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

1989 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 third year writing columns for the Chicago Herpetological Society Bulletin

January 1989

Barf of the month club

A radio station in Ogden, Utah sponsored a contest titled "What's the Craziest Thing You Would Do for a Motorcycle?" One contestant swallowed a whole snake. Although he outraged animal lovers and the Utah Humane Society - he didn't win. That "honor" goes to a woman who covered herself in liquid cow manure and rolled in cornflakes. Also a man was arrested in Sebastian Inlet, Florida with garbage bags full of 292 sea turtle eggs. Deputies suggested that the perpetrator may have intended to sell the eggs on the black market to restaurants which pay $10 to $50 per egg. They said they watched him probe the sand after receiving an anonymous complaint. He was being held on $31,000 bail in the Brevard Jail on three misdemeanor charges: possession, molestation and transfer of sea turtle eggs. If convicted, he faces $500 fines and 60 days in jail for each charge and an extra $100 per egg, or $29,200 for the 292 eggs he was caught with. Biologists reburied the eggs at Sebastian Inlet State Park, but they are not sure if they will hatch because they might have been shaken around too much.


some factory is pumping out hundreds of "Snake, Elephant and Lizard Boots" since I've been getting copies of advertisements for this reprehensible footware from the four corners of the United States. One of our members wrote Cowtown Boots (P.O. Box 26428, El Paso, TX 79926) to complain about their product. Ms. Scott wrote: "I have raised horses for 20 years, and never thought of getting any boot but cowhide. I used to have a pet iguana when I was a kid, and could not think of him as a boot. I also had boa constrictors and anacondas. Ditto on the boot thought. I'm sure that cow hide is cheaper, more available, and wears better than all your fancy exotic leathers. Why not use cow hides?...I will be absolutely sure that [no boot I buy] has a "Cowtown" trademark until I read that you have quit using leathers from "exotic" animals." Thanks, Randi, for a great letter. Now, if the executives at Cowtown can read, maybe they'll do some thinking.

Home-remedy rattlesnake capsules

have been implicated in the development of Salmonella arizona infections in Southern California. The capsules are allegedly made of dried ground rattlesnake meat and are available under a variety of names (vibora de cascabel, pulvo de vibora and carne de vibora) without a prescription in Hispanic farmacias in Los Angeles. The Archives of Internal Medicine [1988;148:1207-1210] reports that the capsules or rattlesnake meat are taken for medicinal purposes, includeing cancer, blood and skin disorders by Mexican Americans. The practice is apparently a Mexican folk remedy. The researchers treated 3 patients with Salmonella arizona infections from these capsules. Capsules purchased at a local farmacia yielded S. arizona when cultured. Another study, reported in the Western Journal of Medicine [1988;149(5):605], gave standardized oral questionnaires to 200 consecutive outpatients in a county hospital serving the indigent population of El Paso, Texas, on the US/Mexican border across the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juarez. Patients were asked if they had heard of the folk medicine, meat, powdered or capsule; if they knew the reason or reasons for taking it; and if they or a close family member had ever used the remedy. 78%, both Anglo and Hispanic, had heard about the remedy. 33.5 percent said that they or their relatives had used rattlesnake remedies to treat illnesses. The most frequently treated illnesses for which rattlesnake is considered a "cure" are: skin conditions (34%); arthritis (19%); stomach problems (14%); blood diseases (13%); cancer (12%); hypertension and nervous conditions (7%); allergies (3%) and miscellaneous conditions (13%). Four of the 200 said that it would improve their strength and 2 of 200 took it because it tasted good. The authors concluded "In view of the risk of serious salmonella infections, we concur...that education is needed regarding the potentially harmful consequences of this particular folk remedy. I suggest that herpers trying to stop rattlesnake roundups copy these two articles and provide them to journalists before roundup events. We always knew roundup hunters were sick - but they, and their rattlesnake eating audience, could wind up dead tiny turtles are illegal to sell because of the risk of Salmonella, perhaps we could lobby our legislators to ban the sale of rattlesnake products for the same reason!

Mary Anderson, of Roanoke, VA

wrote me about Salmonella in turtles: "You asked why turtles have Salmonella in the first place. All I can say is that they are natural hosts to Salmonella. However, the turtles themselves do not become ill from the bacteria unless their resistance is low due to malnutrition or other causes. They are natural carriers of bacteria found in their habitat. They contaminate the water in which they dine and vice-versa. Not all turtles transmit bacteria all the time. Sometimes they are in remission for a while and there is no shedding of bacteria for a time. Also the count is sometimes too low to be detected but it is there, ready to show up multiplied. When the female turtle is ready to lay eggs, she draws up water into her [body] and then crawls up on land to dig a nest. The bacteria-laden water is released to soften the groud for digging and to leave the nest moisturized. Thus the egg becomes infected with Salmonella through the porous shell and the baby turtles will be infected with [it] which can show up at hatching time or later." In the materials she sent, I learned that turtles can also harbor Campylobacter, Aeromonas and other potential pathogens. The Center for Disease Control states plainly, "They are not appropriate pets for small children." Also, the Canada Diseases Weekly Report [1985;(11-28):117-120], reports on cases of Salmonella typhimuium from a pet garter snake and that S. rubislaw and S. abaetetuba were isolated from iguana droppings from a pet store in St. John's. S. anatum was isolated from another species of lizard. They additionally reported cases of S. poona in children who were exposed to a tank of pet red-eared sliders. Their grandmother cleaned the tank weekly and was careful. The article says, "the tank did not appear to be neglected which indicates that there is a real risk of Salmonella infection even with properly maintained tanks." They studied water samples from turtle tanks and found that 7 of the 17 (41%) examined were found to be positive for Salmonella, including S. poona, S. panama, S. saint-paul and S. arizonae. In a study of pet shops in metro-Toronto showed that 74 percent of turtle water and 60 percent new water samples were infected. A provice-wide wurvey was initiated and found 16 serotypes of Salmonella in 58 percent of turtles, lizards, iguanas and frogs examined. They concuded "since not all of these serotypes originated from turtle eggs, reptiles (other than turtles) and amphibians remain a serious source of Salmonella. Now that we've scared ourselves, what do we do? I use a bleach/water solution to clean tanks and myself when handling my tiny turtles (all removed from less than optimal wild habitat). One of the vets who attends our meetings recommends "Betadine." Is there somebody out there who can suggest a solution that is readily available that will get the Salmonella off our hands? I know it's not safe to handle amphibians with chlorinated hands - so I really couldn't use bleach between frog tanks. Is Betadine safe? I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who have given this issue a lot of thought. Please, write and share your opinions. Salmonella is a legislators' dream - a good reason to rid the world of slithery snakes and deadly turtles. Let's get the answers before they start asking the questions!

A holy crocodile

that ate a 25-year-old man near Darwin, Australia whould not be killed said tribal elders. They asked authorities to suspend the crocodile hunt.


the new Four Seasons Hotel has opened in the Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory of Australia. The hotel is in the shape of a large crocodile. The park and its reptile fauna have been featured in the two "Crocodile Dundee" movies.

Two tales of gopher tortoises

were sent in this month. One is about the group of high school students relocating tortoises that I mentioned last month. The students have marked about 150 holes on a small plot in the Silver Oaks apartment complex in East Central Florida. It seems as though the 37-acre plot is too small to be reviewed by state environmental agencies. Joan Diemer, a wildlife biologist and gopher tortoise expert with the game commission said that where to put the tortoises is "the largest problem." A neighbor has offered 11 acres in Lake County, but that might not be enough for a colony accustomed to 37 acres. The article states that about 50 colonies have been moved in the last year and notes that some biologists oppose relocation. The other article is about a $20,000 project to move gophers from a site in Lady Lake near Orlando. The article does not state the size of the parcel, but says that the project began in August, when biologists marked 30 active holes. They came back with a specially modified backhoe to do most of the digging. Men with shovels finish removing the animals. The holes are usually 9 to 15 feet deep and 25 to 30 feet long, with twists and turns and other kinds of animals including rattlesnakes, possums, skunks, rabbits and crickets in residence. What I don't understand, and maybe someone in Florida can explain to me, is why the first site - with 150 active burrows - is less important than the second, which has 30. Are the turtles just more heavily populated in the first than the second? Why is 37 acres too small for the state to notice? In a state with 365,000 new residents last year, it would seem to me that the state ought to be looking at every square meter - not just "large" parcels. Otherwise, developers will try what they have succeeded with in the past - subdividing large parcels into smaller ones which can escape the notice of the state. Florida might wish to consider the actions of the state of New Jersey which has banned new construction in the Pinelands Region, sited above their aquifer, thus protecting not only animals - but sensitive habitat. I have hideous visions of going to a macadamized Florida where the only orange is in the gang colors of Miami and the only reptiles are purses.

Dumps and other feeding areas

resulting from over urbanization in Southern California have led to a 328% increase in the raven population over the last 20 years. Ravens have been implicated in the death of huge numbers of desert tortoises. State and federal wildlife officers are considering selective counter-measures, including shooting and poisoning the birds in a limited area of the Mojave Desert to see if the population of tortoises recovers.

Interesting statistics

...Americans throw away enough office and writing paper each year to build a 12-foot-high wall spanning the distance between New York and Los Angeles. The glass bottles and jars thrown away could fill both towers in the 1,350 foot high New York World Trade Center every two weeks. Please, for the sake of the reptiles and amphibians we love - recycle. Every ounce we recycle is one less ounce ending up in incinerators, landfills or ocean dumps. Humankind has acquired the power to change the earth's fundamental geophysical processes. Take one small step for humankind - toward your nearest recycling center. In this house, we avoid buying anything wrapped in plastic; we recycle newspaper and use one-side-blank computer paper on the empty side; use up envelopes left over from "dead" companies (as anyone who has received a letter from me knows!); recycle aluminum to a local school; and save plastic containers and glass jars for critter containers. Our garbage bag count has gone down from 4 per week to 1. It's not hard to recycle, but it's imperative for the health of our Earth.

Gecko lovers, take note!

A cute Tokay gecko tee-shirt is available from Ellen Nicol, Rt. 1, Box 1367, Anthony, FL 32617 for $10.00 postpaid in silver, tan, cream and ecru. The geckos are outlined in black, with orange and blue spots in puff ink, making the body raised and almost three dimensional. Monies earned by Ellen's shirt business go toward maintaining her property in Ocala which is home to many gopher tortoises and other terrapins. I don't usually run "ads" in this column - but I feel so strongly about Ellen's long-term contribution to herpetological conservation that I just must mention these new Gecko shirts! Please mention the CHS when you order.

A sticky substance

used to fight beach erosion apparently doesn't scare away nesting sea turtles or harm their hatchlings says Lew Ehrhart, a biologist from the University of Central Florida. The compound, Biodune, hardens the top layer of sand, was applied in April on a slope and at the base of a 180-goot strip of dune south of Floridana Beach. Ehrhart also discovered that raccoons, which are notorious for digging up and eating turtle eggs, destroyed half of the nests to the north and south of the test area, but none of the nests in front of the spray area were touched. He said, "knowing raccons like I do, I'm amazed they would stay away."

Hatchling turtles avoid

light from low-pressure sodium lights. A study by Blair Witherington, a University of Florida doctoral candidate, funded by Florida Power and Light Company found that with white incandescent lights and red-tinted lights, hatchlings were essentially disabled in their ability to find the ocean. Yellow bug lights weren't much better. Witherington said, "The hatchlings showed a negative reaction to the monochromatic (pure color) yellow light. They avoided it - moved away from it in fact, which was not really what we were expecting to find...If we were careful where we positioned the lights on the beaches, I believe there would be very few problems with hatchlings finding their way to the ocean." The University of Florida Center for Sea Turtle Research hopes to investigate a corollary concern, whether low-pressure sodium lights would discourage nesting females, next summer. If low-pressure sodium lights are the solution, communities that are turning off their lights at night might prefer to switch to LPS lighting. LPS lights on seaside highways may prevent the "squishing" of thousands of baby turtles.

Yet another in a never-ending stream

of articles about religious people who are bitting while handling poisonous snakes arrived in my mailbox this month. Church members said that the Reverend Gerald Fleenor was bitten once in the upper arm and was in guarded condition in intensive care at the University of Tennessee Hospital in Knoxville. He had been handling snakes for about a year before this bite. Minister Swiney said "I don't pay any attention to getting bit...We wear them around our necks and on our heads. Anywhere. I got bit by a cottonmouth I don't know how many times this summer, and I wasn't hurt." I know that the Bible talks about people with great faith who handle poisonous snakes, but isn't there also a passage or two cautioning believers to believe for belief's sake - not to ask for signs and portends? My granddad, a Church-going Christian, said many times, "Snakes is snakes, you leave `em alone - they'll leave you alone."

Is a more successful iguana

likely to be agressive or submissive? Scientists studying iguanas in Belize and at the San Diego Zoo are trying to determine whether dominant or submissive captive-raised iguanas are more successful in the wild. Dr. John A. Phillips, a comparative physiologist at the San Diego Zoo, said, "We're faced with a practical problem...The situation is slightly reminiscent of street gang sociology in which the gang leader may dominate his pack but may also be the first to fall afoul of the laws of a larger society." A dominant iguana is likely to seek out conspicuous perches for basking and may be quickly picked off by a predator. However, dominant males mature rapidly and may mate sooner than subordinate siblings. Iguanas communicate with each other with body movements. According to Dr. Phillips, bobbing the head up and down means, "Hello, I'm a green iguana." But rolling the head from side to side is a warning from the bully to the bullied, and is often followed by a flick of the tail against the interloper's flank. Bully iguanas reach sexual maturity 18 months post hatching, eight months faster than submissive males. Dr. Phillips has found "that the blood of submissive iguanas contains three to four times more of the corticosteroids we find in the blood of the tyrants." Corticosteroids are stress hormones, secreted by the body to prepare for fight or flight. They suppress production of testosterone, a hormone which influences growth in much the way that illegal anabolic steroids put muscle on athletes. The submissive iguanas have too much steroid which retards their growth. At night, all the iguanas clump together for a peaceful night's sleep, regardless of social position. Dr. Phillips also said, "Meat dealers in belize who sell iguanas to heat have been complaining lately that very few big iguanas are being caught. An iguana can live up to 25 years and it continues to grow throughout its life, but most of the largest in Belize seem to have been eaten. Perhaps the tyrant iguanas of Belize have been discovering too late that overconfidence can be lethal." Maybe they should take up "Tai-kwa-iguana-do."

Usually a bastion of good-taste,

the British Museum is displaying some unique "stuffed animals" from the collection of Charles Waterton. Waterton was a serious early 19th century naturalist and a classic English eccentric. He is considered the father of modern taxidermy, a pioneer conservationist, an early experimenter with curare and a popular and respected scientists. His "stuffed animals" include imaginary animals created for his amusement. The centerpiece of their corner case is "John Bull and the National Debt" - a creature with the legs and belly of a porcupine, an almost human face, probably made from the backside of a monkey and a turtle's shell ridden by a dragon. Five other weird creatures prance around the base. Waterton was a fearless explorer who reportedly once tied up a 14-foot boa constrictor with his suspenders, then stowed the snake in a bag under his hammock. He also captured a vicous alligator by the foolhardy expedient of leaping onto its back and riding it ashor. That very alligaor (all 10 scaly feet of him) is on display in a coffin-shaped glass case. He treated the skins with a unique chemical mix, then shipped them home where he "stuffed" them with air. His method was too difficult and time-consuming for others to use, but his exemplary technique achieved wonders. Those herpetologists lucky enough to attend the 1st World Congress in the U.K. this fall may wish to stop by the new, permanent display.

Thanks to everybody who contributed

articles, clippings, letters, advertisements and etcetera this month. Also, I thought you might like to know that we will be publishing some results from our informal survey of our members conducted on our renewal notices soon. Some of the comments are great! The Publications Secretary has promised me some space to quote "the voice of our members" in an upcoming issue. If you expressed interest in volunteering - please remember that this column is the result of individuals sending in clippings from their local papers. We do need to know the date and name of the publication to avoid copyright problems, so please include it with the clippings. Other ways in which out-of-towners may wish contribute are being discussed. I am really impressed with the number of people who took the time to fill out the form completely, and write notes. Only 8 forms out of the over 500 we mailed were returned blank! That's an incredible percentage - and one that shows how devoted and involved our membership really is!

