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MHS Member Shows Some Skin!


Rattlesnakes Rich Social Lives by Paul Rincon

Snake Mites! by Michael Kraft

Iguanas Overrun Island : Boca Grande To Cut Population’s Growth by Wendy Fullerton

JU N E 2004

V O L U M E 24

NU M B E R 6


New Mexico's Rattlesnakes: Protection & Persecution


Barney Oldfield:


June’s Guest Speaker:



Board of Directors President Randy Blasus Vice President Tony Gamble Recording Secretary Barb Buzicky Membership Secretary Nancy Haig

Bell Museum of Natural History, 10 Church Street Southeast, Minneapolis Minnesota 55455

The Minnesota S o c i

Herpetological e t y

MHS Webpage: http://www.mnher MHS Group Email: MHS Voice Mail: 612.624.7065

Treasurer Liz Bosman Newsletter Editor Bill Moss Members at Large Heather Clayton Nancy Hakomaki Mike Bush Jodi L. Aherns

Committees Adoption Sarah Richard Education Jan Larson Library Beth Girard Webmaster Anke Reinders

The Purpose of the Minnesota Herpetological Society is to: • Further the education of the membership and the general public in care and captive propagation of reptiles and amphibians; • Educate the members and the general public in the ecological role of reptiles and amphibians; • Promote the study and conservation of reptiles and amphibians. The Minnesota Herpetological Society is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. Membership is open to all individuals with an interest in amphibians and reptiles. The Minnesota Herpetological Society Newsletter is published monthly to provide its members with information concerning the society’s activities and a media for exchanging information, opinions and resources. General Meetings are held at Borlaug Hall, Room 335 on the St. Paul Campus of the University of Minnesota, on the first Friday of each month (unless there is a holiday conflict). The meeting starts at 7:00pm and lasts about three hours. Please check the MHS Voice mail for changes in schedules or cancellations. Submissions to the Newsletter Ads or Notices must be submitted no later than the night of the General Meeting to be included in the next issue. Longer articles will be printed as time and space allows and should be in electronic file format if possible. See inside back cover for ad rates. Submissions may be sent to: -orThe Minnesota Herpetological Society Bill Moss Attn: Newsletter Editor 75 Geranium Ave East Bell museum of Natural History Saint Paul, MN 55117 10 Church St. SE. -orMinneapolis, MN 55455.0104

Copyright 2004, Minnesota Herpetological Society. Except where noted, contents may be reproduced for nonprofit, non-commercial use only. All material must be reproduced without change. Proper credit will be given including the author/photographer and the MHS Newsletter citing: volume, number and date.

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

The Vice-presidents report By Tony Gamble

June General Meeting Friday, June 4th, 2004, 7:00 PM Program:

New Mexico's Rattlesnakes Protection & Persecution Guest Speaker:

Barney Oldfield There are 8 (possibly 9) species of rattlesnakes found in New Mexico ranging from small montane species to large Diamondbacks. Some are endangered and protected by law while others are rounded up each spring to become public spectacle. Rattlesnake roundups are held in 7 states and thousands of snakes are killed annually. The Sweetwater roundup in Texas,

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billed as the worlds largest, claims to have processed 123 tons of Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes since 1958! Barney's talk will allow us an opportunity to learn more about these disturbing public spectacles. Along with information and photographs of rattlesnakes, there will be an assortment of photos of other New Mexico reptiles. Barney Oldfield is a longtime MHS member and coauthor of Amphibians and Reptiles Native to Minnesota published by the University of Minnesota Press in 1994. This is a good opportunity to visit with an old friend and see some extraordinary photographs of rattlesnakes and other desert reptiles.

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The MHS Newsletter is now On-line We have begun putting the MHS newsletter on our website ( This will not only provide an additonal service to our members, but will also give people outside of our organization the opportunity to see what we are about. The web version will be from the previous month (we don’t want to give everything away now do we) and will be edited to remove personal information such as email addresses and telephone numbers.

