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

1992 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 sixth year of writing for the Chicago Herpetological Society Bulletin.

January 1992

Biblical herps

The Newsletter of the North Carolina Herpetological Society is among the most humorous and interesting newsletters CHS gets. I liked it so much that I've bought a subscription for myself now that I won't be on the mail tree for the CHS exchange newsletters. (As a note to other editors, if there's something you'd like mentioned in this column, please be sure to send it to me. Phone messages about stuff in your publications won't get you quoted anymore!) This issue, they reworked a 1974 Utah Herp. League article about reptiles in the Bible which apparently contains 140 references to reptiles, 103 in the Old Testament and 37 in the New. Most references are to snakes, several refer to lizards and crocodiles. The most widely disputed passage "The voice of the turtle is heard in our land" (Song of Solomon 2:12) is believed to refer to a turtle-dove, and a word that appears as "tortoise" in Leviticus 11:29 was translated from the Hebrew "tsav," which actually means "lizard." If you'd like to join the NCHS, write them at the N.C. State Museum of Natural Sciences, P.O. Box 27647, Raleigh, NC 27611. Membership is $10.00 per calendar year.

Wildlife Wars Workshop

Special Agent John Brooks, Division of Law Enforcement, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will lead a workshop about illegal wildlife products at the Lincoln Park Zoo, Sunday, February 23, 1:30 - 3:00 p.m.. Hands-on experience with confiscated products will show the difference between legal American alligator products versus poached crocodile. Agent Brooks has been on the front lines of the wildlife wars, experiencing the powerful and the poignant every day. Adults only, LPZ members $5.00, non-members $7.00. Call their Education Department (312) 294-4649 for information on how to register.

Eggs-cuse me!

A keeper at the Shedd Aquarium was surprised early one Sunday morning as he surveyed the Cayman Island rock iguana exhibit and found a small clutch of eggs strewn around the enclosure. Four of the 3-inch-long eggs were flattened, one had been laid under a heat lamp and was boiled, the last was in good shape and placed in an incubator, but it was infertile. The iguanas are captive-bred and are a little young for this sort of thing, but the Aquarium has high hopes for next year. The exhibit will be fitted with nest boxes soon. [WaterShedd, September, 1991, contributed by Nina Saulic]

Loch "Tass" Monster

The news agency of what used to be called the U.S.S.R., Tass, reports that residents of a remote Siberian village have described a giant green snake with the head of a sheep patrolling their local lake. Tass announced, "Dozens of people have seen this green monster, which has the girth of a large tree trunk and is around 6 or 7 yards long. One of them even managed to photograph it. It swims along with its head high in the air." The critter seems to get out of the water, too. Tracks, similar to sled grooves, have been described from the grass along the shoreline near the village of Sharipovo. [The Arizona Republic, November 21, 1991, contributed by Tom Taylor]

British Lizard Rustlers

The sand area in Dorset, England is home to the recently pet shop popular sand lizard. The only other areas in the U.K. where they are known to breed in the wild are small areas in Merseyside and the New Forest. Ashley Leftwich, a biologist working on the Dorset Heath said, "As rare creatures, they are highly collectable, especially all the black ones, known as melanics." The lizards (I'm guessing Lacerta agilis) can grow up to six inches, can live 20 years, and the males have emerald green bellies making them even more attractive as pets. Under British Law, illegal collectors can be fined up to (pound sign) 2,000. The lizards can sell for up to (pound sign) 300. Lizard wardens have been posted on Canford Heath in a special effort to stop the reptile rustling. [The Guardian, London, England, June 7, 1991, contributed by Robert Sprackland]

BBC shows snakes as dinner

Dr. Frederic L. Frye contributed an interesting article from Turning Point Magazine (Summer ?, 1991). "Snakes as TV Dinners. [Rattlesnake] Roundups are quite disgusting but conceivable when you consider some attitudes endemic to the American South. You might think and hope that such atrocities would never be accepted by the people of Britain. But if a popular BBC TV program presented by one of our country's most renowned comedy actors is anything to go by, you'd be way off the mark. In episode five of the BBC TV series `Around the World in 80 Days,' Michael Palin enters a restaurant in Canton which specializes in snake meat. He chooses a live snake and then watches as the gall bladder is ripped out of the living animal, the snake is then skinned alive and its head is ripped from its body. Palin then eats the cooked meat and comments, `it's great, lovely.'...As part of a campaign to persuade the BBC to remove the snake restaurant scene before a repeat showing of the series (on the grounds of unjust depiction of cruelty to snakes) the Reptile Protection Trust and many of its supporters asked the BBC repeatedly whether such a sequence would have been presented had the animal concerned been a cat or a dog. To date, the BBC has evaded this and many other important questions...Despite over a hundred letters of protest to the BBC's Director General, from MP's [Members of Parliament], animal welfare organizations, naturalists, celebrities, and the public, not to mention several articles in the press and an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons, the BBC went ahead with a repeat screening on August 11th, 1991... A formal complaint has now been registered with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission. Judging by the number of letters of concern, it seems people in this country are not all prepared to accept as entertainment a program entailing extreme cruelty to an animal." If you'd like more information write The Reptile Protection Trust, College Gates, 2 Deansway, Worcester, WR1 2JD, United Kingdom.

Nobody's always Politically Correct

Naturalists have long revered Izaak Walton (1593-1683) for his outlook on the wild and conservation thereof. However, this quote from The Complete Angler goes to show that even our idols can err: "Thus use your frog: put your hook, I mean the arming wire, through his mouth, and out at his gills, and the with a fine needle and silk sew the upper part of his leg with only one stitch to the arming wire of your hook, or tie the frog's leg above the upper joint to the armed wire; and in so doing use him as though you loved him. [Contributed by P.L. Beltz]

Reptile repellent tested

Dr. M.J. McCoid of the Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources on Guam writes: Gordon Rodda sent me a photostat of a page from the October 1991 issue of the Bull. Chicago Herpetol. Soc. On this page, was an article extolling the virtues of Dr. T's Snake-A-Way. As you may have heard, there is a substantial problem with the introduced brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis) on Guam. The product was brought to Guam late last year by a pest control company and has subsequently been touted by this company to be highly effective in repelling brown tree snakes. This claim was also made by the manufacturer in a press release. We embarked on a series of tests to evaluate the product. The net result being that the product is totally ineffective in repelling brown tree snakes..." He enclosed the details of the testing. They knew of and sourced Harvey Lillywhite's report that was the basis of my last mention of this stuff, and conclude: "In light of previous behavioral investigation, this conclusion [that the gunk doesn't work on Boiga] is not surprising as the product is highly volatile and B. irregularis has been demonstrated to be visually oriented and does not respond to volatile cues." More information on the alleged repellent will probably appear on these pages, but let me state that personally it is highly unlikely that I would ever buy or tout this product for purchase by others. If anything, I'm hoping someone will develop a snake attractant!

Zoovival - one reader's view

Recently, this columnist received a letter from of Greenville, TX. I found it so interesting (and so sad) that I'm reprinting it complete: "Dear Ellin, Enclosed is additional information on Zoovival, note the $35.00 fee. I did join, fortunately I didn't take advantage of the three year reduced fee. I bought snakes from them, overpriced if condition is considered. The pair of rat snakes was 2 females, the pair of boas were in really poor health, the male was emaciated. I was supposed to get a partial refund and keep the snakes. They'd had them six weeks after receiving my check, the female was supposed to have had a cold and the male was eating up a storm. He was not only emaciated but regurgitated the first few meals. It was touch and go for a while but I'm happy to say that they're both doing well now. I've had them over a year and needless to say I never saw a refund. I never spoke to Cunningham [the director], but to the man that was in charge of the reptiles. He said he had his own collection at home, so I believed him when he claimed the pair of boas was in good shape. I do know his name, but who's to say he was "that employee"? [One Zoovival employee allegedly stole money and animals which allegedly led to Zoovival's bankruptcy. eb] I do know that during the six months I was in touch with them, they moved several times. They kept the same P.O. Box number and phone numbers, but had different street addresses. Those that lost deposits could be fortunate. It could have been worse, they might have received animals that looked like mine. I thought about shipping them back, but after what I went through over the phone, I was afraid I'd never see my $850.00 refund. I know now, but I wouldn't have since the animals were sent to me in the fall of 1990. I wish I could say Zoovival was the only outfit that took advantage but they aren't. There's services and publications that you receive an issue or two, which are a big disappointment, and you never hear from them again. I've had that twice. I won't subscribe to anything now unless I check it out first. Club memberships are the best investment possible. I was not aware Zoovival split or that Biosurvival Inc. went under, too. I now know I'll never see a refund. I'd given up looking for it anyhow. Thanks for printing `Zoovival extinct.' Sincerely Janice V. Mead."

Horrible wetlands bill

House Resolution 1330 is considered by most environmentalists to be a disaster in the making. Some members of Congress are beginning to hear from wetlands supporters. Five reps recently withdrew their co-sponsorship from H.R. 1330, sending a clear signal to their colleagues that something is not right with the bill. Representative James Hayes (D-LA) originally entered the bill titled "Comprehensive Wetlands Conservation and Management Act." Anti-wetlands groups have lobbied lawmakers to support the bill through "horror stories" that purport to show that overzealous application of current wetlands protection is terrorizing farmers, oil tycoons, small business owners and agribusinesses. Write your Congresspeople! U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515. As them to withdraw co-sponsorship (if they are) and ask them to oppose H.R. 1330. Currently, Illinois has 1,254,500 acres of wetlands. If the tougher definitions of wetlands are passed, Illinois would lose 800,000 acres of wetlands (63%) at the stroke of a pen. Wisconsin would lose 79%, Missouri 65%. Interestingly enough, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was unable to provide figures of acreage impacted for well-known environmentally aware states such as Arizona, California, Hawaii, Iowa, Michigan, New York, and Vermont. Do you smell a wet rat? I sure do. [Developed from National Wildlife, Enviroaction, November 1991, and U.S.A. Today, December 3, 1991 contributed by Jill Horwich]

And now, a message from the columnist...

As you can read, this column is significantly shorter than those of recent months. Why? Not because I don't want to write nice, long columns, BUT because this column incorporates everything I received up to the moment I wrote it that hadn't been used before. This is a reader supported column. What you send is what I use. Please, if you see an article send it along with the date, the publication and your name attached to me. Thanks to the folks that contributed this month. And thanks to Bill Burnett, Bea Briggs and Mary Johnson for articles that had been used previously or elsewhere in the Bulletin. I'm looking forward to hearing from more of you!...

February 1992

Quote of the Month

From a cartoon from the door in the offices of a government department in Florida: "I like the looks of frogs, and their outlook, and especially the way they get together in wet places on warm nights and sing about sex. - Archie Carr."

Giant holdup for construction

Thamnophis gigas (aka Thamnophis couchi gigas), the giant garter snake endemic to California, was formerly found as far south as Bakersfield and north into the Sacramento Valley. Now, its range is limited to eleven isolated valley areas including the Grasslands district near Los Banos in Merced County. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will accept public comments on the proposal to list the giant garter snake as and endangered species until February 25, 1992. They may schedule public hearings after the written comment period. Do not let the date cut-off stop you from writing your local Fish and Wildlife office with a request that they forward it for you. It is extremely important to let both the local and national offices know that herp people are interested in what they do. The proposed endangered listing may stop major construction projects in California's Central Valley including a housing project of 140,000 residents on 13,000 acres of land currently used to grow rice in southern Sutter County, 19,000 acres of proposed development near Sacramento Metropolitan Airport, stream channelizing, road improvements, 11 unspecified residential developments in Laguna Creek-Elk Grove, new cities proposed for San Joaquin County, and Federal flood control projects under way in Merced County. The giant garter snake was listed as a threatened species by the California Department of Fish and Game in 1971. The decline of the snake can be attributed to the Central Valley's loss of wetlands. Originally covering 4 million acres, wetlands now occupy about 250,000 acres - of which only about 88,000 acres support Thamnophis gigas habitat requirements. Federal officials say the largest remaining swath of snake habitat, in the large flood basin near the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers, could be wiped out if the Army Corps of Engineers proceeds with ambitious flood control plans. [From the Sacramento Bee, January 3, 1992, by Michael Doyle. Contributed by Bruce Hannem.]

Next, treat humans rattily?

Charles Richey, a U.S. District Judge, has ordered the Agriculture Department to reconsider its 20-year-old policy exempting rats, mice, and birds from rules requiring humane conditions for experimental animals. The department claims adding birds, rats, and mice to its regulations would double or triple the inspection workload. Does anyone know the status of reptiles and amphibians in Department of Agriculture rules? [Chicago Tribune, January 9, 1992.]

Turtles win again.

The National Marine Fisheries Service recently ruled that vacuum-like hopper dredges that killed up to 500 loggerhead sea turtles and up to 50 Kemp's ridley sea turtles at ports between North Carolina and Port Canaveral, Florida can no longer be used. Other types of dredges not affected by this ruling move more slowly and are noisier, giving turtles a chance to flee. [Orlando Sentinel, December 13, 1991. Contributed by Bill Burnett.] Next, I presume, the offending machinery will be sold to some third world country and will be used for years to come.

Head start #1,000,000 in Brazil

Funds for the ambitious Brazilian sea turtle head start program, come from governmental agencies and local corporate sponsors. One of Brazil's top soap opera stars, Cristiana Oliveira, poses in chic sea turtle shirts. The one millionth hatchling is expected in February, marking a fantastic milestone for the 11-year-old Project Tamar. Brazil is also playing a key role in a worldwide campaign to put an end to poaching and avert the extinction of sea turtles. Five species next on Brazilian beaches (loggerheads, leatherbacks, hawksbills, green and olive ridley sea turtles). In 1991, Mexico banned the taking of sea turtles and Japan promised to phase out purchases of turtle shells and leather by the end of 1992. The only remaining major harvesters are in Indonesia, Cuba and several Pacific islands. Indonesia is developing a program for turtle conservation. In 1989, 55,000 sea turtles were drowned in U.S. shrimp nets in American waters. Firm figures for 1990 and 1991 are not available, although Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) are now required on all shrimp boats. The success of the Brazilian project is partially the result of good human socioeconomic outreach. Local people are involved in saving that which they formerly exploited and are making money from the sale of turtle souvenirs and tourism to make up for the loss of turtle product money. [The New York Times, December 17, 1991, contributed by Nina Saulic and P.L. Beltz; the Leesburg, FL Daily Commercial, December 22, 1991, contributed by Bill Burnett]

India versus turtle poachers

The Indian Coast Guard (east) has launched an unprecedented operation against poaching of endangered olive ridley sea turtles off the Orissa coast. Four boats, two aircraft and 160 personnel are guarding the seas to crack down on poachers. About 500,000 females arrive every year on the 35 kilometer stretch of Gahirmatha beach in the Cutack district of Orissa to lay about 50 million eggs between late November and January. The turtle meat is processed at Calcutta and shipped to Japan and the west - primarily Italy. Last year the Coast Guard apprehended 17 trawlers poaching and an undetermined number of egg collectors. [Indian Express, March 11, 1991, contributed by the Madras Crocodile Bank, Tamil Nation, South India]

Goal = no net loss of habitat

Floridians will have 45 days to comment on a preliminary environmental report on a Sumter County site for a new Federal prison. At risk are gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) and eastern indigo snakes (Drymarchon corais couperi). Don Wood, the endangered-species coordinator for the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, said there are four options for building on land occupied by threatened and special-concern species: 1.) not building; 2.) building around the animals; 3.) building on the animals' habitat after relocation; 4.) building on the animals' habitat after killing them. Options three and four require special state permitting. [Leesburg, FL Daily Commercial, contributed by Bill Burnett]