February 1989

Ted Turner, watch out!

Sally Frost, a researcher at the University of Kansas, is studying how axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) get their color - and why. By administering drugs which inhibit enzymes responsible for color, the normally brownish-green creatures who were all brothers and sisters, changed their hue. They ranged from bright yellow to black. Her goal is to find the genetic basis of animal colorization.

The New Mexico Herp Society

is asking for calm letters of protest concerning rattlesnake roundups. Please send your comments to: Mr. Bill Montoya, Director, NM Dept. of Game and Fish, State Capitol/Villagra Bldg., Santa Fe, NM 87503. Recently an historical site was purchased and the new owners have plans to start a roundup. Additionally, there is an April roundup in Alamogordo. Please send copies of your correspondence to: Ted L. Brown, NMHS, Dept. of Biology, University of NM, Albuquerque, NM 87131. Remember, as much as we hate roundups - be polite!


to the Louisiana Herp Society which has just celebrated its first anniversary. This organization has grown from 18 to 70 people and publishes a bimonthly newsletter. I was especially impressed by their publication since it contains no photocopies or reprints, instead, the 14 pages contain original material and advice from LHS members. The only thing I was unable to find was the cost of membership. Contact the LA Herp Soc., c/o Section on Amphibians and Reptiles, Museum of Natural Sciences at Foster Hall, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803 for membership information.

Want to help save herps?

Dez Crawford is working to develop an animal-rights group just for herpetofauna. She suggests the following for those interested in supporting her goal:
  1. Don't patronize restaurants which serve frog legs or turtle soup - and tell management why.
  2. Don't buy or eat shrimp.
  3. Don't buy reptile-skin products and contact companies that sell them to explain why not.
  4. Don't buy products tested on herps. Some companies use turtles and frogs in product testing.
  5. Don't patronize events promoted by companies who sell, or designers who manufacture herp products.
  6. Don't attend films or concerts, purchase records, books, shampoo, jeans or other products promoted by models and stars who endorse herp products.
  7. Don't buy or shop in stores which sell real tortoiseshell.
  8. Only buy captive-bred exotic herps. To her list, I would like to add a few suggestions of my own:
  9. Do talk to the meat and fish workers at your local supermarket. Tell them about TEDs and turtles.
  10. Talk to your beautician, stylist and/or manicurist about beauty products. They buy a lot more shampoo than we do.
  11. Do support public figures who support herpetofauna, Stephanie Powers and Doris Day among others.
  12. Try not to buy plastic products. They are dangerous to all life - ourselves included.
  13. Recycle or reuse everything before consigning it to the dust bin.
  14. Please do not cause scenes in public. The guy wearing snakeskin boots or the woman with the tortoiseshell comb may not know any better. It is more commendable to teach - not preach.

Georgia has named

the Gopher Tortoise, Gopherus polyphemus its state reptile. Gophers live in sandhill communities with other reptile, mammal and invertebrate species. In fact, their burrowing provides basic shelter for many other animals. The Georgia Herp Society February program was on rattlesnake roundups and their effects on GA ecology. If you would like more information on Georgia roundups, contact: GHS, c/o Herpetology Department, Zoo Atlanta, 800 Cherokee Ave. SE, Atlanta, GA 30315.

46,579 tons of frozen frog legs

were imported into France from 1973 to 1987 inclusive. If each pair of legs is assumed to weigh between 20 and 50 grams, this means that one to two thousand million frogs were imported into France in just 15 years. That's a lot of frogs! Frogs for the international trade are either exported alive from their countries or origin, or are killed and their legs prepared and frozen for export. Frogs are also used for research in laboratories and science teaching. Since 1979, hunting either Rana esculenta, the edible frog or Rana temporaria, the common frog has been prohibited in France. As previously reported here, Bangladesh has stopped exporting its frogs due to a staggering increase in insect populations in that mostly wet country. What I don't understand is why some enterprising French person hasn't started a frog farm. On the other hand, maybe we could convince them that Dendrobates are a delicacy - like Japanese blowfish.

Free to good homes...

The U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service will send you a copy of their Resource Publication 166, "Checklist of Vertebrates of the U.S., the U.S. Territories, and Canada." edited by Richard C. Banks, Roy W. McDiarmid and Alfred L. Gardner. Write: USF andWS, Room 148, Matomic Building, Washington, D.C. 20240.

Oklahoma's Fish and Wildlife

Department of Wildlife Conservation held a public meeting in December to discuss proposed regulation setting up a season for taking unprotected reptiles for commercial purposes. Local herpers testified that the ODWC is not enforcing current regulations including: 1.) You must have a hunting licence to collect rattlesnakes; 2.) You cannot use gasoline to force snakes to leave their dens; and 3.) You must have a permit to send wildlife across state lines. Greg Duffy, Chief of the Game Division of ODWC reportedly stated that enforcing these three laws is not a high priority with his department. Herpers pointed out that "it is the job of enforcement personnel to enforce the law and not to decide how it should be applied." Mr. Duffy replied that "it was not a good idea to run to the D.A. with every little thing." All that the OK Herp Society is asking is that rattlesnake harvesting should be done on a sustained yield basis, without the environmental destruction caused by gassing, and without illegal interstate transports of wildlife. For more information contact: Bob Clark, 10204 Ski Drive, Oklahoma City, OK 73162.

California Tigers delay construction

of a $7 million golf course and airport expansion as well as a $41 million waste treatment plant and incinerator planned to burn radioactive and toxic residues from a nuclear weapons laboratory. The 6-8 inch amphibian, Ambystoma californiense, may live on the land planned for development. If a few are found, the developers and the state will work on a mitigation plan, but if a large colony is discovered, it may affect the entire project. The toxic burning plant also faces a lawsuit which charges that its environmental impact study was flawed because it did not mention other flora and fauna which may be disturbed if the incinerator is built.

The China Snake Protection Association

is petitioning their government to establish snake farms to protect certain species. They warn that the "wanton killing" of snakes is threatening some species with extinction and stated that up to 400,000 Pallas pit vipers and 50,000 non-poisonous snakes are killed every year for use in restaurants, medical research and pharmaceutical products. This really could be the year of the snake!

Beauty and the Beasts...

Stephanie Powers is battling to save the Komodo Dragon. The 10-foot long, 300-pound lizard is a carnivore with a huge forked tongue, armored scales like chain mail and a face that could lauch a thousand horror movies. Fossil remains indicate that relatives of the Komodo dragon roamed in what is now the State of Wyoming aabout 60 million years ago. Ms. Powers is raising money to help preserve and maintain the reptile's natural habitat. She also owns and directs the William Holden Wildlife Foundation, at the Mount Kenya Game Ranch, 125 miles southwest of Nairobi and is establishing breeding reserves for bongos and llamas.

Several slithery snake stories

arrived in this month's mailbag.

Item One:

Seven giant pythons have been found out for walks, by themselves, in the tiny town of Oldsmar, Florida. All are full-grown Burmese or reticulated pythons native to southeast Asia. One allegedly measured 15 feet and weighed close to 200 pounds. All are well fed and not aggressive. Officials suspect that they recently escaped or were dumped.

Item Two:

Two people have been indicted by a federal grand jury for trying to bring eight endangered snakes from Mexico to the U.S. They have been charged with conspiracy, unlawful importation of smuggled merchandise and making false statements to a federal officer.

Item Three:

Malaysia's "Snake king" is still sharing a room with 100 cobras in the National Museum in Kuala Lumpur.

Item Four:

Wyoming officials knew better than to believe the story of a teen who showed up at the hospital babbling about having been bitten by a "snow snake." He claimed he was outdoors, picked up a snake - in the snow - and was bitten. Since doctors couldn't treat his envenomation without knowing the type of snake, law enforcement officials finally got the truth out of the "victim." It turned out that the animal was a captive Pygmy rattlesnake. The bitee was "playing around with the snake and said he was going to kiss it goodnight." Now see what happens when snakehandlers do stupid "Kiss of Death" routines with cobras? This teenager, and his friend, tried to duplicate what they had seen others do and one is in the hospital and the other is in hot water.

Item Five:

Sherriff's deputies discovered 38 dangerous snakes, most dead or dying, when they responded to a burglary call at a home in Silver Springs Shores, Florida. The homeowner apparently raised and bred snakes ranging from Burmese pythons to rattlesnakes in his house. He and his wife left for vacation about two weeks before then snakes were discovered. This is the kind of story that can get legislation passed regulating or outlawing the keeping of animals. I know you've heard my lecture before and I know I'm preaching to the converted, but don't be irresponsible with your animals. Make sure that every snake keeper in your area is working very hard to be responsible. Try to get all the snake owners to join a herp society. Contact rodent breeders in your area and ask them to have other snake owners contact you.

Item Six:

Playboy Magazine wrote a letter to Gary Mazurek, Collections Manager of the Herpetology Department at the Field Museum. Seems as though Miss La Toya Jackson posed with a snake in the March, 1989 issue. The magazine identified the snake as a boa in the caption, because the reptile handler was supposed to have provided a boa. Gary closely and carefully examined and scrutinized the photograph they sent with the letter and has identified the animal most definately as a Burmese python.

Item Seven:

Ms. Jackson also appeared on "Late Night" with David Letterman. Apparently he doesn't like snakes. He was quoted as saying, "Please keep that thing away from me."

Item Last:

A researcher is studying the timeless question, "when a two-headed snake gets one mouse for dinner, which head eats?" Gordon Burghardt, a University of Tennessee psychology and zoology professor, is working with a two headed black rat snake which has been under observation at the university since shortly after it was born 12 years ago. He said that the two heads fought over their mouse dinners, offered twice a month, even though the prey ended up in the same stomach. The university got the snake from a government laboratory in nearby Oak Ridge, Tennessee, which had obtained it from two boys who had found the animal in their garden. Burghardt found that "the left head ate more prey, but it was smaller. And the right head ate fewer prey which tended to be larger." I guess it's a case of two heads being better than one.

The New York Turtle and Tortoise Society

has petitioned the State of New York to add the Diamondback Terrapin, Malaclemmys terrapin, to its list of protected species. Found in the coastal waters of Long Island, the animals have been listed as a "species of special concern" since 1983. A large increase in the Asian population of New York City has prompted the trapping and sale of about 10,000 turtles in the City in 1988. Trapping, pollution and development all threaten the animal. If protected, the diamondback would join the bog turtle, rattlesnakes and 32 other species on their state list. If protected, sale of the animal in the state of New York would be illegal regardless of the origin of the animal.

Turtle tumors

are being studied by Dr. Elliott Jacobson, wildlife specialist at the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine. "The tumors have been spotted on about half the green sea turtles found along the Indian River [Florida] lagoon system," he said. The tumors develop on the soft body tissue and shell, often appearing on and around the eyes. It is possible that they are being caused by a virus.

Sultan Qaboos of Oman

has banned tourists from sea turtle nesting beaches in the Indian Ocean. The sultan said, "To prevent further disturbance of the turtles and damage to the environment, it has been decided that camping and turtle watching by day or night is prohibited."

Our February speaker

was Chris Banks, Curator of Reptiles at the Melbourne Zoo in Australia. He presented an informative slide show on new exhibits at his zoo and on some reptiles of the arid and semi-arid regions of Australia. He also discussed wildlife regulations within the six states of Australia as well as national import and export policies. We at the Bulletin write the most marvelous meeting summaries will again pick up his flashlight and Parker pen and resume writing!

Mike Redmer is collecting

herp related license plate designations and so far has found the following Illinois plates: Indigo, Geckos, Herp 1, Cynops 1, Eft 2 and a Missouri plate: Hyla 1.

Thanks to the many people who contributed

articles and clippings this month. Please keep it up. Also, please don't forget to send the date and publication in which the article first appeared. This is a reader-supported column, without you-it won't be here.

April 1989

A big thank you and goodbye

to long-term CHS Board Member Holly Beardsley who has accepted a new job out of state. Holly has given freely of her time and abilities during her years on the CHS Board. She has been in charge of our mall shows and Herpetological Weekends for years in addition to being our vice president and an extremely active member. Holly's contributions to CHS are far too numerous to even try to list. Suffice it to say, "Holly, you'll be missed more than you'll ever know."

A developer in Florida

is coordinating the relocation of gopher tortoises from his property to a new, county owned, home. He has also involved an environmental consultant and an ecology class from Evans High School, near Orlando, in the efforts to find and move tortoises from his 37-acre site in Pine Hills, even though he is not legally obligated to do so. We need more developers like Mr. Wayne Rich!

Does anybody know if the cholla

sold for hide/exercise purposes in pet stores is ranched or wild collected? There seems to be an awful lot of it in stores lately.

The World Wildlife Fund

released its annual report for 1988 in which they list the projects and programs they funded last year. Many of their projects cover physical areas, education, research, and campaigns for the protection of diverse groups of wildlife, but they deserve our praise for having paid for at least 5 projects specifically directed at the conservation of herps: 1.) marine turtle conservation, Pacific Coast of Columbia; 2.) ecological recovery of sea turtles, Michoacan, Mexico; 3.) sea turtle population study, Pacific Coast, Costa Rica; 4.) conservation and management of green iguanas, Central America; and 5.) sea turtle conservation, Southern Thailand. You can join WWF by writing: 1250 Twenty-Fourth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037.

The Marine Mammal Stranding Center

has prepared a poster which is being distributed throughout New Jersey. It shows a fish with its head stuck in a 6-pack ring and a sea turtle eating a plastic bag. The caption reads: "You can help! Please do not discard plastics into the marine environment." The MMSC (despite its name) documents the strandings of all kinds of marine animals. It's most recent report, covering August through October, 1988, lists the strandings of 20 sea turtles. Please keep in mind that the area they cover could be walked at a leisurely pace - from end to end - in about six hours. One of the stranded loggerhead turtles is being housed at MMSC for rehabilitation and will be released if possible. MMSC is supported by donation and state grants. If you would like to help support their efforts, please write: MMSC, P.O. Box 773, Brigantine, NJ 08203.

Head Starting programs

are being discontinued according to a release from HEART (Help Endangered Animals-Ridley Turtles). The New York Times also reported that head starting programs in Florida are being eliminated. Meanwhile, dead juvenile turtles are still washing up on our shores. Are they from our head start programs? Why has the government decided to stop head starting these extremely endangered animals? At this writing, I have no details. HEART asks that we write to Manuel Lujan Jr., Secretary of the Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C. 20240 and ask: 1.) Why is head starting being stopped?; 2.) Why has the imprinting at Padre Island been halted?; and 3.) How is the enforcement of the March 1 deadline on the use of TEDs on shrimp boats being handled?

A new publication

of interest to turtle enthusiasts sent us a color brochure this month. The Journal of Chelonian Herpetology will be published quarterly and if its quality is as high as its publicity brochure, it should be a welcome addition to any library. Write: J of CH, c/o The Tortoise Trust, BM Tortoise, London WC1N 3XX, England for more information.

More thefts of exotic animals

occured on Long Island, NY recently. Ten snakes, 2 iguanas and an expensive cockatoo were stole from two stores in Nassau County. The thieves are confident fellows. At one store, two men entered, one engaged the clerk, the other stole the cockatoo. The other theft occurred after hours. Authorities are not sure if the two are related, but report that there has been a definate upswing of exotic animals thefts on the island since last fall.

The Youngtown, Ohio turtle race

netted its sponsor, the Lions Club, over $17,000 to help the blind and handicapped of the community in 1988. Before we grab our pens with outrage, please remember that the turtles used in this event are captured for the event and released afterward. I am unaware of any study showing that this harms the animals, although I would hope that the Lions Club would investigate less exploitative forms of fund raising for such time in the future as these events have lost their appeal.


