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No. 17
I seem to mention the weather at the start of every newsletter, but I am English you know. Anyway it has gotten warmer and the wildlife is out and about.

We have sadly had our first WA snake bite death in over 4 years. A male picked up a snake by the tail (western brown? yet to be positively identified) in the Goldfields town of Laverton on 8th October. He was apparently bitten several times and despite requests from witnesses refused to seek medical treatment. He went to a camp outside town and collapsed about 40 minutes later. He was declared deceased on arrival at hospital. Don't touch them – get trained – use tools.

I hope you enjoy this month's newsletter. REMEMBER to send in your stories.

It looks like something from a SciFi movie or a bad dream, but deep in the forests of Borneo these bizarre creatures pictured really do exist. New BBC series 'The Wonders of the Monsoon' has broadcast this amazing footage of previously unrecorded natural phenomenon. The as yet scientifically unnamed creature is known to the local tribes of Mount Kinabalu as not surprisingly the 'giant red leech' - virtually nothing is known about them, but it appears they are so large they eat their prey rather than just suck it's blood as would it's smaller relatives. The leech filmed was 50cm long and consumed a larger 70cm blue worm.

We have larger giant worms here in Oz with the monstrous Gippsland Giant Earthworm Megascolides australis reportedly up to 2 metres long. I kind of hope we don't find any leeches big enough to eat those in one go!

Giant leech eating giant worm. © BBC
Naughty monkeys are to be shipped to a Scottish Safari Park. Gibraltar has Europe's only wild population of monkeys. Some believe the Barbary Macaques (Macaca sylvanus) were introduced to the island from North Africa in the 1800s by British sailors, though genetic studies suggest they have been there much longer.

They have coexisted with Gibraltarians fairly well until quite recently. About 5 years ago a rogue pack rampaged through town trashing hotel rooms and raiding bins – so rather than culling them as in previous years a deal is being reached with the Scottish Safari Park to relocate them.

The 30 offenders were identified using GPS collars and monitoring how far from their nature reserve home they wandered. Those deemed 'naughty' have now been captured and await shipment to Scotland.

Macaque monkey. Image © Animal Ark
You just couldn't make this kind of story up. As the Ruling Communist Party celebrated National Day holiday celebrating Mao Zedong's declaration of the Peoples Republic of China back in 1949, it appears that everyone attending underwent some scrutiny.

For the 10,000 pigeons (Columba livia) brought in to circle around the 5 starred red flag, the scrutiny was extremely intense. The Peoples Daily reported that "their wings, tail-feathers even anuses must be carefully checked for suspicious objects" - the birds were then loaded onto sealed trucks and re-checked on arrival at Tiananmen Square.

I have personally done some weird stuff with pigeons back in my film days - I helped a zombie eat them (none were really hurt or eaten) in a Shaun of the Dead movie for example and drove some to Loch Ness once for a shoot, but I never checked up their bums!

Pigeon (Columba livia). © Adam McLean
One hundred thousand years ago kangaroos three times the size of our largest living Reds walked our outback. That's right, walked not hopped.

Experts from Brown University and Spain's Universidad de Malaga studying the fossilized skeletal make up have concluded that they were bipedal like us. Sthenurine 'short face' marsupials 2.7 metre tall and weighing in at 250 kilograms were just too heavy to hop.

Extinct kangaroo. © Alamy
The Anaconda (Eunectes murinus) is the world's heaviest snake and is native to South America. They can grow up to 9 metres in length. This specimen was over 5 metres long weighing in at approximately 79kilos.

Having consumed a friend's dog Sebastien Bascoules, an avid reptile fan, caught the impressive snake, covered its head and kept it overnight in the family bathtub. These great images give you a very good idea of a typical adult specimen.

The incident in French Guiana ended well for the snake as it was released the next day into nearby wetlands away from homes and pets. I doubt that Anaconda would be easy to lift with a snake hook or fit in a snake bag. Potentially a very dangerous large snake – well managed by Sebastien.

Anaconda (Eunectes murinus). Photo © Sebastien Bascoules/Barcroft USA
Anaconda in bath. Photo © Sebastien Bascoules/Barcroft USA Anaconda. Photo © Sebastien Bascoules/Barcroft USA
A horrendous deadly fungal disease has been found in Bulloch County, Georgia USA. The fungus, a skin dermatitis, causes scabs, crusty scales, nodules and other changes to the snakes skin and has appeared in other states as well.

