The Herp Chronicles – everyday life of an amateur herpetologist

4 years!

Posted on August 7, 2017

Four years since the last post! Does anyone even “do” herp websites anymore? haha……I guess everything is Facebook and Instagram?? But what happens when the fads disappear………….what’s gonna be left? Growing up in the hobby in the 90′s, the internet was new and reptile websites were just coming online and everything was really fun.  I want to say a guy by the name of Pete Zupich (forgive me if I’m wrong on that), had an awesome website on blackthroat and whitethroat monitors that had some killer pics and husbandry info. And of course, whether you like Jeff or not, Kingsnake.com has been around forever.  Bob Applegate has an old school website, but I see he’s retiring.  Ralph Davis’ site is probably one of my favorites, even though I’m not really into BP’s anymore. Mike Wilbanks had a pretty good site and Jason Hess from Jason’s Jungle also had a really good site that. Maybe one day, once FB and other social media sites have gone by the wayside (or maybe this will never happen?), just maybe……..we can jump back and forth between the breeder websites and see what’s going on. But I doubt that will happen anytime soon! And that’s okay, that’s life, you have to evolve!

I’m still on a bit a of a hiatus. Having triplets leaves little time for anything else.  I moved most of my snakes down to Derek Roddy’s place and he’s been keeping an eye on them for me. Couldn’t ask for a better friend and mentor. The guy just “understands” snakes – I can’t explain it any other way! Hopefully down the road I’ll have the time to keep the snakes again. I REALLY miss it, but the kids and family come first and I didn’t want to have my head stuck in a snake cage or a rodent shed for the beginning few years of their life! If you have ANY interest at all in Blackheaded pythons, Womas, and Carpets, give him a shout………..or get in touch with me and I’ll forward you his info. One exciting thing that he did let me in on, was that my old pair of Python Pete line Jungle Carpet Pythons laid a clutch! I had all but given up on them due to old age and lethargy on the females part after slugging out for me a few seasons ago. I’ve been told the clutch has pipped/hatched, so hopefully they will keep this line going.  There are tons more jungle carpets out there that are better looking, but I’ve always had an affinity for Python Pete jungles so I’m just glad that this pair produced a clutch!

P.S. if anyone has any leads on some ARU GTP’s, let me know……..or let Derek know (he’s always looking for them too – lol)

Triplets

Posted on October 22, 2013

It’s been so long I almost forgot how to add a blog entry on here! Anyways, as some may know, my wife and I had triplets in January. I’m very happy and thankful that they are all extremely healthy and doing great. I’m having a blast just playing with them and watching them grow. With that being said, my reptile breeding goals have shifted a bit. I’ve made a big effort to part with most of my “fun” type projects like the Kingsnakes, Milksnakes, Red Ear slider morphs, and a few other odds and ends. The bulk of my snake collection was mostly Woma and Carpet pythons so this is primarily what I’m focusing on for the time being. Even my Pied BP’s have all been sold. Yep, even Snow White (my 95% white adult pied female) was sold……….to Tracy Barker! The Womas are all staying put for now (I even put 6 pairs together the other day!) but some of my Carpets have been sold and I’ll probably continued to downsize those too. Right now for me, there’s just not enough time during the day to maintain a 100+ snake collection and a rodent collection to feed it all. I’m really focused on spending as much time possible with my kids and sometimes it even makes me a little upset when I have to be out in the rat shed cleaning rats and I know that they are inside watching some Mickey Mouse or playing with their toys! Anyways, my Womas are happy and healthy and I’m looking foward to this breeding season.

Other than that, I may have some New Guinea Carpets pythons (U.S. line – Derek Roddy), and maybe even a Gamma Jag clutch. If I’m really lucky, I may have a tiger jag het albino clutch too! If anyone is interested in offspring from any of these pairings, just keep in touch and send me an email at floydjonathan@yahoo.com. Thanks!!!

Expanded Sulcata Pen

Posted on February 14, 2013

I REALLY have been getting into tortoises lately. A friend of mine (Russ) breeds Sulcatas and he gave Kim and I a pair of hatchlings about 5 years ago. These were supposed to be Kims pets since I had the snakes and rats to deal with. Long story short…….I ended up taking care of them and building their enclosures as they grew larger.  About a year ago, we moved them outside since they were large enough to not get into any trouble with the local wildlife and they could also take advantage of just being outdoors on Florida. Lucky for us, if you look on a map, the Sahara Desert (where these guys are from) is pretty much in line with Florida so it just makes sense that Sulcatas do great outdoors in Florida……..after all, they just a little west of their homeland!  A few months ago Russ let me know that a few older Sulcatas that he had given away to friends as hatchlings were in need of a home.  The price was right (free!) so they now are hanging out in my yard with my original pair. They all seem to be getting along for now. I’ve made it a point to just sit and watch them whenever I have free time just to see how the dynamics of the group work out and also to see if everyone is getting enough food and has enough space. So far so good…….and there is still a lot more yard space to expand in the future!   I hope to landscape the enclosure a little more as the weather warms up. I also have some cactus growing in other parts of the yard and the plan is to plant some more edible items to supplement my produce bill.

For Christmas, Kim bought me a really nice Redfoot tortoise book by Mike Pingleton…….so who knows, maybe Redfoots in the future too??  I’ve always liked those.  But I also like Aldabras, and Indian and Sri Lankan Stars, and Pancakes, and the list goes on.

Snake hook rundown

Posted on

If you work with snakes at home or work with snakes in the field, you probably already know that a snake hook is a must. What a lot of keepers don’t know is that all snake hooks are not created equal and they are not all created for the same task. Snake hooks can be used for duties such as handling a venomous snake to lifting rotten pieces of plywood in a field and everything in between. I don’t work with any venomous snakes but there are many times over the course of my daily snake maintenance chores where I need to use a hook just to maneuver a snake in and out of a cage or a rack. The snakes I work with (mostly Carpet pythons and Womas) are not typically aggressive by nature but they do both have really strong feeding responses. Also, out in the field, it’s nice to have a quality collapsible hook that you can travel with and not worry about it taking up too much space in your luggage or your car. Here’s a rundown of the hooks that I use……….


John Zegel Medium Collapsible hook

This is my primary field hook, made by John Zegel. It doesn’t really get any better than these. He hand makes them to your specifications and you can customize the hook end, the shaft, and the grip……..so pretty much the whole hook is customizable. He also will custom make any type of hook to fit your needs. I use hooks for basic field herping and also in my snake room so I didn’t really need anything out of the ordinary.  I’ve had a few collapsible hooks in the past and they did not last very long. Although this hook is somewhat new to me and I haven’t really put it through a ton of outings yet, I can tell that it’s a better quality than previous hooks. I’ve also seen tons of great feedback about this hook too so I’m confident that it’s not going to end up like the previous hooks that ended up not collapsing and closing properly.








John Zegel Collapsible Hook

This is my backup field hook, also made by John Zegel.  Although it’s not as fancy as my primary field hook, I really like the simplicity of this one. For starters, it only has one collapse point (as opposed to two on my primary hook) so it makes for a quick setup if you need to jump off your bike or out of the car in an instant. It also collapses a tad shorter than my primary hook which makes for easier traveling. I like to either put my hooks in a backpack or even attach them to my bike frame so every inch counts when I’m traveling with my hooks.










Graphite Golf Club Hook

I’m actually not sure where I picked up this hook – I believe maybe at a local reptile show a few years back? It’s an extremely lightweight graphite hook and I think a local vendor makes these.  My apologies to whomever this person is. I always like to give credit where credit is due, but I just don’t recall where I got it!  It doesn’t collapse, which isn’t the end of the world for me in regards to snake hooks, but what it lacks in this department it makes up for in the weight and handling department. It’s my primary hook when I’m working in the snake room. It allows me to put some distance between myself and an 8 foot blackheaded python while also being portable and lightweight enough to maneuver smaller snakes in and out of cages.








John Zegel Collapsible Hatchling Hook

This hook was a gift from John (thanks John!) that he threw in when I got the other two hooks. Little did he know that like my previous collapsible hooks that didn’t last, I’ve also went through more than a few pocket hooks that also bit the dust. This one of course looks to be a little bit better quality than the radio antenna looking ones that I used to have! I actually use this hook quite a bit with the hatchling carpet pythons that are pissed off at the world!

On the Radio!

Posted on January 31, 2013


Morelia Python Radio

I’m honored to have been asked to be a guest recently on two different internet-based talk radio programs that focus on reptiles.  First up is Morelia Python Radio, hosted by Eric Burke and Owen McIntyre. Eric and Owen are hands down two of the most passionate keepers when it comes to all things Morelia. Lucky for me, they tolerate other species as well so they asked me to come on and speak about Womas.  Click on the link above and enjoy! (warning: it’s 2+ hours!)

Reptile Talk

Next up is Reptile Talk hosted by a good friend of mine Steve Tillis and a friend of his Jeremy Turgeon – I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him, but if he’s friends with Steve, then he’s okay by me.  I can’t say enough good things about Steve. He’s a young kid with an immense talent for raising and breeding snakes. I wish I had his drive and determination when I was his age.  This show is only 45 minutes but I definitely could have talked longer! Anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t have any problems rambling about snakes once I get started!

(Also, the snake in the above pic resides in Steve’s collection. I really miss this snake, she was one of my favorite ones that I’ve ever produced. At the same time though, it’s always nice to know that a snake you produced ended up in good hands with someone that will appreciate it!!)

More Field Herping Adventures

Posted on January 5, 2013

Florida’s mild winters allow the field herping to continue while other parts of the country are buried under snow.  In fact, these few months are really good times to get out in the field because the weather is so nice (70′s-80′s) and the humidity is down.  I have a few spots that I frequent in the day, evening, and at night and I usually come up with something, whether it be a reptile, amphibian, or even mammal.  A few weeks ago, there was a reptile show in Orlando that I really wanted to go to. It was pretty much the last one of the year and I figured I’d just take a ride up there and hang out with some friends and see what deals were being made before Christmas. Well as it worked out, most of Saturday was spent building an outdoor tortoise enclosure and then Sunday morning, there were more house things to do in order to get ready for the triplets to be born. Not wanting to spend a few hours in the car on Sunday, just to arrive as the show was closing, I decided to just get on my bike and go out to one of my spots.  It turned out to be a really good decision!

As soon as I arrived I spotted a doe standing on the trail which was pretty neat.   I don’t hunt, so all of my deer and other game spottings are on my field herping trips!  After about 30 minutes of cruising the trail, I spotted a Pigmy Rattlesnake coiled  up neatly on a piece of the black plastic tarp that was used in the construction of the trail.  I did my best to get into a position to take some pictures while at the same time trying to look around for anymore Pigmys that may be sitting right by my legs and knees! As the pictures were being taken, and the LCD screen on the camera was being checked,  I noticed someone in my peripheral vision either standing on the trail or coming towards me on the trail. Enough pictures of the Pigmy were taken at this point so I stood up to see who it was and it turned out to be a Buck! He was just standing there, curious as to what I was doing.  He darted off into the woods after a few seconds, but not after he was captured on camera!  Further down the trail on my way out, I spotted a large black racer that was posing perfectly on a palm frond. Much like a deer, black racers will freeze once they’ve been spotted and engage in a short staring contest. After which, they will then then retreat very rapidly.  This is not the case with all snakes encountered in the field. Most will try to retreat, albeit they aren’t as fast and as swift as a black racer. After these few encounters, I was then consoled and pretty much relieved that the decision wasn’t made after all to go up to the reptile show. But who knows? There may have been a killer deal that I missed at the show? haha! One always wonders…….

Overfeeding Your Snake

Posted on November 25, 2012

Anytime a snake related conversation takes a turn towards “feeding”, my opinion has always been that many hobbyists, breeders, keepers, etc. (whatever you wanna call us!) overfeed the snakes in their collection. Snakes, like any other wild animal, do not eat on a schedule.  They eat when food becomes available to them.  Both temperate and tropical species of snakes can have periods where food is scarce.  Colubrid snakes like Corns or Kingsnakes that brumate for the winter, will not eat for 2-3 months.  Alternately, a large tropical boid such as a green anaconda may consume a large meal which could also hold it over for weeks or even months.

It’s just been normal behavior of the keeper to get on a routine schedule in regards to feeding – and this is okay. There’s no problem with a schedule. The problems come in in regards to the quantity of the food and also the size of the prey items. Every species is different of course but some species such like Blackheads and Woma pythons do not tolerate excessive feeding as well as a Carpet python or Ball python would. Most, if not all snakes in captivity, are getting considerably less physical exercise than they would in the wild.  Now add a high fat diet at close intervals and what you end up with is an overweight snake.  I don’t claim to be an expert on this by any means, and I don’t have an educational background in herpetology. However, I do have ball pythons which are known to go on food strikes and I also have Womas and Blackheaded pythons, with the latter being extremely susceptible to obesity at the keepers hands.

My first venture into “expensive” snakes was when I purchased a 100% heterozygous piebald ball python in 2004 at the Daytona Expo (the year that Hurricane Charley exited Daytona on the Friday of the show – if anyone remembers that). Anyways, “het pieds” were still expensive back then and it was a lot of money to put down for a normal looking snake that carried an important gene to be proven out in the next few years. This particular snake, Charley, scared the crap out of me shortly after I got him.  He settled in fine, started eating rats with no problem, but then when he turned about 8 or 9 months old, he stopped eating.  I figured he was just skipping a week or two but this lasted for 6 months. He then decided to start eating again and this eating span lasted for about 6 months also.  Then like clockwork, he stopped eating for 6 months again – so 6 months on, 6 months off.  This has been his schedule since 2005. He’s sired multiple clutches and has made more than a few really nice pieds.  What always amazed me was the fact that during his 6 month fasts, he never looked skinny and he would even go through a shed cycle.  He grew slowly and he’s not what you’d consider to be a large ball python, but this can also be attributed to my conservative feeding schedule during his 6 month eating period.

I recently came across a paper entitled “How Snakes Survive Months Without Food” which does a pretty good job at explaining the technical aspect of snakes that fast and how they are able to achieve this:

How Snakes Survive Months Without Food

Jeanna Bryner

Snakes can lower their metabolic rates by up to 70 percent, allowing them to survive prolonged periods without food while growing longer nonetheless, a new study shows.

“These animals take energy reduction to a whole new level,” said lead author Marshall McCue, a biology graduate student at the University of Arkansas.

The research, detailed in the September issue of the journal Zoology, is an extension of McCue’s past studies that revealed biochemical changes in the western diamondback rattlesnake.

McCue withheld food from 62 snakes belonging to one of three different species (rat snake, western diamondback rattlesnake and ball python) for about six months and observed their metabolic rates. It is typical for snakes in the wild to go without food for this long. He found that snakes reduced their standard metabolic rates, some by up to 72 percent.

“Snakes already had low energy demands. We didn’t know they could go lower,” McCue said.

Despite the lack of food, the snakes continued to grow in length. “To me, this suggests that there must be a strong selective advantage to growing longer,” McCue said. He added evolution has led to snakes that are extremely efficient at frugal use of available resources which come from within their own bodies.

During the first stages of starvation, all the snakes burned up selected fat stores. The next energy source to go differed among the snake species. The rat snakes, which live in an environment with abundant rodent prey, began to break down proteins faster than the pythons or rattlesnakes.

“The protein use was higher in the snakes less well-adapted to starvation,” McCue said.

Understanding how snakes can succeed in food-scarce environments will add to the overall picture of snakes’ evolution.

Even when they are starving rattlesnakes grow, eating themselves from within to gain length while reducing girth.

This finding goes against previous reports that reptiles shrunk during lean times, as would be expected.

The western diamondback rattlesnake can go two years without food. Marshall McCue of the University of Arkansas studied 16 of the venomous creatures for 168 days, or more than five months.

Snakes starved for the entire period fed on their own stores, converting protein to carbohydrates. Calcium amounts doubled.

“Because it takes more energy to grow than to eat yourself, the snake changes shape by reducing its girth and putting its resources into skeletal muscles and bone,” McCue said this week at a meeting of the American Physiological Society. “It isn’t panicking.”

The study supports a longstanding hypothesis that a snake’s length correlates with physiological fitness, McCue said.

Fatty acids also increased as the snakes fasted. Over time, however, hydrogen was drawn from the fatty acids as an energy source.

McCue’s work could point toward ways to manipulate human diets.

“We might be able to engineer diet so animals, and say humans in space, can tolerate food-deprivation better,” he said.

Bill Haast Autograph

Posted on November 20, 2012

Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to meet the legendary Bill Haast. He was world renowned among snake enthusiasts for his work with venom while running and maintaining the Miami Serpentarium. I would have loved to visit back when it was opened but the original incarnation of the Serpentarium was closed in the early 80′s so it was a bit before my time.

My collection of snake and reptile memorabilia has really grown as of late and I’m always on the lookout for new things. Vintage herpetology books (like “Cobras in his Garden” – about Bill Haast) are my primary focus but artwork and other framed items make up a portion of the collection as well. A really good friend of mine (Mike G) also collects vintage herpetology items and he made my day recently when he gave me a Bill Haast signed venomous snake pamphlet.  I believe he was able to visit Bill some years back during the second incarnation of the Serpentarium and he had the foresight to get a few of these pamphlets signed! Needless to say, this is now one of my favorite items! Now, I just need to figure out what I’m gonna do about the framing so I can hang it up on the wall in my office.

Finally got some Cal Kings!

Posted on November 14, 2012

Anyone who knows me knows by now that I’m always talking about getting some California Kingsnakes. The 50/50 banded ones were always visually appealing to me – they remind me of a Sea Krait. The stark contrast of black and white is amazing and it’s just something we don’t see in pythons. Ringed Pythons juveniles come close with their orange and black contrasting bands, but these dull down over time.

In the past, I put off buying some Cal Kings because they were pretty cheap and fairly common and I always have a ton of other projects going on. I would see them at the shows, take them out and look at them, tell myself I’d come back later on Sunday and buy a pair, and then never return. This scenario played out for a good 3-4 years and I can finally say that I’m done doing that!

Cal Kings are pretty variable now a days and they come in a few different patterns and color combinations of black and white. Unfortunately for some reason, the 50/50 banded ones are hard to come by. I guess everyone is more interested in the moasics, bananas, reverse stripes, and other morphs that are out now? As luck would have it though, a friend of mine put me in touch with a friend of his who was contemplating getting rid of an adult pair of Cal Kings and maybe some hatchlings. Even more lucky was the fact that the pair he had were banded in appearance and the hatchlings were amazing – exactly what I’ve been looking for but couldn’t find anywhere. The price was too good to pass up so I ended up going home with the 1.1 pair and 5 hatchlings (unsexed at this time). This is my first Colubrid project believe it or not and I’d have to say that another factor involved in my decision to get these was watching a few of the SnakeBytes episodes from BHB over the past few years. He hatches a ton of Colubrids each year including Cal Kings and hopefully I’ll have as much luck as he has. If not, I guess I’ll just stick to the pythons!

