Posts Tagged ‘reptiles’

by , Keeper
I'm extremely excited to be working at the Museum since October 2010. My favorite part of this job- besides working with the animals- is listening to all of the Keeper stories, I hear a new one each day. In my spare time I enjoy hiking, belly dancing, and vegan cooking.
I work Sunday through Thursday. I can be found mostly behind the scenes or training the Ring Tail Lemurs.

Animal Programs

January 28th, 2013

The Animal Department does several programs a week.

We have a daily 2pm Explore the Wild Keeper Talk, which changes between Bears, Wolves, and Lemurs each week. At these programs we talk to visitors about our animals, wild animals, what kind of food they eat, or any other specifics you’d like to know.

We also have a Farm Yard Program at 4:30pm all days but Thursday. At these programs we close the Farm Yard which includes feeding the animals and shutting down the barns, here you can ask Keepers questions and even help feed hay to a couple animals.

And a special Reptile Program on Thursday’s at 4pm in Carolina Wildlife. At this program we talk about our exhibit reptiles or any you have questions about and we feed our snakes and alligators.

Keeper Kent doing the 4pm Thurs Reptile Program

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by , Director
I've been at the Museum sooooo long - longer than many of our interns have been alive. I do a little bit of everything as part of my job: care for the animals, work with the keepers and other staff, spend time with guests. Lucky me!
I spend a lot of time behind-the-scenes, or here after hours, but if you really want to see me, you'll have to sign-up for a behind-the-scenes program.

QuikPost: Headshot

March 13th, 2011

I walked by Mudsy and Water snake’s tank the other day and saw them both at the same time, easily. I thought I would share my photo. See a video of the water snake eating - Marilyn shared it with you in February.

water snake and Mudsy.

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  1. Are those Venus fly-traps in there as well?

    Posted by Wendy
  2. Director Comment :

    They are, and they aren’t Wendy. (plastic venus fly traps).

    Posted by Sherry Samuels
  3. Glad to see those two are still living the good life!

    Posted by LarrvB

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by , Director
I've been at the Museum sooooo long - longer than many of our interns have been alive. I do a little bit of everything as part of my job: care for the animals, work with the keepers and other staff, spend time with guests. Lucky me!
I spend a lot of time behind-the-scenes, or here after hours, but if you really want to see me, you'll have to sign-up for a behind-the-scenes program.

Canebrake Rattlesnake Tubing

December 10th, 2010

We’re hands-off with our venomous snakes at the Museum. What you see in the photos below is “snake tubing”. Kent is holding the snake tube with the canebrake rattlesnake inside. The tube itself is a hard plastic, about 3 feet in length. The most important factor is the diameter of the tube. You want the diameter of the tube to be only slightly larger than the diameter of the snake. This prevents the snake from being able to turn around in the tube.

It’s a two person job the way we do it here at the Museum. Kent and I do it together. We start by putting the snake into a garbage can. My job is to then hook and encourage the snake into the tube. When the snake is far enough in the tube (when Kent and I both agree that the snake can not jut out backwards) Kent grabs the snake. It’s important that he grab the snake and the end of the tube where the snake is entering. This prevents the snake from being able to move forward or backwards.

At this point, we can now safely get a close up look at the snake, even touching his tail end need be. We have some small slits in the tube as well in case we need to do some poking around in areas closer to the head.

Canebrake and Kent

See a great video of the canebrake rattlesnake shedding.

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by , Keeper
Although a native tarheel, I came to the museum from Texas, where I taught Biology courses at a small college. In graduate school I studied the behavior and ecology of marine organisms (mostly crabs, lobsters and sea turtles).
You can find me in the Animal Department Monday-Thursday. Fridays I work for the Department of Innovation and Learning all day.

Trip to the National Zoological Park

March 22nd, 2009

On Friday I spent much of my day at the National Zoological Park in Washington, DC which is part of the Smithsonian Museum Complex. I spent most of time getting glimpses of some of the areas where the Animal Keepers work. I started my morning in the Reptile Discovery Center where I learned some helpful hints on exhibit design and modifications and saw there emergency system for dealing with venomous snake bites.

