Chat Transcript Nov. 21st 2001
Steve and Kelli Hammack
Reptile Breeding into the 21st Century

matt2 - ok: first off, may I ask steve and kelli to post their website
SteveandKelli -
matt2 - for those whose wish to visit later

EricO - what is your opinion on irian jaya carpet pytrhons?
EricO - pythons*
SteveandKelli - Just a smaller race of carpet python, similar to the Jungle carpets. They seem to make good captives.
EricO - tempermant?
SteveandKelli - Nippy as babies, but do calm down as they mature.
EricO - thanks

REDTX - if you could give only one tip to an ameture herp hobbiest, what would it be? (or maybe two)
SteveandKelli - Good one. Work with what you like to work with or want to work with. Do not get into this for the money.
REDTX - thank you
SteveandKelli - many people think it is a good money maker, but it takes a lot of hard work, time, and money.

- Happy Thanksgiving, and thaks for joining us here tonight. Have you had any new or exciting hatchings this year, at the home or at the zoo? Perhaps a species that you have been waiting to get to breed and finally found success? Or anything you are really wanting to get to breed soon?
Snakebyt - sorry so long
SteveandKelli - No problem. At the zoo this year we produced 2 clutches of the Rhyncophus boulengeri. That was cool for us there. We also just got a new curator at the herp at the Fort Worth Zoo.
SteveandKelli - At home, we have been building the collection and are now up to about 115 snakes for breeders and around 125 leos for breeders.
Snakebyt - sounds great
SteveandKelli - We now have almost every color phase of leo available.
SteveandKelli - We also will soon be working with het albino red tailed green ratsnakes for this upcoming year, or perhaps for the 2003 season.
Snakebyt - wow, neat

- whats the biggest snake u have in your collection? or have had?
SteveandKelli - I used to have large burmese pythons, now we have various boa constrictors.
SteveandKelli - The largest burm was probably around 14 feet or so.
SS-Gohan - coo

- We are thinking about breeding our Tiger Retic, how old and what size should she be when we breed her?
SteveandKelli - The earliest would be around 18 months, but as far as size I am not sure, as we have never worked with retics. I would assume the female should be around 8-10 feet or so.
matt2 - my turn: what's the one project you guys are really looking forward to next year?
matt2 - (aside from raising your new daughter- congrads)
SteveandKelli - How about a few: albino boa, albino ball pythons, new color phases of leos.

- do you guys work with Mandran Rat Snakes_ any advice
BigJimx - I am thinking about buying a group
SteveandKelli - No at this time. But, do keep them on the cooler side and leave them alone once you have then set up.
BigJimx - thanks
SteveandKelli - YOur best bet is with captives. They are more expensive, but they do survive a lot better.
BigJimx - thats the advice I have been getting
SteveandKelli - Many people have gotten groups of 12 - 20 imports to only have 2-3 survive.
BigJimx - wow

- What would you recomend to use as an incubator for Ball Python eggs (including temp, humiduty,substrait)? I'm a first time breeder
Blazin - howdy hiss folk
SteveandKelli - I always use vermiculite as an incubation medium in a 2:1 ratio of vermiculite to water by weight. An inexpensive hovabator will work nicely for an incubator. Do make sure to get the one without the fan, they are cheaper and the fand tends to dry out the incubation substrate.

- what do you think the 21st century will hold as far as herpetology and/or local herping, in general?and is there anything new and excitingon the herp front, at home or work? btw who is the new curator?
SteveandKelli - Broda, sorry, for your question I would incubate the eggs at around 88-89 degrees f.
Broda - ok thanks
SteveandKelli - Red, the new curator is Diane Barber formerly of the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha NE.
REDTX - cool
SteveandKelli - As far as the 21st century, I think that the animal rights people are going to work more against us, shipping is going to get harder and harder for us and we are goin got have to rely on local reptile shows to move our animals.
REDTX - so kinda going back a step?
BigJimx - very true Stevekelli

SteveandKelli - Prices on some of the animals now are outrageously over priced and I think that there will be a drop in the smaller breeders. Many get into this for the quick buck, then find out that it is a lot of hard work and they will always come and go. There is also about a 5-7 year cycle on popularity of species. This wil also continue.

- Herps had a real big boom in the 90,s. do you see it continuing to grow, or you think it will drop off some in coming years due to increasing laws?
SteveandKelli - Yes and no. I think the popularity will grow, but the legality of it, including moving of animals across the country, will make it more of a challenge.