My new favorite girl

Posted on November 6, 2012

Just realized I never posted a picture here of my new favorite Woma girl. It took awhile to get her but she’s finally here and she looks amazing. I’ve never seen a Woma this yellow before! She has a great temperament and a typical Woma appetite. I don’t have any males that look quite like her but I do have one or two that I think would be a good fit. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to give her a try this year or hold her back another year. She seems to be in really good shape and looks like she weighs enough, but I’m unsure of her age and that could be a problem. Either way, she’s nice to look at!


Morelia Python Radio

Posted on November 5, 2012

I’m honored to have been asked to be a guest on Morelia Python Radio (Tues. 11/6 9pm est.) to talk about Woma pythons and other Carpet Python projects that I’ll have going on this year. I’m pretty small time compared to some of the other bigger name guests that they’ve had on so it’s pretty exciting and I’m more than happy to talk about Womas – since they really don’t get a lot of attention.  Eric and Owen have a really good show that generally focuses on the world of Morelia but they venture out into other species as well so it should be pretty fun.  Check it out if you get a chance………and if you miss it, you can download the episode and listen to it later along with all of the other episodes with the other breeders. I’m behind on the episodes myself and need to catch up on the last few!  Internet radio, blogging, social networking, etc. seem to be the future of the reptile hobby and I’m happy to be a part of it………even created a FaceBook account after holding out for a long time. You gotta find ways to bring new people into the hobby while using technology and staying current with the times, otherwise the hobby contracts, laws get passed, and everything disappears for good.


New ZooMed Cage

Posted on September 12, 2012

Lucked into a killer deal for this ZooMed Euro Cage unit – almost too good to be true.  Anyways, it was used and very dirty but the glass doors and light fixtures were all in good shape so I decided to clean the hell out of it and make it work for what I needed – which was adult cage space.  This unit can be setup into individual cubes and when I brought it home, it was setup as 9 individual cages.  The whole thing was taken apart and scrubbed and the dividers were removed……………..some PVC perches were then installed along with light bulbs and a timer. I now have 3 new female adult carpet python cages with a lot of space for nest boxes. Best of all, it fits perfect in the corner along with rest of my adult cages and allowed me to move up some Woma females into the 4-footers so that they could also have nest boxes.  Already gearing up for this coming season…………..

Morphs in the wild???

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Ok, so we see “morphs” all over the internet and on every table at every show.  The hobby has evolved into a morph game for many species (corn snakes and ball pythons for example) while some species are slowly catching up (blackheaded pythons).  Believe it or not though, morphs exist in the wild to some extent.  For reptiles, their appearance for the most part has evolved to blend in with their surroundings.  A bright yellow snake in the woods isn’t very lucky……..or effective! However, bright yellow snakes do exist in the wild (see albino eastern diamondbacks, albino ball pythons, albino carpets, etc.) While these snakes are extremely rare in the wild, we’ve managed to bring their genetics into captivity.

I like morphs –  I own some Carpet python and Ball Python morphs.  While I’d love to have some woma or blackhead morphs, I certainly still can appreciate their naturally occurring appearance.  As you might have read from previous posts, my field herping activities are limited to the occasional camping trip, hike in the woods, or more frequently……..riding my bike to the Brooker Creek Preserve where I get to see naturally occurring Florida species. I’ve always classified myself as more of a keeper/breeder while doing a little field herping on the side. Lately though, I’ve been motivated to get out into the woods more and more and my skills are slowly getting better.  Roaming the woods to find a snake isn’t as easy as it sounds.  I’ve been out MANY times and never found anything but lately it’s been the opposite.

My last trip was probably the best one I ever had.  After heading out to the preserve around 6pm, I immediately came across a black racer. True to form, it managed to flee before I was able to get off my bike to get a picture. A few minutes later, I quietly followed a cottonmouth and was just about to get into position to take some pics when I spooked him and he took off. I was feeling a little dejected after this and the sun was going down so I started heading back.   On my way back, a juvenile black racer took off to the side of me before any pics could be taken.  So far, 3 snakes – no pictures!  After taking many frog pics over the next few minutes, I came across one of the coolest scenes ever – a group of water snakes feeding! Even better, was that one of the water snakes was what I believe to be a morph! When I first came across the snakes, it appeared as though a cottonmouth was feeding on a bright orange corn snake.  Upon closer inspection, I could tell that it was just a water snake and not a cottonmouth and the “corn snake” wasn’t a corn snake………..so what was it?  After quickly taking about 50 pics, I started studying the small LCD screen on my camera.  It looked like a hypomelanistic (greatly reduced black pigment) water snake! As they were dining on frogs and minnows, I counted about 4 normal ones and the hypo specimen.  The mosquitoes were relentless so I took as many pics as I could and then headed home………..but not before coming across some leopard frogs!  Either way, it was a killer night that’s probably gonna be hard to top. Finding ANY snake in the wild is difficult for me…………..so finding a morph is like a needle in a haystack.

Available Page Updated!

Posted on August 29, 2012

The available page has been updated with some 2011 holdbacks and some new 2012 hatchlings.  I was lucky to hatch some REALLY nice Gamma Line Jags and also some nice red New Guinea line coastals (which still need to be added to the “available” page!)  My Woma season was dissapointing but I somehow got lucky and ended up with some nice orange hatchlings.  I’m confident about this coming season with the Womas and I’m also confident about the interest in them which seems to be on the upswing.  A few of the Woma hatchlings were sold as soon as they hatched (after a few meals of course)!    

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or if you would like to see more pics of the invidual snake or the parents.  Enjoy!

New Woma female

Posted on August 23, 2012

Nice Womas are hard to come by. Nice ADULT Womas are even harder to come by.  I met a nice kid in Daytona who came up to my table with a few boxes of really nice snakes.  He had a pair of adult womas, some ringed pythons, and a few other things.  He was looking to sell, but then again so was I…………so I passed. The female woma was really nice and I was interested in it but I tried to discipline myself.  To make a long story short…………I ended up coming home with her!

The cool thing about her is she looks very similar to a Rare Earth male that I have, so they should make a GREAT couple………..hopefully this coming season. I was told she was Rare Earth x Hamper blood so that makes sense that she looks similar to my Rare Earth male.  Its always nice to know somewhat of a history on the snake but either way as long as the snake is healthy and looks nice, that’s all that matters right? I couldn’t be more happier with her….!!!

Cubicle Field Herping

Posted on July 27, 2012

Weird day at work the other day. I get a call at my desk saying that there is a snake on the second floor. I get down to the second floor and see a lot of employees out in the aisle between the rows of cubicles (think of the movie Office Space)……..cubicle city.  So the story goes like this – an Account Executive sits down at his desk, takes his keys out of his pocket, and a snake comes out too.  It crawls over his desk and disappears.  By the time I got down to the second floor, it was gone and there are a million hiding spots for it. I looked around a little bit and then went back to my desk thinking that the snake would never be seen again.  I get a call about 20 minutes later saying that they found the snake and that the maintenance crew took it downstairs to the parking lot. It was also stated that it was either a cottonmouth or a rattlesnake.  We work by a few patches of woods and retention ponds so a cottonmouth is not entirely out of the question (although most cottonmouth sightings usually result in a positive ID of a Florida Water Snake).  But in any event,  a snake is a snake………. so I ran down to the parking lot to see what they had.  A small crowd was gathered around and it turned out to be a baby black racer who proceeded to try to bite the heck out me.  I was overjoyed that the maintenance crew and other co-workers decided to spare it’s life – even after “identifying” it as either a cottonmouth or a rattler. It was in really good shape and I walked out to the nearest patch of woods and let it go. We have seen quite a few adult black racers on the premises so I have no doubt that he at least has a good chance at life now………….instead of being doomed to the inside of an office building!  As I was returning to my desk, one of the maintenance employees handed me his cell phone and I listened to a voice-message from the HR manager. She was calling him to say that another snake had been spotted on the third floor! So we ran up to the third floor but never found anything. My guess is that everyone was on extra snake-watch alert and someone probably saw an extension cord or computer cable and freaked out.

Either way, the story ended up good and the snake lived. I know that it’s extremely difficult (sometimes impossible in my mind) to change people’s perception of snakes. However, I’ve been at my current job for a little over 7 years now and most everyone is familiar with my interest in snakes and all things reptilian.  I hope that somewhere along the way of establishing my friendships at work, I was/am able to help dissuade people from thinking of snakes as just some vile, evil being that should be killed.  I was surprised at the interest shown towards the snake after it was captured. I had maybe one or two negative comments but the rest of my co-workers were genuinely interested in what kind of snake it was, how old it was, and where it came from.  It’s always cool to find a snake, but I was probably more encouraged that it wasn’t killed on the spot and that the reaction was friendly. But was if it really was a cottonmouth or rattlesnake?  That would be the real test…………

Cottonmouth!

Posted on July 15, 2012

Rode my bike up to the preserve the other day and came across this cottonmouth. It was about 6 pm and it was foraging through the wet cypress habitat looking for some dinner I suppose. I was on a stretch of boardwalk and the snake was about a foot below so which allowed me to follow it and get some really good pics without disturbing it.  It’s nice to see that there are still some snakes out there doing what they are supposed to be doing.  Between habitat loss and the general public’s ignorance, it’s really a surprise that there are any snakes left at all.  I’m constantly reading antique snake books, some written a half a century ago, that describe the days where you could find 10-20 snakes a day (or even more) without even looking. I’ve talked to some of these same people who either wrote the books or were subjects of the books themselves and they all agree that it’s not the same as it used to be – the snake numbers have greatly decreased. It’s really a shame. Even more, it’s a scary thought to think that in my lifetime there’s the chance that the keeping of snakes will be outlawed and the chance of seeing them in the wild will be very slim. So where does that leave snakes in the future – just as pictures in books?

Serpents Rise 2

Posted on May 25, 2012

Okay, so most people know that in addition to snakes, I also like to listen to heavy metal. I actually like a lot of different genres of music, but when I’m working out or cleaning the rats and snakes, I prefer metal.  I’m lucky enough to be close friends with Derek Roddy and even more lucky to work with some of the snakes that he produces.  His wife works in education with special needs kids and so does Kim.  So when we hang out, him and I talk snakes and Kim and Halle talk school and we all get along well.

The latest release by his group called Serpents Rise is out now – for FREE!!!!  Click here to download Serpents Rise II – it’s instrumental so if anyone is hesitant due to metal vocals, it’s just guitars, bass, drums and some other percussion and sounds that I don’t know how they were made? I’m not a musician………all I know is that it’s some killer drumming!  Enjoy!!!

Sink!!

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If someone would have pulled me aside when I was about thirteen years old and told me that when I turned 32 I would be excited about getting a sink for my birthday, I probably would have punched them in the face – because that wouldn’t have been funny back then. So here it is…………meet Mr. Sink.  I still gotta get it hooked up but it fits nicely in the corner where I wanted it!

First Maternally Incubated Clutch

Posted on May 23, 2012

I set out a long time ago to breed pythons simply because I liked the idea of getting eggs from a snake (as opposed to live birth – like boas), and I also was interested (and still am), in artificial incubation techniques.  The original incubator that I built has held up season after season and I’ve been fortunate enough to hatch some nice snakes with really high success rates.  In the wild of course, egg-laying snakes coil tightly around the clutch for close to two months.  They may leave the clutch completely for short periods of time or partially come off of the clutch to eat, drink, and possibly even defend themselves and their eggs.  A good number of hobbyists have successfully let their females incubate the eggs and there seems to almost be a shift in the hobby from artificial incubation to maternal incubation in some species, especially the Morelia group.  I’ll always have an interest in artificial incubation which means I’ll continue to pull eggs from the females and put them in the incubator but maybe with a few exceptions each season.

This season, I had an accidental carpet python clutch (New Guinea/Coastal). What happened was that I did some re-organization of my room and moved a few snakes around. During this time, Little Guy (New Guinea) was temporarily housed with Butterfly (New Guinea) for about a weekend.  I intended to give Butterfly the year off since she gave me a nice 9 egg clutch last season. One particular Friday, I was making the rounds in my snake room and cleaning cages.  Butterfly was looking extremely large in the lower third of her body and I closely examined her and marked her card down as “ovulating”.  I figured that she must have locked up with little guy and she’s on her way to giving me another clutch.  The very next day as I was making the rounds again, I popped my head into Butterfly’s tub and was shocked to see her laying the first egg of the clutch.   She wasn’t ovulating the day before – she was getting ready to lay! I continued to watch and took some pics as she continued to have contractions and push the eggs out one by one. All in all she laid 9 eggs and 1 slug.  I wasn’t able to stick around to completion since I had plans later that night so it was decided that I would just check up on her later in the night and remove the eggs.  I returned later that night to see her tightly coiled on the eggs and my temp gun was reading at 87 degrees – perfect – couldn’t have been any better.  As days passed, she continued to coil the eggs and the temperatures held pretty steady.  I offered her small meals and she came off of the clutch half-way in order to eat, which was neat to see.

After a long two months, the eggs started to pip and they all hatched successfully.  I ended up removing the clutch and putting them in the incubator as this was happening due to the fact that her enclosure has small gaps around the tub and the hatchlings would have surely gotten out overnight or in the daytime when I was at work.  All in all, it was a pretty neat experience and I’ll possibly do it again next year with a carpet clutch.  I’m really happy with these – a few of them turned out REALLY red.

Pythons of the World Vol. 1

Posted on May 1, 2012

Over the years, I’ve tried to build up a nice, respectable Herp library.  Books about snakes of course make up a majority of my collection but I also really enjoy field herping books and vintage herp books from the early days, long before the age of “herpteculture”.  A lot of these books are out of print, hard to find, and sometimes very expensive.  In the past, I’ve been lucky enough to trade for some and even come across some copies at a bargain price that were in really nice shape.  The one book though that has always alluded me is Pythons of the World: Vol 1 by Dave and Tracy Barker. I have the more recent Vol 2 which discusses Ball Pythons in great detail but Vol 1 (Australian Pythons) is much harder to find.  Well, actually you can find it on the internet but the prices are pretty steep.  For the longest time I said that I would never fork over the money for an expensive copy of the book because I sometimes enjoy the search almost as much as I enjoy the book itself!  I wanted to have a story to go along with the book.

My search came to and end the other day via my good friend Byron.  As I mentioned in a previous post, he’s built up a great collection of Ball Pythons and is really enjoying the hobby so far. His kids are way into it and he stops over about once a week to pick up rats for his collection.   He’s immersed himself in the genetic aspect of Ball Pythons and he passed me up a long time ago in knowing the ingredients that make up killer looking snakes.  To make a long story short, I let him borrow my Vol 2 since it deals exclusively with Ball Pythons.  In my opinion, there will never be a more thorough, well written book on Ball Pythons.  Well, Byron showed up again about a week later to pick up some rats and he had the book in his hand to return to me. So he handed me a box with the book, only it wasn’t the book I loaned him. It was Vol 1 !  I freaked out a little bit and I might have even said a bad word or two around his kids on accident – I was THAT excited.  Like I said, I enjoy the search and the story surrounding these vintage herp books and this is a great story that I’ll always remember. Who doesn’t like to get unexpected surprises?  Hopefully I’ll be able to return the favor via a snake or some other trade. I’ve really been lucky to come back in contact with Byron and a few other people in the industry who are very generous and are in it for the right reasons.

Jada x Jack Sparrow!

Posted on April 30, 2012

Okay, so I was REALLY looking forward to this clutch last year but it didn’t turn out so great. I ended up with a lot of slugs, some dead leucistics (which were expected), no jags, and two siblings.  The positive thing though is that both siblings are turning out really cool.  The same pairing was planned again this year but this time the results were much better. Jada laid a clutch of 17 good looking eggs at the end of February. I lost 5 along the way (presumably leucistics), but the rest hatched okay with the total being 8 jags and 4 siblings.  I can’t wait to see how these turn out! There seems to be some variation within the clutch, which keeps it exciting, and I’ve picked out a few favorites already.

Long time, no post

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Haven’t posted anything to the blog in quite some time due to school this last semester. It’s taken up a lot of my time but I graduated and managed to get a few other things done a long the way.  The bad thing is that due to school and the library,  I haven’t been out of the house at all doing any field herping or going to any parks.  But the good thing though is that the snakes were low maintenance during this time because they were laying eggs and the eggs were just sitting in the incubator. I didn’t have to come home and worry about working with baby snakes to get them started – that’s next month!

The clutch that I was most looking forward to (Jada x Jack Sparrow)  hatched successfully.  I ended up with 8 jags and 4 siblings. I’ll post some pics in a separate post.  I have a few other clutches (womas, carpets, and ball pythons) sitting in the incubator and I have a few clutches yet to be laid.  The summer will definitely be busy with getting the hatchlings started and hopefully I might even make it back to Myrtle Beach, and I’ll definitely be vending at Daytona this year.  Other than that, I picked up a common snapping turtle from my good friend Mike and also moved one of my iguanas into my big cage on the porch.  Eventually, the iguanas will go in a cage outside, and the snapping turtle……………..not sure about the future plans for him –  haven’t decided if I’m gonna do something more permanent on the porch, or outside?  He’s really cool though………..lot’s of personality!

In more boring news, my dad and I built a screen door for my rat shed.  It’s working great so far – lot’s of ventilation and the rats are staying cool!  In the next few weeks though, I’ll be building a mouse rack so I can have a steady supply of mice for the hatchling carpets.  I also managed to fall into a pretty good deal via a friend of mine from back in my high school days. My friend Byron, has taking a liking to Ball Pythons and has built up a really nice collection over the past 6 months.  Of course once you cross over that 10+ snake threshold (which he did some time ago!), it’s time to start thinking about your rodent supply. I usually have extra rats every week so we’ve worked out a deal for him to stop over and get rats whenever he needs them.  He has generously chipped in for rat food and it’s all working out really good.  I can’t wait to see what he produces in the future because he has some NICE snakes.

St. Augustine Alligator Farm

Posted on March 18, 2012

I’d really like to go to Reptile Gardens in South Dakota. It pretty much has the largest reptile collection in the world. Eventually one day I’ll get there but probably second on the list as far as reptile related attractions, I’d have to list the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. It’s a long time attraction that started out over 100 years ago. I’ve known about it for as long as I can remember but just never made it over there!  I ended up going with the Suncoast Herp Society and we were lucky to get a nice discount.  A few posts down, I talked about Gatorland in Orlando which I’ve been to a few times, but in my opinion the St. Augustine farm is a little bit better.  What attracted me most to the St. Augustine Farm is the fact that they have all  23 currently recognized species of Crocodilia – and they are the only place in the world (as far as I know) that can claim this.

