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Archive for April 2nd, 2007

Scientists Study Tree Frog ‘Stickiness’

Posted by Miqe on April 2, 2007

Scottish scientists have determined how tree frogs can stick to smooth surfaces even when completely upside down, yet can easily walk or jump.

“The toe pads of tree frogs are coated with a thin mucus which adhere to surfaces by wet adhesion, like wet tissue paper sticking to glass,” said lead researcher Jon Barnes of the University of Glasgow. “The process by which they detach their toe pads is called peeling and is akin to us removing a sticking plaster from ourselves.”

The scientists measured adhesive and frictional forces simultaneously on individual toe pads of White’s tree frogs while varying the surface angle. It was found the change from adhesion to peeling is a gradual process, with adhesive forces weakening at angles above 90 degrees. Thus, said the researchers, frogs maintain a grip by keeping the angle of their toes with respect to a surface at a low value, and detach when this angle increases beyond 90 degrees.

The study was presented Monday in Glasgow during the annual meeting of the Society for Experimental Biology.

From The Post Cronicle

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Public snake survey to record populations

Posted by Miqe on April 2, 2007

Publisher:  Pam Caulfield
Published: 02/04/2007 – 10:11:56 AM

The pubic are urged to record sightings of grass snakes
The pubic are urged to record
sightings of grass snakes

Leicestershire County Council’s Community Heritage Initiative, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Rutland County Council is encouraging the public to become reptile recorders, by getting involved with an on-going countywide survey ‘Snakes Alive.’

Previous survey results have shown that the grass snake is the most common species in Leicestershire and Rutland, whilst in contrast the adder is the rarest.

Due to an increase in the number of slow-worm records sent in to the Holly Hayes Environment and Heritage Resources Centre recently, local conservationists now have a greater understanding about its distribution in the two counties. 

This is generally a species that is often found in gardens and allotments and the public are encouraged to record sightings of slow-worms to find out whether their populations are declining.

Good places to search for slow-worms are under paving slabs or discarded rubbish such as carpets or corrugated iron as well as compost heaps. 

Grass snakes can be found along canals, riverside meadows, reservoirs and even basking in garden ponds. 

The rarer species such as adders and lizards are largely confined to heathland and dry grassland sites, making Charnwood and Rutland the best areas. 

If a reptile is spotted it should not be disturbed or handled but recorded on the survey form.

People are encouraged to take photos, especially if there is any trouble with identification.

From 24dash

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Right angles are all wrong for tree frog adhesion

Posted by Miqe on April 2, 2007

Tree frogs have the unique ability to stick to smooth surfaces even when they are tilted well beyond the vertical – some small tree frogs can even adhere when completely upside down. Conversely when walking or jumping they can detach their toe pads easily. Researchers from the University of Glasgow will present insights into how this fascinating ability is controlled at the Society for Experimental Biology’s Annual Meeting in Glasgow, UK.

“The toe pads of tree frogs are coated with a thin mucus which adhere to surfaces by wet adhesion, like wet tissue paper sticking to glass. The process by which they detach their toe pads is called peeling and is akin to us removing a sticking plaster from ourselves,” explains Dr Jon Barnes, head of the research group, “We were keen to understand why a tree frog on an overhanging surface didn’t simply peel off rather than adhere.”

To investigate this, scientists measured adhesive and frictional forces simultaneously on individual toe pads of White’s tree frogs (Family Hylidae), while varying the surface angle. It was found that the change from adhesion to peeling is a gradual process, with adhesive forces weakening at angles above 90°. Thus frogs maintain a grip by keeping the angle of their toes with respect to a surface at a low value, and detach when this angle increases beyond 90°. By examining the behaviour of the frogs researchers were able to correlate this observation with how the animals positioned their legs – they spread their legs out sideways to minimise the angle between their feet and the surface.

The researchers also visited Trinidad to address the problem faced by larger tree frogs, who do not adhere to surfaces very well. To partially compensate for this, larger frogs have adapted to grasp objects, and can climb in a similar manner to humans. Thus the largest species of tree frog are often found higher up in trees, while smaller species are commonly found in shrubs only a metre or so above the ground.

