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No. 3
More news from the wonderful world of nature. As well as our usual work we have been assisting with some reptiles for two filming projects:

Spanish TV celebrity Frank Cuesta – Google him as "Natural Frank" – is very entertaining and a passionate wildlife enthusiast. It’s all in Spanish but I think you will get the idea.

BBC TV, all the way from the UK are also coming to Perth and I am filming a rather silly children’s TV version of a snake catching course. In case you didn’t know I used to do a lot of film and TV work back in the UK so it is good to be back doing a little bit behind as well as in front of the camera.

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Rediscovered Parrot
Keep your eyes and ears open at night, they may be under your donga or resting under a clump of spinifex in the Pilbara - you never know. In WA back in the 1890’s it was cats that regularly brought them into camps and many specimens were seen. Since then they have been presumed to be yet another species lost forever, very rare if not quite extinct.

However, John Young an avid conservationist and bird watcher has recently rediscovered the elusive Night Parrot Pezoporus occidentalis. By filming, sound recording and supplying feathers he has, via DNA work undertaken at our very own West Australian Museum, had his finding confirmed.

These parrots are a medium sized bird at around 25cm in length and mostly bright green in colour. Ground dwelling, waddling, crepuscular and or nocturnal, they have rarely been spotted for many decades - although a decapitated one was found in Queensland in 2006. A few were spotted in 2005 in the Pilbara near Fortescue Marshes and FMG even produced a Night Parrot Management Plan.

Mr Young is so concerned that the location of this exciting ornithological find will be leaked that he is refusing to tell government wildlife agencies the exact location. He is also keeping sound recordings of their call a secret so they cannot be used to lure them into traps. Not sure I can blame him at all.

Charitable Python
Its head was the size of a small dog said Police Sgt Don Auld. Initially it was thought a drunken burglar or vandal had broken in through the roof, vomited and then smashed the place up a bit. The huge python managed to evade the police at the time of the incident and was not discovered until the following day by staff cleaning up the mess. At 17 kilos and 5.7 m in length this was a reasonable sized specimen of an Amethistine or Scrub Python Morelia amethistina – they can get up to 8.5m.

Virginia McGrath a local snake catcher was called to the charity shop in Ingham NE Queensland and relocated the snake to nearby wetlands. This was some weeks ago now but well worth mentioning here. She also said the vomit police reported was actually pooh! Potentially a very dangerous size snake to grapple with and pythons approaching anything like this size should be caught only when you have a team mate to assist. They could easily wrap and constrict an adult human, and a bite from one this big can result in a serious wound. You would have needed one of our larger snake hooks to catch that one!

Charity shop special
Killer Python
I am sure you have heard about the tragedy recently when an African Rock Python, Python sebae, is believed to have killed two boys in a pet shop in Brunswick Canada. Another timely reminder to work in pairs when snake catching and be very wary of all large constrictors.

If you have ever handled any snake you have an idea of their power so imagine very large ones at 3, 4, 5 or 6 metres plus. They are potentially extremely dangerous creatures to deal with.

Myself and other herpetologists I spoke with were initially very sceptical about the newspaper and website claims regarding this case. Usually a Python kills by biting its prey on the head, then constricts and finally swallows its dead prey, or at least attempts to. To kill twice and not have eaten just does not sound right. You would at the very least have had the victims covered in very obvious teeth bite marks, blood and signs of a struggle.

The reports that both boys were "looking like they were asleep" just seems down right suspicious to me. Maybe more macabre details were kept from the press to protect the families' feelings. Hopefully the autopsy and police investigation will get to the bottom of the tragic incident. Bad press for reptile keepers whatever the outcome of their findings.

Snake in Focus: Tiger Snake Notechis scutatus
Tiger Snakes are associated with fresh water habitats, although reticulated parks and gardens increase their potential range. I have even found a newborn baby one in my garden in a dry and hilly part of Duncraig. As the name suggests they are usually striped with yellow bands and belly against a black or brown body. When startled the head and neck are flattened, somewhat like a cobra. This is a thick-bodied snake reaching up to 1.2metres in length. Head scales are large and quite distinct from most other snakes within their range.

Although highly venomous, and despite their name and reputation, Tiger Snakes would rather avoid confrontation. Initially as a defensive strategy they may lunge with a loud hiss, it’s generally a warning to stay back rather than a sign of real aggression.

Sheltering and hunting in thick vegetation, amphibians are the preferred diet, but they will also consume geckos, skinks, small mammals and birds. Mating occurs in the spring and the young snakes are born live in litters of 15 to 30.

Interestingly in a population on Carnac Island WA, the adults feed almost entirely on seagull chicks. Many of the snakes in this offshore habitat are blinded by the adult gulls protecting their young.

A Perth reptile relocater has been envenomated twice by this species. The first time was a bite and he chose to wait and see if symptoms showed, foolishly assuming it was a dry bite. When he bled from his penis he decided to get to hospital.

Please, even if you only think you may have been bitten apply the pressure bandaging and phone an ambulance without delay. That is not a symptom I ever want to hear about again.

The second envenomation he received was post capture of a snake. His colleague told me that the feisty snake had bitten the catching bag. And once the snake was safely contained in a tube they jumped back in the car, one of them holding the bag and not the handle with his bare hands. A short while later whilst driving along he felt sick. They stopped, open the door and he vomited, felt weird and then collapsed. He had received secondary envenomation from the cloth bag through cuts on his skin.

A short stay in hospital and he has fully recovered. In the first case he did receive antivenom in the second he didn’t need it but had kidney complications. Please be careful out there. Poor planning and reluctance to wear full personal protective equipment can be as dangerous as the most venomous snake. Post capture envenomations are remarkably common.

NEWS - More about a python
Our largest Black Headed Python, Jet, is about to have an operation to remove a small cyst at the base of her tail. Scheduled to be under the knife of Dr James Haberfield of Unusual Pet Vets in September at Balcatta Vets, this apparently straightforward procedure should result in a much happier, less tender serpent.

She should be back meeting her public and attending snake handling courses very soon. If I get any nice pics I will Facebook them. Oh yes you can Like us on Facebook too – if you feel the need.

Upcoming Courses & Events
Snake Handling Course
DPaW approved for Reptile Relocators Regulation 17
Friday 6 September 2013 - North Beach, Perth
Friday 4 October 2013 - North Beach, Perth
Friday 1 November 2013 - North Beach, Perth

Fauna Handling Course
Monday 2 September 2013 - Malaga, Perth

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

Saturday 14th September
Bunnings O'Conner, 10am - 2pm. Open to all. No charge.

Sunday 15th September
Celebrate Lake Claremont Day, 10am - 1pm. Stirling Road, Claremont, Perth

Wednesday 18 September
Kulunga Katitjin Festival (formerly Quiz on Legs), 9.30 - 2.30pm , Kings Park.
Contact BGPA 08 9480 3933
Hundreds and hundreds of school kids but come on down and say hi anyway.

Saturday 21 September
Fantastic Faraway Festival, 10.30am -2.30pm. Hale Oval, Kings Park, Perth. Gold coin donation. All welcome.

Sunday 27 October
Dogs Breakfast, Kingsway Regional Sporting Complex, Madeley, Perth.
Free event.

See our diary for more dates.

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

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