Wednesday, December 17, 2014

First experience handling a snake

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"Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth       
and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you."

---Ojibway Prayer

Everyone talks about:                

“Let’s leave a better planet for our kids”..... 

but it should be:

   ---“Let’s leave better kids for our planet.” 

Henry Beston said:

“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from  universal nature and living by complicated artifice,man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth." 

The goal of Zoo Crew and the links on this page is to excite and provide links for all potential wildlife biologists, veterinarians, conservation and law enforcement officer, private citizens, herpetologists and pet owners encouraging the humane treatment of ALL animals and peak interest in fields of biology, conservation, zoology, marine biology and research.

Friends volunteer animals from their personal collections in up to 12 presentations each year in various locations.  Weather plays the key factor in travel.  I'm working on starting  a donation link directly to the NM Department of Game and Fish for "Grey Banded Kingsnake" survey proposal by NM State Herpetologist Charlie Painter.  There have been only 3 sightings of the grey bands since 1972 and they are now listed: "Endangered" and are protected.

The "ZOO CREW" is a group of friends who visit schools and public events with very special animals including kingsnakes, corn snakes, milk snakes, lizards of many flavors, tarantula, and EXCITEMENT! 

Too often people do not read or learn what an animal requires to thrive, rather, they buy on impulse.  The animals are ALWAYS the losers.  Part of this message is felt as rescued animals... now ambassadors are introduced by the rescuers. 
"Liam" was a dumpster rescue  ***courtesy of volunteer Aja

We work with reptile veterinary specialists to provide the animals health and well-being.

We encourage audiences always to leave the wild in your heart and not in your home.... to support CAPTIVE BORN & BRED.

We do NOT support or encourage possession or purchase of wild caught animals as pets.  We talk to our audience about "Bio-Piracy," the smuggling of animals for the pet trade.  

Gila Monsters & Beaded Lizards

Photo by: Dr. Daniel Beck

A special part of my outreach is with "Picasso" the Gila Monster & "Oso" the Mexican Beaded Lizard.  Regarded as in the top 5 most "Critically Endangered" lizards in the world, the beaded lizard is one of two lizards in the northern hemisphere that is venomous.  The other is America's most fabled lizard the Gila Monster. This family of lizards, called:
"Helodermatidae," have been around since the Cretaceous Period.  

Differences between Gila monsters and beaded lizards: 2 animals on top are Gila monsters.  The animals under the top two are beaded lizards:

Print by Tell Hicks
Print by: Tell Hicks


Seeming to crawl from under a 
blanket of shale, the fossil of a 
well-preserved lizard found in 
Germany has been shown to be 
an ancient relative of venomous 
Gila monsters. Modern day Gila 
monsters are found only in the 
deserts of the U.S. Southwest and 
northern Mexico.

The fossil reptile lived about 47 -100 

million years ago near a volcanic lake 
surrounded by a rich diversity of wildlife. 
Researchers with the Senckenberg 
Research Institute in Frankfurt, who 
examined the fossil, say that canals in its 
teeth suggest the primitive creature was 
already producing venom.

Gila monsters and Beaded lizards were alive during the cretaceous
period which is when the mighty T-Rex and Triceratops roamed the

Click the white box directly below to see a Gila Monster Hatching by
Dr. Mark Seward:
    "Click" See a Gila Monster hatching. 

Eggs are laid deep in burrowsHatchlings drink the yolk inside the egg for nutrition before leaving the burrow to begin their lives.


Gila Monsters and Beaded Lizards venom is considered "defensive" and not used to "subdue or kill"
"Bone Clones" provide realistic models of their jaw
Venom glands are located on the sides of the 
lower jaws and envenomation occurs through 
chewing and squeezing capillaries up and into 
the mouth.

The teeth do not conduct venom and are not hollow, 
but are "brittle and tend to break off during the bite.

Both species have been known to roll upside down 
to increase the amount of venom being expressed into 
the harassing animal or human. It helps remind potential predators to not muck with these animals.  
While no fatalities from a bite has occurred it is excruciating, nauseating, causing intense neurological symptoms. 

