Just thought I'd share these in case folks didn't recieve herpdigest and might have been interested.
3) For-Profit Cobra Breeding May Aid Wild Populationsin (North Vietnam)
(Yasunori Matsuo - Kyodo News) August 6, 2002 In economically booming
China, the rising demand for cobra meat and traditional medicines made from
cobras has had a devastating impact on the deadly snakes' population in
But a northern Vietnamese village is attempting to reverse the trend, both
to earn money from the lucrative cross-border trade and to preserve the
threatened snake in its natural habitat.
Vinh Son Commune in the northern province of Vinh Phuc, near Hanoi, has
been breeding and raising cobras in recent years. Last year the commune
produced about 50 tons of cobras, mostly exported to China.
The commune's success at captive breeding is being viewed in some quarters
as a boost for environment conservation, especially as the breeders hope to
release some of the cobras into the wild.
Vietnam's biologists say the declining population of cobras in the wild
threatens to upset the ecological balance. As more and more wild cobras are
captured illegally, paddies in many parts of the country are being invaded
by rapidly growing armies of rats.
Last August, Vu Van Lich, a 59-year-old resident of the commune, organized
a group of a dozen snake farmers to found the Vinh Thanh Snake Breeding
Cooperative with an initial working capital of 500 million dong (U.S.
Cobras in northern Vietnam generally lay eggs only in May and June.
Successfully incubated eggs hatch about two months later.
Last summer, the cooperative hired a specialist to manage the cooperative's
breeding program. As a result, about 90 percent of the eggs hatched,
producing 20,000 snakes.
The next major hurdle for cobra farmers in the north was husbanding the
newborns, which weigh 150 to 300 grams (5 to 10 ounces), through the chilly
winter months. Among those weighing less than 500 grams (one pound), only
20 percent to 30 percent generally survive the cold.
To get around that problem, Lich decided to winter the newborns in southern
Vietnam, where the weather is much warmer.
In April and May of this year, tens of thousands of juveniles weighing 500
to 700 grams (one to 1.5 pounds) each were returned from the south and
distributed to the cooperative's members to be raised to adulthood.
Lich said this year's bred cobras will be sold for about 270,000 dong
(about $17) per kilogram once they grow in the autumn into adults weighing
2 to 2.5 kilograms (4.4 to 5.5 pounds) each.
Because the cooperative is still in its formative stages, it still needs to
implement "effective management" methods to enable it to weather various
business difficulties, including price fluctuations, Lich said.
However, local authorities have lauded the cooperative's initiative in
breeding the protected snakes and vowed to encourage other communes to
establish similar cooperatives.
"In the future we would like to release cobras bred by our cooperative into
the wild," Lich said. He has asked environmental officials to allow cobras
bred at the Vinh Son Commune to be released in Tam Dao National Park, a
popular summer resort 60 kilometers (37 miles) north of Hanoi. Authorities
have not yet responded to the request.
Vietnam, with its own wildlife under siege, has gained a degree of
notoriety among environmentalists as both a major market and a transit
country for animals killed in increasing numbers in neighboring Laos and
Conservation officials face an uphill battle in attempting to suppress
trade in illegal wildlife in Vietnam, where poachers vastly outnumber
forest rangers. Trade in wild cobras is widely expected to continue because
specimens caught in the wild tend to weigh about twice as much as those
bred in captivity and can command prices of 400,000 to 500,000 dong (U.S.
$25 to $30) per kilogram.
5) Flying Snakes 'Swim Through the Air' (Paradise Tree Snake) by John von
Radowitz, The Scotsman, Edinburgh, UK, August 7, 2002
Birds flap their wings and other animals fly like gliders - but only snakes
swim through the air, it was revealed today.
A study of the paradise tree snake has shown for the first time the
extraordinary way the creature stays airborne.
The Singapore snake, one of a family of flying snakes, has no wings or
But, ignoring conventional aerodynamics, it is able to soar with the
greatest of ease - travelling distances of up to 330 feet and making
mid-flight 90 degree turns.
