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No. 22
The winter chills have begun – I even needed to rug up in the Pilbara at Roy Hill recently. In the wild most reptiles have begun to slink away and find safe, secure, snug hollow logs, caves or other retreats in order to avoid the extreme cold and wet weather that will inevitably come.

A few though like Tiger snakes are still out and about hunting the breeding frogs that croak away around our swamps and waterways.

I hope you are keeping warm...If you missed it sorry but April's Newsletter just didn't happen – hope you enjoy this one.

David Manning of Animal Ark
Great news for all of you who have completed the Animal Ark Snake Handling Course here in WA, our course has been officially recognized in Queensland. So you can present your Animal Ark certificate to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection for Queensland venomous reptile licencing (Damage Mitigation Permit).
How I wish I had spotted this when I visited Kuranda, a small town high up in the Atherton Tableland of lush, moist Far North Queensland. A National Park and part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area within which obviously live some very large snakes.

Staff at the Rainforestation Nature Park initially thought a branch was on the road but on closer inspection realised a massive snake was blocking their way. Being cool the snake was reported to be quite docile.

One tape measure later the Scrub Python Morelia amethistina was found to be over 5 metres long and potentially around 50kg in weight.

Scrub python (Morelia amethistina) Photo © Rainforestation Nature Park, Karunda Queensland
Aruba is a tiny island in the Dutch Caribbean off the coast of Venezuela. It is rather arid as tropical islands go and whilst not typically lush is a popular tourist destination, especially with the Dutch.

However, it has a serious invasive snake problem with non native Boa constrictors (Boa constrictor) consuming too many local bird species. It appears they have been moving around the island by car since the first ones appeared either as escaped pets or from accidental introduction from the mainland of South America.

Rangers believe they feel the heat from parked cars slither up into engine bays and “hitchhike” to another location, spreading faster than would normally be the case.

In a concerted effort to stop the invasion and prevent them from being permanent residents, National Snake hunting days are to be announced with a US$10 bounty per “live” snake handed in. Let’s hope it works.

I love Boas but where they belong - in a rather embarrassing incident in Queensland in April, Surfers Paradise Police officers caught and released a Boa constrictor into local bushland not realising it was an invasive species. Biosecurity Queensland have to date been unable to find or recapture the snake. Better hope it wasn’t pregnant.

Another bit of my past history here. I supplied and handled this Boa constrictor on a photo shoot with Naomi Campbell in London some years ago.

Boa constrictor. Photo © Animal Ark David Manning

Boa constrictor found hiding in a Mini Cooper in Oxford, UK. Photo © Alamy/BBC

Naomi Campbell with Animal Ark Boa contrictor. Photo © David LaChapelle

AAMI insurers have just released some figures relating to vehicle collisions with wildlife in Australia . In Queanbeyan 2620 (NSW/ACT) you are twice as likely to hit wildlife than in Goulburn 2580 (NSW). Kangaroos are the most likely animal involved. No WA postcodes are in the report that I could find.

When AAMI did a breakdown of figures a few years ago for a Discovery Channel documentary they found of 500 animal collisions analysed, 444 were kangaroos followed by a few wombats, some wallabies, two koalas and a flock of galahs.

I’ve been lucky I think over the years, I have had two scary but near miss incidents with cattle, many kangaroos have bounded past just in time but I will admit to hearing the odd clunk and finding a few small bird remains or patches of feathers on the front of the car. Once hitting a swarm of locusts the car air intake grill was absolutely packed with bits. So I have never had an insurance claim for an animal related collision. How about you?

Wildlife accidents - kangaroo roadkill. Photo © ABC news, Giulo Saggin file photo
Somewhere very much on my bucket list, the Galapagos Islands, famous for helping Charles Darwin with his evolutionary theory has unearthed another discovery.

The Pink Iguana was missed by Darwin in 1835 and by well everyone else until 1986 when one was first spotted by a park ranger, who dismissed it assuming it was just a curiously coloured specimen far away from its mates. However Pink Iguanas have flat head scales and a fatter crest on the back of their necks. Scientists studied its genes and decided it is a new species - The Pink Iguana (Conolophus marthae).

They live only near the ridge of the Wolf Volcano on the Island of Isabela. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN ) Red List of Threatened Species has them as a critically endangered species because of small population size, limited range (25km2) and living on the edge of an active volcano that in the last few days has begun erupting again.

Pink iguana (Conolophus marthae). Photo © Gabiele Gentile
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 Expo 2015. Gecko Photo © Pawpics Photography
Scrub or Amethystine Python (Morelia amethistina)
The Scrub or Amethystine Python (Morelia amesthistina), is Australia’s largest snake by far. Whilst lengths of 8.5 metres have been reported, 3 – 4.5 metres in length are a more common measurement for mature specimens. The snake described in the item above, found in Kuranda Queenland, is one of the largest specimens recorded in recent years.

A complex camouflaging pattern of iridescent olive – yellow to brown with irregular black or brown bands helps these snake merge with the rainforest floor. These pythons inhabit coastal rainforest in Northern Queensland but are also found on Torres Strait Islands, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

They are found in scrubby habitats (hence the name) but also denser rainforest. Seeming to hunt mainly on the ground and around water, they are very able swimmers. Items of prey include marsupial mammals, bats, birds and even tree kangaroos. Nearer human habitation they are noted to take domestic dogs, cats and poultry. Eight to sixteen eggs are laid and juveniles measure around 61cm upon hatching.

Morelia amethystina Bronx zoo, New York City. Photo © One Dead President / Wikimedia Commons

Amethystine python visiting kitchen at home near Cooktown Queensland. Photo © John Hill / Wikimedia Commons

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

Friday 5 June 2015 - North Beach, Perth (Fully Booked)
Saturday 6 June 2015 - North Beach, Perth
Friday 3 July 2015 - North Beach, Perth
Friday 7 August 2015 - North Beach, Perth
Friday 4 September 2015 - North Beach, Perth

Fauna Handling Course
Friday 12 June 2015 - NAR, Malaga, Perth
Friday 14 August 2015 - NAR, Malaga, Perth
Friday 11 September 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:

Thursday 9 July 2015
NAIDOC Event Day
Ashfield Reserve, Bassendean
10am – 2.30pm
Free community event.

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

Wednesday 16 September 2015
Kulunga Katitijin Festival
Kings Park, Perth
9.30am – 2pm
Contact BGPA 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.