- How old and how big should our Columbian Redtail Boa be if we breed her?
SteveandKelli - At least 18 months old and around 6' minimum. Many say she should be larger around at mid body than a 12 oz coke can before she will breed.
Tigger01 - thanx I've been in love with Agalychnis Craspedopus for many many years now and know of their rarity and declining numbers. What do you think the chances of captive breeding efforts for these frogs will be?
SteveandKelli - I would say if you could get some legally than they should not be much different from the typical Agalychnis, but there again, I have neve worked with them. They nay have a little trick or 2 to them.

- what do you guys think of all the hybreds and morphs that have come along_its seems to be everyone is trying to out do the next on hypo-motley-sunglow-calico or super albino_ thanks
SteveandKelli - I like the morphs, but the hybids, I am finally stepping back from. I used to do the hybrid kings, but have decided to step away from them now. There are just too many people doing this and even if I acurately represent my hybrids to a buyer I have no guarantee that they will do the same.

- Me being a leopard nut I am just wondering whats on the horizon as far as morphs that your working with. Whats comming in the near future?
Broda - do you think in the future there might be a "black market" for snakes due to new laws restricting the sale and keeping of these beautifull animals?
matt2 - folks please have your questions typed and ready to go
Blazin - sorry
SteveandKelli - Blazin, Hopefully we will have melanistic in a couple of years and this coming year we will have Bell Albinos, a third albino, and we will also have the Rainwater Albino Patternless.
SteveandKelli - also we will have the Hypo Carrottails this year.
Blazin - cool thanks
SteveandKelli - Broda, there already is a form of black market. there is a lot of "under the table" deals made all the time.
SteveandKelli - There still is a lot of stuff confiscated these days. Most of the time, the zoos end up with them.

- what should adult pac-man frogs be fed?
Sulcatta - fish or mice?
SteveandKelli - You can feed them fuzzy mice, large insects such as hissing roaches as well. YOu could even feed them large mice if the frogs are large enough.
Sulcatta - ok
Sulcatta - thanks
SteveandKelli - You could feed them fish if they will take them. Anything they can fit in their mouth will work.

- what kind of new morphs besides melanistic?
Blazin - sorry ran out of time
SteveandKelli - Rainwater albino patternless, Bell albino (3rd albino line), hypo carrottails, tangello for the future, orange bilzzards (creamsicle as we would like to call them).
Blazin - cool thanks

- Kelli do you and Steve have a favorite species to work with? if so what is it?
SteveandKelli - Kelli likes the ratsnakes and leos, I like the green trees and ball pythons.
REDTX - cool l keep all of those but leos

- have either of you ever breed burmese pythons?
reticgonz445 - if so how long should i expect them to go off feed
SteveandKelli - Steve used to breed most of the morphs several years ago. At one time I had 25 burms, normal, albino, het albino, green, albino green, labyrinth, albino labyrinth.
SteveandKelli - Go off feed when?
reticgonz445 - during breeding.
SteveandKelli - Several months during the cooling season.
SteveandKelli - During cooling I never even offered them meals.
reticgonz445 - and will they lose alot of weight?
SteveandKelli - No, not really.
reticgonz445 - alright thanks alot
SteveandKelli - Once youwarm them back up, be ready to stuff them until the female is gravid, then she will go off feed again.

- speaking of GTP, what do you think about WC, good idea or bad? are they worth the new bloodlines that would be added to collections
SteveandKelli - I bought several WC back in 97 and it took them till the 99 season to settle in.
SteveandKelli - It is worth the new blood if you can be patient with them.
SteveandKelli - next
Snakebyt - are they problematic like emeralds?
SteveandKelli - They can be, but I have never had a regurge problem with the GTP's.
Snakebyt - thats ok

Sulcatta - what do you think is the best place and time to look for herps in mid-Califonia?
SteveandKelli - I have not idea, I have never been to california!
Sulcatta - oh
SteveandKelli - No idea, oops.
Sulcatta - well...
SteveandKelli - You can check with Gary Sipperley of San Diego or Bob Applegate. Both are good collectors and breeders in the San Diego area.

- This is kinda off the subject but how do you become a herpatologist so you can study reptiles?
SteveandKelli - Stay in school. Try and get a 4 year college degree. Volunteer at your local zoo. While in college get involved with a herp researcher and join your local herp society.
Snakebyt - Sorry, got to run.. good chatting with you Steve and Kelli, thanks for coming...
SteveandKelli - This will give you some valuable experience.
SteveandKelli - Bye.

