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Leucistic Spanish Ribbed Newt ©Kendrick Wong

Next Club Meeting:

General Meeting Friday, July 26 @ 8:00 p.m. (doors open 7:30 p.m.) Cubberley Community Center, Room M-2 Music Room, 4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto

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President’s Report Contents President’s Report - 2 Events & Activities - 3 Dave Colling - 4 Board Notes - 5 Ribbed Newts - 5 Treasurer’s Report - 8 Editor’s Shelf - 10 Board Members & Contacts -11 Membership Form - 12

Hello BAARS Members and Supporters, First of all, I wanted to thank Dave and Desiree Colling for speaking at June’s general meeting. Dave and Desiree are successful rainbow boa breeders and owners of; please, check out their site if you’re interested in rainbow boas. Dave is a long-time BAARS member and has had some pretty remarkable success with pioneering new genetic morphs. In July (on the 26th), we’ll be hearing from Julie Bergman on keeping and breeding geckos. Julie owns the Gecko Ranch ( and has been breeding various species of geckos for years. Julie will also be bringing some gecko supplies; if you want to buy some, July will be the month to stock up. Unfortunately for us, Julie will be moving to North Carolina soon, so we won’t be able to stock up on her gecko food and supplies so easily in the future. This might be the last chance that we get to see her for a while! In August, we’ll be having “Turtle and Tortoise” month. Our guest speaker will be James Liu, and he’ll present some results of research that he’s been involved with regarding the Temperature Dependent Sexual determination of some tortoises. We can also bring some of our more unusual species of tortoises that we keep and do a round-robin of discussing these species. I’ll probably bring some of my Burmese Stars and juvenile radiated tortoises. Gil Castro, who is president of the Silicon Valley chapter of the California Turtle and Tortoise Club (CTTC), will also be participating in this event. Check their website for more information on Turtle and Tortoise club meetings and other events. Remeber to check our calendar for upcoming events; the following three events are coming up soon, and you should consider attending! Gary and Ginger Wilfong, who run the Bay Area Turtle and Tortoise rescue, will be having an open house from 11 2 p.m., on July 21st, at their house in San Leandro. They have quite a few turtles and tortoises and usually keep a pretty low-profile. If you’re interested in attending, their address is 20038 Butterfield Drive, Castro Valley. Check out the following YouTube video, which gives more information on Gary and Ginger’s rescue: The Sulphur Creek Nature Center will be hosting BAARS on Saturday, July 27th. This is a great little nature center nestled next to a creek, in the foothills right above downtown Hayward. It might be a little bit of a drive, but it’s well worth it! It’s from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at 1801 D Street, Hayward, right next to the Nature Center. BAARS will be participating in the Santa Clara County Fair this year, exhibiting reptiles and amphibians at the Fair, fromAugust 1st through August 4th. If you’re interested in participating, (we could use the help) come to the July 26th General Meeting and sign up!


Scott Alexander, BAARS Interim President, 2013

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UPCOMING EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES Contact Joanne Petersen,, if you'd like to help BAARS participate in these shows. More details are on our under Events & Shows & Meetings. BAARS thanks all of the folks who do these shows every year. Shows are so much more fun when we have lots of volunteers participating, bringing their herps to these various shows for kids and adults! We hope to see more of you come to these events. Variety is important, to let folks see the many different kinds of animals that the BAARS community keeps.

July 2013 July 21

Bay Area Turtle & Tortoise Rescue’s Open House, Castro Valley

11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Gary & Ginger Wilfong are hosting an Open House at 20038 Butterfield Drive, Castro Valley, CA 94546-4135. They have an amazing collection of tortoises and turtles, well worth checking out! Here’s a recent news story on the Wilfongs: For more information, contact Gary at or 510-677-5552.

July 26

BAARS General Club Meeting - >>> Room M-2 Music Room <<<

8 p.m.

Speaker: Julie Bergman on Keeping and Breeding Geckos (

July 27

Reptile Rally, Sulphur Creek Nature Center

11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

The Bay Area Amphibian and Reptile Society (BAARS) will be sharing their amazing array of reptiles. Bring the family and slither into an exciting day of learning about snakes, lizards, turtles, and tortoises. Admission Free. Phone: (510) 881-6747. Website:

August 2013 August 1-4

Santa Clara County Fair (Link:

August 6

BAARS Board Meeting

August 23

BAARS General Club Meeting - >>> Room M-2 Music Room <<<

Noon - 7 p.m.

TUESDAY 7:30 p.m.

8 p.m.

The fair is from Thursday, August 1st through Sunday, August 4th, 12 noon to 7 p.m. all days. Contact Gilbert Castro at

At Aleks’ House in Sunnyvale. Email for directions. Bring a folding chair as seating is limited.

