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Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Natural History and Care of the Greater Siren

Greater SirenSalamanders are by no means defenseless – indeed, the skin toxins produced by the California Newt and its relatives are among the most virulent natural chemicals known.  But most herpers tend to regard them as small, slow-moving, inoffensive beasts.  Not so the mighty Greater Siren, Siren lacertina.  This caudate “rule-breaker” can bite viciously in self defense, and is a major predator in its environment…but it is also among the most interesting amphibians that one can keep, and very hardy to boot.


The long, eel-like body is grey or olive to near-black in color.  Measuring up to 38.5 inches in length, Greater Sirens are among the world’s longest salamanders.  They are exceeded in length only by the Two-toed Amphiuma (also native to the USA) and the Japanese and Chinese Giant Salamanders.  Read More »

Calabar Ground and Mexican Dwarf Pythons – Unique Burrowers for Python Fans

Mexican Burrowing PythonPythons, whether large or small, tend to be somewhat similar in their captive requirements and behaviors, and many have long been bred and studied.  Two species, however, break all python stereotypes and are poorly understood – the Calabar Ground or African Burrowing Python, Calabaria reinhardtii, and the New World or Mexican Dwarf Python, Loxocemus bicolor. 

Both species are rather small, and so can be kept in spacious naturalistic terrariums where they might reveal more of their secrets to observant keepers.  They live largely below ground, but forage on the surface after dark.  Read More »

Chameleon Notes – Rare Belalanda Chameleon; Pet Choices; New Research

Bradypodion pumiliumChameleons are one of those reptiles that fascinate both herpers and “regular people” alike.  How can they not – from tiny, ground-dwelling Dwarf Chameleons, Bradypodium spp. to huge, brilliantly-colored tree dwellers such as Parson’s Chameleon, Calumma parsonii (please see photos of both), the world’s 175+ species are wonderfully bizarre in both habits and appearance.  Today I’ll provide a pet care and research update, and am also happy to report the discovery of another population (the third) of one of the world’s rarest reptiles – the Belalanda Chameleon, Furcifer belalandensis. Read More »

Recent Field Research – Reptile and Amphibian Feeding Observations

Eastern Hognos SnakeMany interesting field research reports are published in professional journals such as Copeia, Herpetologica and Herpetological Review, and are not available on the internet.  From time to time I’ll provide summaries of some of the fascinating articles that I come across.  Today’s report, drawn from Autumn, 2010 publications, covers observations of free-living snakes, turtles and caimans.

Giant Meals…even for snakes!

Snakes are “big meal specialists”, but rarely consume animals larger than themselves.  However, a Southern Toad and a Spadefoot Toad, swallowed by different Eastern Hog-nosed Snakes, Heterodon platyrinos, each outweighed the snake by several grams!  Read More »

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