- my turn: what shows next in texas will you folks be at?
SteveandKelli - WE will be at the Texas Reptile Expo in Alrington, Tx on Dec 1 & 2.

Blazin - What exactly is a Tangelo and have you notice a genetic link between growth rates and clutches in leopards. And also have you noticed a link between growth rates and size of enclosure?
SteveandKelli - Mainly food availability and growth rates. The more food the quicker and larger they will grow. A Tangello is an orange patternless.
Blazin - thanks
SteveandKelli - The larger the female is the more clutches she usually lays.
SteveandKelli - Better egg production comes with at least a year of age versus 7-8 months of age.

- I recently aquired a trio of blue beauties. How long , with daily handling, should it take for them to stop biting me all the time? hehe
SteveandKelli - They will probably neber stop biting. We have to wear armour to handle the adults and a staff instead of a hook to get them out of the cage :-)
Broda - thanks
SteveandKelli - He Heeeee

- I have a pair of "proven" cal kings but they are only around three feet each. Would you reccomend breeding these?
SteveandKelli - That should be large enough. Thanks

- oh, steve anything new and exciting in reasearch?
SteveandKelli - Still analyzing the data from my ratsnake egg water potential study.
REDTX - oh by the way you forgot randal
REDTX - thats cool
SteveandKelli - 1:1 is definitely too wet to incubate eggs. We always now use 2:1 ratio of vermiculite to water and get a much better hatch rate.
REDTX - great
SteveandKelli - Also have done work with TCU on Panther Chameleons showing that they photoregulate to get needed UV light rather than previously though to thermoregulate to maintain body temps.
REDTX - i'm assuming asians need more humidity?
SteveandKelli - No, not really.
REDTX - very interesting on the panthers

Randal_B - Steve, you and I have known each other, seems like forever, and Iv'e never asked you why you left Dallas for Ft. Worth. Why? Also, see you next week in Arlington, Randal Berry
SteveandKelli - I have always lived in Fort Worth and the drive was killing me. also, Fort worht started offering more money:-)
Randal_B - I understand that!
matt2 - Folks we're coming up on the hour..if steve and kelli wish to continue for a half hour more is up to them
SteveandKelli - Kelli can't wait to meet you Randal.
SteveandKelli - Thats fine if you want us to. Your not bored yet!
Blazin - hell no
Randal_B - I can't wait to meet her! Bonnie has told me a lot about her!
matt2 - this has been one of the finest guestchats we've had in a long time
SS-Gohan - yes it has

Blazin - I have a lone male that has really slowed down in his feeding. Any suggestions?
SteveandKelli - Lone male what, Leo?
Blazin - yeah sorry
SteveandKelli - Probably is noticing the change in temps. Try waxworms, they always take them.
Blazin - k thanks

- Hi S & K: I got here late. As old pros in the business, do you think the herp industry has any real concerns over the Humane Society of the United States' new hardcore crusade against us?
SteveandKelli - Yes I do. There facts are all wrong and they have nothing to back it up. I am a member of PIJAC and I would recommend any and all herpers to join them. They are a lobbyist group for the pet industry and are already working on this issue.
SteveandKelli - I feel that our industry will come under more attach as time goes on by others as well. We have top stand tall and firm in our convictions and do what we can to stand by one another.

- I already have corn and cal kings to breed, and a ball python, a burmese python and 2.3 gopher snakes. I'm only 13 years old so what do you think would be a good and easy snake to breed next?
SteveandKelli - Perhaps a type of milksnake: pueblan, hondurans, etc.
Ppoker - cool
Ppoker - quick, what size are their clutches
SteveandKelli - Think of something you would realy like to work with and try and get them.
Ppoker - I like milk snakes, but it has to be in my price range
SteveandKelli - Pueblans can easily triple clutch with 8-10 eggs per clutch, hondurans can double clutch with 5-10 eggs per clutch.
SteveandKelli - Honduran eggs are much larger than pueblan eggs.