Upcoming Meetings: Friday, July 9th, 2004 - TBA


If you have not been to our web page in a while (a couple years), it has been completely rebuilt and is definately worth the effort to look in on again. Webmaster Anke Reiders is always looking for suggestions and content to put up on the site to increase it’s value to everyone who might pass through. As always, MHS is run by it’s members and is only as good as the membership wants it to be. Please don’t be shy about helping out. §

© 2002, Jeff Miller

Cover: Blandings turtle Photo by Bill Moss Page 3

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

June 2004

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News, Notes & Announcements Volunteer Opportunity Adoption Report - May To Assist the Bell by Sarah Richard Museum The Bell Museum of Natural History's amphibian and reptile collection needs volunteers to help enter data into its new computerized database. The information in the old handwritten catalog needs to be typed into an Excel spreadsheet and converted into our database format. We are looking for volunteers to take 5-6 photocopied pages from our handwritten catalog and enter the information into an Excel spreadsheet. This means that volunteers can enter data at home. The Excel spreadsheets can be emailed to museum staff when finished. Photocopied catalog pages and more detailed instructions can be picked up at the May and June MHS meetings and all volunteer work needs to be finished by mid July, 2004. Please contact Tony Gamble ( for more information or to volunteer.

Following is the list of animals that we have available for adoption at this month's meeting. As always, they must be applied for and picked up at the meeting. With the exception of Iguanas, you must be a member to adopt. As I have only had them on site for a day I cannot answer questions as to temperament. Boa (3) Fox snake Ball Python(4) Cal King Leopard Gecko (2) Iguana Caiman Egyptian Uromastix Male There are also numerous Red eared sliders and Iguanas in foster, should anyone be interested in them. If you are interested it helps to have a place prepared for them and to have something to transport them in.

MHS Field Survey - 2004 The field survey this year will be at Upper Sioux Agency Sate Park on the weekend of June 19 & 20 2004. The park is near the town of Granite Falls in Yellow Medicine County. Similar to other years camping spots will be provided for those who wish to stay over night and access to the park will be covered by MHS. The survey will start Saturday and continue into Sunday. Participants can arrive Friday night and stay until Sunday or just come for one day and not camp out (note: Sunday is usually not a full day). Members interested or with questions should contact the Coordinator if they wish to attend to insure a spot for camping and to receive more details on the survey, where we meet and what we will be doing. Also see the insert in this newsletter. Contact Randy at 952-925-4237.

MHS NEEDS YOUR HELP One of the services that the society provides for members is a monthly newsletter. This item is compiled and produced by the Newsletter Editor who sends it to a printer. It is then passed to a volunteer, the Newsletter Mailing Chair. This person is in charge of obtaining labels from the Membership Secretary, preparing the newsletters for mailing and sorting and dropping the mail in bulk form at a specific post office acceptance unit. This is a very important job, critical in its timing to insure that the membership receives the newsletter before the monthly meeting. However, this job can be flexible in other ways as it can be done solo or people can be recruited to help, it can be done at your home or anywhere and while timing of events are critical, there is still a window of a few days under normal circumstances. Our current volunteers are looking for relief and would appreciate that someone step up and replace them. Training will be provided. Interested parties should contact the President at 952-925-4237 or Brian and Heather at 763572-0487. Thanks

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The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society


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LIVES By Paul Rincon BBC News Online science staff

Supposedly fearsome rattlesnakes are much more social, caring animals than their detractors would have us believe, according to new research. A US biologist has shown that timber rattlesnakes lead rich social lives and may even form family groups. Females form birthing rookeries with other snakes when pregnant, care for their young and associate more with their sisters than unrelated snakes. Details are published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters. Mr Clark claims the study is the first to demonstrate an ability to distinguish relatives from unrelated individuals - kin recognition - in a snake species.

A large group of gravid (pregnant) female rattlesnakes

Overlooked abilities Mr Clark tested the associations formed between 10 female timber rattlesnakes ( Crotalus horridus ), reared in a laboratory from birth. The position of each individual was recorded four times a day, at three hour intervals for three days. The entire study was carried out over a period of two months.

