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No. 38
It's still quite chilly out there but as it warms up a bit, snakes and other reptiles are starting to wake up and move around. We have had a few calls about relocating Tiger snakes and I have seen a few early rising Bob Tail lizards around the site at NAR in Malaga. So spring, usually taken as starting on September 1 is upon us, even though I doubt we will feel warm or see the less cold tolerant Dugites around for a month or so at least. I for one have not got my shorts out yet in Perth. However, I am just back from a once in a lifetime safari trip to Zimbabwe, so my shorts got plenty of action as the weather was fantastic every day. Now I'm back in Perth and it's still way too cold! More about Zimbabwe to follow.

Oh yes almost forgot – in the last newsletter I mentioned Cockie, the oldest bird in captivity, sadly he passed away on August 27 aged 83.

Many animals have adapted to cope with living in extreme conditions. Here are a few that manage to survive and thrive at extremes of heat and cold.

Feeling hot:

Saharan Desert Ant Cataglyphis bicolor
With a body temperature that can measure 50°C, this insect is remarkable in its ability to forage for food when most creatures would perish. Surface temperatures may reach 70°C so Saharan desert ants forage for dead bugs quickly, only exposed to scorching sun 3 to 5 minutes at a time, or they too will die.

Pompeii Worm Alvinella pompejana
The worlds most heat tolerant multi celled creature (after tardigrades) is able to withstand temperatures above 80°C. They live in colonies near hydrothermal vents deep in the Pacific Ocean where the water is almost at boiling point. It has a bizarre relationship with some bacteria that help insulate the 13cm long worms from the worst of the heat. The bacteria form 1cm thick 'jackets' on the worm, which in return gets some tasty mucus secreted by the Pompeii worm.

Feeling cold:

Alaskan Wood Frog Rana sylvatica
This tiny amphibian can stay frozen for up to 7 months a year, at temperatures that may reach as low as -18°C. Wood frogs even manage to survive partial thawing and then re-freezing on a regular basis. They can even stop breathing and their heart may stop completely for days or sometimes weeks at a time. These well-adapted North American frogs have so called cryoprotectants that stop cells being damaged during this extended winter hibernation.

Red Flat Bark Beetle. Cucujus clavipes puniceus
A widespread North American and Arctic dwelling invertebrate which uses special proteins and glycerol as an antifreeze to survive temperatures as low as -58°C. The Bark Beetles larvae are tougher still, enduring without freezing solid temperatures of -100°C. Now that's tough and cold.

Sahara desert

Pompeii worm. Photo: Wikipedia

Wood frog (Rana sylvatica). Photo: Emilyk, Wikimedia Commons

Red flat bark beetle. Photo: Katja Schulz, Washington DC, USA

Breathing is the action of taking air in to the body (inhaling) and releasing waste gases (exhaling). All animals need to breathe to survive. Different creatures have quite unusual methods of achieving this.

Integumentary exchange:
Integumentary system is the largest organ in our bodies consisting basically of our skin, hair and nails. In humans it mainly acts as a protective outer layer, in which some creatures breath through. Worms breathe in this way, by staying moist and moving through the soil, they create air pockets and this oxygen then dissolves through the skin. Their heart then pumps the oxygenated blood around. Waste carbon dioxide is expelled from the worms outer skin layers. If a worm gets too dry it will suffocate and die.

Many aquatic animals like fish use gills to facilitate breathing. Gills are extensions of outer membranes and they are usually very thin being about one cell thick. This allows gases that pass by to be exchanged easily. Oxygen can be taken into the body and thus reach the bloodstream and waste gases can pass out. Almost all fish, axolotls and many amphibian larvae breathe this way.

Tracheal Exchange:
With some animals, the respiratory system is not linked directly to the circulatory system. The tracheal system consists of tubes that open to the outside of the animal through even smaller tubes called spiracles. Many invertebrates like insects and arachnids breathe in this manner. Oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange occurs through these tubes direct to the tissue and not through blood as in most other creatures.