- Whats the situation on Lachesis there? You guy's still have some?If so, what specie? Any offspring? I need new bloodlines! LOL!
SteveandKelli - Yup, we produce 6 muta muta this year from a wild male and a dallas female.
Randal_B - graet!
Randal_B - oop's GREAT!
SteveandKelli - I think kamuran has already swung a deal to get them all though.
SteveandKelli - We usually breed the pair evey year.
REDTX - have you ever worked with black milks or red milks and if so what has been your experiences?
Randal_B - your kidding me! I guess I'll have to call him, however, I have Dallas stock I thought you guy's had stenophrys
Randal_B - sorry!
SteveandKelli - Used to work with blacks. Keep them cool like andeans and they do great. No need to hibernate. We are working with Hypo red milks and should have these this next season. Cool animals, very small babies though.
REDTX - cool
REDTX - any tips of them?
REDTX - other than temps
SteveandKelli - Not really. the red milk babies are so small they cannot take pinks, so you have to give them mouse tails till they get a little larger and large enough to take fresh pinks.
REDTX - ok thank you
SteveandKelli - Black milks can get large and have large eggs. Up to 7' have been recorded.
REDTX - nice!!!
SteveandKelli - Blacks are relatively calm also.
REDTX - oh so they don't bite the the blue's?
REDTX - haha
SteveandKelli - NO< NO< NO, Nice, very nice.
REDTX - ok thank you guys

SnakesAndStuff - What do you think about the current abundance and wide availability of venomous snakes to just about anyone in the last few years?
SteveandKelli - That is not good, in my opinion. As a zoo person, it is hard for us to have to deal with all the private bites and use up our valuable antivenin on private people. It is expensive and sometimes hard to get, which leaves us at the zoos vulnerable.
SteveandKelli - If someone is going to keep hots, then they should research it to the fullest and try and get their own antivening, which I am sure will nto happen.
SteveandKelli - Many zoo keepers, myself included, have been told by the zoo administr4ation that if we are bit at work that we could loose our jobs. If you do get bitten, it is 9 out of 10 time carelessness on the keepers part.
SteveandKelli - next

- my turn: since the tragic events of 9/11..I have heard that herpers have had a hard time shipping herps..have you experienced this?
SteveandKelli - YES!
SteveandKelli - We had to be inspected by Delta, even though I have been a long time shipper with an account. Even the zoo had to be inspected!

- whats your most favorite herp?
SteveandKelli - Shipping is getting harder and harder. We now use Delta, which now only offers DASH and first day priority, no mopre second day. ane we also use the postal service for lizards and Airborne for lizards.
SteveandKelli - Kelli likes the Bairds ratsnakes and I like the green tree pythons.
SS-Gohan - cool
SteveandKelli - I also like all the alibino snakes out there. I love the freaks and mutants.

SteveandKelli - They are an artifact of captivity and would not evern survive in the wild, so they are a true testament to herpetoculture.
FlHerper - Have you read the main article on Calif. Mt. kings in the latest REPTILES mag? In it they discuss 'zonata disease' (dry, crinkled skin build-up, repeated shed cycles, sometimes paralysis, etc.), which sounds a lot like what afflicts some Pueblan milk snakes at puberty. Is this the start of a new, widespread killer Lampropeltis (or colubrid) disease? Any comments?
Blazin - I recently saw an episode of croc hunter where he was in New Guinea. Steve Irwin climbed this huge fig tree like over 100 feet up and found the most beautiful gecko I have ever seen yet he did not name it. It was neon yellow with a white line down its back. Obviously nocturnal by the size of its eyes. Had a crested kind of looking head yet its body was more streamline. Any ideas or did you see that episode? I have to find out what kind of gecko t
SteveandKelli - I did not see the episode but it sounds like the Skunk Gecko, gecko vittatus.
Blazin - I don't think its that one
SteveandKelli - FL, I have not seen the article yet, but I have sen this wiht pueblans, andeans, arcifera as well.
FlHerper - Oooh, scary!
SteveandKelli - It is a rapid shed that never comes off and then turns into a straight jacket. this is going to sound crazy, but the best thing that I have found that helps is soaking them in a plain douche solution, seriously, i'm not kidding.
FlHerper - So, you've actually CURED snakes with it, permanently?
SteveandKelli - After severl soaking eisodes, it tends to loosen a little and allow the keeper to start peeing off the old skin. Most of the time it is lethal and the animal eventually dies.
SteveandKelli - Some I have saved, but most I lost anyway.
FlHerper - Just saving ANY is good news!
SteveandKelli - True

- hav you guys ever seen baby boas have a problem with shedding and then after hand shedding it looks as if they have fluid under their skin? my bro in law has anery baby boa with this problem right now and ive never seen it before
SteveandKelli - It could be that they have been kept too moist and there is fluid build up under the skin. also, if you hand shed them before they are actually ready there is a fluid uder the skin naturally as a lubricant.
NajaAnja - this one looked this way prior to shed
SteveandKelli - Not sure really.
NajaAnja - didnt think it was ever going to shed
NajaAnja - he lost one before like this
NajaAnja - never found out what it was
SteveandKelli - It could have been a symptom like what we discussed earlier.