“They seem to have a real, strong social aspect to their lives that has been ignored“ Rulon Clark, Cornell University

He found that females from the same litter of snakes associated with each other more closely than females from different litters - evidence they could identify kin. Rattlesnakes exhibit other characteristics in the wild that are consistent with animals that form family groups, such as group defense behaviour and maternal defense of young. Reptiles and amphibians are exothermic which means their metabolism and body temperature is dependent on the temperature of their environment. "They have adapted to live in such a way that they do things more slowly than we do," Mr Clark explains. "We're too quick for them in some ways, we don't recognize important things that could be going on. "You really have to either be very patient or set up your experiments in such a way that you see results regardless of your timescale."

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behaviour. "They live in a northern environment where they're required to find some safe place during winter. "Once they find some rocky outcrop with good basking areas, a southfacing slope and crevices deep enough for them to get beneath the frost line in winter, they'll be faithful to it for most of their lives. "The young are born near these sites and follow the adults there. So there may have been a selection for this social behaviour at the beginning." Timber rattlesnakes have a wide geographical distribution in the US, from New Hampshire in the north to Texas in the south. They are ven-

Baby Timber Rattlesnake

omous, but do not generally attack unless aggravated. Mr Clark said male rattlesnakes may also exhibit social behaviour at certain times of the year. But they

become aggressive when placed together in a lab environment.

"They seem to have a real, strong social aspect to their lives that has been ignored," Rulon Clark, a bioloStory from BBC NEWS: at Cornell University in Ithaca, /1/hi/sci/tech/3476971.stm US, told BBC News Online. "Maybe it's the body form, or the lidless eyes, but they seem like very Harsh environment alien creatures. Because of that, we Environmental factors could predisdon't ascribe social-type feelings to pose the rattlesnakes to social Page 5

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

Snake Mites! by Michael Kraft Ugh! What are those little black dots on my snake? Look, that one’s moving! Sorry to tell you, but you’ve got snake mites. In a group like PNHS, where members take good care of their animals, you might think we would never see snake mites. But lets face it, we are a rescue organization, and mites are going to be a part of our lives. I’ve done a quick survey of a few members, and lots of people have had bouts with mites, mostly from snakes they obtained via the rescue and adoption program. The head of our rescue committee, Sasquatch, is famous for his recurrent battles with mites. So what are these little creatures and how should you react? The snake mite is a parasite, meaning that it lives by sucking the blood out of your snake. It has a life cycle of several stages, from egg to mature adult. Depending on temperature, from the time an egg is laid until the mite is able to lay its own egg could be from 7 to 21 days. The adults live from 10 to perhaps as long as 40 days, and a typical female can lay 60-80 eggs in her life. During a few of those stages, the mites hide away in dark crevices. In other stages, the mites are extremely mobile, and able to travel 11 inches per minute, or potentially 55 feet per hour! While they are feeding, the mite finds a suitable spot on the snake and sucks some blood for a meal. In particular, they seem to like the grooves around eyes, but they can be found anywhere between the scales. After a full meal, they drop off and wander away until they are hungry again. During its wanderings, the mite has a peculiar characteristic: it travels in a straight line. If there is an Page 6

June 2004

obstacle in its path, such as a tank wall, the mite just crawls straight up. In short order, that mite is outside your tank, and crawling straight down. Hopefully, you only have a single tank in that room, and the mite will never find its way back. Ha! - as if that’s likely. Instead, if you are like me, the mite almost immediately runs into another tank wall, and climbs straight up again. This time, the mite ends up inside the neighboring tank, and by this time it feels ready to lay eggs. That’s why mites are not a problem with individual snakes: they are a problem with your whole collection. The best advice is that if you ever see a single mite in any tank, you should assume that every tank in the room is infected, and take no chances. The good news is that mites drown. So if their straight line of travel takes them up and into the water dish, it’s good-bye mite. Often, the first clue you’ll see when you get mites is black specks in the water dish. They look like flakes of pepper, except that if you look closely, they have legs. A good strategy at that point is to replace any substrate with white paper towels. That way, you can easily see any mites crawling around, and remove all doubts in your mind. If you put the snake’s enclosure on legs standing in a tray full of water (a protective ‘castle moat”), the mites could never spread to another tank. That might be OK for a single quarantine tank, but who can make that work for a big collection? In the wild, mites aren’t such a bad problem. The snake does pick up a few mites over time, but each shed lets the snake crawl away from all its external parasites for a fresh start. However, trapped in a small enclosure, the snake can’t get away.

