a-tree" and don't forget to call your local newspapers!

The U.S. Postal Service

would like to remind us that mailing snakes is a definately against their regulations. Non-poisonous lizards, baby alligators, salamanders, tadpoles, toads and eggs are okay. Just be sure the animals are well packed - and clearly marked.

Rowntree DeMet, manufacturer of Turtles Candy

has pledged $50,000 to nationwide efforts to save sea turtles from extinction. Jim Fowler, of "Wild Kingdom," is the campaign's national chairman. You can call DeMet at (312) 443-0893 to say "thanks."

The Georgia Sea Turtle Cooperative

Research and Education Program is hosting the 9th Annual Workshop on Sea Turtle Conservation and Biology, February 7-11, 1989, at Villas by the Sea Resort Hotel and Conference Center on Jekyll Island, Georgia. Jekyll Island is 90 minutes south of Savannah, 90 minutes north of Jacksonville, 3 hours from Gainesville, FL and Charleston, SC and 5 hours from Atlanta. Arrivals at St. Simon's Island Airport (Piedmont Airlines) or Brunswick (Delta Airlines) will be met at the airport and taken to the conference center. Accomodations range from $5 to $15 per night. To attend, or for more information, write James L. Richardson, University of Georgia, Institute of Ecology, Athens, GA 30602 or call (404) 542-2968.

Volunteer field assistants

are needed for desert tortoise conservation study. Contact Ronald Marlow, Nevada Department of Wildlife, State Mailroom Complex, Las Vegas, NV 89158. Please be advised that the study site conditions are rigorous and physically demanding - with primitive facilities. Also the Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee is seeking donations which will enable them to hire a full time naturalist for the Desert Tortoise Natural Area. Contributions to this fund can be sent to the DTP, P.O. Box 453, Ridgecrest, CA 93555. If they can raise $20,000, the Bureau of Land Management will match it! One of the items in their new brochure is a lovely, enameled pin, 3/4" diameter with a desert tortoise, and the name of the preserve. Of course, all profits benefit the DTPC.

Between 60 and 70 gopher tortoises

are being relocated within the Ocala Municipal Airport to permit runway extensions. Gopher tortoises are listed as a species of special concern by the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission and are protected by law against molestation and being killed for food. The tortoises will be moved by Eco Landscape Systems of Gainesville to an area of the airport where no expansions are planned, at a cost of $9,000.

A four-foot monitor made a dent

in the squirrel population in the yard of a Fort Myers, FL house before the resident called authorities. "I thought I was seeing things," Edwin Long said and added, "it was a very beautiful animal." A supervisor at the Lee County Humane Society's Animal Control division said there have been 4 sightings of giant lizards during the 14 years he's been with the department. Paul Moler, a biologist with the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission said, "We certainly prefer not to have them established as a breeding population," but added that occasional sightings do not necessarily indicate a problem.

Ever noticed how much the caduceus

used to represent medicine and medical professions resembles the coils of DNA? The origins of the staff of medicine are ancient, going back at least as far as the Egyptians, but the legend of Aesculapius led to the adoption of his staff as the symbol of the American Medical Association. The legend says that one day Aesculapius saw a snake crawl from a crack in the earth and twine itself on his staff. After he killed the snake, another one emerged from the rock carrying an herb or leaf in its mouth. It placed the leaf on the head of the dead snake, which miraculously revived. The serpent became Aesculapius' constant companion, and Aesculapius became the patron of healing temples which were founded throughout Greece. Later the Romans added a myth which said that Apollo gave Hermes, the messenger of the gods and guardian of health, a winged staff entwined with snakes to spread peace and overcome disease. I wonder if the same folks who hate snakes dislike going to doctors?

A Cornell University student

was unpleasantly surprised by a six-foot boa constrictor wrapped around the shower head in his new apartment. The snake had been reported missing two months previously by a former tenant. These "lost and found" stories always make me wonder -- how do you "lose" a big snake? I had a tiny hatchling get loose in my apartment about three years ago. Neither myself or my daughter ate, slept, read or watched TV until we had moved every piece of furniture and found it. (It was renamed "Houdini" by my daughter, I had several unprintable names for it.) Now, if we two neophytes can find a pencil-sized baby -- how the heck can a six-footer get out and stay out?

Whitesnake is not a rock-and-roll band in China.

An area of China's central Hubei Province which includes the Shennongjia Forest has more than 20 species of white animals including monkeys, bears, wolves, snakes, squirrels, crows, turtle and spiders. Chinese scientists believe they are descendants of ancient species and that their whiteness has been caused by either inbreeding of albinos or undetermined environmental influences. Experts who have visited the Forest have been surprised at both the range of the species and the size of their populations.

