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Chat Transcript
Bob Applegate 12/13/99


Jeff Barringer - Our second chatweek99 guest is Bob Applegate.... Bob's topic is Gilas and Beaded lizards but I'm sure he won't mind a few Colubrid questions
Bob Applegate - I am an open book, pick any chapter and we can cover it , Thanks, Jeff.

gordie - What is the best part about keeping Gilas and Beadeds in general?
Bob Applegate - Being unique and having the only two venomous lizards in the world. They are commonly kept, but rarely bred, so it is very satisfying to have even limited successes with them.

JHewlett - Ok Bob, here we go, I was curious about how big your breeding area in your home is? What I mean by that is how many animals do you have and breed? Also how much space does this operation take up? These are snakes I am talking about.
Bob Applegate - The snakes fill two buildings, small ones. I have facilities for about 450 breeder snakes, but am cutting down in numbers, it's too much like work.

PythonPete - What type of nesting set up do you use and could you tell me a bit about your egg incubation husbandry on these?
Bob Applegate - I do the snakes and Heloderma the same, give damp moss to lay in, collect the eggs, and float them inside a container with dry vermiculite til they hatch Gilas take about 4 months, Beadeds about 6 at 80-82 degrees.

scrubpython - Bob how many strains of Cal kings you own and created?
Bob Applegate - I have three types of albinos, and a mix I call Krazy kings, but these are some of the ones I am reducing the numbers in, downward market pressures and time constraints. Here in CA we have to keep records of all "normal" looking kings we produce and sell, so it almost isn't worth the bother now.

TRIMTRIG - Bob,do you believe DNA sexing in Gilas holds up to being true when determining the sex of an individual?
Bob Applegate - So far it is very promising. I have been working with Dr Seward and he was 100% correct on the ones I already knew. Unfortunately there has been an unavoidable delay in the testing because the test equipment is no longer available to him.

JeffB - What was it like to field collect Gilas and Beadeds? Paint us a picture of back then.
Bob Applegate - Gila collecting was just a luck thing, when road cruising, once in a while you would find one. Interestingly, more on full moon nights. When you see a gila walking across the road, you have no doubt what you are seeing!! I never found Beadeds in the wild, I had to buy them.

amazoa - How important in Pueblan Milk snakes is introducing the female to the males habitat. After they come out of brumation when do you wait for two sheds or immediately after their first shed to start breeding?
Bob Applegate - I keep my Pueblans together year around, when they come out of the winter cooling period make sure they are well fed and they do the rest. I have had some lay after the first shed, others breed much later, let them tell you what they need. It makes no difference which is put in which cage.

BradP - Which do you prefer between beaded and gila and why?
Bob Applegate - Beadeds are larger and take more room, and are more work, but so are some kids.

gordie - Do you think that the market in Colubrids will decline with a perceived rising interest in the Boids, or do you think the market is just cyclic
Bob Applegate - All markets are a supply and demand underlying cause/effect. I expect everything to decline, except special projects, where your $ return will still be high, until they are common enough to go over to the pet trade category.

JAYCDN - On your site you emphasize the fatal nature of both beaded and gila bites, how dangerous are they? and what type of toxin?
Bob Applegate - Extremely painful neurotoxins. Potential for death is there, no antivenom. It is sort of a disclaimer, you have been warned, I am now not responsible. One zoo guy was bitten and within 20 minutes he was unconscious and defecating all over himself, they thought he was dead.

love2 - On the gila's and beaded's, are the bites ALWAYS toxic, or can they choose not inject venom like snakes?
Bob Applegate - The saliva is the toxin, unless the mouth was dry, there should be some bad effects. The teeth look like a picket fence with razor edges and go to the bone with little pressure.

Mattmorelia - Have you had any major hibernation problems with either Gilas or Beadeds?
Bob Applegate - Yes, I let the Beadeds get too cool one year and lost two (below 45) I now have heat that comes on if the temp tries to drop below 55. Gilas seem to be able to take anything, had them as low as 43. Surprisingly, even at this cool temp they often move away from the heat.

msecc - Are the beaded's and Gilas aggressive or docile for the most part, is there a difference between the two? Do you usually handle them alone, and how much physical interaction do you really have with them if any?
Bob Applegate - Each is an individual, I have some of each I could hand to you and not expect you to have any trouble, however, some are "resistive" to handling. What I mean by that is when you touch them they react in your direction, only one or two of the 30+ I would consider actually aggressive. I pick up and move them all the time when cleaning.