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Those mites can multiply many times over what could happen in nature, and the snake can be miserable. In worst cases, the mites can transmit disease from snake to snake, and can actually be the cause of death. We caused the problem by shutting up our animals in small cages, so it’s up to us to fix things. Time to roll up your sleeves. Herpers have had to deal with mites for many years. They have discovered many different methods to get rid of the little beasties. Many of the oldest recipes depend on the fact that mites drown. The snake gets a bath in soapy water, or dilute Listerine mouthwash, or even is covered with mineral oil. Of course, the mites try to crawl towards the head, and you can’t just drown your snake, so that area takes some special work with a Q-tip. Other remedies rely on special veterinarian medicines, such as Ivermectin, which can be sprayed on or injected. Ultimately, you’ve got a clean snake. Are we done now? I wish it were that simple. Remember, the problem started because the enclosure is magnifying the mite problem. Now that you’ve got a clean snake, you need to face the reality that your tank is full of mite eggs and immature mites, and all of them are going to be hungry pretty soon. See my point? You’re not done yet. So, next you pull everything out of the tank, and sterilize it. Heat also kills mites, so one remedy is to put the tank in the sun on a hot day with saran wrap for a lid, so that internal temperatures are above 131 degrees for several hours. But who gets hot sunny days on demand, eh? More likely, the old timers would wash the tank with dilute bleach, or dilute Listerine, or even soapy water. Think you’re

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

done? Think again! I hate to tell you, but those rugs and drapes near the tank are crawling with mites, just ready to strike out in a straight line. If even one of those lines intersects a tank, the problem begins all over again. For the room, some people used to use No-Pest strips (or cat flea collars), and they even put them into the tank with snakes, but today they are increasingly considered too dangerous to the animals. Mothballs kill mites, but they also kill snakes. Don’t ever use them in the tank, but you can put a mothball into the vacuum cleaner bag. What a hassle! Thankfully, today’s herper has two other options, aerosol spray cans containing Black Knight Roach Spray or Provent-a-Mite. Both can be sprayed directly on the snake, into the tank, and around the tanks. Both are powerful. Black Knight has been around for years. In fact, one of the most respected sources of information about snake mites on the Internet, Vida Preciosa International, has this to say: “If there is a silver bullet for snake mites, this is it.” The people behind VPI have been involved with trading and breeding snakes for many years, and have never had a mite problem. Their strategy is to take EVERY new snake, spray it lightly with Black Knight, mist some into an open grocery bag, and place the snake in the bag for 30 minutes. Any mite on the snake will be history. Deal with the rest of the gear (tank, snake bag, old cage furnishings) outside of your home, and you’ll never have a mite infestation. Don’t stop yet. Use Black Knight in the car where the snake was transported and any other place the mites might have left the snake. Lots of people think that mite eggs can stick around for a very long time, and suddenly start up a new infestation. There is no proof of

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that. Mostly what happens is that mites are not completely eradicated by tools such as the Listerine method, or they hitchhike back into your collection after you have handled a friend’s infested snake. By using an aerosol spray around the outside of the cages after an infestation, you go after the lingering pockets of mites that can cause you so much grief, and you put up a protective bather against hitchhikers. Black Knight is so effective that there are many stories of someone using just a quick puff on a tank at one side of a pet store, only to find every cockroach and cricket dead in tanks on the far side of the room. Clearly, it is a powerful way to end the life of mites. In fact, if you’ve got tarantulas, hissing cockroaches, or millipedes at home, you should exercise extreme caution with either aerosol product. The newer product, Provent-aMite, is supposed to linger longer, and be equally effective against mites. Some people think it’s much better than Black Knight, but there is at least one story of a snake that died after Provent-a Mite was used. Black Knight isn’t perfect either. In truth, it’s the same decontamination spray that the airlines for many years routinely sprayed on human passengers inside arriving jetliners. Personally, I have sprayed a yearling comsnake and a hatchling milksnake with no apparent harm, but a 10 gram comsnake hatchling, which had shed its skin only two hours earlier, had a 24 hour bout of twitching following it welcome home decontamination spray. Thankfully, it recovered just fine, but there are some rare stories of snakes dying from Black Knight. But don’t think that the other methods are without danger. The Listerine method has also reportedly killed snakes, as has the plain

