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Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Natural History and Captive Care of the Pickerel Frog

Pickerel FrogHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Pickerel Frogs, Lithobates palustris, are “early risers” from winter hibernation and may travel quite far to reach their breeding ponds and summer habitats.  As a result, they often become trapped in swimming pools, window wells and other such areas.  Each spring I receive a number of requests for information concerning their care and rehabilitation.  Often, folks mistake them for the better-known (but often rather scarce) Leopard Frog, Lithobates pipiens.

Description

The body ranges from tan to greenish-brown in color and is marked with parallel rows of “almost square” black spots; a bright yellow or orange patch is present on the inner thighs.  Pickerel frogs grow to a length of 2-3.5 inches and are slender in build. Read More »

Frog News – Land-Dwelling Tadpole Lives in Trees and Feeds on Wood

Indirana semipalmataHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Frogs are well-known for their amazing survival strategies.  From behemoths that swallow entire clutches of cobras (please see article below) to tadpoles that develop within their parents’ vocal sacs, frog facts are truly stranger than fiction.  Recently, it was discovered that the tadpoles of India’s Brown Leaping Frog, Indirana semipalmata, are unique in both habitat choice and diet (please see photos of this frog and its tadpole).

A Unique Tadpole Habitat

Biologists at the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station inKarnataka,Indiawere amazed to discover several clutches of Brown Leaping Frog eggs adhering to tree bark. While other frogs are known to lay eggs on land, in such cases the tadpoles are carried by rain or their parents to water to complete their development; Smoky Jungle Frog and certain other tadpoles develop within a moisture-retaining nest. Read More »

Reptile Hobbyists – Helping or Hindering Reptile and Amphibian Conservation?

 Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima manniHello, Frank Indiviglio here.While over-collection and poorly-prepared pet keepers have certainly led to declines in wild populations of some species, private hobbyists have also contributed immensely to the conservation of amphibians, invertebrates and reptiles (as well as fishes, birds and mammals).  This is especially true of those animals which zoos lack the interest or space to maintain…often the very creatures most favored by private keepers.

The Asian Turtle Crisis

A lack of funds and space in zoos led the establishment of the Turtle Survival Alliance, the largest turtle rescue effort ever launched.  The Alliance was organized in response to unprecedented declines in freshwater turtle populations throughout Asia – a phenomenon that has come to be known as the Asian Turtle Crisis. 

Soon after the group was formed, I traveled to Floridain the company of private and professional turtle enthusiasts to help rehabilitate and house nearly 10,000 turtles confiscated in China; many of the private sector people I met there now participate in rehabilitation and breeding initiatives in cooperation with zoos and museums. Read More »

New From Southeast Asia – Yellow and Red Eyed Vipers and a Giant Cave

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Politics and war have long hindered the work of resident and foreign biologists inVietnam and elsewhere inSoutheast Asia. Governmental red tape is also a serious concern…several years ago I obtained funding to study salamanders in northernVietnam, but abandoned the project for this reason. However, the situation is improving, and recent expeditions have brought a host of amazing new creatures and places to light, including 2 beautiful arboreal snakes and a cave housing a large, underground river.

Ruby-Eyed Green Pit Viper, Cryptelytrops rubeus

Southeast Asia’s pit vipers are a confusing jumble of similarly-colored venomous snakes that are supremely adapted to life in the trees. Many were originally classified in the genus Trimeresurus, along with the Bamboo Viper (please see photo) and related snakes. Genetic research and behavioral studies on specimens collected from 1999-2003 has revealed at least 2 new species. Read More »

Reticulated Python Natural History – a Giant Snake in Wild and Urban Habitats

Reticulated PythonHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  The massive Reticulated Python, Broghammerus (formerly Python) reticulatus is one of the world’s best known snakes, and always the main attraction at zoo reptile houses.  It is also widely bred in private collections, although such is ill-advised given the potential dangers inherent in keeping such a formidable beast (even after decades in captivity, most retain their irascible temperament).  Today I’d like to explore a lesser known side of this impressive snake – its habits in nature, and its amazing ability to thrive even in large, crowded cities.

Description

The Reticulated Python, or “Retic” as it is known to herp enthusiasts, vies with the Green Anaconda for title of world’s longest snake  (an Anaconda would be twice as heavy as a Retic of the same length, however).  Stories abound as to its potential size, but the longest reliable measurement appears to be 32 feet, 9 inches; individuals longer than 23 feet are exceedingly rare. Read More »

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