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This month’s speaker:

Dan Keyler Venomous Snakes, Snakebites, and Their Current Treatment Also inside: Pet Expo 2005 by Michelle Hewitt White Snake Sale Review by Barb Buzicky

A PRIL 2005



Information edited/removed to respect privacy concerns.



Board of Directors

Bell Museum of Natural History, 10 Church Street Southeast, Minneapolis Minnesota 55455-0104

The Minnesota Herpetological S o c i e t y

President Randy Blasus Vice President Sean Hewitt Recording Secretary Barb Buzicky Membership Secretary Nancy Haig Treasurer Marilyn Blasus

MHS Webpage: MHS Group Email: Voice Mail: 612.624.7065

April 2005

Newsletter Editor Asra Halvorson Members at Large Tony Gamble Fred Bosman Mike Bush Jodi L. Aherns


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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.

Adoption Sarah Richard

Education Jan Larson

Library Beth Girard

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

April 2005

The Vice-President’s Report By Sean Hewitt Meeting: Friday, April 1, 2005 Guest Speaker: Dr. Dan E. Keyler Clinical toxicologist with HCMC and Clinical Professor at the University of Minnesota Program: Venomous Snakes, Snakebites, and Their Current Treatment

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Recently, he lectured at Loma Linda University on the Upper Mississippi Timber rattlesnake where he met Shawn Bush from Animal Planet’s Venom ER. Even though this topic is very serious by nature, Dan’s presentations are incredibly light hearted with fascinating stories and interesting anecdotes. This topic deals with venomous snakes and snakebite photos that may be medically graphic in nature.

Dan Keyler has been a member of the Minnesota Herpetological Society for over 20 years. Over these years, he has given numerous lectures to our group. Keyler’s educational background started with obtaining his B.S. in Science at Purdue University. He then got his second B.S. degree and PharmD at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy. His main research interests include: Immunology, toxicology, natural toxins, nicotine and smoking cessation strategies, and medical management of snakebites. Consequently, Keyler and his associate reported that a vaccine might block the addictive effects of nicotine. He’s a national and international consultant on venomous snakebites. Recently he’s gotten several calls from Afghanistan and Iraq as well as other U.S. military destinations. He has also dedicated himself to field research and conservation of the timber rattlesnake for the past 20 years. In addition to several other medical-based publications, he recently authored an MHS Occasional Paper on the history of venomous snakebites in Minnesota. Page 3

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News, Notes & Announcements March Adoption Report by Sarah Richard, Adoption Chair

It was a great month for the adoption program. We had 13 animals come in and 14 go out! An Ornate Nile Monitor, 2 Iguanas, 2 Chinese Water Dragons, a Leopard Gecko, 2 Bearded Dragons, 2 Burmese Pythons, and 3 Plated Lizards came in and all of them plus a Boa that has been in foster found a home. Thank you to everyone who put in for animals. Remember that next month's intake day will be this month. (3/31/05) as the meeting is April 1st. See you all there.

Have you marked these on your calendar yet?

MHS Treasurer The Treasurer is required to maintain and balance the MHS financial accounts and keep complete records of all financial transactions. This includes collection and depositing all income in a timely manner, producing both a monthly and an annual financial statement for the newletter, and supplying the Board with a monthly financial activity report. The Treasurer also participates in the complete yearly audit and budget. If you are interested in this position, please contact an MHS Board member!

Upcoming Hands-On Events _____________ April 26, 2005 U of M “Reptile as Pets� 6:30 - 8:15 P.M. Room 125 in the Animal Science/Vet Med. Building on the St. Paul campus.

June 18, 2005 Como Park Water Festival noon - 4 P.M. Cover Photo: American Alligator, by Asra Halvorson, 2005 Page 4

