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Monthly Archives: November 2010

Snake and Lizard Losses may Provide Evidence for a Global Reptile Decline

Western Diamondback RattlesnakeHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Studies in several countries recently hinted that snakes may be declining worldwide, in much the same manner as has been shown for scores of amphibian species (please see article below).  This month (October, 2010), scientists at the University of Arizona have documented massive declines in both snakes and lizards in a well-protected reserve, adding to fears that major extinctions lie ahead.

Frightening Similarity to Earlier Studies

Populations of 8 snake and 6 lizard species in Arizona’s Organ Pipe National Park were found to have declined by 50% between 1998 and 2002, and have not recovered.  The reptiles in question had been monitored carefully for 22 years, so accurate baseline numbers were available.  The species that showed significant declines included Regal Horned, Zebra-Tailed and Red-Back Whiptail Lizards, Mojave and Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes, Gopher Snakes and King Snakes. Read More »

The Eastern Newt – the Many Subspecies and Hybrids of a Poplar Pet – Part 1

Eastern NewtHello, Frank Indiviglio here. The Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) is, in most parts of the USA, the salamander most likely to be encountered in either the wild or in pet stores.  It is a wonderful species for beginning hobbyists, yet has such a complicated life style that even long-experienced herpetologists remain interested in keeping them.

Many unusual hybrids, varying color phases and related species have found their way into captivity.  Today I’ll touch on their care and feeding; I’ll discuss some of the many types available in Part 2. Read More »

The Natural History and Captive Care of Softshell Turtles – Part 2

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  The world’s 24 species of Softshell Turtles (Family Trionychidae) depart radically from the typical turtle body plan, and their behavior holds many surprises for those familiar with “normal” turtles.  In Part 1 of this article we looked at their natural history and diet, and discussed the basics of captive care.  I also relayed some of the difficulties inherent in working with these delicate creatures – difficulties that resulted in the loss of some huge and rare individuals of several species.  I hope you enjoy the following Softshell observations and stories. Read More »

Conservation Update – The Bizarre, Skin-Breathing Lake Titicaca Frog

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.   The huge, aquatic, baggy-skinned Lake Titicaca Frog (Telmatobius culeus) has fascinated me since childhood, when I first came upon a group at the Bronx Zoo.  I returned again and again to stare as the unusual beasts – largest of the world’s aquatic frogs – did “push-ups” at the bottom of their cold aquarium (they breathe largely through their loose skin, and rock back and forth in order to increase the area exposed to the water).  Because the frogs lived for so long – nearly 30 years in one case – I was able to work with same individuals I had earlier observed once I began my zoo-keeping career. Read More »

Pet Industry Responds to Amphibian Crisis and Proposed Trade Restrictions

Pine Barrens Tree FrogHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  In terms of the number of species and countries affected, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (“Chytrid fungus” or Bd, for short) is the most devastating wildlife disease ever identified.  It is currently sweeping through frog and salamander populations worldwide, and is responsible for the decline or extinction of at least 250 species

Your Comments Needed

Concerns that the transportation of live frogs, salamanders and frog legs is aiding the spread of both Bd and another deadly disease, Ranavirus (please see the article below), prompted the US federal government to propose new regulations that could limit the trade in most amphibians.

Notice of these regulations is now posted in the Federal Register.  Interested persons and organizations, both professional and amateur, are invited to comment.  Commenting is easy…simply click here and you will be taken to a form that can be used to register your opinions. 

The comment period closes on Thursday, December 16, 2010.

The Pet Industry Weighs-In 

Edible FrogThe Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) has responded to the crisis by establishing the “Keep Your ‘Phibs Bd-Free Campaign”.  The campaign is an intensive effort to promote awareness of the problem, disseminate captive care information and provide alternatives to the release of unwanted pets (a possible source of new Bd infections).  You can learn how to become involved here.

PIJAC representatives also attended a major conference on the subject, and are now involved in cooperative programs with over 200 zoos, aquariums, private amphibian keepers, government agencies and universities.  You can read more about theses efforts here.

Bd and its fallout is the most important issue facing amphibians and those who care about their future.  Please, make no mistake, this is a full-blown crisis.  Please consider reading the following articles and becoming involved…I’ll be happy to assist in any way possible.  Please write in with your questions and comments. 

Thanks, until next time,
Frank Indiviglio

Further Reading

US Government Seeks Comments on Amphibian Trade Restrictions

Disease and Amphibians in the Fish Bait Trade

Successful Bd Treatments

Amphibian Ark Bd Update on the federal proposal
Edible Frog in Estonia image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Elina Annusver

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