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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
Xref: news rec.answers:37599 news.answers:123244 rec.pets.herp:133874
An Introduction to rec.pets.herp
Part 2/3: Other Resources
Bill East <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This document is copyright 1995-1998 by Bill East, and may be
freely under many circumstances; the details are explained in Part 1
3.1). Some sections were written by other authors, who are also
This document is provided as-is, with no expressed or implied warranty
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
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
making WWW pages. This section is somewhat biased toward WWW resources,
part because of the ease of searching the Web, in part because other
of access to these resources are pretty spotty. Anyone with knowledge
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
of these resources will be gathered. Watch this space for updates.
Adam Britton keeps a Web page of crocodilian resources at
Liza Daly maintains the Herp Net Resources FAQ at
Melissa Kaplan maintains a *large* collection of care sheets and
articles on her herp page, at
Mike Greathouse maintains the The Manasota Herpetological Society at
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
Jennifer Swofford has a herp page with its own domain name, with *lots*
links to other online resources and offline information:
All these sites, and many others, contain pointers to additional WWW
It's possible to cruise around the Web, restricting your attention to
and turn blue in the face before you run out of places to go. A good
nexus of pointers resides on the Colorado Herpetological Society's
The Herpetology section of the Virtual Library resides at
and contains a wide variety of links; most of them are of a more
bent than the typical hobbyist's page.
There is a mailing list devoted to snake keeping, called slither.
is available at the URL
and a subscription can be had by sending a piece of email saying
slither" to email@example.com. It is best in this and all cases to
the related information prior to subscribing!
A UK-specific Usenet newsgroup can be found at uk.rec.pets.misc. Other
specific newsgroups may be available as well; check your local
Subject: <5.2> What are some good offline resources?
This is a big question. There are quite a few books about herps of
sorts, and they range from stellar to awful. One particularly stellar
is _The Completely Illustrated Atlas of Reptiles and Amphibians for the
Terrarium_, by Obst, Richter, Jacob, et al. (TFH Publications Inc.,
titanic red tome with brief entries on a huge variety of subjects, often
called "the Big Red Book". Also, Advanced Vivarium Systems publishes a
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
in herps, in both the US and Europe.
There are several periodicals devoted to herpetoculture (and many
journals dealing with herpetology); these include the _Vivarium_ (the
of the American Federation of Herpetoculturists), _Reptiles_, and
Amphibian_. There has been an outstanding publication called _Captive
Breeding_, but there are rumors of its demise. This FAQ takes no
on the relative merits of these publications; all of them have printed
stuff and bad stuff, and it's a good idea to seek independent
of any information before entrusting the well-being of your animals to
All the above print resources are in English. Other languages have
own bodies of herpetocultural literature; the author's familiarity with
is extremely limited, and suggestions for important sources---especially
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
called the _Zoological Record_ that indexes zoological journals by
many of the articles it references will be unreadable by a lay audience,
others can be a very useful source of captive-care information. In
university libraries can order copies of articles in hard-to-find
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
include lists of herp societies. In addition, the omnipresent WWW page
Liza Daly contains Peter Donohue's herp organization FAQ:
Not satisfied? Melissa Kaplan (MelissK@aol.com) maintains lists of U.S.
organizations by state, and will cheerfully send copies to people who
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
pet store that pays a lot of attention to reptiles, ask there. If all
fails, you might have to start a society of your own. Or you could
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
on the Web, and plenty of peripheral documents. A good central resource
for iguana information is Liza Daly's iguana page:
which includes pointers to lots of documents.
This page also includes some information on the iguana mailing list. To
subscribe, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org 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
iguana-related question. There are a *lot* of pet iguanas out in the
and much discussion of them on the net, and the chances that your
already been asked and answered are pretty good.
There are many books on iguanas; most of them aren't very good, and
keepers on the net say that none of them are really good enough to
As of early 1996, there are more books in the works that show some
however, the online care sheets remain the iguana keeper's strongest
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
to care sheets for specific species. If you can't find it from the
sources, ask; odds are that someone can give you at least basic care
Subject: <5.6> What zoos have good herp collections?