Exotic animals hottest pet fad

Gordon Gallup, a psychologist at the State University of New York who studies human attitudes towards animals said, "More and more people are sick of common pets. They want something different." Animal dealers are filling that need with hundreds of highly inappropriate animals species. Unwanted pets clog shelters or are released into streams and fields where they do not belong. Parrots and macaws from Central America are naturalizing in South Texas, various reptiles are breeding like natives in southern Florida and other parts of the country. Kinkajous, capuchins, oscars, wallabys, conures, potbellied pigs, spider monkeys and caimans are among the exotic animals turning up in animal shelters. Wallace Swett, the manager of a nonprofit sanctuary for unwanted pet primates near San Antonio, Texas said, "People who want to get close to these animals should just buy some binoculars and watch the Nature Channel." Illegal smuggling is also on the rise. 700 baby boa constrictors were found in an illegal shipment. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's senior resident agent at Kennedy International Airport said, [venomous species are] "becoming popular in some social circles." Another FWS agent, Robert Onda, summed up the trend for exotic animals, "It all comes down to uniqueness: I have one and you don't." [The Wall Street Journal, December 2, 1991, contributed by P.L. Beltz; and Animal Transportation Association, Volume 14, Number 3, August 1991, contributed by Barbara Daddario, New York Turtle and Tortoise Society]

Scaly wish comes true

Make-a-Wish Foundation provides terminally ill children with special events they long for recently arranged a meeting between a 5-year-old Davis, CA boy suffering from leukemia and a 24-year-old alligator, pet of a Carson, CA resident. The child had become interested in reptiles by watching nature programs on television. Make-a-Wish said this was one of their most unusual requests, typically children want to go to Disneyland or meet celebrities. [The Los Angeles Times, December 29, 1991, contributed by Greg Naclerio]

Recession and glut lower skin prices

Alligator farmers and ranchers have worked hard to bring gators back from the brink of extinction, hoping their efforts would be rewarded by high prices for captive raised skins. But the recession, an oversupply, and a perception that the animal is endangered have reduced sales. Prices are down to about $12 per foot from $24 per foot a year ago. Farmers are holding skins off the market. Annual production is about 300,000 skins, 28% of which are tanned in the U.S., the balance are finished overseas. [Chicago Tribune, December 15, 1991]

Chicago Turtle Club news

For those interested in turtles, a $5.00 payment to Jan Spitzer, 1939 West Lunt, Chicago, IL 60626 will get you on the mailing list of the Chicago Turtle Club. They hold monthly meetings at the Emmerson Park Fieldhouse and publish a semi-regular newsletter. About 30 of their members are up for renewal (if you're one, please send your 5 bucks) and the treasury is down to about 100 dollars. Your help will be greatly appreciated. [From The Chicago Turtle Club Newsletter, Fall, 1991]

Thanks to everyone who contributed this month.

It was heartening to come home from vacation to a mailbox full of clippings and contributions from members who like to read this column. Remember, this column uses only material found by the writer or sent by the readers. If you see clippings you think would be interesting to our readers, please be sure to include the date and publication along with your name so I can give you credit for being sharp of mind and quick with scissors. Curious bits from old books, strange herp postcards and other odd items are also appreciated. Please send your contributions to me.

March 1992

Weird mail...

In cleaning out my file cabinets to turn the contents over to the new C.H.S. Membership Secretary, Mr. Steve Spitzer, the following gems from years past emerged. To the best of my knowledge, none of the writers ever joined. "I was hoping I could send the money later, and get the monthly magazine now. I'm still waiting to see if my brother is going to join." "Dear Sir: Would you please send me everything you have on herps." And, the most delightful, "Can you get me a subscription to your newsletter for free? $17.50 is too much since my python eats $20 of rats every month." Other people sent letters asking for information, and forgot to put their address anywhere on the letter or the envelope. However, the most interesting piece of mystery mail was a change of address card, carefully addressed to C.H.S. and completely blank! The only clue was a Missouri postmark. We never did find out who moved. Please, if you correspond about membership, send complete information and always include a telephone number in case we need clarification.

Too near to miss

The next joint meeting of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, The Herpetologists' League and the American Elasmobranch Society will be held June 4-10 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Advance registration until March 16 is $90, after then $115. Contact Lawrence M. Page, Illinois Natural History Survey, 607 East Peabody Drive, Champaign, IL 61820 for more information. Lest anyone think that this will be a boring meeting, at the last ASIH meeting I attended in Ann Arbor the fishy-ologists kept our dormitory fully awake until 3:00 for three nights in a row as they sang themes from old t.v. shows. Of course, there were interesting speakers and posters, too. Unfortunately, the SSAR is meeting separately this year in El Paso, so you won't be able to see the Dennis-Juterbock slide shows or the famous auctioneering of Joe Collins at Champaign. I hope to see a lot of you there.

Are you chelonian tonite?

Earthwatch is seeing volunteers for three herpetology programs this year. 1.) Dr. J. Whitfield Gibbons of the University of Georgia and Savanna River Ecology Lab will be weighing, tagging and measuring terrapins among the dunes, forests, marshes, and lakes of Charleston, SC. 2.) Ralf Boulon of the U.S.V.I. Division of Fish and Wildlife needs help walking St. Croix (Virgin Islands) beaches at night to locate nesting mothers measure nest temperatures, and chaperone hatchlings to the sea. 3.) Dr. Sedat Herli of Haceteppe University in Ankara, Turkey is looking for volunteers to help research loggerhead sea turtles along a 12 kilometer beach on the Aegean Sea. For more information, contact Project Coordinator Janet Hamilton at (617) 926-8200, extension 183, or write Earthwatch, 680 Mount Auburn Street, P.O. Box 403N, Watertown, MA 02272.

"Slithering ingrate!"

With such a catchy title, you know what's coming is another snake bashing tale. According to the article from the Philadelphia Daily News [January 22, 1992], a woman in Clayton, NC was feeding hamsters to her 12-foot python, and the python swallowed her hand with a rodent. She called 911 as her arm disappeared into her pet. When the rescue squad arrived, she insisted that the snake not be harmed, and then managed to get her hand out of its mouth before the veterinarian arrived. While this article is interesting in and of itself, I enjoyed Rick Reifsnyder's cover letter even more than the clipping: "While this article is written in a humorous vein it does present one of the problems that can occur while feeding large and potentially dangerous reptiles. Hungry herps, especially when they are stimulated by the presence of food, can be counted on to have a problem distinguishing between a food item and the keeper. I am sure everyone that has ever been involved in keeping snakes or other reptiles can attest to that fact through personal experience. Therefore, it makes me wonder at this woman's choice of food for her python. Unless long forceps or tongs are used, there is no easy way to present a hamster to a hungry snake without also offering it an opportunity to sample the `hand that feeds it.' Let's face it, hamsters don't even have a respectable tail that can be used as a handle. When I first read this article I immediately developed an absurd image of this woman extending her hand and offering up the hamster on an open palm. While I am sure this was not in fact the case, the selection of such a small rodent as food probably made it more difficult for the snake to differentiate between the meal and the presented appendage. I also wonder exactly how many hamsters a 12-foot python could consume at one sitting? Probably more than the woman had on hand which would explain its interest in other sources of nourishment. Maybe some of your other readers might want to speculate on how many hamsters it would take to satisfy a snake of this size?" If anyone knows who this woman is, would they please photocopy the section from the C.H.S. Care-in-Captivity handbook about feeding rodents to snakes?

People unclear on the concept, II

A resident of Tempe, Arizona decided to feed a live chicken to her 6-foot, 50-pound pet snake when the terrified bird escaped. The python grabbed the woman's chicken-scented hand and began to wrap her up in its coils. Her 3-year old was screaming while she dialed 911 with her other hand. The rescue squad arrived to find the snake wrapped around her arm. They forced the snake's jaws open and plopped him back in his cage. The paramedics caught the chicken and fed it to the python. The 23-year-old owner plans to keep the snake, but feed it on dead chickens as she had done every time before this incident. [Tempe Daily News, January 30, 1992 and Tempe Tribune, February 3, 1992, contributed by Tom Taylor]

Y prospero ano nuevo!

The Christmas card received this year from Dr. Dagmar Werner, Fundacio'n Pro Iguana Verde, shows two iguanas planting a tree while an armadillo, a deer and two doves supervise. The sentiment is lovely and green: "Sembremos un a'rbol de Navidad para que ilumine al mundo." (We plant a Christmas tree to enlighten the world.) As regular readers of this column know, the Foundation for the Green Iguana farm raises Iguanas with the help and co-operation of local people in Central American countries. Integrating Iguana management into agricultural practices requires the saving, or planting, of rows of trees for lizard habitat. Rows of trees are good for other things, not the least being erosion control. If you'd like to contribute to this ongoing good cause, please send checks to: Fundacio'n Pro Iguana Verde, Apdo. 692-1007, San Jose', Costa Rica.

If you can't beat `em, cook `em.

The island of Guam is bedevilled by an ever increasing population of the accidentally introduced brown tree snake, Boiga irregularis. The snake is eating its way through the local fauna, so returning the favor seems in order. Guam's Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources has suggested a campaign to encourage snake collection for food. They have recipes for brown tree snake meat in coconut milk, deep-fried snake and sweet-and-sour snake. Biologist Michael McCoid said, "I haven't eaten it personally, but people who have say it's tasty, like chicken." C.H.S. member, Gordon Rodda, of the Arizona Co-operative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit in Tucson, has tried to build a better snake trap. He said, "If you put out 100 traps with quail bait, you find six snakes in them, but with white mice you find 25 snakes out of 100 traps." However, Thomas Fritts, another well-known herpetologist and wildlife biologist pointed out, "we don't really want to import a million white mice to Guam." A bounty was suggested, but Guam officials concluded that it would only encourage enterprising entrepreneurs to start raising snakes commercially. [The Wall Street Journal, December 12, 1991, contributed by P.L. Beltz] Perhaps the tourist board of Guam could encourage residents of Sweetwater, Texas to vacation on their island!

Titanium turtle turned loose

A loggerhead turtle, Caretta caretta whose shell was crushed by a boat and had floated for two weeks unable to eat was rescued and treated with a new technique by Robert Schoelkopf of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center. I saw this animal in late August and am really happy to have received a clipping that permits me to tell you about Bob's technique. The shell had been driven partway into the flesh of the turtle and fiberglass would never have brought the two halves together. So, two titanium bars were bolted on to the shell, parallel to the fracture lines, with bolts through them. The shell was tightened a lot at first, then adjusted to bring the two halves together. On such a large animal, with such severe damage, fiberglass would never have worked. The work was performed by a surgeon who has pinned humans (including Bob). The turtle was tagged and released in the waters off Carolina Beach, NC. The front flipper tags are numbered PPX 924 and PPX 925. Anyone with any information on these tags is asked to contact the Stranding Center: P.O. Box 773, Brigantine, NJ 08203 (609) 266-0538. Contributions to support the Center are always encouraged. [The News and Observer, Raleigh, NC, October 25, 1991, contributed by Jo O'Keefe and Steve Spitzer]

Draco-nian laws proposed

The Hawaiian Department of Agriculture has asked that state's Legislature to grant it authority to obtain District Court search warrants in order to go onto private property to confiscate or capture illegal animals. Since the only two legal snakes on the island are housed at the Honolulu Zoo, any reptiles found in such surprise searches would be illegal. At present, search warrant cannot be obtained to confiscate animals. In 1991, 22 snakes, two alligators, several other reptiles and a young cougar were found to have been smuggled onto the islands as pets. The Department fears that imported animals could become established on the islands, posing a risk to native animals. They feel being able to enter any land, building vessel or aircraft without warning would greatly enhance their enforcement against restricted animals and prevent individuals from intentionally releasing the animals into the wild once discovered. [From an Associated Press release by Bruce Dunford, dateline Honolulu, early 1991, contributed by Fredric L. Frye, D.V.M.] I wonder what the framers of the U.S. Constitution would have thought of this proposal.

Famous reptiles...

Joseph A. Wasilewski, C.H.S. member and well known animal handler, has a stunning new brochure available from his company, Natural Selections. It shows six species of herps in living color and is a better looking product than 99% of all the brochures I've ever seen. Joe has provided animals for television, films, commercials, lectures and school shows for 18 years. Send a self-addressed, business sized envelope with $.29 attached to him, 14316 S.W. 142 Avenue, Miami, FL 33186 for your copy.

Unbelievable, but true

Robert Guthrie of Mobile, Alabama has entered a conditional guilty plea on charges he plotted to wipe out the Alabama red-bellied turtle in the wild so he could get a federal grant to reintroduce the species. [Norinform news service by way of an unnamed Toronto, Canada newspaper, dated December 19, 1991, contributed by Jim Harding] If anyone out there finds more on this story, please send it ASAP!

Where have we heard this before?

A 7-foot Burmese Python was recently adopted by the Detroit zoo after its teenaged owner skipped town and left it behind at his grandmother's house. She called animal control who removed the animal and cared for it until the zoo could make arrangements to get it. Sandy Wetmore, Animal Control Officer for Trenton, Michigan eloquently said: "People let their kids buy these snakes as babies, and they don't realize how big they get. Once they reach a certain size, they aren't as attractive and people dump them in fields or sewers or streams. It's a real problem." [From the News-Herald Metro Detroit edition, August 14, 1991, contributed by Cheri Hosley]

Roundup season starts

Whigham, Georgia had their annual January event and received front page Chicago Tribune coverage on January 27, 1992. One snake hunter was quoted as saying "a bunch of jerk-leg government bureaucrats who ain't got nothing better to do than sit around aggravating people" and environmentalists oppose the event. Ken Darnell who works for Bioactive Inc., a Virginia company that sells snake venom to pharmaceutical companies for use in cell research attended to buy live snakes for $6 a foot. The Whigham animals are shipped to Alabama where they are milked again. Whether they are killed after the second milking was not disclosed in this article. [contributed by Mike Gascoyne]

Dolphin safe, no kidding!

The United States Customs Service has begun enforcement of an embargo on imports of yellow fin tuna from 20 countries where processors use fish caught by methods that drown dolphins, sea turtles and other marine life. Fishermen use large encircling nets then ship the catch to other countries for processing. The embargo list read like the who's who of the environmentally incorrect, covering imports from Britain, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, France, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Panama, Singapore, the Marshall Islands, the Netherlands Antilles, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela. [The New York Times, February 3, 1992, contributed by P.L. Beltz] What Commerce would not or could not accomplish, Customs has begun. Perhaps we could get them to enforce the TEDs rules, too?

Thanks to those who contributed

articles, clippings, brochures, cards, letters, and miscellanea to this column. Other members are invited to become contributors as well! Please be sure to include the publication name and date if at all possible and mail to me.

April 1992

Query from Hong Kong

The following letter reached me in a round about way. Hopefully, those of you who may have an answer for Dr. Brown, will write him. I'd appreciate copies of your letters when you do.

