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Pictures from the Holiday Banquet Viagra Saves Endangered Species

Herp Coins as Gifts!




Information edited/removed to respect privacy concerns.



Board of Directors


President Bruce Haig

T h e

Vice President Tim Banovitz

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 Ellen Heck


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

January 2006

Newsletter Editor Asra Halvorson Members at Large Fred Bosman

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Number 1

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.

Sarah Richard David Dewitt Carmelita Knudson

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

January 2006

Volume 26

Number 1

My Newest Herp-Related

Obsession! by Asra Halvorson Christmas may be over, but it’s never too soon to think about all of your loved ones’ birthdays coming up in 2006. As a herp lover, it’s often difficult for me to find unique ways to express my… herpness? I thought I’d share a lovely way to give your special someone what they never knew they needed. How about a herp coin? Many countries around the world celebrate their native herps by featuring them on their national coins. By searching eBay, I have found some gorgeous coins—and when a bezel and chain are added, they make great pendants! (I’ve also seen bezels for cufflinks and money clips, if a pendant isn’t your thing.) Here are a few coins I’ve recently acquired. The Tuvalu dollar coin, featuring a sea turtle, is my favorite, not only because it’s a nice-sized coin with a beautiful image, but also because Tuvalu might not exist by the end of the century due to global warming and rising ocean waters. (At its highest point, Tuvalu is only 16 feet above sea level, according to The only problem with the Tuvalu coin is that it is a ninesided coin, which makes fitting for a bezel nearly impossible to do in a cost-conscious way (and I wouldn’t want to drill a hole in it, though that’s an option as well if you have the necessary equipment). I also own a New Zealand coin featuring the tuatara and a Jamaican coin with a gator on it. I should be receiving a Cuban coin with an iguana on it in the near future as well. Uncirculated

Coins clockwise from top: Tuvalu, Jamaica, New Zealand

coins will be more expensive, but I actually prefer the circulated ones’ worn-in look. Remember, it just takes a bit of keyboard work to find the perfect one at the perfect price. If eBay isn’t your thing, check out local coin shops. Every coin shop should have a book with pictures of world coins, but it’s definitely easier to do your homework beforehand and go online to research which countries have coins featuring herps. There are tons of herp coins out there! It shouldn’t be too much trouble to find that special coin for that special someone. Bezels range from about $20 to $40, but may be lower or much higher depending on the size and metal type. If you have questions regarding the size bezel, a coin shop should also have a micrometer for measuring your coin to ensure the proper size bezel is purchased. Also, for the non-herper, there are plenty of other coins featuring animals, including a Chilean coin with a vulture, a beautiful seahorse from Singapore, a pig from Bermuda, and a songbird from the Cayman Islands. There’s truly something for everyone! Take a look! § Page 3

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

January 2006

Volume 26

Number 1

News, Notes & Announcements 2006 Photo Contest

December Adoption Report

Michelle Hewitt, Photo Chair

Sarah Richard, Adoption Chair

Alright you shutter bugs- it’s time to pull out your best photos from the year and frame them up for MHS’s annual Photo Contest.

Statistically, December and January are our lightest months of the year for adoptions, which does make sense if you think about it.

This year’s photo contest will again be judged by the membership during the March 3rd, 2006 meeting during the White Snake Sale. The ever popular “Best in Show” will also be judged by the membership. The recipient will receive the traveling alligator trophy with his or her name engraved on it as well as the winning photo will be published on the front page of the MHS White pages and Newsletter. I’m going to muddy the waters here and change the categories this year. There are 4 groups we are judging this year: Professional photographers Amateur photographers Kids (12 and under) Mixed media and anything that doesn’t fit the above categories Each category will have prizes first through third place, so please feel free to enter more than one photo. Submissions can be brought to the meeting the night of the White Snake Sale, but I will require an email sent to me describing the number of entries you have, which category(s) you have entered, and a very brief description by February 25th, 2006.

In keeping with that trend we had only five animals come in and four go out. Red eared sliders continue to be a problem, but the Iguana found a home with someone I did not have to blackmail, so all in all another successful month on the adoption front. If you can house a RES or two, please let me know. Here is this month’s list: Red Eared Slider Ornate Box 3 toed Box Iguana Cal. King

Photos must be matted and easy to hang via tape onto a blackboard. They shouldn’t be smaller than a 5x7 and no larger than an 11x14 due to space restrictions. December Raffle Donors If anyone has any additional questions, please feel free to contact me via email or phone. Thank you very much and good luck! Marilyn & Randy Blasus misc. items Donna Calander 3 lizard ornaments, turtle pin, snakes & ladders game

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The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

January 2006

Volume 26

Number 1

Dear Editor,

Turtle soup, sure. But turtle coffee?