I’ll refrain from rambling on about this place but I will say that it’s pretty neat to see and come away with a photo record of all 23 species of Crocodilia. In addition to that, they have a decent reptile selection that included an actual Blackheaded python “morph”. The one they have on display is what’s called a “color-changer” for lack of a better term. The genetics behind them are still not fully understood but they tend to lose their banding and become almost patternless and then I believe they sometimes change back.   The park is laid out nicely and although it was a little too cool for most of the reptiles to be active, there was still a lot to be seen.  I see Aldabra Tortoises every time I go to Busch Gardens, but St. Augustine has a nice group of Galapagos Torts.  Out of all the Crocodilians, the Indian Gharial is hands down my favorite while the Cuban Crocs would be second on my list.  I’ve never seen Indian Gharials in person so this was definitely one of the highlights for me.  Awesome place – I’ll just leave it at that.  Enjoy the pics………

New Rack and New Clutch

Posted on March 2, 2012

I took the day off of work the other day and built a new hatchling rack. It’s identical to another one that I’m already using – made out of melamine and holds 36 – 15qt tubs.   It’s hard to plan on how many new hatchlings there will be and I almost decided at the last minute to NOT build it and just wait and decide later (based on how many clutches are laid). Well I’m glad I decided to go ahead and build it because the very next day after it was done, Jada (my really nice Diamond Jungle Jag) gave me a clutch of 17 eggs! I’m seeing a few more ovulations and pre-lay sheds so I think the new rack will get some use this season.

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The Jada clutch was really a relief since she her clutch last year wasn’t that great. I attributed last years failures to her being young and also to her being moved (along with all of my other snakes) during the breeding season. I was really hoping it wasn’t something genetic and it looks like it’s not, because all 17 eggs look fertile. She didn’t have any complications with this clutch and she’s eaten since then so she back on her way to being in shape.  I came home from St. Augustine last Saturday to find her wrapped around this nice clutch!  That was a really great day – St. Augustine Alligator farm in the day, and then coming home to a nice clutch in the evening.

I’ll write about St. Augustine in the next post……………but just to give out a little preview, here’s an Indian Gharial! 

The incubator is on!

Posted on February 5, 2012

Like the title says, the incubator is on and is ready for eggs.  This is the original incubator that I built around 2004 and it’s been in use every year since. It’s not the largest incubator by any means, but it works perfectly and I’ve always been able to fit all of my clutches in there without running out of space.  It was originally built with one shelf but as more snakes were acquired, and more clutches were produced,  more shelves needed to be added…….. so it can now hold 6 -15qt sterilite tubs.

I’ve experimented throughout the years with thermostats starting out with the standard t-stat at the time – the Helix DBS-1000.  It worked perfectly and I really like the Helix’s because they are proportional (power is constantly supplied) as opposed to the on/off type t-stats.  The main problem though that I’ve run into with the Helix is that it cannot be plugged into a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) or a generator in the event of a power outage.  On/off t-stats such as Ranco’s and Johnson’s can be plugged into a backup power supply with no problems. So a few years ago, I ended up switching to a Ranco.  I plugged it into my UPS box, plugged the UPS box into the wall, and it worked fine with no problems. We even had a few power outages with eggs in the incubator!  It’s pretty nerve racking but the UPS kicks on and I can get a few extra hours of power from it – which luckily has been the duration of the power outages.  I’m not an electrician so I can’t explain why proportional t-stats won’t work with additional power supplies but I can vouch that when I plugged my Helix into one, it zapped it and fried the fuse.

With the increase in popularity of the reptile hobby, more t-stats have been released onto the market.  This is a good thing because there are a lot of options now spanning across different price points. These new t-stats are even manufactured specifically for the reptile industry.  All of my Ranco’s are being used on racks so I needed to order a new t-stat for my incubator. I really wanted a fancy one that had a web interface and would send text messages and/or emails if there was a power failure (HerpStat makes some really nice ones if anyone is interested in going this route).  They are pretty pricey though in the $200-$300 range………but if you have significant money sitting in unhatched eggs, than it’s probably worth it! I ended up deciding to go with a Vivarium Electronics model (VE-100) – a new t-stat made by Reptile Basics. This particular model is a basic on/off t-stat with no bells and whistles. It turns the heat on, then turns it off…………and it does this back and forth to regulate the temperature. The Ranco’s do this too, but they look so utilitarian and the Vivarium Electronics model looks a lot better and has a nice green backlit readout.  I’m liking it already and it’s keeping the temps right where I need them. All I need is eggs………..which should be arriving in the next few weeks.

Field Herping 2012

Posted on January 31, 2012

We’ve had a mild winter here in Fl (70-80′s) so I figured I’d get out and do some more field herping.  The state of Florida has a lot to offer in regards to it’s wildlife.  There are a ton of outdoor activities to do year round here and lately I’ve just been trying to get outdoors as much as I can and explore. Usually this just consists of me on my bike with my backpack which includes my camera and snake hook.  I’m fortunate to live on the bottom end of an 8,500-acre nature preserve (Brooker Creek) – it’s a five minute bike ride from my house.  Even better is the fact that Kim and I, during a recent bike ride, stumbled onto a dirt road that was cut into the woods and led to a lake which I previously didn’t know about.  In the past month or so, they’ve since added some boardwalk pieces to this trail and it’s a really neat herping spot.  It’s an awesome mixture of pine flatwoods and cypress wetlands so there is a pretty diverse mix of habitat and animals.

I’m not even close to being a good “field herper” but it’s a learning process and I’m trying to get out into the field at different times of the day and just seeing what works.   In the past, my field herping consisted of accidentally seeing a snake on a sidewalk……….which was cool in itself, but my goal is to purposely find things, not just stumble upon it. My first plan of action is just to be in the field more. I figure the more I’m out there, the more I’ll see. Heading out once ever few weeks isn’t going to bring a lot of sightings, unless you’re lucky.  I’ve also been inspired recently by a few of the people that I’ve met from the Suncoast Herp Society.  They are hardcore field herpers and routinely find snakes. They make it look easy!  In Daytona last year, I also met an old time snake hunter from N.Y. named John Kemnitzer. He’s written a few books on his snake hunting trips, which are still on-going by the way, and he makes it sound easy too!

My primary goal when I’m out is to find snakes, but other reptiles and amphibians are always welcomed finds.  I used to get discouraged easily after going out into the woods and not finding any snakes. Admittedly, it’s discouraging not to find anything, but I try to make the best of it.  I’m out there getting exercise and my eyesight and visual acuity gets a little better on each trip – so it’s like practice.  This spot is so good though that your’re almost guaranteed to see a gator or two and some turtles.  The snakes are always going to be the hardest to find but I was really excited and encouraged the other day when I found a four foot Banded Water snake foraging at dusk.   The worst part about that trip though was the fact that it was a last minute impromptu trip and my snake hook and good camera were left at home. Luckily my backup camera was in my bag, but the pics turned out terrible.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve found that water snake, some leopard frogs, numerous alligators and an assortment of turtles.  I’ve also come across some fresh snake sheds so at least they are out there moving and that I’m in the right spot.  The neatest thing so far though was a striped mud turtle that I found at night. He was in about 3 inches of water and he was chasing tadpoles!  I was able to use my surefire flashlight that I got for Christmas to spot him and it also provided good lighting for the pics. I’ve never seen one of these in the wild so this has been my most exciting find so far – and it wasn’t even a snake!  I’m gonna keep going back to this place of course, since it’s easily accessible, but a  lot of other trips are planned as well. I really want to go back to the Everglades and look for some things and also go back to the USF area in Tampa where they have some really nice mountain bike parks.  These parks in Tampa have some really nice bike trails that cut though the woods and wrap around lakes so there is always a chance of seeing things out there too.  It’s a large area and easy to get lost so I’ve downloaded a few GPS apps for my phone – not to sure how much I trust my phone though, so it might be wise to invest in a proper handheld GPS for my travels.

Anyways, it’s been fun so far – here are some pics below………….!

Ovulations

Posted on January 25, 2012

Another fun post…………! just a few ovulation pics – which gets me excited because it’s going to be an early season. Early for the Womas and Carpet pythons anyway. The Ball Pythons are slow this year……….hopefully they are breeding when I’m not looking, cause’ I’m not seeing a whole lot! But it’s still early.

The point of ovulation happens when mature follicles are released into the oviducts.  For most snakes, this is easy to see with the naked eye as the female swells up really big for a period of about 24-48 hours. The follicles can now be officially considered eggs and the snake is now gravid. Anyways, when I’m checking cages during the breeding season and I see ovulations, I know that everything is done for that particular female. There’s no more wondering or questioning things. I can then pull the male and either put him back in his tub to resume normal life or put him with another female.

The Woma girl…….you can definitely tell in the pics!  She was solid as a rock for a few days but she looks a little more comfortable now. Jada (the insanely bright Jag!) was really uncomfortable for about a week and she has been really tense and nervous lately.  It’s a little harder to tell in the pics, but trust me……….she was swollen too and she’s about to go into her pre-lay shed.  Hopefully I’ll have some nice healthy eggs in the upcoming weeks.

Gatorland

Posted on January 24, 2012

Okay, so the previous post was pretty depressing – but that’s what is currently going on so I figured I’d try to do my part to get the word out. Back to the fun posts…………….

Kim and I went to Gatorland in Orlando a few weeks back. I’ve been going there since I was a kid and it’s always cool to me of course.  The older I get and the more I read and learn about crocodilians, the more I’m attracted to Cuban crocs.  They don’t get super huge like a Saltie or Nile (I love both of those too) but what they lack in size, they make up for in their awesome speckled coloration and in their attitude. These things are nasty and from what I’ve heard, they can run and jump when attacking their prey. If you’ve ever been to Gatorland, you know that they obviously have a TON of gators. In addition to the normal gators, they have some Leucistic gators (white with blue eyes) , a few American Crocs (which recently were reported to range as far north as St. Petersburg!), Cuban crocs, Saltwater crocs, and an African dwarf croc that survived the fire that they had a few years ago which destroyed the front of the park. A few species of native and exotic snakes as well as some Aldabra tortoises round out the reptile collection.  I think they may have had some birds and a few mammals?……….but I usually skip past those to get to the reptiles – haha!

One cool part of the park that is new (I think?) is something at the south end of the park called the “Swamp Walk”. Basically it’s just a boardwalk trail that winds through an unspoiled natural cypress swamp.  Motivated by all of the Burmese Python/Everglades talk, I’m kind of on an Everglades mission right now to learn all I can and make a few trips back down their in the future.  Apparently this swamp here at Gatorland is considered part of the headwaters of the Everglades – I never would have thought it started this far North, but it does.

If you live in Florida or if you are ever in the Central Florida area, check it out. It’s great because it’s good “half-day” activity and it won’t leave you exhausted like a day at one of the theme parks will. You can go in the morning when the gators are basking and then have the rest of the afternoon and evening to do other things in Orlando. The price is reasonable too – we got in on a Florida resident discount which they do every so often.  Good times for sure…………..and remember to check out the Cuban crocs if you go!

Python Ban

Posted on January 23, 2012

Hmmm, where to start?  If you are “into” reptiles, then you are probably aware that a law was passed last week. If you aren’t “into” reptiles then I’ll attempt to summarize: this law placed four species on the injurious list of the Lacey Act.  These four species are: the Burmese Python, the African Rock python (Northern and Southern forms) and the yellow anaconda.  What this law does is that it prohibits the interstate sale and importation of these species.  This law was proposed/passed as an effort to “restore the everglades” after all of the damage that the Burmese Python has done.  Now keep in mind that this law affect the whole entire country – even though the burmese python problem only exists in South Florida.  There are so many things wrong with the way that this law was passed that it’s hard to summarize meaningfully in one post without forgetting some of the malfeasance that transpired in the last 4 years.

A little back-history…………….Bill Nelson (Senator from Florida) introduced a bill in 2008 which included all constrictor snakes of the Python genera as an injurious animal.  Along with the Burmese python, several other pythons were included under this “Python genera” unbrella.  Having this law passed would have significantly degraded the reptile hobby as other species such as Ball pythons and Blood pythons would have been banned along with some lesser kept species like Angolans and Timors.  A few revisions later, a re-introduced list is presented and later dubbed “the big 9″ ( Burmese python, Northern & Southern African pythons, Reticulated python, all four Anacondas, and Boa constrictor).  Without going into further details, the final bill was passed which only included the four species mentioned in my first paragraph.

For the last decade, a war has been waged between the reptile industry, special interest groups (more on them later), and politicians – with the ignorant public stuck in the middle.  The law that was passed last weeks marks a significant four year battle. However, the war has only begun. The passing of this law opens the door for the government to unjustly add any species to the injurious list that they deem necessary.  The government “science” (the incompetent USGS) behind the Burmese python problem in the everglades is a farce at best. One of the contributing factors to this law getting passed was a climate study (done by the INCOMPETENT USGS) that proposed that Burmese pythons could potentially spread to the lower 1/3 of the United States.  You do not have to be a Ph.D. biologist to understand that Burmese pythons hail from a tropical Asian climate and therefore would not survive in a temperate climate, yet the “scientists” at the USGS state otherwise – based on absolutely ZERO proof and evidence.  Specific measures have been in place in Florida to mitigate the Burm problem.  An ROC law (Reptiles of Concern) law was passed which didn’t ban the snakes but did make owners/sellers more accountable for their snakes and their actions.  Florida also granted “Python Hunting” licenses to qualified individuals to help eradicate the Burms from the Everglades. Florida was making progress with the Burm problem – there was/is no need for Federal legislation – this is a Florida problem that should be solved by Florida.  The number of invasive plants, fish, and other animals in the everglades is staggering – along with mans destruction of the everglades (with pesticides, alterations of water flow, etc.) Burmese are a problem, but they are surely not the ONLY problem in the ‘glades and they aren’t even close to being the worst. Bottom line is that Burmese pythons are a problem ONLY IN SOUTH FLORIDA.  They aren’t spreading to other places like you are led to believe.  They’ve actually been in South Florida since the early 90′s…….so how come they haven’t come further north? I’ll give you a hint………….it’s the same reason why Boas in Mexico haven’t migrated to Texas.

HOWEVER……………..the reptile war was started in Florida but has since moved onto the rest of the United States due to the involvement of special interest groups such as HSUS (Humane Society of the US), PETA, and Defenders of Wildlife – all animal rights nutjob groups.  Why waste taxpayer dollars and time and effort to ban Burms in all of the other states? It the equivalent of putting salt on the road in Florida because it’s snowing in Buffalo.  Well, unfortunately for the reptile keeping community, Killer Pythons make for sensational news headlines.  Sensational news headlines involving an animal always gets the public into panicked frenzy. The media plays on the ignorance of the public and before you know it, the easiest answer the government can come up with is “lets ban it, it’s dangerous”. Special interest groups then throw money at politicians in the hopes of getting ANY law passed that has to do with animal ownership.  Whether you know it or not, the end goal of these special interest groups is to ban ALL animal ownership. It has been suggested by very reliable sources that snakes were a VERY easy place to start for them and the next step will be to push for a ban on other reptiles such as lizards, frogs, turtles, etc.  They will use the media to again play on the ignorance of the public and make it look like these laws are being pushed for the public’s safety.  As I type now, there are additional laws trying to be passed (one devastating one in Virginia) which would ban more species in that state –  species such as Morelia – which are NOT dangerous, most are NOT (and never will be) imported, NONE have any established populations in the wild in the U.S., and there are NO incidents, injuries, or deaths attributed to the Morelia species. So why is there a push for a ban? Virginia is facing the same two problems that the rest of the reptile keepers in the U.S. are facing: Special Interest Groups and the ignorant public.

Where does the baseless government regulation on the reptile industry stop? And how do we try to stop it? Those are the two questions that I think about daily. To illustrate what all of this means to me, take a look at my “About me” page or scroll down and read the rest of my blog entries. This isn’t just some fun little hobby that I do.  This has been my life since I was 14. All of this could be completely erased and gone in the next few years. I know most everyone reading this isn’t directly affected by this law – but you are indirectly affected by it because it’s altering the reptile industry as we know it. It’s altering the way kids are brought up learning about reptiles.  Reptiles are already scarce in the wild due to our over-population, but just think………in the future, you may have to pay to go to a zoo to see ANY reptile – because after all, they are dangerous and the government is keeping you safe.

What’s the next step? What’s the plan going forward?  In my opinion, it’s two-fold.  The reptile industry needs to get a lot more organized (via USARK) and also the general public needs to be educated – which is a VERY tall order.  How that needs to be done, I don’t know – but we need to start working to erase generation upon generation of misappropriated fears and generalizations about snakes. Every day I hear “I hate snakes – just because”.  The end result of statements such as this is that laws are passed against the ownership of any reptile.  For starters, if you are reading this……………please join USARK. They are like the NRA of the reptile world – although a lot poorer and this is our downfall. We don’t have as much money as HSUS, PETA, Defenders of Wildlife, etc.  They are our voice and it’s really a David and Goliath situation when we go up against these laws. I trust in them to do everything in their power to fight for the rights of reptile keepers. Scroll up to the top of this blog and think about this for a minute…………….if USARK wasn’t involved from the start, all of the Python genera (and possibly more such as Boa Constrictor) would have been banned last week. I wouldn’t even be typing this right now.

I’ve rambled on and could continue to do so but I’ll leave you with a little known fact that was conveniently left out of the news reports and hype surrounding this now very famous picture below. It was taken in 2005 in the Everglades National Park and if you haven’t seen it, what the picture is depicting is a very large Burmese python that attempted to swallow an alligator. The python literally burst at the seems and died.  The little known fact that is left out of the reports is this:

When extracted from the snake, the alligator was largely intact except for two open wounds, one to the top of the skull behind the eyes and one on the shoulder. In both cases dermal bone was missing, suggesting some kind of trauma”. A large Burmese python is definitely a significant reptile force to contend with.  However, it’s not brutal enough force to cause dermal bone to go missing.  What this means was that this alligator was more than likely shot by poachers and was already dead before the python came across it. But that’s not what lawmakers and the media would want you to believe. You’re supposed to believe that the pythons are out there eating large alligators on a daily basis – and this just isn’t the case.  This point illustrates how easy it is for politicians and special interest groups to distort the facts to their advantage and call it “science”. This picture was EVERYWHERE on the news and the story was always the same – Snake vs. Alligator – just like a bad SciFi movie. Anyone who knows me knows that I rarely partake in political discussions and I’m not a conspiracy theorist. But this is just one example in this reptile war, and there are many others, of the government “scientists” and the media conveniently omitting the facts.

 

Herp Books

Posted on January 8, 2012

I see a lot of threads on the forums asking “what are some good herpetology related books?”  One of the highlights of the Daytona trip each year is the book selection at the auction on Saturday night and also at the actual show itself. The local Tampa shows usually just have the normal “how to” beginner books, which are good for a specific purpose but not really what I’m looking for.  I am also always on the lookout at flea markets and book stores for any antique or obscure herp related books and with that being said, I’m starting to build up a pretty nice collection.  I try to focus on snakes in particular, but sometimes I’ll deviate outside of just snakes as long as it’s reptile related. Here are a few that I’ve read recently – some more than once because they were so good.

