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Remembering Garren Evans (April 15, 1971 - August 9, 2008), who helped create, a true friend of nature and amphibians and reptiles

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Archive for December, 2008

Peace and thanks


Peace and thanks, originally uploaded by EcoSnake.

to all our visitors who care for conservation and wildlife and ecosystems and amphibians and reptiles. Let’s keep trying to make a difference for our planet…

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Nearly frozen sea turtle in rehab


Nearly frozen sea turtle heading to rehab

In this photo released by the New England Aquarium, New England Aquarium AP – In this photo released by the New England Aquarium, New England Aquarium biologist Adam Kennedy lifts …

BOSTON – His name is Herb, and he was very, very cold when he was found on a Cape Cod beach.

The 75-pound loggerhead sea turtle was discovered by volunteers from the Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary at Wellfleet Bay and was taken to the New England Aquarium in Boston for a slow but steady warmup.

The aquarium said Herb’s body temperature was in the 40s when he was found on the beach in Truro on Dec. 3. Veterinarians and rescue biologists slowly warmed him about five degrees each day, and his body temperature is now in the low 70’s.

Now Herb is ready to be moved to the Riverhead Foundation on New York’s Long Island, which rehabilitates and releases seals, whales, dolphins, and sea turtles.

Herb, who was also suffering from an eye infection, is not the only sea turtle rescued from Cape Cod in a state of hypothermia this season, but the loggerhead turtle does have one distinction.

“This particularly guy, Herb, is the biggest of the season,” said Tony LaCasse, a spokesman for the New England Aquarium.

He said the aquarium staff hopes Herb will be well enough to be released back into the sea in late spring or summer. He said up to 90 percent of the stranded turtles taken to the aquarium survive, and up to 98 percent of those are eventually released.

LaCasse said Herb’s plight wasn’t unusual. About 10 to 20 percent of the sea turtles washed ashore on Cape Cod beaches in the fall die because of the cold. But partly because of an early cold snap in November, for about a weeklong period the mortality rate was 60 percent, LaCasse said.

So far this year, a total of 62 stranded sea turtles have been taken to the aquarium.

Herb is likely between 4 and 7 years old. As an adult, he will weigh 200 to 250 pounds.

Posted by Frank - December 15, 2008

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“Nippy’s” adventure…


"Nippy’s" adventure…, originally uploaded by EcoSnake.

This photo was staged, though the snake (Nippy) had escaped from her enclosure and had encountered “Co-op,” the cat. I’m postng it as a way to illustrate the preceding story about the escaped Royal (ball) python in Canada. Click on the picture or link to read the whole story behind this picture.

Posted by Frank - December 13, 2008

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Royal (ball) python adventure


Interesting news from Toronto with a happy ending:

National Post

Friday, December 12, 2008

Man finds 3.5-foot python living in kitchen

Snake believed to have been in apartment for six months

Kate Scroggins,  National Post  Published: Friday, December 12, 2008

A Collingwood man used his hand, and help from an apartment building manager, to yank a 3½-foot-long ball python out of its hiding place in his kitchen.

The resident had returned home for lunch on Tuesday and found the ball python in his kitchen, digging into his cat’s midday meal. The reptile, believed to have been holed up in the apartment for almost six months, had cornered the shaking feline after an alleged dispute over the pet food.

Jon Wall, manager of the Oak Street low-rise apartment building, said by the time he responded to the tenant’s nervous call, the python had wedged itself into a hole in the wall near the stove. “I was more shocked than anything. I just thought this ain’t real. This isn’t possible. But ya, it was a good size,” he said.

Ball pythons aren’t poisonous. As their name suggests, they tend to curl into a tight ball when threatened. They wouldn’t harm an adult, but could hurt an infant or small animal.

Mr. Wall said despite being visibly scared, the tenant had managed to wrap his gloved hand around the python’s slippery torso to try and yank it out of the wall.

In defence, the snake curled up, squeezed the resident’s wrist and pulled him towards the opening. Mr. Wall then grabbed the tenant’s shoulders and the two men pulled the serpent out of its hiding place. “We were, the two of us, totally exhausted. But a couple minutes later, I turned around and the thing was standing straight up in the garbage bag,” he said. “But we were able to get it back down.”

Mr. Wall waited with the python until the Collingwood police arrived. He poked air holes in the bag so the snake wouldn’t suffocate. It is believed that the snake belonged to a neighbour who moved out nearly six months ago. It has likely been hiding behind the stove ever since.

The Collingwood police gave the python, which they initially thought to be a boa constrictor, to the Barrie chapter of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, who said the snake seemed cold and a little shaken up, but generally unharmed.

Ball pythons, which originate in Africa, are known to be picky eaters. They feed mainly on small mammals and birds, and can go for months without eating. The snake is now in foster care with a reptile specialist, who has named it Kringle in honour of the holiday season.

OSPCA spokeswoman Alison Cross admitted the case was unusual.

“It’s the first [snake] I’ve heard of. But we often take in exotic animals. Usually, it’s a case of abandonment. People don’t realize how much care is involved and then they leave them,” she said.

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Oldest turtle fossil found


This may be a link in the development of turtle shells.  From National Geographic News:

Oldest Turtle Found; May Crack Shell-Evolution Mystery

image Prehistoric turtle fossils discovered in China without fully formed shells may be the missing link that shows how the modern-day reptiles got their distinctive hard backs, experts say.

Posted by Frank - December 2, 2008

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Bad back may stop cane toad invasion


Bad back may stop cane toad invasion

Tuesday, December 2, 2008, Reuters

A poisonous cane toad sits on a log before feeding time at Sydney's Taronga Zoo Reuters – A poisonous cane toad sits on a log before feeding time at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo February 15, 2005. (David …

SYDNEY (Reuters) – It seems a bad back might be the only thing that can stop the relentless spread of Australia’s poisonous cane toads, which are killing native animals as they hop across the nation, researchers say.

Australia’s army couldn’t stop the cane toads, which number around 200 million. Residents swinging golf clubs failed and so did a campaign to freeze them to death in refrigerators.

But now an Australian scientist says evolution has seen the biggest and fastest cane toads interbreed, resulting in arthritis and bad backs which could slow them down.

“Cane toads moving across Australia are the fastest amphibians on Earth after their rapid evolution from slow-moving homebodies into road warriors over the past 70 years,” Rick Shine at Sydney University said in a statement received Tuesday.

Thousands of cane toads moving in a front across tropical eastern Queensland state can travel 10 meters (30 feet) overnight, researchers say.

Those at the front of the invasion near the Western Australian state border can cover one km on a wet night — 10 times the distance.

“Toads that run at the front of the pack are becoming bigger and faster. They have different personalities, different shapes and are developing different physiologies,” said Shine.

The bigger, faster toads produce babies with bigger front legs and longer backs and consequently suffer arthritis.

“We are seeing toads in the Northern Territory with spinal arthritis — big, bony lumps on their spine,” said Shine.

Cane toads are one of Australia’s worst environmental mistakes, ranking alongside the catastrophic introduction of rabbits.

The toads, introduced in a batch of 101 from Hawaii in 1935 in a failed bid to control native cane beetles, have spread 3,000 km (1,900 miles) from northeast Queensland to Darwin in Australia’s tropical north.

The spread of the toads, whose skin is poisonous, has led to dramatic declines in populations of native snakes, goanna lizards and quolls, a cat-sized marsupial.

(Reporting by Michael Perry; Editing by Paul Tait)

Posted by Frank - December 2, 2008

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