Gila Monster is named "Tiníléí" in the Navajo Language. It is said that Gila Monster possess mystical power, and its name is used as prayer in one ceremony. Gila Monster are respected and greatly honored by the Navajo People as well as certain Apache Tribes, and is used by Navajo medicine men to diagnose ailments.
    The Diné (Navajo) people believe everything in nature has its own place and purpose in the universe. Animals and other living things play a significant role in the origin and existence of the Diné people. Gila Monsters were created by a very powerful healing song. They possess very mystical powers. Diné medicine men use the Gila monster as a tool to diagnose ailments. Its name is used as a prayer in the healing process, thus the Gila monster is respected and honored.
    It is also believed some Diné women create weaving patterns which are based on the skin designs of the Gila Monster. Apache and Navajo respect and revere gila monsters.
     Similar to Gila Monsters, Beaded Lizards do NOT seek confrontations with humans but are shy, reclusive animals
      Click the white box directly below to hear a Gila Monster warning by Sonoran Desert Museum:
    "Click" & hear a Gila Monster warning

     New Mexico Game and Fish Science in Education Program: 
    "Picasso" the Gila Monster and "Oso" the beaded lizard visit classrooms and venues throughout New Mexico schools, museums, and public venues.  The lizards also visit other states raising awareness for Diabetes and obesity education.  
    Byetta© is the name of the drug derived from the venom of gila monsters to treat diabetes type II.   Oral extended release treatment: Byedureon is now available.

    Additionally, successful treatment for gastric and lung cancer, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Diseases are being developed from the venom proteins of both Gila Monsters and Beaded Lizards.  No animals are hurt in this process. 
Rob & Chris Carmichael extract venom from a Gila monster & a Beaded lizard.  Venom is then placed into a centrifuge and "spun" until various components/proteins settle and can be removed to help find cures for diseases.
Rio Fuerte Beaded Lizard

Gila Monster


They are believed to possess supernatural powers which cause pregnant women to miscarry.

Another popular myth explains that these animals create lightning simply by dropping their tail to the ground.  People slaughter these animals due to a superstition.

All beaded lizards are listed as "Endangered" and the Montagua Valley Beaded Lizard
H. charlesbogerti is one of the top 5 most critically endangered lizards in the world.

Atlanta Zoo has 8 pairs of Montagua Valley Beaded Lizards and is actively working to breed these animals, successfully hatching babies in 2012.  Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund, Lilly Pharmaceuticals, Zootropic and the International Reptile Conservation Fund are working toward preserving the Montagua Valley Beaded Lizard.


Gila Monsters:
It is illegal to molest, harm or capture a gila monster. They are considered: "Highly Imperiled" and illegal to transport across state lines without permit.  The Pet Trade and human encroachment has nearly caused the total extinction of these animals.


 Common Behavior of Beaded Lizards & Gila Monsters...   

Sleeping Upside-Down:

Mexican Beaded Lizard
Whether against a branch, in their water bowl, flat out in the open or in their hide these lizards like to lay on their back and sleep

While they MAY appear dead... they are sound asleep or may be day-dreaming.


El Rancho de Los Golandrinos
334 Los Pinos Rd Santa Fe

June 17th 2015:
Meet New Mexico's Living Fossil! Gila Monsters
Monthly Program TBA 
at the NM Museum 
of Natural History
1801 Mountain Rd NW, 
Alb, NM 87104
(505) 841-2800

8/15-16/15 NM Game & Fish Outdoor Expo
Range Road


      Past Events:
      1/26/15: Brown-Mackie Veterinary Technician School handling and exotic animal triage:
      1/15/15: The Bosque School (Gila monster/beaded 

      1/16/15: The Bosque School (Gila monster/beaded lizards)

      EcoEd Consortium of Educators
EcoEd is a local New Mexico consortium of groups 
sharing activities and teacher development:!forum/ecoed

Oct 31, 2014:
Monte Vista Elementary School
School Festival
October 27, 2014
Brown Mackie Veterinary Vet Tech  Lecture
10500 Copper Ave.  Albuquerque, NM Abq., NM
 The Zoo Crew Collection 

9/5/14:  Bitterlake National Refuge Dragonfly Festival-Roswell, NM: Dragon Fly Festival at Bitterlake-Roswell, New Mexico Directions:
Reptiles of the Southwest will be on hand to see and learn about.  Speaker on Friday and Saturday!