. . . The next time a person says that snakes are bad because of the serpent in the Bible, calmly ask, "Which one?" A religious member of my family recently pointed out two quotations which make it appear as though God really doesn't have snakes on His hate list after all. Numbers 21: 8 and 9 says, "And the Lord said to Moses: Make a brazen serpent and set it up for a sign: whosoever being struck shall look at it, shall live..." John 3: 13-15 refers to the brazen serpent and uses it as a metaphor for the Son of Man


has issued a stamp to commemorate the Year of the Snake. Designed by Lu Shengzhong, a teacher at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, the stamp portrays the reptile in a positive light. He said, "Snake designs on pottery and bricks dating from the Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AC) show that originally the snake was a symbol of safety. In folk stories, it is often related to love and kindness. The stamp is spare and shows a flowered and decorated snake coiled on a white background. The overall design represents traditional Chinese beliefs that the earth is square and the sky round. ical. The forked tongue of the snake which is usually a symbol of evil, was replaced with a sprig of the Chinese herb used to symbolize the power to restore life. In much of Chinese tradition folklore, the snake is one of the "five evil things," along with scorpions, toads, geckos and centipedes. In modern China, the snake is being put to "practical" use. Venom is an ingredient in a variety of medicines, snake's gallbladder and medicinal herbs are combined to make effective cough medicine, snakeskin is used to produce handbags and shoes for the export trade, and in southern China, snakes are considered a delicacy - a custom considered strange in the north. Chinese astrology says that people born in the year of the snake are intelligent, mysterious, tender, and kind!

Three teenage boys

threatened a 13-year old girl with a snake, dragged her off, and raped her in a Rockford, IL building. The perpetrators were taken into custody. The 5-foot water snake exploited in this incident is in the custody of a CHS member who is also an Illinois State trooper. . .

By now

everyone has heard that William Haast was released from the hospital following his envenomation. Efforts to find proper serum led to the USSR and Iran. Now if Iran could just make an antivenin for A. khomeniana!. . .


movie distributors released live snakes during showings of American films in Seoul movie theatres. They are trying to frighten audiences away from the movies. . .

Bad joke time

1.) [Q] What do snakes like for desssert? [A] Mice cream! 2.) [Q] What did the snake say after eating a chameleon? [A] I ate the anole thing!

A local pet store

has as its mascot an Aldabran tortoise which just "celebrated" its 40th birthday. Every time I go to this store, I want to cry. The animal is being kept in an approximately 20 foot by 25 foot room with a vinyl tile floor. The furnishings consist of a bank of clamp lamps, a water dish, and food spread on paper on the floor. There do not appear to be any Vita-lites or other ultraviolet light sources in the room. There is no soft area, or soaking bath, and no privacy. The store is open late and the lights in the area are not turned off while the store is open. This area also faces a major street and has floor to ceiling windows through which light from cars and from the street can shine unimpeded 24 hours a day. The publicity newspaper for the pet store suggests that people send birthday cards to "Methuselah" at Noah's Ark Pet Center, 2430 E. Oakton, Elk Grove Village, IL 60007. Noah's Ark is very active in the sale of reptiles and amphibians and I have been told by other herpers that the care rendered in that store is adequate - but I feel that keeping Methuselah reproductively isolated and under the above described conditions is not the best way he could be treated. What do you think? If you write the store - please be very polite. Noah's Ark is at least trying to provide proper care for their animals; there are many other stores which don't even make the effort.

May 1989

The New England Science Center

in Worcester, MA reports that a live Blanding's turtle and a mounted (dead) mongoose were stolen from the Center on March 18th. Blanding's turtles are listed as threatened by the state of MA and anyone possessing one must have a permit issued by the MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. The stolen turtle has special dietary and health requirements that must be attended to if it is to survive. Anyone with information can call (508) 791-9211 and speak to James David Moran.

Tom Taylor,

of the Arizona Herp. Society wrote with an answer to the cholla question: "Cholla cactus wood is quite plentiful in some areas of the desert east of Phoenix. As far as I know, it's legal to collect and sell the cholla "skeletons," as they are called locally, but the living cactus may not be collected and sold (that goes for all cactus)."

Different strokes

... William Meyer sent in a clipping from the District Digest of the Cook County Forest Preserve which has an article titled "Miniature Serpents" by Sue Hall. The article describes the life history of the DeKay's snake, northern redbellied snake, Kirtland's snake and the western smooth green snake and concludes: "... all four are harmless and should be treated in a respectful manner." Compare this with H. Ross Perot's recent comment in the New York Times, "If you see a snake, just kill it - don't appoint a committee on snakes."

Taoist 3-legged toads

are on display at a New York gallery. The exhibit features bronze sculptures, created in the orient from 1100-1900 A.D. The Chinese Taoist toads bear gods of prosperity on their backs and functioned as incense burners. Both the toads and their passengers grin and one god is shown dancing. Perhaps the god's were saying, "I toad to you be happy."

The Memphis Zoo

is proud to report the successful hatching of green-eyed geckos at their facility. Steve Reichling, assistant reptile curator at the zoo, says that it "is one of the first times it's been done in an American Zoo. They also have a half-dozen species of other geckos, including a breeding colony of leopard geckos and a group of day geckos. Guess where Mike Miller is going on vacation?

Dr. Scholl's corn pads

helped heal a toad! Dr. Coffee Pertz, zoo veterinarian at the Utica Zoo in NY, had been trying a variety of remedies to heal a 5-pound marine toad named "Arthur" with little success. Arthur wasn't eating and was losing weight. The large and painful sore on his foot just wouldn't heal. Dr. Pertz then installed a Dr. Scholl's corn cushion over the sore and reported, "In just a few days the improvement was remarkable. Arthur began to eat almost immediately and is now back on exhibit." Schering-Plough, the company that manufactures the corn pads has sent a life time supply to the zoo, just in case. Perhaps he got the sore because his toad shoes were too tight.

A tenant with snakes

has filed suit against the city of Sterling Heights, MI to prevent their removal of his 16 roommates - all of whom are real snakes. He has anacondas, boa constrictors and pythons. City officials say he's violating a city ordinance that prohibits the keeping of "uncommon pets" within 300 feet of a dwelling. The tenant was turned in by an anonymous tip from a neighbor.

An 8-unit subdivision

threatens Cowles Bog in northern IN. Opponents of the plan say that the subdivision will destroy wooded dune slopes, and that a lack of drainage plans will contaminate the bog with lawn chemicals and road run off. The bog is in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the proposed development is on private land. The local Plan Commission is under no obligation to approve the development as requested if the developer can't answer questions about septic flow, surface drainage and slope construction. Since the bog/dunes complex extends over the boundaries of the federal park, residents are seeking to have the property purchased and included in the National Lakeshore. Your comments on this matter can be sent to Congressman Peter Visclosky [IN], 420 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515 and to Representatives from your area.

Chinese medicine

has long been famous for remedies based on wildlife, but a recent article in the Chicago Tribune says that certain Chinese are convinced that a dose of toad fat, can eliminate kidney troubles, amnesia, bad eyesight, fatigue and ease menstrual pains if mixed with red dates and boiled in water for 52 hours. The fat is taken from toad thighs and costs about $15.00 for a match-box sized portion.

The composer of the Frog Concerto

is seeking croaking singers for her new work, "Concerto for Active Frogs." The chorus will be dressed in green plastic garbage bags and croak in accompaniment to a tape of real frogs. The composer, Anne LeBaron, studied music at the University of Alabama and earned a Fulbright Scholarship to study music in Germany where the Frog Concerto was performed by singers dressed in just as much as frogs usually wear. "After all," explained LeBaron, "a frog's croaking is a mating call." Le Baron occasionally positions the human singers throughout the audience to simulate the scattering of real frogs in a swamp. Her next piece is "Ode to a Golden Toad." And we thought that this kind of stuff was reserved for the swimming pools at SSAR/HL meetings!

Biodegradable diapers

and other products are available from Seventh Generation, 10 Farrell Street, South Burlington, VT 05403. Send $2.00 for a full catalog, or a self- addressed, stamped long envelope for a reply.

Gopher races?

The Lion Magazine, reports that last July 4th the Panama City, Florida, Lions Club held "their annual gopher race...The event netted some $15,000 for sight conservation programs and three hours of television time on the leading local station." The picture accompanying the article makes clear that they are talking about gopher tortoises. While I'm all for the Lions work with helping the non-sighted, it seems that this event might not be in the best ecological taste. What about it, CHS members in Florida? Is the event going to happen again now that gophers have been given official status in that state?

Another oil spill,

this one in Hawaii, may threaten endangered sea turtles and humpback whales. About 10,000 gallons of bunker fuel oil is being cleaned from more than 20 miles of beach on Lanai and Molokai islands. The source of the spill is suspected to have been a passing merchant ship. The effects of this spill may be long lasting since the oil may taint algae which is eaten by green sea turtles. This spill was the second off Hawaii in less than two months. On March 2nd, the tanker Exxon Houston ran aground off Oahu, spilling more than 30,000 gallons of oil and polluting 2 miles of shoreline. I can see the commercials now, "This ecological disaster area has been brought to you by the Exxon Corporation, building a better world with petrochemicals."

The kinder and gentler administration

of President George Bush has proposed reducing the funding for sea turtle recovery which had been allocated to the Fish and Wildlife Service by a quarter of a million dollars for fiscal year 1990, which begins October 1st, 1989. Also proposed is a $1.5 million cut from their budget for recovery of other endangered and threatened species. This will result in the elimination of staff positions, most sea turtle conservation activities on southeastern national wildlife refuges, and joint efforts with Mexico to recover the Kemp's ridley turtle. Congressional committees will decide if this cut will stay or go in their version of the budget. We learned in the TED debate that letters to Congressmen do get read and do have an impact. While you are writing about this funding reduction, please comment on the following. This columnist received a call from a source who shall have to remain nameless that Senator Heflin (of the shrimp fishing states) has made a "behind closed doors" deal with the new Secretary of Commerce to implement a regulatory 2 month delay in the enforcement of the TED requirements. Ask your congressperson if they like having their decisions circumvented in this sneaky and underhanded manner and mention that the Federal Law (passed by both houses and signed by the President just last fall) requires TED use on all shrimp boats within a 200 mile limit of the coast of the continental U.S. at all times after May 1st, 1989. It seems that the shrimpers just never give up. I gave up, too, and haven't had one shrimp for the last two years.

June 1989

Last month's rumor

about the newest delay in TED implementation is, unfortunately, fact. Help Endangered Animals-Ridley Turtles (HEART) reports that on April 28th, Secretary of Commerce Robert Mosbacher granted the shrimp industry a 60 day grace period in the enforcement of the TED regulations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). TEDs not only save turtles, but billions of pounds of finfish currently wasted in shrimp nets. Conservationists had worked for three years getting TED regulations through Congress. The amendment to the ESA called for industry-wide implementation May 1st, 1989. HEART requests that we all call or write Robert Mosbacher, Secretary of the Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C. 20235 (202) 377-2000. Additionally, they suggest sending a copy of your correspondence to your senators (c/o US Senate, Washington, DC 20510), your congresspeople (c/o US House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515), and to HEART, P.O. Box 681231, Houston, TX 77268-1231.

Florida has acted

to protect sea turtles in its waters. Prompted by the strandings of 172 dead sea turtles on West Florida beaches so far this year, the state's Marine Fisheries Commission endorsed a proposal requiring TEDs on all shrimp nets in state waters, 3 nautical miles into the Atlantic and 9 nautical miles into the Gulf of Mexico. The commission's unanimous vote outraged more than a hundred shrimpers who packed the meeting. Shrimpers testified that they feel they are being unfairly blamed for turtle mortality and suggested that poaching and pollution are unconsidered factors. The commissioners based their ruling on evidence from federal studies indicating more than 11,000 sea turtles are drowned in shrimp trawls each year. South Carolina previously issued state TED regulations. These state laws are in force now - while our federal government and the Louisiana/Texas shrimp fishermen play games.

Two shrimpers who deliberately

killed 3 sea turtles aboard their boat have been arrested and charged with unlawfully taking an endangered spcies and conspiracy to violate the ESA. The shrimpers face a maximum penalty of one year in jail or a $100,000 fine. Federal marine enforcement agents learned of the killing from a third crew member who photographed the dead turtles before they were tossed overboard and who has also agreed to testify. In the first two weeks since the turtle excluder law took effect, 20 dead sea turtles have washed up in West Central Florida. Several have been mutilated, shot, or decapitated. The informant in this case reports that the captain of the boat ordered the turtle's throats slit and said he wanted any turtles caught in the nets killed, too.

The Nature Conservancy

has purchased 1,800 feet of beach-front property on the Atlantic Coast of Florida from the Walt Disney Company. Barbara Schroeder, sea turtle recovery coordinator for the state Department of Natural Resources, said that although sea turtles nest as far north as North Carolina and in the Gulf States, most sea turtle nesting occurs on the east coast of Florida making that area crucial for conservation. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is considering joining the State of Florida in acquriring 9 miles of beaches in East Central Florida to protect them from construction and development. The Center for Marine Conservation requests letters be sent to the Secretary of the Interior. Apparently there are unutilized monies in the Land and Water Conservation Fund which could be used to purchase the beaches. Loggerhead, green and leatherback turtle nesting season began early in May and continues through September. Just think of all those male and female sea turtles trying to get to their ancient beaches. Between the deeps and the beach are hundreds of shrimp trawlers greedily sucking up everything from the undersea grass beds. It hardly seems fair.

Another million gallons of oil,

has leaked from a "super" tanker, this time in the Red Sea. At risk are coral reefs and turtle-breeding grounds. Workers are attempting to contain the 50-mile oil slick.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources

is funding a one-year study to determine if the state is properly managing its diamondbacked terrapins. It has been noted that DNR regulations prohibit watermen from taking terrapins with a bottom shell less than 6 inches long. Since only mature females reach that size, environmentalists pointed out that this rule would seem to interfere with the maintenance of breeding stock. The DNR has not established a bag limit. Last year, Maryland watermen harvested 9,919 pounds of terrapin. In 1987, they took 4,152 pounds. The average weight per animal is slightly over one pound. The New York Turtle and Tortoise Society, the Center for Marine Conservation and others have petitioned the State of New York to place diamondbacks on the state list of game animals. A recent survey on diamondback status throughout the range (Massachusetts to Texas) has revealed that the species is subject to a number of threats including incidental capture and habitat destruction. An interesting piece of trivia on this subject - in the late 1800's Gilded Era, terrapin was an extremely popular menu item. Diamond Jim Brady was reported to have eaten 20 at one sitting at Delmonico's. The insatiable demand for terrapins led to a quick decline. Turtle farms were established in many areas of the east coast, and since those breeders were not careful, quite a few of today's diamondbacks are hybrids. Demand for terrapins decreased in the Depression, and breeding stocks were released as the farms closed.

Greek sea turtles can nest

a little easier since the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece has been able to set up nest protection porgrams at sites in the southern Peloponnesus and the island of Rhodes. The Society has promoted a closer relationship with local residents and hotel operators and has built a second information kiosk on Zakynthos.

Rattlers, 150 - Opp Jaycees, 0

After years of "ketchin' an' killin'" rattlers, the operators of the Opp, Alabama rattlesnake rodeo decided to return their entire 1989 catch to the wild!!! Jerry Hartzog, head snake handler said, "We've been getting criticism for years from environmentalists, animal-rights groups and others about the way we did some things. They say we could be putting the Eastern diamondback in danger of extinction or something, so we've started working with them." Mr. Hartzog also tried to allay community fears by saying that the Jaycees were not going to dump all the snakes in one place. He said, "We're going to release the snakes back into the wild as close to where each was caught as possible." However, this year's roundups in Fitzgerald, Claxton and Whigham proceeded just as usual. 356 Eastern diamondbacks were captured, milked, killed and skinned in Fitzgerald alone. The newspaper clipping I have says that their snake serum is shipped to Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories in Philadelphia. Does anyone know if this is true?

