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No. 21
Hello and welcome. Busy, busy, busy, how about you? I am buzzing around Perth with visits to schools, delivering snake handling and fauna courses as well as packing up orders for equipment and queuing up at the post office to send snake hooks and bags to all corners of WA and beyond. In between all that I also feed and tend my flock – I even fit in a few snake rescues too.

I have just attempted to help with the rehabilitation of a young Carpet Python Morelia spilota imbricata. The beautiful snake was bought into Native Animal Rescue in Malaga having been found injured on a road with what at first sight appeared to be a relatively minor head injury. Sadly despite an X-ray at Morley Vets and discussion with their vet and the specialist Unusual Pet Vet James Haberfield the decision was made to euthanize the snake. The lower jawbones are just too complex and delicate for any hope of a successful recovery. Tragic I thought, such a fine snake, one I was willing to house for months to eventually see it slither off back to the bush – but not to be.

I have just received my first Brown Tree Snake Boiga irregularis, a lifetime loan from Perth Zoo. It (unsexed and unnamed) will be seen soon on courses and at events. They are interesting snakes so I have made them the species in focus below.

After the last Lynx cat in Britain was hunted centuries ago, plans are in place for their reintroduction. Four Lynx species are known; one lives in the US, known as the Bobcat, another in Canada and a third species, the Iberian Lynx, is found in southern Europe.

The Eurasian Lynx Lynx lynx is the largest at 30kg and 70cm to the shoulder in height. It can be found from central and northern parts of Europe well into Asian countries such as India, Pakistan and Iran. In recent years successful reintroductions have occurred in Germany and Switzerland. If the UK scheme is given the go ahead ecologists hope the species can transform habitats in a positive way.

The 'famously' effective reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park in the 1990's in the US transformed the ecosystem in many positive ways. In very simple terms what happened was, the Elk the wolves hunted could no longer lounge around by the fresh water sources in case of wolf attack; the waters became less marshy and flowed better, cue the return of fish and marginal water plants. The reduced Elk numbers meant more tree saplings survived and Beaver populations increased as they had less competition with the now more cautious Elk. Essentially the entire ecosystem improved with the return of a top predator.

The hope in the UK is that returning such a predator to large British estates in Norfolk, Cumbria and Aberdeenshire would have a similarly positive effect and control the overabundance of deer in the areas.

Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx). Photo © ALAMY

Eurasion lynx (Lynx lynx). Photo © Bernard Landgraf.

In Tanzania rats are making life safer and healthier for everyone. So far the rats have helped clear 13,000 land mines and reclaim 1,100 hectares of land in Tanzania alone. The African Giant Pouched Rat Cricetomys gambianus is not a marsupial; its pouches enable them to store food in their mouths. With poor eyesight these monster rats, 0.9m including tail weighing up to 1.4kg, use their enhanced sense of smell to locate foods like vegetables, insects, crabs and snails.

The Belgian NGO (non-governmental organisation) APOPO assists locals to train the rats to detect both landmines and tuberculosis. Apopo's aim is to provide solutions for global problems and inspire positive social change. They operate in half a dozen countries including Vietnam and Thailand.

Great stuff too I think. Just love positive organisations like this; I also want a pet giant rat. You can sponsor a rat's training, or even buy them a big bunch of bananas as a treat - more at APOPO

The future for trained sniffing rats may be huge; they are cheaper to train than dogs, easier to move around and being lighter are less likely to set off the mines! They may one day appear at airports and even hospitals sniffing out both disease and explosives.

APOPO HeroRat tea egg training. Photo © Flickr rattyfied
APOPO trains rats to save lives by detecting landmines and tuberculosis in six countries in Africa and Asia. Photo © Flickr - Dr Motte Trained rat APOPO HeroRat Rosie having her harness put on ready to start work. Photo © Flickr rattyfied
The violent winds and heavy rains of a cyclone can wreak chaos and damage and sometimes bring very unusual things to the surface. Cyclone Marsha caused a bit of stir to a family in Buderim on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland. They found something large and slithering in their garage.