Stolen World: This particular book has some drama associated with it which in my opinion ads to the mystique.  Basically from what I’ve read and been told, the author herself has been around and/or involved in the herp community for quite some time. So she wrote a book based on Hank Molt and Tom Crutchfield (see below posts for information on the legendary T.C.! )  Well, apparently after the final draft of the book was sent to the press, Tom took exception to some of the things that were written in the book.  To this day, I’m not even sure what these details are since this all happened before my time and I wasn’t “in the know” about a lot of this stuff back in the day anyways.  Whether or not the details in it are 100% true, it’s a VERY entertaining read.

You Belong in a Zoo: No drama involved here but still a very entertaining read from renowned herpetologist Mr. Peter Brazaitis. The book details his growing up a fan of reptiles in general and of the late Raymond Ditmars and follows his impressive career at the Bronx and then later on the Central Park zoo.  In my opinion, he came up at the right time in the age of herpetology.  Everything was new back then and there wasn’t much known about the keeping and breeding of reptiles.  Keepers were just elated to see these reptiles in person and the challenge was just to keep them alive.  To me, this takes me back to being 14 years old when I got a green iguana as a present and it was might as well have been a pet dinosaur and I knew nothing about it………..except that it was big and cool.  This book makes it sound like every day at his job was like this!  One day it was crocs, then the next day, cobras – and everything in between.  He was even lucky enough to marry a woman who was an expect on crocodilians.

The Lizard King: This book is similar to Stolen World in that it chronicles the evolution of the herp industry and all of the nefarious schemes that were played out in order to bring all of the reptiles into the pet trade.  Instead of Hank Molt or Tom Crutchfield (although they are both mentioned), the book revolves around the Van Nostrands of South Florida, who were big time importers back in the day – and still are.  I remember seeing Mike Van Nostrand at the Daytona expos each year and Strictly Reptiles used to have a huge setup of tables with just about everything on it.  I don’t believe they attend shows anymore, but they still do quite a bit of business.  Not as long as Stolen World, but still a good read.

The Snake Charmer: Really good book about the life and times of venomous snake researcher Joe Slowinski. Unfortunately his life was cut short on a field expedition to Myanmar in 2001.  He was a young and enthusiastic herpetologist and it’s a shame what happened. I won’t go into details as to avoid spoiling the book but it probably all could have been prevented and it was just an unfortunate accident. I never met him but just by reading about his interests and personality, he sounds like a pretty fun guy.  He was an academic all the way up to a Ph.D but also liked to drink beer and talk about snakes.

Big Snake – The hunt for the worlds largest python: I picked this book up at the auction in Daytona a few years back because it looked entertaining.  Apparently there is something called the “Roosevelt Prize” that still stands to this day at the Bronx Zoo.  Teddy Roosevelt issued a bounty on any snake caught in excess of 30 feet and many years later, the prize still stands at $50,000. Attempts have been made throughout the years to cash in on this prize but no snake has ever been brought forth.  This book documents the authors comedic attempt at going out in the jungle and finding a snake which would qualify for the reward.  Knowing full well the outcome before I even read the book (there have been no 30ft snakes found recently), I was still intrigued. The nice thing about this book is that it’s written from the perspective of a non-snake person. And by non-snake person,  I don’t mean someone who hates snakes, I just mean someone who is not an academic anywhere in the herpetology field.  Fun read – author is quick witted and the whole book is funny. How can you not laugh along with someone who is going to search the jungle for a 30ft snake just days before his wedding!

Surefire 6PX Tactical

Posted on January 1, 2012

Leading up to Christmas, people kept asking me what I wanted and I kept telling them……….a “flashlight”.  Not just an ordinary flashlight though, a tactical one.  This flashlight here can be mounted on a gun and can be used to startle and blind an intruder.  But that’s not really what I plan on using it for.  I planning on using this out in the woods at night, or in the backyard on the lake, also at night! I was turned onto these types of flashlights by my father, who is into guns and also by a few members of the local herp society who use these to go on night herping trips.  In the woods at night, these small flashlights do an amazing job of illuminating the grasses, bushes, trees, and water.  I like to just shine the light along the edges of ponds or out into the open water and look for the reflection of alligator eyes or leopard frogs.  I highly suggest either a Surefire or Fenix brand to anyone who goes out into the woods at night looking for herps. I attached the pics of the flashlight of course, and also of a pic of me spotting a small gator in the lake (small yellow dot in the water  under the moss). The picture is deceiving though – it was really dark outside and the flash just brightened everything up.  Looking forward to going out into the Everglades and using this……………!

Iguana Cage

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This is a neat story about a cage that we (my dad and myself) built around 1995. I’m estimating this date because I’m not sure exactly when it was built. I do however know that it was before I started driving in 1996 because my dad drove me around to get the supplies.   We originally built this cage to house Andre, my 4ft blackthroat monitor.  Looking back on things, this was probably an inappropriate cage for a terrestrial monitor lizard (they need more floor space, not height), but I only had a small space in my bedroom to fit a cage so we built it vertically. It just so happened that the space in my room was right in front of a window that received some really good sun rays in the morning and I remember Andre liked to just sit on that shelf and enjoy it. This setup lasted a few years until I moved to Buffalo. Right before my move, I gave Andre and the cage to Russ, a good friend of mine from high school.  After that, another good friend of ours (Sean) took Andre and the cage and kept him until he passed away.  The cage was then used for various things but it was never taken apart, sold, or destroyed!  Sean went into the military and Russ went off to college but the cage sat intact at Sean’s place.  I didn’t give much thought to the cage throughout the years since I was now breeding snakes and building racks.

I still keep in touch with Russ on a regular basis and during one of our reptile talks, he mentioned that the cage was just sitting at Sean’s moms house in the garage.  I got kind of excited after hearing that and thought it would be neat to get the cage back and maybe put some iguanas in it…………and the timing was perfect.  Every time I talk to Russ, it reminds me of the days when we were in high school and we were just happy to have a green iguana or a tortoise…………or even fish, in Russ’s case. Morphs weren’t yet established and we basically just got excited about any type of reptile – didn’t really matter what it was.  We even got excited about the caging requirements of different species and to this day, we still talk about ideas of what we want to build in the future.  In July, at the FIRE show in Orlando, the nostalgic rush came over me and I bought two green iguanas – for $10 a piece! I’m raising them up now and I’m really excited to have them and can’t wait til’ they get about four feet.  I plan on using this cage as an intermediary cage between their small cages now and a larger adult cage which I plan on building in my backyard in the future.  Again, I probably have to give more credit to my dad than anything since he pretty much built this and it’s still very sturdy after 15+ years.  But it’s also cool that Russ and Sean kept the cage and didn’t sell it or trash it.  They are both very similar to me though, they see a cage and then imagine what would go good inside of it!

Rat Misconceptions

Posted on December 9, 2011

Being that the reptile hobby is not exactly “normal”, I’m often asked questions and sometimes even led into debates about reptile related topics.  One of these topics happens to be the rodents.  Anyone who knows me or talks to me (or has read the previous few posts about breeding rodents) knows that I’m heavily involved and enthusiastic about maintaining my rodent colony. When I started it around 4 years ago, it was strictly out of necessity and I wasn’t really looking forward to doing it. They were rats. No one likes rats. They are almost as equally hated as snakes.  They are mean, they are stupid, they smell, and they eat their babies – right?  Wrong. In maintaining my colony over the last four years, I’ve come to find that none of the above are true – well, maybe the odor part is a little true – they do have a particular smell but it’s manageable.

Every so often the topic of the rodents will come up in conversation and immediately all of the inaccurate assumptions are thrown out there and mentioned to me and I just try to remain calm and simply explain that rats are intelligent, good natured, and are good parents.  An article recently published in a scientific journal (Science 12/09/11) supports this and somewhat debunks all of the myths I listed above.   Here is the abbreviate version from Yahoo:

Rats don’t always act like, well, rats.

New experiments show rats demonstrating compassion and helping other rodents. It’s a trait some scientists thought was reserved only for humans and higher primates.

And it’s certainly not the sneaky, selfish rap that goes with calling someone a dirty rat.

In repeated tests, rats freed another trapped rat in their cage, even when yummy chocolate served as a tempting distraction. Twenty-three of the 30 rats opened the trap by pushing in a door. The rats could have gobbled the chocolate before freeing their partners, but often didn’t, choosing to help and share the goodies.

“Basically they told us (freeing another rat) is as important as eating chocolate,” said study author Peggy Mason of the University of Chicago. “That’s a very striking thing.”

In some cases, the rats first took the chocolate chips out of a container, but didn’t eat them, then freed the other rat and shared “almost as if they were serving them chocolate,” Mason said. The research is reported in Thursday’s journal Science.

Also, females showed more consistent empathy than males, Mason said. All six females freed their trapped partner; 17 of the 24 males did so. This confirms other studies that show females demonstrating more pro-social behavior than males, she said.

There were days when the male rats took the day off from helping their trapped partner, but the females never did, she said.

Jeff Mogil at McGill University in Canada, who wasn’t part of the study, said it was a tad surprising but even more convincing.

“It’s a very, very obvious demonstration of the phenomena,” Mogil said. Both scientists said social empathy is probably a characteristic that is important in the evolution of animals.

Mason joked that if rats can be so caring and helpful “there’s a sense of optimism. It’s something we could be.”


Nile Croc

Posted on December 4, 2011

Check out these Nile Croc pics that I took today at Busch Gardens. I have seen this particular croc a ton of times but either the glass was dirty and I couldn’t get good pics or he wasn’t positioned good for a pic, or some other reason but today it worked out perfectly. It was a little overcast, the glass was clean, and he opened his mouth when the sun came out – which all worked out for a great set of pictures.  I’d love to go to Africa to see these in the wild or even go to Australia and see Saltwater crocs which are even bigger then Niles!  But for now, I’ll just have to enjoy this one from behind the glass.

Breeding season started

Posted on November 23, 2011

My breeding season is off to a good start – and early too!  I fed my females heavily throughout the summer and started cooling down around halloween. The Womas are off to the best start and I’ve seen multiple lockups on 3 different pairs.  I have a fourth pair that might be on their way too, so we’ll see.  I have a few Ball Python pairs that I’m putting together and that’s going good too.  I’m going to try to put my lesser platinum male with multiple females this year. So far he’s been with a Mojave and a Pastel and I have a few normal girls on loan from a friend so hopefully we can get some lessers out of those too.  As far as Ball Pythons though, I’m definitely “small time” when it comes to my projects.  The pieds are the most high end thing that I have – and my Het trio (1.2) is breeding good already so hopefully I can get some more pieds. Those never get old.  As far as Carpet Pythons go, as you can see below, the jags are breeding again. I had a train wreck of a clutch last year from them so I really hope that this year will go better.  Other then that, I have a few New Guinea (Coastal) pairs that I’ve seen locked up but nothing so far from my Irian Jayas. Those seem to give me the hardest time. They have pissy attitudes and they don’t breed good for me.

I never like to count my eggs before they are even laid so if I get at least a few clutches out of this, then I’ll be content. If in Feb-Mar it looks like I’m gonna get more clutches then I expected, then I’ll have to build a bigger incubator!

Good luck with everyone’s season, and Happy Thanksgiving.

$14 Kauffeld Book!

Posted on November 18, 2011

Just found a rare book (first published in 1957) that I was looking for, for only $14! I have never seen even a used copy of this book for under $70, so I’m pretty excited. Another book to add to the collection………..

Great American Teach In – Year 2!

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This was my second year doing the Great American Teach In.  Kim teaches 2nd grade so it’s only natural that I bag up some snakes and head over to her classroom. We didn’t take a lot of pics – too much going on – but I ended up bringing a few carpet pythons, a woma, a piebald Ball python, and a large Blackheaded python. It was a tie between the pied BP and the Blackhead for favorite snake. The snakes behaved and the only mishap that we had was when George (the Blackhead) released his cloacal contents while he was bagged up. Thankfully though, it was only #1 and not #2, and thankfully it was when he was bagged up between classes. In all fairness though, he is deep in a shed cycle and a lot of snakes relieve themselves around this time – so he was just being a snake. The funny thing was that I got the same questions this year about the snakes as I did last year:

1) Is that a Cobra? (whis is understandable because Blackheaded pythons and Womas both have menacing looking heads)

2) Is that a Rattlesnake? Haha - I guess I have some more educating to do! I can’t wait to do it again next year!  It looked like there was a good turnout as far as speakers/presenters but how can you really top “the guy with the snakes”??

Breeding rodents – part 2

Posted on November 6, 2011

Part 2 – just a few more tips and some more insight carried over from the previous post.  Again, I can’t stress enough how important maintenance is when breeding rodents.  I can go out of town for the weekend and I worry a LOT more about the rodents than I do about the snakes. As long as the snakes have water and they aren’t exposed to any adverse temperature conditions, they’ll do just fine for quite awhile. There are a number of other things to worry about though with rodents.  Floods are my primary concern right now (more on that later) but also problem rats (chewers, fighters, bad moms, etc.) are other things I look out for on a daily basis.

I make an effort to poke my head in the rat shed at least once a day – sometimes more depending on my schedule.  When I kept the rats in the garage, I cleaned twice a week. Now that they are outside with a lot better air exchange and ventilation, I clean only once a week. Thursday evening is my cleaning time and it takes me about an hour (sometimes more) to completely clean every tub, replace the pine, and fill up the water and the food.  The next 12 hours I really like to check again for any floods – for some reason, when the rats get moved or just get their pine changed,  they seem to get curious and start making nests and playing with the water sippers (Edstrom valves). So onto the floods now………

Floods

Floods happen when a rat either shoves bedding up into the sipper causing it to stick in an “open” position OR they manage to pull the entire sipper through the 1/4″ screen and then they easily chew water line.  What happens next is that the remaining water contents of a 5 gallon bucket empty (sometimes a full bucket) out into the tub sometimes causing the rats to drown.  There are two things that alleviate the flood problems.  First, rats are going to be rats so there is NOTHING you can do about a rat taking pine bedding and shoving it into the water sipper causing it to stick. Luckily this doesn’t happen often, and a rat really has to get lucky and shove and exact fitting piece of pine in the sipper valve. There is something you can do though about the water sippers so that they aren’t pulled in through the wire – where the rats can then get a hold of the water line.
This depends now on if you have Edstrom Vari-flow valves (where you can adjust the flow) or whether you have Edstrom original valves. I have both – I bought a lot of Vari-flow valves a long time ago not even knowing what I was buying.  They work fine, but they are smaller and can fit through the screen. The fix for this is to either keep the water line so short that it can be pulled in through the screen OR get a mounting clip that is sold for these. Not wanting to spend more money, I just made the water lines shorter and I crimp the 1/4″ screen so that the valve cannot fit through.  Edstrom original valves are too large to fit through so you never have this problem. I’m slowly converting over from the vari-flows to the originals just because of this.  Hopefully these pics will illustrate what I’m talking about. On the left is the skinnier vari-flow valve and on the right is the fatter original valve.

Screen Size

The size of the hardware cloth (screen) that you buy is also important.  For rats, 1/2″ works perfectly.  The food sits right on top of it and the rats can easily eat the food right through the wire.  For mice, 1/2″ will work for adult mice but smaller mice will be able to jump up and climb right through the 1/2″ opening.  1/4″ works for mice and if you can find it, 1/3″ is a little better because it makes it easier for the mice to eat the food through it without escaping. All of my racks currently are built with 1/2″.  Depending on how many carpet clutches I have next season, I may build a rat rack with either 1/4″ or 1/3″.  This pic below shows the Mazuri rodent food sitting comfortably on top of the 1/2″ without falling through. This is another reason why dog food is more difficult too. The sizes of the food are smaller and they fall through which equals wasted food. The Mazuri rodent food (and also FRM brand) sit right on the top and the rats eat it through the wire without wasting it.

Water Buckets

I like to use 5 gallon white buckets from wal-mart. You can of course use whatever holds water but I like the white buckets because you can fill them up and they last over a week and if you use white buckets you can look and see the water level without looking directly into the bucket. (I used to have different color buckets and my racks were a lot taller so it was a chore to get on a step stool just to check the water level).  Also, on every bucket I use a shut-off ball valve. This basically does two things. It allows you to connect a water line to the bucket and it also allows you to turn off the water and disconnect the water line when performing any maintenance on the bucket or on the rack.  I get these at  AGSelect along with the valves, the water line, and the plastic connectors.

Breeding Tips

Everyone has their own methods for breeding rodents so I’ll just touch on what has worked for me for the last four years.  Basically my breeding tubs are setup as 1.5  (1 male – 5 females).  Every week when I clean, I do one tub at a time. The rats from each tub go into a holding tub while I clean and this gives me a chance to quickly inspect them.  If I come across a pregnant female, I pull it and put it in the preggo rack (cat litter size tubs). I house 2 (sometimes 3) pregnant moms in this size tub.  The remaining male and non-pregnant females go back into the breeding tub and I move females from other tubs into that tub to give me a 1.5 ratio again.  So basically there is always a constant 1.5 male/female ratio in the breeding tubs – even after the preggo rats are pulled out.  It’s not an exact science but it’s  rotation that keeps things moving.

I have read many debates on the internet about whether or not to pull pregnant rats and separate them into their own “mom/birthing” tubs OR to leave them in the breeding tubs while they have their litters.  I like to pull the preggos and give them their own tubs. It cuts down on the stress and they can take care of their litters without the other rats trampling on them or without the males trying to breed the mom as soon as she has a litter.  By pulling and separating the preggo moms, they get a much needed break and will probably last longer in the end.  The argument to this is that it slows down the moms cycles and they aren’t being bred by the male rats for 3 weeks or so while they are giving birth and taking care of their litter. If you didn’t pull the preggos and just left them in the breeding tubs, the males would breed them and they would have continuous litters – one right after the other.  This sounds good and all but the females will get burnt out quicker and babies will get trampled.  It can be done though. I know many rodent breeders that don’t separate the preggos and they do just fine. For me, I like separating them.

Another word of advice that I can offer is to constantly be raising a group of females as future breeders.  At all times, I have a minimum of 20 female rats and 4 males that are in waiting to become breeders.   Eventually your breeder rats will wind down and start producing very small litters (1 or 2) or just stop producing litters all together. Once this happens, it’s time to fire up another group of breeders and put them into the rotation.  If you have adult females ready on hand then you can make an easy transition. If you have a bunch of burnt out breeders that aren’t producing but you don’t have any replacements, then you are looking at at least a month and half – maybe more – before you can grow up some females to breeder size.  This is almost 2 months of not producing rats!! Of course you could always go out and buy some adult females but the goal is to be self-sufficient and not spend additional money on things like that.  This is why I always have a replacement group of breeders that are constantly growing up and/or adult size and waiting to be put into the rotation.

Good luck!

Hopefully this information is helpful to anyone that wants to start breeding rodents. As with most other things, you learn as you go.  These are just some of the tips and tricks that I’ve come across in the past few years.  Breeding rodents is part of the hobby – and it’s a necessary part if you have a lot of snakes (especially picky ones that don’t get to excited about a frozen/thawed rodent!) but in my opinion, it’s well worth it.

