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Information edited/removed to respect privacy concerns.



Pictures from the 2005 Midwest Herpetological Symposium

Holiday Banquet Reminder! Saturday, December 3, 2005

Also inside: - Snakebite Stories - Your 2006 MHS Board D ECEMBER 2005



Board of Directors


President Sean Hewitt

T h e

Vice President Sean Hewitt

M i n n e s o t a

H e r p e t o l o g i c a l

Recording Secretary Barb Buzicky


Membership Secretary George Richard







V OICE M AIL : 612.624.7065 • MHS W EBPAGE : HTTP :// WWW. MNHERPSOC . ORG M H S G R O U P E M A I L : H T T P : / / W W W . G R O U P S . YA H O O . C O M / G R O U P / M N H E R P S O C

Treasurer Nancy Haig

December 2005

Newsletter Editor Asra Halvorson Members at Large Tony Gamble

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Number 12

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.

Fred Bosman Mike Bush Sarah Richard

Committees Adoption Sarah Richard Education Jan Larson Library Tim Banovitz Webmaster Anke Reinders

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: The Minnesota Herpetological Society Attn: Newsletter Editor Bell Museum of Natural History 10 Church St. SE. Minneapolis, MN 55455.0104

Copyright 2005, Minnesota Herpetological Society. Except where noted, contents may be reproduced for non-profit, noncommercial 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

December 2005

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From the Editor: This article I ran across particularly concerns me, as I’ve been perusing the past issues of the MHS newsletter, and increasingly the newsletter editors have had to resort to pleas and bribes in order to get submissions. Now, along with the newsletter, we seem to be running low on volunteers to chair specific functions, to go out to do hands-ons, and even to fill the board! (Many thank yous to those who stepped up to fill vacant positions.) So, for your own perusal and food for thought, a Florida herp society’s situation.

South. Florida Reptile Fanciers Find Their Club Can’t Compete With Internet By Daniella Aird, The Sun, September 12, 2005 Coconut Creek · Gary DiPalma lifted the box’s lid to reveal a slithering mass of newborn boa constrictors. Dermot Bowden peered inside, savoring the sight. “Whoa! Nice!” he said. Bowden then whipped out pictures of his own baby boas. “Oooh!” DiPalma gushed, eyes popping. This reptile show-and-tell took place at the Sawgrass Herpetological Society’s monthly meeting. Members gathered at the Fern Forest Nature Center on Lyons Road to discuss the latest information about reptiles and amphibians. The meeting was BYOR. The society is barely surviving amid a new generation of reptile lovers who rely on the Internet for information about the care and breeding of snakes, tortoises, turtles, frogs, geckos and other creatures. Chat rooms, message boards and Web sites have replaced monthly meetings where members gather to swap stories about turtle mating and the newest snake breeds. At a recent meeting, eight people trickled in. “We used to pack this place,” said DiPalma of Wilton Manors, the group’s only original member. “Now we’re barely existing.”

The society, founded in 1990, has a dwindling roster of about 20 people, down from 115. To make up for shrinking membership fees, the group hosts garage sales twice a year, DiPalma said. “People don’t like to come out to the parks and do stuff anymore,” said Joan Kohl, president and founder of the Coral Springs-based Sawgrass Nature Center & Wildlife Hospital. “They’re satisfied sitting in front of their [computer] screens.” In its heyday, experts from all over Florida came to the center to address crowds 75 strong. “I remember you couldn’t get into the parking lot for meetings,” Kohl recalled. When the Internet boom hit, herpetological societies across Florida suffered as people discovered the endless amounts of information available in cyberspace about reptiles and amphibians. The Sawgrass Herpetological Society is among five in the state, down from 18, DiPalma said, adding that groups in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties have folded. Boynton Beach resident Mark Hoffman, a member since 1993, said the Internet is no match for the society’s two-hour meetings where reptile banter includes planning snake hunts and field trips. He said he’d rather meet with real people than screen names. “The Internet takes the human element out of it,” he said. (Herp society, continued on page 5) Page 3

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

December 2005

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News, Notes & Announcements November Adoption Report

Election Results: MHS Board for 2006

by Sarah Richard, Adoption Chair

The following 21 animals found homes at the November meeting. Thanks to all who stepped up to help a hapless herp. Thanks as well to Jeff L. for his assistance in Alligator bagging. I have already started next month’s list with a Red Eared Slider that was left in the aisle at C&D Pets in Minneapolis. It is a good sized male with very pretty front claws! Ball Python Boa (2) Burmese Python Corn Snake (4) Alligator Iguana Leopard Gecko (2) Savannah Monitor Ornate Box Turtles (2) Painted Turtle Russian Tortoise Red eared Slider, sm. (2) Sulcata (2)