Turtle and Tortoise Night with support from Silicon Valley Turtle and Tortoise Club. James Liu will be speaking on “Temperature Dependent Sexual determination of some tortoises

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September 2013 September 6

BAARS Board Meeting

September 14

BAARS Birthday Party and Picnic at Osterfelt Park in San Jose.

September 27

BAARS General Club Meeting - >>> Room M-2 Music Room <<<

11 a.m - 2 p.m


Hold space in your calendars for this BAARS gathering. There will be cake. Confirmed details will be in the August Newsletter. Speaker: TBD.

October 2013 October 4

BAARS Board Meeting

October 25

BAARS General Club Meeting - >>> Room M-2 Music Room <<<

October 26

Audubon Wildlife Education Day

10 a.m. - 3 p.m.


Speaker: TBD.

Wildlife Education Day has become one of the premier festivals in the Bay Area where hundreds of families come together to celebrate and learn about birds, nature, ecology, and wildlife. Over a dozen nature-related organizations will provide live animal demonstrations, educational presentations, free hands-on activities, early morning bird walk, and more. BAARS will show our herps!

June General Meeting Guest Speaker: Dave and Desiree Colling, Rainbow Boa Breeders by Aleks Haecky Dave Colling gave an inspiring talk on his life as a rainbow boa breeder. I was particularly impressed by his layout of index cards that he uses to keep track of each snake’s genetic make-up and history; he then uses these cards to choose and arrange the breeding pairings for each season. Dave also told the story of his super-candy stripe rainbows, illustrated by beautiful photographs of the snakes. Dave claims he “got lucky” with the candy-stripes, and maybe there was some luck involved, but it is the careful preparation, knowledge, and persistence, demonstrated in his talk, that lead to opportunities for luck to strike. Thank you Dave for sharing with us! Dave Colling with Super Candy-stripe Rainbow Boa ©Joanne Hiratsuka Petersen

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BAARS Board Report Highlights from July 6 Board Meeting The BAARS Board met on July 6, 2013 at the home of Tania Tengan, Austin & Aria Pleban. Present were: Scott A, Jim, Aleks, Tania, Austin, Aria, Gil and Dorothy, Kyna, and Wolfgang. ● July’s speaker will be Julie Bergman of Gecko Ranch – NOTE: Julie is getting married and moving out of state; so this may be our last opportunity to see her. ● The Art competition is open and we would love some submissions. We are still accepting survey submissions. ● BAARS Birthday Party & Picnic will be on Saturday, September 14 from 11 to 1 p.m. ● After the meeting, Dorothy asked what our rules are for our Facebook group in regards to adoptions and sales. NO SALES whatsoever! Next Board Meeting: Tuesday, August 6, at 7:30 p.m. at Aleks Haecky’s house in Sunnyvale (date change due to Santa Clara County Fair). Contact Aleks for directions.

Spanish Ribbed Newts by Kendrick Wong Last September I went to the Sacramento Reptile Show planning to pick up some feeder insects and cage supplies. Something that caught my eye were Spanish ribbed newts (Pleurodeles waltl) for sale at the Geckos Etc. booth. Owner Steve Sykes was selling normal-colored (dark brown with black spots) and leucistics (pinkish bodies with black eyes). I asked Steve about these aquatic salamanders and he described how they were quite hardy and would not require special care. These animals would thrive at room temperature and they were feeding on pellet food. Although I wasn’t planning to pick up new pets, I went home with a normal colored pair. ( Males had thicker heads with larger forearms and shoulders compared to females.)

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When I got home, I performed an online search about this species. Several articles compared these amphibians to the comic book character Wolverine. This X Man character has bones that pop up out of his body for fighting and defense. When bothered, ribbed newts have their ribs pierce through skin to create defensive spikes around their body. When disturbed, their skin also releases a toxic secretion that coats the rib points. Poisonous spines for defense! How cool is that? The toxin is merely irritating to humans, but can be toxic to a mouse. Fortunately, this defensive behavior is hardly seen in captivity, as it really requires major molestation for this behavior to be displayed. I employed a simple setup for my new pets. I added three to five inches of non chlorinated water with a couple of plastic plants in a large Kritter Keeper cage. Ribbed newts breathe air and I didn’t want them to work too hard when surfacing for a gulp of air. I decided on having no substrate to eliminate any risk of impaction and to make it super easy to do weekly water changes. The newts seemed to do well in this setup. They ate newt pellet food and started to grow quickly. Both newts grew to lengths over 7 inches. I read online that in captivity adults reached lengths 7-8 inches while those in the wild can reach lengths of 12 inches or more. In February, my wife and I went on a one- week cruise to the Caribbean. Upon my return home I was surprised to discover eggs attached to all the plastic plants. Each clear jelly egg had an embryo smaller than a grain of rice. I was thrilled to see the embryos move on occasion. As their development progressed, I realized that I didn’t know how to take care of the neonates. I searched the Internet but couldn’t find much on what the young ate. It seemed they ate a wide variety of tiny invertebrates. I contacted the breeder Steve Sykes and he explained to me how he started them on baby brine shrimp and fed them on chopped blackworms/tubifex worms as they got larger. Learning what to feed them became especially important as the larvae started to hatch out of their eggs. I was surprised to see that some of the neonates were white. Initially, I thought they could be albinos, but then I saw their black eyes and realized they were leucistics. My adults were probably heterozygous for leucism. With recessive genes, offspring from two heterozygous parents should produce 25% of offspring with the recessive phenotype. It was difficult to count how many leucistics hatched out, but my rough count showed that of the almost 200 larvae at least 20% were leucistic.