8/15,16,17/14: NM Game and Fish Outdoor Expo featuring the NM Herpetological Society at the Albuquerque Shooting Range  -5,000 people attended 
Faux gila monster provided by Travis Smith

  7/19/14: Isleta Pueblo 

 NM Herpetological Society will be displaying various collections.  I will be bringing the gila monster and beaded lizard for diabetes II outreach and since the gila monster plays an important part of the culture of the tribe it should be interesting to see the response we get

7/22/14: The Bosque School
Summer Camp for 6th and 7th Graders Intro to Herpetology-The Bosque Monitoring Project

      6/21/14:  Wildfest at Wildlife West Nature Park with NM Herpetological Society:
An extraordinary day at Wildlife West with the New Mexico Herpetological Society and my red, black and bumpy four-legged friend.

New friends... so many handling and touching the non-venomous animals brought by our Club...... Perfect weather!

Little girl in the picture overcame her fear of crawly scaled thingeys and ended up with a 3rd degree black belt in snake handling.... She went down the line of our club and was helped to handle many flavors, sizes and shapes. So proud of her acomplishment. Her big brother... awesome!

One of those days that takes you by your hand and shows you how good life is.

       6/4/14: The Bosque School
      Summer Camp for 6th and 7th Graders Intro to Herpetology-The Bosque Monitoring Project 
      5/15/14:  The Bosque School Colloquium and family night Presentation of Herps and High Schoolers to Parents and Faculty Staff.  Bittersweet end to this year's incredible project so thoughtfully carried through by Geneva Gurule and Olivia Herrera.
      4/25/14: Bosque School BEMP Environmental Congress. Presentation for 250 students from throughout New Mexico and Arizona   
       4/23/14: Bosque School Herps & High Schoolers Thesis Presentation:
      4/1/14: SY Jackson Elementary School..... "The Summer According to Humphrey"
      Literacy project for the 1 book 1 school program.  500 attendees

        4/5/14: North Valley Academy snake acquaintance & confidence class 

        2013-2014 "Herps & High Schoolers" senior project by Geneva Gurule & Olivia Herrera:
        Their hypothesis:    "That 5th and 6th graders who receive reptile education that includes seeing live snakes are more likely to have positive attitudes about snakes than those who do not. Therefore, they would like to work with you to develop a reptile education program that they can help teach. To do that they would of course need to receive training to handle reptiles. They would then do about 5 sessions to refine their program and end up with a high quality presentation that they could help to deliver consistently. Then they would help you conduct, hopefully, ten or more classroom programs in October and November. Prior to doing the classroom sessions they would administer a survey about student attitudes regarding snakes/reptiles. A week or two after the classroom session the students would take a follow up attitude survey to see if and how their attitudes might have shifted.   To be truly effective in answering their question, half the classes would not (control) have a live reptile element in their class and half would (treatment). One of the students feels great sadness for the classes in the control group and would hope that sometime after the experiment is conducted, those classes could be returned to and have a live animal presentation follow up. This could be possible, but the students could not be informed about this until after they took the follow up attitude survey. We have a number of schools and teachers in mind to contact about this, but wanted to make sure that you would be willing to help with a project of this scope. Our final goal would be for the girls to present their findings in Arizona before the members and board of the Phoenix Herpetological Society and college students.

