I'm a herpetologist by training but a naturalist at heart. My masters thesis is looking into the Panamint alligator lizard, Elgaria panamintina. In particular I'm focusing on identifying its range and testing out a variety of novel techniques which may benefit the field of herpetology as a whole. I post things that interest me and often post updates on what I'm doing in the vertebrate museum, in the field, or in the lab.
"The long-distance relocation of ‘nuisance’ animals may appear to benefit both people and wildlife, but often the animals end up dead. Research suggests such human/animal conflicts are best solved with short-distance relocations instead.
I’s a common phenomenon around the world: when humans observe wildlife in their neighborhood that they consider a nuisance, they call government wildlife officials to have the animal removed and transported elsewhere, often great distances away. It makes people happy to think they are ridding themselves of a potential problem without killing the animal. What they don’t know is that they may be killing the animal after all, and it can be a long, slow death.
That is the finding of a study by University of Rhode Island graduate student Anne Devan-Song, who studied the conflicts between people and snakes in Hong Kong, a region of high population density and high snake density and diversity.
"Human-animal conflicts happen everywhere, but translocation of the animals should be the last option considered," said Devan-Song, who collaborated on the research with URI Assistant Professor Nancy Karraker. "It should only be used if it has been proven to work."
Relocation of wildlife appears to be successful with some species, including some larger mammals and tortoises, but Devan-Song says that it doesn’t work for snakes and it does not appear to be very successful with many other small animals.
The URI student studied the relocation of bamboo pit vipers , a small, slow-moving venomous snake commonly found in rural and suburban regions of Southeast Asia. They eat rodents, lizards and frogs and are highly adaptable to a wide variety of habitats.
In her research experiment, she placed transmitters on resident snakes and on snakes that had been relocated to a national park far from where they were captured. Most of the relocated snakes died within a year.
“Snakes know their home range really well, so if they’re dropped off someplace else, they take off and make all sorts of unusual movements that aren’t typical of snakes,” Devan-Song said. “The more they move, the less time they spend eating, reproducing and finding hiding places. Movement is a good indication of how well the animals were doing, and the relocated snakes moved a lot and didn’t do well.”
Most of the relocated snakes were killed by other animals or run over by vehicles, and Devan-Song said that some appeared as if they had just given up and died a slow death from stress.
"Long-distance translocation is clearly not the answer to the snake-human conflict. We shouldn’t be wasting time and money on it," she said."
This! Just because your not actually killing the problem animal doesn’t mean you’re doing it any favors.
It’s not just snakes, relocating harms a wide range of wild animals, simply causing them more stress, suffering, and ultimately death. Similar results have been found in studies of relocated foxes, for example. The animals become highly stressed and confused and usually end up being hit by cars or attacked by other animals and thus died shortly after release.
Wild animals know their territories as well as you know your home. They know exactly where to find food, water and shelter and what dangers to be aware of. When you abandon them in an unfamiliar area they have no idea where to find those things, causing them stress and making their movements erratic, putting them at much higher risk of death. You are also dumping those animals into another animal’s territory, thus causing the resident to fight the intruder to protect their area.
In the UK it is actually illegal to relocate wildlife unless you have a special licence to do so (such as for young orphaned animals with no set territory.) Problem animals, however, cannot be relocated as by law it’s deemed crueler to relocate then to simply cull them.
Similar research has been done in the US with rattlesnakes with similar results.
Short-distance (temporary) translocation is ok, but long-distance doesn’t work.
((this also applies to field herping, if you insist on moving an animal for a photograph, return it to the EXACT same spot you found it or you’ll essentially have killed it))
Are bloods, black bloods, short tail, etc classified as Python curtus spp.? Or are they Python sp.?
In other words, in the reptile keeping community, do we say Python curtus brongersmai or do we say Python brongersmai when referring to Malaysian reds and such?
Well I don’t know much about taxonomy and classification because that’s not really my area, I’m just a nerd with fancy snake cages and pets. However in the ~keeping~ community I usually just refer to it as python brongersmai, python curtus, python breitensteini. I feel like typing out “python curtus brongersmai” “python curtus curtus” and “python curtus breitensteini” would take too much effort especially since it’s already well known that the three are related.
If anything, when I am feeling fancy, I’ll tag then as “Python c. ______” but usually I just go for python-whateverthesubspeciesis
Keogh et al. 2001 (article is behind a paywall, but the abstract is free) found adequate evidence to elevate the subspecies to full species status:
Python brongersmai, P. breitensteini and P. curtus.
More information about Pythonidae’s recent taxonomic updates (as of 2010) can be found here (no paywall).
As for referencing species by scientific name: the first mention should be the full name either italicized or underlined, ie Python curtus, then each repeated mention thereafter can have a shortened genus, ie. P. curtus, if there are subspecies after the first full mention you can shorten it to P.c. curtus (except that’s not a real subspecies anymore).
NEVER leave out the epithet (the second half of the scientific name, ie. brongersmai of Python brongersmai) when referring to a subspecies as it leads to confusion and is incredibly inaccurate. Never ever do that. Bad. very bad.