Wildlife biologist Jessica McGuire of Georgia Department of Natural Resources says the overall impact of the disease in not known yet. More research is obviously required; some scientists have compared the fungal disease to another one that has killed an estimated 5.7 million hibernating bats.

The snake fungus Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola occurs naturally in soil. It has been responsible for infecting timber rattlesnakes, garter snakes, mud snakes, milk snakes and others. Let's hope scientists find ways to control and treat this recent deadly threat to Native American snakes.

Garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) © Animal Ark
I am hoping to add some more contact numbers to my web page for Emergency Snake Removal

If you are a licensed Reg 17 reptile removalist, likely to be available to help people and willing to be called directly by members of the public at any time please let me have:

  1. Your mobile contact number;
  2. The suburbs or areas you will cover.
As you can see from our web page we often charge; you may be happy to ask for the DPaW recommended $50 donation or do it for free. I will leave all that up to you and the caller you are dealing with. Just email your info if you would like to be listed.
Mulga snake (Pseudechis australis) coiled. Photo © Alex Cearns Houndstooth Studio / Animal Ark
Bearded Dragons are a genus (similar related group) with 6 species and found only in Australia. They are noted for their broad triangular heads. Their scales are rough to the touch, the males especially have a beard of spiky scales that can be puffed out when threatened or signalling, hence their name. They are quite animated lizards known for their communicative visual displays with fluffing out their beards, head bobbing, arm waving and gaping with their mouth open all good examples.

Dragons are remarkably well camouflaged but keen eyes may spot them basking on fence posts, termite mounds, rocks, tree trunks and branches. The Inland Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps) found in the interior and eastern portion of the country can reach around 60cm total length. In WA our species are considerably smaller.

Bearded Dragons are omnivorous – they will eat a variety of small creatures such as insects and spiders as well as plant matter like grasses, leaves and flowers. Diet varies from species to species as well as with seasonal availability. All are diurnal (active by day) and ever alert to airborne hunters like hawks and kookaburras as well as predation from below with snakes and larger lizards particular threats.

Females bury batches of around 20 eggs several times a year if conditions are good. The eggs hatch some 7 weeks later and the juvenile Bearded Dragons are miniature versions of their parents and fully independent, scattering as they emerge from the egg case.

Bearded dragon. Photo © Animal Ark

Bearded dragon close up. Photo © Animal Ark

Bearded dragon. Photo © Adam Meredith

Upcoming Courses and Events
Venomous Snake Handling Course
DPaW approved for Reptile Relocator's Regulation 17 Licence

Thursday 30 October 2014 - North Beach, Perth - FULL
Friday 31 October 2014 - North Beach, Perth - FULL
Saturday 8 November 2014 - North Beach, Perth - FULL
Tuesday 18 November 2014 - North Beach, Perth
Saturday 29 November 2014 - North Beach, Perth - 3 places
Friday 5 December 2014 - North Beach, Perth - 2 places
Friday 16 January 2015 - North Beach, Perth

Fauna Handling Course
Monday 3 November 2014 - NAR, Malaga, Perth
Friday 14 November 2014 - NAR, Malaga, Perth
Friday 12 December 2014 - NAR, Malaga, Perth

Reptile and Amphibian Keeping Course
Saturday 15 November 2014 - NAR, Malaga, Perth
Saturday 20 December 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:

Saturday 25 October
Animal Ark Kids Event
Morley Public Library
10am - 11am
Contact Morley Library for booking info

Sunday 26 October
Reptile Retreat at the Dogs Breakfast
Kingsway Regional Sporting Complex, Bellerive Boulevard, Madeley
9am - 1pm
Contact City of Wanneroo for more details

Sunday 2 November
Piazzarama Halloween Event
James Street, Northbridge
1pm - 4pm
Open to anyone. Free event.

Sunday 18 January 2015
Nearer to Nature
Canning River Eco Education Centre
Lot 8, Queens Park Road, Wilson
Sessions at 11.15am and 12.30pm
Contact Nearer to Nature on 08 9295 2244 or visit for more information or to book

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.