Recently, we volunteers at RARN came across an old-style cardboard display put together for reptile events, discussing RARN’s work taking in sick, abandoned and injured animals. It dated back at least 25 years! Reading some of the descriptions of animals RARN had taken in was hard, and we feel for how difficult it must have been for volunteers to deal with mistreated creatures back then. One surrendered juvenile green iguana had been kept in deplorable conditions: “Between being too cold, and the pieces of vegetable [fed to her] being too big, she could not eat and became emaciated. When rescued, her skin was entirely black and crusty, with scabbed-over, infected scratches.” But because RARN did its job, the animal was well cared for and had a happy outcome. “After two weeks of proper food and heat, her skin split and shed. Two sheds later, she was a healthy bright green.” Here’s a picture or two of the display. We’ll return to the past work RARN has done in future posts!
For sheer newsy entertainment, this piece from Australia truly has it all. Impressively hefty, well-fed snakes? Check. In a duel over a female? Check. Not stopping their battle until they crashed through the ceiling of a house into the kitchen? Check. Causing no end of consternation to the homeowners by then going elsewhere in the house to cool off their ardor-driven enmity? Got it! Fortunately, no carpet pythons seem to have been harmed in the making of this article. A bit of Labor Day levity for those who love reptiles. The full article may be found here.
Well, the report is out and it’s clear: the venerable tuataras of New Zealand have good genes! We know this because the full genome sequence of these reptiles (whose ancestors were around when dinosaurs roamed the earth) has just been published. What’s amazing in the recent study discussed in the journal Nature (and reported on by other agencies, such as syfy) is not merely the release of the genome sequence, as noteworthy as that accomplishment is. It is what enabled the groundbreaking study: the unprecedented amount of cooperation between scientists and the Maori people of New Zealand, traditional guardians of these creatures long considered a “special treasure.” The genomic sequence of these winsome reptiles offers a greater understanding of their biology and evolution, but it also holds much promise for future conservation efforts of multiple species. Bravo!
Shortly after the Covid lockdown, RARN got a phone call from a worried resident of Woodland Hills. The person had found a gravely injured turtle—an adult female map turtle, “Mappie”, to be precise—in their front driveway. They had no idea what to do but found RARN and soon brought the animal in. Mappie’s front feet had been chewed off by some predator, probably a raccoon. She was no doubt in pain and would probably have died if the neighbor had not contacted RARN.
Sabine Bradley, RARN’s president, had cared for similar wounds on a red-eared slider before and knew what to do. Mappie was put on the antibiotic Baytril (using the correct dose for her size) and was kept spotlessly clean. During the day Mappie was brought out of the water and put into a container with a towel to let her dry out and give the wounds time to heal. Slowly but surely (well, she IS a turtle!) Mappie’s injured tissues dried up and fell off. She was getting better.
A few weeks later, because the neighbor had put out flyers about finding a stray turtle, RARN got another call: Mappie’s owner, who lived next door to the neighbor! He had a large outdoor pond with a number of turtles and was horrified that his turtle had been taken or had wandered away. Sabine told him she was happy to give Mappie back but she could not release her in her present condition; she was still too injured and needed continued doses of antibiotic. The owner was content to wait until his turtle was ready to come home.
That just happened last weekend! Five months after Mappie had her very sad adventure, she had a joyous homecoming. And she came home to a brand-new, beautiful indoor pond. Her owner decided it was too risky to have his animals subject to predators outside.
Here is a picture of the happy reunion!
A very happy World Lizard Day to all of you from all of us here at RARN!
Please remember to hug your lizard today. (If they are the kind that actually likes hugs. Otherwise try chucking them under the chin or a friendly tongue lick!) And give them an extra one from us.