"This is an informal query to a technical welfare problem. I would be very grateful for your advice but more importantly any references you can give me or... photocopies of relevant articles. My specific question is, do snakes have pain receptors, particularly in the region of skin opposite and around the gall bladder? My reason for asking this is at present theoretical. However, in a court of law, this may become an important point in an animal welfare case. You may be aware that it has long been Chinese practice to remove the gall bladder from a living or very recently decapitated snake. The operation, without anasthetic, is very fast, the wound incision small and I am told the snake can live for as long as a fortnight after it. I have seen the procedure performed on recently decaptiated snakes. With regards to the procedure on a live snake, common sense and my experience of snakes tells me this is cruel. However a defense lawyer may ask for evidence that the snake feels pain. In the class of mammalia, some receptors are recognized to be specific for pain and different from thermo receptors, pressure receptors, touch receptors, etc. What scientific evidence is there for snakes having the same receptors? I fully realize that snakes are very sensitive in the ventral area and having injected one or two in dorsal muscle blocks, I realize they can feel there and respond quickly and with some force. However, it would be very helpful from a prosecution case to have good evidence of pain receptors rather than sensory receptors being excessively stimulated. Few of the books I have consulted go into much detail on the welfare regarding cruelty to snakes or their physiology related to pain or suffering. Any good information on this will be well appreciated... Looking forward to your reply, Richard A.L. Brown, MJc MRCUS, Flat 4, 4 Caldecott Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong, home fax 7283255."

Urgent request

Harry Andrews of the Madras Crocodile Bank wrote... "We've got a sea turtle survey going in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, where 4 species of sea turtles occur and use these islands as their nesting grounds. Currently these nesting turtles are being tagged with plastic tags. So far they're are holding on and Satish Baskar who is in charge of the survey has been getting 100% returns for tagged turtles re-nesting on the same beach and other beaches 2-3 times within intervals of 10-15 days. However, we are a bit concerned as these tags have never been used on sea turtles before and we're not sure whether they'll hold out until next year. Also we only have 200 tags... I was wondering if you could put out an urgent S.O.S. in the next CHS Bulletin stating that we are in desperate need of Titanium or Monel metal tags. These are not available here and we just don't have the kind of money to get them from overseas. In fact, we just managed to scrape up sufficient funds to support a 3-month survey, and fortunately lady luck came along and it now looks like we will have funds to go on until the end of 1992... Aside from this, I'm currently floating a big proposal to support a 5-year survey and study of sea turtles in the Islands... We have a researcher doing a 9-month survey of the mugger in Tamil Nadu and work is going well. With the results of her survey we hope to be able to convince the government about reviving the restocking program of mugger crocodiles in the wild." So, if you just happen to have a few or a few hundred titanium or monel metal sea turtle tags collecting dust in your closet, please send them to: Harry Andrews, Madras Crocodile Bank, Post Bag 4, Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu 603 104, India. Fax (91-44) 491-0910, attention CROCBANK.

Bone again reptiles

Scientists from the Research Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences discovered an oracle bone and tortoise shell pit at the Yin Ruins in Anyang City, Henan Province, central China. Dating to the Shang Dynasty (1600-771 B.C.) inscriptions on the tortoise shells constitute the earliest known written form of the Chinese language. [Beijing Review, February 17-23, 1992, contributed by P.L. Beltz]

Swiss researchers unearthed the first complete dinosaur found in Wyoming. Fortunately for the U.S., "Big Al" was on Federal land. If he'd been on private land, he'd probably be out of the country by now. Surprisingly, the U.S. has no laws protecting paleontological finds from export. Big Al will end up reassembled in the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana after being completely removed from the late Jurassic Morrison Formation. [The Wall Street Journal, February 7, 1992, contributed by P.L. Beltz]

The T. rex that most museum visitors to the American Natural History Museum in New York will remember is the famous mount of the monster looming over a trio of Cretaceous menu items, a Triceratops and two Trachodonts. Mr. Rex is retiring for a remount until 1995, and in his place, the museum has brought in a 49-foot Barosaurus. Visitors to New York are encouraged to visit the museum which has much of interest to herpetologists even while the famous dinosaurs are away. [The New York Times, February 10, 1992, contributed by Francis X. Nolan]

Bones of a crocodile ancestor were unearthed in Colorado, providing a rare glimpse into ecology of hundreds of millions of years ago. Dinosaur eggs were discovered first, but then the croc bones were found. Researchers suspect the crocs were egg thieves that raided dinosaur nests. [The Grand Junction Daily Sentinal, February 10, 1992, contributed by Larry & Donna Valentine]

Venomous mystery uncoils

A pastor of the Church of Jesus With Signs Following and his wife are facing each other in an Alabama courtroom trying to solve the puzzle of "did she get bitten by a rattlesnake attempting to pick one up to kill him - or did he force her hand into the cage in an attempt to kill her?" [Akron, Ohio Beacon Journal, February 13, 1992, contributed by Steven L. Frantz]

True teenage mutant turtles

Dr. Frank J. Schwartz, a professor at the University of North Carolina has reported that four loggerhead sea turtles at his Morehead City laboratory transformed from female to male as they became literal teenagers. The turtles were hatched 14 years ago as part of his research on temperature dependent gender selection. Four of the turtles identified as females in youth began to exhibit male characteristics, and began trying to mate with a female turtle. Other researchers are skeptical. [The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C., December 6, 1991, contributed by Jo O'Keefe and Steven Spitzer]

Sell mouse traps to South America

An article in the Palm Beach, FL Post (February 2, 1992) details a pet store owner's opinion that the Argentine Horned Frog is the hottest pet right now. Ron Dupont sells three to six of the frogs locally every month, but wholesales hundreds to Germany and England. He said, "They're important where they come from (in Argentina) because they take care of a lot of rodents." [Contributed by Rob Streit]

Beam me up, spotty

A few Japanese red-bellied newts will blast off in the NASA Space Shuttle's Microgravity Lab II. Female newts will be hormonally stimulated to drop their eggs, which a male astro-newt will then fertilize. Development of their offspring will take place in a gravity-free environment and the offspring will be studied to see if they have difficulty adjusting to earth's gravitational pull. [Technology Review, February/March, 1992, contributed by Mike Dloogatch]

Good class to cut

The Shedd Aquarium is offering a class in "Family Frog Dissection," billed as an event in which "family members [have] the opportunity to work together as amateur scientists in dissecting a frog." The illustration that accompanied this short in the Chicago Reader's City File column shows a family of frogs dissecting a human. [March 5, 1992, contributed by P.L. Beltz]

How many hamsters can pythons stuff?

A return letter from Rick Reifsnyder... "Thank you for your encouraging response to the article and letter I submitted recently...Initially, I was just going to sent (that article) in with a brief comment on the dangers of feeding large snakes but I got carried away and couldn't resist speculating on the feeding technique selected. I guess there is a little hamster in all of us... I have received some input concerning how many hamsters a 12-foot python could conceivably consume at one sitting. An associate of mine once worked in a pet store and he described for me the method used there for handling an abundance of unwanted rodents. Apparently, people used to donate pet hamsters and gerbils that were no longer loved to this establishment in hopes that they would find a good home. As you probably know, hamsters and gerbils are not the friendliest animals when it comes to socializing within their own species and so the store would have to house them separately to prevent these bellicose creatures from rioting and killing one another. Occasionally, they would run out of available cages which would force the employees to seek a new solution. In this particular case, the solution happened to be a nine-foot rock python that was the resident store mascot. It was reported to me that this snake once ate 48 hamsters and gerbils at one sitting, setting a new record for ophidian gluttony at this shop. At 5.33 rodents per foot, a 12-foot snake should be able to stomach at least 64 of these furry little guys!"

Promiscuity in snakes

The Associated Press reports that researchers presented evidence that female snakes have multiple sex partners during their reproductive cycles to guarantee a higher proportion of their offspring being born alive. Since female snakes can store sperm for months before ovulating, females can create a lottery situation within themselves in which the best-performing sperm from a variety of males compete to fertilize the eggs. [The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, contributed by Larry & Donna Valentine]

CHS member pleaded guilty

William Gillingham, a CHS member and compiler of the Fauna Classifieds, is better known as a teacher at Tokay (no kidding) High School in Lodi, California and proprietor of the Great Valley Serpentarium. Recently, however, Mr. Gillingham ran afoul of the federal Lacey Act, which prohibits the importation of protected species without governmental approval. Federal authorities say he brought Baja Mountain kingsnakes into the United States from Mexico when he came back from vacation. The Baja Mountain kingsnakes had been feared to be extinct. Eleven defendants, including Mr. Gillingham pleaded guilty to violations of the Lacey Act as a result of investigations into the improper importation of snakes and lizards into the state of California. Many of the animals including the Baja Mountain kingsnakes were offered for sale. Under a plea-bargain agreement, Mr. Gillingham was fined $2,500 and placed on probation for 25 months. U.S. Attorney General for Sacramento, Miguel Rodriguez said, "We feel strongly that these people are profiteers who take reptiles and resources of another country for their own private enjoyment or commercial use. They are depriving another country of their natural resources." Mr. Gillingham said, "We brought a few back with us (from Baja). Lots of people bring snakes and lizards back. It's a common practice... People bring fireworks back... In the '60's we brought in some iguanas and no permits were needed then, I guess they are really tightening down on this." [The Stockton Record, February 8, 1992] I would remind all CHS members that ignorance of the law is never an excuse for breaking it. In Illinois, taking of reptiles and amphibians for commercial purposes is completely prohibited, and obviously, the taking of a species feared extinct is poor form in any state, country or continent. Call your local herp researcher if you find a rarity, don't take it to sell it.

Thanks to everyone who contributed clippings!

There were so many that I've held a few over to use next month, so if you know you sent something, and you don't see your name - don't panic. A special thank you to Wayne Hill and Roxanne Moore who've emptied their files of older clippings and sent me just scads of stuff which fits right in with the rest of my collection of clippings. It may interest you to know that I have a four drawer file cabinet 2/3rds full after only five years. Herps are in the news a lot... As always, if you see something herpetologically related, please clip it out and send it to me.

May 1992

Iguanas implicated in salmonella poisoning

Phyllis Ruther sent in two clippings. One from the Chicago Sun-Times [February 17, 1992] briefly outlines a report from the federal Center for Disease Control in Atlanta which cited iguanas as a possible carrier of the salmonella bacteria. The second item was from the Massachusetts Medical Society Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report [January 24, 1992] which outlines two cases of Salmonella infection in infants. Both babies lived in homes where the only indoor pets were iguanas. The iguanas were bought from different pet shops, but were apparently purchased from a single importer. The strain that infected both infants was S. marina. The report concludes: "Persons in contact with iguanas should practice strict handwashing after handling these animals of their environments, particularly in households with infants or elderly persons who may be highly susceptible to infection. The report also notes that stool samples may not show S. marina and that cultures should be taken from cage surfaces as well to prevent false negatives.

Legislation of interest

The Endangered Species Act is up for reauthorization in 1992. Billed as the "fight of the century" by the National Wildlife Federation, environmentalists and their opponents are gearing up to support or defeat the crown jewel of environmental law. A reauthorization and amendment bill being supported by the Center for Marine Conservation and the National Wildlife Federation is House Resolution 4045. In fiscal 1991, American taxpayers lost $250 million on below-cost timber sales from national forests. Only $102 million was spent by federal agencies on endangered species. [The Wall Street Journal, February 4, 1992, contributed by P.L. Beltz]

Congress is considering bills limiting the sale and importation of exotic birds. House Resolution 2541 and Senate Bill 1218 seek to phase out import of wild birds as pets within 5 years by substituting captive breeding programs to satisfy consumer demand.

A bill which would have given private property rights supremacy over environmental and other regulations was removed by a House-Senate conference committee from the surface transportation bill. However, Senator Symms' (R-ID) proposal is also tagged into a bill creating a Department of the Environment. The proposal misinterprets (or redefines) Constitutional law as prohibiting the enforcement of environmental laws that may decrease a property's value or make development impossible. The proposal would give the Attorney General virtual carte blanche to veto or indefinitely delay any federal regulation on any issue, no matter how badly needed to protect clean air, health, safe food, endangered species and other issues.

Your letters are needed on these issues. Write your Representatives and Senators expressing your opinions! Every letter counts. Call (312) 939-INFO if you need their names and addresses. [Sources: National Wildlife Federation EnviroAction, February 1992 and Action Alert, Center for Marine Conservation, February 1992.]

Life in the slow lane

The Las Vegas Valley Water District has suspended issuing new water commitments. They're waiting for a Fish and Wildlife Service review of a Bureau of Reclamation proposal to give southern Nevada the remainder of the state's share of Colorado River water. [Las Vegas Review Journal, February 21, 1992, contributed by Bob F. Pierson]

The Department of Energy announced that it will place "Caution Tortoise" signs beside roads on the Nevada Test Site as well as on land set aside for the proposed high-level nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain. According to the press release, the signs will warn truck driving workers to be careful in tortoise territory. The press release says the test site "has a long history of supporting research and work with endangered species." The Test Site began operations in 1951, detonating more than 700 atomic bombs until now. About 200 were set off in the atmosphere, and after the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty, 500 more have been exploded underground. Large amounts of uranium, plutonium, tritium, krypton and other radioactive materials are present in the test site topsoil. [The Las Vegas Review Journal, February 19, 1992, contributed by Bob F. Pierson.]

Rattlesnake featured in new book

Thomas Palmer has written an interesting book titled "Landscape with reptile: rattlesnakes in the urban world" (Ticknor & Fields, 340 pages $19.95) that was reviewed by the Wall Street Journal [February 27, 1992]. The subject is Crotalus horridus which live on stony crags on the Blue Hills a few miles outside of Boston. Palmer reviews the history of the animal with stories of local lore, medical reports, Puritan writings and native American legends. [Contributed by Rob Streit]

Misinformation reigns

Jim Zaworsky contributed a copy of Hank Parker's Outdoor Magazine [January, 1992] wherein is written: "the rattlesnake is the easiest to avoid getting into trouble with, they make a noise before they bite...Everyone should carry a snake bite kit in your tackle box...Black, yellow and red markings alternating are the markings of a coral snake. The king snake has similar markings but in different patterns. Don't try to remember which is which; just avoid these snakes like the plague."

National Guard knows snakes

Sgt. Marc Desparois, a preventative medicine specialist with the Texas Army National Guard, gives classes in dangerous wildlife to new recruits. His advise for snakes? Leave it alone, he says, "95 percent of all snake bites occur when a person is trying to catch it, kill it, or is handling it in captivity. Snakes want nothing to do with humans. They first rely on camouflage, but if agitated, may bite." [National Guard Magazine, February, 1992, contributed by Steve Frantz]

Sweetwater's foul statistics

Kay Berryman, the administrative assistant of the Sweetwater Chamber of Commerce and secretary to the Jaycee's, was interviewed by a reporter for The Dallas Morning News: "We bring in more poundage than any other roundup. our average is 7,000 pounds per year, but we have brought in as much as 18,000 pounds." They estimate that 100 tons of rattlesnakes have been collected from a 150-mile radius of Sweetwater. Berryman did acknowledge that not everyone likes rattlesnake roundups. She said, "For the past three years, we have had to provide places for those people to protest. They have their rights to feel as they do, and we have our rights. Texas A and M University did a study that shows we are not doing anything wrong." The program director of the roundup, Bill Ransberger, said, "We teach the people what to do if they get bitten, and how to keep from getting bitten." Ransberger has been bitten more than 40 times. [March 1, 1992, contributed by Andrea Allen. Chicago Tribune, March 8, 1992, contributed by Ilene and Paul Sievert] I also received an article about the Opp Jaycee Rattlesnake Roundup which claims the Jaycees won't accept snakes that have any signs of being gassed. [Montgomery, AL Advertiser, March 1, 1992, contributed by Rick Dowling]

How things have changed

Brian Bankowski was cleaning his closet when he came across a 30 year old price list from Ross Allen's Mail Order Department, dated June 15, 1961. Brian wrote: "I thought it might be of interest to the membership not so much for the prices but for the species offered and how many are protected or considered endangered in 1991. It sure gave me some food for thought and I'd like to share it." All prices were given post paid, assume for one animal unless specified, slightly abbreviated from original: "10 assorted salamanders $6.00; amphiuma 3.00; ten dwarf sirens 15.00; greater siren 5.00; florida snappers per pound .30; chicken turtles 2.50; gopher tortoises 1.00; texas tortoises 1.50; Barbour's map turtles 2.50; five mud turtles 3.00; alligator snappers per pound .75; Florida or peninsula cooter 2.00; four assorted cooters 5.00; Suwannee Cooter 2.50; Florida Red-bellied turtles 2.00; box turtles 1.50; baby alligator from La. farm 5.00; baby brown caiman 3.50; Texas horned lizards 1.00; glass lizards 3.00; small green iguanas 4.50; small tegu lizards 18.00; basilisk lizards 7.50; rainbow snakes (rare) 15.00; indigo snakes 15.00; everglades rat snakes 7.50; Florida king snakes 7.50; pine snakes 7.50; garter snakes 1.50; southern ribbon snakes 1.50; scarlet snakes 8.00; and boa constrictors from 5.00 for a baby to 50 for an eight-foot specimen."