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water soaking method, Of course, we don’t know how much spray those people used on the snakes that died, or what was the temperature of the water the snake soaked in- Use common sense! You don’t have to drench your snake with the aerosols, and use the right temperature water if you give your snake a bath. No matter what method you decide to use, research it and follow the directions carefully. The latest weapon against snake mites is only just being tried, but with some success, and it might be the best thing yet. People have discovered that predatory mites will eat snake mites, and when the snake mites are all gone, the predatory mites just disappear. The best recipe for using predatory mites is still evolving, but one person reported that the predatory mites did not work when the snakes were on paper towel substrate, but worked perfectly when the snakes were kept on a thin bed of soil to keep the predatory mites happy. Maybe we’ll all learn this new technique and won’t have to expose our animals to even a tiny risk of harm. I haven’t mentioned everything in this article, but I’ve at least touched the major themes to give you some idea about what’s out there. In our mission of rescuing animals, we ARE going to face mites, but they don’t have to win. Good luck. (For more information, visit www.vpicom “The War Against Snake Mites” where you can find a lot more details about the life cycle and the battle plan against these little bugs.) Reprinted from the newsletter of the Pacific Northwest Herpetological Society, Vol.18, No.11, November 2003.

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The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

May Speaker Review by Barbara Buzicky, MHS Recording Secretary

Guest Speaker: Dr. Adam Summers Program:


If they are not eels, nor worms, nor even Italians, what are they? They look like earthworms, and the majority live underground. Dr. Summers talked about understanding the form and function in the limbless amphibians. Yes, these wormlike creatures are amphibians, not snakes. Caecilians belong to the class of Amphibia and the order Gymnophiona (Apoda). They are classified in the middle of salamanders and newts, and frogs and toads. They are described as generally having no distinct tail and have a diverse morphology. Included in this species are both egg-laying and ovoviviparous animals. Some examples have an aquatic larval stage both tropical and subtropical worldwide. The terrestrial types burrow and push through the dirt with their heads. In South America, Typhlonectinae, in the family of Caeciliidae, live entirely in streams, rivers, and ponds. The family of Ichthyophiidae are found in the Asian tropics and subtropics. They are egg laying and terrestrial. Further, a distinct tail is present. This type enters the water only to breed by internal fertilization. There is also a caecilian that has protrudable eyes. This species is called Scoloecomorphus Kirkii or Malawi-Caecilian. They are found in Eastern-Africa from Tanzania down to Zambia. It is true that most African caecilians are truly blind and the eyes are invisible, yet, for the Scolecomorphus the eyes are near the skin layer. When they are moving their tentacles, the eyes become visible and move to the surface. Page 8

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The caecilian tentacle is part of the eye organs, yet, it is an olfactory organ. This is truly amazing. There is a species found off the coast of West-Africa on the island of Sao Tome that give off a highly effective skin poison like toxic poison-arrow frogs that can kill other animals if they eat them. It can also cause reactions in humans if the toxin penetrates the skin. These caecilians give birth to live young and are spotted and striped animals. They can be easily recognized as they are bright yellow in color which is a definite warning sign. In general, Caecilians can grow up to 40 cm. in length. Dr. Summers is an assistant professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Biomedical Engineering at the University of California at Irvine. His undergraduate work was in mathematics and engineering. So his interest in Caecilians was in their biomechanics, how they eat and how they move. There are three classified general types of motion in snake-like animals, lateral undulation, concertina, and internal concertina. Lateral undulation is normally used by snakes that push off at discreet points and move forward not slipping side to side. Concertina is how an inch worm moves part of their body forward (arboreal snakes) and pulls the rest of the body up. Some Caecilians move by internal concertina where the animal contracts its vertebrae up into the body, then the skin is pulled up or slides up to match it. Dr. Summers showed a short radiograph video (Dermophis Mexicanus) of this process. Dr. Summers did some experiments to compare internal concertina motion to lateral undulation. He did one using a pegboard to track the movements, and also, used a channel method. He did a quantitative comparison of Typhlonectes Natans