        10/3/13: "Herps & High Schoolers" 1st Snake handling prep class at Bosque School
        10/8/13: "Herps and High Schoolers" 2nd snake handling prep class at Bosque School
        10/30/13: "Herps and High Schoolers"  3rd and final snake handling prep class at 
        Bosque School
        11/1/13: The Zoo Crew visits: Halloween costume party at Monte Vista Elementary School 
        67 x 3-5th grade
        12/19/13: "Herps and High Schoolers" Presentation to 20 x 8th grade students at Bosque School
        1/16/14: "Herps and High Schoolers" Presentation to 20 x 5th grade students at Bosque School
        1/16/14: "Herps and High Schoolers" Presentation to 20 x 5th grade students at Bosque School

        1/22/14:"Herps and High Schoolers" to Manzano Day School 20 x 5th grade students

        1/22/14:"Herps and High Schoolers" to Manzano Day School 20 x 5th grade students
        1/29/14: "Herps and High Schoolers" to Bosque School 20 x 5th grade students

        1/29/14: "Herps & High Schoolers" to Bosque School 20 x 5th grade students 
        1/30/14: "Herps & High Schoolers" to Bosque School 15 x 6th grade students
        2/20/14: "Herps & High Schoolers" to Manzano Day School 20 x 5th grade students
        3/4/14: "Herps & High Schoolers" to Bosque School 20 x 5th grade students

        3/5/14: "Herps & High Schoolers" to Bosque School 20 x 6th grade students

        3/6/14: Zoo Crew Visits: CNM main campus class for 40 adult educators = teaching
        herpetology in the Albuquerque classrooms
    3/6/14: "Herps & High Schoolers" senior presentation before the members and board of the New Mexico Herpetological Society.  "Findings from the 2013-2014 snake education program" at 
    The Albuquerque Rattlesnake Museum.
    3/12/14: Herps & Schoolers" at Bosque School: 6th grade presentation "Measuring the effects of outreach education and student attitude changes about snakes."
    2/20/14: Herps & High Schoolers: presentation with snakes at Manzano Day School to 6th grade students.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Keep Cats Contained- End Release of Cats

Keep Cats Safely Contained--- >> 
Releasing Cats  Does Not Work
"How can veterinarians, with a science education, neglect a very basic tenet of population biology. A population increases with an increased carrying capacity (feeding unneutered feral cats increases populations). A population will not be reduced unless you neuter 75% ANNUALLY or remove 50% ANNUALLY. 

TNR programs do not reach more than 10% therefore they do NOTHING to reduce a population. That's nothing....not 'every little bit helps', NOTHING. The intact 90% make up for any reductions achieved by neutering 10%. So, please don't believe TNR reduces populations. TNR makes people feel better about what they really want to do.... feed feral cats outside."
(US Fish & Wildlife)

Add caption
 Keep them safe.  End Release of
 cats to the wild. 

•Protect Humans •Protect Wildlife
•Protect our Pets  •Protect Cats

  Dangers to Humans

Where people do not feed feral cats, feral learn to follow raccoons to garbage cans -eat what the raccoons dumps from garbage cans.  Feral cats can transmit raccoon ringworm from this contact.

Cat colonies produce hyper-predation.... not enough food for native species
forcing coyotes and other predators into cities.

"Other serious problems with TNR: Feral cats attract cougars into urban areas and food put outside for feral cats attracts black bears to urban neighborhoods."  (NM Game & Fish) 

...and then the cougar or black bear pay the price as do tax-payers when Game & Fish get tasked with finding and removing the animals.

-refer to Damage Feral Cats do... in the right margin for more info
    US Centers for Disease Control report 2 out the 5 most prevalent diseases spread to humans are caused by feral cats, These are toxoplasmosis and toxocariosis and both are spread through fecal material in our public and private sandboxes, gardens, parks, transmitted to our indoor pets and to our families.  Both are very bad.
 What is toxocariosis?

Toxocariasis is an infection transmitted from animals to humans (zoonosis) caused by the parasitic roundworms commonly found in the intestine of dogs (Toxocara canis) and cats (T. cati).

Who is at risk for toxocariasis?

Anyone can become infected with Toxocara. Young children and owners of dogs or cats have a higher chance of becoming infected. Approximately 13.9% of the U.S. population has antibodies to Toxocara. This suggests that tens of millions of Americans may have been exposed to the Toxocara parasite.

How can I get toxocariasis? 

Cats that are infected with Toxocara can shed Toxocara eggs in their feces. You or your children can become infected by accidentally swallowing dirt that has been contaminated with dog or cat feces that contain infectious Toxocara eggs. Although it is rare, people can also become infected from eating undercooked meat containing Toxocara larvae.

