Do snakes make you nervous?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Seems like the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in New Zealand gets a little nervous when we talk of snakes, especially as New Zealand doesn't have any!

This week it was an 80cm boa constrictor curled up in a shipping container of ornamental palms from Guatemala, discovered by Auckland port workers.

In July a 19-year-old man was jailed for smuggling in two brown and cream mottled corn snakes from Bangkok in his pants.

And, in May 2008, the stowaway was a 55cm ground boa from Indonesia or Papua New Guinea which made its way to Tauranga underneath an empty shipping container from Vanuatu.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry says it is no longer unusual for live
snakes to make it to New Zealand. Quarantine inspectors from around New Zealand are being sent each year to a snake catcher's course in Adelaide, South Australia, as the frequency of such discoveries increases.

Inspectors are equipped with snake hooks, tongs, gloves, goggles, catch bags and first-aid gear. Detector dogs trained to scent reptiles are available if required. When discovered the snakes are put down immediately.

The Ministry seems nervous about these incursions and perhaps with good cause. New Zealand already provides a damp, temperate climate conducive to snakes.

"Snakes are excluded by law from entering New Zealand. There are no exceptions which is why they are not found in zoos, research establishments or accompanying visiting entertainers," says Jaimie Baird, a quarantine inspector in Nelson and one of 24 Biosecurity New Zealand staff trained to deal with serpent trespassers.

Smugglers face hefty penalties: a maximum of five years in jail and fines of up to $100,000.

Mike Mullany, who was 18 when he smuggled in the two corn snakes in his back pockets on his return from a holiday in Thailand, was sentenced to three months in prison but got out this month after serving only six weeks.

If snakes were to become established in New Zealand, they could wipe out many of our native frogs, birds and reptiles. According to Mandy Tocher, a Department of Conservation
herpetologist (snake expert) based in Dunedin, New Zealand's native animals could be vulnerable because they have not evolved to deal with such predators. And the snakes could also transmit parasites and disease to native reptiles.

"And they bite with sharp fang
," she says. "And it costs money to have anti-venoms ready to go and the experts trained to deal with snake bites."

Kevin Hackwell, from Forest and Bird, agrees. "New Zealand's fauna has evolved over millions of years in the absence of mammals and snakes," he says. "They are not adapted to avoiding predation by these animals and are therefore particularly susceptible to their introduction."

But why not in put them in zoos where at least our Kiwi kids could get a chance to see the real slithery slimy thing? "In case they escape," says Tocher. "The risk is too high."

Where's my dinner?
The parents of little Shaiunna Hare didn't hear a thing. The snake moved silently through the house while they were sleeping. When they rose in the morning and checked the 2-year-old's cot, she was not breathing. A 2.6m-long albino Burmese python lay wrapped around her body.

The southern stretches of the United States are home to dozens of native species of snakes. Many, like the corn snake, are harmless. Some, like the venomous rattlers and water moccasins, are more dangerous. Love them or loathe them, they all belong and have their place in that ecosystem.

The Burmese python does not - it hails from Southeast Asia. So how did a python come to be in Shaiunna's Florida bedroom last year?

The python, along with a boa constrictor named Dixie, was a family pet.

That same week, thousands of miles away in Bristol, United Kingdom, a 4-year-old tabby cat was killed by a
Burmese python as it wandered outside to a neighbouring backyard.

"We don't know whether
Wilbur stumbled across the snake and it was an opportunistic kill or if the snake was actively hunting him," says owner Martin Wadey on his website. "But either way, we heard the python's strike from the terrified scream that came from Wilbur and the subsequent blood-chilling cries as he fought for his life." It was over in less than a minute. Wilbur was consumed whole. His killer, a 4m-long 80kg snake named Squash, had been left outside unattended in an unsecured property while his owner reportedly tended to his laundry.

In North America and the UK, where snake imports are not as restrictive as in New Zealand, having an exotic python means little more than a trip to the local pet shop or a search online. Increasingly, citizens of affluent nations with a little spare change in their pockets are looking for pets a little more exciting than poodles - and they are turning to snakes.

Hollywood A-lister Angelina Jolie embraced a boa constrictor on German TV. And pythons feature in Las Vegas stage shows.

angelina jolie with a snake

The first Burmese python was discovered 30 years ago in the subtropical swampland known as the
Florida Everglades.

Since then, they have killed 12 people in the US - including five children - and injured many more.

Burmese Albino Pythons and Britney Spears: A perfect combo

Monday, September 6, 2010

selma heyak snake dance
A reason to buy Dusk till Dawn......

