The Borneo Rainbow or Sambas Stream Toad, Ansonia latidisca, is known only from drawings made by its discoverer, and has not been seen in 87 years. Extensive development of its only known habitat has long raised fears of its extinction. This month (July, 2011), however, it became the second of the world’s “Ten Most Wanted” amphibians to be rediscovered.
“Ten Most Wanted”
In 2010, Conservation International launched the Global Search for Lost Amphibians (please see article below). Since then, several very rare frogs and salamanders have been found, but the tiny Borneo Rainbow Toad has remained elusive. In fact, only one of the 10 species granted highest priority (the Ten Most Wanted) had turned up – Ecuador’s Spotted Stubfoot Toad, Atelopus balios. However, a 3-month-long search of the Gung Penrisser Mountains in Sarawak, western Borneo, revealed that the Rainbow Toad is still with us. Read More »
The Saltwater or Estuarine Crocodile, Crocodylus porosus, is the largest of the world’s reptiles. Until now, the record was held by a 21.1 foot-long male taken in 1974 along the Mary River in Australia’s Northern Territory. This month (September, 2011) an astonishing behemoth was captured alive in the southern Philippines…and it may be the biggest croc ever seen!
Large Saltwater Crocodiles, or “Salties”, awe neophyte and veteran herpetologists equally when viewed up close. There is simply no way to prepare oneself for the grandeur of these other-worldly beasts. I had worked with hundreds of large crocs before meeting my first true monster – a 17-foot-long, 1,700 pound brute christened “Gomek” (please see article below). Accompanied by his keeper, I edged to within a few feet of the usually calm, nutria-eating giant, and I still lack the words to properly describe the experience.
Well, the individual just captured in the Philippines out-measures Gomek by quite a bit…please see the video below. He frequented the outskirts of a farming town in Bunawan Township, 515 miles southeast of Manila. Circumstances led residents to believe that the animal, whom they have named “Lolong”, may have been responsible for killing several people; domestic water buffaloes were also on his menu.
Catching a Legend
The giant destroyed 4 traps and eluded capture for 3 weeks; a stronger, re-built trap finally snared him. After several escapes from ropes that sought to restrain him (not an easy task, even with much smaller animals, I can assure you!) Lolong was pulled from the water…a feat that took the efforts of 90-100 people!
The new heavyweight contender is currently listed as being 21 feet long and weighing an amazing 2,370 pounds. The Mary River individual mentioned earlier measured at least 21 feet long (there is some uncertainty). I’m anxious to hear if 21 feet is a rough measurement…if so, we may have a new record.
Unfortunately, giant crocodiles and people do not mix, so this fellow cannot be released. An exhibit in a local ecotourism park is expected to be his new home.
Saltwater Crocs occupy an enormous range that stretches from northern India southeast through China and Thailand to Australia. Ocean journeys of over 600 miles have been documented, and they sometimes wind up well beyond their normal haunts (i.e. Japan); some particularly seaworthy specimens even sport barnacles!
An Extinct Giant
Salties are not the largest crocs to have ever lived. Deinosuchus, a 29-foot-long crocodile that once roamed Florida, preyed upon dinosaurs! Please see this article.
Gomek was captured on New Guinea’s Fly River and eventually found a home with Arthur Jones. Mr. Jones, best known for inventing Nautalis weight-lifting equipment, was quite the animal fancier. At one point he had scores of adult crocs and a herd of 20+ African Elephants on his land in Florida. Years in the zoo field and friendship with a protégé of his have favored me with a few peeks into his most unique life…but those are stories for another time. For now, please check out the Gomek article below.
The wonderfully bizarre Malayan Leaf Frog, Megophrys nasuta, has always been a somewhat difficult species to keep. However, we now have a better understanding of its needs, and captive breeding is becoming more regular. As it turns out, the Malayan Leaf Frog’s reproductive behavior is as unusual as its appearance.
Malayan Leaf Frogs range from southern Thailand through the Malayan Peninsula, Indonesia and Sumatra to Borneo. Despite the large range, uncanny camouflage and a preference for forested habitats renders them difficult to find. Little is known of their status and conservation needs.
Malayan Leaf Frogs are classified in the family Megophryidae, a group of 150+ largely nocturnal, leaf-mimicking species. Most prefer walking to hopping, and many are largely unstudied. Read More »
Most chameleons will eagerly accept crickets and mealworms. However, even if you use reptile vitamin/mineral supplements, a diet comprised of 2-3 insect species is not suitable for chameleons – or for hardly any reptile or amphibian. Your lizards will survive on such fare for awhile, but will inevitably develop nutritional disorders and die “long before their time”. To avoid this, please read the following article before purchasing a chameleon; the information provided is applicable to Parson’s, Panther, Veiled and all other popularly-kept species.
Variety, an Essential Consideration
A varied diet is essential if you are to have success in keeping, much less breeding, chameleons long-term. The few field studies that have been done indicate that free-living chameleons consume dozens of invertebrate species. Read More »