June 4, 2013
There are only ten days left until our new exhibit, Nature Lab, opens. Last week, I introduced you to some babies that are moving in, and this week I want to introduce you to rescued contraband! This is Obsidian, our new Southern Pacific Rattlesnake, Crotalus oreganus helleri.
Obsidian chilling with his morning paper! Snakes, particularly rattlesnakes, are often maligned and misunderstood. But hold on a minute, any creature that is cultured enough to enjoy the Los Angeles Times should be given a second chance – surely. Let me give you the back story first; Obsidian is a rescued pet from a drug bust that took place in Riverside. Although, his previous owners were purported drug dealers, he was extremely well cared for. So much so, that when the police gave the owner the option of having the rattlesnake put down or being adopted, he chose adoption. Okay, so maybe the fact that an alleged drug dealer cared about rattlesnakes isn't convincing you to have a change of heart. Here are some other reasons to give Obsidian, and all other rattlers, a second chance: 1) We feed Obsidian 1-2 rats every two weeks. He is currently 5 years old and will likely live for another 20 years. That means he has the potential to eat 1,300 rats in his lifetime. Imagine a world where rat populations were not kept in check by natural predators? 2) Although Obsidian isn't part of the National Institute of Health's funded Natural Toxins Research Center some of his cousins are! Scientists at this institution milk venom from snakes reared on site and send them to researchers who are developing medicines to fight medical conditions such as cancers, strokes, and high blood pressure. Who knows what health benefits Southern Pacific Rattlesnake venom might have. 3) Rattlesnakes were one of this Nations first symbols! They appear on Gadsden's flag, with the moniker "Don't Tread on Me." As a Brit, I saw this flag and thought it was an environmental statement. Oh dear Lila, how wrong you can be sometimes!
4) Last but not least, they are just plain cool – I mean how many other animals can grow their own rattle! Most people think that this rattle is only used as a warning device, but this isn't always the case. Leslie Gordon, our Vertebrate Live Animal Program Manager, related a nice little story to me. As she was heading out for the evening a few weeks ago, she stopped to check on Obi (that's what she calls him for short). He was curled up sleeping. He opened his mouth in a yawning gesture and seemed to stretch. As he did this he gently rattled his rattle and then settled down to sleep. Now if that doesn't seem cute to you, I don't know what will. Maybe picturing him doing the Times' Sunday crossword puzzle?
April 27, 2012
This last Saturday we held the second annual Lizard Hunt at Malibu Creek State Park! Dr. Greg Pauly, Museum Herpetologist, and Dr. Bobby Espinoza, CSUN Herpetologist, took a group of 25 lucky people out to observe, catch, and identify local herps.
Are you looking at me?Western Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentatlisHere is a list of all the herps we encountered:Western Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentalisCommon Side-blotched Lizard, Uta stansburianaTiger Whiptail, Aspidoscelis tigrisWestern Skink, Plestiodon skiltonianusSouthern Pacific Rattlesnake, Crotalus oreganus helleriGophersnake, Pituophis cateniferStriped Racer, Masticophis lateralisPacific Treefrog, Pseudacris regilla (heard calling)American Bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana (heard calling)
Dr. Greg Pauly lets an aspiring herpetologist touch a Western Fence Lizard
Dr. Bobby Espinoza shows off a striped racer, Masticophis lateralisOne of the primary goals of this field trip is to increase participation in our Lost Lizards of Los Angeles (LLOLA) project. Currently we have about 250 submissions, but for us to be able to do anything interesting with the data, we need at least 2,000 submissions. Hopefully we were able to inspire at least 25 more people to participate at this field trip. Are you inspired? One last thing for all you ultra herp-nerds—you can now get your daily herp dose by visiting the Museum's new herpetology section facebook page. Go get 'em Tiger Whiptail!