People eat crocs

The African nation of Zimbabwe is leading the way in conserving wildlife through "sustainable use," conserving a promoting its wildlife by making animals of economic value to local people. The pioneer project is proving that people can live with wild animals, protecting them even if those same animals threaten lives and crops. Crocodile farming started in Zimbabwe in the early 1960s after hunting had ravaged the croc population. It has become an economic asset. Local people are paid $1 for each egg found. Two percent of farm hatched crocs are returned to the wild, a better survival rate than if the eggs hatched by themselves. The crocodile population on Lake Kariba is the highest on record, an estimated 30,000. Sale of the crocodile hides and meat from the farm earned about $3 million for Zimbabwe. Crocodile farming has spread to Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana and Madagascar. Jonathan Hutton, the executive director of the Crocodile Farmers Association of Zimbabwe said that they hope to avoid the pitfalls encountered by U.S. reptile farms which overproduced alligator skins in a time of falling demand. He also said that only Italy and Singapore are still buying illegal crocodile and caiman skins regularly. [Daily Herald, January 3, 1992, contributed by Amy K. Fischler]

Michigan stings turtle nappers

Van Buren County District Judge Steve Hamlin, sentenced three men for flagrant violations of laws protecting turtles. The men were arrested in a sting operation conducted by Michigan State Conservation Officers and a Special Agent of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Officers seized 34 snapping turtles, 154 painted turtles, 10 musk turtles and two threatened eastern box turtles at the home of two of the defendants. The violators possessed sport fishing licenses, but were way over the possession limits. Box turtles are illegal with or without a license. The defendants confessed they had planned to sell all the turtles to one man. Officers permitted the sale to take place and then arrested the buyer at his home where they seized 284 more turtles: 194 painteds, 40 three-toed box turtles, 19 eastern box turtles, 23 musk turtles, 10 spotted turtles, eight Blanding's turtles and one snapper. The man has been in the business of buying and selling amphibians, reptiles and other animals for about seven years without proper commercial licenses. All three were fined and sentenced to short jail terms. [Michigan Out-of-Doors Magazine, March, 1992, contributed by Jim Harding]

Japanese willing to talk

The Japanese Government has promised to phase out purchases of endangered sea turtle products by 1993. However, some environmentalists feel that a phaseout may only lead to stockpiling carcasses before the ban goes into effect, nullifying any immediate benefit to the turtles. Another 7,000 sea turtles are expected to be killed before the ban is complete. Protests were scheduled in more than a dozen U.S. cities, Mexico and Thailand in mid-January. Members of Earth First! were uncharacteristically calm when attempting to deliver a message to the Japanese Consulate in Chicago. When security guards blocked their way, they asked a regular delivery man to carry the package inside for them. A few minutes later, Ko Kodaira, consul and director of the Japan Information Center at the Consulate, arrived in the lobby. Through a translator, he read a statement that the 1993 deadline was chosen so that new materials could be found to replace the Hawksbill turtle shells. This is intended to save the jobs of 2,000 Japanese craftspeople involved in the $4 to $5 million-a-year industry. Kodaira promised to forward the protest package to Japanese embassy officials in Washington. [New City, January 30, 1992, contributed by P.L. Beltz]

Special thanks to everyone who submitted articles this month.

I also received materials from Larry Valentine and Bill Burnett. Diane Fick just about made my month in a phone conversation when she said, "I live for my Bulletin." It's statements like that which are so rewarding. If you see a reptile-related clipping, please send it along with the newspaper's name, location and publication date to me. You too will see your name in print!

June 1992

Our tax dollars at work

According to an article in Winnetka Talk, April 2, 1992, "Carp, bullheads and other `undesirable' fish will be exterminated with a natural chemical and the Skokie Lagoons will be restocked with game fish to restore the lagoons to a viable recreation area." The "natural" chemical is Rotenone. David McGinty, assistant superintendent of conservation for the Forest Preserve District said, "[Rotenone] is a chemical that is used to kill fish and to kill fish only. You could jump in the water, swim, you could swallow the water." The chemical will cost the county $60,000 and is supposed to degrade within two weeks. Dredging of accumulated sediments and algae, carp culling, and restocking efforts will cost $6 million. Funding has been provided by the Cook County Forest Preserve District, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the North Shore Sanitary District and the State of Illinois. Cynthia Gehrle who sent the clipping, also photocopied pages from a book, "Pesticides and Human Health" by William H. Hallenbeck and Kathleen M. Cunningham-Burns (Springer-Verlag, New York). Rotenone is on page 122. The account says that it is derived from derris root, and is used to kill insects and fish by inhibiting the oxidation of NAD and blocking oxidative phosphorylation and nerve conduction. The list of acute, chronic and suspected effects on humans fills the rest of the page. Does anyone out there know of the effect of rotenone on amphibians and reptiles? If you'd like to write Mr. McGinty about this project, be polite, and send your letters to: Forest Preserve District of Cook County, 536 North Harlem, River Forest, IL 60305.

Turtle trade prompts ban

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency [TWRA] recently approved new regulations which make it illegal to possess, collect, buy or sell native live turtles and turtle eggs. TWRA spokesman, Gary Cook said, "As a result of numerous calls from turtle dealers...[we] assembled a working committee to evaluate the commercial impact on native turtle populations...and review regulations in Tennessee and neighboring states." The neighboring states of Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Missouri all have regulations governing the harvest and sale of turtles. The sale of three species (the common snapper, smooth softshell and spiny softshell) for food in Tennessee is still legal. [Tennessee Farm Bureau News, c. April 1992, contributed by Jim L. Crownover]

Python gets his man

A pet keeper in Toronto was apparently asphyxiated by "Yasser," his 10 foot, 35-50 pound Burmese python. Mark Nevile of Brampton was found dead in his basement apartment shortly after noon on April 3, 1992 by his upstairs neighbors. Workers from Metro zoo captured Yasser (who was loose) and two other caged pythons and transported them to the zoo where they still reside. [Toronto Star, April 6, 1992 and Toronto Globe and Mail, April 7, 1992 both contributed by Michael Burger]

They even banned the circus

Reacting to reports that a topless dancer was being cruel to her Burmese python and other exotic animals, the Toronto City Council on March 23 voted to ban exotic animal acts, including circuses and theater or stage shows that use such animals in their productions. Even the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus can no longer perform in Toronto. Business leaders are joking but worried. The vice-president of the Toronto Skydome remarked that he worries about booking the Detroit Tigers, Chicago Bears, musical groups like the Monkees and the Turtles - not to mention the hometown Toronto Blue Jays. However, the ban will cost the Skydome lots of loonies (Canadian dollar coins). Animal rights activists point out that Montreal's famous Cirque du Soleil is very successful and has no animals other than humans in its acts. [Chicago Tribune, April 26, 1992, contributed by P.L. Beltz]

Boa-d of education

A biology teacher at DuSable High School in Chicago has an innovated method for getting students to attend his classes. He has obtained many animals not usually seen in the inner city, including a macaw, a goat and a boa constrictor. Students have lab twice a week and in addition to working on assigned projects are able to brush up their math skills by calculating the number of rats needed to feed the boa. Attendance is up, truancy is down, and one assumes the snake is plump. [The Reader, May 1, 1992]

Snake bite treatments

An article in China Today [May 1992] discusses the lifelong study of snake venom treatment by Dr. Shu Purong. Shu, now 60, has trained 3,000 students and treated innumerable patients. He is chairman of the China Snake Bite Prevention and Snake Source Development Study Society. China has 173 snake species, of which 57 are venomous, and 10 are considered highly dangerous. Most are in south China where the climate is warm and humid. About 25,000 people die from snake bites in China every year. It is considered impractical for rural medicine agencies in China to store antivenom. Most have no electricity for refrigeration and no hard currency to buy antivenom. Shu worked with traditional Chinese medicine practitioners to develop the Qinglong Snake Tablet. In a study of 441 people in nine hospitals treated for cobra, green bamboo and four other highly venomous snake bites, 400 recovered and only one died. In the United States, Dr. David Hardy is recognized as an expert in snake bite treatment. In a 1990 article in the Tucson Herpetological Society Newsletter [3(3):24-28], he recommended the following for pitviper bite: 1.) the victim and helpers should remain calm; 2.) the extremity should be put at rest with a splint and be kept below heart level; 3.) physical activity should be decreased as far as possible; and 4.) the victim should be transported to a medical facility as quickly as possible. The following are not recommended: 1.) incision with suction; 2.) multiple incisions with suction and venous tourniquet; 3.) venous tourniquets; 4.) lymphatic tourniquets; 5.) ice or cold pack application; 6.) ice water immersion or cryotheraphy; 7.) suction without incision; 8.) squeezing the bite site; 9.) compression/immobilization; and 10.) stun gun electroshock. An study after the wide publicity given the stun gun, and its sale under the "Snake Doctor" label prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to forbid advertisement or sale of stun guns for treatment of snakebites in humans or other animals. As Marty Rosenberg once said so succinctly at a C.H.S. meeting, "The best treatment for snakebite is a set of car keys." [China Today article contributed by P.L. Beltz]

Philosopher discusses rattlesnake roundups

An article in Conservation Biology (6(1):116-127, March 1992) by Jack Weir, Professor of Philosophy at Morehead State University in Kentucky discusses ethical and conservation questions concerning rattlesnake roundups with an emphasis on the Sweetwater Jaycees roundup. It is must reading for anyone with an interest in rattlesnake roundups. [Contributed by K.S. Mierzwa]

Yuck of the month

Tom Taylor of Tempe, Arizona sent in a photocopy of a page from Sportsman's Guide Catalog. This stuff is just too disgusting to paraphrase, so I quote from page 25: "The Beauty and the Beast Lamps bright the outdoors into your home or office. Not only different and unique, these lamps utilize neutral colors that go with almost any decor...So realistic you'd think they were still alive. Beautiful pen-raised Bobwhite Quail is standing atop a stump with bleached baby's breath as a backdrop. Farm-raised 40" Diamond-back Rattler, commonly found in the Western United States, is freeze tried and poised in striking position...Get a pair of quail for the living room and a pair of rattlers for the den." Each lamp is priced at $149.99. The same page has the usual freeze dried rattlesnakes, ceramic buffalo skulls surrounded by freeze dried rattlesnakes, rattlesnake head key chains and the most horrid, a baby gator head transfixed with a bowie knife. The Golden Valley, MN company has a 800 numbers for orders: voice 800-888-3006 or fax 800-333-6933.

Shaggy snake story resurfaces

John Tashjian of San Marcos, CA sent in a copy of the March, 1991 Oakland Police and Fire Retirement Association titled "Accidents in the Home." To quote from the newsletter: "According to statistics, more accidents happen in the home than any other place. I am beginning to believe it after talking with my neighbor's wife and how her husband suffered a broken arm. According to him, he broke his arm while giving an arm signal in his car while the window was up. But she has an entirely different story. It seems the wife brought some potted plants inside that had been out on the patio all day. A garter snake had crawled into one of the pots and later slithered out across the floor where the wife spotted it. The husband in the bathtub heard her scream and thought she was being murdered, jumped out of the tub to go and help her and didn't even wrap a towel around himself. Upon entering the room, the wife screamed, `there's a snake under the couch.' He got down on his hands and knees to look for the snake, whereupon their dog came up behind and `cold-nosed' him. He thought it was the snake and fainted. The wife thinking he had a heart attack and called for an ambulance. The husband was still `groggy' when the ambulance arrived, so the attendants lifted him onto a stretcher to carry him out. While they were crossing the room, the darn snake came out from under the couch and frightened one of the medics. He dropped the stretcher on his end and that's how the husband broke his arm. So you see that's why I made a rule around my house to keep all plants outdoors, keep a muzzle on our dog when he is in the house and never get down on my hands and knees anymore." I always enjoy these "suburban legends." Perhaps this actually did happen, but it will appear again and again in the press, always as an "it happened to the cousin of a friend of mine" story. At least, if it did happen, we know it was prior to March of 1991! John wrote, "I have KNOWN from SCIENTIFIC evidence (enclosed) for about a year now that the genus Thamnophis is a lot more dangerous than heretofore believed. The preponderant evidence proves conclusively that the mere presence of a small specimen can cause a broken arm in a full grown man especially when it is encountered in combination with an ophiophobe and a dog with a cold nose..." Do I sense a forked tongue firmly in cheek here?