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

April 2005

White Snake Sale Review By Barbara Buzicky MHS had no speaker for tonight as we held our annual White Snake Sale. Everyone had a good time bidding on donated items for one of our fundraisers of the year. We had all sorts of cages, reptile toys and gadgets, books and magazines, and many items for setting up a habitation place for a reptile. There were 265 items in the raffle set up for bidding in two rounds. The gross sale proceeds were $1014, which was a very solid amount. This sale was a true sucess, and I want to thank everyone who helped behind the scenes so things ran smoothly. From your WSS Chairperson, I especially want to thank Mick Dahlberg for getting our computer program together at the last minute to catalog and record everything. I also want to thank Fred and Liz Bosman, Nancy Hakomaki, Asra Halvorson, and Mike Bush for marking and setting up sale items. Jodi Aherns and Tony Gamble were in charge of our security. Next, I want to thank Bill Moss for all his time setting up for the photo contest which is always fun and interesting, along with our Membership Secretary, Nancy Haig, for doing an excellent job giving out member numbers quickly. She also set up the T-Shirt Display from past Symposiums that got much attention. Thanks also to Bruce Haig who supervised the money collection for the sale. Sarah Richard as well did an excellent job running our adoption program during the meeting, and of course, Randy Blasus, our president for managing the general meeting for the evening. Thanks also to the other many helpers who pitched in Mark Schmidtke, Donna Calander and her niece, Jake Jacobson, Ken Holstrom, Mark Carson, and Sean Hewitt!

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at the next General Meeting. If anyone wants to participate in next year’s sale as a volunteer, please contact me. Lastly, I want to thank all the donors who brought us items for the sale, Crotalus Publishing, Jan Andreasen, Dr. Robert McKinnell, Tony Gamble, Jodi Aherns, Twin Cities Reptiles, Dennis Daly, Carmelita Knudson, Ann Porwoll, Christopher Goodman, and Kari Giefer. Please let me know if there were any names missed due to the list not being complete. Again, THANKS TO ALL FOR OUR GREAT SUCCESS!

Just an added note from your Chairperson, there were some items not picked up at the sale. Please contact me to let me know you want your items. They will be available for purchase at the next general meeting. After that, they will be put into our monthly raffle.

If a name wasn’t mentioned, it was not intentional. I apologize ahead of time. Please let me know if I missed you, I will make another announcement Page 5

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

Pet Expo

2005 By Michelle Hewitt Are they real? Does it bite? How can you hold onto something like that? These are just some of the questions one gets doing a Hands-On program at an event like Pet Expo. This year, MHS members participated in the two-day event held at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The morning started with a long line of patrons waiting to buy tickets to get in the event. Our own volunteers had to battle some parking problems and navigate through the convention center to drop off animals for their shifts. Once the event started at 9 A.M., it was not long before we had our first group asking the multitudes of questions about the creatures displayed Page 6

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before them. Marilyn Blasus and Sean Hewitt had expertly set up MHS’s booth. There were two large display cages built by Randy Blasus to hold Chiquita the 14’ albino Burmese python donated by Heather and Brian Ingebretsen. Capone a 5’ iguana owned by Ellen Heck was proudly displayed in the other cage. By noon Saturday, the aisles were getting difficult to navigate through due to the large crowds. The number of people viewing the MHS booth was 5 deep. Our own volunteers lined the tables with corn snakes, boa constrictors, a bull snake, a blood python, bearded dragon, woma, uromastyx, and many others. Each person answered multitudes of questions about what they were holding in their hands and listened to stories people had of encounters with reptiles in their lives. The very best being when someone exclaims that they’ve never touched a snake before and the snake doesn’t feel slimy and feels nothing like they expected.

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

April 2005

My son, August, even held his own spot on the table answering questions about a plastic monitor lizard set out in front of him. He mostly got the, “Is that real?” question, to which he replied, “It’s a real toy.” Then, unprompted, he told someone as they were reaching toward the leopard tortoise in the pen below, “Please don’t touch it on the head. You can touch it on the shell.”

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together and recapped the day. The next morning the event started again with some new volunteers as well as a few from the day before. The animals were a bit more tired Sunday as were the people. Yet, the experiences were still fun and rewarding to volunteer and patron alike. Hands-On events such as this are incredibly valuable to MHS. It’s one of the best venues to promote and educate the public about these coldblooded creatures. Many people only briefly see

My day was mostly running errands and relieving people for breaks- including Randy who was working the Will Call booth as partial payment for our booth at the expo. When I was at MHS’s booth, I had my 3-month-old daughter, Aeryn, in a carrier on me. I lost count the number of times I had to explain that I was not worried about her contracting salmonella from the reptiles. I did emphasize the importance of hand washing with someone so young, but dispelled a lot of fears and misconceptions. In addition to the Hands-On time I got to watch a dozen dogs perform and whoop it up in the “Most Loveable Pooch” contest where I was asked to be the judge.

snakes in the wild and automatically think that they are dangerous. Others have only seen reptiles on TV shows and have some major misconceptions about how reptiles respond and react to humans. At these events we are able to dispel common misconceptions, myths, and exaggerations and hopefully teach people even if they may not love the reptiles of the world, there are interesting things about them. They deserve minimally to be left alone in the wild and not perceived as a menace.

