Chat Transcript Jan 2001
Crocs in the Wild and Captivity
Adam Britton - Sure jeff - incidentally for those that don't know
me, I work for Wildlife Management International out here in Darwin, Australia.
Mainly on biology and conservation management of saltwater and freshwater
crocs. Plus a million other things it seems!
Adam Britton - With the Chinese alligators, although the CHinese
have been doing great on the captive breeding side of things, recent surveys
realised the wild pop was about to disappear - habitat loss mainly
Adam Britton - So the current drive is to raise fund to bring together
everyone in China, such as the govt, and the local people, and raise awareness,
and look into reclaiming habitat and doing wild releeases
Adam Britton - Chinese gators are really a public relations problem
JeffB - For those of you who don't know
JeffB - last month Adam was on WebRadio
JeffB - and we discussed this in depth
Adam Britton - the Chinese Alligator Fund that I've helped set up
is providing the foundations to get funding off the ground. It's doing very
well to date - nearly US$8000, which has got the Chinese govts attention
CrazyGecko - whats the chance of people being attacked by a croc
in australia? whats the most high rate species that attacks people?
Adam Britton - Pretty low chance - 8 people in 30 yrs in the Territory,
15 in total in Australia. Most ppl attacked were drunk, or not following
Adam Britton - Highest rate - Nile crocs, with several hundred if
you believe the figures
CrazyGecko - Were they injured or killed?
crockeeper - have you worked with Paleosuchus to any extent and are
you familiar with geographical locality variation in color in palpebrosus?
Bob Applegate- Briefly summarize some of the projects you are now
working on, in addition to the chinese alligator (or have recently worked
JeffB - killed crazy
Bob Applegate- Including your recent work in Florida'
Adam Britton - That's deaths, crazy - triple it for injuries
Adam Britton - bob, in addition to sinensis, I'm looking at the
immune system of alligtors with a colleague in Texas (at Brazos Bend), and
with C porosus with the New Jersey Medical Schoool...
Adam Britton - I'm looking at the effects of body temp on C. porosus
eggs prior to laying here in Darwin...
Adam Britton - I'm working on surveys and the management program
on C. porosus and C. johnstoni here in Darwin...
Bob Applegate- any results to report yet?
Adam Britton - And we're starting a project looking at the effect
of trace elements in C. porosus eggs and survivorship
Adam Britton - results for which one?
Bob Applegate- You listed a lot as working on, immune, trace elements,
temps, etc, and results from these studies so far?
Bob Applegate- any not and
Adam Britton - antibiotics - yes, we discovered crocodillin, still
working on its structure (funding reqd), and temp effects just writing a
paper now - looking like females choose cooler temps when gravid before
Bob Applegate- Thankyou
Adam Britton - only in captivity crockeeper - they're a species I
want to spend more time on but at this stage I'm not the best person to ask
about their ecology
crockeeper - thank you
herpnut - what about reproduction/
JeffB - can you be a bit more specific
Adam Britton - crockeeper - I would add briefly that variation in
morphology is widespread amongst the crocodilia - we see it even in the
limited distribution of cporosus in the NT
herpnut - thanks
CrazyGecko - Sorry to interupt but whats NT?
Adam Britton - NT = Northern Territory of Australia
CrazyGecko - oh
CrazyGecko - thx
herpnut - any variation among other crocs
Adam Britton - yes herpnut, a lot, and eg Brian Warren believes the
subspp of C. crocodilus may simply be extreme variation due to changes in
herpnut - meaning, they are depleting
Adam Britton - There's a lot of suggested croc subspp but few are
accepted due to this variation - what is variation, and what is true genetic
distance? HOping this isnt too much off topic: What do you think
of Steve Irwin? Good or Bad for crocodiles?
Adam Britton - Good and bad - good because he's getting people excited
about an animal which traditionally few think much about in depth...
Adam Britton - bad because he's really giving a lot of misleading
information out about crocs and being pretty unfair to croc researchers in
madrussian - I am a wholesaler/importer and get a lot of WC reptiles
(including crocs,gators and caimen) in with various problems.My question is,
are there any new preventative drugs on the market to treat imports with besides
the usual panacur/flagyl/trichlorfon to better the odds of survival?
ahh ok thanks
Adam Britton - trouble is, the biggest killer of crocs when wild
caught is stress - it affects their immune system quite badly exposing them
to various diseases. Juveniles are especially vulnerable. I think improving
shipping and handling would be far more effective
Adam Britton - but you have to expect certain losses, esp in juveniles
saint - gday adam , what effect do you think the cane toads will
have on crocs , particularly juvenile ones in the territory ?