Researching the Internet, I discovered that typically brine shrimp eggs are hatched in plastic bottles filled with saltwater. An air pump connects to a line placed in the water to circulate and aerate the water. I ended up buying a packet filled with eggs and salt. Basicall,y it was an add water, mix, hook up a line from an air pump, and wait. After 2 days, the eggs hatched. The shrimp were super tiny but perfect for the tiny larvae. I could see the larvae would gulp the shrimp down. The leucistic ones would have full orange colored bellies that showed through their thin, translucent skin. 1Page 6

Because baby brine shrimp don’t live very long, I had to make new batches of shrimp every two days. As they got larger, it was difficult to hatch enough shrimp to keep up with their growing appetites. When the largest newts reached about ¾ inches, I started feeding them blackworms. I used a razor blade to chop them into small pieces. In case you ever need to chop blackworms with a razor blade, note that chopping of worms is best when the blade is not perpendicular to the chopping surface. Chopping is more successful when the blade comes down at a slight angle.

As the larvae got larger, I believe that water quality became an issue. Because the animals receive oxygen with their gills, it was important to make sure the water was fresh enough. In the wild, these larvae are found in bodies of water considerably larger than my plastic tubs and are not living in such densely populated conditions. Also, any uneaten food decomposed quickly in the tubs. Frequent water changes became necessary. Full water changes were later changed to more frequent partial water changes to decrease the stress of netting out the animals. To improve the water quality, I added some live anacharis plants and added a line from an aquarium air pump. As the larvae grew bigger, the numbers and sizes of tubs increased. Invaluable tools included a $1.99 turkey baster from Target, which was used for sucking out poop, uneaten food, and dead bodies. A baby brine shrimp net with very fine holes was essential for straining the teeny tiny newly hatched crustaceans. At times it feels like a race to keep up with their growing appetites and fresh water requirements. Seeing them grow from legless larvae to four- legged newts has been pretty exciting. Spanish ribbed newts are a hardy species that I recommend for people who want to try keeping newts.

The Editor bought 2 of Kendrick’s news at the June General Meeting. Here is a photograph of my setup. You can also see a short video of them here:

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Treasurer’s Report by Scott Petersen This report covers the club’s fiscal activities for June 2013. The month of June showed a $70 negative cash flow. While the club reserves look OK for 2013, we will continue to monitor this negative cash flow trend. Expenses for the month were limited to general meeting room rental and speaker stipend. Payment for June hardcopy newsletter printing and postage costs did not occur until after July 1st so they will show up in the July report. Total assets for the club also were $3,400.14 as of the end of June. Posting Date: Expenses Income: Cash flow:

YTD $1294.27 $1053.38 -$240.89

4/30/2013 $281.63 $209.23 -$72.40

5/31/2013 $128.00 $304.98 $176.78

6/31/2013 $155.00 $85.00 -$70.00

As we have reached the mid-year point, it is good to take a look at where we stand with our club’s budget versus actual income and expenses. At the summary level our actual income is 46% versus projected income, and our expenses are 61% against budgeted expenses. So while not a major problem yet, it would have been much better to reach our mid-year point with our income exceeding the 50% mark and our expenses below the 50% mark. Our single largest expense, the monthly room rental, is currently 79% of our budget. Given the projected spend for this line item, at the current rate, we should expect that it will exceed our budget by 22%. The reason for this projected overage is due to some unexpected 2012 room rent expenses rolling into 2013. If this had not occurred, we would be within budget. We are working to see what can be done to reduce this expense. If you remember, we ended 2012 under budget, partially due to this yearly rollover. The rest of the expenses are in line with the budget and time of year. The above situation combined with the fact that we are slightly below projected income for this time of year, adds concern. Our single biggest projected income is new and renewed membership. And while we want to thank all of you who have joined or renewed your membership this year, the fact that we are only at 31% of projections is a significant concern if we do not see an increase in monthly new and renewals in the second half of the year. One contributing factor to this situation that needs further review is the number of members who did multi-year renewals last year. While the club enjoys receiving multi-year renewals, we may need to better factor them in at budgeting time. One income line item that has already exceed our projections by 111% is the cash donations. Many thanks go out to all our members and guests who have contributed to the food donation collection during general meetings, rodent sales donations, and events cash donation jar contributions.