By 7 P.M. Saturday, animals and people both were tired. MHS volunteers went out to dinner

I encourage anyone who has not been to a Hands-On event to please take note of when the Page 7

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next one is scheduled. The U of M Vet Center Open House will be held on April 3rd this year starting at 11am until 4pm. Hands-Ons are incredibly fun, not very difficult to do, you meet wonderful people that share you interests, and you promote the well being of the animals. If you don’t get to the general meeting and hear the announcements, please call or email Jan Larson, our Education Coordinator for additional upcoming events. There’s typically at least one a month throughout the year.

A Quick Herp Story for Kids... If you haven’t already, check out this wonderful children’s book, The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. The story begins when a young boy finds a salamander, brings it home, and asks his mother if he can keep it. What follows is a beautifully illustrated and thoughtful story which introduces children to the interconnectedness of the forest’s ecosystem in a simple, playful way. “Where will he sleep?” “What will he eat?” These are some of the questions the mother poses to the young boy. He responds very thoughtfully, gradually turning his bedroom into the forest from which the salamander came. A great bedtime story, this book is relaxing and full of imagination-- just right for young herpers full of dreams.

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April 2005

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Thank You Volunteers! 2004 volunteer hours are up this year to a total of over 6,700 hours - an increase from 6,500 the prior year. However, activities such as Pet Expo and Renfest continue to boost the total overall volunteer hours. Some interesting numbers include, 162 people volunteered for an average of 41 hours per person (up from 2003 at 38 hours). Over 60% of volunteers have greater than 10 hours. The list of volunteers is separated by number of hours volunteered in the last year. Those over ten will receive a thank you gift from MHS at the April 1st meeting. For all those who donated less then 10 hours we are also grateful that you were able to donate what time you had to help the Society. The gift is merely an incentive and reward for those who can and do go the extra mile. We hope that all those who will volunteer next year can achieve whatever goal they set. -Randy Blasus, President Over 10 Hours Jodi Aherns Kara Albrecht Monet Auguston Mike Backer Kaia Backer Sage Backer Tiffany Baker Linda Bittner Marilyn Blasus Randy Blasus Tom Bliese Liz Bosman Fred Bosman Faye Boughton Andrea Bruacks Judi Brumfield Mike Bush Barb Buzicky Donna Calander Nicole Cisewski Tina Cisewski Heather Clayton Connie Curry Christy Danathar Chad Danathar Chase Delles Amanda DeWitt Dave DeWitt Ione Freeman J W Fremouv Tracie Fullerton Tony Gamble

Kara Giefer Beth Girard Vern Grassel Laurie Grassel Janna Grassel Stephanie Gunderson Nancy Haig Bruce Haig Nancy Hakomaki Ellen Heck Michelle Hewitt Sean Hewitt Jim Hoffman Jody Holstrom Caitlan Holstrom Ken Holstrom April Homich Marie Hulslander Brian Ingbretson Heather Ingbretson Glen Jacobsen Amanda Jaeger Mike Janni Tom Jessen Alex Kaiser Sam Karsten Pete Kazeck Brian Kisely Matt Knott Carmelita Knudson Daniel Knudson Marit Lang Casey Lang

Mariah Lang Jan Larson Merle Larson Christina Larson Ginny Larson Beau Larson Jeff LeClere John Levell Richard Lucas Josh Mahlow Jen Manna Kati Marier Liz Mauricio John Meltzer Sean Menke Gordon Merck Anna Miller Lily Morris Bill Moss Kelly Nelson Jamie Pajak Sam Rausch Colin Rausch Elizabeth Redmond Anke Reinders Sarah Richard George Richard Mike Rohweder Bill Sandberg Thomas Sasse Cheryl Sasse Arron Sasse Mark Schmidtke Nicholas Schmidtke

Shanon Taylor Todd Turner Zack Turnidge Domonique Ulveness Cinci VanderBales Abby Wold Ananda Wold Under 10 Hours Gloria Anton Marla Backer Wendy Berghorst David Bittner Steven Bittner Liam Bonk Richard Bonk Nicole Burgess Katy Bwen Brazell Erin Bwen Brazell Nick Bwen Brazell Phillip Bwen Brazell Randy Carson Caitlin Carver Michael Chalin Holly Driscoll Amy Forsland Jim Gerholdt Becky Girard Jillian Gunderson Asra Halvorson Aaron Heit Jim Heit