Draco-nian laws, part 2

Gordon Rodda wrote, "I couldn't help but note the unintentional juxtaposition of three related articles in HerPET-POURRI March 1992 (p. 73). In "Where have we heard this before?" the cited article talks about people dumping unwanted snake pets in field or sewers or streams. "It's a real problem" noted the article. In "If you can't beat `em, cook `em" the article mentions the damage the accidently introduced Brown Tree Snake has done to the native birds, bats, and lizards of Guam. Biologists are gravely concerned that this cycle of devastation will be repeated next in Hawaii. And finally, in "Draconian laws propose," you decry the severe measures that the state of Hawaii is taking to make sure that snakes do not get accidently introduced to an island whose fauna has evolved in the absence of snakes. It is a difficult situation, but realize that among the animals that may be protected by Hawaii's actions are beautiful geckos and skinks."
DEAR GORDON Believe me, little in this column is unintentional. I have a low regard for irresponsible people, whether their interests be mammalian or reptilian. Since our membership is formed of a core of long term members, and a group of new members who may not understand the impacts of accidental (or deliberate) release, I try to discuss releases at least every two to three months.
However, some of the most spectacular impacts on local fauna have not been amateurish accidents, but rather the result of deliberate introductions by people who - in hindsight - should have known better. In 1934, 102 cane toads (Bufo marinus) were exported from Honolulu to Australia. Since then, cane toads have spread widely and had an impact on native fauna. Incidentally, they had little or no effect on the organism they were supposed to eradicate, the cane-eating gray-back beetle. Now, some are recommending that Xenodon snakes be imported from South America to control the toads. So far, the government of Australia is resisting such suggestions.
The Brown Tree Snake you mentioned was reportedly accidentally introduced to Guam by U.S. military forces which shipped men and materials to that island during and following the second world war. It apparently arrived in military vehicles and equipment crates.
The carp was introduced to the U.S. at the urging of Spencer Fullerton Baird, then director of the National Museum (Smithsonian), because he felt it would be an excellent food fish for the poor. Senators and Congressmen fought for the privilege of having the carp introduced in their districts.
The "triploid grass carp" is still being introduced in ponds around the state of Illinois at the urging of some workers in the Illinois Department of Conservation as a biological control for pond weeds.
The highly destructive mongoose was deliberately introduced around the world as a purported biological control on snakes. Goats released on islands result in ecological destruction on a grand scale and have been implicated in the loss of snake species on Round Island among many other places. European rats decimated the ground-nesting birds of New Zealand.
Feral cats and loose pet cats are responsible for the deaths of large numbers of native fauna worldwide. This problem has been studied and published on in England, but occurs everywhere an owner lets a cat out the door.
Additionally, the impact on native fauna of introduced plants should be considered. In only one example, pineapple plantations cover vast areas. The methods used to maintain cultivation (including plowing and chemical additives) are inimical to wildlife.
I could probably continue to list the effects of non-native species on native species for several pages. I do not disagree with you that released pets cause problems, but I
do disagree with the METHODS of the Hawaiian law. The fourth amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." The newspaper reports of the Hawaiian law said that the searches were authorized to be performed without warrant. That seems to violate the fourth amendment.
What will result from this law? I suggest that the first person whose reptilian pets are seized who has the desire or the means may pursue this to the U.S. Supreme Court. While the issue is on appeal, Hawaii will be unable to enforce the law. This effectively creates a situation of a one-shot enforcement effort, similar to that created by the Illinois "Dangerous Animals Act" reported on in this column previously.
I would suggest that a much better means of keeping non-native animals from being kept in Hawaii would be an education effort. Teach schoolchildren why it is wrong to keep non-native fauna on the island. Begin an effort to spay or neuter dogs and cats on the island. Ban further importation of all non-native fauna, not just reptiles and amphibians. I know it's easy in an enforcement position to regard everyone not "us" as "them," but wouldn't it be more productive to make more "them" into "us" though education?
In the conterminous U.S., habitat loss from development is usually cited as a major contributor to the decline of wildlife. Perhaps Hawaii could lead the states with laws regulating development impact on native fauna. After all, Section One, Article IV of the Constitution states: "Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other States." This is the law under which "precedent" in legal cases is established. I'd really like to see developers required to redevelop land which has already been wrecked before they are allowed to chew up every last bit of undisturbed real estate into more shopping centers, housing developments and roads.

Thanks to this month's contributors.

In addition to those mentioned above, Lynda Kaplan sent some cute cartoons, Bill Burnett sent photocopies of articles and Larry Valentine sent one of the nicest python pictures I've ever seen. If you see a reptile or amphibian related clipping, please take a moment - cut it out, put the date and publication on it, and stuff it in an envelope addressed to me.

July 1992

Snakes do feel pain

Regular readers of this column may recall Dr. Brown's letter from Hong Kong requesting information. Richard C. Goris, President of the Herpetological Society of Japan wrote, "I saw you letter in the Bulletin of the Chicago Herp Society. By way of introduction, I teach anatomy and physiology of the senses at the School of Medicine, Yokohama City University, Japan... Our laboratory specializes in neuroanatomy. We can assure you that pain, or nocicption as we call it, is one of the most primitive of the senses. No living organism could exist without the aid of nociceptors. The so-called "higher animals" have pain receptors because they have inherited them from the organisms from which they evolved. Specifically, pain is transmitted by the nerve fibers called C fibers, and is mediated in a large number of cases by the neurotransmitter called substance P. In the course of our research we have identified both C fibers and substance P-containing nerve fibers in snakes. One of our group, now a full professor of physiology at the University of the Ryukyus, has identified and marked specific pain-receiving neurons in the trigeminal nerve system of a large venomous snake, Trimeresurus flavoviridis. As for the specific area you mention, it is risible to even think that a snake would not have pain receptors in such a vital area of its anatomy as the abdomen around the liver. I am well aware of the procedure you mention, as well as other, far crueler procedures of the practitioners of Chinese `medicine' with regard to reptiles, and I roundly condemn them all." Jeffrey R. Jenkins, D.V.M. also responded to Dr. Brown's request for information on pain in reptiles, "Quite a bit of work has been published on pain in reptiles and other `lower animals' in the last 3 to 5 years, and this [what he sent] is just what was within easy reach. The two best resources are the Scientist Center for Animal Welfare (SCAW) and the National Agriculture Library Animal Welfare Information Center." Hopefully, a few more of the 1,800 or so people who receive this publication will be able to help Dr. Brown with information. The reason he was asking was to prepare materials for a court hearing on whether the snakes eviscerated live on the infamous "snake alley" are in pain. If the court rules that the snakes are in pain, the process will be halted under strict Commonwealth cruelty to animals laws. Thanks to Dr. Jenkins and Dr. Goris for taking the time to reply.

Cobra kills owner

A 25-year-old resident of Emmitsburg, Maryland died in late May after being bitten by a pet cobra. Brian Leslie West had been keeping 50 snakes, about half of which were venomous, in cages in his basement. His father said that the venomous animals were kept in locked cages in a room designed to contain the snakes. The 6-foot-long black Indian cobra was delivering eggs when it began to have difficulty, according to West's father. He said his son had taken the snake to a veterinarian and injected it with medicine to help the delivery progress at home. About an hour later, the snake suddenly bit the victim on the toe of his left foot. He managed to put the cobra in its cage before rescue workers arrived. He went into cardiac arrest within ten minutes of being bitten. He was remembered at his memorial service as a man who loved nature and wildlife, who was dedicated to educating others about misunderstood wildlife, and who served on the same volunteer emergency ambulance corps that responded to his call. He was vice president of the Western Maryland Herpetological Society. His snake collection will be placed with zoos or other herpetologists. [From The Washington Post, May 30, 1992, The Frederick MD Post, May 30, 1992 and June 1, 1992, contributed by D. Curry]

Bet she re-mambas that night!

A University of Natal freshman shared a couch with a 1.7 meter green mamba for two hours before it slid down inside her shirt. She said, "Every now and then I would feel something moving and I would hit down on the cushions...I felt something... and just saw the tail of the snake which was... slithering on to the couch." Rangers from a nearby snake park removed the animal. [African Herp News, November 1991, contributed by G. Rocco, Freehold, NJ]

TED battle continues

An alert from the Center for Marine Conservation, dated April 24, 1992 reported that the Turtle Excluder Device (TEDs) regulations were being held up in the Office of Management and Budget and were not yet published by the Department of Commerce for public comment and final approval. A second alert, dated June 8, 1992, said "Thanks to you [environmentalists] the regulations were released." The next step is public comment. TEDs are trapdoors that are added to shrimp nets which permit turtles and finfish to escape. If they can't get out they drown. Without TEDs, shrimpers may drown as many as 55,000 sea turtles each year, according to a May 1990 study by the National Academy of Sciences performed at the request of TED opponents in Congress. TEDs are a cheap and easy solution to sea turtle drownings. All sea turtles are endangered species. Herpetologists and environmentalists have fought for more than five years to have the TED regulations passed and enforced. Your letters are needed. Write Dr. Nancy Foster, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1335 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Please be polite, but firm. Without TEDs sea turtles, most especially the Kemp's ridley, are at risk.

Another way to save turtles

Dr. Michael Klemens, Director of the Turtle Recovery Program, recently gave a wonderful presentation to CHS members at a general meeting at the Field Museum of Natural History. If you've not yet attended a meeting in the new auditorium, you're missing out! The audio-visual is perfect, there are lots of seats, sloped so everybody can see without 25 heads in the way, and the speakers lined up by CHS Vice President, John Murphy, are just superb. Michael gave a talk about various turtle species in trouble around the world and discussed the recovery plans and programs in place to help them survive in the wild. You can help. Write him at the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024-5192 for a copy of his new brochure that will tell you how you can participate in this joint venture between the American Museum and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature-World Wildlife Fund.

Las Vegas Tortoise News

Bob Pierson has been an unceasing contributor of clippings about desert tortoises from the Las Vegas Review Journal including the following: 1.) Fifty-four desert tortoises were displaced by construction in the Las Vegas area. About 1,200 people have offered to adopt them. Reno Turtle and Tortoise Club President Darlene Pond said her group received 700 letters, 500 telephone calls and one videotape from people who want to adopt the tortoises. [May 22, 1992] 2.) The presence of five desert tortoises has halted development of a 90-house subdivision in southwestern Utah. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ordered the developer to stop altering the habitat until biologists can determine whether the project will harm the tortoises. [May 23, 1992] 3.) The Air National Guard flew 40 tortoises to Reno, Nevada from Las Vegas to be placed for adoption through a tortoise welfare group. [May 13, 1992] 4.) Local governments in the Las Vegas Valley are required to preserve 400,000 acres of prime tortoise habitat on federal land, prohibiting grazing. Developers are required to find and remove any tortoises found at construction sites. However, the number of tortoises turned in by developers are very short of what had been projected. Some people suggest that just before this agreement was reached, a flurry of bulldozing was done. This may contribute to the low numbers of tortoises being turned in now. A reptile biologist with the Nevada Department of Wildlife said, "Unless we come up with a dead tortoise, see bulldozer tracks and find a person sitting on a Cat[erpillar tractor], we're going to be hard-pressed to find a violation of the Endangered Species Act. They're treated like murder cases. You can't just go on hearsay evidence." [May 18, 1992]

Kew-ute bug zappers!

Tropical lizards seized by Great Britain's Department of Customs and Excise were given to the Kew Gardens. The ancient botanical garden released the lizards into their greenhouses and conservatories in hopes that they will eat cockroaches and other arthropod pests. The lizards were imported into Britain without the necessary papers and were seized because they are listed on Appendix 2 of the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species, which means trade is strictly controlled. The Gardens are at risk of becoming a menagerie since a consignment of African clawed frogs will soon be released in the newly restored Water Lily House. [The New Scientist, March 21, 1992, contributed by Rick Reifsnyder]

"Reptile Man" arrested

A television show, titled "America's Most Wanted," features uncaught suspects and viewers can call in if they think they've seen the alleged malefactors. Recently, Donald F. Verbridge was arrested after his story was shown. Verbridge was wanted on federal warrants for the alleged fraudulent use of credit cards. He is alleged to have taken the carbons from credit card receipts and used the numbers to buy expensive reptiles, including snakes. The reptiles were then sold to pet stores at a profit. After Verbridge was arrested in St. Joseph County, Indiana, his car was searched - very carefully - by county police. No snakes or other reptiles were found, but $2,000 and books on snakes and birds as well as other items were discovered. [The South Bend IN Tribune, June 2, 1992, contributed by Garrett Kazmierski]

House Resolution 5013 "dangerous"

Allison McNeill, President of the New England Herpetological Society, sent a letter about House Resolution 5013, the "Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992." She writes: "On the surface, HR 5013, does not seem that dangerous... you need to know its history. Last year, two bird bills were introduced to the Senate and the House of Representatives. The first, HR 2541, was the product of careful work and cooperation by the World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, the American Federation of Aviculture, and the pet industry... In response to this... animal rights organizations wrote a counter bill, HR 2540. This is an extremely restrictive bill that would seriously hamper captive breeding. Its aim appeared to be not only to end importation of birds, but birdkeeping and breeding as well. When the first session of Congress ended, neither bill had been acted upon. This year, the House Subcommittee on Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the Environment decided to try to combine the two existing bills, and wrote a horrible bill, HR 4958. When this bill was presented for public comment, the subcommittee received a lot of complaints, so they rewrote the bill as HR 5013. In the new version, all the objectionable parts have been replaced with the phrase "the Secretary [of the Interior] shall prescribe regulations as are necessary and appropriate to carry out the purposes of this act." Some of the objectionable items included a reward system for informers who turn in people with illegal animals, a search and seizure with or without a warrant, seizure of any animals believed to be illegal, and a clause that animals bought in good faith and their offspring will still be illegal, and a phrase that these regulations may be applied to other flora and fauna at any time. Ms. McNeill continues, "...all the above measures, or even worse ones, will be implemented. I don't know about you, but this reminds me of everything I was ever told was bad about communist Russia... to squash this bill, it is imperative that everyone write [or call their] representative now!... Feel free to contact me [1-617-789-5800, P.O. Box 1082, Boston MA 02103] for more information." The address for the House of Representatives is given in the paragraph on TEDs, above.

Ad targets snakes

An ad from CCI, a manufacturer of bullets and other "sporting" equipment says "If you shoot .22's, finding targets is usually not a problem. You've got your varmints... small game and snakes..." CCI also announces in the ad that it is an official supplier of the USA Olympic Biathlon Team and lists a toll free number to call, although it doesn't say why to call: 1-800-627-3640. Their address is P.O. Box 856, Lewiston, ID 83501. [Sports Afield, June, 1992, contributed by W.P. Meyer of Mokena, IL]

USDA targets predators

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will spend $25.8 million this year to protect millions of sheep, goats and cattle from predatory and nuisance animals that are said to cause millions of dollars in losses to farmers and ranchers. According to USDA records, more than 2.5 million animals were killed by Animal Damage Control last year, including more than 1.5 million blackbirds and 768,678 starlings. Also killed were American alligators, nine-banded armadillos, weasels, wolves and at least one bald eagle. [The Daily Sentinel, Grand Junction, CO, contributed by Larry Valentine]

Another iguana with salmonella

Shawn P. Messonnier, D.V.M. at the Paws and Claws Animal Hospital sent a note "...thought you might be interested in this case report..." Titled "Abscess in a spiny iguana" it reads: "A client came in for examination of his 1-year-old male spiny iguana. He complained of a lump he noticed on the outer surface of the left hindlimb. The lump had been present for one month and was getting bigger. History revealed a diet consisting of store-bought crickets and fruit cocktail, both offered daily. The environment was an aquarium with sand as the bedding; a heat lamp and a hot rock were also part of the housing. Examination revealed a small, hard lump on the left hind limb. Surgery was recommended to diagnose and treat the condition...the lump was open and solid, white material was removed from the area; the wound was flushed with an antibacterial solution and sutured closed. A culture of the material was sent to an outside lab, and the iguana was started on injectable antibiotics. Laboratory confirmation revealed a Salmonella bacterial infection and confirmed the iguana was receiving the proper antibiotics. Two weeks later, the owner reported that the wound had opened up..." Another operation removed more material, but the animal still didn't do well, and finally died. Dr. Messionnier continues, "There are several important points about this case. Most lumps in reptiles are abscesses versus tumors. Aspiration of the abscess with a needle and syringe (as is commonly done in other animals and people) is non-diagnostic in reptiles and birds; pus in reptiles and birds is solid rather than liquid, so no material is aspirated. Diagnosis is made surgically... This iguana was on a very poor, nutritionally deficient diet... The housing was also incorrect... Finally a UV light to act as an artificial source of Vitamin D is required." The requirements mentioned by Dr. Messionnier are also given in the CHS publication "Care-in-Captivity" in great detail. He concludes, "This iguana's death was due to the infected leg as well as to an incorrect diet and environment. Treating animals that are nutritionally deficient is much harder than treating an otherwise healthy animal... Like all exotic pets, reptiles hide signs of disease until they decompensate and can't pretend to be healthy any longer. Early disease detection is critical in order to ensure the best chances for a successful treatment... all reptiles should be seen by a qualified reptile veterinarian on a yearly basis to screen for early signs of disease."