What are the clinical manifestations of toxocariasis?

Many people who are infected with Toxocara do not have symptoms and do not ever get sick. Some people may get sick from the infection, and may develop:
  • Ocular toxocariasis: Ocular toxocariasis occurs when Toxocara larvae migrate to the eye. Symptoms and signs of ocular toxocariasis include vision loss, eye inflammation or damage to the retina. Typically, only one eye is affected.
  • Visceral toxocariasis: Visceral toxocariasis occurs when Toxocara larvae migrate to various body organs, such as the liver or central nervous system. Symptoms of visceral toxocariasis include fever, fatigue, coughing, wheezing, abdominal pain.

How serious is infection with Toxocara?

In most cases, Toxocara infections are not serious, and many people, especially adults infected by a small number of larvae (immature worms), may not notice any symptoms. The most severe cases are rare, but are more likely to occur in young children, who often play in dirt, or eat dirt (pica) contaminated by dog or cat feces.

How is toxocariasis spread?

A common Toxocara parasite of concern to humans is T. canis, which kittens usually contract from the mother before birth or from her milk. The larvae mature rapidly in the kitten's intestine; when the cat is 3 or 4 weeks old, they begin to produce large numbers of eggs that contaminate the environment through the animal's feces. Over a 2 to 4 week time period, infective larvae develop in the eggs. Toxocariasis is not spread by person-to-person contact like a cold or the flu.

What should I do if I think I have toxocariasis?

See your health care provider to discuss the possibility of infection and, if necessary, to be examined. Your provider may take a sample of your blood for testing.

What is the treatment for toxocariasis?

Visceral toxocariasis is treated with anti-parasitic drugs. Treatment of ocular toxocariasis is more difficult and usually consists of measures to prevent progressive damage to the eye.

How do I prevent toxocariasis?

  • Teach children that it is dangerous to eat dirt or soil.
  •  Do not allow children to play in areas that are soiled with pet or other animal feces.
  •  Take your pets to the veterinarian to prevent infection with Toxocara. Your veterinarian can recommend a testing and treatment plan for deworming.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after playing with your pets or other animals, after outdoor activities, and before handling food.
  • Teach children the importance of washing hands to prevent infection.
  • Clean your pet's living area at least once a week. Feces should be either buried or bagged and disposed of in the trash. Wash your hands after handling pet waste.
TOXOPLASMOSIS which can result in a pregnant mother's death or spontaneous abortion/birth defects, such as paranoid schizophrenia, autism, and can be fatal in immuno-compromised humans. 

"Click the box"-3 miscarriages in 1 Year from Feline Toxoplasmosis:
    Toxoplasmosis Cause Miscarriages (3 in 1 Year to the Same Woman) 

How do I prevent toxoplasmosis?





     If you are pregnant do NOT handle cat feces, change litter box, garden in areas where cats may have been.  

    Teach children that it is dangerous to eat dirt or soil.

  •  Take your pets to the veterinarian to test for toxoplasmosis. Your veterinarian can recommend a testing and treatment plan.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after playing with your pets or other animals, after outdoor activities, and before handling food.
  • Teach children the importance of washing hands to prevent infection.
  • Clean your pet's living area at least once a week. Feces should be bagged and disposed of in the trash. Wash your hands after handling pet waste.

     It is disastrous to native wildlife, private and public property, playgrounds, and it is a vector for some very lethal disease transmissions to humans, to native wild cat populations and even extends to otters and porpoises--yes, otters and porpoises.  33 species have been rendered extinct by free-roaming and feral cats.

Stomach Contents of the above feral cat:
1 Zebra Finch

1 Mouse
2 Earless Dragons 
3 Bearded Dragons
3 Striped Skinks
24 Painted Dragons

Cats Kill Just To Kill Time
    Feral cats kill 4 billion birds in the United States alone.  On islands cats drive extinctions and have caused the extinction of 33 species.

    Cats raid nests killing baby birds.   
    Cats prey on adult birds raising babies and destroy generations.
Cat colonies produce hyperpredation.... not enough food for native species
forcing coyotes and other predators into cities.