Some pictures of sexy pythons

Burmese Pythons are light-coloured snakes with many brown blotches bordered in black down the back. 

Albino Burmese Pythons are often found to be white with patterns in butterscotch yellow and burnt orange. I

f you have any difficulty telling which is which, ask Salma Hayek.

If she's too busy shaving her beard off, check out out these pictures. 

Turns out albino pythons love to pose for the camera. Their, 'I can't be fucked with this photo shoot' attitude is so hot right now:


Check out Blue Steel, or more properly Yellow Steel.

yello python

See this bruva below? That's not his tongue. It's the tail of a rat. That's right, albino snakes eat rats just like normal snakes eat rats. Sometimes pythons are known to eat electric fences. Those ones are just a lil too kinky if you ask me. 

In the wild, Burmese pythons generally grow to 3.7 metres on average while specimens of more than 4.5 metres have been found. There are also dwarf forms of these pythons on Java, Bali and Sulawesi but they don't attract such wonder. Also, if they are albino, the other snakes won't play with them. Kids huh?

What's a his favourite song? Coldplay's Yellow?
Burmese Pythons are often sold as pets - this is probably due to their attractive colours and apparently easy-going nature. However, these scaly animals have a rapid growth rate, and will often exceed 2m in length in a year if fed and cared for properly.

 By age 4, they will have reached their adult size, though they continue growing very slowly throughout their lives, which can be longer than 20 years.

Pythons also consume large amounts of food. Apparently many owners believe if a snake acts hungry, then it should be fed baby seal.

I personally don't know how a snake can act hungry other than biting or eating someone whole. None-the-less Burmese albino pythons are opportunistic feeders, they will eat almost any time food is offered. Unwise owners may then overfeed their pets leading to obesity related problems.

But what would a responsible python owner feed their beloved Python molurus bivittatus? Baby seals are nice but difficult to come by so Rabbits are always a tasty treat:

Hmmm, I love that furry feeling in my mouth.

I should have stewed this rabbit. At least it could have had some seasoning.
Sorry Kids, Easter is cancelled. My bad. 

Albino Pythons sure are more popular than other snakes. They are more greatly sought after because they just look freaking cool when draped around your neck.

Don't believe me, ask the womansizer herself, Britney Spears:

Britney spears posing with a snake in concert
I dunno what it is with celebrities enjoying having giant yellow pythons hanging round their necks but it's gotta have some appeal otherwise Angelina Jolie wouldn't have done it:

angelina jolie with a python
Brad's is this long!
steve and terri irwin with a giant anaconda
Crickey, I think this just ate a dingo!
Even bloody Steve and Terry Irwin both got in on the act and tried to share wearing one to the opening of a zoo somewhere. The fashion critic in me laughs at their matching outfits but applauds Terri's attempt to accessorize.

Seeing celebrities get in on the wear an albino snake craze, the fashion industry has figured out they can go further and show off the latest sexy bra and panties combos by using the snakes. It's some kind of Adam and Eve guilt complex, I'm sure. 

I tried to ask model Ana Hickman (below) about it and she simply stole my fags and said 'Jimmy Jangles, who the fuck let you in here?' and stormed off in her pink bikini, with one fucking lucky snake in tow:

ana hinkman model with snake

Does this snake make me look fat in this? Seriously guys, could I lose a few pounds? 

Maybe the snake should be a different colour to match my eyes? 

According to
National Geographic, habitat depletion, continued demand for Burmese albino pythons in the pet trade, and hunting for their skins and flesh have landed these python on the threatened species list. So who's fault is that? Consumers? People who like nice hand bags? Yes. And Britney Spears. 

Or maybe Rachel Wiez:

naked rachel wiez with a snake

I told you it was an Adam and Eve thing.

What did the Chameleon say to the cricket?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010
The Telegraph newspaper has highlighted how photographer Scott Linstead goes to extraordinary lengths to capture these pictures in which creatures appear frozen in time. Check out this chameleon catching a cricket with its long sticky tongue as an example:

Stay for lunch?
Scott spends up to a week arranging the lighting and phototraps which trigger the camera and flash. The human eye and reaction speed on the shutter release button are rarely quick enough to take the photos manually. Case in point, this set up of an archer fish spitting water at a cricket to make it fall into the water so the fish can prey on it:

Interestingly, when the photographer lowered the cricket's position lower to the water, the archer fish jumped at its prey instead!
Fish out of water....
One photo that was not done as a set up was this one: Scott spent four days in a hide at the edge of a pond in Kangasala, Finland, to get this photo of an osprey eagle diving for a salmon fish:

Going my way?
Check out more of  Scott's great camera work at

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