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(aquatic) versus Dermophis Mexicanus [fossorial (terrestrial)]. His conclusions were that lateral undulation is faster than concertina, and internal concertina is as fast as concertina despite the differences of stride length. The species Boulengerula Taitanus and Typhlonectes Natans do not move by internal concertina motion. Since Dr. Summers works in biomedical engineering, he was interested on how these animals eat. For this, he had to study the head along with its muscles. The angle of the jaw comes into play since the angle is involved with the force in which the animal can eat its prey. As the quadrate angle of the jaw gets higher, the more force is exhibited. If they have different jaw angles and muscles, they will be eating a different diet. Some Caecilians have double rows of upper jaw teeth, and others have a small muscle area which produces no mechanical advantage for food products. Caecilians are said to be streptostylic as they have a mobile joint between the skull and the quadrate. They also have very consolidated skulls fused together comprised of nine pieces that makes it well reinforced. Another animal that benefits from being streptostylic is the woodpecker. These birds do not peck with their beaks closed, but they are slightly open for a greater impact on the pecking material. If you want to read more about this study of locomotion, please see the following reference: Summers, AP & JC O'Reilly (1997), A comparative study of locomotion in the caecilians Dermophis mexicanus and Typhlonectes natans (Amphibia: Gymnophiona). Zool. J. Linnean Soc. 121-65-76. H.


The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

MHS Board Meeting Review - May 8, 2004 by Barb Buzicky, Recording Secretary

The Board Meeting was called to order at 6:15 PM CDT at the St. Paul Student Center, Room 202. All Board Members were present. Non-Board Members present were Jeff LeClere, Marilyn Blasus, and Krsna. Minutes from the February, 2003, were approved. Minutes from the April 3, 2004, meeting were approved with changes. Treasurer's Report April, 2004, is outstanding. Membership Report for April, 2004, was approved. Membership Report for May, 2004, was approved with changes. General Meeting Attendance for May 7, 2004 was 120 . President's Report: Randy continued his series on Board Development asking if there were any questions from the last segment on Understanding Board Reports. The segment in the series is on the Organization's Mission and Purpose. Randy handed out the information for the Board to review. Vice-President's Report: June---Barney Oldfield, Rattlesnakes in General. July---TBA August---TBA


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Old Business: There have been a lot of returned newsletters lately. Nancy says that she is not receiving address changes from the membership. MHS Audit was completed last month. The General Membership wants to see the newsletter on the website per the show of hands. The June Field Survey will be at the Upper Sioux MN State Park the 3rd weekend of June. Randy is the contact. New Business: The Bell Museum Collection needs volunteers to help input data. A new chair is needed for the Newsletter Mailing Committee. The Upper Midwest Committee is starting to plan for the 2005 event. There will be no Board Meeting in June. The White Pages are ready to go to the printer. Motion was approved for up to $500 for printing costs. Board approved $140 for reimbursement of Vet Bills for Barb Alt. Meeting adjourned at 7:47 CDT.

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MHS Member Wins Tattoo Contest

MHS member Heather Clayton won 1st Place in the best tattoo contest run by Reptiles Magazine.

The tattoo, a frog with eight individual frogs within it, took three 1-1/2 PM hour sessions to produce. Done in 1999 by Sammy at Tats by Zapp, it is featured in the magazine’s July edition. Although the black and white version doesn’t do the artwork justice, the attention to detail is evident. “The eight frogs are each a different color”, Heather explains, “and each color represents a important person in my life”. The photograph was taken by the tattoo artist, Sammy.


