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Archive for October, 2008

Good News for Tuatara

10.31.2008

REPTILE ACTION: Four tuatara eggs have been found in a nest in Karori Sanctuary.

Wild sex in the sanctuary

By DAVE BURGESS - The Dominion Post | Saturday, 01 November 2008

The first tuatara eggs have been laid in the wild on mainland New Zealand in more than 200 years.

Karori Wildlife Sanctuary staff accidentally unearthed four leathery white eggs during maintenance work near the sanctuary’s predator-proof fence.

It is believed to be the first confirmed mainland nest since the 1700s when tuatara were wiped out by egg predators, especially rats.

Sanctuary conservation manager Raewyn Empson said tuatara were seen mating in April last year. “We knew of two suspected nests but didn’t want to disturb them to confirm whether or not they contained eggs.

“[This] is the first concrete proof we have that our tuatara are breeding. It suggests that there may be other nests in the sanctuary we don’t know of.” She said the discovery “takes the cake” in what has been achieved at the sanctuary.

It is likely that there are more than four eggs in the nest as an average clutch is 10.

The tuatara could hatch anytime from now till March and would care for themselves.

Posted by Frank - October 31, 2008

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Desert Tortoises Need Our Help

10.31.2008

Your Comments Can Help Desert Tortoises

A population of desert tortoise that occurs in the desert regions from St. George, Utah through California has been threatened with extinction since 1990. In 1994, the Fish and Wildlife Service published a comprehensive Recovery Plan, written by leading desert tortoise scientists, that provides a clear path for desert tortoise recovery. Sadly, few of the recommendations in the existing 1994 Recovery Plan have been implemented, and the tortoise continues to decline throughout its range.

You can make a difference for the desert tortoise by writing to the Fish and Wildlife Service right now and requesting that it take the time to rework the proposed recovery plan and revise it to actually achieve desert tortoise recovery.

Visit http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2167/t/5243/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=26142 to take action.

Thanks to our friend Ken Carlsen for this alert - Posted by Frank - October 31, 2008

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Pesticide killing frogs

10.31.2008

World without Frogs: Combined Threats May Croak Amphibians

October 31, 2008 10:45 AM - http://www.sciam.com

 Posted by Frank - October 31, 2008

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“The Bean Farm” Herpetological and Pet Supplies

10.27.2008

Paul and Giovanni, originally uploaded by EcoSnake.

“The Bean Farm” sells exceptional herpetological and other pet supplies from their mail order office in Carnation, Washington, USA. Giovanni and Paula Fagioli (pictured here at the Northwest Captive Reptile Breeders Expo which they have hosted for fourteen years) work very hard to not only provide quality products but also to educate the public, not only about amphibians and reptiles, but also about the conservation of all wildlife.

And, for me, a special personal note: Giovianni and Paula are wonderful people and I’m so lucky to have them as friends. Please check out their site:  The Bean Farm

Thanks, Frank

Posted by Frank - October 27, 2008

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Northwest Captive Reptile Breeders Expo

10.16.2008

The Northwest Captive Reptile Breeders Expo will take place this weekend, October 18 - 19, 2008 at the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup, Washington. All in the Pacific Northwest who are interested in captive care of amphibians and reptiles should pay a visit.

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Turtle pair fails to produce offspring

10.04.2008

Elderly turtle pair fails to produce offspring

By CARA ANNA, Associated Press WriterSat Oct 4, 3:12 PM ET

She’s around 80 years old. He’s 100. Breathless scientists watched as the world’s most endangered turtles successfully mated.

But the attempt to breed the species’ last known female with the last known male in China has failed because the eggs didn’t hatch, disappointed conservationists said Saturday.

The elderly pair can try again next year, part of a delicate attempt to keep the species alive.

Just four known Yangtze giant soft-shell turtles are left and three are male.

The only female was found in a Chinese zoo just last year after a long and desperate search. She was quickly protected with a surveillance camera, a guard and bulletproof glass, and given the nickname “China Girl.”

A successful batch of baby turtles would be a welcome environmental win for China. The country’s efforts to save its pandas are famous, but scientists have said about 40 percent of China’s mammal species are endangered. Pollution and hunting almost erased the Yangtze turtles.

Conservationists were thrilled this spring when the female and male finally were introduced, nudged each other curiously and slowly got down to business. Artificial insemination was deemed too risky.

Within weeks, dozens of eggs were found in the sandy nesting area at the Suzhou Zoo, about an hour’s drive west of Shanghai. Conservationists predicted possible hatchlings by early August. But this week, they said the effort had failed.

“Unfortunately, none of the eggs successfully hatched this time,” Stephen C. Sautner, a communications official with the Wildlife Conservation Society, said in an e-mail Saturday.

While more than half of the eggs seemed fertile, the embryos died early, a statement released Wednesday by the U.S.-based Turtle Survival Alliance said. The statement did not indicate whether the female turtle’s age was a factor and instead blamed years of a low-calcium diet.