Indiscriminate hunting

was blamed for the decline of some Chinese wildlife. The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China passed its first law protecting wildlife in November 1988 to help combat poaching and smuggling. The Beijing Municipal People's Congress passed regulations on April 2 that are expected to serve as model laws for other Chinese cities. The cities are important in the Chinese equation because so many unusual creatures are killed for food or pharmaceutical use and sold in cities. The Guangxi Wild Animal Protection Assocation reported that poaching was way up last year. Animals on the list to be protected include monkeys, pangolins, civets, eagles, pythons, lizards, and frogs. The giant salamander populations are reportedly much reduced by harvest for the food trade.


reports that the Japanese import millions of tons of shells from endangered turtles even though its people are environmentally conscious and active. Demand is still high in Japan for foreign tropical hardwoods, musk oil, furs, hides, and ivory. Is this a case of let's save our house and the heck with yours?

Thai crocodile breeders

sell South American caiman goods to American buyers raising two interesting questions: 1.) Where are they getting the caimain skins; and 2.) Where are they selling their own products? American alligator farms are a post-modern success story. The number of farms has doubled since 1984. Harvested between 4 and 6 feet in length, alligator meat is low in cholesterol and high in protein. The meat is selling for $5 to $6 per pound and the skins for about $36 per foot. In total, the industry earned $2 million last year in Florida alone. Gators don't reproduce as well in captivity as they do in the wild. Breeders are trying different methods, including culling older breeders to use younger stock, tranquilizing the females prior to artificial insemination, and studying environmental factors. "Nuisance" alligator trapper, Columbus White killed Florida's biggest gator ever in early May. It measured 13-feet 10 inches and weighed 1,043 pounds. An alligator that bit and punctured a car tire in Dickinson, Texas had to be destroyed because it was injured. The gator had also taken a chunk out of the bumper. Allegedly, the driver had stopped about four feet away from the animal when it attacked the car.

Thanks to everybody

who sent clippings this month. I would hope though that more people would cut and mail. Last month, "MAD" said "It's a short one!" and this month is just about as short. If more members send articles this column will be longer. If you don't - it may cease altogether.

July 1989

50,000 square miles of rain forest,

were burned in 1988 in the Brazilian Amazon region alone. However, this figure is down from 1987, when 80,000 square miles were burned into fields and pastures.

A park ranger issued a $50 ticket

to a man who used a boat paddle to kill a copperhead snake that was allegedly threatening his companion. The latter said, "the snake was the same ... color as the ground ... I didn't see him until he drew his head back like a cobra does when he's about to bite. He was inches from my foot... I panicked and screamed." His friend then killed the snake. A park ranger who had been watching through binoculars issued the ticket by authority of a federal statute that bans killing any wildlife on national park land.

Finally, a use for Bufo marinus.

Dr. Alex Stalcup, a San Francisco drug treatment official commented on the craze for sampling a mind-altering chemical secreted by certain toads, "it's amazing the lengths to which people will go to get high. If you tried to lick this toad, it would be a felonious act."

A rattlesnake and a hawk

apparently battled to the death in Thomas County, GA. The area had been deliberately burned for restoration early in the day, later two researchers from Auburn University found an immature red-tailed hawk and a rattlesnake - both dead - and apparently so from the efforts of each other. Part of the snake's head and skin were missing. Necropsy of the hawk revealed that it had eaten snake muscle, skin, jaw bones, and a fang. It had also apparently been bitten on the leg by the snake. I guess it's just a case of biting the leg that's feeding on you.

An information request was received

from Dr. Julie Dunlap, Associate Director, Higher Education Programs, The Humane Society of the United States, 2100 L Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037. She's seeking information on herp abuse in the frog dissection and food trade.

Thanks to the many

who signed petitions and offered to go to meetings, the Trailside Museum in River Forest, IL apparently has been "saved." Cook County officials say that they intend to close the facility only temporarily to make some structural changes recommended by the Department of Agriculture. It has also been suggested that a new facility be built nearby rather than renovating the current building. Letters of support for the facility are still welcome and can be sent to the Trailside Museum, 738 N. Thatcher Avenue, River Forest, IL 60305.

In 1851, the Religious Tract

Society of London published an article on salamanders. Some fascinating superstitions reported include the famous story of salamanders leaping from fire, and the belief (which persists today at least in Mexico where I first heard it) that salamanders are deadly poisonous The author of the tract wrote that in the middle ages, asbestos was regarded as "salamander's wool, either from its incombustibility, or because it was really supposed to be some preparation of that animal; for they could not be so ignorant as to think it a wool-bearer. Cloth of salamander's skin was shown to Marco Polo; but the traveller at once perceived that this fire-proof fabric was of mineral origin."

In the old days,

herpers had to watch out for malarial mosquitoes, now it's Lyme disease. Chicago-area newspaper and television reporters have really covered this issue - sometimes hysterically - lately, but the Chicago Tribune reports that Illinois only had 12 cases last year. However, infected ticks have been found in forest preserves in northwest Cook County, and as far south as Carbondale. The disease has spread over 55 of Wisconsin's 75 counties with the lowest rates in the counties bordering Illinois. Since most herpers cannot avoid the brushy, scrubby areas where mice and ticks abound, we should wear head-to-toe clothes, with pants legs tucked into socks, and possibly a tick repellant (if you can stand it) such as Permanone. Public health officials say that the tick must be on your body for 12 to 24 hours before it can attach itself, so you have time to find the little blighters before they bite.

Chemical Business Magazine reports

"Vitamin K is an effective antidote to most anticoagulants, but the length of the treatment varies." and warns "Danger of poisoning is also a problem for controlling rodents in the wild, where they are an important part of the diet for owls and other animals." It's been almost a quarter century since Rachel Carson's Silent Spring; isn't it amazing that we're still trying to poison pests at all?

The Jupiter Beach Hilton

is sharing its 3-mile beach with nesting sea turtles and has launched a "turtle watch" program for its summer guests. They have an on-staff naturalist to lead hotel visitors to watch nocturnal nesting and egg-laying. Later in the season, hatchlings from protected beach pens are released. Daily lectures and slide shows and a nearby children's museum help educate vistors on the invisible side of the turtle's existence. The area surrounding the hotel is environmentally controlled to provide bird habitat and plant sanctuaries. Can you see the loggerhead and green sea turtles out talking in the Sargasso Sea? One says to another, "Have you laid at the Jupiter Beach Hilton, yet?" Humans who wish to visit can call (407) 746-2511.

The "take 3 grains of salt"

story of the month was reported by Associated Press on May 21, 1989: "Manila. A giant sea turtle towed 5 weak and weary survivors to safety after their boat sank during the height of tropical storm Brenda ... reported ... the nationally circulated Philippine Daily Inquirer." One of the survivors reported that the five had stayed afloat for 3 days on a makeshift raft before they spotted the sea turtle and tied the raft to one of its legs. The turtle then towed the craft for 2 hours before they were spotted by fishermen. The survivors released the turtle after they were rescued.

In descending order

dogs, cats, snakes and the President of the U.S. are the 4 most often researched subjects in the World Book Encyclopedia according to a company press release.

No license plates this month

but an alert reader sent in one of the most magnificent headlines ever: "5 1/2 foot Boa Caught in Toilet; Woman Relieved." Authorship of this lovely item can be credited to the Sun-Tattler, Broward County, FL.

Their trash dooms them.

Up to 1,500 ravens will be culled in the Mojave Desert to protect desert tortoises. Some ravens appear to be more fond of turtles than others. Researchers can tell because turtle-eating ravens usually stack the shells up right by their nests!

Disgusting business of the month

awards for Cheyenne Outfitters, P.O. Box 29, Cheyenne, WY 82003-0029; and Don Morgan Boots of Dallas, TX. A concerned CHS member sent me some pages from Cheyenne's catalog. Listed are belly-cut python boots; back-cut boa boots; handcrafted lizard boots; diamondback rattlesnake boots, wallets, and belts; cobra boots; and elephant leather products. Another tastless company distributes golf clubs covered in dead snakes. There are putters with rattles ($195), rattlesnake drivers ($250), white cobra drivers ($325), and snakeskin balls ($10). For the deskbound golfer, L.A. Hauser, P.O. Box 49053, Austin TX 78765, offers a desk set with the rattlenske putter and golf ball.


to the Arizona Herpetological Association which celebrates its 20th Anniversary this year. Members receive a bi-monthly newsletter. Those near enough can take advantange of education talks and slide shows or their free reptile-removal service. Memberships are $12.00 for individuals and $17.50 per family. Write: AHA, 1433 West Huntington, Tempe, AZ 85282.

Carole Allen from HEART

received a confusing letter from Phil Gramm, United States Senator from Texas (I quote exactly, and all italics are mine): "Dear Ms. Allen" Thank you for contacting me concerning the Kemp Ridley sea turtle. I appreciate having your views on this issue. I understand your concern for sea turtles and the need for protecting our nation's wildlife resources to insure their survivability for the benefit of future generations. Under the recently passed Endangered Species Act, a study of the turtle protection problem would be conducted next year by the National Academy of Sciences, and the government could waive the 1990 requirements for Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) if other protective measures are developed in the meantime. I have shared your comments with my colleagues on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee as well as Department of Commerce officials, and you may be sure that I will continue to monitor this matter with your views foremost in mind. I appreciate having the opportunity to represent you in the United States Senate. If I can ever be of service to you, please let me know. Yours respectfully, Phil Gramm." Carole's cover letter said, "found this letter very disturbing. Thanks for the CHS check. I'm worried about what [Secretary of Commerce, Robert] Mosbacher is going to do. More letters are needed. Carole." The Center for Marine Conservation is also urging citizens to contact their representatives in Congress and Secretary Mosbacher pointing out the following: 1.) Shrimpers have already had more than a year of delay in complying with TED regulations; 2.) Congress, the federal courts, and the Department of Commerce have rejected shrimpers' arguments time and again; 3.) Shrimpers won't pull TEDs until they are sure the feds are serious about the law; and 4.) Mr. Mosbacher should immediately implement enforcement efforts. Address the Honorable Robert Mosbacher, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th and Constitution, NW, Washington, DC 20230. Your senators and congresspeople are listed in your local telephone directories. Call their local offices and talk with the secretaries or legislative aids. Summer is a help to us. Our "men in Washington" are home, not in session, now. Please call and express the opinion that if we don't start using TEDs now - we may never need them for Kemp's ridley again - there just won't be any left to protect.

Let me change hats here

and become for a paragraph your Membership Secretary. The U.S. Postal Service reports that properly adressed and prepared bulk mail suffers only a 2.6 percent non-delivery rate. The situation can be more annoying if you are part of the 2.6%. However, the USPS does not forward bulk mail to your new address if you move. The CHS Bulletin mailing list is prepared between the first and the fifth of each month. If you move, please send us your new address. If you don't get your Bulletin by the 30th of any month, please write me and I will send you a replacement. Please do not wait 6 months to tell me which issues you did not receive. We only have a certain number printed, based on our membership, and 6 months to a year later, we may be (and in some cases are) completely out. Please do not write grumpy letters. They only ruin my day - you'll still get your back issue if it's available. Please do not write and ask "tell me everything about reptiles." If I started now and typed for the rest of my life, I could not type all the books that have been written to date on reptiles. Specific questions will receive specific answers - if I know them. Please always use the scientific names of the animals about which you are inquiring. Most books don't list common names. Even those that do may not be using the "common" name given you by the pet shop. Please do not despair that "Care in Captivity" will never appear. I am trying to get it out as quickly as possible. It is an incredibly complicated and time consuming project - but (thankfully) one that is very near completion.

I would especially like to thank

everyone who contributed material this month. As Abraham Lincoln once said, "People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like."

August 1989

David Lazcano writes,

"I would like to ask you if anyone in the Society has anything concerning the use of vitamin B complex in snakes that are low or not eating well...We here at the University of Nuevo Leon [receive so little funding] that it's difficult to keep up with herpetological publications.

It never hurts to ask department...

A letter received this month has to be the most unusual letter addressed to the CHS membership secretary yet. "I was hoping I could send the money later, and get the monthly magazine." A perfectly filled out application was attached!

A price list arrived

with snakes priced by the foot. I didn't know they had feet... But seriously, folks, why sell animals collected from the wild? And what are you doing to populations when you can afford to sell some for as little as $3? That means high volume collecting and high volume selling or you wouldn't be able to afford to sell that low.

Giant salamander-nappers were caught

by Chinese authorities with 194 animals which are eaten on special occasions in southeastern China, including Guizhou. Authorities estimate the street value of the salamanders interdicted to be $3.8 million. Newsweek reports that Taiwanese customs agents seized 94 tiny "green-haired" turtles native to mainland China along with Tibetan mastiffs and amphibious "baby fish."

Speaking of eating herptiles,

did you know that a restaurant in Oak Park, Illinois regularly serves rattlesnake? The New York Times reported that Memere's, 22 Chicago Avenue, serves snakes with the head and tail lopped off with a spicy sauce. Patsy Younghouse, the proprietor said, "You have to be a devoted snake-lover to eat snake." She also keeps a list of people who wish to be called when rattlers are on the menu. I wonder if she knows that a lot of rattlers are captured with the gasoline-vapor method and that the carcasses may contain hydrocarbon residue.

Box turtles may be less common

in Chicago area pet stores since a Missouri sting operation netted a black marketeer in Utah. The Utah man recruited people around Springfield, MO to illegally collect and ship turtles to him which he subsequently sold to pet stores, especially in Chicago. Missouri Conservation agents sent him a shipment of marked animals, then federal agents raided his store in Utah discovering all but 60 of the turtles. The case is going to a federal grand jury and under the Lacy Act, could bring maximum penalties of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine per count for transporting wildlife across state lines for commercial purposes. A word to the wise - Missouri has a very well thought out and workable code protecting their amphibians and reptiles, a very active conservation department, and a state herpetologist. It's definitely not a good place to collect illegally.

A DuPage County, IL road

will be redesigned to protect a population of northern watersnakes living in a retaining wall that supported a segment of the old road. DuPage County is experiencing "rapid growth" which means lots of bulldozers and very little concern for habitat destruction. Efforts to save some habitat are underway and the agreement reached on this project in Naperville will undoubtedly spur other such efforts. Congratulations to all who worked on the project, including our very own Mike Redmer.

Snakes of a different sort

were featured in the 100 ideas under $100 section of Better Homes and Gardens, July 1989 issue. Under the title "Kid Pleasers," patterns and instructions are given for three herptile seweing projects. "Sweater sleeve serpents: whip up a whole nest of vivacious vipers from layers of old sweater sleeves and scraps of felt. Roll back each sleeve, and watch the snakes shed their skins!" They also designed bags shaped like alligators and turtles. Full-size patterns for the bags are also available (#01531, $10.95) from BH andG, Dept 28A, Box 374, Locust at 17th, Des Moines, IA 50336. Even if you don't make any of these cute items for the kids on your Christmas list, just think - all over America kids are cuddling snakes, alligators, and turtles. What a difference from the old days when herptiles were rarely presented to children as loveable or desireable!

A frog named "Heavy Metal"

won the 61st annual Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee with a leap of 19 feet, 9 and 3/4 inches. Each frog gets three jumps from the center of a circle and the distances are added to total the final score. The world record was set in 1986 by "Rosie the Riveter" at 21 feet, 5 and 3/4 inches.

Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizards

now have a 13,000 acre reserve valued at $25 million near Palm Springs, CA. The conservation plan permits development in their historic range, but provides mitigation in the form of the set-aside reserve and financial contributions from developers. Native Americans, developers, and conservationists agreed on the plan without litigation. Developers were delighted at the concept of creating a "park for the lizard" which may someday be as much of an island as New York's Central Park. The director of the preserve, Cameron Barrows said, "It does the right thing to protect an endangered species and an ecosystem and at the same time it allows intelligent development to proceed."

Desert tortoises were placed

on endangered species status, July 26th because the populations in some parts of the West are threatened by a fatal respiratory disease. The designation was applied to the Mojave Desert west and north of the Colorado River, including southern Utah, southern California, Nevada and northwestern Arizona. Fish and Wildlife studies have found western Mojave populations have declined 58 percent since 1985. Steve Robinson, acting director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, ordered the change even though it is expected to anger cattlemen concerned about the its impact on their grazing rights to federal land where the tortoise is found.

