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Monthly Archives: January 2012

People as Python Prey – Giant Snakes Attack 150, Kill 6 in Philippines

Fluffy the Reticulated PythonHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  The subject of giant constrictor attacks upon people always brings out wild claims.  While working with Green Anacondas in Venezuela, I tried to track down 2 reports of human predation, but was unable to prove or disprove either.  I recall reading several well-authenticated accounts in old issues of Herpetologica, and sadly, have first-hand knowledge of a tragic incident involving a captive Burmese Python in NYC.  But a recent article on the Agta people of the Philippines took me very much by surprise – from 1939-1973, 26% of all Agta men, and 2% of the women, had been attacked by Reticulated Pythons!

Living with Giant Pythons

The article, published in a recent issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the USA, was co-authored by a prominent herpetologist and a scientist who lived with the Agta people, in a remote region of the Philippines, for 24 years; some impressive photos are included as well (please see abstracts, below).  Read More »

Scorpions as Pets – an Overview of their Care

Buthus ScorpionHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  I can’t remember a time when scorpions did not fascinate me, and their lure grows stronger with each new species I encounter.  In the past, I’ve written on the care and natural history of Emperor, Flat Rock, Asian Forest and other popular scorpions.  Today I’d like to present a general overview.  I hope it will help you to decide if a scorpion is the right choice for you and if so, how to get started. 

What’s in Store for Scorpion Fans

Among the world’s 2,000+ scorpion species we find an astonishing diversity of fascinating creatures, many of which make hardy pets that adjust well to small enclosures.  Several reproduce readily in captivity – lucky scorpion keepers may even be treated to the sight of a female feeding her offspring with crickets!  At least 15 species are established in the pet trade, and specialists are working with several others. Read More »

The Corn Snake and its Relatives – Natural History and Captive Care

Corn SnakeAlso known as the Red Rat Snake, the Corn Snake (Pantherophis guttata), is one of North America’s most beautifully-patterned reptiles, and the world’s most popular serpent pet.  Corn Snakes figured prominently in the development of American snake-keeping, and their history is tied up with the legendary Carl Kauffeld and his famous collecting site, Okeetee, South Carolina.  My own history leads me to Corn Snakes as well…I was in awe of Mr. Kauffeld as a child, and in later years I was the consultant for the renovation of his beloved reptile house at the Staten Island Zoo.  So, despite having crossed paths with hundreds of species, I reserve a special fondness for these interesting, undemanding beauties.

Recent Name and Classification Changes

The taxonomy, or classification, of the Corn Snake and its relatives has recently been revised. All have been moved from the genus Elaphe to Pantherophis; several species have been combined, and new ones have been described.  We are left with the following (please see article below for details): Read More »

Venomous Snakebite – a New Study, and my own Experiences

Viper FangsHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  As a career herpetologist, I’ve had several opportunities to study venomous snakes in the field, and have spoken with many people who live in areas where they are common.  My experiences led me to believe that venomous snakebite is a far more serious problem than is typically reported.  Recently, two important studies have established that at least 4.5 million people are bitten annually – 1.5 million in Sub-Saharan Africa alone.  Yet snakebite was only recently included on the World Health Organization’s list of Neglected Tropical Conditions, and in many countries few victims receive appropriate treatment.

Africa

The most intensive study to date, published in the journal Toxicon (V.57, N.4; see abstract below), reviewed 40 years’ worth of African medical reports and surveys. The authors concluded that at least 1.5 million people, 95% of whom live in rural regions, are bitten in Sub-Saharan Africa annually.  At least 7,000 people die as a result, and up to 14,000 require limb amputations.  Antivenin, the most effective snakebite treatment, is administered to only 10% of those bitten in Africa. Read More »

A Sub-Surface Basking Site and Shelter for Semi-Aquatic for Turtles, Newts and Frogs

Basking Yellow-bellied SliderHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  I’ve found the Penn Plax Turtle Pier to be one of the most useful of all basking platforms.  In addition to providing a haul-out site that does not take away from the swimming area, it can be used by reptiles and amphibians in a variety of other ways.  Today I’d like to describe two “fine points” that are sometimes over-looked when semi-aquatic terrariums are designed.

Sub-Surface Resting and Basking Spots

Many semi-aquatic turtles do not often fully emerge from the water, but rather rely upon resting sites that are just below the surface.  Included among these are Mud, Musk, Snapping and Chinese Big-Headed Turtles.  In the wild, these turtles, as well as Green Frogs, Ribbed Newts and many other amphibians, rest upon submerged logs, branches and rocks that almost, but not quite, reach the water’s surface.  From such locations, they can watch for predators and prey and, possibly, obtain some UVB exposure (UVB rays do not penetrate very far into water).  In aquariums, driftwood is also useful in this regard…please see the article below. Read More »

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