As you can see from the pictures, an alarm can be activated by an injured person which sets in motion the response plan. Designated staff retrieve the appropriate antivenin and ride with the victim to the hospital in a Park Police vehicle.

I left the reptile area and traveled to the Amazonia Habitat which recreates the lush tropical habitat of the world’s greatest river system. While I was there I got to help feed the giant arapaima fish. The fish were over 6 feet long and weighed hundreds of pounds. The fish vacuumed in food chunks with a giant sucking sound! I learned a lot about their aquatic filtration systems and also got see some of their food prep areas and cricket housing techniques.

As I departed Amazonia for my lunch break I saw an Orangutan making his morning commute across the O line, an amazing overhead wire that connects different living areas.

My final stop was along the Asia Trail where I passed by Pandas and fishing cats on my way to meet a keeper at the Sloth bear exhibit. The sloth bear habitat and house are only a couple of years old and very nice. I got to meet the very charming Merlin in the bear house. He demonstrated the amazing suction power of sloth bears by slurping up mealworms from a long PVC pipe.

I finished my busy Friday by jumping on the metro and heading downtown to the National Aquarium. I was lucky enough to see some of the aquatic support spaces at the aquarium and get some ideas for our own exhibits at the Museum of Life and Science.

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by , Keeper
Although a native tarheel, I came to the museum from Texas, where I taught Biology courses at a small college. In graduate school I studied the behavior and ecology of marine organisms (mostly crabs, lobsters and sea turtles).
You can find me in the Animal Department Monday-Thursday. Fridays I work for the Department of Innovation and Learning all day.

BWOM: Accuracy or Precision?

March 6th, 2009

This month’s Big Word of the Month post involves two words that are not very big but have very specific meanings in science.

Take a look at our collections of hygrometers/thermometers from the reptile room.

The electronic and analog meters are in very close agreement on temperature, all around 79°F. There is a little more disagreement in the measurements of relative humidity. The electronic ones are in the 20′s while the analog one is reading around 50%.

So which one is correct? We need to buy several more of these and we need to know which one is the best.

The best instrument for any measurement is one that is both accurate and precise. Accuracy is how close your measured value is to the actual value. Precision refers to how close together repeated measurements of the same value are.

Consider the following scenario:

We weigh the farmyard pig with one scale and get the following values: 146, 151, 138
Using another scale we take weights at the same time and get: 135, 136, 134

If the pig’s real weight is 145 pounds, which scale gave you better results? The seemingly obvious answer is the first scale because it was almost right once and off by 6 or 7 pounds the other times. However, the second scale would be much more useful if you are trying to track small weight changes in the pig. If a Veterinarian told us that the pig’s weight was fine but we need to note any changes of more than 5 pounds, the first scale would not be very useful. In this example the first scale is more accurate but less precise than the second one.

So where does that leave us with the reptile thermometers/hygrometers. Luckily, I know someone at Duke that has a very expensive and carefully calibrated growth chamber for plants. It measures temperature and humidity very accurately and precisely. I’m going to take all our hygrometer/thermometers to the chamber and see which one is best.

We’ll probably end up using one of the small electronic ones. It turns out that almost all cheap hygrometer/thermometers use the same electronics to measure humidity and the accuracy of that circuit is about plus or minus 4°F. Don’t discount the analog meter completely, it has two advantages. It does not require batteries and it has a calibration screw on the back so you can adjust the reading.

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  1. I like this post, Larry, very informative and interesting!

    Posted by Marilyn

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by , Keeper
Although a native tarheel, I came to the museum from Texas, where I taught Biology courses at a small college. In graduate school I studied the behavior and ecology of marine organisms (mostly crabs, lobsters and sea turtles).
You can find me in the Animal Department Monday-Thursday. Fridays I work for the Department of Innovation and Learning all day.