First, as a long time member of the MHS and a recently elected board member I would like to thank you for your hard work on the newsletter. I feel that our newsletter is one of the best in the country and you are to be commended for it.

By Hieu Pham Iowa City Press-Citizen

I am writing in the hope of establishing what I hope will be a worthwhile discussion within the MHS. Despite the successes of the Midwest symposium, the Renaissance Festival and our meeting attendance, the MHS is in the midst of a period of difficulty. We have been experiencing a period of declining memberships, lack of volunteers in vital positions, member apathy and rising postal costs. Due to these and other circumstances, the board passed with some reluctance a negative budget for next year. This does not mean the society is in danger of folding but rather points to a serious trend that should be addressed. The budget is fiscally conservative and takes into account the financial circumstances we find ourselves in.

But as she dipped into the package of Folgers, she got an unexpected surprise — a dead baby turtle.

The strength of this society has and always will be our members. I suggest an open discussion of possible solutions to our options. Areas already discussed but not debated include raising the membership rate from the current rate of $15, reducing the newsletter in some manner or elimination of other MHS benefits. Certainly, none of these are desirable but some may well be necessary, unless members have a better idea. If you do, bring it forward talk to a board member, volunteer for an event or come to the board meeting and discuss it there. Remember it’s your society.

Morris said she already had been making coffee from the same package for a month before the discovery.

George Richard Membership Secretary

All Marjorie Morris wanted to do was pour her freeze-dried coffee into a canister.

“I thought it was a toy at first,” said Morris, 77, of Ainsworth. Morris said she usually purchased two-pound bags of freeze-dried coffee to pour into a canister. On Sunday, Morris said she was scooping into the package when she hit something hard. After removing what looked like a block of condensed coffee, Morris shook off the coffee grains and discovered a dead baby turtle about two inches in diameter.

“It’s a responsibility of the company to check their shipments closer,” she said. “It could be much more serious,” Morris said she had no plans to file a lawsuit against Folgers, even though her call to customer service was met with coldness and what she said seemed like a “brush off.” “(The customer service representative) tried to pass it off as though it’s nothing unusual. ... It seemed like they had similar things happen (Turtle Coffee continued on page 9) Page 5

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

Lizards’ poisonous secret is revealed November 16, 2005 Emma Young, news service Monitor lizards – commonly kept as pets – and iguanas produce venom, according to surprising new research that is rewriting the story of lizard and snake evolution. Until now, nasty swellings and excessive bleeding as a result of a lizard bite were blamed on infection from the bacteria in the creatures’ mouths. Venom had been considered the preserve of advanced snakes and just two species of lizard – the gila monster and the Mexican bearded lizard. And scientists had thought these lizards evolved venom production independent of snakes. But research Bryan Fry’s team at the University of Melbourne, Australia, now suggests that venomous lizards are much more widespread than anyone realised. Furthermore venomous lizards and snakes are in fact descended from a common ancestor that lived about 200 million years ago. In a related paper published in the journal CR Biologies this week, two of Fry’s co-authors, Nicolas Vidal and Blair Hedges of Pennsylvania State University, US, christen this new toxic taxonomic clade Toxicofera. They also suggest a complete overhaul of the conventional classification of lizards and snakes, based on new DNA analysis. “These are very exciting papers,” says Harry Greene, a herpetologist at Cornell University, US. “They threaten to radically change our concepts of lizard and snake evolution, and particularly of venom evolution.”