Michael Howard Joe Jacobsen Bruce Kelly Ben Kooiker Chad Kooiker Gene Krey Greg Kvanbek Jeff Lang Bob Lang Miles Larson Dalton Larson Marshall Lewis Laine McMurray Amanda Meyers Lori Monson John Moriarty Deb Nelson Tabitha Pascarella Stacy Peterson Harley Pfarr Carl Rausch Carly Rausch Paula Rausch Jeanine Refsnider Josh Sasse Zachary Schmidtke Alex Schmoll Ruthie Schneider Vincent Schneider Blake Sheldon Justus Sims Bill Stone John Ward Page 9

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

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Minnesota Herpetological Society Board Meeting Review for March 5, 2005 By Barb Buzicky, Recording Secretary

Vice President’s Report: April Dan Keyler May TBD Board Members Present: June TBD Randy Blasus Sean Hewitt Barb Buzicky Board members submitted many suggestions for Tony Gamble Marilyn Blasus Jodi Aherns speakers to Sean so he can formulate programs Nancy Haig Fred Bosman Asra Halvorson for upcoming meetings Non-Board Members Present: Jeff LeClere Liz Bosman Meeting was called to order at 6:20 PM at the University of Minnesota Student Center, Room 202. Minutes from October, November, January, and February outstanding. Treasurer’s Report for January and February, outstanding, and a verbal report was read. Membership Secretary’s Report was a verbal report read to the Board, February outstanding. General Meeting March 4, 2005, not available. President’s Report: Randy recommends that we have a professional accountant do the MHS books due to some reporting errors. Also, someone who can do the tax reporting that is coming due. Randy continued his series on Board Development, and there were no questions on the last segment, Crisis Management. Randy reviewed the segment on Understanding Board Reports for the new Board Members. Asra read a synopsis on the importance of Board Reports as they are establishing a record of Board activity that will be archived. This information will help the Board determine its future and can plan accordingly. Page 10

Committee Reports: Grant Request Decision: Two grants were submitted, one from Anne Readel entitled “The Effects of Habitat Degradation in the Health and Conservation of Painted Turtles.” The other grant was submitted by Tracy J. Patten, entitled “The Conservation of the Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus) in Nebraska. The Board moved and approved $500 for the Massasauga Study. Old Business: MHS is still in need of a Library Assistant. There was no progress at the last Midwest Committee Meeting as members were not able to attend. The Snakes and Flowers video idea was tabled at this time. The MHS White Pages are at the printers, and they will be mailed out before or after the next newsletter. Volunteer hours need to be turned in for 2004 quickly. The White Snake Sale gross proceeds were $1014. Pet Expo went well MHS got some good feedback from people. Activity matching to a Board member will be discussed further, tabled for now. New Business: MHS is in need of a new Treasurer. Newsletters arriving late, people are checking into the reasons for the delay. Hastings Pet Expo, Marilyn will check into it and report back. Reorder for tattoos and stickers for hands-on, Board moved and approved $225. MHS flyer supply is depleted, the Board moved and approved up to $700 for order(Board Meeting continued on page 12)

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

April 2005

Pythons Grow Bigger Hearts at Mealtimes by James Owen, National Geographic News, March 2, 2005. Collected from HerpDigest Volume 5 Issue 31

Burmese pythons like a meal they can really get their fangs around, especially since the snakes are known to go half a year or more between meals. That gustatory pause is merely one of pythons’ more remarkable adaptations.

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“We currently have 1.5-kilogram [3.3-pound] pythons in the lab that have not eaten for three months and have only lost one to ten grams [four to thirty-five hundredths of an ounce] of weight,” noted Hicks, who is also the study’s lead author. But when these reptiles do feed, Hicks added, they often tackle prey that is 50 to 100 percent the size of their own body mass. Such meals require a considerable digestive effort.