The world's oldest known fossil reptile

has been discovered in Scotland. The 8-inch reptile skeleton was found by a professional fossile-digger in lake bed sediments which have been dated at 340 million years old. The oldest previously knownreptile fossils were found in Nova Scotia and dated to about 300 million years ago. Michael Benton, professor of geology at Queens University in Belfast, and an authority on prehistoric reptiles, said the discovery would force scientists to reevaluate the evolution of early life on land. He said the specimen includes the skull, ribs and enough other diagnostic remains for scientist "to prove very well that it is a reptile and a very important discovery." Embedded in the same deposit were fossils of freshwater fish, amphibians, spiders and plants. The specimen has been nicknamed "Lizzie the lizard," even though scientists have not yet determined what type of reptile it was.

Mark your calendars for Sunday, March 5th

and plan to attend a special program hosted by Clarence Wright, curator of reptiles at the Lincoln Park Zoo. The event includes a continental breakfast with Mr. Wright, a round-table discussion, and a behind-the-scenes tour of the Reptile House with special emphasis on their reptile breeding facilities. Cost is $15.00 for zoo members, $20.00 for non-members and will be from 9:00 to 11:00 am. Pre-registration is required. Send a check or money order to The Lincoln Park Zoo, Department of Education, 2200 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614. Don't miss it!

N.O.A.H. will send you a "Battle Package,"

which contains enough documentation, articles, pamphlets and sample letters to persuade retailers or sales groups selling reptile products to at least rethink their position. The package contains 80 pages and costs only $4.00 postage paid. Send your check to: N.O.A.H., Dept. of Biology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106. I just wish I had one...Recently, Marshall Field and Company ran an ad which read: "HANDBAGS--A prim, yet chicly dressed shopper, later identified as world-renowned hiss-ologist Eve Hand-bagg was reported to have bobbed and weaved with delight the moment she set eyes on our cache of genuine snake handbags...she chortled while slithering through the crowd...Before speeding off in a multicolored stretch limosine, Ms. Hand-Bagg instructed her chauffeur to place the purchases in a large round basket on the seat beside her." Yes, I know they were trying to be cute - but I found them merely trying. The ad ran November 6th. Please mention the date when you write to complain. Field's address is: Administrative Offices, 111 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60602.

A group of Florida students

are trying to save about 150-200 gopher tortoises whose burrows are endangered by bulldozers on an Orlando property slated to become an apartment complex. The students were called in after a concerned neighbor couldn't get immediate action from state agencies. The developer, A. Wayne Rich of Victoria Equities Inc., has allowed the students to survey and mark the tortoise burrows. The game commission is studying the case to determine where - if anywhere - the gophers should be moved. The question before the commission is, does development - crushing or smothering by bulldozers and pavement constitute "taking" which is prohibited by law? I thought the law also prohibited killing, molesting of harrasing of a tortoise without a permit. Personally, I would find heavy equipment rolling over my house more than a little molesting. Don't the tortoises deserve the same? Please write Col. Robert M. Brantly, FGFWFC, 620 South Meridian St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600 asking for his help in resolving this issue.

Congratulations are in order

for breeding successes at two U.S. zoos! The National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD recently bred the blue poison arrow frog. They made huts from large plastic soft-drink bottles with little holes for the parents to get in and out. I assume there was water in them, for the article says that six blue poison arrow frogs metamorphosed from tadpoles, the product of male and female frogs breeding in the huts. Charles Beck, curator of herpetology at the Memphis, Tennessee Zoo supervised the hatching of the zoo's first Sonoran Mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana) in July. Dr. Beck apparently has a great relationship with the Memphis Commercial-Appeal newspaper. Once a month, or more, the paper prints news about the herpetology department at the zoo. If you are involved with an institution - you might consider the careful care and feeding of a local journalist. It might be mutually beneficial.

"It was a horror show,"

said Daniel Ferrena when he opened the door to his store, New York Reptilia, and found his inventory slithering around on the floor. Reptile thieves had broken into the shop, taken about two dozen reptiles and freed the rest. Stolen were two 6-foot Peruvian red-tailed boa constrictors worth $1,000 each. Also gone were 10 baby iguanas, six baby Solomon Island boas, false coral snakes, several plated lizards, an albino California kingsnake, a 50-pound Asian clouded Monitor, the cash register, a big fiberglass tank for the monitor, books on reptile care and breeding and about 2 dozen mice and rats. They also took "Iggy," the store's pet iguana and mascot - but left behind the rare two-headed Northeastern pine snake, "Hocus and Pocus." Ferrena said, "Thank God they didn't take that or the albino pythons. They knew the expensive animals. They knew what they were doing." New York Reptilia is a member of the C.H.S. If you have information which could lead to the recovery of their animals, please give them a call at (718) 461-1371. I just wonder if a flurry of press coverage 7 days earlier didn't lead to the theft. Remember, if you have valuable reptiles, you may not wish your name in the paper. Reptile thefts are apparently on an upscale worldwide. The Southwestern Herp. Society in England published an appeal for the return of a member's herps, a local C.H.S. member had a California kingsnake removed from her apartment, and thieves stole the eight most valuable snakes from the Dallas Zoo. There was no sign of forced entry to the building, and the lids were still on the cages - which is a clear sign the snakes didn't escape. Taken were 3 ringed pythons, 3 carpet pythons and 2 Dumeril's ground boas, which are endangered in their native Madagascar. Remember to lock your doors, maybe even your cages, and don't let strangers know what you've got or what it's worth. I will gladly publish information about reptile thefts, however, please remember there is a 35-45 day lead time for publication here.