Breeding Rodents – part 1

Posted on October 25, 2011

I thought I’d write something up on keeping and breeding rodents since it’s such an important aspect of the hobby. First of all it saves money, it’s interesting – to me anyways!, and it’s integral to the health of your snake collection. I started breeding rats about 4 years ago and I still have the same colony going strong today. I primarily breed rats, but I’ve also bred mice sporadically.  I’ve had pretty good luck getting everything started on rats or switched over to rats shortly after the first few meals therefor I haven’t had to go full time with the mice.  I’m also fortunate enough to live right around the corner from Bob Potts’ place Herp Hobby Shop and he’s kind enough to give me mice in return for some surplus rats that I produce, so it works out for both of us.

So for now, I’ll just discuss breeding rats since I do those full time.  There is no magic number of snakes to keep in order to start breeding your own rodents, but I’d say the time to start thinking about it is when you are keeping 20+ snakes and you plan on keeping more and/or pairing these snakes up and hatching some little ones in the future.  If you like frozen thawed and all of your snakes eat frozen thawed, stick with that – more power to you! For me, I  never had good luck with frozen thawed and it seemed to be a lot of work and my snakes didn’t have the same feeding response as they do now.  Some other issues to contend with are of course location and time.  Breeding rodents no doubt takes up space and time.  I would highly recommend against trying to do any rodent breeding in your house and/or living space.  Rats shed their hair, they smell (not as bad as mice though IMO), the pine dust gets everywhere, and there is the possibility of escape.  Caging, ventilation, and temperature are the next steps to think about and get in order.

Caging – like my snake room, all of my rodent cages are homemade.   There are a handful of plans on the internet that can be found by an easy Google search. I use cement mixing tubs from Home Depot for the adults and and I use cat litter pans for the pregnant moms.  The premise of a rat rack is the same as a snake rack. First find your tubs then design the rack around the tubs. Here are some pics of  the cement tub racks and the cat litter pan racks that I’m using.

Each rack has a five gallon bucket for the water and the food is sitting on top of 1/2″ hardware cloth so rats of all sizes can eat it through the wire.  Other than that, the design is pretty simple. The tubs slide in and out and I’ve never had any problems with these racks in four years. The only modification I’ve made to them is that I shortened them when I moved them from the garage to the shed.  A general rule of thumb is that it’s nice to look down into each level instead of having to get on a step stool just to reach the top level. If you are pressed for space and you need to build them vertically, then that’s what you gotta do but I like them short. Also, a good idea is to put castors on them too so you can easily move them when you are cleaning. All of my automated watering supplies such as the valves and the tubing come from AG Select.

Temps and Ventilation – as you can kinda see in the above pics, the racks all have screen tops which acts as the food holder and also helps with the ventilation.  The real ventilation though should be provided by either exhaust fans, vents and fans, or fans with vents in the structure and heavy outside air exchange.  I keep my rodents in a 8 x 10 aluminum shed.  Again, I’m blessed with luck that this shed is covered by a large maple tree which provides full shade nearly 100% of the day and I also live on a lake which provides some really nice breezes.  I cut some ventilation holes in the top part of the shed (not the roof) and in the summer I keep the doors open too. All of these features combined with a few nice fans on timers provides adequate ventilation for the rats.  As everyone knows, Florida gets really hot even in the shade but I can safely say that this year so far has been the best year for me as far as rodent production. It’s been steady with no real drop-off in the summer like there used to be when I kept them in the garage (I just couldn’t keep them cool enough).  Here are a few pics of the whole setup:

So far this setup is working great.  Temps are stable in the summer, rats are ventilated, and production has been good.  I do have other wildlife in my backyard and in the preserve behind the lake but so far I haven’t had any disturbances from outside animals. I check things at least once a day for anything like that as well as floods with the watering system – which happen occasionally but lately have been few and far between.

Food and Bedding – This section is pretty straight forward. I use pine from Walmart ($6.50 a bag) and 50 lb bags of Mazuri rodent block 5M30 ($17). I wouldn’t suggest cedar for the bedding since it’s toxic to reptiles nor would I encourage to use dog food – unless you do your homework and find a brand that is comparable in nutrition and price. It can be done – and there are other breeders out there that have been successful with certain brands of dog food. But for me, the Mazuri food that I use, I get for a really good price from a local feed store. But I’ve seen it priced at other places for as much as $10 higher than I pay. Also, different parts of the country vary so it just depends where you live.  But its hard to beat $17 for a 50lb bag of laboratory grade rodent block.

So you want to take the plunge and breed rodents?

If so, the most important piece of advice I could offer is to be diligent with your maintenance. Often times I’m asked by non-snake people, how much time I spend maintaining the snake collection. I tell them not nearly as much time as I spend cleaning and worrying about the rats! It’s just a fact that in order to get maximum production from your colony and to keep them as clean and happy as possible, you have to spend considerable time working with them. And by working with them I mean cleaning them, checking them for any health issues, keeping an eye on the pregnant moms, and knowing when to start a new group of breeders and when to retire an old group. The cleaning and maintenance issues can be learned on day one, but the other aspects take some time and experience.

This isn’t to say that it’s all work and it’s not rewarding, because it is to me in the end. I’m saving money, I’m feeding my snakes healthy rodents that have been fed a proper diet, and more often than not I just enjoy maintaining something that I started from scratch 4 years ago – and it’s something that is still going strong today.  I wish you the best of luck if you choose to go forward with breeding rodents.  I guarantee you will find it rewarding once you have a system in place and it’s running like a well oiled machine. Feel free to shoot me an email if there are any questions though.  I may write another post on exactly my schedule and how I keep and breed the rodents  - such as how many per tub, separating preggo females, retiring breeders, etc.  But there is a lot of good info already out there so this isn’t really groundbreaking information that I’m relaying – it’s just what works for me!

Camping – Hillsborough River

Posted on October 7, 2011

Kim and I camped recently at Hillsborough River State Park.  We lucked out and the weekend that we picked happened to have perfect camping weather – low of 60, high of 80.  We’ve been to this park quite a few times but this is the first time we ever camped there. We really liked the campground because it was close to everything.  The river ran right behind our campsite and there was also a trail that led deep into the woods that started right behind our campsite. We ended up doing a lot of hiking and a little bit of canoeing. You are pretty much guaranteed to see alligators and turtles there every time you go.

We unpacked our stuff, then immediately headed out on the trail right behind our campsite.  We followed the trail just looking for anything we could see and Kim spotted what she thought was a fallen tree on the other side of the river. Well, it wasn’t a tree – it happened to be the largest alligator that we’ve ever seen in the wild.  Busch Gardens has some massive gators, but those don’t really count because they are in captivity and get fed on a regular schedule. This one below was HUGE………………and I took this pic from across the river so I’m sure he was probably even larger up close.

Sounds pretty crazy but we went out on this trail later that night when it was dark. We didn’t stay out too long. Our flashlights are average and the mosquitoes were pretty thick, but if I remember correctly, we saw a smaller gator just hanging out in the middle of the river.  Canoeing the next morning was perfect too. We pretty much had the river to ourselves and saw a ton of stuff.  Like a bonehead, I grabbed the wrong memory cards for my camera so I was limited to about 30 pics total so I was constantly deleting bad pics and taking new ones. Other then that, the trip was great. Weather was perfect and we saw a lot of animals.  If you are ever in the Tampa area, I highly recommend Hillsborough River State Park, even if it’s just for the day. It’s something like $5 to get in and they have great trails, some class 2 rapids in the river, and a really neat suspension bridge over the river.

Pics are average at best…………its pretty nerve racking trying to chase gators in a canoe while messing with memory cards for an expensive non-waterproof camera! I’ve already tipped a canoe in this river before trying to catch turtles, so I try to be extra careful from now on.

Pro Exotics Tragedy

Posted on September 27, 2011

Most people who have been involved in the industry for any amount of time are familiar with the name Pro Exotics.  This is the name of the side-business, hobby, and passion of former NFL player Chad Brown.  Unfortunately earlier today, a fire broke out at their facility in Colorado causing massive damage and destroying their whole snake collection (the monitors and gilas were in another building from what I’ve been told). I’ve seen the pictures and I’m sick to my stomach and devastated about whats happened.

Whether or not Chad Brown will ever know this, he has definitely been an inspiration to me and I’ve looked up to him since I was in high school. This is a guy who has the disposable income to pursue whatever hobbies he would like. He chose reptiles because that’s what he likes to do and has been doing since his college days.  It was always a nice relief to open up a reptiles magazine or go to Daytona and see what a professional operation looked like and how they acted.  Robyn has been the manager there since the beginning and he has always been an upstanding person whenever I’ve had any business transactions with him.  Same with Chad – I’ve seen him at shows over the past few years since he’s retired and he always has time to “talk reptiles” with anyone who wishes.  They are both extremely knowledgeable about the industry and are one of the main reasons (if not THE main reason) why we are able to ship reptiles today in an orderly fashion.  In addition to producing phenomenal reptiles, Chad and Robyn have used their knowledge and influence to advance the reptile industry in regards to it’s shipping and husbandry practices.

A few months ago at this past Daytona show, I set out to find a nice lesser platinum ball python male.  I wanted one that had some size on it and that would be ready to breed this coming season. Every time we go to the Daytona show, we walk around the show about 10 times on Saturday and then we get up on Sunday and do it all over again!  A lesser male at the Pro Exotics table caught my eye on Saturday, which then set off a chain of decision making events on Saturday night (I have a hard time pulling the trigger sometimes when buying a snake).  After all, do I really need another snake? More often then not, the answer ends up being……..”YES”! So I went back on Sunday, talked to Robyn about the new F10 disinfectant that’s on the market, talked to Chad for a minute about his Porphyracea collection, then I ended up buying the lesser male from them.  It’s a great looking lesser and even though it’s not a ground breaking morph anymore, it will still fit nicely into my collection and into my ball python breeding plans.

After reading about all of the reports from the fire today, I’m now even more thankful for this snake and I’d like to think that I saved him from this tragedy.  My thoughts go out to Chad and Robyn.  They are two strong individuals who I’m sure will bounce back and will come back even stronger then before.  I can’t even imagine experiencing something like this.  This is a 15+ year collection and business that was lost today in a matter of minutes.  Good luck Chad and Robyn – I wish the best for both of you in whatever direction you decide to go.

Backyard Owl

Posted on September 19, 2011

I see this one every now and then…………….usually around dusk. He swoops down in the yard to grab something and he usually scares me – he’s very intimidating. I don’t look at owls the same way anymore!  You grow up seeing pictures of owls just sitting on branches and not doing anything special – then you see them in the wild and some (like this one) have impressive wingspans and are very deliberate in their movements.  Anyways, I was lucky to get these shots in the dark………….

F.I.R.E show – Orlando

Posted on September 18, 2011

The F.I.R.E (Florida International Reptile Expo) took place this past weekend in Orlando.  I was REALLY looking forward to this show due to the location. I’ll attempt to explain! For me personally, Orlando is the place where I was introduced to reptile shows (around 1994 I believe?).  Before there was “Daytona”, the NRBE (National Reptile Breeders Expo) was held in Orlando…….at a hotel affectionately known as the Twin Towers.  It’s changed hands throughout the years (Hilton, Adams Mark, etc) and that doesn’t really matter because even though the name has changed, the two buildings along with the expo halls are still there.

Around 1994, my parents asked me if I wanted to go to the Tampa show at the fairgrounds.  I didn’t have any interest in going since I was heavily involved in soccer at the time and I had other hobbies.  Fast forward a few months and they asked me again if I wanted to go to a reptile show – only this time it was in Orlando and it was supposed to be bigger. I agreed to go, and I haven’t looked back since.  I remember walking in and being amazed at table after table of all different sorts of reptiles that I had no idea even existed.  I didn’t end up coming home with anything at that first show but I would end up getting my feet wet with monitor lizards a few shows down the road – I was really into monitors at the time. The “reptile show” aspect of the hobby was in it’s beginning stages and it was a neat time seeing it all happen and being a part of it.

The reason why this particular show this weekend was special was due to the fact that it was located at the twin towers – now the double-tree.  There hasn’t been a reptile show there since the NRBE was held there in the mid-90′s. I knew that it was going to be neat to go to a show there again and it would bring back memories and sure enough it did.  There was a little buzz in the air at the show with some of the older vendors too.  They were there when the shows were starting up back in the day and they are right back there in the same spot doing the same thing. The hobby has changed since then but it’s still centered around the same thing – passion for reptiles.  People either “get it” or they don’t.  It’s not just about the animals, it’s everything that goes along with it – the supplies, the cages, the pictures, the natural history, the books, the gossip, the rumors, the SHOWS, the breeders themselves, and the socializing.  I can’t even imagine not being part of the hobby. Anyways, the attendance looked really good and I saw a few friends that were vending and they were doing good early on which is awesome considering the economy and the laws in Florida.  I snapped a few pics and now I REALLY wish I would have taken some pics back at those first shows that I went to. So much has changed since then and it’s hard to imagine a show without ball python morphs!

****ALSO………….I came home with something. Along with feeling nostalgic about the show, I’ve been thinking about the iguanas that I had when I first got into the hobby. They are the reason why I became more heavily involved in reptiles.  The past few months, I’ve been going back and forth deciding on whether or not to get a pair of Rhino iguanas or just some plain green iguanas (like I used to have).  Space is no longer an issue since I have a yard now so it just came down to whether or not I wanted to fork out money for some Rhino’s OR just stick with green iguanas since they are cheaper and they have sentimental value to me.  I finally made my decision (with Kim’s help!) and I ended up getting 2 green iguanas and they are settling in nicely (I’ll take some pics and post on them later).  Who  knows, maybe I’ll get an albino down the road………..?? The ones at Crutchfields are ridiculous!

Step into my office….

Posted on September 4, 2011

I remodeled my office……….and it came out pretty good. This is where I’m usually at when I’m not in the snake room or in the back yard!

Daytona 2011

Posted on August 25, 2011

Just returned from Daytona.  Can’t remember how many this has been but I’ve been going since it was in Orlando in the mid-90′s. I think the first one I went to was in 1996.  I wouldn’t call myself old – yet (only 31), but in that time, I’ve seen a LOT of changes in the industry.  A number of the “big name”  vendors stopped going a few years ago and even since then, a few more long time vendors dropped out.  The economy is of course one reason for the downturn, and another reason is the laws and recent negative publicity in Florida regarding “killer pythons”.  All in all, it’s still a fun time and I will continue to go to the Daytona show and support the hobby until they lock the doors! If/when that happens, I’ll just have to fly up to Tinley (Chicago) or find some other big shows – hopefully the Myrtle Beach show will be in full swing by then.

One thing I did differently this year was attend the lectures Friday night.  This is something that I’ve always wanted to do but the socializing aspect of Daytona got in the way. After all, this short weekend is the perhaps the only time I see some other herp friends from different states.  I made the decision to compromise – hang out Friday afternoon, dinner at Bubba Gumps, then head over by myself to the lectures.  I have to say that it was well worth it and I’m kicking myself for NOT going to the lectures in past years.

First up was Dave Barker who gave a presentation on Herpetoculture in the 21st century.  I missed the very beginning but I imagine it contained stories and anecdotes from the golden age of Herpetoculture (1960′s and on….).  The second half discussed the perilous times we as a hobby face.  It seems like every day a new law is brought forth and USARK is spending a lot of time and money to fight for the industry.  I ended up finding a PDF file of the talk so if anyone is interested – just shoot me an email – I’ll be glad to forward it to you.  Second up was the notorious/legendary Tom Crutchfield – speaking on the Epicrates genus of Boas.  I’m fortunate enough to live in Florida, within driving distance of Tom, and I’ve seen a lot of these snakes in person (dominican mountain reds, jamaicans, fords, cubans, etc).  The talk did not disappoint and whether or not you like/dislike, agree or disagree with Tom – he knows his stuff.  Third up was Jeff Clark and Rainbow boas. I had never met Jeff until this weekend and I’ve never owned a Rainbow boa either but the lecture was very informative and he knows his stuff too when it comes to the Rainbow boas.

The show itself was nice and relaxing as always. I picked up a few books for the collection and met up with John Kemnitzer again – when he signed a book that I bought.  He goes back way before my time and is an old-school rattlesnake hunter with tons of stories.  We got on the subject of the Edisto Island Serpentarium and he said that he was stopping there on his drive back up to New York! Lucky guy……I just got back from there and I already want to go back again.

The weather was good, the food was good, the friends were good, and the auction Saturday night was a blast as always.  Although I miss the older shows when things seemed a lot more “grand”, I already am looking forward to next year.  Also, the Repticon FIRE show (9/17-9/18) moved to the Twin Towers in Orlando (where Daytona began back in the 90′s)…………so that will be neat to go back there again where my reptile show memories all started!  I remember my first show there going with my parents and looking for a water monitor – there were NONE! We take for granted how common some of these species are now but even back in the 90′s, a lot of this stuff was still rare.  Sorry – not a lot of pictures this year………………I was just soaking it all in and relaxing.

Pieds!

Posted on August 17, 2011

Hatched a few really nice low white pieds this week.  I’m extremely lucky because the pairing was het x het and the clutch was only 4 eggs so I really wasn’t hoping for much in the way of pieds.  The final count was 3 pieds and a single 66% het pied male  - really good odds for a het x het pairing.  Unfortunately one of the pieds looked like it stopped developing some time ago and it was also kinked. It ended up passing away while the other ones were hatching.  It’s sad but if you have a lot of snakes and hatch a decent number of clutches over the years, you’re bound to run into a few flaws along the way.  I’ve been really lucky though so these instances have been few and far between.

But life goes on and I’m extremely happy with the pieds - and they are both females!  One of them has NO white at all (on the back). Of course the belly is white and there is some white that is creeping up the sides towards the back – but this has to be one of the LOWEST white pieds I’ve ever seen!  The second girl has a really nice striped going all the way down her spine. She has a little more white then the first one but I’m really drawn to the darkness and the stripe of the first 3/4 of her and how it meets the “pied part” of the last 25% of her body.  She’s really neat looking and I’m probably going to hold onto her.  I already have an AMAZING high white pied female, so it would be really nice to have a low white one too. The stripe is just icing on the cake…………I don’t see a lot of striped pieds floating around!

Biology of the Boas and Pythons

Posted on August 1, 2011

I recently picked up a really nice book for my modest herpetology library. It’s called “Biology of Boas and Pythons” (Henderson and Powell) and it’s a collection of academic papers that were shared and presented at a symposium in Tampa in 2005. The book is very current in it’s information and contains a lot of great pics – one in particular I am glad to have in print in a book (as bad as the pic was for the hobby) – the pic of the burmese python bursting at the seams when it tried to digest the alligator:

There are also some nice Aussie python pics and a handful of boa articles and pics including a paper on the “Deering Estate” boas in South Florida.  If you see a used copy in decent condition – pick it up!