“A number of the eggs had very thin or cracked eggshells, suggesting that the diet of the animals prior to breeding was not optimal,” the statement said.

Besides the pair that mated, the only other known Yangtze turtles are two males in Vietnam.

For years, the female turtle’s keepers at the Changsha Zoo hadn’t even known what kind of turtle she was or that she was one of the last of her kind. The zoo responded last year to an urgent appeal sent to all of China’s zoos, saying it had a female that looked like the turtle in the photo sent with the appeal.

A team of experts from the U.S. and China then prepared her for the potentially stressful move to the Suzhou Zoo, about 600 miles away.

“I hate to call this a desperation move, but it really was,” Rick Hudson, co-chair of the turtle alliance, said at the time.

Now, settled together in Suzhou, the two turtles are preparing for another attempt next year with a high-calcium diet of whole fish, whole crayfish and chicken necks, meant to result in eggs with stronger shells.

During a visit to the zoo Saturday, the turtles were nowhere to be seen. Their watery home was split by a metal gate to keep the male and female separate until the next breeding season. The male can be too aggressive otherwise, workers explained.

“We’ve worked very hard on this,” said Liu Jinde, the director of the organization that manages the zoo. “Wait until next year. We ought to succeed. The turtles are very healthy.”

He said one reason breeding failed this year was the hurry to get the turtles mating soon after the female joined the male at the zoo this spring.

There is, after all, not much time left. Though it isn’t clear how long Yangtze turtles can live, the female’s fertility is the key. Conservationists had been relieved when the newly discovered female at 80 years or more was still producing eggs.

Now the turtles’ supporters must wait until spring, when the female should be ready for the next attempt.

The turtle alliance is optimistic. Despite their advanced ages, the two turtles “should be in top form” next year, its statement said.




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From “Idaho Statesman” Snakes returning to dens

10.03.2008

Rattlesnakes are on the move back to their dens

by Pete Zimowsky, Idaho Statesman - Ask Zimo, October 2, 2008

pzimowsky@idahostatesman.com


Q: Last weekend, we were hiking in the Owyhees just east of U.S. 95 at 6,000 feet in elevation and came across what appeared to be a pygmy rattlesnake.
Please give us your take on this critter with the diamond-shaped head.
FRED B., e-mail


A: There are pygmy rabbits in Idaho and Oregon, but there are no pygmy rattlesnakes. They are native to the southeastern United States.
I showed your photo to Frank Lundburg, an Idaho wildlife educator and snake expert, and he says it’s a Great Basin gopher snake.


It’s easy to mistake the gopher snake for a rattlesnake because their colorings are similar.


It’s that rattler mentality. Anything that looks like a rattlesnake makes you jump out of your hiking boots.


You might be jumping out of your boots a little more this time of year because snakes are on the move,migrating back to their dens.


You also might see small rattlesnakes because rattlers are born in late summer and early fall. Actually, rattlesnakes bear live young from eggs. The eggs are kept in the body until they hatch.
If you see a pencil-sized rattlesnake, it was recently born. Maybe the smaller snake you saw made you think it was a pygmy rattler.
Anyway, we’ve got the Great Basin rattlesnake in these parts and they can be small.


Lundburg said a 4-year-old rattler can be as small as 18 inches in length, depending on its food supply. But then again, an adult rattler can be from 2 feet to 5 feet long.


Any time you see a gopher snake, your first reaction is that it’s a rattler. I almost jumped out of my Keen river sandals this summer when I had a gopher snake come out from under the hot tub.
I know it’s difficult to hang around and look at the snake’s head when you think it’s a rattler.


A gopher snake’s head is small and narrow, and a rattler’s is large and triangular. If you can see it, the tail is a dead giveaway for a rattler.


By the way, Lundburg, who is dedicated to the conservation of snakes, wants everyone to know that fall is a time when you frequently see snakes.
They are heading back to their dens and more of them are on the move.
Their sensitivity to temperatures and daylight triggers the call back to the den.


Some rattlesnakes in the open desert, with few highways and towns, range out 10 miles from their dens.


If you see a snake, don’t disturb it. Don’t worry that it will be setting up housekeeping in your basement or yard for the winter. It is probably passing through.


Remember, snakes are good and an important piece of the eco puzzle. They eat rodents.


I was glad to see that gopher snake in my yard this summer because I know it was probably taking care of our mouse problem.


For more information on snakes check out Lundburg’s Web site at www.ecosnake.com.
You can click on Snake FAQs and Idaho Fish and Game rules

Posted by Frank - October 3, 2008

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Cool stuff from National Geographic News

10.03.2008

From National Geographic News:

THE ROUNDUP: Science and Nature News Around the Web

Chicken poop to power thousands of homes; urban bears live fast and die young; and more.

Posted by Frank - October 3, 2008

comments (0)

Information about Great Basin gopher snakes

10.03.2008

Follow this link: http://extension.uidaho.edu/idahogardens/wig/gopher.htm

posted by Frank - October 3, 2008

comments (0)

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