Perhaps surprisingly, lots of them. In the United States, leaders
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
Zoo gets extra brownie points for having many snakes in the children's
A number of zoos in Europe have outstanding herp collections, often
with great naturalistic settings; the Rotterdam Zoo is a world leader,
the author wishes to take this opportunity to plug the zoo in Frankfurt
At least three zoos in the US have tuataras. The St. Louis Zoo has some
are said to be off-exhibit at this writing, and the Dallas and Toledo
have recently opened exhibits. The London Zoo is now reported to have a
of tuataras on display; the only other exhibit that I know of outside
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
enough to find a source, are you sure you want one? Hard-to-find
are often hard to find precisely because they're very difficult to keep,
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
the breeder/mail-order FAQ, available on Liza Daly's WWW page, at the
Many large herp dealers and prominent breeders advertise in the pages of
herp magazines like the ones listed in question 5.2. Local herp
are also a good source of pointers, since many of them have members who
attend conventions regularly and stay abreast of others' breeding
For the record, this FAQ *strongly* discourages the keeping of venomous
reptiles by any amateurs but the most expert and cautious. Many
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
an escaped animal. (And there is *always* a chance of escape; what if
were an earthquake and all your tanks were shattered?) The prudent
to leave the venomous critters to the wild and the zoo, and go there
feel the urge to admire them.
Subject: <6.2> How do I identify this creature in my yard? Can I keep
It's hard to describe an animal accurately enough for a positive ID in
Try a field guide first, since you can look back and forth from the book
the animal. (This author, based in North America, favors the Audubon
others prefer the Peterson guides for their range maps and
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
a conclusive ID, then post a detailed description of the animal, along
any useful information you gathered from the guide ("I thought it might
a Flipplezorb's tree frog, but it doesn't have a puce belly"). Someone
probably post either a tentative ID or a request for specific
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.
is one reason why a positive ID is very important; you don't want to
yourself inadvertently violating the law and setting both yourself and
animal up for trouble.
Legalities aside, it's often not a good idea to keep animals you find in
wild, and you should just release the critter where you found it;
all concerned will probably be happier if you satisfy your herp desires
a captive-bred animal. However, most of us caught garter snakes as kids
kept them, and are in no position to take a holier-than-thou stance
keeping such animals. If you want to keep something that crawled out
under your azaleas, make sure you've identified it correctly, and *then*
asking for care guidelines. A single posting saying "I don't know what
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
Everyone would much rather see this question in the form "I'm going to
a <whatever>...", but it doesn't always happen that way.
Some species of herps are quite difficult to keep and suited only for
who really want a time sink, or who have lots of experience, or who have
ready source of some exotic food item; unfortunately, your average pet
doesn't know which species these are, and so, every so often, a new
asks something like "I just bought a Nile crocodile. The pet store said
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
to find someone who *really* knows about working with large
hope they want to take it off your hands. While this example is a
exaggerated, it's quite common for unsuspecting people to end up in over
heads with a difficult species, and the herp almost invariably suffers
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
and are determined to do whatever it takes to keep it happy and healthy,
you think you might have the resources to do it. In this case, go ahead
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,
I want to learn how to handle the situation I've got." People will
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).
are some caveats about mail-order, though, as you might expect. You
see the animal before you buy it (though you may be able to get
especially of unusual or expensive animals); you have to trust the
to be honest; and you face the risks of shipping (though a reputable
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
of this nature, but they, like most of their compatriots, have been the
subject of some strongly worded complaints on the net. Because no
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
by any means except air freight. The cost of air freight is rather
more than enough to offset the price savings on a small order;
it's fairly common for several people to combine small orders.
As always, exercise caution when buying anything over the net. On
people have been ripped off purchasing herps from net folks; in
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
that the scam artist in question had been arrested on a variety of
mail-fraud-type charges, hopefully ending his herp-fraud career.
the occasional bad apples, it is a very good idea to check out the
of anyone you're considering buying from...*before* you trust them with