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Chat Transcript
Trooper Walsh 12/14/99


Jeff Barringer - Our Next guest is Trooper Walsh and his topic is breeding Komodos but Im sure he will answer questions about those ugly green snakes (Chondros) he keeps too.
Trooper Walsh - Chondros rule, dragons drool!

amazoa - What is the largest Komodo on record Mr. Walsh?
Trooper Walsh - 10 feet + and over 250lbs

BillC - I was watching a nature show, wild things, and they did a bit on Komodo dragons. there were basically two types in the village on Komodo island. The wild, dangerous, stealthy Komodo dragons....and the slow, fat ones that hung around the villages. the villagers would feed the dragons, they were extremely tame, or at least they looked it, can Komodo dragons truly be tame like this?
Trooper Walsh - Yes, They are just like people (but more intelligent), some are nice and others not so nice, they have good and bad days.

BrianT - Why did you decide to work at a zoo?
Trooper Walsh - I was raised in and around the NZP.

CWeb - How did you get involved with Komodos to begin with?
Trooper Walsh - I'm a snake farmer by trade, got dragged into dragons. My gifts are in figuring out various herps needs and languages...KD were put in my lap to figure out.

fcgekko - How toxic is the saliva from a Komodo bite? And why is it toxic?
Trooper Walsh - The saliva is not toxic per se, they carry many (over 50) bacteria in their saliva - mostly from feeding on carrion. They also have spongy gums...each time they bite down the gums bleed...mix with saliva and makes for a great culture medium. There is a pharmaceutical company that is making a new antibiotic based on proteins of the KD immune system.

hades_raptor - I am really into paleontology and are Komodos closely related to early dinosaurs? What is their ancestry? Does anyone even know where they come from and why they are located (naturally) only at a certain place?
Trooper Walsh - Monitor-type lizards have been around for over 100 million years. Some scientists are now speculating that KD are in fact different than other varanids. One thinks they are a Mososaur, another thinking they are a different radiation in and of themselves from Aussie. I've heard figures of 300 million years for common dino/Kd ancestors.

Jeanine - Do you believe that Komodos or any monitor were at one time venomous?
Trooper Walsh - No evidence of that.

Kamuran - Trooper, what do you think of the private sector keeping Komodos, and what about this advertisement on kingsnake.com?
Trooper Walsh - I do not believe most private folks are prepared to keep an adult KD RESPONSIBLY...some Zoos aren't. KD have more in common, in my opinion with loins and tigers than most other reptiles - they are alpha predators. Most folks can't responsibly keep a tiger for a pet. I contacted the fellow offering the KD on Kingsnake, He seemed to have come across some of the Indo F-1s through a middle man. I think he was looking more for attention with the ad than trying to place KD's. Anyone can make an offer, few can carry through.

Millie-and-Petey - I was wondering what the "mite phase" Chondro was and who coined that name?
Trooper Walsh - The mite phase Chondro was born via one John Romano, to describe a Chondro morph with lots of black speckling and selling for big bucks.

JeffB - GTPs, what is and what causes prolapse?
Trooper Walsh - I believe prolapses are normal for Chondros defecating, problem is when they do not retract. Could be a bunch of things leading to a "prolapse" (non-retracted cloaca) including stress of dehydration, extreme temperature shock, over feeding, and parasites. It is very common in babies.

amazoa - How often are Komodos fed and what are you feeding them at the zoo? Do you have an estimate of how many Komodos are in zoos and is their enough gene variation to insure survival of strong offspring?
Trooper Walsh - There are over 250 KD in 49 institutions globally. In the wild they opportunist feeders - feast or famine. at NZP we feed about 3-6% of an adult animal's body weight every 7-10 days.

BG - I am curious to know where gravid Chondro females lay their eggs during the dry season? I know they lay in forks of trees and whatnot. Do they lay closer to banks of rivers (higher humidity during the dry season), or even closer to ground level? Have you done any wild research on Chondros repro habits?
Trooper Walsh - I don't know of anyone who has actually monitored the nests of wild Chondros ( with hard data to back it up).

BillC - Hypothetically, IF KD's were to be kept, and they weren't fed carrion(say frozen deer instead) would the saliva still continue to be venomous?
Trooper Walsh - Not venomous, they would still be cutting their gums and in fact studies of captive KD show some of the same bacteria in mouths as in wild ones - just not the variety or as virulent. I and others have had nips from young KD...always go right on strong antibiotics.

BrianT - How similar are croc monitors and Komodos in morphology and personality?
Trooper Walsh - Their morphology is very different.

CoreyE - Mr. Walsh, I love GTPs but don't have one yet. I have several boas and pythons but nothing arboreal. How would their husbandry rank among boids?
Trooper Walsh - very specialized needs, if you do your homework and go with captive born and check in regularly with the Chondro forum - you will be in good shape as a new Chondro keeper.

CWeb - Could you describe what your "ultimate" Chondro would look like? i.e. do you have a preferred coloration or patterning?
Trooper Walsh - I like high contrast critters, and muted critters...no one is my favorite - depends on the day. Mite phase are popular these days.

dinopolis - Could you briefly describe a week in the life of Trooper Walsh (past...say...1973 and/or present)
Trooper Walsh - Busy with family, critters, and friends.

Fine - What do you make of claims of hatching GTP eggs on damp medium without a temp drop at the end?
Trooper Walsh - Risky at best, that's a good way to kill eggs.

Trooper Walsh - Frank, is it "responsible" for the average herper to want to keep KD...?
Goannaman - I would love to have a pair, but I would not ever breed them to sell.

Jeanine - Where do you stand on the UV issue when it comes to varanids?
Trooper Walsh - I think varanids love sun light. There have not been any controlled studies to show they need UVB...we are working on studies at NZP and at other zoos, I always try to provide good UVB or natural sunlight regardless.

JeffB - This is a good time to thank Trooper for being our guest here during chatweek99 and introduce Frank Retes our 3rd guest of the evening
Trooper Walsh - Enjoyed it folks, will stick around to heckle Frank!

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