Cover photo: Macklot’s python and bellydancer at the 2005 Midwest Herp Symposium. Photo by Asra Halvorson. Page 4

President Vice President Recording Secretary Membership Secretary Treasurer Newsletter Editor Member at Large Member at Large Member at Large Member at Large

Bruce Haig Tim Banovitz Ellen Heck George Richard Nancy Haig Asra Halvorson Sarah Richard Fred Bosman Carmelita Knudson David Dewitt

Opportunities for MHS Involvement! We need a new Rodent Chair! Training and freezer provided! (Freezer size under 4 feet wide.) Also, we need a Photo Contest Chair! This chair is responsible for planning and carrying out the photo contest, held annually during March’s White Snake Sale. Contact a board member for more information!

2005 Holiday Banquet If you are planning to come to the banquet on December 3, 2005, please drop Liz Bosman a line, with the number of people coming with you and what kind of dish you are bring to share. You can e-mail her. Remember it’s only $5.00 a person and a dish to share. You can pay Liz at the next meeting. Thanks!

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

December 2005

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Attention all Board and Committee Members:

(Herp society, continued from page 3)

The MHS Board of Directors meeting will held at Community room at Byerly’s in St. Louis Park on Jan 6, 2006 at 6:00 P.M. The room holds mid 30’s. The address: 3777 Park Center Drive. It is reserved under the Minnesota Herpetological Society. Thank you, Marilyn for reserving the room.

DiPalma, nicknamed “Froggie,” reached into a bag, uncoiled a Hog Island boa constrictor and hung it around his neck. Flicking its black tongue, the snake twined around his head and down his back.

Also, this is a double board meeting. The 2005 Minnesota Herpetological Society Board of Directors will turn over to the 2006 Board of Directors. We have lots to discuss so your attendance is appreciated. As a courtesy to me, if you are not going to be able to attend, please inform me beforehand. Furthermore, if you have anything you want to discuss, please also inform me so I can add it to the meeting agenda. In addition, all committees are invited to give their status reports. Regards, Sean Hewitt, MHS President Ed. Note: As always, everyone is invited to attend the board meetings! It’s a great way to see and hear what’s going on in MHS!

Monthly meeting: Friday, December 2, 2005, 7:00 PM Speaker: TBA Program: TBA December is always an exciting month for the Minnesota Herpetological Society. The Holiday banquet is an excellent opportunity to socialize with friends and win great prizes at the raffle. We’ll also have some home-brewed beer to warm your hearts. A speaker has not been confirmed as we take the newsletter to press but rest assured that we are working hard to bring an excellent set of presentations to the monthly meeting and holiday banquet. Please check the MHS webpage for the latest updates (

Davie resident Vicki Karr stood by, admiring the serpent. “He has so much color toward the end of his tail,” she said. Karr said she comes to the meeting to learn from experts about how to care for Sony, her pet tortoise. During seminars and discussions, she learned to feed him a proteinrich diet of hibiscus flowers. Kohl said Web sites don’t always provide reliable information about the proper care of reptiles and amphibians. “You never know who’s giving out the information on the Internet, but there are certain methods for caring for these reptiles,” she said, adding that people often release their exotic pets, which is harmful to native wildlife. Bowden, 42, a software salesman from Palm Beach Gardens, said he makes the trek to Coconut Creek each month because he likes meeting with other people who share his passion. “I’ve been interested in reptiles since I was a kid,” said Bowden, who also breeds Cay Caulker boa constrictors. Boca Raton resident John Roig, 12, one of the society’s youngest members, flitted about the room, petting the variety of snakes. Standing nearby was his father, also named John, who admitted reptiles “weren’t his thing.” Asked why he drags his dad to meetings, Roig said, “You get to hold them and pet them. You can’t do that on a computer.” § Page 5

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

Man hospitalized after snakebite: Marion breeder in serious condition By Holly Zachariah, The Columbus Dispatch September 17, 2005 From With 200 snakes inside his Marion home, Michael Jolliff has been bitten plenty of times. This time, something went terribly wrong. Maybe the Western diamondback rattler struck a vein Thursday night, maybe it sent a particularly massive dose of venom coursing through Jolliff’s bloodstream. All anyone knows for sure is that the snake breeder now lies in a Columbus hospital bed, unconscious, fighting for his life.