Committee Reports: There were no committee reports. Page 9

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By Wendy Fullerton, Published by on April 26, 2004

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conditioning ducts and dryer vents. stray cats and dogs. Lee County officials have been asked to come They’re even known to plod through up with a specific plan for doing so. the plumbing and come straight out Iguanas are causing such a ruckus through the toilet. Boca Grande isn’t the only tropical on Boca Grande that island resiisland paradise under siege from dents want to have them knocked Mark Spurgeon, 46, owner of Boca the exotic critters. The Keys are facGrande Real Estate Co., said he’s off. ing similar problems. “They are crawlAnd the colding everywhere,’’ blooded iguanas said planning conare branching sultant Dave out. Depew, who is They’ve swum helping residents the pass south to draft a community Cayo Costa State plan to guide Park. There are growth and develalso colonies on opment on the Keywaydin Island island. Iguana and in the conpopulation control fines of the is part of that Rookery Bay plan. N a t i o n a l “It’s gotten to a E s t u a r i n e point where they R e s e a r c h are quite a pest,’’ Reserve in he said. Collier County. Spurgeon said Nestled between he’s spotted a the Gulf of Mexico couple on the on the west and mainland side of Charlotte Harbor the Boca Grande on the east, the Causeway. island’s nonnative reptiles Joe Wasilewski, ' Bill Moss. 2001 outnumber people board president by more than 2 to of the 1. There are about 1,000 year- known a couple of real estate International Iguana Society, agreed round residents. agents who’ve found an iguana something needs to be done. As temperatures start to rise, their draped across the back of a couch The group is dedicated to the presence becomes more noticeable they’re showing. preservation of iguanas and the natalong the 7-mile resort island. “That doesn’t do good for a sale of ural habitats in which they live. The invasive critters sunbathe on that property,’’ he said. “It’s one “I have a hard time with the rocks, climb trees and lay eggs exotic we could do without.’’ euthanasia because I love iguathroughout the island. They munch Boca Grande is home to mostly the nas,’’ said Wasilewski, a on flowers, especially hibiscus, and Mexican spinytail iguana with a few Homestead resident. “But when vegetable gardens. Some residents green iguanas mixed in. reality sets in, there has to be some fear they’re harming native vegetakind of final line. tion and species such as the endan- Now islanders are plotting their gered gopher tortoise by getting into attack. A few have armed them- “I hate to say it,’’ he said. “I can selves with pellet guns for protec- catch them but I couldn’t kill them.’’ their giant nesting burrows. tion. HerpDigest V4#5 To the dismay of homeowners, the Depew said the idea is to have an fearless climbers with sharp toe§ nails find their way into the attics, air iguana catcher much the same as animal control officers round up

Iguanas Overrun Island : Boca Grande To Cut Population’s Growth

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The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

Rare frog survives epic boat trip

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time such a rare specimen had been discovered at the port.

Contributed by Becky Helgesen

"We handle about 470,000 tonnes of bananas each year and this is the first time anything like this has been found," he said.

One of the world's rarest frogs has survived a 4,000mile journey in the refrigerated hull of a banana ship eventually finding safety at a "Apparently a random pallet was UK port. chosen to check the quality of the consignment and, during the checking process, someone found the little frog clinging to a hand of bananas." The frog, used to tropical conditions, got loaded into the cargo ship's temperature-controlled hold. Blue Reef aquarist Mat Clarke said the constant temperature was central to the frog's survival. "The hold was kept at a constant temperature of 14 degrees for the entire 11-day voyage," he said. The 1.5-inch Caribbean frog turned up in Portsmouth after its "When it arrived it was in a poor voyage from Jamaica on the MV condition but it has gradually been improving and is now eatPrince of Tides. ing on its own." The amphibian's species is so rare it does not even have a Lara's species was discovered in 1843. It is was given the Latin common name. name of "Osteopilus Fitzinger". Rescuers at Portsmouth's Blue Reef Aquarium named the fin- Story from BBC NEWS: ger-sized West Indian tree frog h t t p : / / n e w s . b b c . c o . u k / g o / p r / f r / Lara after West Indies Cricket / 2 / h i / u k _ n e w s / e n g l a n d / h a m p shire/dorset/3649625.stm team captain Brian Lara.