Snake swallows man again

Cayman Veterinary Associates on Grand Cayman in the British West Indies forwarded a clipping from the May 6, 1992, Caymanian Compass newspaper. The clipping is about the rubber tapper allegedly killed and eaten by an anaconda that was previously reported in the United States in the Weekly World News and other "reliable" sources. Seeing this story surface again reminds me of a classic Ogden Nash poem about a similar occurrence:

"The python has, and I fib no fibs,
Three hundred eighteen pairs of ribs.
In stating this I place reliance
On a seance with one who died for science.
This figure is sworn to and attested;
He counted them while being digested."

Thanks to everyone who contributed this month!

Without contributors, there can be no column. Join the ranks of the greatly appreciated. If you see a reptile or amphibian related item, please clip it and attach to it the name of the publication and the date it was printed and your name. Send it to me.. Looking forward to hearing from you.

August 1992

Caiman soon to a pond near you

For the second time in two weeks, Chester County, PA, police have captured a loose caiman. The first had wandered into a backyard in Strafford; the second was captured by the side of a road near an elementary school. The police officer who captured it originally thought the caiman was an alligator. He said, "Not being an anthropologist or whatever, I'd have a hard time recognizing this sort of thing." Both caimans were transferred to the Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown. Zoo Director, Steve Jagielski said: "This is the time of year when, if people have pets they don't want, they try to release them... I don't know what these people think - that it's going to walk to Florida or Georgia? That it's going to acclimate itself to Pennsylvania weather in November." The second caiman was claimed by its owner who explained that a burglar had released the animal during the robbery. Quite a few people tried to claim the other caiman. Jagielski explained, "People out there think it's a thrill to have an animal that is considered wild... They want them as conversation pieces. It's a macho type of thing." [Daily Local News, West Chester, PA, July 11, 1992, contributed by Mark Witwer]

Turtle lovers featured in NY Times

Members of the New York Turtle and Tortoise Society (NYTTS) and the New England Herpetological Society [NEHS] were featured in a NY Times story that also went out on the wires. It was picked up by the AD-dition [July 8, 1992] and sent in by Sandra Schumaker. Regular contributor to this column, and board member of NYTTS, Allen Salzberg was featured. He shares his home with his wife and 20 turtles. He mentioned the effect of the Ninja Turtle craze: "Pet stores were selling four-inch red-eared slider turtles called Leonardo for under $10. People don't realize that these cute little turtles can grow to be one foot long. Once they're that big, their owners get nervous and throw them in the nearest body of water." He says he's seen them swimming in the Central Park Reservoir. Anita Baskin-Salzberg married Allen without being a turtle-lover, too. She's presently writing a book called "Confessions of a Turtle Wife." Debra Pietrowski of Grandy, MA, a member of both the NEHS and the NYTTS, said: "People are really crazy about snakes, but they can't compete with turtle lovers." For those who would like to attend a NYTTS meeting, merely call the American Museum of Natural History for room and time. The Society meets the third Sunday of each month from October to March.

Maybe it was an emissions monitor

A 6-foot Asian water monitor lizard was discovered wrapped around the engine of a car in Miami, FL. The owner of the car called state game authorities who called Todd Harwick of Pesky Critters Nuisance Wildlife Control. The lizard was sedated and part of the engine had to be removed to extract it. [Sacramento Bee, July 9, 1992, contributed by Bruce Hannem.]

But she toad `em to shut up

Tom Taylor of the Arizona Herpetological Society sent in a piece from the Tempe Tribune [June 29, 1992] that has to be one of the weirdest amphibian tales of all time. It seems that a resident of Tucson, Ms. Ruth Likewise, faces a hearing with possible fines of up to $1,000 because of a citation issued by Pima Animal Control Center officers. The ticket was an "excessive toad noise warning!" It seems as though a neighbor of the woman is bothered by the sounds of toad courtship coming from desert toads calling in Ms. Likewise's decorative pond. She said: "I thought this was kind of funny the first time around, but now it's just getting ridiculous. These toads are wild animals, and I don't see that it is my responsibility to catch these things and take them away every time it rains." Art Ruff, director of the Animal Control Center, said: "What happened, essentially, is that a noise was emanating from a residence, and it apparently disturbed the complainant [Frank Over]... Based on what the complainant has observed and documented in terms of the length of times of croaking... it meets the necessary standards to go to the next process, which is an administrative hearing...Creating an environment in which an animal can thrive can also be construed as harboring. Apparently this pond environment attracts toads and allows them to thrive long enough to create a noise problem."

Desert tortoises stop construction

Bob Pierson of Las Vegas is one of the most dedicated clipping collectors contributing to this column. His most recent contribution is from the Las Vegas Review-Journal [June 29, 1992], and details how five tortoises have halted construction of a 90-home subdivision in Utah. The tortoises appeared at the site in early May of this year, but cannot be removed from the area. The developer is understandably upset and claims he stands to lose his $1 million investment in the project.

As easy as eating ducks in a pond

Police officers in LaJunta, CO are trying to capture a 25-pound snapping turtle which lives in the city park lake and has developed a taste for baby ducks. Police Chief Chuck Widup said: "We've had prior reports about the turtle eating duck eggs. This year, though, the baby duck population has been seriously depleted and we think it is this turtle doing it. If captured, the turtle will be released into a local river. [Grand Junction, CO Daily Sentinel, June 5, 1992, contributed by Larry Valentine]

National Jaycees unclear on the concept

The infamous Sweetwater rattlesnake roundup was named the nation's top Jaycee project at the annual United States Jaycee convention held in Portland, OR in the last week of June. The award, named the Dr. Jerry Bruce Memorial Award, was presented to the Sweetwater Jaycees on July 16. According to the 1992 chairman, the roundup was documented in a 200 page project book which was submitted for the award. [Abilene Reporter-News, July 1, 1992, contributed by Bob Sears]

Unusual art

Natalie and Richard Surving displayed their unique ceramic tile art featuring designs from nature at the recent Chicago Tile Expo. Frogs, lizards, turtles, fish, plants, snakes, and sea shells are the base motifs for hex-shaped and square tiles. The centerpiece of the exhibit was a swamp mural with life-sized alligators and turtles. If you'd like to decorate with some of their products, write them at Surving Studios, R.D. 4, Box 449, Middletown, NY 10940 or call (914) 355-1430.

Snake population explosion reported

Residents in areas of Phoenix and Tucson, AZ may notice more snakes than usual this year. Phil Jenkins, biologist and assistant curator of the University of Arizona's Herbarium said: "Because of the mild winter and all the rain, there's been a bumper crop of everything in the desert, including snakes. There's a lot for them to eat, and because of their large numbers they're going off looking for new territories." [Arizona Republic, April 18, 1992, contributed by Bruce Hannem]

Way cool reptile exhibit displays bad husbandry

A window exhibit at the Emerald City Surf'n Sport shop in Coronado, CA, excited comments - both favorable and unfavorable. It seems that the owner had several snakes in a tank in the window and he left whole families of mice in the cage for the snakes' supper. People stop and watch the snakes grab, squeeze and eat the mice. One woman said: "[It's] absolutely disgusting. It is the most tasteless [sic] window display I have ever seen." Others, including young men with skate boards remarked that it was "way cool." After exciting comment in this sea-side town, the surf shops owner returned the snakes to their owners and redecorated his window. [Los Angeles Times, June 29, 1992, contributed by Larry Krajkowski] As an aside to those who do not know: 1.) it is not recommended to keep more than one snake per tank; and 2.) it is not wise to put live food in the tank with a snake. The Chicago Herpetological Society's publication Care-in-Captivity recommends feeding snakes pre-killed, frozen and re-thawed rodents. This will limit the possibility of the snakes getting parasites or other little nasties from the mice as well as preventing mouse attacks on the snakes. One of the most disgusting pictures I've ever seen was shown by a vet at one of the CHS meetings. It showed a snake whose eye had been chewed open by a rodent.

Law may prompt pet slaughter

Owners of "illegal" pet animals in Thailand may be slaughtering their animals to avoid the penalties of a new law designed to protect endangered species. The 1992 Wildlife Conservation Law brings Thai legislation in line with provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna which Thailand signed in 1984. Pat Corrigan of Wildlife Fund Thailand said: "The 1992 law does have many good elements but it was rushed through parliament and there are problems. The temporary facilities for keeping the animals are very poor but they cannot be reintroduced to the wild because animals raised by humans lack basic survival skills and they are often infected with diseases you don't find among wild populations. The problem of owners killing their animals rather than registering them or handing them over is a real possibility but it is very difficult to monitor." Animals seized by police raids include tigers, Asiatic black bears, crocodiles, simbar, barking deer and many species of birds. [New Scientist, March 7, 1992] Contributor Rick Reifsnyder attached a letter to this clipping which said in part: "I have had the opportunity to visit Thailand on business and know first hand that many of the richer citizens of this county maintain private zoos as symbols of wealth and status. In fact, the only live Komodo Dragon I have ever seen was in the private garden of a gentleman with whom my employer does quite a bit of business. Needless to say, this magnificent monitor falls into the category that could result in it being sacrificed to avoid prosecution. It has been some time since my visit and I can only hope that this animal has not suffered due to regulations designed to protect it."

Is it or is it not in trouble?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed declaring the giant garter snake (Thamnophis gigas) an endangered species in the Natomas basin in California. The 55,000-acre Natomas basin runs from the American River north into Sutter County east of the Sacramento River. However, a former federal wildlife researcher, Roy Leidy, claims there are more of the snakes today than there were 20 years ago. He said in testimony at a public hearing: "It's very clear that the [proposal] is grossly deficient in its conclusion that the giant garter snake is endangered." In 1970, there were 16 known localities, but 72 more have been found, according to Leidy. The hearing was the last before the Interior Department will decide the status of the snake. The giant garter snake can grow up to 5 feet long, lives in ditches and watery rice fields and eats frogs and fish. It is itself food for skunks, hawks, and egrets. It was declared a threatened species by the state in the 1970s. A group of landowners who plan to build on 30,000 acres have put forward a plan for 90,500 new housing units surrounded by 26 miles of canals and ditches intended to support the snakes. It is interesting that Leidy is now employed by Beak Environmental Specialists which was hired by the landowners who are backing the development. [Sacramento Bee, c. June, 1992, contributed by Bruce Hannem] I would be most interested in more information about this situation.

1992 election reminder

This year, voters of all persuasions and from all sides of every issue will have a great opportunity to influence the course of the U.S. Government for the next four years. Almost everyone knows that either George Bush or Bill Clinton will be elected President in November, but some may be unaware that many Representatives and Senators are also seeking reelection. It would be a good idea for herp societies, breeders, keepers, and interested individuals to call or write the candidates in your area asking for information on where they stand on the re-authorization of the Endangered Species Act and other environmental questions. Most serious candidates have written position papers on the environment and other major issues. Voters can use this information to make informed decisions on the candidates. Personally, I have not been pleased with the programs and emphasis of the executive branch under its self-proclaimed "Environmental President" or the dilly-dallying in Congress on the Endangered Species Act. I urge all interested herpetologists to become aware of the candidates and the issues, register to vote in plenty of time before the election, and to vote for what you believe in come November.

Thanks to everyone who contributed this month.

In addition to the items I used, Eric Thiss and George Heinrich sent copies of articles about the Crutchfield conviction (see David's column), and Mark Witwer sent a clipping on the Maryland fatal cobra bite and other articles about the plague of caimans in Pennsylvania. All contributions are welcomed. This column is a little shorter than usual this month due to the volume of material received (or not received) in time for its preparation. See your name in print, contribute clippings with the source and date attached to me. I look forward to hearing from you.

October 1992

Column mechanics

Greetings to all after the one month absence occasioned by the CHS Bulletin having too many articles! Is every newsletter editor in the country jealous, yet? However, one effect of this one month hiatus is that the column you are reading now, in the end of October, was written one hot and steamy August day. In publishing, that's called lead time and to readers that can be called confusing. That long lead time will most probably continue for future issues. So, if you send in a clipping, now (and I do hope you do), it will be published or acknowledged in January of 1993! Please don't stop contributing even if it does seem that it takes forever to get published. Send your contributions to me.

Report from SSAR

This year the annual meeting for the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles was held separately from Herpetologists' League (HL) and American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH) at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). Carl Lieb and Jerry Johnson, the UTEP profs who organized the event deserve praise from all attendees. As is customary at herp events, only about half of the people who came registered in advance, so neophyte organizers Carl and Jerry were swamped with unexpected numbers of folks who had just decided to show up. Nonetheless, even though there was only food or beer for half, a good time was had by many (probably the first half to get to the food and beer.) The auction was a roaring success and innovations introduced by Mrs. Johnson will probably be copied at future SSAR auctions. The live animal display provided by the Chihuahuan Desert Herpetological Society was impressive and complete to all species of rattlers, the Gila monster, the horned toads and all the other reptile and amphibian denizens of that great and unique area. I would have liked to have described the regional herp societies symposium that was held on the last day, but I was recovering from a road-running experience that made it impossible for me to attend. Next year's meeting will be in Bloomington, IN. Plan to be there. SSAR is a heck of a lot more fun than HL or ASIH, and Bloomington is only a short drive. As members of a regional herp society, you don't have to be SSAR members to attend. For more information on SSAR, write Doug Taylor, Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056.

Turtle soup - not

Seven turtles which were intended to be served for food at a Toronto, Canada Chinese restaurant were saved at the U.S. border by Customs Canada officials. The Florida softshell turtles were aboard a truckload of live fish en route from Tinlun Food Market Inc. in New York City to the Toronto Live Fish Company. Officials of both companies pleaded guilty to illegally shipping wildlife and agreed to pay $1,000 fines. The turtles were sent to the Staten Island Zoo in New York. [Albany Times-Union, July 23, 1992, contributed by Larry Krajkowski]

Sea turtle repaired and released

A large female loggerhead turtle was returned to the sea after neurosurgeons repair her smashed skull. The turtle was 3-feet long and 33 pounds when she was found near death on a rocky beach in west Cyprus early in July. Officials at the government Turtle Conservation Center and Hatchery rushed her to Nicosia General Hospital and a team of neurosurgeons who usually treat people, performed a delicate operation which saved her life. The lead surgeon said that her skull had been smashed by a blow and commented, "Fortunately the brain was undamaged, so we fixed the skull with a piece of acrylic plastic." [July 12, 1992 Sunday Advocate, Baton Rouge, LA and Houma Daily Courier, contributed by Ernie Liner]

Seven-legged frog

A frog with three more than the usual number of ambulatory appendages was found at the Des Moines Water Works Park by a child fishing for tadpoles. Bonnie Callan, life science curator at the Science Center of Iowa, said frogs are able to reproduce injured limbs and that she believes one of the frog's legs was cut as it matured from a tadpole. She said, "As it was growing, each part of the leg-forming tissue that was slashed would grow into its own leg." [Detroit News, July 26, 1992, contributed by Cheri Hosley]

Mud wrestling

A man who had gone under his house to jack it out of the mud, encountered an 8- to 10-foot alligator and ended up with over 200 stitches. He said, "It was just as big as I was, and I think he wanted to fight. I knew I was in trouble." [Grand Junction, CO, Daily Sentinel, Tuesday, July 28, 1992, contributed by Larry Valentine] Larry also sent one of the funniest newspaper herp photos I've ever seen. It showed a police officer, in full uniform, standing on top of the hood of his police car because an alligator was nosing around the tires of the car. Apparently the officer was responding to a nuisance alligator complaint. He found out just how much of a nuisance alligators can be, I reckon.