New research shows that when the reptiles swallow whole rats, birds, and other prey, the pythons’ “Some investigators have reported as much as a hearts temporarily grow bigger. 44-fold increase in metabolism during digestion,” Hicks said. Scientists in California say the snakes experience a 40 percent increase in heart muscle mass with- Hicks and his colleagues investigated how in 48 hours of feeding. The change enables the Burmese pythons meet the metabolic demands of pythons to meet the metabolic demands of digest- digestion. ing a meal. They found that oxygen consumption rose sevenWhat’s more, the process is fully reversible, with fold in lab pythons after feeding. This was accomthe snakes’ hearts shrinking back to their original panied by an extraordinarily rapid growth in heart size once feeding ends. size. The snakes’ heart ventricle muscle mass (ventricles are the heart’s pumping chambers) Pythons can offer new insights to understanding increased 40 percent in just two days. heart growth in other species, including humans, according to researchers behind the discovery, The study team was able to link this sudden which is reported in the current issue of the sci- growth to increased production of a cardiac proence journal Nature. tein. The protein is associated with cells that enlarge the heart and boost its pumping capacity, One of the world’s largest snakes, the Burmese a condition known as cardiac hypertrophy. python can grow as long as 25 feet (7.6 meters) and weigh as much as 200 pounds (90 kilo- The researchers say feeding-induced cardiac grams). Native to Southeast Asia, it preys on hypertrophy likely explains why Burmese pythons mammals, birds, and other animals, which the pump 50 percent more blood per heartbeat while reptile swallows whole. But python meals are few quietly digesting a meal than when slithering at and far between. full speed. “These animals have a remarkable ability to shut down their metabolism between meals,” said James Hicks, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Irvine.

Previous studies point to why python hearts need to go into overdrive when these animals digest food. Researchers report livers growing to three times their normal size, intestines doubling in mass, and pancreatic enzyme activity increasing Page 11

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

threefold. Such changes within the snake significantly raise the demand for oxygenated blood. Stephen Secor, a biologist at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, is among those to have studied digestion in pythons. While most carnivores are able chew, tear up, or crush their prey first, snakes “swallow only intact prey and must delegate to the stomach the whole job of breaking [it] down,” Secor said. Yet once a python has finished its meal, its heart quickly returns to its usual size. Hicks, the University of California ecologist and evolutionary biologist, said that by quickly remodeling their hearts depending on whether they are feeding or fasting, Burmese pythons are able to match their metabolism to their bodily needs.

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python as an ideal investigative model instead. August Krogh, the 20th-century Danish physiologist, once wrote, “For a large number of problems there will be some animal of choice, or a few such animals, on which it can be most conveniently studied.” Krogh’s approach has been a guiding principle for comparative physiology ever since. Hicks said if we want to better understand how the human heart is able to remodel itself, we should look no further than the Burmese python. After all, the reptile can grow its heart in the time it takes to eat its lunch.

Hicks said he is unaware of any other animal that is able to do this with such speed. (Board, continued from page 10) His lab is currently investigating other reptiles that feed intermittently, including lizards and crocodiles. American alligators, for instance, exhibited a two- to threefold increase in metabolism during digestion. But, Hicks added, “So far, we haven’t seen cardiovascular remodeling.”

ing due to the upcoming Midwest Symposium. Animal sale at the Midwest Symposium, Jodi will submit a list of guidelines to the Board at the next meeting. Mexico, Land Purchase, tabled. Eric will be billing us for the books that were ordered for the library. Next month’s general meeting will be on April Fool’s Day, April 1st, 2005.

Nevertheless, hearts are known for their ability to adapt to the physiological demands of their owners. Human athletes, for example, often develop The next Board Meeting will be on April 2, 2005, cardiac hypertrophy in response to vigorous train- at the St. Paul Student Center, Room 202, 6:00 ing routines. Benefits of the condition include low- PM. ered heart rates and improved blood circulation. Meeting adjourned at 8:09 PM. The difficulty, Hicks said, is in understanding the mechanisms that lead to heart remodeling in humans and other mammals. Such investigations involve complex and highly invasive surgical procedures that could easily result in death. Hicks and his colleagues propose the Burmese Page 12

G E T Y O U R M E S S A G E TO Y O U R TA R G E T A U D I E N C E W I T H A 1 / 4 PA G E A D . $ 10 P ER MONT H $ 11 0 P E R Y E A R *

*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.

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

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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.

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Next Meeting: Friday, April 1, 2005 7:00PM Room 335 Borlaug Hall, U of M St. Paul Campus

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Vol. 25 (2005), No. 4  

Minnesota Herpetological Society Newsletter