Only a few hundred of the world's 3,000 snakes are venomous. In the United States, only rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths, and coral snakes are poisonous. More Americans die each year from bee and wasp stings than from snake bites.
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A Guide To Your First Leopard Gecko
Written by Stacy Mantle
Tuesday, 15 October 2013 00:00
For those who are new to the world of reptiles, leopard geckos can be the perfect starter pet. They are docile, friendly, naturally hypo-allergenic and very easy to care for. We've compiled the perfect starter guide to introduce you to these unique pets.
Where do they come from?
Leopard geckos are native to deserts from the Middle East to India. They live in semi-arid areas in small territories characterized by a single male and several females. The male is very territorial will defend his home from other males. When two males come across each other in the wild (or in captivity), they will rapidly tum their tails and circle each other, trying to intimidate their opponent. Though they do not have teeth, they do have a strong bite and will attack each other until one gives up and retreats. This is important to know when you keep them in captivity - never keep males in the same cage.
Leopard geckos are unique among geckos in that they possess eyelids, a feature not commonly found in other gecko species. While they do have eyelids, they do not eyelashes, so you may see them lick their eyes in order to keep them clean.
Whereas tree-dwelling geckos have special toe pads that allow them to walk up vertical surfaces, leopard geckos dwell on the ground and lack this adaptation. Unlike other geckos in the pet trade, leopard geckos are friendly and will be content to sit on your arm with you while you watch television.
Tip: Never house two or more males in the same habitat.
While desert tortoise numbers appear to be declining in the wild, the number of tortoises being held in captivity is increasing at an alarming rate. The Arizona Game and Fish Department, through its Tortoise Adoption Program, has been working for 30 years to educate the public about desert tortoises. Two of the elements of the program that are considered essential to avoiding overpopulation of captive desert tortoises are:
Never remove a tortoise from the wild – it’s illegal
Never allow captive tortoises to breed
Just like cats and dogs, there are currently more desert tortoises available for adoption in Arizona than there are homes willing to have one as a pet. Once captive, desert tortoises cannot be released back into the wild as captive animals can pass on upper respiratory tract disease or pathogens to wild tortoise populations.
“Without the public’s help in keeping wild tortoises wild and preventing backyard breeding of captive tortoises, Arizona has the potential to end up with a conservation challenge similar to the one being faced by the closure of the tortoise conservation center in Nevada,” said Cristina Jones, Arizona Game and Fish’s turtle program coordinator. “The public must do their part to help this iconic desert species.”
Monsoon season brings one of the southwest desert’s most iconic creatures out of their burrows and out-and-about across the state. Desert tortoises are now in their most active season, and Arizona’s increased human population creates more risks for these slow-moving symbols of the Sonoran desert.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department asks the public to follow these important guidelines if they encounter a desert tortoise:
Do not remove a tortoise from its habitat. Taking a wild tortoise home is illegal in Arizona. Additionally, most tortoises stay in the same small area their entire lives, so if you move a tortoise to a new location it will not know where to find food and shelter and will likely die.
Do not release a captive tortoise into the wild. Captive desert tortoises cannot be released into the wild as they can pass diseases to wild populations and displace wild tortoises. It is also illegal to release captive animals into the wild.
Keep dogs away from both captive and wild desert tortoises. Even the most gentle dog can pose a serious threat to a tortoise.
If you come across a desert tortoise crossing a busy road, if traffic safely permits it, pick the tortoise up and gently move it to the other side of the road. Carry the animal so that it is level to the ground, and move it in the same direction it was headed.
There are many legends surrounding the life of St. Patrick. Of course, the one that we're most interested in is his reputed "mass exodus" of snakes from Ireland. Here's the short version:
It is believed that in 441 A.D., St. Patrick fasted and prayed for 40 days at the summit of Croagh Patrick ("the Reek") in County Mayo. During this time, as blackbirds assaulted him, St. Patrick continued to pray and ring a bell as a proclamation of his faith.
In answer to his prayers, an angel appeared to tell him that the Irish people would retain their Christian faith for all time. Today, more than 100,000 pilgrims visit the Reek annually to follow in St. Patrick's footsteps. It was while he was atop the mountain that St. Patrick drove all the snakes in Ireland to the sea, effectively saving Ireland from some kind of snake revolution.
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