Range extensions

Two self-employed auto mechanics captured an alligator-shaped animal while fishing in a stream in Tacony Creek Park in the heart of Philadelphia! The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals received the creature which they identified as a caiman, and speculated that it had escaped from captivity or released by its owner. Three months ago, the same brothers found a non-native copperhead within the city limits. They keep it in a fish tank with a plastic and screen pet shop lid, according to a picture that accompanied the article. [Philadelphia Inquirer, July 29, 1992, contributed by Rick Reifsnyder]

Stolen iguanas recovered

Fifty-one iguanas were stolen from a private owner/breeder along with a trash can that may have been used to transport the stolen saurians. Police were notified and alerted local pet shops. Sure enough, two juveniles were arrested with the reptile victims in their possession, after trying to sell them to a pet shop. [Houma, LA, Daily Courier, July 3, 1992 and Times-Picayune, July 4, 1992, contributed by Ernie Liner]

Hawai'i law, round three

Gordon Rodda, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, wrote recently to clarify a point in two previous (March and June) HerPETpourri columns. He writes: "It is my understanding that Hawaii forbids the importation of all wildlife considered an ecological threat (many enumerated fish, birds, herps, mammals, plants, etc.). The search provision is only for the recovery of specimens that were imported illegally." If any of our readers can obtain the actual law, proposed law, clarification of the law, or anything that might make this issue more understandable vis a vis the keeping of reptiles and amphibians, I would appreciate it if they would send it.

Second World Congress News

Michael Tyler (frogs), the organizer of the Second World Congress of Herpetology, to be held at the University of Adelaide from December 29, 1993 to January 6, 1994, is sending out final conference brochures, and has available very cute (frog) postcards hyping the Congress. To receive a supply (probably 10, assorted two designs) of cards and a brochure, send $7.00 U.S. and a self addressed large (9" x12") envelope to him at the U. of A., Department of Zoology, Box 498 GPA, Adelaide, South Australia 5001, Australia. For those so inclined, the second congress promises to be an exciting and inspiring event. Hope to see you there!

Brochure review

The American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists has prepared an 11" x 17" bifold brochure titled "Careers in Herpetology." While it is a definite improvement on any previous brochure of this title, even the one published by SSAR, there are some careless errors, most notably "Musuems" in bold face, front page. The selected readings have little to do with careers in herpetology, but are merely a selection of books written for the general public. The excellent "In search of reptiles and amphibians" by R.D. Bartlett is an obvious ommission. People interested in obtaining a copy of this for themselves can contact: Business Office, A.S.I.H., Department of Zoology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901-6501. I'd be interested in your feedback after you've read it.

PIT tags show promise

BioSonics is a company that sells PIT tagging systems. PIT tags are little electronic transponders about the size of a long-grain rice kernal that are implanted through a special needle into an animal by a veterinarian. The transponders all have different numbers, require no batteries or replacement, and by merely waving a special portable reader (about the size of a carphone) over the animal, the number is revealed. If all the animals in a large collection were so marked, then if the collection or part of it was stolen, positive identification of the animals could be made by the owner or enforcement officials. The reader can pick up about a foot away from the animal, so pet shop animals could be tested without necessarily having to remove the animal from the tank. Additionally, PIT tagging might be an excellent way of proving provinance of captive-bred animals if all offspring were implanted with transponders. P.S. It's not cheap, but the system is not outrageously expensive, either. For more information contact: Jeff Condiotty, Manager Imaging/Tagging Products, BioSonics, 3670 Stone Way North, Seattle, WA 98103.

Cobra starts Indian riot

A five-foot black cobra nested in the branches of a fig tree in Hapur, India last February. However, the land on which the tree grows is a no-man's land between a Muslim slum and a Hindu untouchable caste slum. The owner of the land was Hindu and sold to a Muslim for building lots. The snake appeared, and the Hindus proclaimed a miracle and demanded to build a temple on the site. Muslims charge that Hindu activists bought the snake from a local charmer and staged the miracle. However it got there, trouble started, the police arrived and a four-day standoff began. The police tried to negotiate a compromise, but when the police superintendent arrived with armed officers to clear the lot, the Hindus hurled stones and homemade bombs as well as shooting at the police with pistols. The police tried their nightsticks and tear gas to quell the riot, but were finally forced to use firearms. Four Hindus were killed and many were wounded. Meanwhile other Hindus entered the Muslim quarter and began killing innocent people there. Even though the state government is run by Hindu revivalists, the mob was quelled and peace returned to Hapur. The cobra disappeared at the height of the rioting and hasn't been seen since. [Washington Post, February 26, 1992, contributed by Kathryn Bricker]

St. Tammany snake blues

Recently St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana officials planned a law making it illegal to own, keep or sell any venomous snakes. Only zoos, zoological parks or performing animal exhibitions or circuses would have been allowed to possess venomous snakes and certain non-venomous snakes such as boa constrictors and anacondas. The proposal was prompted by the move of snake collector Terence Dillon to the town of Sun from Metarie, after officials there had confiscated 31 venomous snakes including cobras and rattlers from his home. He reclaimed his animals after the move was complete, but jittery neighbors complained the Police Juror of Sun. However, other snake owners in St. Tammany Parish organized "The Great St. Tammany Parish Snake-In." About 20 people showed up with slithering pets and spent the afternoon showing them off to passers-by. Officials agreed to compromise. The ban was limited to venomous snakes, but permits foreign non-venomous snakes. The "Snake-In" must have had some effect on how officials felt about snakes. The Police Juror didn't even flinch when he opened his agenda book and was confronted by a black rubber snake planted there by a devious fellow juror. [Times-Picayune, April 25, 1992, contributed by Ernie Liner]

Thanks to everyone who contributed this month!

Other contributors included John MacLeod, Bruce Hannem and Mark Witwer. This is a reader-supported column. Hope to hear from you soon.

November 1992

Bucks and fins sought for herps

The Illinois Department of Conservation, Non-game Wildlife Conservation Fund is accepting donations - even if they don't come in with an Illinois income tax form. The Non-game Wildlife Fund is, as its name implies, not about deer, ducks, and fish. It funds many conservation projects and populations studies in Illinois every year, including a few for reptiles and amphibians. When choosing to donate money (even $5.00 or $10.00 would help), please be sure to mention your interest in amphibians and reptiles. If the Department becomes aware of the vast interest in the slimy and slithery by receiving checks marked like this is it possible that they will be more interested in funding herpetofaunal studies. Send your checks to: Non-game Wildlife Conservation Fund, Department of Conservation, Natural Heritage Division, 524 South Second Street, Springfield, IL 62701-1787. People who don't live in Illinois may not be aware of the extreme state budget crisis, the potential loss of many D.O.C. projects, and other difficulties we're experiencing. You don't have to live in Illinois to contribute.

Frogs in space

In early September, the space shuttle Endeavour blasted off with a Chicago doctor and a bunch of zoology experiments including some clawed frogs which were injected with hormones to induce ovulation. Two produced 600 eggs which were drenched with sperm. One hundred fifty tadpoles hatched from the eggs during the flight and were observed cavorting in weightlessness. Seven other tadpoles that had been hatched in orbit, but fertilized on the ground will be included in the studies of the effects of space on development. NASA discovered that gravity is unnecessary for frog ovulation and fertilization. Incidentally, this was the first space flight to include a married couple, but no one is saying if they were part of these vertebrate zoology experiments. NASA is quick to say that they worked opposite shifts and saw little of each other in space. [Chicago Tribune, September 15, 1992, contributed by P.L. Beltz; The Daily Sentinal, September 14, 15, 16 and 21, 1992, contributed by Larry Valentine; other clippings by J.H. Schoenfelder.] The space frogs will be studied upon their return to earth by Dr. Ken Souza at the Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA. If anyone hears what he finds, please let me know.

But is it better than just one?

A 2-inch two-headed Pseudemys scripta elegans was found on the deck of a house along the Homosassa River in Homosassa, FL. He took it for an x-ray at a local animal hospital. The turtle is in good shape and may grow to the size of a dinner plate according to J.P. Garner of Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park. [Suburban Daily Herald, Palatine, IL October 8, 1992, contributed by Holly Collins]

"Send an herpetologist to Springfield"

So said part of a mailing I received from Mike Corn, who has been a professor at the College of Lake County for the past 22 years. Apparently upset about the so-called "dangerous animal act," particularly as it applies to herps, Mike has decided to run as state representative for the 61st district as a Democrat. By the time you read this it will be known whether or not he won. If you know Mike, you might want to drop him a line. Write: Committee to Elect Mike Corn, 3567-B Grand Avenue #322, Gurnee, IL 60031.

People unclear on the concept

A man called Rusty Grimpe, director of the reptile department at the Tulsa, OK zoo, last February complaining of a snake. Grimpe said, " He said this thing was coming out of a hole in the ground and that it was moving very slowly." From the rest of the description, Grimpe was stumped. He said that the cold weather would account for the slowness, but February is a bit early for snakes. Also, the man had said that it had a brown, wrinkled head and that it had a white neck. The man said he had captured it in a big jar. When he and it arrived at the zoo, Grimpe positively identified it as a morel mushroom. "I told him to take it home and fry it," said Grimpe. He added that 1992 has had a unusually high number of snake hysteria calls to the zoo. [The Daily Sentinel, Grand Junction, CO, July 19, 1992, contributed by Larry Valentine]

Lost turtle found in Arctic

Zoologist Per Pethon said that a 730-pound leatherback turtle apparently made a wrong turn at the Gulf of Mexico and ended up in a Norwegian fishing trawler's net near the Arctic Circle. Arild Olsen, skipper of the Traenahavet trawler said, "I couldn't believe my eyes." Scandinavian conservation groups are investigating ways of saving the turtle, including getting it an airplane ride home to Mexico. [The Daily Sentinel, Grand Junction, CO, contributed by Larry Valentine] If anybody out there hears what becomes of this turtle, I'd be interested in the follow-up story.

Weird snake stories

First, police in Carleton, MI are telling residents not to worry about a 14-foot python that escaped Saturday from a home in that town. Police say that no one is actively searching for the snake, because it is not much of a threat. [Toledo, OH Blade, August 2, 1992, contributed by Kathy Bricker]

A 10-foot Burmese python that was presumed missing in Fremont, OH was found in its own second floor apartment. Apparently it never left home since it was discovered crawling out of a closet. [Toledo, OH Blade, September 1, 1992, contributed by Kathy Bricker]

A man reportedly suffered a snake bite was the focus of a massive search and rescue effort from Butte County and Plumas County, CA residents. Helicopters were called in as workers tried to locate the Oroville man who had been out hiking when the attack reportedly occurred. Finally, after 12 hours, the man was found and rushed to a hospital in Quincy where doctors decided that he had not been bitten but had suffered a head injury when he fell down after being startled by a snake. [Sacramento, CA Bee, August 15, 1992, contributed by Bruce Hannem]

Freak of nature

Deidre Warren, a 20-year old Old York (Canada) resident found an odd toad in her yard. She originally thought the toad just had his eyes shut, but when he opened his mouth, she found out that his eyes were actually inside his mouth. Ok, so this sounds like National Enquirer, right? Actually the first clip on this was from the front page of the Hamilton, Ontario Spectator [September 3, 1992], complete with color photograph. Jim Bogart, a professor at Guelph University examined the toad (now named "Gollum," by his discoverer after the character in the Tolkien book, "Lord of the Rings") and said, "This is an extremely rare find." He said the toad is a male Bufo americanus, perhaps about two years old. Bogart said, "His eyes have developed upside down," and pointed out that the skin and membrane on top of the head are where the eyes should be. He said that in his work he has seen abnormalities including extra hands or feet, frogs with six legs and frogs with legs growing out of their stomachs. Warren hopes to become a veterinarian is an accomplished odd animal finder. Previously she found a frog with extra toes and a dead two-headed snake. Makes you wonder what chemicals are floating around in Old York, doesn't it? And you're not the only one. The toad has drawn the interest of Christine Bishop, a wildlife toxicologist with Environment Canada's Wildlife Service. She was involved in a study of the effects of pesticides in amphibians in the Holland Marsh area. She said, "I'd like to meet the girl who found it and have a look at the pond on the property, any tributaries in the area, that sort of thing... Maybe I could monitor some of the eggs in the pond next year and try to determine if it is genetic- or pollution-related." Planners for the Old York area said there are no records of dumps on or near the property, but pointed out that road-side dumping was common in rural areas. [The Spectator, September 4, 1992, both from Brian Bankowski]

First clipping received from Kenyan paper

Fred Janzen, at the University of Chicago, sent two pages of the Nairobi, Kenya Daily Nation newspaper from July 25, 1992. In addition to what he highlighted about snakes, the rest of the paper was a fascinating view of a country about which the average American knows little. It seems as though Kenyatta University is having a snake problem, due to overgrown grass and bushes. The article says, "an increasing snake population seemed to be enjoying the ecology as evident from the number of snakes killed on footpaths and roads." Otherwise the place sounds just like an Illinois state university, no money, too much administration, top heavy with people who know people, not people who know how to run a school. I just wish we had snakes on the footpaths at my school.

TEDs interim final rule summary

The Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has finally released the "interim final rule with request for comments" that TEDs supporters have been trying to get issued for over two years now. Of course, the Quayle council on competitiveness (the "God Squad" that decided that cutting America's last old growth forest is more important than saving that ecosystem) weighed in against the regulations. To quote directly from a Center for Marine Conservation (CMC) release dated September 2, 1992: "Yesterday's interim final rule reaffirms that TED requirements remain in effect for all vessels 25 feet or longer in the U.S. Atlantic waters year round. Smaller vessels in offshore and all vessels in inshore waters can either use TEDs or adopt 90-minute tow times. As of November 1, these tow times will be further restricted to no longer than 75 minutes. Furthermore, today the National Marine Fisheries Service is expected to reopen public comment on the proposal made in April." Deborah Crouse, Ph.D., Director of the Species Recovery Program at the CMC said, "While the interim final rule is good news for sea turtles in the Atlantic, it fails to address adequately the continued sea turtle drownings occurring the Gulf and inshore waters. Against the recommendations of agency technical experts, the President's own top Commerce Department officials, and the National Academy of Science, the Council and Office of Management and Budget have squandered an opportunity for better marine conservation and allowed politics to rule the day over science and public opinion." Even the federal government (a different branch) recognizes the need for TEDs as an integral part of the recovery plans for Kemp's, green, and loggerhead sea turtles - all of which are endangered species. So much for reading the lips of the kinder, gentler, environmental president. [CMC release contributed by Kathy Bricker]

Mommy, is it alive?

Zoo administrators near Detroit, MI were astonished to find out that visitors to the "Dinosaurs Live!" were upset and wanted their money back because the dinosaurs were really computerized models, not live animals as they had been led to believe by the title. Ann Ball, a zoo vice-president said, "In a way, it's amusing. People have watched too much Fred Flintstone." [Detroit News, September 13, 1992] Contributor Cheri Hosley wrote a note with this clipping: "I've seen the dinosaur robots...Terrific! (and horrific to tiny kids) As the dinosaurs moved, blinked, roared and growled the young tots and preschoolers would scream, cry and claw at their parents. These robots were built to the actual sizes of the real dinosaurs... Some real big ones had really bit teeth and eyes. It was great! Wish I had them in my year. I loved the exhibit. It was better than rollercoasters."