Edisto Island Serpentarium

Posted on July 31, 2011

So we stopped here on the way back to Florida—–>    http://www.edistoserpentarium.com

It’s in South Carolina not too far from the S.C./Georgia border. Derek and Halle were nice enough to take us here and show us around. All I can say is that if you are into snakes and/or reptiles in general, this is one of those once in a lifetime places that you MUST visit.  Words can’t even describe this place. It’s simply amazing.

Myrtle Beach Reptile Expo

Posted on July 28, 2011

This past weekend, we (Kim, my nephew Justin, and myself) packed up the car and drove up to South Carolina to vend at the first ever Myrtle Beach Reptile Expo.  It’s the first time this show has ever been put on and I was suprised to see how many vendors were booked and also how many drove up/down for this first time show. We drove up on Thursday and arrived at the hotel around 4pm which was great because we were able to get some beach time in.  We met up with Derek Roddy and his wife Halle on Friday for lunch and then we all drove over to the venue to setup our tables.   For lunch they took us to this neat boardwalk type place with all sorts of restaraunts and shops. Derek is originally from S.C. and he was nice enough to show us around and point things out.  It was pretty hot out but it was nice just to walk around and see the sights.  Then it was back to the hotel to grab our acrylic displays and supplies and then back to the venue to set it all up.  I knew the venue was going to be pretty big inside and I wasnt’ disappointed with it nor was I disappointed with our table location - we were setup right next to Derek and his blackheaded pythons (hands down the best in the country) and we were directly across from BHB (Brian Barczyk)!  It took about an hour and a half to setup our tables and then we proceeded straight back to the hotel for some pool and beach time since it was hot as hell in the venue (the air was turned on the next day for the customers).

We woke up pretty early on Saturday, loaded up the snakes, and were at the venue by about 7:30 am. I took this time to label the acrylics and sex all of the hatchling carpets – which was NOT fun at all! Hatchling carpets can be little devils and will strike at anything within range.  We got everything setup just in time for the VIP customers to arrive at 9 am and after an hour of VIP traffic, the doors then opened for general admission and stayed open until 5 pm. We had a steady flow of customers until 5 at which point we covered up the displays then headed to one of the ballrooms for the USARK auction.  Brian Barczyk was the autioneer and he was hillarious! We stuck around for about an hour then headed back to the hotel and then out to a steakhouse for dinner with Derek and Halle.

Sunday started out pretty slow and I joked that everyone was at church. They were either there or they were sleeping in because we got a pretty big rush of people a little after 12.  It died down a few hours later then it was all over at 4. Around 3:30 we heard heavy thunder and could see the pouring down rain through the bay doors of the facility – where we had to load up all of our snakes and displays – we got soaked! After that, we headed back to the hotel to relax and pack up so we could head back home.  We left Monday morning and followed Derek and Halle to the Edisto Island Serpentarium.  I’ll dedicate a whole separate post about this next because it warrants it’s own post (losts of pics)! Hands down it’s probably the neatest place I’ll ever go (barring Australia) that has to do with snakes and reptiles.

All in all, it was a great trip.  As far as sales, I sold a few, traded a few, and donated one to the USARK acution.  It’s a first time show and I think that it just needs time to establish itself and grow. Daytona didn’t spring up overnight or even in one years time. It started in a small Howard Johnson in Orlando, then moved to a bigger hotel in Orlando, then on to the convention center in Daytona.  The trip was also nice because we got to hang out with Derek and Halle which is always cool since they are on the other side of the state here in Florida – and because he’s always traveling playing drums somewhere.  I also met some really nice like-minded snake people (customers and vendors). Ironically, a few of these were from Florida not far from me – and we’re meeting for the first time in South Carolina!  I also picked up a really good snake book to add to my herpetology library. I’ll write up a separate post on this too.

All this reptile excitement in one weekend – and Daytona is just a few weeks away so we get to do it all over again!

The Lost City of Z

Posted on July 14, 2011

In an effort to retain and sharpen my reading comprehension skills and also in an effort to pretend that I don’t work in “cubicle land”, I try to pick up and read a good adventure book every once in awhile.  Of course, I try to look for non-fiction books that revolve around reptiles and/or other animals but after so long, you start running out of books in that genre.  I’ve always said that if I could do anything else for a living it would either be something biology or ecology related (even marine biology) or it would be something in the anthropology realm…………..and this works out because it broadens my book search! Not everything has to be about reptiles, right?

So I took a stroll to the local library the other day and came across a book called “The Lost City of Z”. I’m not a terribly fast reader so with that being said, I usually hang onto the book and end up renewing it since I never finish before the original due date.  Not so with this book – I couldn’t put it down.  I’m not gonna go into too much detail here and give an elementary book report, but trust me when I say that it’s very well written and very adventurous. In the middle of the book, I found myself searching for trips to the Amazon………..and this was after the many stories of malaria, ticks, maggots, and cannibalistic Indians.

The story revolves around Percy Fawcett and his expedition into the Amazon in 1925 to find the Lost City of Z. He disappeared along with his son and his sons friend and were never heard from again despite many search parties that were sent in the following years.  As foolish as the expedition may sound, at the time, Percy Fawcett was well equipped and well experienced in Amazonian jungle survival – he had navigated and mapped large chunks of the Amazon in previous expeditions – and this was in the early 1900′s before any sort of technology that we have was available!

To this day, no skeletal remains have been found and in the past 80+ years, many rumors and stories have developed. Some of these involve him being killed by the native Indians (which is the most likely scenario) while some even involve him being captured and held hostage for many years. One far fetched but believable at the same time (due to his journals and diaries), involve him actually finding the Lost City which never really existed but was only a metaphor for his death and transportation into another life/existence.  I’m not one for this type of “after-life” angle, but after reading parts of the research in the book, some of Percy Fawcett’s writings later in his life allude to this. But it’s probably all in the interpretation too. After all, these writings are almost a century old.

In any event, it’s a great book and even rumored to be made into a movie. And in closing, I feel like Levar Burton on Reading Rainbow……..

“This is a book you might like, but you don’t have to take my word for it!”


More Pieds on the way………hopefully

Posted on July 8, 2011

I am down to just a few Ball Pythons projects now and the Pieds and Het Pieds were a few of the ones I kept.  Pied Ball Pythons are really what got me hooked on reptiles and even though I don’t keep as many ball pythons as I used to, I still love the ways these look and all I’ll always have pied BP’s. I have two 100% Het females that I hatched myself in 2006 and raised up so that they could give me pieds. In 2009, they each laid a clutch and each clutch contained a pied. That was awesome! They had the year off last year and then luckily this year, they both laid clutches.

I say “luckily” because I moved my entire collection in the middle of the season which usually should be avoided at all costs.  Well, I needed to move into bigger space and it just so happened to be at the tail end of breeding season.  Snakes do not like to be disturbed……..especially during this time. You can move your snakes just to another room in the house and even keep them in the same cages with the same bedding and their senses are still keen enough to tell the tiny changes in the temperatures, the smells, and the atmospheric pressure and so forth.

These females were put with my 100% het pied male “Charley” – named after Hurricane Charley that hit the Daytona expo in 2004. We picked him up at the show that year from Alan Bosch and he’s been a great snake ever since.  Anyways, both of these girls still ovulated and both laid clutches. The unfortunate thing is that the first clutch was 4 good eggs and 1 slug (infertile egg) and the next clutch was 2 good eggs and 5 slugs – which is horrible!  Both of these females were up to weight and have laid larger clutches in the past, plus they had the year off and were rested. I was really looking forward to some nice big clutches so I could get a few more pieds. I still have a shot at a pied or two………..but just a smaller shot then before.  In the end though, I’m happy that the females are healthy and didn’t have any other complications.

These two clutches bring this season to an end.  It’s really a mixed bag and I’ve tried not to get too disappointed!  I have healthy baby snakes sitting in the racks right now………..but I expected a few more females to become gravid (and they didn’t) and I was hoping for a LOT more from the Jaguar Carpet clutch and these pied clutches.  But again, I am happy that the females are okay and that there are no other complications. They can rest, eat, and be ready for upcoming seasons.  Eugene Bessette (old school snake breeder), said something during an interview that really stuck with me. Can’t remember his exact words but it was to the effect of……..“breeding is not about the day you put the snakes together. It’s about what you did the other 364 days out of the year to get to that point”.  So in reality, the next breeding season has already started for me and with that being said, I’ve really started thinking about the adult pairs that I have. I’m feeding everything on a good schedule and really evaluating all of the pairs to see who will be ready and how they are acting right now.

In the mean time, I’ll just cross my fingers for some high white pieds to come out of these last two clutches that are sitting in the incubator. I hatched this girl in 2009 from this same het x het pairing…………….and as you can see, she’s pretty high white!

Florida Museum of Natural History

Posted on June 26, 2011

This past weekend, Kim and I took a trip to Gainesville to go the Florida Museum of Natural History . If you live in Florida, or are ever in the Gainesville area, I would highly recommend it.  It’s FREE, it’s very well maintained, up to date, and very much entertaining for a reptile geek like myself.  The neat thing is that it’s pretty much a 50/50 split of Biology related items and Anthropology related items.  There is a LOT of information to take in and we actually went back through the exhibit again at the end because we thought we had missed a few things – and we did! It’s jam packed with all kinds of models, life size scenes, pictures, and videos.  Highlights for me in the Biology section would of course be anything reptile related but in addition to these things, the Megalodon jaw, the Mammoth skeletons, and the giant Sloth stand out to me. In the anthropology realm, they had a lot of information on the Calusa Indians which was neat because I recently read about them in an Everglades book that I have.  Anyways, take a look at the pics below and judge for yourself……!

New Guinea Clutch

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I’m proud to say that 8 healthy New Guinea carpet pythons hatched from the Butterfly x Little Guy clutch. They look great and I was lucky enough to get a few REALLY nice striped ones.  There is a lot of color variation here so I’m trying to look at them as closely as possible to pick out a few favorites.  The striped ones of course stand out, but there are a few other ones to that aren’t striped and have really nice, clean patterns. It’ll be fun watching some of these grow up.

How many snakes?

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Check this out…………these are some new hatchies from my one New Guinea clutch this season (Butterfly x Little Guy).  There are 8 of them here and as you can see, they like to climb when they are little. I’ll make a more detailed post with some individual pics a little bit later, but for now………..enjoy this pile of snakes!

RIP – Bill Haast

Posted on June 21, 2011

The legendary Bill Haast past away a few days ago at the age of 100.  It’s crazy to think that for a century, he lived, breathed, and worked snakes.  Most, if not all of his “performances” milking various venomous snakes took place before my time or else I’m sure I would have loved to go to the Miami Serpentarium and see it all. He started self-immunizing with venom in 1948……..and I’d be willing to bet that it might have played a part in him living to be 1oo.  He was definitely a pioneer.  Okay, I’m off to give myself a snake venom booster shot! Just kidding…….

Woma babies

Posted on June 19, 2011

This woma clutch hatched last week. There is one in there that I’m really digging.  It’s has a really dark chocolate/red banding thing going on that I’m sure he got from his dad (looks just like him). Anyways, these guys are funny when they hatch – all they wanna do is get angry and head-butt your hand. I’m already looking forward to next season for the womas.  I should have 2 or 3 pairs ready to go……….looking forward to some good stuff.

First hatchling of the season!

Posted on June 2, 2011

This guy/gal is the first one out. It’s looks to be a jag sibling with a really cool pattern. Almost reminds me of a motley boa. This jag x jag clutch didn’t turn out the way I expected………….slugs in the beginning, a couple eggs went bad during incubation, and the dreaded leucistics (see post below on lethal genetics!).

Funny how when you breed ball pythons, you cross your fingers for leucistics………….but it’s the other way around for hatchlings from a jag x jag clutch.  It would be nice if they lived, but they don’t – so you end up with a beautiful, white, dead, carpet python. I cut a dead egg open about a week ago and found one…………and there is another one still in the egg that’s alive and kicking – but the heartbreaking thing is that it will not survive.

New Guinea Carpet Pythons

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Here are some pics of some of my “New Guinea” carpet pythons.  I don’t even own a Jungle Carpet anymore due to these guys – I like these a lot more for some reason . I just started out with a few and then I “borrowed” (haha!) some more from Derek over the last year so he could make space for his Blackheads.  Basically this bloodline of carpets was sold to him over 10 years ago by Dave and Tracy barker. They were sold to him labeled as “New Guinea” Carpets…………and to the untrained eye, some of these could possibly resemble Irian Jayas but the general consensus brought forth by him is that these are Coastals.  Either way, they are highly variable in appearance, they generally stay small, and they are just great snakes.  Some look so good that they have a jaguar-ish appearance.  Some are striped, some are bright yellow, some are black and white………….but the thing I like most about them is their contrast.  I don’t have a single one of these “New Guineas” that is muddy looking or any that have colors that run into each other – they are VERY clean looking in appearance. But I’ll let you be the judge………

Canoe remodel

Posted on May 23, 2011

Picked up a canoe on Craigslist a few years ago for $5o. It’s fiberglass and had a small crack that needed repairing. The paint was old and worn but other then that it floated and works really good in the lake – except when it’s windy!  I’ve been wanting to paint it and add a better chair…………finally got a around to it a few weeks ago and it came out better then I expected. Just need to add another chair to the front and buy some new oars and it will be finished.

Lethal Genetics

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As much as we want our captive reptiles to be happy and healthy, we also sometimes want them to look a certain way. In some cases, we want their patterns to be bright, exotic, and generally different then the normal occurring pattern.  Unfortunately, in the reptile hobby, some genetic mutations prove to be lethal. Luckily, I’ve been able to make some neat looking ball python morphs with no problems at all. But an example that I now have first hand experience with is the Jaguar gene in carpet pythons.

To keep things simple Jaguar carpet pythons carry a gene that causes their patterns to be reduced – resulting in an attractive snake.  This same gene however also causes neurological problems in carpet pythons. A lot of Jaguars show no signs whatsoever of “neuro” issues, while others show noticeable neurological effects. Regarding their reproductive potential – when two Jaguar carpet pythons are bred together, the resulting offspring should consist of – 50% of the hatchlings should be Jaguars, 25% should be normal patterned, and the remaining 25% should be Leucistic – a pure white snake. The unfortunate circumstance here is that all of the Leucistics perish and none have survived so far in any collections.  So the same gene that causes an attractive, reduced patterned carpet python, also causes their Leucistic offspring to die.  It would be nice if one day a Lucy carpet python would survive, but I personally don’t think one ever will. If there is a white carpet python ever produced in the future, I’d have to guess that it wont have anything to do with the Jaguar gene.

Anyways, my small clutch of eggs from my Jaguar x Jaguar clutch is on day 41.  All of the eggs except one have come this far with no problems. In a short time frame of just a few days, one of the eggs slowly started dying. I cut it open and guess what?? – a dead leucistic carpet python! I kind of expected this and having one live and prosper would have been the equivalent of winning the lottery.  Oh well, hopefully the remaining eggs will not contain any lucy’s and will only consist of Jags!

New Guinea Eggs!

Posted on May 4, 2011

Excited to see this clutch today when I came home from work. She’s a New Guinea carpet python and she gave me a nice 9 egg clutch. She’s a real sweetheart of a snake and barely resisted when I went to get the eggs.  Not to mention she’s tolerated my constant bothering over the last week as I was checking up on her to see if she laid her clutch.

Hopefully we’ll have some neat looking hatchlings out of this clutch. And once they hatch (knock on wood!) Derek is going to help me sort through them since he has a ton of experience and a great eye at picking out the screamer looking babies.

The male is a REALLY neat “axanthic-ish” (lacking yellow pigmentation – causing a gray appearance) New Guinea carpet python. I don’t have a full picture of him (really need to get some better pics of him) but you get the idea with this side shot of him – he’s black and silver!

Woma eggs!

Posted on April 21, 2011

My pregnant Woma female FINALLY laid her clutch. She was overdue and I was starting to get worried.  I keep her in a CB70 rack that generally stays a little cooler then the 4 foot carpet cages and also a little cooler then my hatchling racks. Never had any problems before with the temps being on the lower side. The snakes in the CB70′s eat, breed, and do everything else that a normal snake would do.  The only difference that I see is that the pregnant females hold on to their eggs a little longer.  A friend of mine – his woma laid a clutch yesterday after 23 days of waiting.  I was on day 39! (39 days after the post-ovulation shed). My ball pythons are also in the CB70′s and they hold onto their eggs a little longer too.

The upside to this is that I rarely have infertile eggs (which may or may not be a coincidence?) and I also don’t risk the chance of the female laying her clutch on a hot spot of the heat tape (my CB70 racks are back-heated – less efficient then belly heat but still works).  My females for some reason lay their eggs in the day when I’m at work………so it wouldn’t be good if they were cooking all day on heat tape!  Anyways, she laid her clutch with no problems.  8 perfect eggs – with really good vascularity. Can’t wait for these to hatch!

Tonic Immobility pt. 2

Posted on April 20, 2011

Tonic Immobility part 2 – (See below post for part 1 or else this isn’t gonna make a whole lotta sense!) I came across some toads this evening and snapped some pics of what I was talking about in the earlier post. If anyone is worried, I fully promise that no toads were hurt during these pics! …..and they were safely placed back where I found them!!!

Tonic Immobility pt. 1

Posted on April 14, 2011

Some more backyard field herping………found this little toad on the side of the house. I love finding these even though I get pissed on every time I pick them up!  And in picking them up throughout the years, I noticed something that may or may not be of any importance.  Google the term “Tonic Immobility”.  You’ll find that wikipedia defines this as:

“a natural state of paralysis that animals enter, in most cases when presented with a threat”

Everyone learns this over the years whether or not they were even aware of it – it’s also called “playing possum”.  Basically some animals pretend to be dead to avoid predators.  Possums obviously do it, snakes do it, and even sharks do this.  How this relates to the southern toads that I catch, is that for some reason, I would inspect the toads and turn them upside down on their backs for a short second.  Throughout the years I noticed that EVERY time I did this, they would just curl up, close their eyes, and relax.  They don’t try to get away and they quit wiggling around. It’s really neat and they look very peaceful. Of course I only do this for a short time when I catch them and then I let them go on their way.  I didn’t take a pic this time…….but I’ll get one next time and post it up.  But it made me think of a video that is floating around of an Orca – a Killer Whale that caught a Great White shark, flipped it on it’s back and suffocated it.  If you don’t believe me…..check out this link to read more about “tonic immobility” particularly in sharks.  Crazy stuff!

Eggs………finally!

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I was lucky to get a small clutch from Jada – my diamond jungle jag. She’s a first time mom and I probably stressed her a little when I moved into my new snake space. But she’s doing fine and the eggs look good so far. I candled the eggs and I can see veins in 6 out of the 7………so either that 7th one is doomed or the veins are really weak at this point! I’ll be MORE then happy with any eggs that make it the distance and of course I really have my fingers crossed for some more jags.  