Adam Britton - oed - did you see the recent bite he received? That's
not surprising - we all here asked why on earth he tried to lift an adult
female croc over a wall without tying her jaws up. There are certain safety
procs one follows with crocs, for everyone's safety - it's dangerous for
others not just himself
Adam Britton - saint - I'm not sure yet. we have 2 freshies die
from eating canes, and Mark Reed in QLD saw a saltie subadult die with a
cane toad in its mouth...
wesvp Sir: With the plethora of TV programs featuring crocodilians,
do you believe that the reputation of 'gators and crocs' have been improved
or degraded with the general public? Do people accept them more easily now
because they see them (on the screen being mauled by large, photogenic Aussies
- one already mentioned ... et al ) more often, or do they fear them more
because they get 'up close photography' of them doing the feeding and 'dea
CrazyGecko - It has been found that great white sharks might be able
to help cure diseases such as cancer? Has then been found in any crocs?
Adam Britton - not enough evidence yet saint, but I personally think
they will learn. QLD crocs are still ok, and they've had canes for much
longer than we have
Adam Britton - Wes - I think it's much worse for crocs to be out of
the limelight - then nobody cares if they don't know about them. Some progs
I think don't do crocs much good, but it's balanced by some really great docs
- gets people excited about animals, whic is what inspires them to work with
them or teach others about them.
Adam Britton - crazy - yes, CSIRO here in Australia looked at cartilage
in crocs and found they had similar anticancer properties to shark cartilage.
Crocs really are a reservoir of amazing adaptations, and now people are
taking the time to look there's some interesting stuff coming out
CrazyGecko - kewl
CrazyGecko - more respect perhaps
JeffB - Whens your next trip to the states?
Adam Britton - yes, hopefully - I'd like them to think there's more
to crocs than just teeth
CrazyGecko - :-)
CrazyGecko - that would be great
Adam Britton - Next trip to US in 10 days - I'm giving a talk at
the Science Museum of Minnesota, and the Minn Herp Soc. Be in Florida in
May to assist with a croc course
crockeeper - G'day again Adam, a question about dentition, I have a
particular C. niloticus that has the bottom front teeth coming through the
top of the tip of the snout, is this common and is it genetic?
JeffB - Crockeeper go ahead
Adam Britton - That's common crockeeper - once the croc gets to a
certain size, those front teeth penetrate the upper submaxilla
this particular animal is under two years
Adam Britton - That's a bit early, but it's not unusual as long as
the teeth are vertical and not skewed thank you
JeffB - d i heard youve sat on a few big salties , how hard
is it to do ? are they really always out to kill ?
Adam Britton - I'd never sit on a big saltie until it was tied up,
secure and immobile! What happens is they struggle violently for a few minutes,
and then become extremely exhausted - they're a little safer to approach then,
but you have to be really, really careful. Handling crocs is all about safety
and care for yourself and your coworkers...
Adam Britton - no, big males are not always out to kill - most of
the ones you approach on a river will disappear out of sight - they're much
more wary than smaller crocs
wesvp - Pass this time, ... lurking and learning .. .thanks ...
oh wait ... how come we never hear anything about Gharials? (from anybody,
not just the press and forum)
Adam Britton - forum is mainly about crocs in captivity - you won't
get hold of a pet gharial anytime soon. Perhaps becuase they're in India,
and they don't pose much of a threat (though they are threatened).
wesvp - Thank you sir.
JeffB - About india...
crockeeper - We all expect losses with our juveniles for no apparant
reason, but is it common to lose animals that are healthy and older (8-10yrs)
under similiar mysterious circumstances, especially when they have been healthy
and growing well for years?
JeffB - Its my understanding that indias wildlife laws make australias
Adam Britton - lol!
JeffB - have you been to india to study the crocs there?
Adam Britton - Yes, they are very much opposed to certain types
of croc conservation management...
Adam Britton - Rom Whitaker has had real problems at Madras - all
these crocs successfully bred, yet the govt won't allow their release -
it's a public relations problem mainly (do you want crocs releasing in your
backyard, if you don't like them?)...
Adam Britton - Jeff - no, Madras I have yet to visit, but this year
JeffB - Crazy go ahead
Adam Britton - crockeeper - no, that's more unusual. Most crocs, once
they get beyond a year in age, should be pretty bombproof. I'd be concerned
if I lost an adult without an obvious cause - a necropsy and bacteriological
pm would be advised. under way, thank you
Adam Britton - crockeeper - are these animals that were recently shipped?
Or in the same location? same location, ... first
C. siamensis... then two C.porossus
crockeeper - animals were feeding and behaving as normal as ever
and then literally just *poof*
JeffB - sounds like my last coupla dates
crockeeper - Do you have any ideas?
Adam Britton - Any transmission of water between pens? Or between
new introduction? Many croc diseases are airborne or insect-borne, so if
there is air transmission that could be a problem. However, there woudl
have to be something wrong for a croc to succumb to those diseases. I'd
be concerned - find out what the problem is and isolate your other crocs.