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Clark, of the Marion Police Department. “He grabbed some serum, but we don’t know if he got a chance to use it.” The pair left the house immediately, Clark said, but by the time they arrived at the closest Marion fire station, Jolliff, 32, was unconscious. Late last night, he was listed in serious condition at the Ohio State University Medical Center. The number of snakebites in the United States each year is not known — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention don’t require reporting — but experts estimate it could be as high as 10,000 and rising. The number of deaths resulting from such bites, however, is fewer than 10 each year. Two Ohioans died last year from bites.

Kentucky Reptile Zoo Director Jim Harrison houses one of the world’s largest collections of venomous snakes and has been a consultant on bites for more than 20 years. He’s met Jolliff. Harrison said he was saddened but not surprised to hear about Jolliff’s latest reaction. “That’s the problem with snakebites, you can’t pigeonhole them,” Harrison said. “Each one is very different.” Marion police say Jolliff — who has long kept snakes inside his home in northwestern Marion — was showing Ray Smelzer, a friend and potential customer, a python just after 11 p.m. Jolliff reached into a cabinet to get another and grabbed the Western diamondback rattler instead, authorities said. The snake bit Jolliff’s thumb. “He told Smelzer that he’d been bit, and that he’d better get him to a hospital,” said Lt. Dave Page 6

Jolliff has held an Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ permit to own native species since 2002. In 2003, however, he pleaded guilty to state wildlife misdemeanor violations for failing to keep proper records and for failing to properly tag a reptile. Exotic animals — such as the Western diamondback — are regulated locally. Marion has no law governing the housing of snakes, said Kandy Klosterman of the department’s Division of Wildlife. Harrison, who extracts snake venom as many as 1,000 times a week for serum, said even if Jolliff had the proper serum at his home, it likely wouldn’t have helped immediately. “In some cases, for some snakes, it takes as much as 50 vials intravenously,” Harrison said. “The most important thing is to . . . get to a hospital and help them understand exactly who to call and what to do.”

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

December 2005

Harrison has been bitten many times, more than once by a Western diamondback. The poison from that snake — which is the second-most common venomous snake in the United States — prevents blood clotting and attacks the muscles. The patient usually recovers. Bites, he said, are just something snake owners get used to. “If you play with guns, eventually you could get shot,” he said. “If you handle snakes, eventually you could get bit. It’s a risk.” -Submitted by D.K. Compton

Rattler Tidbits Newborn rattlesnakes do not have functional rattles; they only have one segment with nothing for it to rattle against. In wet weather, if the rattle has absorbed sufficient water, it will not make noise - another reason not to rely on a warning from a rattlesnake. Even with a useful rattle, a rattlesnake might not always give a warning. There has been speculation that rattlesnakes that use their rattles around humans are often killed. Natural selection might favor rattlesnakes that don't give advance warning. -from

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The following is also from; the story of the bitee: Posted by: Jolliff at Mon Sep 19 13:54:11 2005 This was my post in the Venomous section there are also pix there if you’re curious. I’d first like to thank everyone who expressed concern, emailed, or left phone messages. Even if I was just in your thoughts, I appreciate it. As with any bite from a captive, it was a mistake on the keeper’s part. In this case, it was a split second error that almost proved fatal. I have been keeping HOTS for about ten years and have always said “Anyone can make a mistake as we are all human.” As Mr. Harrison stated in his official release, “Bites, he said, are just something snake owners get used to. If you play with guns, eventually you could get shot,” he said. “If you handle snakes, eventually you could get bit. It’s a risk.” As Duffy pointed out, there are hazards involved in everyday life. Consider the job hazards involved with being a foundry or construction worker (both jobs I’ve had) and what about the perils our men in uniform face everyday? These are risks we accept and try to prevent. I did get grazed two years ago and I learned a valuable lesson that day and took precautionary measures to ensure the same mistake did not repeat itself. Unfortunately, we all learn from our mistakes and I will definitely make adjustments to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. I am fully aware that these incidents affect more people than the person envenomated and hate to see all the press (which is usually – as in this case – not 100% accurate). With that being said, this IS what happened for those who are as curious as I am. My friend was at my place and we were taking Page 7