Alligators in the Florida Everglades

have been found to have high concentrations of mercury in their bodies. The latest group tested at an average of 2.9 parts per million [ppm] of mercury. Six of the animals were higher than 3 ppm. Frequent consumption of food containing 1 ppm can cause health problems including brain damage. Sales of alligator meat may be banned if further testing reveals widespread contamination. The state's 2nd annual alligator hunt is set for September. Last year the hunt caught more than 2,900 alligators which yielded about 90,000 pounds of meat.

An unfortunate incident in Kansas City, MO

may prejudice more people against giant snakes. A man lost conciousness and was taken to the hospital after his 15 foot pet python wrapped him up and squeezed. The paramedics reported that "when we arrrived, the patient was in critical condition." He was upgraded to fair at the hospital. The snake was taken by Kansas City animal control officials who were uncertain what would become of the animal. Meanwhile in Memphis, the zoo has a new giant python courtesy of the Bronx Zoo in New York. She is about 12 years old, 16 feet long, eats 22 or so large rats (on public display) per feeding, and has become the most popular critter on display at the reptile house.

Exchange member, Instituto Butantan

was featured in a recent Chicago Tribune article. The 88-year old research institute is the world's foremost center for the study of poisonous snakes and the leading producer of serum antidotes for poisonous snake, scorpion, and spider bites. Brazil regularly exports anti-snake serum from I.B. to the US and Europe along with fruit exports, just in case. There are 60,000 snakes of more than 2,000 species in their preserved collection, along with over 5,000 live snakes sent in from throughout the country in an unusual collection program. The Institute distributes wooden boxes and snake hooks around the country. Brazilians who collect snakes for the Institute are guaranteed lifetime supplies of serum. The national railroad and airlines transport the snakes, free of charge, to I.B. The Institute also has a ranch with 1,000 horses which produce their serum and a hospital for snake, scorpion, and spider bite victims.

The Associated Press reports

that deaths of endangered sea turtles have dropped sharply in northeast Florida. Marine officials say that turtle excluder devices [TEDs] deserve the credit. Captain Don Stratmann of the Florida Marine Patrol said there has been "a high level of compliance in utilizing the TEDs, and we think that is having a good effect." Jeff Brown of the National Marine Fisheries Service in St. Petersburg said, "over 70 shrimpers have been boarded by the Coast Guard, and only nine written warnings have been issued." Getting caught without a TED in Florida is costly, with a civil fine of up to $8,000. Even so, Florida shrimpers are annoyed by the requirement, saying TEDs reduce their catch. Marion Jones, a shrimp fisherman in Fernandina Beach, agreed that TEDs probably help turtles, but added, "we really don't catch that many turtles."

Shrimpers win ruling on TEDs.

Secretary of Commerce, Robert Mosbacher suspended regulations requiring shrimpers to use TEDs on July 24th. His decision was apparently influenced by angry weekend protests by shrimpers who blocked ship channels along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast and threatened violence if the regulations were not changed. Two months ago, I contacted Mosbacher's office asking for a position paper on his continued flaunting of the Endangered Species Act. To date, I have received nothing from this "public servant." Carole Allen of HEART points out that:
  1. he has held no hearings on this issue which is contrary to federal regulations;
  2. he has unilaterally defied the will of the Congress by single-handedly blocking the enforcement of TED legislation; and
  3. has far overstepped the role of his department on this issue.
HEART and other environmental groups are asking for letters and calls to the White House asking for Mosbacher's resignation over this issue. The White House telephone number is (202) 456-7639. Send polite letters to "President George Bush, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20500. The National Wildlife Fund has filed for a federal injuction against Mosbacher's delay and is being joined in this suit by other conservation groups including the Center for Marine Education. Until such time as this issue is settled, the conservation groups are asking that consumers (you and me) stop buying shrimp. As has been proven by lettuce, grapes, Icelandic fish, and tuna - boycotts do work. Please do your part to save the turtles. Last year, the National Marine Fisheries Service estimated that 500 nesting ridley females were left. Shrimpers catch about 10,000 sea turtles a year. What chance do these animals have? Seabrook Seafood president Tom Hults, whose company does 70 percent of its business in shrimp said that using TEDs will devastate the shrimp industry. Let's devastate 'em until they start using TEDs.

As always, sincere thanks

to everybody who contributed clippings and articles this month. Also thanks to those who mailed in their change of address notices on official Post Office cards. Did you know that every Bulletin is hand-stuffed and labeled? If you don't get your book list, or there is something else wrong with your subscription, please do not hesitate to write. Membership lists were sent with the May Bulletin. If you have been a member longer than one month and haven't received your list, please let me know. If there is anything wrong with your mailing label - change of name, apartment number, or anything except the extended zipcode which our machine won't handle, please write and enclose the label itself or a copy thereof. Any changes received by the CHS on the last day of each month will be included on the subsequent list. Our memberships run from when you join to a year later - so the list is in constant flux and mistakes can happen.

September 1989

Wanted: bog turtles.

Bern Tryon, of the Herpetology Department, Knoxville Zoological Gardens, writes: "A recent availability of bog turtles (Clemmys muhlenbergii) has been noted on a number of reptile price lists. This is disturbing as it coincides with reports of collecting activities in North Carolina and perhaps other southern states in recent months. Although the turtles may or may not have been illegally taken at the time, subsequent reports have confirmed that a number of these turtles were taken from sites where long-term ecological studies on the species were being conducted, and some of the animals taken were marked study specimens. Some known turtle populations in VA, most in NC, and all those in TN contain marked individuals. ID marks on those in NC and TN are made with a triangular file and appear as a small, V-shaped notch in one or two marginal scutes. These markings are permanent and differ on each specimen from within the same population area..." If you see any bog turtles, "closely examine them for such ID markings. If these are present, please contact me, PO Box 6040, Knoxville, TN 37914 (615) 523-4023 or Dennis Herman, Herpetology Department, Zoo Atlanta, 800 Cherokee Avenue, SE, Atlanta, GA 30315 (404) 624-5618.

A 250 pound python

was captured by Pesky Critters Relocation Service in Fort Lauderdale, FL. It was apparently a released or escaped pet that took up residence under a home and was reported to gobble down raccoons like they were marshmallows.

Tegu to be true?

Wildlife skin exporters and environmentalists have entered a remarkable partnership to benefit the tegu lizard which is threatened, but not officially endangered. The tegu is one of the dominant species of the Grand Chaco ecosystem, found east of the Andes Mountains through sections of Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina. An average of 1.5 million tegu skins, valued between $15 and $20 million, are exported legally each year from Argentina. Most are shipped to Texas and become boots. The industry is 50-years old and supports up to 30,000 workers in tanneries as well as rural people who hunt the tegus. A single skin is worth more than a day's wages for an agricultural worker. The meat and fat are also used. Obviously, just saying "ban all tegu sales" would have turned people into poachers. Instead the Chamber of Reptile Tannery Industries of Argentina has paid $200,000 so far to start a captive breeding project and a study of wild tegu populations which is now in its third year. The Argentine National Wildlife Service and the World Wildlife Fund are providing help to the researchers. The population study is researching the density, feeding and behavior. Provincial wildlife agencies have agreed to monitor the harvest for the first time in January, 1990. The captive breeding program focuses on the conditions and costs of raising tegus in captivity and semicaptivity. Skin traders are hoping that small-scale captive operations run by families can eventually replace hunting altogether. It's really great to see "savers and takers" sitting down and trying to work out amicable agreements.

Columbia Pictures Television

sent us a press release about their new series "Peaceable Kingdom" starring Lindsay Wagner that premiers September 20th, 1989 on CBS. It says, "This new prime time television program will tackle tough zoological issues such as quality of life for animals in captivity, the re-creation of natural environments and humane interests..." An animal consultant has been hired to train cast and crew as well as care for on-set creatures. Additionally, a representative of the Humane Society will be on the set at all times. Comments about the program can be addressed to Welton Smith, C.P.T., 1438 N. Gower Street, Los Angeles, CA 90028.

More boots...

Jim McDonald sent pages from Gander Mountain catalog, 1-800-558-9410, showing more exotic boots including boa, shark, lizard, and elephant. He wrote: "Although the reptile-skin items bothered me (as always), I was shocked to see elephant boots advertised. Is this still legal? And if they're not really made of elephant skin, wouldn't the wording in this catalog constitute fraud?" Well, readers - anybody know if they're legal or not?

Now that we've saved Trailside

let's work on behalf of North Park Nature Village. In the recent flurry of budget cutting, one staff position was "non-funded" which means that when one naturalist left - she was not replaced. This has left CHS member and full time naturalist, Laurel Ross, the only staff person left at NPNV. She needs volunteers. She has about 25-35 animals in the center on any given day, leads tours and school groups, answers the phone, coordinates everything and etcetera. In other words, she needs about 20 new helpers and a pair of roller skates. We can also write to our city alderpeople and hizzoner da mayor asking/begging for more funding for one of Chicago's most unusual resources, a nature center with real wild animals within the city limits. Chicago's City Hall is at 121 N. LaSalle Street, 60602. NPNV membership $10 for individuals, $15 for families. They offer stargazing, nature walks, bird watching, maple syrup and many other programs. Members receive a quarterly newsletter and calendar of events. You can join by writing, NPNV, 5801 N. Pulaski Road, Chicago, IL 60646.

Federal game wardens arrested

a suburban Lombard man for transporting alligators to Chicago for commercial purposes. He pleaded guilty and paid a $450 fine for violating the Endangered Species Act. Northwest Airlines contributed first-class cargo space to transport the 3-foot alligators back home. The relocation of these animals is a wonderful precedent. So many times when wildlife agents seize shipments, the animals have to be destroyed which makes the enforcement efforts seem rather worthless.

Wanna see an alligator etching?

Gregg Murray, a Florida artist, and the UF School of Forrest Resources are offering limited edition prints ($111) and fine art posters ($18.40) of Gregg's scratchboard works of alligators from an alligators eye view. All proceeds benefit research funds. To order, write the FL Wildlife Federation/Alligator Research Trust Fund, PO Box 1702-186, Gainesville, FL 32602-1702.

The National Aquarium

is conducting a nationwide contest to name 3 baby alligators. To enter, send $3 plus your suggestion for each baby to Michael Bailey, Curator of Reptiles, National Zoo, 3000 Block of Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008. The entry fees will help fund the aquarium which lost all its federal funding in the early 1980s. Prizes are a $200 US savings bond, a 1-year membership, and a case of Gatorade.

Jaycees please note

that research shows that indiscriminate snake hunting can be very harmful to snake populations. Snake Island, less than one square kilometer of rock and bush, is 12 nautical miles from the coast of Liaodong Peninsula, Bohai Bay, China. All the snakes are black-browed vipers, Agkistrodon halys. There have been three phases of human/snake interaction there. In ancient times, the snakes were revered and worshipped. Snakes flourished. Next came a time of rampant exploitation. Before the 1930s there were half a million snakes on the island, but locals took them by the thousands and as many as 7,000 animals were removed by the Japanese in 1937. Now there are about 13,000 left. About 1,000 are born each year. They are eaten by introduced rats during hibernation and estivation - but manage to eat their share of rats when active. They also eat migrating birds and nesting birds eggs. The island is now completely protected as a nature reserve. There is a research center and venom laboratory on the island. Any visitors need permission from Beijing.

A free publication from IDOC

offers pond owners advice on the "management of small lakes and ponds in Illinois." For your copy call, (217) 782-6424. One hopes that even though it was prepared by the Division of Fisheries - herptiles have been considered.

As everyone with a local paper

knows, Turtle Excluder Devices have become a hot topic. Rather than editorialize on the situation this month, I'm going to share some interesting quotes from writers around the country.
Marydele Donnelly, Center for Marine Education, wrote: "Four times Secretary Mosbacher has delayed enforcement requirements; four times in the last three months! The first delay (from May 1 to July 1) was said to allow time for fishermen to buy TEDs, although they had already had more than a year to prepare. Then on July 10, Secretary Mosbacher suspended TED enforcement while he spent more than $100,000 to send vessels on a survey of the Gulf of Mexico. Why? Fishermen complained that heavy concentrations of seaweed were clogging their TEDs. These complaints were bogus: fishermen who complained to us admitted that they were not using TEDs anyway. And the government researchers found seaweed in less than a dozen of the nearly 400 samples they took in the Gulf of Mexico. When Secretary Mosbacher called for resumption of enforcement two weeks later, some shrimpers in the Gulf blockaded ports in TX and LA. Shrimpers threw wrenches through the windows of Coast Guard cutters attempting to open navigation channels for public ferries, recreational boaters, and commercial freighters. Businesses large and small lost tens of thousands of dollars. On Monday, July 31, after a meeting with Gulf congressmen, Secretary Mosbacher announced that he was once again suspending the TED regulations for 45 days, regulations that the Commerce Department had twice successfully defended in federal court against challenges by the State of LA. Mosbacher also announced that at the end of the period he planned to allow fishermen to limit their tow times instead of using TEDs...He ignored his biologists, who said that such a measure would jeopardize the continued existence of the critically endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtle. And he ignored his attorneys, who told him that such an action would violate the Endangered Species Act...We know TEDs save sea turtles and catch shrimp. In South Carolina, where TEDs have been used by nearly all fishermen this summer, the number of dead turtles stranding on beaches has dropped by 95%."
Steve Moyer, National Wildlife Federation: "The most important reason [to use TEDs] is the biological reason. The government's own environmental impact statement shows an 18 percent turtle mortality rate" using limited trawling times, not TEDs. "We're really skeptical about how well this can be enforced. We just don't believe the agency has the resources or that using the resources in this fashion is an effective way to enforce the law."
Dan Kipnis, FL Fisheries Commissioner from Miami: "Twenty-five years of research on this has got to mean something. You [Concerned Shrimpers of America] can blow smoke in court all you want trying to put down scientific evidence and you're not going to win it."
Charles Lee, senior vice president of the FL Audubon Society: "We're not going to back off. We would not move through legislative channels to effect that [shut down of all shrimping in the Gulf] if it becomes necessary. We're hopeful that TEDs will not only save the turtle and prevent the extinction of the turtle, but we're hopeful that the TEDs will prevent the extinction of the industry. The federal government, in the face of hooliganism and threats, has backed down on a very important part of the environmental law that was proposed to protect the endangered species and have done so, we believe, in a very irresponsible way."
Edward Proffitt, director, FL office, Center for Marine Conservation, St. Petersburg: "He [Mosbacher] calls these actions [suspended TED enforcement and proposed trawl limits] a compromise; we call them an outrageously gutless response to political pressure and threats of violence. His ruling is outside the scope of the federal regulations passed by the US Congress to protect sea turtles and, as such, is clearly illegal. Consequently the CMC and the National Wildlife Federation are jointly filing for a preliminary injunction against the actions of the secretary to overturn his illegal decision...It is also unfortunate that certain of the shrimpers' leaders have brought them to the edge of violence and marine terrorism in the unfounded and ill-conceived opposition to TED regulations. Shrimpers who conservationists and scientists have spoken with in private, away from the influence of their peer group leaders, have admitted that while they do not necessarily like the TEDs, that the devices can be made to work properly without significant loss of shrimp."
Joe M. Hardin, St. Petersburg: "Are we expected to allow the wholesale decimation of another species in the name of sympathy for an industry not willing to keep pace with the demands of an environmentally endangered world?"
Daniel M. Jessup, Largo: "If there aren't enough shrimp in the gulf to allow all of [the shrimpers] a decent living while using a device to protect extinction of an animal, they'd better get out of the business - there's too many of them....Eating shrimp doesn't set well with me. I think I'll give it up till some morality returns to this greedy business. [Shrimp is] loaded with cholesterol anyway."
National Audubon Society, press release:"By refusing to buy shrimp you are sending a message to Gulf Coast shrimp fishermen that you don't condone their refusal to use the one device that can prevent them from killing turtles, TEDs...While shrimpers refuse to use TEDs, sea turtles will continue to drown. It's that simple. Until shrimpers stop catching sea turtles, let's tell them to not bother catching shrimp either."
Dez Crawford, Reptile Defense Fund: "Speak out!" Currently, the shrimpers' voice is the only voice being heard by Congress, President Bush, the Secretary of Commerce and the media. If you care about the fate of the Kemp's Ridley and other sea turtles, please...write to: President George Bush, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC 20500; Secretary of Commerce Robert Mosbacher, US Department of Commerce, 14th and Constitution Avenues, NW, Room 5522, Washington, DC 20230; your own Congressional Representative, The Honorable (insert name), US House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515."

