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No. 64
Hello everyone!

Welcome to May's newsletter. We hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Years break, Easter and any other festivals or holidays that have passed since last year.

We would like to apologise for our absence with these newsletters (the last one being August last year). We have been extremely busy with our Fauna and Venomous Snake handling courses, our Snake Avoidance training for Dogs, School visits and some new upcoming training that we are finalising as we speak (or read?)

The newsletter this month will be focusing on BABIES!!

My name is Kurt Bennett, and I am a new trainer here at Animal Ark (new as of September last year). I am currently studying part-time for my Bachelor of Science in Conservation and Wildlife Biology, I have my Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, I have volunteering experience with animals and grew up working on the family deer farm back in Aotearoa (New Zealand).

I have an adorable four-month-old baby boy at home, and as we have just come out of the baby snake season, I thought babies would be a fantastic focus.

Kurt Bennett, trainer at Animal Ark
The pregnancy:

Human Homo sapiens – 9 months or 280 days or 40 weeks – give or take.

Longest– Elephants, Elephantinae, have the longest gestation period of the animal kingdom at about 95 weeks. Almost 2 years pregnant - my partner would likely smother me in my sleep if that was the case in humans!

Shortest – Virginian Opossums Didelphis virginiana have the shortest gestation period of a miniscule 12 days, barely any time to have strange cravings!!!

Kenya, baby elephant. Photo Biosphereafrika, Wikimedia Commons
The Birthing:

Types of birth: Oviparous or viviparous

In the animal world there are two main methods used for the birthing of offspring. The main difference between oviparous (egg laying) and viviparous (live young) animals is that oviparous creatures do not undergo embryonic development within the mother, whereas viviparous animals develop within the female's body. A subset of viviparous is ovoviviparous – it gets technical, but the result is a live birth!

A few species can even do both. Our Australian three-toed skink Saiphos equalis may lay eggs or deliver live young! This phenomenon is called bimodal reproduction.

Oviparous (egg laying): Birds, most reptiles, amphibians, most fish, most insects, molluscs, arachnids and monotremes are oviparous.

Most eggs from a vertebrate: Ocean sunfish Mola mola, 300,000,000 at a time.

Most eggs from an invertebrate: Giant clam Tridacna gigas, 500,000,000

Viviparous (live bearing): Most mammals such as dogs, bats, whales, and humans, some reptiles. If you can read this newsletter, you're a viviparous species.

Most live babies from a vertebrate: Tailless tenrec Tenrec ecaudatus, up to 32

Not all females gestate their young. Seahorses and pipefish both have the males carry and birth their young!

Baby turtles have recently been studied and it has been found that they communicate to each other while still inside the egg. Scientists theorise that this communication is used to determine a hatching timeline, so they hatch in staggered stages rather than all at once. This can help ensuring some of each egg cluster can make it to the water before predators eat them, ensuring a higher survival rate.

Ancient Egyptian figurines of birthing cow. Photo Keith Schengili Roberts, Wikimedia Commons

European common frog spawning Rana temporaria. Photo Thomas Brown, Wikimedia Commons

Giant clam with diver. Photo Jan Derk, Wikimedia Commons

Timing is Everything

We had a relocation tiger snake from a home in the hills in our snake room, in an enclosure overnight, waiting for release the following day. Now tiger snakes are viviparous, give birth to live young, by the way. The following day came around and when I entered the snake room to organise the snakes needed for a course the next day, and to see who needed to have their enclosure cleaned, I noticed on the outside of one of the enclosures a dark little ‘something'. Thinking it may be some bark caught between the pane of glass I stepped closer for a look and to my amazement it was a baby tiger snake. On the outside of an enclosure. In a room full of snakes that should not have been pregnant.

After regaining my composure both myself and Jenny (Boss Lady!) gathered the necessary tools and equipment to safely check the whole room, each and every enclosure, and found a further 7 babies, all within the new mum's enclosure thankfully.

We have since relocated both the mother and her little baby tigers; you can see the video of them being released on our social media. Watch how fast 7 venomous baby snakes disappear!!!

These babies are just as medically significant (capable of a lethal bite if harassed) as adults, they just have a much smaller venom gland.

There are myths that baby venomous snakes are more lethal as their venom is more potent or that they have less control over their capability to inject the venom which make them more dangerous. But these are all unproven theories. There is no academic evidence we are aware of to support these urban myths.