PythonPete - What sex ratio do you keep your Heloderma breeders in?
Bob Applegate - Sexing is the real problem here Pete, so I don't know with Gilas, with the Beadeds I have one male to one or two females.
PythonPete - Any new projects cooking?
Bob Applegate - Light greeri, striped sinaloans, spotted annulata and of course the special candy cane pyro for now, but who knows what else will hatch that will end up being the next new project.

RyanG - How would YOU go about finding a reliable and qualified herp vet?
Bob Applegate - Word of mouth from others in your area, or reference from your local zoo or herp club.

JeffB - Bob tell us about your cage set up for the Heloderma.
Bob Applegate - Very large drawer under a glass front opening cage. There is heat in the rear, cooler in front, they chose what temp they want to be and can be up top or out of sight below.

BradP - What do think has caused the increase in the keeping of herps as pets, and do you think it will continue to increase, or is it just a trend?
Bob Applegate - I think it will increase. They don't howl at night, crap in the neighbors garden, are non allergenic, and can be kept in apartments and small areas with a minimum of care. As there are more and more people on this earth, these will become even more popular as the perfect pet.

love2 - ok, this may be silly, but with the neuro toxin in the saliva is special care needed when handling water bowls ect?
Bob Applegate - Not silly, but the toxin does not seem to be any trouble unless it gets into the body through a bite, etc. It is thought you could drink it and digests it as it is a protein, so no, no problem. It does (the venom) have a sweet smell to it, and when really irritated and open mouthed you can smell it!

PythonPete - How involved is the permit process with Heloderma. Does it limit sales greatly?
Bob Applegate - Off limits, have want to be customers in CA that have been refused permits even though F+G is charging me 300 per year for the "privilege" to sell Gilas. If sold to a State not regulating them, then no problem. If sold out of the country then CITES 2 permits are required.

Rdean - How do you feel about governments trying to restrict herps and hots even more?
Bob Applegate - I am against it totally, but unfortunately I am also a realist, and I know it will get worse as we are a minority.

SeanA - With all the talk of hybrids, what do you think of developing a herp registry system..like the akc, but for herps as a method to keep pure strains and to add a little extra to the breeders wallet (because snakes with papers would sell for more)
Bob Applegate - That was already tried twice, and I think it is a good idea, but it never took hold. Years ago when a group tried this hybrid thing it did not go over well, but now there is a lot of money and color pictures being flashed around trying to get a hold again, time will tell.

JAYCDN - Giving the CITIES 2 rating for international sales, have you ever had any Canadian sales, Regarding the Gilas and Beadeds of course?
Bob Applegate - I have never shipped Heloderma into Canada, but only because I have never had a Canadian customer, I would not expect it to be any more difficult than Germany, England, Japan, etc.

love2 - How do they extract saliva from the Beadeds and Gila's to make antitoxin?
Bob Applegate - It is not being done, there is no antidote, but using the properties of the Gila Venom a lab has come up with what has the potential to control Diabetes 2 and if they figure out how the gila produces this property on demand they might even cure it. You are talking multimillions of dollars here

PythonPete - I know Heloderma breeding is in it's infancy. Have you considered breeding towards the all pink?
Bob Applegate - If I can figure out how to get them to breed regularly, then, yes I will work towards more attractive (by human standards) Gilas, but now it is hit an miss with the few of us doing Heloderma, we are missing something.

RyanG - Bob, I know you deal mostly with Colubrids, but what is your favorite boa or python species?
Bob Applegate - I have to admit I miss my large Burmese.

JeffB - Have there been any albino or other morphs of Heloderma?
Bob Applegate - They recently found one in AZ without pink, I believe they sent it to the San Diego Zoo, but that is the only one I have heard of.

JAYCDN - Approx. what size of enclosure and how much do Gilas eat on a daily basis?
Bob Applegate - The Gila cages are 2' by 2' with drawers under cage. I feed them one meal per week consisting of two adult mice.

RyanG - Are Gilas locality specific like Gray-banded Kingsnakes?
Bob Applegate - Not sure I am qualified to answer that RG but it seems like they are generally everywhere They still fall into backyard pools in AZ. I am sorry to say many perish that way.

JAYCDN - Do you wear any kind of protective gear when handling them? Welder's gloves or the like?
Bob Applegate - No I rely on speed and dexterity, i.e. luck! They aren't really that bad. When you first make contact with them, any quick action will happen at that time, after that they are quite easy to handle. Babies move end to end much faster than adults.

JeffB - We are out of time, I want to thank Bob Applegate and Python Pete Kuhn for opening our chat week festivities!
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