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Contains articles on a wide variety of both reptile and amphibian species. Commonly addresses topics which affect herps in capitivity as a whole.

US Reptiles, Amphibians Need Hobbyists’ Help and Federal Protection

Over 200 species of amphibians have become extinct in the last 30 years, a crisis looms for Asian turtles, and recent studies suggest global declines in snake and lizard populations (please see this article).  Conservationists in the USA should feel somewhat optimistic about native species, because the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has prevented the extinctions of 99.9% of the species listed.  But the “listing” process leaves much to be desired.  Many reptiles and amphibians that are eligible for protection under the ESA languish on waiting lists…for over 30 years in the case of some, such as the Dune Sagebrush Lizard!  Shockingly, at least 42 other native species became extinct during that same period!

Indigo Snake

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Arjuno3

Private reptile and amphibian keepers can also play a role in conservation.  Whether through breeding, volunteering or following a career in herpetology, there is much that we can do.  Please see the articles linked below (Further Reading) for detailed information. Read More »

Kevin Wright DVM Passes, Reptile/Amphibian Keepers Lose a Good Friend

Somewhere in the middle of my career at the Bronx Zoo, I began writing animal care books and articles that targeted private keepers and hobbyists.  Many colleagues warned me that these activities would “ruin my professional reputation’ (as if all good zoo men and women did not start out as pet keepers!).  A call from Dr. Kevin Wright DVM convinced me that I was on the right track.  He thanked me for writing a book on seahorse care, which had been helpful to him and his wife.  This man, at the very pinnacle of his profession, urged me to continue my efforts to help, and to learn from, private animal keepers.  As was his way, he declined my compliments about his own work, claiming that my writings filled a greater void (I do not agree, but appreciated the thought).  As I moved out of the zoo field and into full-time writing, Kevin’s words served as an important inspiration, and I remain grateful.  In time, he too left zoo work and continued to make immense contributions in his exotic animal veterinary practice.

Kevin Wright passed away on September 26, 2013, at age 50.  I have benefitted greatly from his astounding volume of ground-breaking work, as have countless others, but it is his kindness and willingness to help any and all comers, from 8-year-old garter snake keeper to veterinary surgeon, that I will remember – and miss – most. Read More »

New Species – Poison Frog Inhabits a “Lost World” in Guyana Rainforest

Researchers working in a little-studied rainforest have uncovered a minute Poison Frog that seems restricted to a tiny range within a very unique habitat.  Labeled a “micro-endemic”, the newly-described frog may be threatened by plans to encourage ecotourism in the area.  Its species name, “assimibilis”, means “that may disappear”.  The region in which it lives, northern South America’s Guyana Shield, is home to 148 amphibian and 176 reptile species…and herpetologists believe that many more await discovery

Allobates femoralis

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Alessandro Catenazzi

A Biodiversity Hotspot

The term “lost world” was first applied to the Guyana Shield (please see photo) in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic 1912 book of the same name, and biologists find it equally appropriate today.  Home to 25% of the world’s undisturbed tropical rainforests, the area supports a mind-boggling array of unique animals and plants.

Included among herps described so far are 11 caecilians, 4 crocodilians, 4 amphisbaenians (worm lizards, please see photo), 97 snakes and 56 lizards.  Many of the 137 resident frogs are endemic (found nowhere else), as are approximately 15% of the reptiles.  Some are known from only 1-5 specimens, and it is assumed that many have yet to be seen by herpetologists. Read More »

Venomous Reptiles – Newly Discovered Viper is an Endangered Species

B. nigroviridis

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by TimVickers

Guifarro’s Palm Pit Viper (Bothriechis guifarroi), recently described as a new venomous reptile species in the journal Zookeys, may already be in danger of extinction.  In an attempt to draw attention to its plight, the newfound snake has been named after Mario Guifarro, a conservationist murdered for his work within its habitat.  Three other arboreal pit vipers have been uncovered in recent years (please see below)…each also faces an uncertain future.

I’ve had the good fortune of working with several Bothriechis species at the Bronx and Staten Island Zoos.  Although somewhat similar in external appearance, each inhabits a unique habitat, or niche within a habitat, and they can teach us a great deal about how snakes evolve and partition resources.  Guifarro’s Palm Pit Viper is the 10th species to be included in the genus (the last to be described was B. thalassinus, in the year 2000), but I’m sure more await discovery. Read More »

Frog Facts, Natural History, and Behavior – Notes on Amphibian Pets

Those with an interest in frogs and toads will never be bored…among the 6,200 known species are found some of the world’s most fascinating and unusual animals.  Many amphibian pets may, with proper care, live for 10, 20 or even 50 years, and can be wonderful animals to keep and observe.  A number engage in complex social behaviors that range from hand-signaling to the feeding of tadpoles…and well-adjusted captives are often not at all shy about doing so before an audience!

I cannot remember a time when I was not fascinated by frogs and toads, and my amphibian-keeping friends and Bronx Zoo colleagues often voice the same sentiment.  But what is it that draws us to keep, study and breed these marvelous creatures?  True, some species, due to their ability to survive near people, become our first herp pets…as did Bullfrogs, American Toads and others when I was growing up in the Bronx, but there’s more to it than that.  Part of the answer, I believe, lies in their amazing diversity of forms and lifestyles…some of which stretch the limits of believability.  Please be sure to post your own thoughts and experiences below, as well as any questions you may concerning choosing a pet frog or caring for individual species.


Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Pixeltoo

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