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Subject: rec.pets.herp Frequently Asked Questions (2 of 3)

This article was archived around: 25 May 2001 15:49:12 GMT

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============================================================================== An Introduction to rec.pets.herp Part 2/3: Other Resources Bill East <eastb@concentric.net> ============================================================================== This document is copyright 1995-1998 by Bill East, and may be redistributed freely under many circumstances; the details are explained in Part 1 (section 3.1). Some sections were written by other authors, who are also identified in Part 1. This document is provided as-is, with no expressed or implied warranty of any kind. Every effort has been made to make this FAQ an accurate and comprehensive source of information; however, the maintainer offers no guarantee that these efforts have been successful, and assumes no responsibility for damages resulting from errors or omissions. This document represents the understanding and opinion of the maintainer, and, where possible, a consensus of posters to rec.pets.herp; it is not endorsed by, and does not necessarily represent any position of, the maintainer's employer or ISP. ============================================================================== Section 5: Other information resources ------------------------------ Subject: <5.1> What other online resources exist? There are online resources scattered all over the net; herpers seem to like making WWW pages. This section is somewhat biased toward WWW resources, in part because of the ease of searching the Web, in part because other routes of access to these resources are pretty spotty. Anyone with knowledge of FTP sites is invited to contribute to this section of the FAQ! In due course, there will probably be a rec.pets.herp home page, where most of these resources will be gathered. Watch this space for updates. Adam Britton keeps a Web page of crocodilian resources at <http://crocodilian.com/> Liza Daly maintains the Herp Net Resources FAQ at <http://fovea.retina.net/~gecko/herps/misc/net-resources.shtml> Melissa Kaplan maintains a *large* collection of care sheets and informative articles on her herp page, at <http://www.sonic.net/~melissk/> Mike Greathouse maintains the The Manasota Herpetological Society at <http://manasotaherp.com/> This lists over a thousand links to other herping spots. Mike Pingleton maintains the FAQs on mites, African clawed frogs, and crocodilians, and has them all at <http://gto.ncsa.uiuc.edu/pingleto/faq.html> Jennifer Swofford has a herp page with its own domain name, with *lots* of links to other online resources and offline information: <http://www.baskingspot.com/> All these sites, and many others, contain pointers to additional WWW pages. It's possible to cruise around the Web, restricting your attention to herps, and turn blue in the face before you run out of places to go. A good central nexus of pointers resides on the Colorado Herpetological Society's pointer page, at <http://coloherp.org/herplink/index.htm> The Herpetology section of the Virtual Library resides at <http://cmgm.stanford.edu/~meisen/herp/> and contains a wide variety of links; most of them are of a more scientific bent than the typical hobbyist's page. There is a mailing list devoted to snake keeping, called slither. Information is available at the URL <http://www.slither.com/slither.html>, and a subscription can be had by sending a piece of email saying "subscribe slither" to majordomo@southwind.net. It is best in this and all cases to read the related information prior to subscribing! A UK-specific Usenet newsgroup can be found at uk.rec.pets.misc. Other country- specific newsgroups may be available as well; check your local hierarchy. ------------------------------ Subject: <5.2> What are some good offline resources? This is a big question. There are quite a few books about herps of various sorts, and they range from stellar to awful. One particularly stellar book is _The Completely Illustrated Atlas of Reptiles and Amphibians for the Terrarium_, by Obst, Richter, Jacob, et al. (TFH Publications Inc., 1988), a titanic red tome with brief entries on a huge variety of subjects, often just called "the Big Red Book". Also, Advanced Vivarium Systems publishes a series of books on herp care which are widely acknowledged to be thoroughly excellent; most of them are slim white paperbacks that cost five to ten dollars (US). They are sold in pet stores, especially those that specialize in herps, in both the US and Europe. There are several periodicals devoted to herpetoculture (and many academic journals dealing with herpetology); these include the _Vivarium_ (the organ of the American Federation of Herpetoculturists), _Reptiles_, and _Reptile & Amphibian_. There has been an outstanding publication called _Captive Breeding_, but there are rumors of its demise. This FAQ takes no position on the relative merits of these publications; all of them have printed good stuff and bad stuff, and it's a good idea to seek independent confirmation of any information before entrusting the well-being of your animals to it. All the above print resources are in English. Other languages have their own bodies of herpetocultural literature; the author's familiarity with these is extremely limited, and suggestions for important sources---especially the high points of the large body of German literature---are solicited. Local herp societies are valuable sources of knowledgeable people; see question 5.3, below. There are also some national herp societies, like the American Federation of Herpetoculturists in the United