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No. 11
It's getting a bit cooler now at least down south. However it was 42°C in Port Hedland a week or so ago, too hot for our snakes to work outdoors for Samsung C&T at Roy Hill Area G construction site. So we moved back into the air conditioned training rooms to allow trainees to catch a Gwardar and Dugite amongst others.

Meanwhile in Perth we now have to heat our reptiles up rather than cool them down. I hope you like this edition, our subscriber numbers are growing fast, currently over 1,000 people receive this newsletter – it's nice to know that some of you read it and like it. ANY feedback welcomed - I want to make it bigger, better and more relevant.

The ongoing slaughter of sharks in West Australian waters has created growing attention from overseas. Check this out to see how dedicated conservationists revived a shark

Lydia is a Great White Shark Carcharodon carcharias. She is 4.4 metres in length and weighs in at about 907 kilos. On Saturday 2 March 2013 in Jacksonville Florida she was caught and tagged. She has been tracked ever since and has travelled 32,000 kilometres. You too can follow Lydia at

You can also track other sharks on this site - try Phillip or Judy - download the App from ITunes and have fun seeing what different shark species get up to.

This is just great science and fun too. You can only applaud the team for this kind of research; you can buy some cool T-Shirts to help support their work. I wonder if the same is or could be done here in Oz with our sharks or other species. It would be fantastic if we could follow a python, Wedge Tailed Eagle or Kangaroo?

I think shark research is vital. We need to understand them more; we need to protect them whilst being protected ourselves when in the ocean. There is a lot to learn and we all would benefit. Love them or hate them sharks are big news here at the moment. I just hope Lydia doesn't decide to visit Perth, where the politicians' 72 baited drum lines are lying in wait!

Great White shark Lydia. Photo credit
First catch your shark. Images ©

Great White shark Lydia. Photo credit

Due to a relaxation of DPaW (Department of Parks and Wildlife) policy it is now possible to keep insects and other invertebrates as pets in WA. I think this is good news, as hopefully through exposure to and caring for such varied and interesting little creatures we may encourage some empathy. Don't just reach for the Mortein – let's get a new generation to engage with and appreciate such animals and nature in general. A praying mantis is great for free ranging pest control.

So parents, teachers, you, me, anyone can now collect bugs in the garden or visit their local pet shops and come home with something unusual like a preying mantis or stick insect. As pets and/or educational specimens many species are remarkably easy to keep and have relatively short lifespans. So parents and teachers don't have any long term care issues. A praying mantis lives around 10 months and stick insects not that much longer.

Weevil. Photo Animal Ark
Weevil - both pet and model.
Image © Animal Ark
I spent a morning on a bug photo shoot recently with Alex of Houndstooth Studio. Alex Cearns owner and photographer recently gave an excellent talk at a WAHS (West Australian Herpetological Society) meeting.

I caught up with Alex after the talk and she so liked a couple of the weird creatures I brought along to the meeting that a shoot was soon arranged at her North Perth studio.

We had some fun – a short but productive shoot concentrating on 8 different insects and arachnids (stick insects, katydids, grasshoppers, praying mantis and a scorpion).

Here are a few of the images.

Praying mantis. Photo Alex Cearns Houndstooth Studio
Praying Mantis.

Pilbara grasshopper. Photo Alex Cearns Houndstooth Studio
Pilbara Grasshopper from WA.
Large katydid from Western Australia. Photo Alex Cearns Houndstooth Studio Large Katydid from WA.
Images © Houndstooth Studio
Research in Florida has shown that large constrictors such as Pythons have the ability to return close to home after translocation. They have in effect a built in navigational map and compass sense. During the study several adult Burmese pythons Python molurus bivittatus, an invasive species in Florida, were moved (translocated) up to 36km from their capture location. Radio transmitters were implanted by surgery and the released snakes tracked by light aircraft as well as on foot. It is a novel finding that pythons have this innate capability; other studies have shown that many snake species lack this ability to return home after relocations.