Lucky find Portsmouth port health officer David Jones said it was the first


Number 6

Horned Lizards, Shrikes and Evolution 6/6/04 by Greg Lavine, The Salt Lake Tribune. Over a period of recent summers, to see if Arizona’s horned lizard was a threatened species, Utah State University’s Kevin Young and his field team were tracking one with a transmitter on a Marine Corps bombing range in Arizona. They had followed the signal to a bush. After a futile search beneath the plant, a field worker finally found the lizard. "There was a lizard hanging right in front of her face," Young said of the searcher. "She shouted 'It's been shriked.' “ A predatory bird, known as a shrike, had impaled it on a twig. Young's team decided to start collecting such skeletons as trophies. These tiny mementos eventually produced a study on natural selection that appeared in last week's edition of Nature. Researchers long believed that the length of a lizard's horns appears to play a role in how well the reptile defends itself against the robinsized shrikes. But the paper in Nature was the first to show with concrete evidence that not only was this true, but how as a result shrikes were helping determine the evolution of this lizard species. "It not only reveals selection but also pinpoints the mechanism," said Kelly Zamudio, a biologist at Cornell University who was not part of the study. Despite the excitement about this discovery, to Young and his teams’ it was only a side project. The original study, to see if the horned lizard is threatened continues. HerpDigest V4#34

§ Page 11

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

June 2004

newsletter. Since this ran, the photographer contacted me to let me know he had written a poem that goes along with the photograph, so here it is for your enjoyment. For some excellent photographs of herps of Western Australia, do yourself a favor and visit his photo hosting site at

Broken Arrow Man Bitten By Rattler At Home Improvement Store BROKEN ARROW, Okla. AP

A Broken Arrow man is recovering after being bitten by a rattlesnake at a home improvement store.

The Ta-ta Lizard The Ta-ta lizard waves her arm, and thus accentuates her charm. She moves her forelimb slowly 'round, and brings it gently to the ground. Can this Ta-ta lizard be saying good-bye to you or me? Or is it just to hypnotise, beetles, termites. ants and flies? Is it ‘cause her foot’s too hot? I’ve watched awhile and I think not. For when it’s hot ground that she feels, She simply stands up on her heels, and if it’s too hot on the ground, She climbs a tree to look around. Perhaps the lizard moves her fingers, so the predators’ eye still lingers, while the lizard has long gone the vision, focused, tarries on. What is the sense behind this habit? I really wish I knew, dagnabit! photo and text ©Alexander Dudley Some of you may recognize this photo from the cover of the March, 2004 Page 12

The man's name hasn't been released. The 35-year-old man was shopping for shrubs at a Lowe's in Broken Arrow when an Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake bit him. The snake was caught and killed. The Eastern Diamondback is considered one of the largest and most poisonous snakes in North America, and it isn't native to Oklahoma. Reptile keeper Betsy Olsen at the Tulsa Zoo says the snake likely was brought to Oklahoma in a shipment of plants to the store. Lowe's officials say employees immediately helped the man get medical attention and searched the area and found no other snakes.


Volume 24

Young golfer gator abuse

Number 6


The State (Columbia, S Carolina) 05 May 04 Mount Pleasant, S.C. A teen participating in a golf tournament put aside his clubs and alerted authorities when he saw other players striking alligators with golf clubs. "There was no way I was going to keep my mind on golf," said Jordan Kruse, 15. "It was so sick. No one should ever do that to an animal." Kruse was competing last week for Trident Academy in the South Carolina Independent School Association state tournament at Fripp Island resort's Ocean Point course. The teen saw two players from other schools approach a 6-foot alligator lounging on the bank of a pond. Kruse said one grabbed its tail and the other grabbed a 3-iron, smacking the reptile in the head so hard that it bent the club. The alligator fled into the water. The players also approached a group of the reptiles and smacked the head of a small alligator in the water. Kruse left the course and went for help. The state Department of Natural Resources sent an officer to investigate. Efforts to capture the 6-foot alligator and check him for injuries were unsuccessful. The smaller alligator hasn't been found. Charges had not been filed as of Wednesday. The maximum penalty for harassing the protected species is $500 and six months in jail. §

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Vol. 24 (2004), No. 6  

Minnesota Herpetological Society Newsletter

Vol. 24 (2004), No. 6  

Minnesota Herpetological Society Newsletter