Thanks to this month's contributors!

Blessed are those that contribute to the column, but even more blessed are those who put the date slug from the top of the paper with the paper's name firmly attached on the clipping with their name also firmly attached. I opened a couple of envelopes today (no I won't tell you whose) and the phone rang. I dropped the envelopes and the clippings all tumbled out. So I had to sit down on the floor and play "match the typeface" and "which clippings were whose." I think I finally succeeded, but if your clipping is credited to someone else (above), please understand what happened! Also, there were a lot of repeats of previous articles in the mail this time (probably because of the one-month hiatus). Ernie Liner, Bruce Hannem, Stacey Miller, and Eric Thiss all sent things that had been used before, but are appreciated none-the-less. It is always interesting to me the different spin put on stories by different papers. Special mention should also be made of Steven J. Ragsdale's contribution of about 20 articles and 25 cartoons, some of which I'm saving for next month. You can contribute, too! This is a reader-supported column. I use 99% of what I receive. Send your contributions to me. Allow one or two months before you see your stuff used. We have a long lead time.

December 1992

Be Santa Claws...

The biology teacher at St. Gregory High School is requesting donations of any type of science equipment, from simple to complex. Cherie Breffeilh tells me that they have only one balance and little else in the way of materials with which to excite young minds to the wonders of biology. Give her a call if you have anything to contribute. Tax letters are available.

Help save turtles and their habitats around the world! Sign up as a sponsor of the Turtle Recovery Program. Led by Michael Klemens, who gave such a lovely talk at our meeting earlier this year, the program is working with governments and international organizations to curb illegal trade, establishing turtle sanctuaries, creating projects to monitor and conserve turtles, and working with zoos to initiate captive breeding programs for critically endangered turtles. Nearly 30 projects are underway, another 18 await funding. Turtle lovers are asked to shell out for their favorite critters. Please make checks payable to "AMNH-IUCN-TURTLE," and mail to the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024-5192. Contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is looking for more dead herps. Stephen Busack, the Chief of the Morphology Section of the National Forensics Laboratory, asked me to ask our members to consider contributing dead animals for their collection of comparative material. Whenever questionable dead animal parts are seized by FWS, they are sent to the lab for analysis. Obviously, the lab is not going to go out and buy various monitors, caimans, boas, pythons, and so on just to put them on ice for the next time they might need a specimen. So, Steve appeals to us, the amateur community, for contributions. Call him if you have anything you think he could use (503) 482-4191. He will pay shipping and send you a letter acknowledging your contribution. In some cases, the value of the dead animal may be tax-deductible; you'll have to check with your accountant. People wishing to make anonymous donations are encouraged to send the deceased animals directly to the lab: 1490 East Main Street, Ashland, Oregon 97520. If you have any questions about how to ship or preserve, you can call the lab and ask without having to leave your name.

Pet shop peeves? Tiny turtle tales?

If you notice illegal reptiles or amphibians at a Chicago area pet shop, please give Sheila O'Connor a call at 708-746-2854. Officer O'Connor works for the Enforcement Division of the Illinois Department of Conservation, 701 North Point Drive, Winthrop Harbor, IL 60096. To remind everyone who was a member last year, and to inform everyone who joined since then, the state of Illinois has a law which states quite firmly that there is to be no collecting of local amphibians and reptiles for commercial purposes. Also, Federal law prohibits the sale of turtles with a carapace (top shell) less than 4-inches long. Also, illegally imported animals, or illegally collected animals that cross state lines violate the Lacey Act on Interstate Transport which is also a Federal offense. The local office of the Fish and Wildlife, Division of Law Enforcement is located at 10600 Higgins Road, Rosemont, IL 60018, phone 708-298-3250 or fax 708-298-2642.

Where did they learn natural history?

David Sutton sent in an ad from the "Sportsmans Guide," which says they have "Genuine PYTHON Boots." It continues to say that "there are several different species of Pythons. Some of them are Boa, Anaconda, Carpet Snake, Indian Python, Reticulated Python and Rock Python." They claim "The snakes used for our boots are the beautiful Rock Python from Indonesia. They are so plentiful in Indonesia that they're considered pets." And adds, "However, the harvest of these snakes is regulated by the Indonesian government." David wrote a letter commenting on the ad copy, "Dear Ellin: I have seen a lot of snake product ads, but this one really takes the cake! ... First of all, boas and anacondas are not species of pythons, as we all know. Also, they claim that the snakes used are Rock Pythons from Indonesia. Again, we all know that Rock Pythons come from Africa. They then go on to say that they are `pests' in Indonesia, when they don't even come from there! But, that's not all. If you look at the photo of the boots, they appear to be made of Boa Constrictors from South America!" We all must remember that this same company sells "voodoo" rattler head keychains, freeze-dried rattlesnake lamps, and other rattlesnake products from "farm-raised rattlers." Their toll free order number is 800-888-3006, the fax number is 800-333-6933.

Indian government bans snake-catching for performances

The subcontinent of India has many local people who capture, tame and rear snakes for performances, the so-called "snake charmers." This profession has been around for at least three centuries, but is being imperiled by government regulations that ban the taking of snakes for other than scientific purposes. Snake charmers are wrapped in legends and myths. They believe that Lord Vishnu created a human being from mud and water and named him Gorakh Nath. Another god, Lord Shiva adopted him and asked Nath to worship snakes as a deity. Shiva is often depicted with snakes wrapped around his neck and hair. A snake charmer said, "When we capture a snake, we make a promise before Guru Gorakh Nathji that we will rear it like our child." He added, "And after a few months of performance, we release it from captivity; because although we look after them, captivity makes them weak and ill. Moreover, we must keep our promise..." Snakes are usually caught at the end of winter, called Shivratri. The festival of Shiva commemorates the legend that in winter, Lord Shiva gathers all snakes into his lap and gives them his body-warmth. Then, during Shivratri, he sets them free and they return to the world. [From an article by Joginder Chawla, sent by Harry Andrews, Madras Crocodile Bank Center for Herpetology]

Why you should fix floors promptly.

A woman in Pueblo, CO encountered a rattlesnake in her living room. She said, "He buzzed and struck at the same time... and just missed my hand." She ran for help for neighbors, and the hapless animal was killed with a fireplace poker. The woman believes the animal entered the house through a floor that had given way to wood rot and had not been repaired. [The Grand Junction, CO Daily Sentinel. Contributed by Larry Valentine]

Desert tortoise protection, continued...

Federally protected desert tortoises received an additional lease on life by means of the approval of a plan by the Clark County Commission in Nevada. The Commissioners voted 4-3 to spend $256,000 to add 113,000 acres to a sanctuary near Searchlight by purchasing ranchers' grazing rights with county development fees. Also approved, was development of 22,000 acres of land in the urban Las Vegas Valley in exchange for the preservation of 400,000 acres of prime desert habitat on the outskirts of the county. Three commissioners, Jay Bingham, Paul Christensen and Bruce Woodbury opposed the measure. [Las Vegas Review Journal, September 16, 1992, contributed by Bob Pierson]

Oregonian turtles in trouble

Western pond turtles are reproducing well in only five of 200 sites surveyed along the Willamette and Columbia Rivers in Oregon, according to Mark Hayes, who is studying the species for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps is funding the study to find out what it can do to ensure the turtles' survival, especially since older projects such as Dorena Dam may have contributed to the population decline. Unfortunately, where the turtles have hung on, little riparian habitat is natural and the female turtles lay eggs in farm fields. The farmers plow, and the nests are destroyed. This results in no juveniles joining the population of adults, a situation called "lack of recruitment." Any juveniles that do hatch, also have to face voracious bullfrogs which were introduced into Oregon by a state wildlife biologist in 1921. Other introduced animals, such as bass, sunfish and catfish, may not eat baby turtles, but compete for the limited food resources available in the ponds. Lack of proper nutrition prevents female turtles from developing or laying eggs. Other factors in the population decline include water releases from dams, traffic on and off roads, pollution, illegal collection and disease. [The Portland Oregonian, August 13, 1992, contributed by Rich Seigel]

Don't play Johnny-herp seed!

Recent studies of the effectiveness of relocation of animals indicate that while the process makes people feel good, the projects are often less effective at improving the animals' chance for survival. C. Kenneth Dodd, a researcher at the National Ecology Research Center, said, "What we're finding out and what people don't understand is that you can't just move animals. They have habits, needs, lots of constraints on where and how they can live, and these just can't be negotiated to suit us." Dodd and Rich Seigel found that of 25 reptile and amphibian relocation projects surveyed, only five could be called successful. Relocation projects may fail because of a combination of factors including: lack of proper planning, inadequate funding, incorrect concepts of basic biology, and improper monitoring. Also, many relocators figure that once an animal has been moved, everything is fine, and no further work is required. The lack of documentation on unsuccessful projects also permits the same mistakes to be made over and over again. Dodd said, "Animals have biological constraints, and these constraints are not subject to compromise. In other words, if an animal has a strong homing pattern, and if it's displaced and has a strong drive to come back to that area, that's a constraint you can't negotiate." [Portland Oregonian, September 13, 1992, contributed by Rich Seigel] I would like to add my own caution to anyone considering releasing any animal that has been maintained for any length of time in captivity, or has been moved from its original home. Remember what the diseases brought by Columbus' and his crew did to the residents of North America? In an attempt to "be nice" to a long term captive, some people release them, occasionally with catastrophic consequences for animals native to the release site. Also, most of this herp-seeding is done without any record being made of what was moved, why and by whom. Recently, there's been a lot of discussion by the prairie restorationists about "putting back the fauna that belongs" on their sites. When I try to explain all the good reasons for not casually messing with wildlife, some argue that they have restored plants, so why not animals? It is interesting to me that these few people do not credit herpetofauna with a complexity of needs for survival when it is these self-same people who can spend hours complaining about how hard it was to get a particular plant started on their site. Indeed, many are the stories of plants that just won't grow or survive. Why don't they understand that this will happen with animals, too?

Amphibian decline mainstream news

This month, I received three clippings about amphibian decline. The first [Smithsonian Magazine, October, 1992 contributed by P.L. Beltz] is titled "Amphibian alarm: just where have all the frogs gone." The author spent time with a lot of herpetologists on this article and is a must read for anyone interested in details of several widely discussed declines. The second [The Detroit News, August 16, 1992 contributed by Cheri Hosley] is more local in scope, discussing the plans of the MI Department of Natural Resources to conduct field surveys to determine amphibian population viability. Apparent population declines in that state include green frogs, American toads, leopard frogs and spotted salamanders. CHS-member, Jim Harding was quoted, "When I was a kid, the most common frog everywhere was the leopard. But in the last few years, places are simply devoid of frogs where there used to be hundreds. They are thin-skinned, and they are always absorbing things from the environment. If anything is wrong with the environment, they might be affected first." The third clipping is from the letters section of National Geographic (July, 1992 contributed by Pattie Marrandino). In response to an earlier article about Lake Tahoe, Chris Hardt of Carson City, NV wrote: "It was a paradise... We [boys] hunted croaking hordes of frogs, splashed through the marshes after garter snakes. In the fall we stood in wonder at clouds of ducks and geese overhead. The meadows were also breeding grounds for mosquitoes. They would drift up and pester summer barbecues. That was `unacceptable.' So progressive city fathers purchased a little white truck that putted up and down our streets spewing pesticides that misted over the meadows, killing the mosquitoes. The food chain was broken. No more frogs or snakes, the geese prefer golf courses, and the boys of summer are no more."

Dr. Frog, Dr. Frog!

Researchers in Australia have discovered that some of that continent's tree frogs exude a compound made up of a short chain of amino acids which may make an antibiotic and antiviral drug. Since amphibians live in moist environments which are also good places for fungus, mold and slimy stuff to grow (just ask anybody who keeps salamanders!), scientists believe that evolution has resulted in their ability to secrete a host of chemicals from their skin. Some of these secretions are toxins, painkillers, some interfere with the neuromuscular junction (curare), and many others have not been studied. In the old days, frog secretions were gotten by killing the frog. South American native peoples roasted the poison dart frogs to coat their arrows. The Australian team which includes Michael Tyler (co-ordinator of the 2nd World Congress of Herpetology) "milked" 70 milligrams of compound a month from their frogs without killing them. [New Scientist, September 5, 1992 contributed by Rick Reifsnyder] The next time someone asks you why species should be saved in the wild, mention this application of frog-juice and point out that the Drs. Zimmerman who have great experience with poison dart frogs in captivity are unable to explain why their animals do not produce toxins. Loss of species such as the golden toad, and of species in the wild like the Houston toad, may result in loss of valuable drugs.

Lost turtle update

The turtle found by Norwegian fishermen near the Arctic Circle was tagged with a radio transmitter and released. Thor-Ivar Guldberg, of the World Wildlife Fund in Norway, said, "The last time we saw her, she was headed south." Plans to fly the animal back to the Gulf of Mexico were abandoned when biologists pointed out that the turtle's internal orientation could become disoriented as a result of the intended kindness. [Orlando Sentinel, September 12, 1992 contributed by Bill Burnett] Our editor, Mike Dloogatch, copied a few items which shows, as he wrote, "The bottom line is that the sea turtle was where it belonged. It was the zoologist who was confused." Herpetology 1989 for April had a mention of work by Goff and Lien which reported 20 encounters with leatherback sea turtles off Newfoundland and Labrador between July and September from 1976 and 1985. In Herpetology 1990 from December, an article by Paladino and cohorts was cited that reported that leatherbacks range from the tropics to the Arctic Circle and that these turtles can maintain their body temperatures 18 degrees Celcius higher than the water in which they are swimming. The authors coined new word for this extra heat in a "cold-blooded" reptile, gigantothermy. It means the ability to maintain constantly high body temperatures because the animal is big and has tissues that are being used as insulation but has a low metabolic rate. It has been suggested that dinosaurs may have been gigatothermic. Also P.C.H. Pritchard wrote in 1971 that individual leatherback "are caught at sea in cold, northern waters more frequently than any other species of sea turtle... [they] were active, apparently in full control of their movements, and had stomachs full of jellyfish."

Turtle news from warm member

Some of us busily being cold in Chicago this winter may think of translocated member, Dee Fick, who moved to Marathon, FL a while back. She writes, "Sure do miss everyone... the snake group rendezvouses... the great meetings, activities, etc.!" She also sent three clippings about turtles. The first, undated, but from a local Marathon paper, concerns the expansion of Hidden Harbor Environmental Project. Supported by an adjacent motel and video store, the project is a rehab center devoted to sea turtles. The pool at the motel was converted into a covered and filtered environment, and now houses six turtles recovering from illness and injuries. Richie Moretti, the project's founder, said, "We're getting so many turtles in, we need a full-time vet. Right now, we have to fly turtles needing an operation to the University of Florida, one at a time." He plans to pump an additional $200,000 into the planned veterinary facility. The other two clippings concern the deadly fibropapillomatosis disease which causes masses of tumors, resembling moldy cauliflower, on green sea turtles. The disease becomes fatal when tumors grow of the turtles eyes or mouths and prevent feeding or when they grow internally. [National Geographic, April 1991 and The Marathon Tribune, March 10, 1991]

[Paragraph removed at request of family, please see printed versions.]

Thanks to everyone mentioned above

plus Clover Krajicek and Kathy Bricker for being contributors! Your contributions in the form of clippings, cards, letters, video-tapes (Bob Pierson, Bogie Bogashevsky), etc. Anything more suitable to the NEWT will be passed along. Send your contributions to me.

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