No snakes were harmed. A specialist team conducted all the implant surgery.

See the full report at et al - 2014 - Homing in Pythons - BiolLetters.pdf

Last newsletter I was mad with Indonesia for the slaughter of snakes for skins, this issue I would like to congratulate them. They have announced new laws aimed at protecting both the Giant Manta Ray and Reef Manta Ray throughout Indonesia's 5.7 million square kilometres. Essentially Manta Rays are regarded as an asset for marine tourism. Living for over a 30 year lifetime it is estimated one Ray can bring in over $1 m in tourism income. They are popular with tourist divers. Dead - 1 Ray fetches about $200 in meat and fins (Chinese health tonic).

Manta rays are vulnerable partly because of their low reproductive cycle. Females need to reach around 5m to become mature; they then give birth to a single live pup once every 2 or 3 years. I just love a good positive conservation news item.

Manta Ray. Neel Rajan
This Manta Ray photo is from
I spent an enjoyable evening learning about our Swan River Bottlenose Dolphin population. You too can find out more about the small population found in our rivers and coastal areas, and help record sightings with the free Dolphin Watch App from iTunes and App store.

For more information visit

Dolphin Watch logo
ANIMAL IN FOCUS: Green Tree Frog - Litoria caerulea
Native to Northern and Eastern Australia and southern parts of New Guinea these are one of the largest frogs in Australia. They are a very beautiful, photogenic green frog with a smiling dumpy form; a docile, nocturnal species that thrives around human habitation, where artificial lights attract bugs and the frogs gather and feed on the nightly bounty the illumination offers. Anyone camping or visiting more tropical areas of Northern Australia will have seen them in shower blocks, toilets, drains - in fact anywhere that people and moisture are present.

Growing to 10cm in length these frogs can survive around 15 years or more in captivity. This particular species is a common and popular pet frog all over the world. Attractive, docile, easy to keep and breed helps make them a popular more unusual pet. Their conservation status in Australia is as a least vulnerable species. Populations are good and possibly expanding around human development sites.

Breeding occurs from November to February - clumps of 800-2,000 eggs are deposited on the surface in still fresh water. Spawn then sinks and tadpoles emerge soon after and developed froglets can leave the water after only a few weeks, before the typically temporary spawning grounds dried up. With moist skins susceptible to infections many amphibians excrete peptides to keep bacteria and other pathogens under control. These particular frogs release a peptide known to kill the HIV virus on contact. They are therefore a much-studied species by drug and medical research companies.

Australian Green Tree Frog (Litoria caerulea). Photo Animal Ark

Australian Green Tree Frogs (Litoria caerulea). Photo Animal Ark
Images © Animal Ark

Upcoming Courses and Events
Snake Handling Course
DPaW approved for Reptile Relocator's Regulation 17 Licence
Friday 25 April 2014 - North Beach, Perth
Friday 2 May 2014 - North Beach, Perth - FULL
Thursday 8 May 2014 - North Beach, Perth - 3 places left
Thursday 29 May 2014 - North Beach, Perth
Friday 6 June 2014 - North Beach, Perth
Friday 4 July 2014 - North Beach, Perth
Friday 1 August 2014 - North Beach, Perth

Fauna Handling Course
Friday 9 May 2014 - NAR, Malaga, Perth
Friday 3 June 2014 - NAR, Malaga, Perth
Friday 11 July 2014 - NAR, Malaga, Perth
Friday 8 August 2014 - NAR, Malaga, Perth

Public Events
Do come along and see us. Bring your family or friends as well.
The Animal Ark Roadshow will be attending the following events:

Thursday 24 April 2014
Animal Ark Roadshow
Seville Grove Library
1.30pm and 3pm
Contact the library to book

Wednesday 17 September 2014
Kulunga Katitijin Festival
Kings Park, Perth
Contact the Botanic Gardens Park Authority for more details

See our diary for more dates or contact us to book.

Call (08) 9243 3044 or email David or Jenny at to book.

Courses held monthly plus on-site and remote site training available.