Eighteen baby Kemp's ridley

turtles hatched on Madeira Beach in Florida in August. 55 days ago, their mother crawled ashore, right in town and laid about 100 eggs. Kemp's ridley turtles primarily nest in Ranch Nuevo, Mexico, but for some reason "mama turtle" apparently thought this beach was ok. Perhaps she was tired of swimming past shrimp nets or perhaps she is one of the "head-started" turtles released in the last 10 years from various areas in FL and LA. In any case, 18 eggs hatched. The remainder were dug up and analyzed by the state Department of Natural Resources.

A turtle egg thief

was sentenced to 2 years in prison, the longest such sentence imposed under the Endangered Species Act to date. The felon had pleaded guilty to taking 818 green and loggerhead sea turtle eggs from 17 nests on Jupiter Island Beach in August, 1988. Six weeks earlier, wildlife officers had caught him poaching 1,088 eggs from a state park in Riviera Beach. He told investigators that customer paid him up to $15 for a dozen sea turtle eggs.

In 1851,

the Religious Tract Society of London published an article from which I have excerpted the following: "In ancient times, tortoise-shell was as highly, and perhaps more highly valued than at the present day; but the abundance then supplied to the luxurious inhabitants of the great cities of Europe, was obtained exclusively from the east; India sent not only ivory and gold, but also tortoise-shell to Rome...For ages, then, has war been directed against this oceanic creature; not for the purpose of supplying the wants or necessaries of man, but for the purpose of ministering to his pride, ostentation, and taste for luxury...this system of extermination has been carried on for ages, and still is carried on;...and as in days gone by, its fishery is a source of commercial enterprise, of profit, and employment...Thus trophies meet our gaze which proclaim the destructive agency of man throughout the lower orders of creation."

Thanks to all who contributed

this month. As you see, the more you send - the more you can read. Especial thanks to our members and others on the Gulf Coast and in Florida who have spent time and money keeping the CHS up to date on the ongoing TED tragedy. Please, even if you have written or called before, write again. Maybe school groups could write the first lady, Barbara Bush. Remember the expression about how great men get that way. Speaking of great men, Ken Mierzwa, my partner in columny and I got married in July. Of course, after the ceremony, we dropped in to the local state park and flipped some surface cover! After all, he did promise to love, honor and herp with me, forever!

October, 1989

Report from the First World Congress of Herpetology

The flight from Chicago's O'Hare Airport left at 7:10 pm Sunday the 10th of September. It was uneventful except for some turbulence over northern Ireland (an intriguing metaphor for a highly unpleasant sensation). Arriving at Heathrow at 9:00 am on Monday, I found the conference tour agent, EcoTravel, waiting with a Chameleon sign to indicate a reserved coach from the airport to the conference center at the University of Kent at Canterbury. This was a great relief since I had been planning a tube ride to Charing Cross followed by a British Rail train to Canterbury with a mile and a half uphill hike to the University. Several CHS members were on the coach including Joe and Suzanne Collins and Dr. Herndon Dowling. The trip took about an hour and a half including a detour around a tunnel entrance blocked by an overturned lorry (truck to us Americans).

We arrived at the University and I went to their "Senate" building to register. Even though I had no prior registration, the staff quickly and efficiently placed me in University housing (Eliot College) and registered me for the conference. All delegates received handsome plastic briefcases screened with the Chameleon design and containing the 1 inch thick book of abstracts, the 1/2 inch schedule book and the special conference edition of Adler, Applegarth and Altig's new work, "Contributions to the History of Herpetology." I dropped off my luggage and the 100 pound box of special conference book lists and back issues of the CHS Bulletin at Eliot and went to see the first showing of the Adler/Dennis slide show, "Herpetologists Past and Present." The show has been completely reworked since its last showing in Michigan and had a much more international scope. The very last slide in the show is a cartoon by our own Don Wheeler showing "Spot" recumbent on a nest of Earth-like eggs below the Chameleon logo of the World Congress. The caption reads, "Let's see what hatches from the 1st World Congress." Then we went to dinner and drinks at the dining hall and pub in Eliot. I talked to so many folks from the States I hardly felt that I had left home!

Tuesday, Sept. 12th

I ate breakfast with Dagmar Werner, the "Iguana Mama" working in Costa Rica. I mentioned to her the concern of one of our members about just raising iguanas for stew. She said that I would understand the situation better after seeing her presentation later in the week, but in brief - it is not her intention to "restock wild populations" which do not yet need such help, but rather to create a new, self-sustaining protein source for poor central American farmers. It seems as though iguanas eat far less than any other type of meat producing animal and grow quickly enough to be profitable to work with. Additionally, the iguanas require trees and this encourages farmers not to cut trees on their properties as they would have to do to raise grain or ranch cows or goats. She is looking for an American volunteer to help co-ordinate a proposed "Adopt an Iguana" program. Adoptees would be breeding stock - not soup. If you would like to volunteer, please contact me and I will put you in touch with her.

Reading the schedule after breakfast, I realized that there was no possible way to attend every talk that I would like to hear later in the week. There were concurrent sessions on many fascinating topics located on opposite sides of the campus. So I went looking for a person who would be interested in sharing notes.

The organisers provided coaches to central Canterbury's Marlowe Theatre for the opening sessions. British English speakers begin their addresses with "my lords, ladies and gentlemen," since it is highly likely that there will be at least one person in the audience with a peerage. We posed for the group picture, ate lunch and returned to the plenary sessions in the afternoon. All the plenary lectures are available on audio cassette tape, an intriguing innovation I hope we will emulate at future conferences in the U.S.

At dusk, we attended a reception hosted by the Lord Mayor of Canterbury, and were greeted by that personage as well as the Sheriff of Canterbury. We were entertained by the Canterbury Bagpipers and the local Morris dancing troupe. The reception was in the formal garden of the old West Gate and fortunately the fog/rain stopped long enough to make the party a raging success. The coaches returned us to campus where most delegates returned to the serious business of partying in the two colleges (Eliot and Rutherford).

At this point I would like to take the opportunity to discuss the accommodations. The rooms in the colleges are intended for undergraduate students. The colleges are mirror images of each other, aligned in such a way as to provide sweeping vistas of the Cathedral through the large windows in the dining halls. The buildings are octopoidal with no square corners. Each has several floors, absolutely identical with few distinguishing characteristics. Consequently, everybody was completely confused. There is a pub in each college. All the tables had specially printed beer coasters with the Chameleon design that was the ubiquitous logo of the World Congress. After having consumed pints of specially brewed "Tortoise Bitters," some delegates were totally incapable of finding their rooms! The rooms themselves were spartan but more than adequate - except for soundproofing - which meant that dedicated party animals were audible up to two floors away. I doubt if many at the conference slept much. I know I couldn't. The colleges also have the typically British arrangement of shower, bath and toilet in separate rooms down the hall. Some American delegates rather rudely checked out of the college accommodations in favor of quaint, if quiet, rooms in town with attached bathroom facilities.

Wednesday, September 13th

The dealer's bazaar opened today. Book dealers were the primary occupants, but Tom McFarland of Tom's Turtles and his lovely helper, Beverly, set up shop and did a brisk business in both his usual tee-shirts and turtle sculpture as well as his new line of absolutely stunning handcrafted pins (called "badges" by the British). ACO Polymer Products, manufacturers of specialised toad tunnels also had a display and were selling tee-shirts, stickers and a special book about "Toads on Roads."

The most interesting talk today (in my opinion) was given by CHS exchange member Romulus Whittaker of the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust [MCBT] in India. He stated that the Indian Crocodile Recovery Project has managed to build the population of the Gharial Crocodile from about 200 individuals in 1975 to 30,000 crocs today. In 1976, the government of India stopped the snake skin exploitation even though this action severely set back many tribals who had depended on the skins for their livelihood. Previous to the ban, 5 to 10 million skins were shipped out of India every year. In 1987 and 1988, the frog-leg industry was shut down by the Indian government and a sea turtle recovery program was initiated. In 1988, the Ganges river clean-up and a freshwater turtle recovery program were started by the government. For those who may not have seen the Hamadryad, the publication of the MCBT, it is a nicely prepared magazine, edited twice a year by Rom's wife, Zai Whittaker. Subscriptions are U.S. $14.00 for two years. Donations in U.S. dollars are of course welcome since the trust has many very hungry crocodile mouths to feed and is a research station into the life and natural history of varanids, crocodiles and fresh-water turtles.

Another talk featured some interesting statistics: 1.8 million tegu skins are exported from Argentina each year; about 100,000 people are involved in the skin trade; in no one area has the hunting wiped out tegu populations; and the researcher felt that the pet trade had no impact on wild populations whatsoever. For those out there who keep Tupinambis, I would like to pass along the facts that they mate from October to December which is the warm season in South America, and are inactive from April to September. The males have wide ranges and apparently scent-mark their territories while the females stay in smaller territories year-round. Maturity is in about three years and females lay about 30 eggs.

The Jersey Trust for Wildlife hosted a reception for conference delegates where we were treated to a talk by Gerald Durrell, its founder and director.

I went shopping in the Student Union and found that even though many products are similar to those in the U.S., the packaging is often very different. It took me quite a while to shop, since I had to read every package to try and figure out what was inside. (Anacin=Anadin, Party Spots=M and M type candies, Lynx creme deodorant for men=Brut, etc.) One interesting thing, in England they don't add tax at the cash register, so if a price tag reads "2.99" that is exactly what you pay, leading to a pocketful of 1 pence coppers.

Dinner was the by now familiar quiches, pastried meats, cold chicken and processed potato balls. After dinner, a round-table discussion on "What is succeeding in conservation?" was held in the Cornwallis lecture hall. Some highlights included: recent research indicating that there is a new "tuatara," actually Sphenodon in New Zealand; the tortoise village in France [SOPTOM] received all its tortoises from people who had kept them as pets and runs an effective Adopt a Tortoise program; the World Wildlife Fund [WWF] is spending about L20 million a year worldwide on reptile conservation; WWF surveyed the entire coastline of Turkey in an effort to target important loggerhead sea turtle nesting sites; WWF suggests the use of popular or "sexy" animals to drive conservation efforts since people seem to identify better with spotlight animals than with ecosystems as a whole. The ensuing discussion highlighted the fact that conservation solutions can often be very different in Third World and developed nations. Third World projects often have a difficult time raising "hard" currencies and any support that those of us in developed countries can send is most greatly appreciated. The problems with the TEDs for Kemp's ridley turtles were mentioned and the chairman and Steve Edwards from IUCN got together after the round-table to draft a proposed resolution to George Bush from the World Congress. Afterwards, the delegates went pub crawling between the colleges and, after the pubs closed at 11:00, crawling in and out of each other's rooms.

Thursday, September 14th The fog/rain weather finally lifted enough for us to see that yes, the sun does shine in England, albeit briefly. The two concurrent sessions I would have liked to attend were Health and disease and Evolution and life histories of turtles. I took the latter, chaired by Justin Congdon of the Savanna River Ecology lab. We heard Brooks on life history in the common snapper, Chelydra serpentina, Galbraith on life history evolution in Chelonia, Gibbons on long-term ecological studies with fresh water turtles, Frazer on life history of sea turtles, Georges on how Australian turtles cope with wet/dry cycles and Congdon on life history evolution in turtles. An interesting note from Dr. Brooks is that some of his snapping turtles are dying off. Acidification may be killing off their food, but the turtles are being eaten by an increasing otter population. Many of the talks focused on a two year, breeding/nesting cycle observed in many species, to wit that females may require a whole year off from egg laying in order to rebuild nutritional reserves necessary for ovulation and egg production. I pass this along to those of you who are breeding chelonians as a possible addition to your other husbandry/breeding techniques.

I had a lovely discussion with some British Herpetological Society people, one of whom went on at length about the problem in England of people's pet cats running loose and killing the local small fauna. With all seriousness, he turned to me and asked, "and what do you do about loose pussies in Chicago?"

Before dinner, Darryl Frost and I went down into Canterbury and toured the Cathedral. After dinner, I was all done in and retired to my cubicle, so tired that even the party animals could not keep me awake.

Friday, September 15th Today was planned as a "free day" with excursions to various areas as near as Dover or London and as far as Paris, France. I decided that since my own funds were limited, and that many people in similar straits were 1.) likely to stay on campus, and 2.) be more likely to be interested in CHS discount books, to remain behind with my dwindling supply of book lists and sample Bulletins.

Leo Borkin, of the Leningrad Museum, and I spent a glastnost morning lunching with other members of the Soviet delegation, some Americans, and other delegates. He wrote out for me the names of reptiles and amphibians in phonetic Cyrillic. Interestingly enough, "zh-aba" or "toad" in Russian, sounds very like "Jabba" in English and brings to mind the possibility of a cross-lingual pun in the Star Wars saga. Leo also mentioned the upcoming formation of the Herpetological Society of the CCCP [USSR] and their 7th Herpetological Conference to be held from 10/26/89 to 10/01/89 in Kiev, Ukraine, USSR. The Leningrad Museum is sending an exhibit of "Snakes of the USSR" to at least the Museum in Ottawa, Canada. I rounded up a few American zoo people and they discussed the possibility of moving the exhibition around the U.S. after its Canadian opening. Anyone who would like to participate in this exhibit tour should contact me for Leo's address.

I then went into Canterbury on impulse. While there, I saw the most interesting procession. Every group had the kind of banners that are on posts on both ends. Down the medieval street came a group of very tweedy, very British folk carrying a banner which read "Anglicans for the Environment." Behind them came the "Hari Krishnas for the Environment." They were similar to those we see in Chicago, but far more warmly dressed. Then came some Scots bagpipers ("Scots for the Environment"). Next were "Catholics for the Environment" with several brightly dressed priests blessing the crowds which had by now gathered on the narrow pavements to watch. After the Catholics came a group with a sign "British Youth for the Environment." I found their apparel intriguing. Most were all in black clothes, with many zippers, interesting shaved hairstyles and death's-head and snake earrings. I was told they are called "Skinheads" by their detractors. This parade and two others composed of Sikhs, Hindus, Bahai's, Jews and other religious groups converged on the Cathedral where they were greeted by the Lord Mayor and the Sheriff and formally welcomed to Canterbury Cathedral for the weekend programme of "Faith and the Environment." As no apple is without its worm, this gracious welcome was marred by the actions of a right-wing Anglican group we spuriously nicknamed "Britons for religious intolerance" who followed these brightly dressed pilgrims into the Cathedral and desecrated the altar. The police came running, and I heard my first police sirens on this trip. It seemed prudent to return to campus. The schedule showed a reception hosted by ACO Polymer Products Ltd., entitled "The World Conservation Union Reception." Lo and behold if it wasn't the organisers of the "Faith and the Environment" weekend! They explained to us that the pilgrims had been traveling, some up to five days, by foot from religious sites all over England and Wales to attend the programme which had been planned to coincide with our conference.

I must at this point remark that the preconference publicity in and around the South-East of England must have been remarkable. Almost everyone who saw our Chameleon badges mentioned that they knew about the Congress and many said that although they had lived in the U.K. all their lives they hadn't known that there were any herpetofauna native to the country, "except those toads, of course."