States, and a number of global organizations with more specific purposes (like the International Gecko Society and the Tortoise Trust). Your local university library can also be very useful. There's a publication called the _Zoological Record_ that indexes zoological journals by species; many of the articles it references will be unreadable by a lay audience, but others can be a very useful source of captive-care information. In addition, university libraries can order copies of articles in hard-to-find periodicals for you; ask a reference librarian for sordid details. ------------------------------ Subject: <5.3> How do I find a nearby herp society? The Herp Net Resources FAQ (see question 5.1) contains a list of herp societies with WWW pages, and the pages of FAQs mentioned in question 5.1 include lists of herp societies. In addition, the omnipresent WWW page of Liza Daly contains Peter Donohue's herp organization FAQ: <http://fovea.retina.net/~gecko/herps/misc/org-faq.html> Not satisfied? Melissa Kaplan (MelissK@aol.com) maintains lists of U.S. herp organizations by state, and will cheerfully send copies to people who ask for them. She also has a document on how to start your own herp society. If these sources don't list a society near you, start asking around. If there's a local university, ask someone in the biology or environmental science department. Ask the zoo, aquarium, or museum. If there's a local pet store that pays a lot of attention to reptiles, ask there. If all this fails, you might have to start a society of your own. Or you could move! ------------------------------ Subject: <5.4> Where do I get information about iguanas? In one form or another, this is probably the most asked question on the newsgroup. There are at least three iguana care sheets readily available on the Web, and plenty of peripheral documents. A good central resource for iguana information is Liza Daly's iguana page: <http://fovea.retina.net/~gecko/herps/iguanas/index.shtml> which includes pointers to lots of documents. This page also includes some information on the iguana mailing list. To subscribe, send a message to iguanas-request@echonyc.com with the words "subscribe iguanas-digest" in the body of the message. It really is worth your while to read these care sheets before posting an iguana-related question. There are a *lot* of pet iguanas out in the world, and much discussion of them on the net, and the chances that your question has already been asked and answered are pretty good. There are many books on iguanas; most of them aren't very good, and iguana keepers on the net say that none of them are really good enough to recommend. As of early 1996, there are more books in the works that show some promise; however, the online care sheets remain the iguana keeper's strongest resource for the present. ------------------------------ Subject: <5.5> Is there a care sheet for <whatever species>? The lists of online resources in question 5.1, above, contain many pointers to care sheets for specific species. If you can't find it from the above sources, ask; odds are that someone can give you at least basic care information. ------------------------------ Subject: <5.6> What zoos have good herp collections? Perhaps surprisingly, lots of them. In the United States, leaders include the National Zoological Garden in Washington, D.C., the San Diego Zoo, Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco, the Denver Zoo's Tropical Discovery exhibit, Zoo Atlanta, and many more (contributions solicited). The Baltimore Zoo gets extra brownie points for having many snakes in the children's zoo. A number of zoos in Europe have outstanding herp collections, often equipped with great naturalistic settings; the Rotterdam Zoo is a world leader, and the author wishes to take this opportunity to plug the zoo in Frankfurt as well. At least three zoos in the US have tuataras. The St. Louis Zoo has some that are said to be off-exhibit at this writing, and the Dallas and Toledo Zoos have recently opened exhibits. The London Zoo is now reported to have a pair of tuataras on display; the only other exhibit that I know of outside New Zealand. More information for this question is always welcome. ============================================================================== Section 6: Obtaining and identifying herps ------------------------------ Subject: <6.1> Where can I get a <whatever species>? If you don't know where to get it, and you haven't been keeping herps long enough to find a source, are you sure you want one? Hard-to-find species are often hard to find precisely because they're very difficult to keep, and should only be essayed by very experienced keepers. Assuming you really do want whatever-it-is, there are a number of large commercial dealers who are good places to look. A good starting point is the breeder/mail-order FAQ, available on Liza Daly's WWW page, at the URL <http://fovea.retina.net/~gecko/herps/misc/breeder-faq.html> Many large herp dealers and prominent breeders advertise in the pages of herp magazines like the ones listed in question 5.2. Local herp societies are also a good source of pointers, since many of them have members who attend conventions regularly and stay abreast of others' breeding projects. For the record, this FAQ *strongly* discourages the keeping of venomous reptiles by any amateurs but the most expert and cautious. Many venomous snakes are extremely attractive and have a powerful appeal; however, the dangers of keeping "hot" animals are very substantial, to say nothing of the public-relations disaster and potential tragedy that could result from an escaped animal. (And there is *always* a chance of escape; what if there were an earthquake and all your