We've had mycobacterial probs with some of our salties a few months ago
crockeeper - ok, my biggest concern is that we also lost a...
Adam Britton - anything obvious on the histo, or haven't you seen
crockeeper O.tetraspis that was isolated, and no reasons on the
Adam Britton - How "old" are your raising facilities?
crockeeper - Very crockeeper some are only about five years, the
rest have been standing for over 15
Adam Britton - Several croc farms in NT and QLD have had serious
problem, and unknown problems, with raising animals in facilities that were
several years old - new facilities don't give similar problems. We're still
trying to tie down the cause but there are a few obvious implications.
crockeeper - enclosures not croc..
crockeeper - Thank you
Adam Britton - This is after serious cleaning and disinfection -
problems won't go away. I'd think about that. Let me know if you learn anything
- I'm interested to see whether that could be a factor.
crockeeper -I will Adam, thank you
Adam Britton - How are we going John - still have some time left
if anyone wants to keep talking
briant - well...I got a question if it's ok to ask one [JeffB
PING reply]: 2 secs
Adam Britton - john = jeff
Adam Britton - I think Jeff has fallen asleep after than last exchange!
CrazyGecko - wake up man
Adam Britton - let's keep the same order for a while: JasonH -
do you have a question?
jasonh Well Adam, fist I would like to thank you for all of the advice
you have given me. I want to get into crocodilains as a career. Can you
reccomend any good schools that specialize in crocodilians ?
all right..i figured that
would be a good place to start...thanks !
JeffB - sorry
Adam Britton - jason - well, I can only try to help Jason. I'm not
all that familiar with US schools, being in Australia, but I'd recommend
looking into Univ of Florida for obvious reasons. You want to find a place
where there are lecturers who have an interest in crocs
JeffB - phone call
JeffB - talk amonst yourselves
Adam Britton - honestly, Jason, as long as you get a good first degree,
you can choose your career at any time after that. getting experience with
crocs is important, though.
would you reccomed biology or zoology ?
Adam Britton - Zoology would be preferable, but biology would be fine
also - keep your options open
Adam Britton - Any other q's? Kaytie you're next on the list.
JeffB - ok back sorry
WesVP - Sir: Press coverage of the 'potential life saving properties'
of croc blood has been interesting if not complete. Has the situation improved
for the scientists involved in their effort to sort out who discovered what
and when? Is their any potential for academic 'high-jacking of discovery'
here? Just how much does selective press coverage help or hinder scientific
advances in your select area of herpetology? (Wordy old cuss arn't I?)
Adam Britton - Wes, there are still "issues" there, although I'd
say it was amicable - we know who should be continuing this work, but it's
a little frustrating that it's being delayed a little. I don't think there
will be any hijacking - we're all on good terms. The press coverage was
somewhat "premature" though - normally these discoveries are checked and
rechecked, then published, and then announced to the press.
WesVP -Thank you sir.
JeffB - Any truth to the rumor that old timer aussie herpers use
rookie american herpers as "Salty Bait"
Adam Britton - hehe - happens all the time, Wes
Adam Britton - "Don't worry, he's just like a gator... oh, did he
briant - what do you think about large crocodilians, such as niles,
morelets, etc being kept in the private sector?
How widespread is the hybridization
of acutus and rhombifer, especially in zoo stock? Is it a bigger problem than
first thought? is anyones name mitchell?
Adam Britton - brian - I think there aren't enough controls in place.
I don't believe in restricting qualified and capable individuals, but I
do believe that someone who has trouble with a green iguana should be totally
prevented from getting a Nile crocodile or similar until they have proven
they are capable of housing and handling it when larger.
briant - thanks
Adam Britton - Hard to answer crockeeper - trouble is, we're now more
convinced that natural hybridization is more common than people think. So,
is this is a problem for captive stock if the wild stock naturally hybridizes
to some extent? It's a gray area.
JasonH - What are your feelings about laws that prevent citizens from
keeping crocs ? I realize some people simply do not have the knowledge or
capibility to keep them properly, but what about us responsible keepers ?
Is there any way we can fight back from these regulations ?
Adam Britton - I think having controls is, in theory, a good idea.
I think that if people can demonstrate they have the capabilities to keep
a croc (knowledge, money, space, time, etc) then they should be able to get
one. Trouble is, there are many who don't have those capabilities which will
eventually lead the dedicated keepers to have their hobby banned. I'm all
for keeping pet reptiles (I've had plenty over the years! REally got my interest
in their pass
Adam Britton - I think there should be greater restrictions on the
keeping of, say, a Nile croc or a saltwater crocs, compared with a Chinese
alligator or a dwarf caiman.
CrazyGecko - Which one is more dangerous? the saltie?