"Other serious problems with TNR: Feral cats attract cougars into urban areas and food put outside for feral cats attracts black bears to urban neighborhoods."  (NM Game & Fish)

 Cat video cameras attached to free-roaming and feral cats reveal nocturnal as well as diurnal hunting activities.  There is NO time of the day or night that feral cats stop hunting and killing wildlife.

Transmissable diseases to Humans and/or Pets:
Nearly 110 different zoonoses transmission vectors to other species including native bobcat and mountain lion populations-rhino and feline leukemia, which is 100% lethal to these animals, calicivirus, tularemia, bartonella, corona, rabies transmission from eating sick rodents, bubonic plague, tuberculosis. 

A mother porpoise mourns her dead baby

Feline Toxoplasmosis Oocytes from infected cats infiltrates our groundwater and documented to cause fatalities in sea otters, 
porpoises and other cetaceans.

    The scratch from a cat can be deadly within 24 hours.  Humans can also contract "cat scratch fever" and this can be fatal.  
    Any bird, rabbit or other animal scratched by a cat must get treated as soon as possible by rehab specialist to survive.

New Zealand's native owl, the Morepork/Ruru is still considered to be relatively common but it is likely that numbers are in decline due to predators.
They are especially prone to predation when nesting, by cats.

This adult bird was killed by a domestic cat on a rural property in the lower north Island several years ago. At the time the owl had been a regular nocturnal visitor to a porch area where it captured moths attracted to the light. The cat killed the bird out of instinct, not for food, and presented it to the owners.

Outdoor cats are environmentally destructive. Containment protects wildlife. Protects cats.

     Catch and Release Programs for FERAL cats are a lose/lose/lose situation for cats, wildlife and humans. 
•Other cats
•Deadly plants
•Mean spirited people 
•Birds of Prey
•Disease transmission at feeding stations
-rabies, feline leukemia, tularemia, 
-bubonic plague, calicivirus, rhino, -toxoplasmosis, toxocariosis and many other.
•Large reptiles, alligators, snakes.

                                                               "Click the white box" directly below

    Click This Spot: Is Releasing Cats More Humane? 
Run over by a car.

      Feral cats are prey for many species of wildlife

      Human Cruelty:
      Cats are used as target practice for teenagers and adults, they get poisoned, drowned, set on fire..... all can be prevented... No ferals.

      The worst abuse that happens to cats occurs when they are allowed outside or abandoned. Attacks from wildlife, mean spirited people, exposure injuries, fan belt.....

      Allowing cats to roam outdoors and/or Releasing cats to fend for themselves is a most pathetic statement about humans who have no idea and are deluded into thinking they are doing a favor by "sparing" a life.
      Fan belt injuries, thermal injuries, road hazards are just part of the ways cats suffer TNR programs.

      Euthanasia is by far more humane

      As "CHARACTER COUNTS" relates to animal care and is the most important aspect of humans. The choice is to reward children when they demonstrate care and concern for animals or overcome fears/accomplishing in relationship to animals.

      The 6 Pillars of Character are:

      Be honest • Don’t deceive, cheat, or steal • Be reliable — do what you say you’ll do • Have the courage to do the right thing • Build a good reputation • Be loyal — stand by your family, friends, and country

      Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule • Be tolerant and accepting of differences • Use good manners, not bad language • Be considerate of the feelings of others • Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone • Deal peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements

      Do what you are supposed to do • Plan ahead • Persevere: keep on trying! • Always do your best • Use self-control • Be self-disciplined • Think before you act — consider the consequences • Be accountable for your words, actions, and attitudes • Set a good example for others

      Treat yourself fairly • Play by the rules • Take turns and share • Be open-minded; listen to others • Don’t take advantage of others • Don’t blame others carelessly • Treat all people fairly

      Be kind • Be compassionate and show you care • Be compassionate and kind to animals • Express gratitude • Forgive others • Help people in need • Care about people being bullied

      Do your share to make your school and community better • Cooperate • Get involved in community affairs • Stay informed; vote • Be a good neighbor • Obey laws and rules • Respect authority • Protect the environment • Volunteer