Home | 2012 | June

Monthly Archives: June 2012

Rosy Boa and Sand Boa Captive Care and Natural History

Rosy Boa in substrateHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  The Rosy Boa (Lichanura trivirgata) and several of the Sand Boas (Eryx spp.) are among the most unique of the 53 species in the family Boidae.  They are excellent choices for both beginning and advanced keepers, especially those with limited space.  Stoutly-built but averaging only 24-30 inches in length, these “big snakes in a small package” are hardy, relatively easy to handle and breed, and adapt well to small enclosures. 

Natural History

Rosy and Sand Boas have made similar adaptations to their environments, but live on opposite sides of the globe – a phenomenon known as convergent evolution.  Both are highly-specialized burrowers, spending most of their time below-ground in warm, dry habitats.  Along with the equally-unusual Rubber Boa (Charina bottae) and African Burrowing “Python” (Calabaria reinhardtii), they are classified in the subfamily Erycinae. Read More »

“Dangerous” Insects and Invertebrates…and Why We Need Them!

Robberfly with PreyHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  “If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos”.  Expounding on this statement, noted entomologist E. O. Wilson went on to explain that, without insects and other invertebrates (animals without backbones), all life would grind to a halt.  Yet while many pollinate plants, provide us with medicines and are otherwise helpful, others are dangerously venomous, spread disease, and consume valuable crops.  But as we’ll see, harmful invertebrates are in the minority, and even they hold secrets that can be of immense value to humankind.

Astonishing Diversity

Mammals, birds and other well-known vertebrates comprise only 5% of the world’s animals…the balance is made up of insects, spiders, crabs, mites and an unimaginable diversity of other invertebrates. 

Estimated at 30 million species, insects are the largest invertebrate group.  To put their numbers in context, consider this – the weight of insects in most African rainforests exceeds that of all resident vertebrates combined!  This statement takes into account such huge mammals as forest elephants and gorillas, and the incredibly numerous bats and rodents!   Insects are abundant outside the tropics as well – an acre of Pennsylvania soil may hold 425 million individuals, while New York is home to over 4,125 beetle species.  Read More »

Pet Trade Frogs Fund Conservation – Wikiri’s Unique Strategy

Marsupial FrogHello, Frank Indiviglio here. Decades of work in zoos and the pet trade has, I believe, given me a unique perspective on the contributions that each can make to amphibian conservation.  Over the years, I have been greatly influenced by the work of private keepers who, in some cases, bred rare species long before zoos. Indeed, numerous husbandry techniques used in zoos originated in the private sector. In general, however, the pet trade focuses on pets and conservationists focus on conservation. But Wikiri, an enterprise formed to support amphibian conservation and research, combines the best of both worlds by using captive-bred frogs to promote its goals. In doing so, Wikiri has broken new ground in addressing the amphibian extinction crisis.

Amphibian Declines

The threat currently facing amphibians are unprecedented. At least 200 species have become extinct in recent years, prompting some to compare this “Sixth Extinction Crisis” to the disappearance of the dinosaurs.  Read More »

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake Facts – the World’s Largest Rattler

Eastern DiamondbackHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Today I’d like to cover a snake that, while not suitable as a pet, stands out in the minds of many as North America’s most impressive serpent – the Eastern Diamondback (Crotalus adamanteus). In my youth, the nearby Staten Island Zoo’s Reptile House was under the direction of the legendary Carl Kauffeld.  The collection contained every known rattlesnake species but, somehow, a massive pair of Eastern Diamondbacks stood apart.  Several years ago, I was thrilled to be chosen as consultant for the renovation of this building , and Rattlesnakes, including the Eastern Diamondback, again take center stage there.

Description

The record length of this largest of the world’s 33 rattlesnake species is 8 feet, 3 inches; most adults top out at 3-6 feet.   In the USA, only the Indigo, Bull, Gopher and Black Rat Snakes approach or, very rarely, exceed this measurement.

The background color of this heavy-bodied, venomous snake ranges from olive through brown to (rarely) near-black.  The back is patterned in white-centered dark diamonds that are sharply outlined in cream or yellow.

Captives have lived in excess of 22 years, but longevity in the wild has not been well-studied. Read More »

Scroll To Top