Big Word of the Month: Parthenogenesis

December 4th, 2008

Parthenogenesis is a word of Greek origin that roughly translates into “virgin creation”. You may remember learning about asexual reproduction at some point and recall that it involves an organism producing offspring without mating or exchanging genetic material with another individual. Parthenogenesis is a special type of asexual reproduction seen in organisms that produce seeds or embryos. You might be surprised to learn how widespread this type of reproduction is in the Animal Kingdom.

In the Invertebrate world (90% of the Animal Kingdom), parthenogenesis is widespread. In many ant, bee and wasp species, unfertilized eggs will develop. Queens in these groups sometimes produce other queens through parthenogenesis. The water flea Daphnia is a crustacean species that switches between parthenogenesis and sexual reproduction depending environmental conditions. This species has been very valuable to biologists studying the evolution of reproductive behavior.

Photo of water flea, Daphnia, with eggs from Wikicommons.

Parthenogenesis is also observed in Reptiles and has been well studied in whip-tailed lizards in the American Southwest. Individuals in this species are all female and produce eggs that develop into genetically identical females. Interestingly, whip-tails display a pseudo-mating behavior in which one female plays the role that a male would play. The behavior stimulates hormone production and increases the fertility of females of involved. More recently, parthenogenesis has been observed in Komodo dragons.

Parthenogenesis is also observed in several species of fish including sharks. There have been several cases in the news recently of female sharks living in public aquaria producing offspring with no males around. This was quite a shock to aquarium staff because it was thought sharks did not reproduce this way!

Links to shark stories:

Hammerhead shark parthenogenesis
Virgin shark birth at Virginia Aquarium (PDF file)

Parthenogenesis has not been observed in mammals and several aspects of fertilization and reproduction appear to make the process unlikely. The process can be initiated in the laboratory but is not common. Note that laboratory cloning of animals is not the same as parthenogenesis and has been accomplished on several occasions.

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by , Keeper
I have been working at the museum since 2003, and I feel fortunate to have a job where I can start my day with amazing animals surrounding me. I enjoy camping, hiking and rock climbing in my spare time when the weather is nice.
I work Tuesday through Saturday and spend a lot of time behind the scenes, but you might find me at a public program or feeding the farmyard animals in the afternoon.

Congrats On Your New Condominiums!

January 27th, 2008

Last Thursday, our Bearded Dragons moved to new homes. No, they didn’t leave the museum, they just left their old terrariums and moved into Reptile Condominiums! These new cages are complete with many different platforms and perches, large sticks for climbing, reptile hammocks, small logs for hiding, all the calci-sand they could ever want, and even their own trap door that leads up to the “second floor” where they can bask under heat lamps and UVB lights. Yes, that’s right, these new homes have it all and our Bearded Dragons have really taken well to them!

Don’t get me wrong, though, the homes that they used to live in weren’t shabby by any means. But one of the perks for the animal keepers in getting these new cages is that we no longer have to move the Bearded Dragons to a separate sunning cage in the summer when we want to put them outside to soak up some sun. Now they can just be wheeled out in their own cages, which means its a good change for everyone involved.

As you can tell from the picture above these cages are pretty large, 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide to be exact. So far the Bearded Dragons have been using every inch of them as they climb to different levels, bask on different perches and even jump from place to place sometimes. It’s really good to see they have adjusted so well, because we spent a lot of time getting the new cages set up to be Bearded Dragon dream homes.

You may be wondering why you have never seen our Bearded Dragons on exhibit before. That’s because they live behind the scenes in our Reptile Holding Room where they can be used by educators for school programs or even visit a birthday party here at the museum. The picture to the left is of “Beardy Jr.” basking under a heat lamp. You can learn much more about Bearded Dragons in a previous post where “Godzilla” was the Creature Feature of the Month.

Want to see more animals that live behind the scenes? Click here for another previous post.

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  1. And here I thought the housing market was in a slump!Thanks for making the beardy move happen, Marilyn.

    Posted by kristen

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