I have a woma due to lay this week and then two more carpet pythons (New Guineas) due to lay in the next few weeks. I believe the ball pythons are going to come later this season – as always. It looks like I might get a pied clutch or two – my two proven female hets are coming along nicely. Might even have another bumblebee clutch if I’m lucky.

Myrtle Beach Reptile Expo

Posted on March 31, 2011

Pretty excited…………going up to Myrtle Beach, S.C. in July to vend at a big reptile show!!  Derek and Halle Roddy are gonna be at the table right next to us with some killer blackheaded pythons and we should have a pretty decent table with some carpet pythons and womas.  Be sure to try to make it out if you are in South Carolina.  I’ll post some more details once the show gets closer. Click here to read more about it.  Also if you have any interest at all in Blackheaded pythons or any other Australian snakes for that matter……….head over to the Derek’s blackheaded forum!

http://www.derekroddy.com/blackheadedpythonforum/index.php

Southern Ringnecks

Posted on March 16, 2011

I found a southern ringneck when I was about 7 or 8 years old. This was the first snake I ever found and I remember it like it was yesterday.

In an effort to be more active and healthy in 2011, I decided that Iwas going to do some more field herping.  My original goal was to find one reptile and/or amphibian a month……..and also document these finds in the NAFHA database.  I got off to a slow start due to house rearranging (for the snakes and rats!) but I found a snake in March – two of them actually. Two southern ringnecks.  I can’t say that I was actually out in the “field”………I was in the yard doing yardwork – but it still counts as finding as snake!

New snake space

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Been super busy lately………..so not much time to post.  I’ll try to keep this short without rambling (probably won’t happen though!)

Since I was about 15 years old, I’ve always wanted to have a reptile building or shop. About 6 months ago, I signed a lease on a 1,ooo sq/ft space in a great area. It was in an industrial strip right around the corner from my house. My friend Bob has an actual retail reptile store in this area also – Herp Hobby Shop. I hang out there every so often and I just really liked the area – still do.

To make a long story short – the landlord backed out of the deal at the very last minute.  It was so last minute, it was probably illegal on his part – since I signed the lease already. I made a decision that I really didn’t want to put the effort into fighting this idiot, so I decided to just let it go and regroup.  I decided that I would just move on and focus on the upcoming season – maybe even get some acrylic displays and do a few shows??  Fast forward 6 months……….I moved the rats out of the garage and into a shed and also moved the snakes out of the “snake room” and into the new “snake garage”. Basically it’s a finished garage – with all the amenities –  tons of electrical outlets, good lighting, lots of space, and a door leading directly out to the rats.  REALLY looking forward to the next few months.  Already I have a woma female and two carpet pythons that are gravid and due to lay eggs in another month – I’ll add a post with some pics a little bit later. Anyways, enough rambling – here are some pics.

Also…….major thanks to my parents who helped out with the remodel. My dad and I spent a whole Saturday moving snakes and racks – sounds like fun huh? Also major thanks to my other set of parents – my “in-laws”. They are not reptile people by any means but they have always accepted me and supported me in all of my endeavors.  And their daughter Kim – what can I say except she is an excellent painter! ……..and she generally helps in the decision making process when I’m hitting a brick wall.  Anyways, the incubator is plugged in……..can’t wait til’ the first clutch of eggs are in there!

Aussie croc attacks on the rise

Posted on February 22, 2011

“Crocs don’t care if you are black, white, or purple, a tourist or a local, liberal or a truck driving red-neck. Swim in croc territory and you are bait.” -Bryan Grieg Fry

In the states, we see flooding from time to time that is very damaging.  However, victims of the floods do not have to wade through saltwater croc infested water in order to escape!  In some parts of Australia, this is the case…………..and the floods are causing a rise in croc attacks.  I read a book a few years ago that was nothing but story after story of croc attacks in Australia – gruesome stuff to say the least.  We have alligators in the southeast…….and they can be dangerous, but they don’t seem to hold a candle to saltwater crocs.

Anyways, as a side note, everytime I see Bryan Grieg Fry’s name (world renowned venom researcher), I kick myself for not speaking to him in person when I had the chance. He was in Daytona in 2001 and I missed the chance just introduce myself and say hi. Oh well, maybe next time…………maybe in Australia??

(yes, that is real arm inside of the crocs mouth……….and believe it or not, it was retrieved from the croc and successfully re-attached)

Diamond Tongue

Posted on February 20, 2011

……..some neat diamond python tongue pics.  These types of pics are usually hard to get when you are trying to get them……………….when I have a snake that is sitting still (especially a diamond or carpet python), I just start snapping away and hope for the best…..haha!

Rat Shed!

Posted on February 14, 2011

I finally pulled the trigger and put up a rat shed. Next step is finishing the garage and moving the snakes in.  So my rat space is down-sizing while my snake space is getting bigger – but that’s a good trade-off!  I think the shed came out great and hopefully I’ll be able to cool it off in the summer.  Another reason for moving the rats to a shed and snakes to the garage is that Kim and I are going to be foster parents.  It’s an exciting time for us and we are just working on going to our class once a week and moving furniture around to get our house ready.

Big thanks to: My dad – who gave up two weekends of his time for this shed project! Mike Curtin – for answering my questions regarding being tattooed, having snakes and rats, and wanting to be foster parents! Last but not least, Kim – for being supportive of my plans with the snakes and rodents.

The Keeper and the Kept

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I was lucky enough to obtain a hardcover copy (w/dustjacket!) of Carl Kauffeld’s book The Keeper and The Kept.  This is an old school herpetology book from the late 1960′s that I’ve been meaning to pickup but never wanted to part with the cash.  I usually see it at shows priced anywhere from $75-$100…….and it’s usually only one copy in average shape.  I posted awhile back about this book and a few others I received in the trade and I finally got around to reading it.

It starts out with the first few chapters discussing the proper care and husbandry of snakes. This was the 1960′s – way before the internet and other herp publications – so I’m assuming that this was very valuable information at the time (and it still is!).  The rest of the book picks up where his earlier book – Snakes and Snake Hunting – leaves off.  In each of the chapters, he discusses field outings in search of particular snakes to complete the collection of the Staten Island Zoo.  One aspect that I appreciated was that he was employed by a zoo yet he manged to speak to amateur herpetologists as his equal which a lot of times is rare.  In the years that followed, up to the present day, there are still walls between the professional zoo members and members of the herp community.

You can tell just from reading this book that he was very knowledgeable and passionate about snakes.  You can also tell that he was an accomplished writer who probably could have managed to make a living in any form of writing that he chose. The field herping chapters have motivated me to do some more field work this year. I signed up for a field herp forum on the internet and hopefully will get lucky in the coming months.  Ironically a friend of mine who lives in South Florida called me up today and has been going out near the everglades to look for snakes so I’m probably going to plan a trip over there in another month or two and see what I can find. Even if I don’t find anything, it’s good just to get out and see everything else. Usually what happens to me is that I never find what I’m looking for and I find everything that I’m NOT looking for………and usually end up seeing a lot of neat stuff regardless. So it all evens out in the end.  With that being said, I’ll end with a quote from the Tiger rattlesnake chapter in the book:

“It is foolish to let singleness of purpose deprive one of the joy and delectation of the many wonderful sights and sounds incidental to the quest

Cobras in his Garden

Posted on January 19, 2011

I just finished a book that I picked up not too long ago. It’s one that I talked about in my blog a few months ago called “Cobras in his Garden” – a biography on Bill Haast.   It reads pretty much like any other biography and tells his life story up to the point when the book was written (1965).  It’s amazing to think that this normal guy (with no formal education) was using venomous snakes to research a possible cure for polio.  He was skilled and aware enough to know that the symptoms of Polio mirrored those of a cobra bite.  Even though he found some success in this area, a polio vaccine was found (without the use of snake venom) which then forced his research and work to go in a different direction. He continued his research on pain relief and other therapeutic qualities of snake venom in front of paying customers at the now defunct Miami Serpentarium.

In 1948, he started self-immunizing himself with snake venom which would no doubt prove to help him overcome a myriad of venomous snake bites throughout the years.  In December of 2010, Bill Haast turned 100 years old. He is still kicking and I believe he is still doing venom research in some capacity. Although his work with snakes somewhat preceded the herpetology hobby, he is still considered a pioneer and has done much to bring the attention to the positive benefits of snakes and snake venom.   Cheers to Bill Haast……..!

KISS Logo

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Check this out………..this woma female has the KISS logo in her pattern!

Diamond Pythons

Posted on December 31, 2010

I’ve wanted some pure diamond pythons for as long as I can remember.  I’ve always like the way they looked and always like how they were just a little bit different then carpet pythons (more on that later).  I also have had mixed feelings though about diamond pythons as they exist in the reptile industry.  It is common knowledge that diamond pythons have been crossed with carpet pythons for years now.  This was supposedly to “strengthen” the diamonds by adding jungle carpet blood to them and this was done due a lot of keepers lack of knowledge and lack of success with diamond pythons – they couldn’t get them to breed and they were dying earlier then expected.  These “crosses” made really nice looking snakes………….. but fast forward to the present time and we are now left questioning the purity of carpet pythons and diamond pythons.

This has always been my dilemma with both carpets and diamonds and at the end of the day, you are really just taking someones word for it.  You can still find and buy “pure” diamonds and “pure” jungle carpets………but again…….you are taking someones word for it and you just have to use your knowledge and discerning eye for snakes to make your decision.  For example, if you have been around long enough, you can sometimes tell just by looking at the snake that it is a cross.  You will also come across people in the industry that will deliberately mis-label carpet x diamond crosses as “pure” diamonds………..just so that they can sell them for a premium.  There are also breeders out there that purposely cross diamonds with carpet pythons. Like I said earlier, a diamond crossed with a jungle makes a nice looking snake.  Also, a lot of breeders like to use diamond python genetics to make their jaguars.  One of the jags that I have (Jada) has a high percentage of diamond blood.  With that being said, there are still guys out there young and old that have pure diamond pythons and have kept them that way throughout the years………so if you take your time and do your research, you can get a nice pair of diamond pythons.

Back to just enjoying the diamond pythons…………………….they are neat snakes. They come from a temperate part of Australia (Southeastern coast) where they have adapted to seasonal changes (four seasons) whereas the other Australian pythons come from areas that follow typical wet/dry seasons.  This matters because in captivity we are used to keeping pythons warm (80′s/90′s)………..and cooling them just a little during the breeding season (70′s).   In the wild, Diamond pythons are subjected to cold temperatures in the winter.  In order to adapt, they use their dark coloration to effectively soak up the sun and heat themselves up for a few hours during the day.  This information played a part in the early days of diamond pythons in captivity.  When they were first imported, keepers figured that since they resembled carpet pythons and they came from Australia, they naturally should be kept and bred just like carpets – which we now know was incorrect thinking.

So enough with the rambling………….. This is a long term project for me but I can be patient and watch them grow. It also gives me time to read all of this information about diamonds that I’ve come across.  There are actually a surprising number of academic papers written on diamonds (studies done on wild populations in Australia) – good information.  Here they are  – they are getting nicer looking with each shed!

Jags together

Posted on December 24, 2010

I put the jags together a few days ago and I always have the camera laying around in the snake room just in case…………and I thought that this would be a good pic.  Their heads were side by side and they were both watching me clean the snake room – more like they were probably waiting for me to bring in the rats!  Hopefully I’ll see some breeding action coming up with this pair.  I think they would make some nice jags.

More lockups/breeding

Posted on December 22, 2010

A few more pairs were locked up this week – a pair of het Piebald ball pythons and a pair of womas.  I’d love to get a few more pieds (especially a male) and some more womas would be great too!

This female woma is the same Python Pete girl that layed a clutch last year but the male is a different one from last season.  In these pics, he’s the one on the top. I really like the “looks” of this guy – he’s real evenly banded.

Also, you will notice the shed skin in all of these pics.  Usually when a snake sheds I’ll mark it in their records and then I’ll discard the shed when I’m cleaning the cage. During breading season though, I  keep the sheds in the cages – sometimes I’ll even put sheds of other snakes in a cage that has a pair that is slow to start breeding in hopes of stimulating the snakes.  Just another trick to jump start the breeding season.  Another trick involves snake sperm………..but I won’t go into details, in case any non-snake people are reading this – haha!

Irian Jayas breeding

Posted on December 17, 2010

Snapped a couple of  pics of an IJ couple that were locked up this morning.  It’s my first time with them so we’ll see what happens…….got my fingers crossed!

Early vist from Santa

Posted on December 16, 2010

Christmas happens to be my 2nd favorite holiday – after Halloween of course.  Santa stopped by our neighborhood tonight in a firetruck and handed out some presents. It was cold out but the neighborhood kids all waited patiently and even ended up with some early presents.  Yep, that’s me sitting on Santa’s lap. Yep, I’m 30 years old. Yep, I got a present.

It’s official….

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I’ve been wanting to get a tattoo of my logo for awhile but never got around to it.  It worked out nice and Kim agreed to let me get it as a Christmas present……….which is really awesome since I talked her into Iron Maiden tickets a few weeks ago!

A few cool thing about the tattoo:

1) The logo was designed by the son (Sean) of a really good friend and co-worker of mine (Stan).  Sean is a graphic artist/web designer and did a fantastic job on this website.  He gave me exactly what I wanted in a website.  Can’t say enough good things about his work.

2) The guy that did my tattoo – his name is Robbie, and it turns out that he’s a pretty knowledgeable snake keeper.  We had a lot in common and I could actually carry on a conversation with him about snakes and the rest of the industry (non-snake people could care less about cage manufacturers and things like that).  Pretty cool guy – anyone who does tattoos and is knowledgeable about snakes is good in my book.  He mentioned that we should do another reptile related tattoo (maybe an eyelash viper??) so now I’ve got thoughts running through my head about what my next tattoo is going to be!

2011 Morelia Calendar – featuring Jada!

Posted on December 5, 2010

I’m excited to say that a pic I took of Jada (Diamond Jungle Jag) was selected to be in a Morelia calendar for 2011.  For a reptile geek like myself, this is a big deal.  I remember when I first started keeping reptiles I used to buy any calendar that I could find that had reptiles in it.  These calendars usually contained iguanas, turtles, and the occasional snake or two……………..but this was really in the days before the morphs and other designer reptiles started appearing.  Fast forward to today, and there are so many designer reptiles that you could literally make hundreds of calendars with all of the pics.

That’s not to say that the naturally occurring or “normal” reptiles aren’t still as cool or special.  In fact, I just bought a pair of 100% pure Diamond Pythons and my Woma pythons are probably my favorite snakes in my collection.   I’m even planning to build a pond on my porch for 2 turtles that I paid $2 each for!  If there were no morphs, I know I would still be keeping reptiles.  I got into the hobby with a normal green iguana and if I didn’t have enough on my plate already with the snakes and the rats, I’d probably have a cage in my back yard with either some green iguanas or Rhino iguanas.

Anyways, enough rambling…………here is the pic that made it into the calendar. I’ve posted it before but here it is again. If by any chance someone is interested in purchasing a calendar, please follow the link below to www.Moreliapythons.com

www.moreliapythons.com/forums/showthread.php?29464-2011-Morelia-Calendars!

Blackheaded Python Pics

Posted on November 23, 2010

It’s 80 degrees in Florida so I brought some of the blackheaded pythons out for some exercise and to take some pics.  These all come from my friend Derek over on the other coast of Florida – Deerfield Beach to be exact.  He’s one of the few people in the states that consistently hatches Blackheads on a yearly basis.  He has some really nice high contrast animals as well as axanthics, blackbacks, and some fader ones that change colors during their lifetime.  The big one that I have – George – really intimidates a lot of people but he’s just a big baby.  Never tries to bite………he just tries to get away! I even brought him to Kim’s classroom for the Great American Teach in.  He was well behaved and very active as usual.

My favorites though are the blackbacks.  Derek has a few pairs of these that he held back that should be ready to breed in the next year or so and he was nice enough to send a pair home with me last time I visited.  The red male below has got to be one of my favorites out of anyone’s collection. There is just something about him……………the blackback and the red really go good together.  The female is great looking of course too – she is the more black and white one with a black back.  Anyways, that’s about it…………………blackheads are cool!

Python Taxonomy Paper

Posted on November 21, 2010

If you are a snake geek like myself, follow the link below for a neat paper on Python Taxonomy (co-authored by Mark O’Shea).  It’s only 50 pages so get started!

www.cnah.org/pdf_files/1663.pdf

Pics from Tom Crutchfields place

Posted on November 10, 2010

“Equally outrageous is the volatile, knife-wielding Tommy Crutchfield, who expanded his childhood alligator-and-snake business into a million-dollar empire of reptile hunting and dealing…..”

The above quote is from a book review of a new book that’s coming out next year. It tells the story of the old days when the reptile industry was just getting started.  A lot of the events that took place happened way before my time – in the 60′s and the 70′s, but some of these guys are still around.  Tom Crutchfield is in South Florida and he’s still working the reptiles pretty hard.  He has a farm in Homestead and maintains the roles of both dealer and breeder.  I went down to his place a while back and was amazed at all of the animals he had – and more importantly how good of shape they were in and how a lot of them were reproducing successfully when other people said it couldn’t be done (such as the Albino Iguanas, and keeping and breeding Diamond pythons outside all year round).

I went back down to Tom Crutchfields place recently to trade some snakes. I came back with a pair of Diamond hatchlings and also some more New Guinea carpets from Derek – which I have a whole army of now! Anyways, it was a very long day – drove down to Homestead to Toms and then to Deerfield Beach to see Derek, and then home – all in one day.  Everything worked out good though - the roads were clear and the weather was perfect.

The few times I’ve been to Crutchfields, he has been really accomodating and takes us around his whole property and shows us everything.  We were there for at least 2 hours and there was still some stuff that we just passed over quickly and didn’t get a good look at – like the Texas Indigos. There is so much to see and I’m like a kid in a candy store but I end up forgetting to take pictures of it all.  He really has a little bit of everything but the few things that I gravitate towards when I’m there are the Rhino Iguanas, the Albino Iguanas, the turtles (a bunch of different species – the Fly River turtles are really neat), and of course all of the snakes – mainly the boas of the Epicrates genus (you hardly every see these).  I’ve never really been into keeping venomous snakes but he has a ton of them – everything from kings cobras, albino eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, mangshans vipers, and even gila monsters and beaded lizards.  Overall, its a neat place to visit for someone like me – kinda like graceland for an Elvis person I guess??  With the way the times have changed and with all the reptile related laws and bad press that Florida deals with, it’s a miracle that people like Tom Crutchfield are even still around and operating in Florida.

Halloween 2010

Posted on November 8, 2010

We had another Halloween party this year – kind of at the last minute!  Kim and I were both the construction worker from the Village People.  No I was not Bob the Builder – a few people guessed that.  I was also Freddy Krueger on Sunday night when I handed out candy.  Good times – nice weather – lots of candy.