After the reception, I went to the Senate building to ask the organisers some questions and found that Fiona Swingland (the wife of the primary conference organiser) was having an extremely rough day. The typewriter had been fouled up by a delegate, some hotel accommodations had been mislaid, and as many times as she had tried to close down and get out - people had shown up with new problems. I did what little I could to help, after all, we in the CHS know all about cancelled hotel reservations, and other conference detrita after last year's little fiasco at the Midway "hotel." We went to the two colleges posting some "see me now" notices on World Congress poster stock printed with the by now familiar Chameleon logo. She invited me to accompany her to her husband's [Ian's] office for a party with the volunteer stewards who had been and would continue helping keep us delegates happy, healthy and in proper order. I dashed out to watch the BBC coverage of the parades with Steve Edwards who was having a hard time believing my stories of their amazing diversity in belief and dress. The telly backed me up, although it did not report on the fracas within the Cathedral. Apparently, there is a law in the U.K. which bans the media from reporting anything which will subsequently go to court. Since several of the intolerants had been arrested I presume this is why the desecration was not shown.

Later I went back to Eliot pub and had the great pleasure of meeting Drs. Duellman and Trueb, authors of the incomparable Biology of the Amphibia, on an evening when they were relaxed and being quite amusing with each other. I tried to go to sleep, but the noise in the college was quite impossible and so returned to the public area to out wait the party animals. As they say, better to join in the noise than complain in the morning. The full moon rising over the Cathedral was truly spectacular and I found the timing of the ecumenical weekend and our conference quite in keeping with ancient Hyperborean traditions.

Saturday, September 16th Bleary eyed, I awoke to another foggy day. I really should tell you about the morning food service. Imagine if you will a room about four stories tall and about a quarter the area of an American football field. In the room are long rows of wood tables and chairs, fully packed with tired and hungry delegates. Amidst the rows and around the room are young British food service workers attired in traditional servant garb, little "French maid" outfits on the females, black pants and formal white shirts with ties on the males. These people were apparently in great fear of losing their employ since they were speedy and compulsive in removing any plate which was emptied. Perhaps they just didn't have enough flatware and plates, but the constant grabbing away of utensils and dishes was a bit discommoding. The coffee/tea machines had a perverse hatred of foreign delegates. You had to put your tiny cup on the grill and carefully - with a smooth motion - push a button labeled with your choice of coffee or tea. If you pushed too weakly, nothing would come out, if you pushed too hard or too long a double or even triple dose of coffee would cascade into, over and out of your cup. I learned several new swear words in various languages while waiting in queue for my turn. Since I was "self-catering" which means getting tickets for just those meals I wanted to eat, I can't tell you what was offered for breakfast, since I never got into the cafeteria lines in the mornings.

Even though four of the six concurrent sessions this morning were of great interest to me, I decided to attend the meeting of the British Chelonia Group being held in Darwin College. After an introduction by their Madam Chair, we were treated to Peter Pritchard's presentation on "the last turtle." No they haven't all gone extinct...the title refers to Peter's game of one - his desire to see, alive, every genus of turtle currently on the face of the earth. His last beastie was to be Chitra indica, an unusual Indian softshell turtle. Not only is Peter an incomparable speaker, but his photographs, particularly habitat shots, are enough to take your breath away. I hope that he will have published one photo in particular. It depicts a misty morning in the Galapagos. Framed in dark branches is the mud wallow of about a dozen giant tortoises. The grey mist, dark branches and shiny shells of the animals perhaps more than any picture I have ever seen, express the wild and exceptional beauty of those amazing islands. His journey led from there to a Thai turtle temple in Bangkok where people release turtles and spend time meditating and feeding the turtles, then to a tortoise village by the Cambodian border where man and turtle have lived side-by-side in peace for years. He searched the river Kwai for Chitra with no success then went through the 3 Pagoda Pass into Burma, where he found a sizeable village completely abandoned by its inhabitants. Next he traveled to Bangladesh where he visited a temple pool inhabited by Espidirites [Trionyx] nigricans, a very large softshelled turtle. The turtles must navigate a set of steps and then wedge themselves out between a building and a fence in order to reach their nesting grounds behind the temple. They are about 3 feet long with a 6" wide head and reportedly have eaten the pendulous genitals of at least one devotee who had gone swimming with them. Then Peter traveled to India, journeying to Calcutta where he saw the dead shell and still beating heart of a recently butchered Chitra in an illegal meat market. He visited Rom Whittaker at Madras, only to find that their Chitra had just passed away. Then he went south with Dr. Das, to Delhi and visited the Taj Mahal. Finally, at the Chambal Sanctuary for the Gharial Crocodile, he found his Chitra. If you have the opportunity to hear this talk at an upcoming herpetological conference - it is an experience not to be missed. I have only touched on the high points and can do no justice to Peter's narration, wide knowledge of all things chelonian, cultured manners, humourous anecdotes and lovely accent. Madam Chair closed the meeting of the BCG and we went outside for a group photo.

After lunch, I attended the session on Amateur contributions to herpetology, chaired by Wolfgang Bohme of West Germany, containing talks by H.G. Horn, W. Sachsse, H. Zimmermann, and R. Guyetant among others. In a round-table after the talks, we discovered that many countries around the world are trying to severely regulate herpetofauna and that many places are using so called "exclusion lists" which basically make verboten all species of reptile and amphibians in amateur hands. Needless to say this was very disturbing and several attendees stayed after the roundtable to draft a resolution for the World Congress recognizing and encouraging the contributions of amateurs to the profession.

Then we went to the formal Banquet, which was held in two parts, those living in Rutherford in one hall and those living at Eliot in the other. They had split the dignitaries so we each had a head table, and having sat close to it, I can tell you they ate no better than we. Later we went to the Discotheque Party at Darwin College where the disc jockey played all old American music, some Beatles, some old Rolling Stones and looked quite surprised when some Americans asked for anything by the Sex Pistols or Echo and the Bunnymen. Maybe it was the full moon, or perhaps the pounding music, but I would suggest an interesting graduate project on the relative testosterone levels of male herpetologists before, during and after conferences. We females were outnumbered about eight to one, which led to some interesting cocktail aggregations vaguely reminiscent of the Manitoba garter snake pits. Of course, with the Disco for a warmup, the dorms were rocking until the wee hours.

Sunday, September 17th As we had been invited on Friday, Mrs. J.R. Dixon, Peter Pritchard, myself and several other delegates attended the high mass at the Cathedral officiated by His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury. The liturgy and many of the musical pieces were specially written for the event and tolerance of all other religions even extended to communion. Recognizing that all would not be Anglican, those who could not partake of the host or wine were blessed by the priests. I found the Benedicte Lament written by Martin Palmer of WWF particularly moving, the refrain is "save us," and it is sung from the point of view of the earth, the woods and the animals. After the service, His Grace personally received every attendee with a handshake and brief chat. Peter and I walked back to campus past typical British houses with lovely gardens. The sun was shining and the temperature was - if not hot - tolerable.

After lunch, I briefly attended the reception at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, then went to the session on Captive management of amphibians and reptiles. The list of presenters of this session is too long to print here and so many delegates attended that the stewards warned us that we were in violation of the fire codes. Upcoming conferences should be aware of the great interest in captive breeding amongst both amateur and professional herpetologists and schedule more time and larger quarters for this topic.

Dinner was the usual, although they must have gotten more plates, since the servers were less frantic than previously noted. After dinner was the Business Meeting of the World Congress. Although organisers had planned for an overflow crowd, those attending fit quite nicely into the comfortable Gulbenkian Theatre. The Constitution was passed quite more quickly than I think its writers had expected. The Budget was passed. Then two resolutions passed with flying colors. The first was to the European Parliament asking them not to forget herpetofauna. The second was to George Bush requesting his immediate assistance in getting the shrimpers to use TEDs. The final resolution - that recognizing amateur contributions to professionals in herpetology - was shot down in flames. Lest you think that amateurs are unappreciated, we were assured that was not so. Delegates were afraid that if they stated that they encouraged captive husbandry and propagation "certain unscrupulous amateurs and dealers" would take their resolution as a carte blanche to continue in their unsavory ways. All I can say is that it was a terrible disappointment to the multi-national group which had drafted it - and I think it means that we amateurs must become more self-policing. The "K-mart of herps" attitude at some events certainly cost respectable and wonderful breeders a statement of recognition richly deserved. The Business Meeting adjourned after hearing a presentation from the delegate from Adelaide University in Australia inviting consideration of that site for the second World Congress in 5 or so years.

Monday, September 18th I slept late and had to run down the hill with two other delegates to the closing session since we had missed the conference coaches. The final plenary lectures were given by Tim Halliday, Zhao Ermi, Armand de Ricqles, S.D. Bradshaw, Eric R. Pianka and David B. Wake. The coaches then shuttled delegates back up the hill, past the familiar Chameleon signs to the colleges, between which had been erected tents for our final night Barbeque. We were entertained by a marching, martial band and then by a popular music septet. Just as the last herpetologist had been served delicious steak, chicken or sausages, the rains came! Being hardy, most stayed outside eating in the rain, until the chill downpour forced most inside to the warm, dry environs of the college pubs.

Then Joe Collins and Ruth Zantzinger auctioned off wonderful herpetological items for the benefit of the Conservation Fund. A few highlights included: a signed copy of Amphibians of Mongolia by Leo Borkin for L50; the original David Dennis painting of Heloderma charlesbogerti for L400; the registration stamps with the ubiquitous "Chammie" for L19 to L26; tee-shirts, books, drawings, and Dennis prints for diverse amounts; and an almost full set of the Transactions of the Museum of Natural History at Lawrence, Kansas for the hard-earned sum of L120. The parties this night were more like wakes, many friendships had been made and many renewed and all were sad to be leaving on the morrow.

The final total indicates that the Congress was attended by 1,300+ delegates from at least 69 countries worldwide. Congress organisers deserve great praise for the meetings and accommodations, which provided those interested in scientific study and conservation of reptiles and amphibians a forum for learning about recent advances in the field as well as a social venue in which to meet their colleagues.

Next month I hope to have remembered how to read and write American and will treat y'all to the 1 and 1/2 pounds of clippings, letters, and etc. that arrived in my mailbox whilst I was away. Thanks to everybody who wrote this month and I'm sorry that space doesn't permit the inclusion of at least a few other items.

November 1989

A big thank you

to Bill Schiefen and the Wisconsin Herpetological Society for their kind words about the CHS in their August, 1989 Newsletter. Bill wrote, "Joining [the CHS] is recommended, because in addition to discount books, you'll receive [the Bulletin] - another great source of herptile information...This society is BIG with all the benefits of a big society."

Kristin Valley writes:

"I was watching the Home Shopping Club on TB when I saw genuine snakeskin pumps. (They retail for $80 and were being sold for $38.75.) I called their toll free number 1-800-284-3200 and registered a complaint and continued to call during the duration of the item's time on the screen. The last thing I want to see is lower prices on dead reptile skin! I told them I was organizing a boycott of their station. I would suggest similar action for anyone interested." Thanks, Kristin. For anyone interested in getting some muscle behind protests of this sort, please contact Ms. Dez Crawford, founder of the Reptile Defense Fund, at (504) 767-6384. Our lead time is unfortunately such that by the time I can publish these kinds of items, some of these retailers have already discontinued reptile products, which, I suppose, is good - although frustrating for their switchboard operators.

Gregory Greer,

a keeper at Zoo Atlanta writes: "This letter is in response to a letter titled Goon Patrol, printed in the September issue of Herptale, the Massachusetts Herp Society Newsletter. The following is an excerpt from the letter: 'Three separate cases of rampant goonism have been reported by the media this week (August 20th). In the most serious one, which your editor heard second hand, some goon in Florida apparently made two fatal mistakes. First, he got bitten by a diamondback rattlesnake, then he failed to get proper medical attention. He died. The details are unknown to your editor, but there is no reason why anyone should die of a rattlesnake bite nowadays, especially in Florida where the snakes are still found in reasonable numbers and anti-venin is certainly available.' I believe that these remarks are premature and without justification. The circumstances involving a fatal bite of a keeper by an eastern diamondback rattlesnake does not warrant calling the victim a Goon! People working venomous animals as a profession are at high risk because they are exposed to these animals all day long, five days a week. Usually when a keeper makes a mistake, it passes unnoticed to those around, but the keeper, however, wonders to himself how he could have been so careless. On those rare occasions when someone is bitten, a percentage of those victims will die. The writer of the "Goon Patrol" stated that `there is no reason for anyone to die of a rattlesnake bite nowadays.' This statement shows a lack of compassion for the victim as well as a lack of understanding of the complexities of snakebite envenomation. When a 6' eastern diamondback bites someone, and the venom is injected into a vein or artery, it is a potentially lethal situation. This is what happened to Curtis Davison at Silver Springs, Florida. Antivenin was administered but the venom could not be neutralized and its effects could not be reversed. Let this unfortunate circumstance be a reminder to all of us that venomous snakes can still, even in this day and age, deliver a lethal bite. I offer my condolences to the Curtis Davison family, friends and colleagues. I take this opportunity to plea to journalists to withhold the reporting and commentaries of questionable information until all of the facts are known. In this way, embarassment to the herpetological community can be prevented."

Dr. Susan S. Lieberman,

Associate Director of the Humane Society of the United States writes: "...The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is involved with several issues of herpetological interest. On behalf of our more than 980,000 members and constitutents, I would like to discuss the private ownership of reptiles. You quoted Mark Paulhus, the Director of the HSUS Southeast Regional Office, in your recent newsletter. Mr. Paulhus indeed correctly stated HSUS policy on the keeping of snakes in captivity. The HSUS is opposed to the keeping of wild animals as pets, including reptils. Few private individuals are sufficiently equipped to properly care for captive reptiles. The mortality rates in captivity are astronomical. It requires countless hours to determine and provide captive snakes and lizards the specific environmental and physiological conditions to meet their needs. Animlas have evolved unique characteristics to cope with specific habitats and environmental conditions, which can never fully be duplicated in captivity. Reptiles and other animals are captured in the wild and then imported into the U.S. for the lucrative pet market. The HSUS is strongly opposed to the importation of any live animlas for the pet trade, including reptiles, because of the tremendous animal suffering that results. Tens, if not hundreds, of millions of animals die every year, due to inhumane and brutal capture and transport methods. This is particularly true for reptiles, amphibians, and birds. We oppose this needless suffering in order to satisfy the desires of pet owners for exotic animals. The international pet trade endagers wild populations of reptils and other animals. The HSUS believes that under most circumstances wild animals should be permitted to exist undisturbed in their natural environments. We do recognize that zoos can serve demonstrable purposes for the benefit of endangered species and the education of the public to the needs of wild animals and their role in ecosystems. We do however oppose the keeping of wildlife in captivity as pets. A lucrative illegal trade in smuggled reptiles exists out of Mexico. It is the legal trade that fuels the market for these smuggled animals. Smugglers hide behind the facade of legal importation. The pet trade is anathema to the interests of conservation. I did my own doctoral research on the reptiles and amphibians of the tropical rainforest in Cetral America; while I realize that everyone cannot see these marvelous animals in their native habitats, it is incubent upon all of us to work to maintain those habitats, and to maintain healthy populations of wild animals. I have enclosed some materials about the wildlife trade and rainforests. I have also enclosed a copy of our Captive Wild Animal Protection Bill, which we distribute and advocate as model state legislation dealing with this issue. Please don't hesitate to contact me if I can provide you with any additional information." Her address is HSUS, 2100 L Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037. If you would like a copy of their model law, please contact her. I have read it and referred it to Ken Mierzwa for his study and comment. There are exclusions on their list for certain species of captive-bred parrots, parakeets, ducks, finches, doves, pigeons and canaries. I suggest that those among us who are captive breeding certain reptiles and amphibians contact the HSUS. At present, all reptiles and amphibians would be prohibited by any state that adopts this model law.

Earthwatch has two projects

of particular interest to herpetologists this season. The first will be led by Drs. Tim Moulton and Bill Magnusson to the Ilha do Cardoso, Sao Paolo Province in Brazil. Volunteers will survey one of the last unspoiled chunks of coastal Brazilian rain forest for herps, especially the threatened broad-nosed caiman. Trips leave in January and July, 1990. The second, led by Robert Brandner, Susan Basford and Ralf Boulon will patrol the turtle nesting beach on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands for the ninth continuous year. Volunteers will record data, protect and relocate some nests, and may help outfit femals with radio transmitters. Trips leave from April to June, 1990. For further information contact: Earthwatch, 680 Mount Auburn Street, Box 403, Watertown, MA 02272.