Number one on the confiscation list at O'Hare

Airport are Mexican products made from sea turtles including jewelry, shoes, belts and even guitars. Turtles are also stuffed and mounted for wall "decorations." The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service suggests that nobody purchase wildlife products abroad. Larry Hood, Assistant director for law enforcement in the O'Hare region, said, "Every time you buy something made from a critter, that's one less critter. You'd think people would be more ecologically aware, but we don't seem to be gaining much." Between 1980 and 1986, there was a sixfold increase in importation to the U.S. of products made from the 1,200 endangered or threatened species. If you or friends are planning a trip abroad, or if you want to add one to your "Battle Package," please write for the free brochure about endangered species products. Send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: USFWS, Division of Law Enforcement, 10600 Higgins Road, Suite 200, Rosemont, IL 60018. Remember, there are fines up to $20,000, terms of up to five years in jail - or "merely" confiscation - awaiting those who bring in endangered or threatened animal products. USFWS doesn't just say "tusk, tusk," the law has teeth in it.

Twisted Sistrurus

the recording group made famous by the North Carolina Herp Society is back in the recording studio, hard at work on their new project, "Frogs, you ain't never heard." Apparently, the recording will be a collection of bogus frog calls including various species of Fakeris and Pseudofakeris, the bull frog, Rana fakesbeiana, the would befrog, Highly ephemeralis, the little gas frog, Whimnaoedus jocularis, as well as Rana scamitans, Rana wetrickyoularia, Highly scenario, Highly perversicolor, and the joke toad, Bufo querulous. Her-puntologists are highly urged to join the NC Herp Society. Some of the worst puns, jokes, stories and ideas are deftly scattered around some excellent - and valuable - articles. They publish all original material, monthly and on time. Memberships are $5.00 for individuals and $8.00 for families. Send your check to The NC Herp Soc., N.C. State Museum of Natural Sciences, P.O. Box 27647, Raleigh, NC 27611.

Port Coquitlam, British Columbia

has just passed a law limiting the number of snakes or rodents per household to four. The law was prompted by complaints from neighbors of a man who kept 150 non-poisonous snakes in his house - and the rodents to feed them. An alderman was quoted "150 of anything is too much." Now, what are they going to do to eliminate mice - give away mousetraps?

Debris has been definately implicated

in sea turtle drownings. A study by a marine biologist at Texas A and M University at Galveston has shown that plastic occurred in nearly 80% of the turtle stomachs that contained debris and on about 97% of the beaches surveyed. Stranded turtles that are still alive are taken to the National Marine Fisheries Service Laboratory in Galveston for care and rehabilitation. Dead turtles are autopsied to detect patterns of death and gather life history information. Debris included plastic, rubber, fishing line, tar, cellophane, monofilament rope, wax, styrofoam, aluminum cans, string and cigarette filters. Another study determined that 52 million pounds of plastic packaging material are dumped into the sea every year by commercial fishermen; 298 million pounds of plastic nets and lines are lost each year and 640,000 plastic containers are dumped in the sea every day. Also, a giant leatherback turtle washed up, dead of as-yet unknown causes, on a Welsh beach. The one ton turtle is 8 1/2-half feet long and nearly 10-feet across and appears to be the largest leatherback ever recorded.

Crocodilians in the news...

Venezuela is expanding the Cinaruco-Campanaparo National Park to include the lower sections of the Campanaparo River which contains one of the largest remaining populations of the Orinoco crocodile. --- Florida's hunt killed exactly 2,979 gators, 379 over what had been predicted, but less than the 3,450 hunt limit. Four men had a total of 13 poached skins seized. Adding the "nuisance" alligators to the hunt total, about 8,000 alligators will have been killed in 1988. Louisiana has harvested more than 20,000 alligators per year since 1971. Texans have killed about 1,500 a year since 1984 when hunting resumed. --- About a month ago, newspapers reported that an alligator had taken up residence in the Truckee River near Wadsworth, Nevada. It's been captured, is 3 feet long, 10 pounds and is a south American caiman. So much for the "monster gator."

Thanks to the very many people

who contributed clippings this month's column is the longest since May of 1987 - and I have a few articles left over for next month! Please members, don't rest on your laurels, one month's surplus doesn't mean you should stop. (Oooh, don't stop - I love it!!!) So, please keep those cards, letters, articles and clippings coming - without contributors there would be no Her-PET-pourri. Merry chrysemys to all of you, and I hope you all have a hoppy New Year. See you in 1989.

My new book!
Frogs: Inside Their Remarkable World
by Ellin Beltz
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1999 . 2000 . 2001 . 2002 . 2003 . 2004 .

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January 10, 2008

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