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

pictures of the Ball Pythons we have available. This is his first year doing the “snake thing” so this was quite a traumatic experience for him as well. We were pretty much done when I decided to grab two more Pythons. I was in a hurry and simply opened the wrong drawer (yes, the are labeled). Since I was working with the Balls, I had my guard down for a split second and that is all it took. My yearling male Caramel WDB (probably one of the meanest snakes I have) was waiting to ambush prey. As soon as I opened the cage, I saw a flash of yellow & felt a slight tap. I immediately closed the drawer, grabbed my epi-pens & asked my friend to drive me to the hospital which is about ten minutes away. I called 911 to have them prepare the hospital for a WDB bite and informed them that I needed Cro-Fab as I am allergic to horses (and about everything else for that matter). They traced the call and realized we were right by the Fire Station/EMT. They instructed us to pull in and let the “professionals” take over. As we pulled in, I could feel my body going into hyper drive like a freshly bitten mouse. I informed the firemen that I had two Epi-pens on hand and I was going to use one as I slammed it into my thigh. That was the last thing I remember until I regained consciousness around 3:00 p.m. on Friday at OSU Medical Center (Columbus). According to my friend, the firemen didn’t seem too concerned and told him “not to get excited” as they stood there and watched me go into seizures eight minutes after the bite. He started yelling that they had better get move on and said he would transport me himself if they were going to just stand there. They dropped me on the first attempt to remove me from the car but eventually got me to the hospital where we never get snakebites. They resuscitated me (as my lungs Page 8

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had collapsed) & life-flighted me to Columbus (about 1.5 hours away by car) where they didn’t expect me to make it. They did CAT scans as they thought I may have fluid on my brain. They did perform a slight fasciotomy on my hand to “check compartment pressure” as my fingers were blue. I eventually came around and was in full spirits as I knew this was going to be real serious. I was just glad to wake AND NOT see my whole arm split open. We told them not to, but you know doctors. They had me out of ICU in 24 hours and released me 24 hours after that. They initially told my wife they didn’t think I was going to make it and couldn’t believe how quickly I recovered. I was not able to find out how many bags of Cro-Fab I received but 3 – 7 was the answer depending on who I asked. At one time, my diastolic blood pressure was 50 and they said the pH level in my blood was “not typical of a living person.” So that is my weekend – closest to death that I’ve ever been. All I can say is don’t believe it can never happen to you and have Epi-pens on hand. I’m not familiar w/ the details of the Rhino bite that took the life of the OH fireman last year, but I believe (?) he died from Anaphylactic shock. I also believe I would not be here today if I didn’t have the Epi-pens on hand. Everyone stresses the importance of having your own antivenin but that is not what usually kills you w/in fifteen minutes of a bite. So please see your doctors and get some epinephrine – just in case you happen to make that split second error.” -Submitted by D.K. Compton

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

December 2005

What’s So Weird About Being a Herper? By Allen Salzberg To most civilians (i.e., non-herpers), reptiles and amphibians are just plain weird. Some have shells. Others have no legs. Many eat (yuck!) bugs or (double yuk!) mice and rats. To these same civilians, herpers come in a close second in the weird category. And as you know, we herpers are proud of our weirdness. This is especially true of herpers who are willing to go way beyond what “normal” society defines as the call of duty in terms of taking care of animals. As the owner of, an on-line gift store for reptile and amphibian lovers, it’s inevitable that my daily e-mail contains at least one good, “You wouldn’t believe …” story from a herper. Many of these stories involve food, both human and herp. For instance, there’s the creation of two shopping lists—one for humans, the other for herps. And the issue of who gets the best quality food. In this case, the humans always lose. The family gets the canned goods, the iceberg lettuce, maybe a chopped tomato and cucumber for their salad; their herps enjoy the freshest, and most expensive Boston or red-leafed lettuce, fresh cantaloupe, and hothouse tomatoes. When there’s a pet shop in the mall next to the supermarket, a third shopping list is also created. This one includes mice, feeder goldfish, superworms and crickets. Herping has been known to change the way herpers look at other animals.

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Take the lady from the Midwest who hates cockroaches. Now she raises them. They make excellent treats for her bearded dragons. Or the avid Texas baseball fan that, during night games, can’t keep his attention from straying from the field to the bugs flying around the lights. Hmm, he thinks, wouldn’t my lizard love some of those bugs? Of course, herper madness does not stop with food. A couple I know love to shop for furniture. That’s because they’ve converted lots of their old furniture into cages. Others have remodeled a room—into a walk incage for a full-grown iguana. Some rip out prized rose bushes so their turtles can have a bigger pond. There’s even been serious negotiations over whether or not to add a wing to the family house—not just for herps to move into, but to display a herper’s hundreds (or was that thousands?) of herp knick-knacks. Herps of course, start to affect many other parts of your life. Your family complains that they don’t see you anymore. Or they refuse to let you leave the house without a written promise not to return with another snake, frog or turtle. You start to develop different sets of friends— herp people…and everyone else. And when your spouse says, “Either the herps go or I go!” you hesitate. You negotiate. You beg, bargain and plea. This is where the Herp Postnuptial Agreement (What’s so weird?, continued on page 12) Page 9