After initially thinking 'snake' the family were surprised and excited to find they are in fact giant earthworms. The species is probably Digaster longmani which grow up to 2 metres in length; a mere tiddler compared to the Giant Gippsland Earthworm Megascolides australis, which can reach lengths of 4 metres.

Little is known about them as they live deep underground in burrows and rarely come to surface except when flooded out.

Girl and giant earthworm. Photo © Marc Simoneau.
Girl and giant earthworm (Digaster longmani). Photo © Marc Simoneau. Earthworm. Photo © Queensland Museum.
The Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt has just signed an order banning the import of all hunting trophies relating to Lion Panthera leo body parts into Australia. In 2013 bodies or body parts such as skulls and claws of 91 lions were imported but thankfully that is no longer permissible in this country.

Myself and no doubt many lions are very pleased with this outcome. Most of these 'trophies' are the result of so called canned hunting where lions are reared in captivity, then drugged or released into small 'wild' areas so morons with guns can 'hunt' them to show how brave, skilful or tough they are. A pretty barbaric hobby if you ask me.

Sadly, you can still legally import such trophies into the EU, US and even New Zealand. Anyway, well done Greg, let's hope NZ follows soon.

Lions in Krugersdorp game reserve. Photo © Derek Keats
JULY 26th Cannington Exhibition Centre
The West Australian Herpetological Society (WAHS) latest Expo will be on Sunday 26th July 2015 at the Cannington Exhibition Centre - a great day out for all, family friendly, with lots to see and do.

Come and visit me and our creatures at the Animal Ark stand, bring family and friends along as well. Last time some 5,000 attended so put it in your diary and come and see some great creatures and have a family day out.

WAHS Reptile Expo 2013
Brown Tree Snake (Boiga irregularis)
These Tree Snakes are quite distinct with a broad head, bulging eyes and narrow neck. Coloured reddish to red/brown and often with irregular banded markings. This attractive species is found in north-eastern WA through northern NT and mainly tropical and eastern parts of QLD and NSW.

They also occur in New Guinea and Indonesia where they are considerably larger than Australian specimens. They were accidently introduced into the island of Guam where they are a 'famous' feral pest, responsible for the rapid decline if not extinction of many local bird species. Guam has no native snake species. They have been managed in Guam by building snake proof fences, trapping and dropping poisoned mice in parachutes.

More at

Brown Tree Snakes are venomous but are in the family Colubridae, so are rear-fanged, and are not considered dangerously venomous - whereas many of our Elapid family snakes are. They are however happy to bite and strike repeatedly once aroused. Some infants and children have had considerable reactions to their bites so caution is always advised if they need to be caught for relocation or study.

They are nocturnal and hunt both in trees and on the ground with mammals, birds, bird eggs as well as lizards being standard prey species. Six to twelve eggs are laid. In Australia average lengths of about 1.4 – 2 metres, overseas around 3 metres.

Brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis). Photo © Flickr Teejaybee

Brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis) Photo © Flickr Teejaybee ssssssssmiley.

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

Thursday 26 March 2015 - North Beach, Perth
Friday 27 March 2015 - North Beach, Perth
Friday 17 April 2015 - North Beach, Perth
Friday 1 May 2015 - North Beach, Perth
Friday 5 June 2015 - North Beach, Perth
Friday 3 July 2015 - North Beach, Perth

Fauna Handling Course
Tuesday 21 April 2015 - NAR, Malaga, Perth
Friday 8 May 2015 - NAR, Malaga, Perth
Friday 12 June 2015 - NAR, Malaga, Perth
Friday 10 July 2015 - 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 21 March 2015
Hyden Community Fun Day
12.30 – 5pm
Free community event. Contact Hyden CRC on 08 9880 5088 for more information.

Saturday 28 March 2015
Altone Comes Alive!
Altone Leisure Centre, Benara Road, Beechboro
11am – 4pm
Free community event. Contact City of Swan for more information.

Saturday 26 July 2015
WAHS Reptile Expo
Cannington Exhibition Centre, Albany Highway, Cannington.
See for more information.

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

Call (08) 9243 3044, SMS 0466 688 188 or email David or Jenny at to book.

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