January 2006

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DNA analysis by Fry’s team suggests that the closest relatives of snakes are iguanians, of which there are about 1440 species, and anguimorphs, a group that includes the two lizard species already known to be venomous, plus monitor lizards. The team found toxin-producing oral glands in species belonging to these two lineages, but not in other lineages. The genetic work, which agrees with the fossil record, suggests venomous snakes and lizards shared a common ancestor 200 million years ago, pushing the evolution of venom systems 100 million years further into the past. The evolution of venom coincides with the rapid spread of small mammals. Analysis of the differing toxins produced by these lizards showed that nine types are shared with snakes. “To find the classic rattlesnake toxins in the bearded dragon – a hugely popular pet – was a huge surprise,” Fry says. But some of the lizard toxins are novel, and are now prime candidates for investigation for potential new drugs. Red herring But how could venom production in these lizards have previously been overlooked? Fry suggests that blaming bacteria had become dogma. The Komodo dragon – a monitor lizard – will eat carrion, and their mouths are teeming with bacteria. “It was the classic red herring,” Fry says. Also, while the toxins produced by these lizards might kill their usual prey, they have a less potent effect on people. In the CR Biologies paper, Vidal and Hedges expand on the genetic analysis. They compared the sequences of nine nuclear protein-coding genes from 19 groups representing all the main lineages of lizards and snakes.

Fossil record The results reposition iguanas and their close Page 6

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

January 2006

relatives from the lowest, most recent branches of the evolutionary tree to the uppermost branches, close to snakes. But the paper also fundamentally re-classifies lizards and snakes, with a number of new taxonomic groups. The old system that has been used for 80 years was based primarily on the texture of the tongue. “But we have shown this to be a bad character. Instead, we identified other characters that agree with the molecular phylogeny, such as venom and egg teeth,” Hedges says. Journal reference: Nature (DOI: 10.1038/nature04328) tml

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The Tree Toads A tree toad loved a she toad That lived up in a tree; She was a 3-toed tree toad, But a 2-toed toad was he.

The 2-toed tree toad tried to win The she toad’s friendly nod; For the 2-toed tree toad loved the ground That the 3-toed tree toad trod.

But vainly the 2-toed tree toad tried-He couldn’t please her whim; In her tree toad bower with her v-toe power, The she toad vetoed him.

--from Dopeia, a spoof on the prestigious Copeia publication. It was published as part of an annual joint meeting in 1988. (Reprinted from The Newsletter of the Michigan Society of Herpetologists, March, 2005)

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The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

Viagra May Be Saving Endangered Species After All Science Daily, Sydney, Australia, 10/12/05 — Chinese men are selectively switching from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to Viagra to treat erectile dysfunction, but sticking with tradition for ailments such as arthritis, indigestion and gout, according to new research published in Environmental Conservation. The finding supports a prediction made by Australian and Alaskan researchers at the advent of Viagra’s commercial release in 1998 that the new impotence drug might reduce demand for several animal species that are overharvested to treat impotence with TCMs. Animals such as seals, sea horses and tigers have long been hunted because practitioners of TCM use their body parts for their presumed healing and virility qualities. The researchers surveyed 256 Chinese men, aged 50 to 76, who sought treatment at a large TCM clinic in Hong Kong. The men were questioned about their previous and current use of TCM and Western treatments for arthritis, indigestion, gout and impotence. The study’s lead authors are Dr Bill von Hippel, a psychologist from the University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia), and his brother, Dr. Frank von Hippel, a biologist from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. The von Hippels cite three key findings from the research. “First, significantly more men had formerly used a TCM treatment for impotence than were current users,” says Bill von Hippel. “Second, they were significantly more likely to be using a Western treatment for impotence than a TCM treatment. Page 8

January 2006

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“Finally, among men who formerly used either Western or TCM treatments for impotence, they were more likely to switch from a TCM treatment to a Western drug than vice versa. In fact, nobody had switched from a Western drug to a TCM treatment for impotence. “This was in contrast to their behaviour with the other three ailments - arthritis, indigestion and gout, where the men were more likely to be current users of a TCM treatment than a Western treatment.”. These findings stand in contrast to prior research suggesting a mistrust of Western medicine in Asian markets. “When we proposed that Viagra might make inroads into TCM treatments for impotence, conservationists told us we were naïve and that TCM consumers were unwilling to use a product outside their own medical tradition,” says Bill von Hippel. “For example, there is still strong demand for tiger bone among TCM apothecaries who use it in the treatment of pain relief, despite the widespread availability of aspirin. “But the failure to achieve an erection isn’t comparable to having a headache or the many other ailments for which consumers still prefer TCM treatments. Furthermore, Viagra differs from many other Western drugs, in that the effects are rapid and visible to the naked eye. “The fact is that prior to the commercial availability of Viagra in 1998, no product in any medical tradition had been proven to be an effective and non-intrusive treatment of erectile dysfunction. So despite their history of using traditional medicines and their alleged suspicions of Western medicine, the men we interviewed chose the product that works best.”