Adam Britton - It strikes me as common sense really, but theory is
often hard to implement in practice - I think we have to control our own hobby
speaking of, is it at all possible to obtain a chinese alligator
as a private keeper ? no
Adam Britton - crazy - most dangerous - none of them are a walk in
the park, but it would be a toss up between the Cuban croc, the saltie, and
perhaps the siamese - in my experience, that is is it possible for
me to ask a question??thanks
Adam Britton - jason - maybe in the future
CrazyGecko - Dr, You have any crocs as pets?
CrazyGecko - or what all herps you have in general?
healh issues. are there many/any known viruses that effect crocs in ozz
Adam Britton - crazy - I am raising some freshies and some salties.
I used to have a lot more herps though - surrounded by over a thousand crocs,
it's hard to have time for lots of reptiles, and restrictions up here are
CrazyGecko - oh..that sucks
Adam Britton - saint - yes, there are several if the croc's immune
system is down. Mycobacteria is a worry here at the moment.
wesvp Sir: 'Death Rolls'. We've seen TV shots of crocs doing it to
rip chunks out of large carcasses (hippos come to mind). Newts of Pachytriton
do it to remove limbs from smaller newts (and each other). Do all crocadilians
utilize the same feeding startegy? Are there any other critters that you know
of that utilize the same 'twist, revolve on their own axis at mach 1 and tear'
tactic? cya all, nice chat Adam! :) we are just starting
to touch the tip of virus in snakes here , what about crocs ?
saint - virus?
Adam Britton - paratrichosomas is also a nasty problem in wild crocs
(skin parasite) that we try hard to keep out of captive crocs
Adam Britton - wes - interesting observation. Yes, I think people
forget that other reptiles do this quite a bit. I've had a tegu do it to me
(ouch!) and several green iguanas. When you think about it, the "twisting"
motion is very hard to defend against, so it's a very effective way of attacking
or removing parts of the prey. Thank you again, and good night (Headquarters
duty officer tomorrow at 6 AM)
Adam Britton - saint - there's been more research in crocs because
of their industry potential
Adam Britton - thanks Wes
JeffB - chat with reguard to geographical variation in
size, which localities of the niloticus average the largest? ok, how
about my virus q? we are just starting to touch the tip of
virus in snakes here , what about crocs ? dand121...you there?
Adam Britton - saint - mycobacteria is a bacterial infection. Fungal
infections are also a problem. Viruses - arboviruses can cause serious problems
in crocs are there published cases in ozz most in snakes is
speculation here one or 2 good papers [
Adam Britton - saint - of arboviruses? Yes, though I can't tell you
without looking it up. oh ,ok ,thanks
Adam Britton - Do you want me to dig something up for you?
mycotic isa big problem in snakes oo too]
Adam Britton - I lecture on croc diseases for a uni course - it's
there if I go dig it out. I'll let you know. yea be interesting ,we
see that a lot of restrictions for exotics is because of viral spreadin chances
, nut there isnt much work done to say it isnt here already wondered
if maybe more research in crocs than snakes
Adam Britton - AQIS raise that as a principle problem for crocs too,
but they're relaxing a little on that front Any chance for a "working
vacation" with you if I was to visit your area ? If so, what could I expect
? but hey cant give any real answers
Jules - I was wondering that myself
Adam Britton - saint - we mooted the idea of importing eggs - gets
around a lot of the problems of infection. not sure if that's a goer, though
JeffB - Jason see "Rookie american herpers" post above
Adam Britton - hehehe
JeffB - ;)
davesssssss Adam, what do you find to be the average
growth rate for Salties in the first 2 years of life?? Thanks!!!
Adam Britton - dave - wild or captive? Captive, they can reach 1m
after 1 year in rare cases, usually less than that. After 2 years maybe 1.5
to 2 metres. There's a lot of variability. In the wild, cut that down by 50
to 75% at least.
Rosy25 - Whaaaaaasappanin Thank-you so much
Rosy25 - MRS! ROSY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Rosy25 - CROC!!!!!!!
EvanG - shannon
Jules - Adam, How did you come up with the idea of reaching into the
stomach to retreive your loggers as opposed to stomach flushing or pumping?
I'm sorry if this has already been asked.
Rosy25 - Evan!
JeffB - Adam pardon me but I have to go
Adam Britton - jules - flushing wasn't working, and my arm was long
enough, so I wanted to at least try it. It worked really well, and is much
better for the croc. Trouble is, anything over 3 m in length is tough to reach
into (arm not long enough)
JeffB - I wanted to thank you for being our guets tonight
Adam Britton - Jeff - ok, thanks, I hope it's been enjoyable - I had
JeffB - guest
Jules - hahaha, you need to hire an orangatang to work for you.
JeffB - g'nite eveyone