We humans and many land animals use lungs to breathe. Air enters via the nose and mouth and moves down the trachea tube to our two lungs, which are located in the chest cavity. Once inside the lungs, it branches off to the bronchi and then the bronchioles bring the life sustaining oxygen to our cells. The largest lungs in the world belong to the Blue Whale. Its two lungs have a capacity of 4900 litres. They inhale and exhale through the blowhole. Some whales even have two blowholes.

Worm. Photo: Animal Ark

Axolotl. Photo: Animal Ark

Red kneed tarantula (Brachypelma smithi) Photo: Animal Ark

I find it hard to make much of a distinction between life and work, I am fortunate in that it all seems like fun to me as I love to keep learning and seeing new places. I have just returned from Zimbabwe where I was with Jenny (my partner) and a few friends including a Zimbo (Zimbabwean), Graham and Avryl. We got a rather personalised trip visiting some of their favourite spots and we got to see the African bush away from the busier tourist haunts. So very awesome the whole experience was and whilst some of the bush looked similar in many ways to our own, it is certainly exciting to see creatures like elephants, zebra, baboons and others walking around. We had some awesome adventures and we have lots of stories to tell and many great photos to share, so over the next few newsletters I will be bringing a bit of Africa to the Animal Ark newsletter starting with… Elephant in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. Photo: Animal Ark
K9's with SOUL
We had the opportunity in Zimbabwe to meet a few active conservationists, all working in different fields but with the common aim of saving endangered species.

One group we visited, K9's for Conservation, gave a demonstration on how poacher tracking dogs are trained to smell for illegal goods, snares, firearms and to track offenders through the bush. The poachers use their equipment to snare and kill animals, including elephants for ivory and rhinos for their horns.

Trainer Jess introduced us to her dogs Diesel, Saxon, Ninjo and Cato who are at various stages of their training. The highly trained Ninjo, a Belgian Shepherd, is in fact a veteran of Afghanistan, where Jess worked with him whilst in the British army where he tracked and worked detecting improvised explosive devices (IEDs). During the demo Jess was able to show how the dogs work in such places but also the rigorous training process. The dogs can sniff out and give a signal when even the tiniest traces of a target scent are detected. Yes believe it or not when a dog is tracking you it's picking up the smell of our bodily oils and shed skin particles. The tiniest piece of a favourite reward of the dogs, usually a kong dog toy, was used to illustrate just how attuned their noses can be once they have learned to target a particular smell. The training is all rewards based and great fun was had watching the eager, younger, in-training dogs so keen to find the target and enjoying their play reward every time they succeeded.

Dogs, their handlers and teams of scouts have already been deployed to game reserves in Zimbabwe, and to great effect, tracking poachers in the act. The dogs' presence in a park is also proving to be a huge deterrent to would be poachers.

It all takes time, not just training the dogs, which varies depending on the individual, but also the handlers and rangers. Relying on donations to function, this is another good cause you may be interested in donating to or finding more about their work. See for more information about these wildlife heroes.

Trainer Jess with Ninjo, K9s for Conservation. Photo: Animal Ark

K9s for Conservation dogs. Photo: SOUL Trust

K9s for Conservation - Kong toy reward fragment used for training. Photo: Animal Ark


Snakey snakes are everywhere, and lots of other bitey stingy things. So here's a special offer for spring - BUY 2 Animal Ark's Australian Bites and Stings First Aid Kits for $50 inc postage Australia wide (RRP $34.95 inc postage per kit). Phone or email or go online and use the code OCTSNAKES on the online shop. Make fantastic, practical presents for anyone outdoorsy, or paranoid. (Offers expires end November 2016). Australian bites and stings first aid kit - available from Animal Ark
We are very busy now with our Snake Avoidance for Dogs training program. Travelling around WA we help pet and working dogs learn how to avoid snakes. So far Albany, Denmark, North Beach, Glen Forest, Hopetoun, Ravensthorpe, Nannup, Bunbury, Kalamunda and many other locations have been or will be visited soon. We are expanding the service, as the demand is huge. Despite the cool weather it's nearly peak time for snakebites!