Our baby snake season, whether born alive or hatching from eggs, often depending on the weather, is usually anytime between Christmas and May.

Baby tiger snake. Photo Animal Ark

Baby snakes hatching. Photo Darren Darch

Taking Care

I was on a hike in March with my 9-year-old daughter in Ellis Brook Reserve (beautiful place for those interested in some Perth based hiking). Whilst looking at the pictures of the reserve during the wet season we heard a thud, and I looked down to see that a baby dugite had fallen from one of the rafters within the shelter onto the bench seat.
I told my daughter just to take a step back and then took some photos. Very cute little creatures and yes, evidently, they can climb!

Our venomous snakes here in Australia are part of the family elapidae. Characterised by permanently erect, relatively short fangs at the front of the mouth, measuring between 3-15mm. Brown and tiger snakes have 3-7mm fangs while the Taipan has the larger fangs of 10-15mm.

These snakes are either viviparous (live bearing) such as tiger snakes, capable of producing between 7-65 young at once. Or are oviparous (egg laying) such as brown snakes (dugite, gwardar) who lay their eggs in clutches, between 10-40 per parent.

With this in mind, keep safe and if you spot a baby snake which can be as small as half a HB pencil, there could be another 39 nearby. They can hide under leaves so have a good tidy up wearing boots, gloves and other relevant PPE.

Baby dugite Psedonaja affinis, Photo David Manning Animal Ark
Our new online booking system has arrived at It is now easier to book your dog for Snake Avoidance training online. Easier, faster, and with reminder emails and texts – we hope it's popular with people and pooches. Choose a training date, location, and time slot simply – at least that's the idea – feedback appreciated; I think. A big thank you to our tech guru Geoff for all his hard work.

More dates and locations are being added as we write this.

Stella Jack Russell and David Manning. Photo Danella Beavis and Animal Ark Snake Avoidance Training
Our new stock of gaiters has arrived with both tan or camouflage colours.

Offering great snake protection, good for hikers, gardeners and anyone wanting to avoid prickly plants and biting snakes.

Special price of $110 incl GST (RRP $132) to our subscribers through to 31 July 2022 .

Order online at with code GAITERS for discount to be applied or call the office with credit card on 08 9243 3044

Animal Ark snakebite protection gaiters (camo)
Animal in Focus: Flamingo (Family Phoenicopterus)
Flamingos or Flamingoes: these amazing birds are often seen as plastic lawn ornaments around Florida homes, or in the lawn ornament section in Bunnings.

Flamengo is a Spanish or Portuguese word meaning "flame-coloured." These very distinctive birds may be found throughout the Americas and parts of Europe, Africa and Asia.

There are 6 main sub-species within the family Phoenicopterus:

Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus (largest and most widespread),
American Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber
Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis
Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor
Andean Flamingo Phoenicoparrus andinus
James Flamingo Phoenicoparrus jamesi

They are very social birds and live in colonies which can reach thousands in number. They do not mate for life but form strong pair bonds. In the larger colonies the Flamingos can exchange partners. Babies are born grey and fluffy. These chicks stay within the nest with their parents for the first 6-10 days, then they begin to mingle within the colonies with the other chicks in micro crèches. These micro crèches help keep predators away from the young.

The Flamingos natural colour is grey-white, they get their pink-reddish colouration from their diet. Certainly, cheaper than going to the hairdresser. They are filter feeders and consume red and blue-green algae which contains high levels of beta carotene. Beta carotene is an organic chemical that contains an orange-red pigment. This chemical is also in some plants and fruits and vegetables such as pumpkin, tomatoes and carrots.

In Ancient Roman times the Flamingo was a highly prized food dish, especially their tongues! I think I will stick to KFC.

Flamingos, as most birds, are very vocal and communicate with grunts, growls, and very loud honking. Sounds like myself after a long night of baby duty!

Andean miners have killed Flamingos for their fat as they believed it cured tuberculosis.
The Flamingo is the national bird of the Bahamas.
A group of Flamingos is called a flamboyance.
Lifespan can be 40-60- years.

Flamingos Photo: Berit, Wikimedia Commons

Phoenicopterus chilensis, Tavares Rio Grande do Sul Brazil flying. Photo Claudio Dias Timm Wikimedia Commons

Upcoming Courses and Events
For Snake Avoidance Training for Dogs please see

For Snake and Fauna Handler Training please see

Courses held regularly around Perth plus on-site and remote site training available on request subject to availability.