Jake Socha, a biologist at the University of Chicago in the United States,
has found that the snake does not fly through the air so much as swim.
It turns its body into a thin aerofoil by sucking in its stomach and
generates lift by wriggling, as if swimming in water.
For the study, Socha filmed and photographed snakes launching off a branch
at the top of a 33-foot tower at Singapore Zoological Gardens.
He found that the snake prepared to take off by hanging from the branch,
looping the front of its body into the shape of a "J".
The snake then jumped, accelerating up and away from the branch. Its body
flattened, roughly doubling in width, and began to undulate from side to side.
"While in flight, it not only flattens its entire body, it moves at the
same time," said Socha, who reported his findings in the journal Nature today.
"It's actually undulating in the air. So whatever muscles its using to
flatten are probably decoupled from the muscles it's using to undulate."
Unlike most flyers, the paradise tree snake turns without banking. Instead,
turns are initiated by movement of the front half of the body.
Despite its strange flight behaviour, the snake's aerial performance is on
a par with that of other gliders such as flying squirrels, lizards and frogs.
Socha said the timing of the start of the undulations suggested that they
There are five species of flying snakes which belong to the Colubridae
family. Most grow three to four feet long and live in the lowland tropical
rain forests of southern Asia.
Scientists have only known about the creatures for the past century. But
legends of "winged snakes" go back as far as the Greek historian Herodotus
in the Fifth Century BC.
Flying snakes are officially classified as harmless, but possess a mild
venom which they used to kill small prey.
12) Declared Dead, 20-Foot Python Revives At Landfill
Detroit Free Press (Michigan) 8/06/02 Escanaba, Mich. (AP):
Playing possum seems to come naturally to a 250-pound python named Ariel.
After three days without moving, the 20-foot Burmese python was declared
dead and hauled off to a landfill.
That's when the snake decided to wake up, giving a start to two teenagers
working who were unloading it.
The python revived when it was dropped several feet at the Delta Township
landfill, the Escanaba Daily Press reported in a recent story.
"It was at that point they realized it was alive," said landfill manager
Don Pyle. "It was really alive. Then the snake got out of what they had it
in. All of us were surprised. It wasn't supposed to be alive. ...
"It woke up and decided it didn't want to be there."
It turns out Ariel had most likely gone into a state of "suspended
animation, deeper than hibernation," according to her owner, Larry McCoy of
McCoy said the snake's state probably was because of stress from traveling
over several days.
McCoy, who travels to schools and other places to educate others about
responsible animal ownership, had brought the snake from Traverse City to
her new home.
The python then traveled from Escanaba to Manistique for a showing, and
"Like an excited parent, I wanted to show her off," said McCoy. "Of course
her environment changes drastically every time she's put into that
transportation mode, whether it's from overheating or from heat to air
conditioning, which puts (reptiles) under extreme stress.
"And like most reptiles that are under stress, there is a buildup of lactic
acid, which can potentially kill them."
After returning from Manistique, the snake wound down -- way down.
"The next day, there was no movement," McCoy said. "I figured she was in a
rest period, and I figured she was just calming down. I left her alone. ...
I didn't want to try and provoke her. ...
"The next day, the smell was there. And a friend of mine, who has a lot
more experience with reptiles than me, he moved her, lifted her up. Still,
she didn't move. ... By the next day, the snake still wasn't moving, and
there were no other signs of life."
Snakes lack eyelids, so open eyes are not a clue.
"Snakes always have a dead, blank stare," said McCoy.
After giving up hope, McCoy got two volunteers to take the snake to the
dump. It was not long after they left the store when McCoy got a phone
call, saying the snake was alive.
Now, Ariel is recovering in a sauna-size glass enclosed room at the store.
She is on a strict feeding schedule of two rabbits two times a week.
"These animals have a better home than I do," McCoy said.