- Steve,I agree with you about having to use our own antivenin. People don't realize the red-tape you have to go through to get it, however, zoo's are more than willing to offer it to the private sector, but it leaves us short-handed. It's happened at Little Rock a few times!And yes, as far as shipping, Delta had to come to my house to inspect, and come to the zoo!

SteveandKelli - It really stinks, but shipping has become a problem with all the terrorism stuff. Yes, we are willing to use our antivenin as well and it does leave us short handed. We had an incident a year or so ago where we drained one of our antivenin stocks for a private cobra bite and then could not acquire more due to none in production. This left us for about a year with no antivenin at the zoo for this type of snake. it stinks sometimes.
REDTX - on the topic of hots, do you think more laws need to be passed or do you think if other laws do get passed it will in turn take away rights for serious and of age and responsible herpers, in the long run? is it kinda a catch 22 ? (by the way albinos scare me something bout the eyes...... old emotional scars from an albino ferret)
SteveandKelli - Sorry about the ferret incident. I'm not really keen on more laws, just enforce the ones that are usually already on the books. Make it so those that are serious and can prove their ability the right to keepwhat they want.
SteveandKelli - Does that make sense?
REDTX - ri know but look at all the kids wheelin and dealin in hot aniamls? or do you think education is the key? classes and stuff?
SteveandKelli - Most cities have regulations in place anyway.
REDTX - yes it does make sense
SteveandKelli - There should be some rules and regulations in place, especialy when it comes to age of buyers maybe. We recently had an incident where a vendor at our local show was selling baby Nile Crocs to kids. Where do you think thewe will end up?
REDTX - ohh, i know who it is..yuck
SteveandKelli - More than likely, die, be released, or donated to a zoo. We do not have the space for a nile croc at fort worht zoo.
REDTX - hmmmmmmm what if they are released, would they breed in some areas?
SteveandKelli - First off, there were city regulations in place to not allow this. The vendor ignored these rules. The promoters then told him to remove them from his table and he started selling them from his room. It really pissed me off, as this guy is a big name breeder.
REDTX - yeah i know who he is
SteveandKelli - Probably not here in this climate, but if they made it farther south they might.

- SteveandKelli: what level do you thinkg venomous snake keeping should be stopped at (ie; only zoos, zoos and universities, the previous plus registered individuals over a certain age, etc)? (kinda answered some of it in the question right before me LoL)
REDTX - well steve and kelli thank you the great chat and info it was a pleasure chatting with you guys
SteveandKelli - This is one of those things that really pisses me off about this business. The flesh peddlers that are out there. They do not care about the animals only the mighty dollar and getting enought to get their next rent payment made.
REDTX - shoot i need rent money but i wouldnt sell nile crocs
REDTX - shoot i wouldnt even seel the animals i have LOL
SteveandKelli - Privates shoudl be able to keep then as long as they can demonstrate that they can keep them properly and known the risks involved.
SnakesAndStuff - thanks

- so do u know anything about snow balls if so when do u think they'll be out for sale and how much will they cost?
SteveandKelli - There is one available now of the Joliff line for $75,000!
SteveandKelli - There are only 2 out there that I know of now.
SS-Gohan - oh
matt2 - welp we went over a half hour but thats due to the chat being so good, one of the finest ever!
REDTX - take it eeasy kids, talk to you guys laer ;o)
matt2 - and for those of you who didn't see; "Bartlett" was R.D. Bartlett
Randal_B - Matt, thanks for hosting this! You did a Great job!
NajaAnja - thanks steve and kelli
SteveandKelli - good night
FlHerper - It takes quality guests to make a quality chat. Thanks S & K!
SteveandKelli - It was fun for us too!
matt2 - he doesn't go to chat i guess it musta been something about our guest tonight
NajaAnja - neither does randal hehehe
SS-Gohan - well im gunna go so have a happy thanks giving yall
SteveandKelli - Yay, now we need to put up