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

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Moments from the

Midwest Herpetological Symposium October 21-23, 2005

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The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

Minnesota Herpetological Society Treasurer's Report Prepared by Nancy Haig, Treasurer For October 2005 Beginning Checkbook Balance: Income: Membership Library Fines Raffle Adoption Rodent Sales Small Item Sales Donations Midwest Other* Total Income: Expense: Newsletter Misc. Printing and Postage Program Library Supplies Refreshments Rodent Cost Adoption Cost Midwest costs Donations Other* Total Expense:

6,856.37 240.00 10.00 55.25 139.00 512.00 40.00 375.00 8,832.00 1,513.61 11,716.86 388.30 0.00 50.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 120.00 5,115.05 0.00 1,346.67 7,020.02

Cash Increase/(Decrease): Other* --transfer Ending Checkbook Balance:

4,696.84 6,946.39 18,499.60

Placement of Cash Holdings Checking Account Savings Account --transferred Cash on Hand Total

18,499.60 0.00 150.00 18,649.60

Treasurer’s Notes: Income: * $1,513.61 RenFest donations * $375.00 hands-on donations * $6,946.39 Transfer from savings Expense: $1,346.67 Occasional Paper Printing Although not all expenses have been totalled, it looks as if the Midwest was a great success. Thanks to all who attended and participated. Page 12

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(What’s so weird?, continued from page 9) was first introduced. In the case of herp lovers married to each other, it lays out how who gets what herps. (Only kidding; but it sounds like a good idea.) It’s not all bad though. Your friends and family always know what to get you for your birthday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or wedding anniversary—anything related to your favorite herp. These same people also start to visit you more often. After all, you have a better, more varied and healthier herp collection than the local zoo. And the kids can ask the “zoo-keeper “ all the questions they want. And that is something any owner of any animal (dog, cat, bird or herp) most desires—being about to talk about your beloved pets for as long as you like! Allen Salzberg recently collected the best of these stories, with his wife Anita Salzberg (author of Confessions of a Turtle Wife), in their best-selling book, You Know You’re a Herper…When You Dream in Green. available at,, and Originally written and published for the Mid-Atlantic Reptile Show program May 17, 18, 2005.

G E T Y O U R M E SS A G E T O Y O U R TA R G E T A U D I E N C E WI T H A 1 / 4 PA G E A D . $ 10 P E R M O NT H $11 0 P E R YE AR *

*12th month is free on a one year commitment Advertising Policies MHS Ad Policy: The MHS assumes NO RESPONSIBILITY regarding the health or legality of any animal, or the quality or legality of any product or service advertised in the MHS Newsletter. Any ad may be rejected at the discretion of the Newsletter Editor. Due to space limitations, unpaid and complimentary advertisements are subject to occasional omission.

MHS AD RATES Business card 1/4 Page 1/2 Page Full Page

$5/Month $55/Year* $10/Month $110/Year* $20/Month $220/Year* $40/Month $440/Year*

* Note: 12th month is free on a one year commitment

Classified Ads: All active members are allowed a classified ad, run free of charge as space permits. Ads may be ran three consecutive months, after which time they may be resubmitted. Corresponding members are allowed a complimentary business card advertisement monthly as space permits. Due to federal restrictions on Non-profit mailing permits, we are not allowed to run ads for travel, credit or insurance agencies. Submissions: All advertisements should be submitted to the MHS Editor, Bell Museum of Natural History, 10 Church St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455. Deadline is the night of the General Meeting for inclusion in the next newsletter. Make checks payable to: Minnesota Herpetological Society.

Minnesota Herpetological Society Membership Application New





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Check #

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Active Memberships:


Sustaining ($60/year)

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List in MHS Directory?



Basic ($15/year)

Corresponding Memberships: Commercial ($25/year 2 Business Card Ads/year) Required check info. Drivers Lic # State DOB Please enclose the proper payment with your application. Make Checks Payable To: Minnesota Herpetological Society. Membership is for 12 months from the date of approval, a receipt will be sent only upon request. Mail to: Minnesota Herpetological Society, Bell Museum of Natural History, 10 Church St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455. Please allow 6-8 weeks for processing.


Non-Profit Rate U.S. Postage PAID Mpls, MN Permit No. 2275



Next Meeting: Friday, December 2, 2005 7:00PM Room 335 Borlaug Hall, U of M St. Paul Campus

MHS Voice Mail: 612.624.7065

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Vol. 25 (2005), No. 12  

Minnesota herpetological Society Newsletter

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