Hungry Woma

Posted on November 4, 2010

Here I am getting attacked by this hungry female Woma………and I lived to tell the tale – haha!  She tried her best to consume my finger and it took awhile to make her let go.  A lot of people ask me if it hurts to get bit by a snake – and the answer is “yes”.  With Womas, the initial bite doesn’t hurt that bad but then when they clamp down and squeeze, they also bite down harder too.  Then when you try to unwrap them and get them to let go, they bite down even harder!  It’s a constant tug of war until you can make them let go.  I usually have to explain to a lot of people that snakes don’t bite to be mean……….they are either defending themselves or they  just have good feeding responses - like Womas!   

Famous Snake Passes Away

Posted on October 28, 2010

I came across this article reporting that “Fluffy” (Reticulated Python) passed away.  She was hatched and raised by renowned python breeder Bob Clark and then later sold to the Columbus Zoo for a big chunk of change (35K I believe)  She was also listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest snake, measuring in at 24 feet.  This was a massive snake………but believe it or not she was not the longest ever on record.  The longest one ever recorded was 33 feet!

The plus side to owning a 24 ft snake (besides the 35K payday – haha!) is that if it got loose, you wouldn’t have to really look for it!

www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2010/10/27/famous-zoo-python-dies.html?sid=101

Newly Discovered Species

Posted on October 27, 2010

It always amazes me when new species are discovered.  But it’s understandable seeing as how the earth is a pretty big place and there are a surprising number of places that haven’t even been explored yet. What’s even more amazing is when one of these newly discovered species is a 14 foot Anaconda!

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101026/ts_afp/unenvironmentbiodiversityamazonwwf_20101026105020

ARES last show + Glenns going away party

Posted on October 25, 2010

I’m sad to say that my nephews band ARES has played their last show.  My nephew Glenn Moore III has left to go into the ARMY – which we are all proud of.  I went to as many ARES shows as I could make in the last 4 or 5 years and I was disappointed when their last “official” show fell on the same weekend as the Daytona reptile show – so needless to say, I missed it.  Luckily they played another “last show”  – this time though it was more laid back and it was at a little bar on the beach. Well, it was laid back for awhile…………

There are a few other pics mixed in here too……….from Glenn’s going away party. It was a hell of a party and everyone had a good time!

Trading Snakes

Posted on October 22, 2010

Pretty excited about a trade I did recently……

I’ve been collecting herpetology related books since I was about 15 years old and I have a pretty decent collection going. Of course it started out with the usual books that you could buy at the bookstore and then it evolved into harder to find “out of print” books. Fast forward to this past season – as far as ball pythons, I bred a mojave x mojave and also a mojave x normal…….among a few other pairings. I was lucky to get a blue eyed lucy and also some nice mojaves. Seeing as how I already have a few female mojaves, it worked out – I have a friend who was in the market for a mojave female and also happens to be a book collector. Anyways, after a little bit of talking…………..I picked up these books and gave him his mojave girl. The Kauffeld book and the Haast book were two that I really wanted but didn’t want to fork over the cash for. And the “Snakes of Florida” book was just a bonus……!

(FYI, Bill Haast and Carl Kauffeld are legends in the snake world.  Kauffeld passed away many years ago but Bill Haast is still alive today – he is 99 years old and will be 100 in December!  One interesting fact is that he has been self-immunizing with snake venom since 1948 which may be a part of his longevity??  It certainly has aided him in his work with venomous snakes – having been bitten some 150+ times)

They are all in really good shape and the Haast book has some amazing pics. Another neat thing about the “Snakes of Florida” book is that it was put out by Gatorland Zoo in central Florida – written by Owen Godwin (the man that started Gatorland). Living in Florida, I’ve been there a handful of times so this is pretty neat to me. Yes! more geek reptile stuff.

Carpet Python progression

Posted on October 20, 2010

The difficult thing about carpets pythons (and neat thing in my opinion) is that they start out unattractive and then they mature into really beautiful looking snakes. It’s pretty much the opposite of ball pythons. When they hatch, they look great right out the egg.  Ball pythons are all shiny and bright colored while carpets are a mix of browns, grays, and blacks…….and some yellows if you are lucky.  The neat thing about carpets is that you get to watch them mature………and grow up into their adult colors.  Some mature into great looking adults and some just get a little bit better looking and still turn out a little bit dull.

I only have a few jaguar carpets…………..but one of them really stands out. She’s a diamond jungle jag and she glows.  Here are two pics of Jada………….young and old.   A friend of mine produced her in 2008 from an exceptional diamond jungle jag female to a great looking diamond/jungle cross male.  The first picture is the earliest pic that I have of her but I would assume that she was even a little more brown and duller looking when she was born.  But if you get lucky, then they end up turning into insanely bright adults.  And to think, she wasn’t even the best one in the clutch!

Another nice snake picture……

Posted on October 19, 2010

Someone at work forwarded this picture to me.  I’ve never really been that big a fan of Angelina Jolie so I don’t know if I’m more excited that it’s her OR that she’s holding a carpet python – haha!

Gila Monster!

Posted on October 15, 2010

Here I am holding a venomous Gila Monster. This was at Tom Crutchfields place when I went to visit awhile back. He had about a dozen of them and he just took one out and handed it to me!  I’ve always thought these were really neat and we always stop by and look at the Gila’s and Beaded Lizards that they have at Busch Gardens.  I don’t think I’d ever keep these myself but I do think it would be pretty neat to see a Gila Monster hatching out of an egg. 

Halloween is here – finally

Posted on October 11, 2010

I am a little late getting the Halloween stuff out of the attic……..but it will be done this week. Then I will be into full Halloween mode.  Might even have another party this year?

Firepit night!

Posted on October 4, 2010

Took advantage of a nice evening in Florida and lit up the firepit for the first time in a while.  It’s a bit rusty, but it’s hanging in there.  The humidity is just starting to die down here in Florida and it was a really nice night – until the mosquitos came out.  It’s a gamble with them – they are either out in force biting the crap out of you, or they aren’t. It probably doesn’t help either that we live on a lake! Luckily they seem to go away when the weather gets colder – which I’m really looking forward too.  Last year’s Florida “winter” was awesome.  Looking forward to some nice firepit parties in the next couple of months.

Neat Pic!

Posted on September 25, 2010

How would you like to see this on the beach? This is a real picture from Australia of some Coastal carpet pythons.  We see a lot of dolphins and fish at the beach we go to but never any snakes – too bad for us because this would be heaven for me -  sitting at the beach and seeing some snakes………haha!

Everglades Trip

Posted on September 23, 2010

This past May – Kim, Justin, and myself went to the Everglades to go Canoeing.  Like most of our other vacations, this was also partially a snake trip since Derek Roddy lives down there and we went and hung out at his place too and saw all of his blackheads…..and some womas and carpets too!  We stayed in Deerfield Beach to be exact, at the same Howard Johnson that we usually stay at.  It’s directly on the beach so it kills two birds with one stone……….snake trip for me and beach for Kim, right?? haha!  Anyways, the weather worked out perfect the actual day we went canoeing………..it was hot but overcast….. it could have been a lot worse.  We saw a good number of alligators, birds, and turtles and managed to get pretty close and take some good pics.  I had my “good” camera in the canoe with Kim and I…….so it was pretty nerve racking……..didn’t want to drop it in!

Derek’s better half Halle went with us and another local snake breeder Tom Keogan came along too.  Tom breeds a ton of different things and is pretty much successful at it all. I’ve met him and talked to him a few times at the shows and on forums but this was the first time I really got to hang out with him. All I can say is that Tom is a cool guy and fun to hang with…………….he was in the canoe with Justin and they hit it off pretty good.   We packed up some lunch and loaded up the canoes and we were off.  We canoed for about 2 miles and then stopped at this floating dock and had some lunch and relaxed at the same time.  Then another eventful two miles – Justin and Tom ended up in the water! – and then we were back to the beginning.  Had a great time and I definitely will be going back there again.

A few Busch Gardens pics

Posted on September 21, 2010

Went to Busch Gardens over the weekend……..took a few pics of just some of my favorites.   I would never keep any venomous snakes but the pair of eyelash vipers that they have are amazing. Their Gila monsters and Beaded lizards are pretty neat too.  I recently got to hold a Gila monster at Tom Crutchfields farm - (I’ll put some pics up of that in another post).  Croc monitors are probably one of my favorite monitors (besides Waters and Blackthroats) and Busch Gardens has a really nice one – he’s a big boy.

Famous Reptile Owners

Posted on September 16, 2010

Okay………so we can now add Leonardo DiCaprio to the list! Apparently he showed up on Sunday to the NARBC show in Anaheim and picked up an adult sulcuta tortoise.  Pretty cool………usually it’s good exposure when a celebrity keeps a reptile – good for the hobby.

www.celebuzz.com/leonardo-dicaprios-new-turtle-s251511/

Kerry King of Slayer has some killer carpet python stock (I actually think he is a vendor at the Anaheim show??).   Chad Brown (Pro Football) of course does really well with Pro Exotics and produces some really nice Ball Pythons and other reptiles.  Slash (Guns N’ Roses) used to have a large collection of snakes and lizards but I believe he got rid of it all once he had kids.  Can’t forget Derek Roddy (metal drummer extraordinaire) who has one of the nicest (if not theeeee nicest) collection of blackheaded pythons in the U.S.   He’s also someone that I’m proud to call my friend. He’s taken the time to give me some great advice regarding a lot of Australians species – as well as some snakes themselves!  What’s up D! 

Anyways, back to the sulcutas………….we have two of these out on the back porch. Well, Kim does – they are hers.  A good friend of mine from high school breeds these in his back yard and he gave us a pair of hatchies from last year.  I don’t even think he charged us anything……..!  Russ, dude – I owe you a few beers next time we are out! (Also – this pic below is not one of ours – it’s just a stock picture off of the net. Ours aren’t this big – yet!)

Irian Jaya Female

Posted on September 14, 2010

……..was cleaning the snakes this evening and decided that this Irian Jaya girl might be my favorite.  She is the perfect snake……she eats anything and has a great temperament – really easy going. Too bad the male IJ that I have is a beast.  I don’t trust him at all.   What’s even more of a shame is that he is really good looking and I want to take some pics but he’s a mean S.O.B. !!

I usually like to take more professional looking pics but with the carpets, you just gotta take the pics on their terms – they move around a lot. Ball Pythons are more like little lumps of clay that you can position! Anyways….this is the female IJ – she’s one of the no-name snakes in my collection.

Introducing Shooter Jennings!

Posted on September 9, 2010

The blue eyed leucistic finally came out of the egg. It’s a “him” and Kim already name him “Shooter” since I was at the Shooter Jennings concert when he was hatching.  He’s a neat little guy and I’m happy that I finally have a white snake!

Mojave x Mojave clutch

Posted on September 7, 2010

My last ball python clutch is hatching and it happens to be the one I’m most excited about. The parents were both Mojave’s and they gave me a nice six egg clutch.  Since both of the parents were Mojaves, this means theoretically that 25% of the babies will be blue eyed leucistics (white snake with blue eyes).  It’s looking pretty good so far…………1 Mojave head sticking out and 1 Blue Eyed Lucy!  Now I have to go to work all day and then straight to a concert after work and I have a luecistic sitting in the incubator and possibly more! It always seems that my snakes hatch on the worst days possible.   I’ve had 3 days off but yet they hatch on Tues when I have a full day!  I guess it’s good though in the end – when I’m at home watching eggs hatch…..I’m always tempted to mess with them (more then I should) and cut the rest of the eggs.

Bowling

Posted on September 6, 2010

Okay……so my sister Danielle’s birthday was on Wed 9/1 and Cheryl’s b-day was 9/4.  Of course like a bonehead, I forgot Danielle’s. Once I remembered, it was too late. Anyways, we had lunch on Friday (to make up for it a little bit) and then her, the kids, and big Glenn went to the Hard Rock Casino on Saturday night.  Also to make up for forgetting, we had Jake over (since he is too young to go the casino) for some video games and bowling.  I was still feeling generous and although I didn’t forget Jake’s birthday, he was in the right place at the right time and got a new snake from me!  It seems like bowling isn’t as popular as it once was with kids.  I remember waiting in line when I was younger for a lane – sometimes a 30-45 minute wait.  Now a days, the alley seems half full.  We had a good time though and Jake had fun – I think?

On a side note, Kim and I were also disappointed to find out that the Ms. Pacman arcade game was removed from the arcade at Countryside Lanes. We have had a sort of running competition every time we go bowling and we were hoping to get Jake involved since he kills us on video games at home.  I searched Craigslist and you can find a lot of these arcade games on there for decent prices but during my search, I found something even more interesting – an original Jurassic Park Pinball machine.  It’s pricey and I don’t have room for it so I’ll just have to pretend that there isn’t one available for sale at a private residence in St. Pete.   But since Christmas and my b-day (5/24) are right around the corner (haha!), maybe it will just mysteriously arrive at my front door?

Two sister birthdays this week…………so Happy Birthday Cheryl and Danielle!

Some things never change……

Posted on September 3, 2010

If you are familiar with Anson Wong, or have read the book “The Lizard King” by Bryan Christy (which I highly recommend), then you know the story of the notorious wildlife smuggler.  If you are not familiar with him – I’ll give you a brief re-cap.  He smuggled rare and endangered animals in the 90′s and got caught.  He was found guilty and served a few years in jail.  Well, he has been arrested again in Malaysia on charges of smuggling (mostly snakes) – see link below for story.  95 boa constrictors, two rhinoceros vipers, and a mata-mata turtle were found inside his luggage.  After reading this list, it sounds like a lot of luggage would be needed but I’ve seen pictures of confiscated shipments and lets just say that people like Anson Wong know how to pack efficiently.  I have absolutely no clue how the Malaysian judicial system works but obviously he has a previous record and I’m sure this will be taken into account when the trial comes around.  Another unfortunate aspect of this story is that it provides even more ammunition for wack-job groups like PETA and HSUS to use against the reptile industry.  Okay, now go order “The Lizard King” on Amazon and read it………it’s good!

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2010/9/2/nation/20100902161805&sec=nation

Don’t Tread On Me

Posted on September 2, 2010

Thought this article was funny…………..kinda ridiculous actually.

Apparently this guy is not allowed to keep his Gadsden flag up at his house.  I’ve always been a fan of the Gadsden flag – enough so, that I got a tattoo awhile back on the inside of my arm based on the flag.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_upshot/20100901/cm_yblog_upshot/dont-tread-on-me-flag-starts-disputes-around-the-countryd

Sawgrass Lake Park

Posted on August 29, 2010

Took advantage of the overcast weather and went to Sawgrass lake today.  We always see something there………..you just can’t be looking for it.  If you go to see a snake, there are no snakes – but plenty of turtles and tortoises. If you go to see a gopher tortoise, there are none in sight – but you might see a snake!

I always want to see snakes of course but didn’t have any luck today. We did however see a neat gopher tortoise eating some lunch and a few five-lined skinks (called blue-tail skinks when they are young – but they loose this color when they mature).  They are difficult to photograph because they are so fast.  We also saw some huge Florida softshell turtles……which are also difficult to photograph because they are always in the water.  You can get better pics of the sliders and cooters because they come out on the logs and bask but the softshells stay in the water most of the time – except when they lay eggs.  When the weather cools off, I’m going to try to get out to the parks and reserves more so we can see some animals and take some more pictures. Definitely will plan a few canoeing trips to either Hillsborough river or Myakka River.   Open invite to whoever reads this!

Daytona 2010

Posted on August 23, 2010

Just got back from Daytona.  Had a great time as usual but every year, more and more big breeders drop out.  VPI, Snake Keeper, Pete Kahl, are just a few that were not there. That’s in addition to the big timers that stopped coming a few years ago like Ralph Davis, NERD,  and Bob Clark.   I can’t really blame Bob Clark and NERD for not coming down – seeing as how they produce a lot of Retics and Burms and both of those are on the ROC permit system in Florida.

The auction was really fun and there was a good turnout so I’m guessing a lot of money was raised for USARK.  I didn’t come home with any animals – just a few books and some other things.  Justin ended up getting a Cal King male and a poss het snow boa female (from the auction).  His girlfriend Tasha picked up an albino cornsnake – not bad for her first show!  Matt and Beth ended up getting a chameleon that looked pretty cool – and they got a nice cage for it too.  Neatest thing at the show in my opinion was an Albino Darwin Carpet and some poss het females.  This was at Ben Siegels table and I believe they were listed at 14K for the trio.

The Hilton hooked us up with an oceanfront room on the fifth floor which is nice because there is a pool on the fifth and it’s real convenient.  It rained a little bit while we were there but it cleared up just as quick.  Another Daytona is in the books and as much fun as we have each year, we just might have to skip Daytona and go to Tinley Park next year.  From what I hear – it’s taking over as the “big show”.  It’s October 9-10 and Kim and I are debating on whether to fly up this year and scope it out. I’ve been wanting to go for a while now – but it’s just not as easy as driving 2.5 hours to the other coast like we do for Daytona.  Oh well, we’ll see how the funds hold out and maybe I’ll make it up there this year.

- As far as the pics go, I didn’t really take many myself – just these few shots below. Kim and Justin took a lot more so I’ll post those up once they email them to me.  But for now, these are just my boring Hilton shots!

Bumblebees!

Posted on August 19, 2010

….was lucky to get 2 female bumblebees from a small, four egg spider x pastel clutch. The first bee that hatched gave me a little bit of a scare though. It slit the egg and came out way too early.  It still had at least half of the egg yolk attached and was extremely thin.  I pushed it back in the egg and just kept an eye on it for the next 10-12 hours.  Every time she would poke her head out, I would push her right back in.  After doing this on and off for about a day and a half, I could see that the contents of the egg were slowly disappearing and being absorbed by the snake.   I finally let her come out of the egg and she is doing good now.  Never had one do that before…….

Womas Hatching!

Posted on August 12, 2010

I’ve been really anticipating this clutch of womas.  I originally started out with 5 eggs.  After candling each of them, I could pretty much tell that one was infertile – it was really “watery” for lack of a better term and had no veins at all.  Like I always do, I incubated it and hoped for the best. A few weeks into incubation, it started decomposing – so into the garbage it went.  So then I was down to 4 eggs.

Last Friday to be exact, I checked the incubator in the morning before I went to work and saw some marks on one of the eggs that looked like egg tooth slits.  I watched the egg for a little while and didn’t see any movement.  I then debated on whether or not to get the cuticle scissors out and cut. I ended up carefully making a few cuts and gently touched the woma with the tip of the cuticle scissors (which ALWAYS elicits movement from a hatchling snake) – but I saw no movement at all.  I cut a larger window out of the egg and unfortunately it was dead.  I took the snake out of the egg and looked it over. Looked normal except for that it may have had an enlarged heart.  It wasn’t protruding or anything like that but it just looked abnormally large.  Not sure if this had anything to do with it’s death or if the snake just wasn’t strong enough to cut through the egg – which I have heard of happening before but it’s a first for me.   Anyways, this brought me down to three eggs left which I’m happy to say that they appear to be healthy and 2 out of the 3 are out already!