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Herp of the Month Herp of the Month at the General Meeting: Small Lizards: Geckos, Anoles, Bearded Dragons, and more. When you bring an animal, make sure: ● It is in a suitable and secure container. ● Your animal is healthy and energetic. ● It is not aggressive or very shy. ● Supply heat, moist towels, or water if needed. ● If you want to present (2 minutes), be prepared; practice ahead of time what you would like to share ● Think of something unusual about your animal; be ready to answer questions from the audience.

The Year in Herps July: Small Lizards: Geckos, Anoles, Bearded Dragons, an more. August: Tortoises September: Pythons & Boids October: Creepy Crawlies (Arachnids, Insects)

See your herp in the newsletter! Submit a paragraph (or two) and good-quality photograph, drawing, or comic of your animal to the newsletter editor at

In the Weird News by Aleks Haecky

So, I read that you can now get diapers for chickens. This blew my mind. When I told my dad he said, “Oh, there are diapers for horses.” Technical term: equine diapers or “bun bags” are required in some cities (except police horses in Seattle, which are considered emergency vehicles … ), and it’s been around for a long time. So, I thought, what about diapers for turtles?

Various images from the unknown of the internet.

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Editor’s Shelf Submit Photos, Notes, and Articles! Do you have an update on BAARS or herp-related activities? Did you: ● attend a show and enjoy it? ● read a cool book, article, or website? ● write a herp-related paper, report, short-story, or essay? ● take pictures that you would like to share? ● adopt or purchase a new pet, have a great experience with a veterinarian or a store? ● go on a field trip or hike? read a book on herps? ● draw a comic or a picture? ● have success breeding your animals? figure out how to get an animal to eat? ● build a cage? create a setup? rearrange your pond? solve a setup problem? Submit your newsletter contributions to Your submission does not have to be perfect! Please do not submit materials for which you do not have the copyright or permissions.

BAARS Membership Discounts (show membership card) ● East Bay Vivarium, Berkeley - 10% ● Dr. R. Singh, Veterinarian, Sunnyvale - 10%

BAARS Merchandise Store @ We are looking for original designs to publish on Cafepress items. Also, let us know if there is a particular item or gift you would like added to the store for sale. Contact

Newsletter Exchange - More News for YOU! BAARS exchanges Newsletters with a number of other clubs. Check out the folder of recent newsletters at the General Meeting, or contact the Newsletter Editor.

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BAARS 2013 Board Members



President - Vacant

Newsletter Editor & Publisher Aleks Haecky

Immediate Past and Interim President -Scott Alexander 408-823-3675 Vice President-Eric Koessel 510-847-4392 Membership Secretary-Kyna Hendra 408-204-5131 Recording Secretary-Vacant Treasurer-Scott Petersen

MEMBERS-AT-LARGE Gilbert Castro 408-582-4247 Jim Goehring 408-252-0338 Tania Tengan 408-499-5867 Aria Pleban Diana H.

Librarian Tony Velez 831-442-3100 Show Coordinator-Joanne Petersen Publicity Director- Vacant Webmaster Wolfgang Keil Adoptions Coordinator Austin Pleban

NEWSLETTER SUBMISSIONS August newsletter submission deadline: August 9, 2013 (second Friday) September newsletter submission deadline: September 13, 2013 (second Friday) Thank you Joanne Petersen for proofreading. Send all submissions to: or the board mailing list Accepted Content: We love herp-related original articles, trip and show reports, stories about your animals, and original photographs and drawings. You retain all rights but grant us permission to use, edit, and publish in the newsletter and on our website with attribution. Accepted Formats: The newsletter editor can open almost anything. Plain text in an email is great. Attach images to email or provide URL.

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Membership Application __New Membership __Renewal Membership __Change of Address Individual/Family: __1 Year ($25) __2 Years ($50) __3 Years ($75) __4 Years ($100) Special: __Sustaining ($35)

__Contributing ($50) __Patron ($100) __Institutional ($20)

__Check to have your special gift mentioned in the newsletter


EMAIL: ______________________________________________________________ Address:_______________________________________________________________ City/State/Zip:___________________________________________________________ Phone: ________________________________________________________________ What reptiles/amphibians do you own?__________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ What other herps do you have experience with?____________________________________ How did you learn about BAARS:_______________________________________________

Are you interested in: __Learning about something in particular __Field herping __Photography __Participating in shows __Participating in educational events BAARS Membership Secretary c/o Palo Alto Junior Museum 1451 Middlefield Road Palo Alto CA 94301-3351

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BAARS July 2013  

Dave Colling as Speaker Spanish Ribbed Newts