tanks were shattered?) The prudent route is to leave the venomous critters to the wild and the zoo, and go there when you feel the urge to admire them. ------------------------------ Subject: <6.2> How do I identify this creature in my yard? Can I keep it? It's hard to describe an animal accurately enough for a positive ID in text. Try a field guide first, since you can look back and forth from the book to the animal. (This author, based in North America, favors the Audubon guide; others prefer the Peterson guides for their range maps and similar-species sections. Field guides for Britain and Europe are known to exist, but I don't know enough about them to make recommendations.) If you can't make a conclusive ID, then post a detailed description of the animal, along with any useful information you gathered from the guide ("I thought it might be a Flipplezorb's tree frog, but it doesn't have a puce belly"). Someone will probably post either a tentative ID or a request for specific information. In some cases, the answer to "Can I keep it?" is definitely *no*. Many jurisdictions have some form of laws against keeping native wildlife in captivity, and such laws are sometimes enforced with surprising vigor. This is one reason why a positive ID is very important; you don't want to find yourself inadvertently violating the law and setting both yourself and the animal up for trouble. Legalities aside, it's often not a good idea to keep animals you find in the wild, and you should just release the critter where you found it; ultimately, all concerned will probably be happier if you satisfy your herp desires with a captive-bred animal. However, most of us caught garter snakes as kids and kept them, and are in no position to take a holier-than-thou stance against keeping such animals. If you want to keep something that crawled out from under your azaleas, make sure you've identified it correctly, and *then* post asking for care guidelines. A single posting saying "I don't know what this is, but how do I take care of it?" will not get many useful responses. ------------------------------ Subject: <6.3> I just bought a <whatever species>. How do I take care of it? Everyone would much rather see this question in the form "I'm going to buy a <whatever>...", but it doesn't always happen that way. Some species of herps are quite difficult to keep and suited only for people who really want a time sink, or who have lots of experience, or who have a ready source of some exotic food item; unfortunately, your average pet store doesn't know which species these are, and so, every so often, a new herper asks something like "I just bought a Nile crocodile. The pet store said it would be pretty easy to take care of, but how do I do it?" Regrettably, in the case of a Nile crocodile, the only realistic answer is to find someone who *really* knows about working with large crocodilians, and hope they want to take it off your hands. While this example is a *little* exaggerated, it's quite common for unsuspecting people to end up in over their heads with a difficult species, and the herp almost invariably suffers for it. For this reason, it's vitally important to learn about the needs of an animal *before* you go out and buy one! But let's suppose you already have your Nile crocodile, you really like it and are determined to do whatever it takes to keep it happy and healthy, and you think you might have the resources to do it. In this case, go ahead and post; you may take some heat, but the best response is probably "Yeah, I realize I should have researched it first. I'll do better next time, but now I want to learn how to handle the situation I've got." People will respect that. ------------------------------ Subject: <6.4> Is it OK to order herps through the mail? Over the net? Sure; in fact, it's widely done, mostly because mail-order dealers sell animals much more cheaply than pet stores (there are fewer middlemen). There are some caveats about mail-order, though, as you might expect. You can't see the animal before you buy it (though you may be able to get snapshots, especially of unusual or expensive animals); you have to trust the business to be honest; and you face the risks of shipping (though a reputable dealer should at least guarantee live arrival). For these reasons, it's a good idea to stick to mail-order dealers about which you know something. Glades Herp is probably the best-known operation of this nature, but they, like most of their compatriots, have been the subject of some strongly worded complaints on the net. Because no business seems to be able to satisfy everybody, this FAQ takes no position on the recommendation of specific mail-order houses. Note that, while many herps can be mailed, US law prohibits sending snakes by any means except air freight. The cost of air freight is rather high, more than enough to offset the price savings on a small order; therefore, it's fairly common for several people to combine small orders. As always, exercise caution when buying anything over the net. On occasion, people have been ripped off purchasing herps from net folks; in particular, there was a recent fiasco in which someone offered animals for sale at a very low price, then sent random unpleasant objects (rotting vegetables, etc.) instead of the herps people ordered. It was later reported on the net that the scam artist in question had been arrested on a variety of mail-fraud-type charges, hopefully ending his herp-fraud career. Because of the occasional bad apples, it is a very good idea to check out the reputation of anyone you're considering buying from...*before* you trust them with your money. ==============================================================================