Felice Rood,

in Sacramento, California sent a brochure from Sorcerer's Touch Video Services, Stockton, CA 95209 which reads: "First time on video! Turtle and Tortoise Care in Captivity. A comprehensive guide designed for use by the turtle or tortoise fancier presented in non-technical, everyday language. Write them for more information.


the Bay Area Amphibian and Reptile Society, has received their new, enamel logo pins, with an ubiquitous chameleon rampant over their initials and logo. Postpaid, these 1 1/4 inch pins cost $6.00. BAARS is also circulating a petition for getting more herptiles on U.S. postage stamps.

Cynthia Gaya

is starting a California support group for HEART (Help Endangered Animals, Ridley Turtles). If you live in that great state, you may wish to help her get Lepidochelys kempii into the conciousness of Californians.

Most unusual request

this month comes from the Epigraphic Society, 6 Woodland Street, Arlington, MA 02174. Epigraphy is the study of ancient inscriptions and they request that herpetologists keep an eye out for any rock cuttings, carvings, paintings, engraved pebbles, unusual coins or tokens, etc. Since herpers are usually off the beaten track, have cameras, and are peering intently at the ground and rocks, the epigraphers are asking our help. They need photos of the objects and exact locality data. Send photos to the attention of Dr. Barry Fell and please mention the CHS when you do.

Well folks,

that about wraps up the letters received in the last two months. The clippings will, unfortunately, have to wait for next month. I hope you will forgive me for a short column, but I also hope that you like your new copy of the Care in Captivity which is being mailed to you along with this issue of the Bulletin. In light of Dr. Lieberman's comment about the countless hours required to research the needs of reptiles and amphibians - I would again like to thank all the friends and members of the CHS who have made this project such a success. We do really mean it when we ask for your comments, criticisms, etc., but we already know about the typo after the word "Shedding" on the garter snake page! As always, thanks to the people who have been sending clippings for the last two months. Just because I haven't used any for two months doesn't mean that you should stop!

December 1989

Herptiles honored by U.S. states

include: the alligator, FL and LA; the ridge-nosed rattlesnake, AZ; desert tortoise, CA; ornate box turtle, KS; eastern box turtle, NC; and the red-spotted newt, NH. National Wildlife Federation also reports that several states have honored fossils with an "official" designation. Certain states honor animals currently therein extirpated through very recent human activities.

TEDs on, by law, no kidding

- just in time for the end of the 1989 shrimp season. Whether some representative or senator will try to tack on a "no TEDs" amendment to any other piece of legislation from now until forever remains to be seen. Somehow I don't think we're really through with this issue...

Loose snake department

  1. In Chicago, a 14 1/2-foot python named "Death Lord" got loose in late October. Its owner used to like to carry it around the neighborhood draped on his shoulders. He said, "I'm upset, really." If he ever gets it back, he may also get a visit from the Illinois Department of Agriculture, since an administrative rule for the "Dangerous Animals Act" makes illegal every snake over 6 feet kept in this state.
  2. An 8-foot Burmese Python escaped in Binghampton, NY in September. It apparently exited its owners house through a screen window. Whether it was caged inside the house was not mentioned in any of the articles CHS member Peter Cole sent. The snake was found basking by the side of the house three days later.
  3. The capture of a 20-foot python in Fort Lauderdale got press around the country. It had apparently been slithering around that residential community for years before it was caught.
  4. A 16-foot reticulated python dropped out of a tree onto a construction bulldozer in South Florida, near Miami International Airport. Todd Hardwick who also captured the snake in item 3 above says that these situations should remind people that releasing exotic pets is illegal.
  5. Officer Carlton Whitworth, a former full time member of the Woodstock, GA police department was fired for his unauthorized use of a weapon (which incidentally killed a snake - although that is not why he was suspended). He was on patrol and was stopped by a teenager who pointed to a 3 to 4 foot long snake beside the road. He proceeded to beat on the snake with a wooden post found nearby and then shot it - five times. What was left of the snake was later identified as a king snake. The police chief said, "He discharged his weapon five times in a heavily populated subdivision, needlessly endangering the lives and property of [the] citizens..."

Joe Robson of Maspeth, NY

wrote recently about a rattlesnake bite that was widely if variously, reported in the press. According to the clippings, the victim was reaching into the terrarium where he kept a 4-foot timber rattler as a pet when the snake bit him. He arrived at the hospital in a coma and was listed in critical condition. State officials made sure the press knew that keeping rattlesnakes without a permit violates NY state laws, since they are on the state endangered species list. Environmental Conservation Officer Scott Steingart said, "He had the snake in an aquarium with a towel over it." The snake was placed in the woods following the incident, but later was shot because "it posed a threat to other people." Conservation Officer George Ezzel, with the department's Endangered Species Unit, said the Dept. of Environmental Conservation had to kill the snake in order to perform an autopsy to determine if the snake had any diseases which could have affected the victim's condition. The victim was issued a summons for possessing a protected species. Mr. Robson reports that "[the victim] did not get bit while reaching into a tank but he was carrying the snake in his arms while walking outside. He was bitten three times, passed out after two minutes, and had blood coming from [every orifice]...Instead of calling in somebody to remove the snake, the authorities destroyed the snake (which is a regular practice by small town police, I understand)."

Breck Bartholomew of Murray, UT

sent in a clipping about two women in Salmon, ID who hunt rattlesnakes and make belts and etcetera from their remains which they sell through a local country store. They usually just put the snakes in the freezer until the snakes die, but the clipping mentions a time the women took a ball of frozen snakes out to thaw for skinning and two of the snakes were still alive. Breck writes: "I looked at my local library, but they didn't have the right phone book to get these barbaric old ladies addresses... It would be nice to swamp them with letters of protest. I plan to call the Idaho Wildlife Resources to find out if indiscriminate killing and commercialization of rattlesnakes is legal."

Two municipalities

reached very different decisions on snake ownership recently.
  1. In Tucson, AZ, the Pima County Board of [Zoning] Adjustment voted 3-2 to permit Philip and Barbara Inzel to continue raising non-venomous snakes in their home in a residential subdivision. They have about 400 animals plus mice to feed them. Philip Inzel said, "You don't know where [snake research] is going to lead. It is important to remember that many medicines and anti-coagulants have come from snakes. It is no accident that the symbol for doctors is two serpents."
  2. In Lorain, OH, a man accused of violating a city ordinance prohibiting wild and exotic animals was arraigned for trial. At issue is his 8 1/2-foot Burmese Python, and the fact that the Lorain Health Department told him to dispose of the animal. The defendant said, "My snake is not a wild animal. It's a domestic animal. It's been born and bred in captivity." He was turned in by a complaint from a neighbor who feared the snake would harm her grandchildren. The owner of the pet store where he bought the snake said the outcome of this case could affect the future business of pet stores in the area, since it would limit what pets they could sell. The part of the city ordinance in question defines wild animals as "any animal other than domestic dogs and cats, which in the wild state are carnivorous or ... are capable of inflicting serious physical harm or death to human beings."

Stevens Point, WI

has installed new "Frog Crossing" signs, the old ones having vanished since right after they were put up in July, 1987. At first, officials decided that it was pointless to keep putting up new signs, but they have decided to have T-shirts made of the sign designs and hope that the signs stay up. Realistically, they also welded the bolt heads.

Australians near Brisbane

are apparently waging all out war on cane toads (Bufo marinus), which were originally introduced to their continent from South America to end a beetle plague that was destroying crops. If their campaign to eradicate these alien pests succeeds, the state of Queensland is expected to be toad-free within five years. The Brisbane Council, however, decided against offering a bounty for every toad. Greg Stegman, the city councilman in charge of the eradication scheme explained this decision: "knowing the Australian entrepreneurial spirit, they'll start breeding them." Plans include ringing the city's suburbs with recordings of the males call and scooping up any toads that hop out in response. The state of Queensland is also holding a biggest toad contest. The current contender is 6 pounds and about a foot across.

5.7 million animals,

of which 3 million are frogs, are sacrificed annually in the interest of biology instruction. R.O. Flagg, vice president of Carolina Biological Supply Company, one of the nation's largest suppliers of dissection frogs, says leopard frogs are a staple of their $42 million annual sales. He says that they are plentiful in nature and can be collected without harm to the species. The frogs are wild caught and then gassed with alcohol fumes and preserved. Shipped to schools, they can cost as little as 63 cents apiece.

Jack Rudloe,

author of Time of the Turtle will be speaking at the Shedd Aquarium, Friday, January 12th at both 7 and 9 pm. His talk, titled "The Erotic Ocean" will discuss the fecundity of the ocean, lives of various sea creatures, as well as turtles, shrimp and TEDs. Admission is $10, or $5 if you belong to the Shedd, and reservations are required. Call (312) 939-2426, extensions 363 or 359 for more information.

Letters and appeals

from the community were apparently heard by the Daley administration in Chicago's City Hall, since I've just heard that North Park Nature Village Center has a new naturalist, Ms. Donna Eyre. As many of our members know, NPNVC has a collection of reptiles and amphibians in the Center building and our Board Meetings also take place on the property. Also, they would like to hear from people interested in doing "something reptilian" in conjunction with their "Earth Day" celebration, April 21st, 1990. Please give them a call if you are interested in volunteering for this or any of their other fine programs, (312) 583-3714.

"How do snakes reproduce?"

asked a reporter. Clarence Wright, curator of Lincoln Park Zoo's reptile house reportedly answered, "in black and white, when you photocopy them!" Since each snake in their collection has an individual belly pattern, copies of the snakes enable his keepers to identify individual snakes in a group of the same species. Numbers are assigned so diet and other records can be keyed to the individual animal. Wright did say that "photocopying snakes is faster, more accurate and the snakes don't seem to mind." But can you see taking your collection to a public copy shop?

"The potential impact on Las Vegas

could be horrendous," said Paul Selzer, a lawyer from Palm Springs, CA. No he's not talking about the return of Solar Max, but of the recent Federal designation of the desert tortoise as an endangered species. Mr. Selzer was involved with the establishment of the Coachella Valley refuge for fringe-toed lizards and he was hired by Las Vegas officials to draw up a plan to save the tortoises while still allowing development. He said, "It's now a crime to move the tortoises from your building site and it's a crime to hurt them in any way." At least one mega-development of 25,000 acres west of town will be stopped cold. They've only graded 350 acres, the rest will have to remain as is until they can reach a solution. The developer, Summa Corporation, joined other regional homebuilders in a federal suit, filed in Washington which contended that the endangered species designation should be geographically limited. The Federal judge refused to take action on their suit, but the plaintiffs do plan an appeal.

The San Francisco quake

released more than a big jolt of earthen energy. Several hundred reptiles escaped from their cages October 17th when the quake smashed the glass and overturned other types of enclosures. About 400 animals were recaptured almost immediately but about 100 were still missing at last news report. Owen Maercks, one of the owners of the East Bay Vivarium stated that none of the missing are venomous. The Vivarium was home to 10,000 herptiles and is located about 50 feet from the flattened section of the Nimitz Freeway.

Snakes were mentioned

41 percent of the time in a recent poll by the Roper Organization. Unfortunately, the question was "What are you most afraid of?" Public speaking was second with 24%.

More than 100 neglected

exotic animals were found by the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. They had been abandoned for about two weeks. The dead included a dozen large iguanas, two reticulated pythons and a number of lizards. Six species of turtles and four species of mildly venomous snakes survived and were taken to Hillsborough County Animal Control.

Some residents of the Sea Islands

in Georgia assisted in the evacuation of rare Madagascar tortoises during Hurricane Hugo this fall. Several hundred animals live at the St. Catherine's Island Wildlife Survival Center, a breeding and research compound run by the New York Zoological Society. Most of the animals stayed on the island during the storm, but a few - including the tortoises - were moved inland. Animals had to be taken by boat to the mainland and then loaded into cars for their trip. 50 breeding adults and all of this year's young were removed. About 35 other tortoises, zebras, antelopes, some primates and birds were left to their instincts during the storm. Some have survived other hurricanes, including David, in 1979.

The British Customs Service

feels the number of illegally imported dangerous and rare reptiles has increased over the last year. Recent cases have included a consignment of venomous gila monster lizards and rattlesnakes which were sent through the post with their tails taped and wrapped in socks. Customs also seized 7 protected sungazer lizards from South Africa and 40 green and orange Madagascan tree frogs. In 1987 1,395 illegally imported reptiles were discovered, in 1988, the number had climbed to 2,284. Mr. Dave Risley, head keeper of the reptile house at London Zoo, said: "Many of these animals are now protected species. It is very harmful as well as dangerous, and some species are in danger of becoming extinct because of selfish collectors who are simply gratifying their possessive desires...They are being imported by a hard core of specialist collectors who are unlikely to hold the necessary license[s]...I am sure what we are seeing is only the tip of the iceberg."

A tortoise identity parade

was held by West Midlands police after a turtle was found crossing the M6 highway in England. Its 13-year-old owner was able to prove his ownership. Five other owners of missing pets picked out the wrong tortoise.

A tunnel is being built

under a French motorway for the endangered Hermann's tortoise. It will be about 38 yards long, two yards wide and a yard deep and is the first underground highway for tortoises. Up to 2,000 tortoises are expected to use the tunnel under a highway which had cut their range in two. A French construction company is contributing the estimated $30,000 cost and it should be ready for its first tortoise in 1991.

The chief neurosurgeon

of the main hospital on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus performed a 45-minute operation on the brain of a sea turtle apparently injured by a ship's propeller.

Two hundred hatchling sea turtles

were dazed by high pressure sodium street lights and crushed by motor vehicles when they walked on a highway in Delray Beach, Florida this fall. Just three days earlier, police, residents and tourists had discovered another group of baby turtles trapped in a hatchery that was supposed to protect them and was apparently supposed to be regularly monitored. Dr. Peter Pritchard of the Florida Audubon Society said, "They should be released within hours of emerging from their eggs." State officials said that the sea turtles exhausted their energy and died from dehydration when they were trapped.

Australian scientists reported

that they have discovered a fossilized skull of a 16-foot Pliosaur from about 100 million years ago sticking out of a creek bed on a remote cattle ranch. It is a previously unknown species of this type of marine reptile which swam in the Great Artesian Basin, the bottom of which is now topsoil in the northern state of Queensland.

A complete set

of Tyrannosaurus rex bones was recently discovered in the badlands of eastern Montana. The dinosaur appears to have died on a slope in a wooded area near water and was buried before something else ate it which allowed it to be preserved intact. The entire skeleton will be assembled and examined at the Museum of the Rockies under the direction of John R. [Jack] Horner, a paleontologist known for the discoveries of baby dinosaur skeletons in their nests beginning in 1978. Among the first bones of the new skeleton to be identified were those of one of their short, stubby arms. Since to lower arm bones have been examined before, this find may help answer questions about how and what for these giant creatures used their tiny appendages. (See Bull. Chi. Herp. Soc., March, 1989.)

A mysterious crocodile

was found by a Davie, FL police officer who was called out to capture a nuisance alligator by local residents. The animal was taken to a nature reservation in nearby Hollywood. Mike Johns, the reptile curator at the reservation said his best guess is that the animal is a Cuban crocodile, now extirpated in the wild but still being kept on crocodile farms on Cuba. Johns also speculated that it might be a cross between a Cuban and a North American crocodile, but an expert from Miami's Metrozoo will be called in for a final opinion. If anybody hears how this comes out, please let me know!

With thanks to everybody

who contributed letters, clippings, and other items for this year - I would like to wish each and every one of you a very happy new year and new decade. Hopefully, the 1990's will be an era of new attempts to understand the delicate interrelationships between man and the environment, as well as a decade of action. Herpetologists, both professional and amateur have a lot to contribute to this effort. Some of our favorite creatures are desperately in trouble. We need to look, learn, read, and breed like crazy. Oh yes, don't forget to communicate what you learn. Perhaps your new year's resolutions could include writing an article about herps for this - or any other - publication. If 41 percent of the people in America are most afraid of snakes, we've got some educating to do.

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by Ellin Beltz
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