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

January 2006

These findings are consistent with previous research by the von Hippels showing evidence of a post-Viagra decline during the 1990s in the harvesting of three species used in TCM impotence treatments. The pair attributed some of this decline to Viagra, despite skepticism among many academics and wildlife experts. In 2002, the global market for TCM products and treatments was valued at more than $20 billion, according to the Chinese firm Shenzhen Matrix Information Consulting. Funding Statement The research was assisted by research grants from Pfizer Inc., manufacturers of Viagra. This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University of New South Wales.

From HERPDIGEST Lite – November 17, 2005, - Volume # 1 Issue # 38

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Number 1

(Turtle Coffee continued from page 5) (before),” she said. Because many Folgers plants are based in New Orleans, the representative explained that the turtle might have been a result of flooding from Hurricane Katrina, Morris said. “It makes you think ... it is not just Folgers, it could be anything that is packed on the coast or any place with the hurricane trouble and flood trouble,” she said. But Sussane Dussing, the spokeswoman for Procter & Gamble, which has owned the Folgers brand since 1963, said it was too early to tell. Dussing said although more than 50 percent of Folgers’ production is based in New Orleans, there was not enough information available to explain the turtle. Also, Dussing said she was not aware of similar incidents and said the company would immediately begin an investigation. The turtle, meanwhile, is in Morris’ safekeeping, where she said it would remain to show her grandchildren. Although the experience has turned her into a much more mindful consumer, Morris said she would continue to drink coffee. She said things could have been worse. “It could’ve been a snake,” Morris said. From

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The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

January 2006

Volume 26

Number 1

Holiday Banquet 2005

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The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

Ed Austin took home the iguana eye print and a dragon statue.

January 2006

Volume 26

Number 1

Amanda Dewitt won the stuffed toy frog.

Carmelita Knudson with her winning, a snake carving. Paula Rausch, Carly Rausch, Victoria Upton, and Sam Rausch take home the tortoise print.

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The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

Minnesota Herpetological Society Treasurer's Report Prepared by Nancy Haig, Treasurer For November 2005 Beginning Checkbook Balance:


Income: Membership Library Fines Raffle Adoption Rodent Sales Small Item Sales Donations Midwest Other* Other* Total Income:

670.00 0.00 41.50 230.00 675.00 81.00 0.00 0.00 1,250.00 10.00 2,957.50

Expense: Newsletter Misc. Printing and Postage Program Library Supplies Hands On Refreshments Rodent Cost Adoption Cost Midwest costs Donations Other* Other* Total Expense:

647.78 0.00 50.00 0.00 25.65 225.00 0.00 0.00 189.95 1,343.92 0.00 291.84 250.00 3,024.14

Cash Increase/(Decrease):


Ending Checkbook Balance:


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

18,432.96 0.00 150.00 18,582.96

Treasurer’s Notes: Income: $1,250.00 Renfest payment *$10.00 Holiday Banquet Expense: $225.00 2006 Pet Expo fee (Hands On) *$291.84 Voicemail *$250.00 Renfest final dinner Page 12

January 2006

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Number 1

Harriet the tortoise still going strong at 175 Mon Nov 14, 2005 CANBERRA (Reuters) - One of the world’s oldest living animals, Harriet the tortoise, celebrated her 175th birthday on Tuesday — with a pink hibiscus flower cake at her retirement home in northern Australia. Australia Zoo, where Harriet has spent the past 17 years, says the Giant Galapagos Land Tortoise was collected by British scientist Charles Darwin in 1835, although some historians have disputed this. There is no doubt however over the age of Harriet — who for more than a century was thought to be a male and named Harry — and she is recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest living chelonian, or reptile with a shell of bony plates. “She would definitely be the oldest living animal on Earth ... I can’t see why she shouldn’t live till 200,” Australian conservationist and television celebrity Steve Irwin, who owns Australia Zoo north of the city of Brisbane, told Guinness World Records. From

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.

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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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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.


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Next Meeting: Friday, January 6, 2006 7:00PM Room 335 Borlaug Hall, U of M St. Paul Campus

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Vol. 26 (2006), No. 1  

Minnesota Herpetological Society