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News Briefs

World Snake Day 2020
Cindy Steinle - Thursday, Jul 16, 2020

Happy World Snake Day!

What is that? Well it is a day that is an easy one! It is a day to focus on conservation and education about snakes!

Snakes are one of the greatest fears in the world, but their importance to our environment as well as our health is enough reason to work to change minds. I grabbed a few fun articles for you to read and share today to help reach out and share the joy of snakes.

These articles give a breakdown on the holiday and the issues facing snakes. This post from RepublicWorld is a very basic breakdown that you can readhere. Another option is this article from Newsd. It has some fun little trivia tidbits and again very basic info and can be found

Continue reading "World Snake Day 2020"

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  - 2018 Herp Symposium Live blog Day 1
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Featured Contributors

Asian Keeled Box Turtles
Richard Bartlett - Monday, Aug 10, 2020

Mercedes, at home, alert, and on snail patrol.

Mercedes is back home. And he’s still alone. So Patti and I continue on our hunt for a female with which to partner Mercedes.

Mercedes is an Asian Keeled Box Turtle, Pyxidea (once Geoemyda) mouhoti. Now an Endangered species, a mere few years back this interesting turtle was a major component of the herp trade. And coinciding with the last statement, this taxon that was once so readily available, inexpensive, and easy to keep is now (year of 2020) almost impossible to obtain and cannot, without an almost impossible to get Federal Permit, be offered in interstate trade. So what happened to all of them? There are various explanations, but two that are almost certainly accurate are that they were just a 7” long brown turtle and that they were inexpensive. In the American hobbyist’s pet trade, if some bucks, preferably big bucks, cannot be made by breeding a herp there is no incentive to either keep or breed it. And all of the Mercedes’ of the pet trade fell into these categories.

A few dedicated hobbyist/breeders did hold on to a few of these turtles and a few, now a precious few, are produced each year. But it seems now that mortality pretty much equals captive production and those few lucky owners are holding tightly to the examples on hand. Breeding males can wreak havoc on the more placid females and if not closely monitored injury or death of the female may occur.

Threats to wild populations include habitat destruction including deforestation as well as for food and mostly (probably all) bogus traditional home remedy medications. The pet trade has also figured strongly in population reductions.

I mentioned above that Mercedes (now a 30 year captive) is “back home.” For the last 2 years he has been on an apparently unsuccessful breeding loan to a chelonian breeder in the northeast. We’re glad he’s back, and now we are scouring the USA for a female that we could get on breeding loan. Please, please, if you know of anyone maintaining this turtle as a pet please drop us a line. We’d like to be a part of the future availability of this species in the USA.
Continue reading "Asian Keeled Box Turtles"

Borderline Florida Box Turtles
Richard Bartlett - Monday, Aug 03, 2020

This box turtle is intermediate in color between the eastern and the Florida subspecies.

Like so many of Florida’s herps, Florida Box turtles, Terrapene carolina baurii, are no longer as frequently seen as once. Of course, when you stop to consider the very real reduction in natural habitat in the state of Florida, the immense increase in the traffic volume, and the slow, plodding gait of the turtle itself, this seeming reduction of the creature seems explicable—unfortunate but explicable. Of course the inexplicable segment in all of this is the deliberate destruction of road-crossing box (and other) turtles by the ROAD-IDIOTS that just have to prove that they know where each tire can do the most destruction to crossing wildlife.

But I digress. In the quarter century that I’ve lived in North Central Florida, I had seen what I thought to be a fair number in the earlier years and many fewer FL box turtles of late. An occasional one still wanders across our property or is seen elsewhere while I’m out scouring the roads and trails for photographable herps. And I see fewer still at the supposed point intergradation of the Florida box with the Eastern Box, basically at the St Mary’s River. And what have I found there?

The changes I’ve seen are gradual, not immediate as is often seen on range maps.South of the St. Mary’s I’ve see a couple that were obviously closer to an eastern than a Florida and a couple that have been just the opposite. Since I’ve never found any immediately north of the river I can make no statements regarding them. But staying south of the river and moving a bit further westward I’ve found 3 that are showing more signs of one subspecies than the other. Two have been judged on color and one has been on conformation, the latter meaning that when the turtle was viewed from above it was proportionately broader than a typical Florida box.

So what does all of this mean? Why nothing at all, but these facts did seem interesting at the time. Have you got any data to add? If so, send it along. I’d be interested in knowing your thoughts.

Continue reading "Borderline Florida Box Turtles"
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