If you, your vet or dog club have a potential group booking, we can probably travel to you. Snake Avoidance training is new to Australia but quite normal in parts of the USA. Along with puppy school, it's seen as a sensible safeguard to protect your dog in areas where snakes may be encountered. In essence the dog 'learns' that getting too close or showing an interest in a snake (movement or odour) is unpleasant. Domestic dog breeds are relatively easy animals to teach, the real difficulty is in having access to dangerously venomous snakes and ensuring both the dog and snakes are safeguarded during the training. Different snakes have different odours so we rely on the dogs phenomenal sense of smell and brain power to link snake smell with something to be left alone, and it would be pointless just teaching them with harmless pythons for example, so we use local snake species to make it work.

Feedback has always been very positive on all Animal Ark wildlife and training courses. We have had several instances where owners have alerted us to situations where the training has proved invaluable, as their dogs have been spotted backing away from or detouring around snakes seen when out walking months after the training. David Manning of Animal Ark condcuts snake avoidance training. Staffy dog avoiding snake
Animal in Focus: Rock Hyrax Procavia capensis
For a change we are going overseas this month and looking at a rather cute creature we found in all the different parks and wild areas we visited. Hyraxes are quite sturdy looking and around the size of a fat guinea pig or even a short eared tailless rabbit! They are between 30-70cm long with greyish brown, short thick fur and small barely visible tails.
Despite looking rodent like Dassies, as they are commonly called in Southern Africa, are more closely related to Elephants and the Manatee. They live in colonies of between 10 and 50 individuals that consist of a dominant male, a number of adult females and juveniles. As their name suggests they usually live in rocky places that provide refuge and good basking spots. Their feet are very unusual, each pad is flat and moistened by a special gland - in effect they act as suction cups giving Hyrax the ability to grip rocks as they move quickly about on sometimes steep and challenging rocky habitat.

They are omnivores and will eat a variety of grasses, fruits, and even small creatures like lizards. In turn they are preyed upon by eagles, leopards, snakes and other carnivores. They often lay out on rocks sunbathing with lookouts ready to give an alarm call if a predator is seen nearby. They are agile and quickly retreat into cavities or beneath and between boulders when threatened or alarmed.

Their easily seen communal latrines and piles of faeces and droppings are located a short distance way from there main resting spots. They have a long gestation for a small creature, some 7-8 months, when 2 or 3 young are born. These can eat vegetation by the second day but may suckle for a few months. The young are immediately active and can be seen jumping around within an hour of birth. Lifespan is around 12 years.

Rock hyrax (Procavia capensis) - Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. Photo: David Manning, Animal Ark

Rock hyrax (Procavia capensis). Photo: Bernard Dupont, Wikimedia Commons

Upcoming Courses and Events
Venomous Snake Handling Course
DPaW approved for Reptile Relocator's Regulation 17 Licence
Friday 21 October 2016 - Albany - FULL
Wednesday 26 October 2016 - Malaga, Perth
Tuesday 8 November 2016 - Malaga, Perth
Wednesday 9 November 2016 - Malaga, Perth
Friday 2 December 2016 - Malaga, Perth
Friday 16 December 2016 - Malaga, Perth
Friday 13 January 2017 - Malaga, Perth

Fauna Handling Course
Thursday 27 October 2016 – Malaga, Perth
Thursday 10 November 2016 – Malaga, Perth
Thursday 15 December 2016 – Malaga, Perth
Thursday 12 January 2017 – Malaga, Perth

Snake Avoidance Training for Dogs
Saturday 15 October 2016 - North Beach, Perth - FULL
Sunday 16 October 2016 - North Beach, Perth - FULL
Saturday 22 October 2016 - Albany, WA - FULL
Sunday 23 October 2016 - Denmark, WA - FULL
Monday 24 October 2016 - Albany, WA
Sunday 30 October 2016 - Nannup, WA
Monday 31 October 2016 – Nannup, WA
Tuesday 1 November 2016 – Nannup, WA
Saturday 5 November 2016 – North Beach, Perth
Sunday 13 November 2016 – Rockingham, Perth
Saturday 19 November 2016 – Bunbury, WA
Sunday 20 November 2016 – Bunbury, WA - FULL
Saturday 3 December 2016 – North Beach, Perth
Saturday 17 December 2016 – North Beach, Perth
Sunday 15 January 2017 – North Beach, 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:

Sunday 26 March 2017
Ballajura Harmony Day
Community event

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

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

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