###

  • Dr Jon Barnes will present this work in talk A8.5 (Biomechanics of Arboreal locomotion) at 12:30 on Monday 2nd April..
  • If using photos please cite Julia Platter as the photographer.
  • This work was a collaboration between Julia Platter (Technische Hochschule, Bremen, Germany), John Pearman, Dr Joanna Smith and Dr Jon Barnes at the University of Glasgow.
  • White’s tree frog is the common name for Litoria caerulea.
  • The Family Hylidae are one of the biggest families of tree frogs.

Direct scientist contact
Contactable during the meeting via SEB Press Officer.
Before meeting:
Dr Jon Barnes J.Barnes@bio.gla.ac.uk
Julia Platter jplatter@fbsm.hs-bremen.de

This work will be presented on Monday 2nd April at the Society for Experimental Biology’s Annual Meeting (30th March – 4th April 2007) at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, Glasgow, UK.

Journalists are welcome to attend the meeting. For full details of the programme please visit: http://www.sebiology.org.uk/Meetings/pageview.asp?S=2&mid=&id=738

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Snake Venom Doping Alleged in Race Fixing Investigation

Posted by Miqe on April 2, 2007

Five horsemen were indicted March 30 in New York on charges they tried to fix races by injecting harness horses with substances designed to deaden pain or improve performance.

The investigation began in Sept. 2006 at Saratoga Gaming and Raceway following a tip from people at the track that harness horses were being injected with cobra snake venom and Epogen.

Special investigation

Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III said the grand jury probe began after a joint effort by the special investigations unit of the New York State Police and the New York State Racing and Wagering Board suspected horsemen were doping horses.

“We need to ensure the integrity of harness racing for the betting public,” Murphy said.

“Saratoga Gaming and Raceway is fully cooperating with the district attorneys office,” track management said in a prepared statement. “We are confident that the results of this inquiry will help ensure the integrity of harness racing in New York.”

The raceway management said none of the accused have stables or are currently racing at the track.

Epogen is used to treat anemia in people by boosting production of red blood cells. The drug can also enhance stamina by increasing the oxygen supply to muscles. Cobra venom acts as a nerve blocker to prevent sensations of pain.
From TheHorse

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Proposed state regulations would limit reptile ownership

Posted by Miqe on April 2, 2007

 Rules proposed by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department would sharply limit who can own, sell or import several dozen native species of amphibians and reptiles, including salamanders (above), snakes, turtles, frogs and newts.
Staff file photo by Don Himsel
Rules proposed by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department would sharply limit who can own, sell or import several dozen native species of amphibians and reptiles, including salamanders (above), snakes, turtles, frogs and newts.
Order this photo

If you Go
Public hearing on proposed rules changes concerning the importation, possession, propagation, and exhibition of non-game wild animals, including reptiles and amphibians.

WHERE: New Hampshire Fish and Game headquarters, 11 Hazen Drive, Concord.

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

ON THE NET: http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us

Does your third-grader want to do a show-and-tell with that red eft you found in the basement window well?

No problem.

Do you want to keep a couple of brown snakes from the backyard in a terrarium?

Go ahead.


Are you thinking about collecting painted turtles from the local wetlands and selling them online?

You might want to think again.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is pro­posing a rewrite of rules re­gardi­ng native amphibians and reptiles that would sharply limit who can own, sell or import several dozen species of snakes, turtles, frogs, salamanders and newts. (No lizards are involved, because New Hampshire doesn’t have any native lizards.)

The changes would not affect exotic reptiles and amphibians, those that are not native to New Hampshire. These species, such as iguanas or boa constrictors, can be popular as pets.

As a result, state wildlife biologist Mike Marchand said he doesn’t expect much opposition from pet stores.

“Pretty much all the ones I talked to don’t sell native reptiles and amphibians, so it wouldn’t affect their business in any way,” Marchand said.

Calls last week to Nashua area pet stores and to Zoo Creatures in Plaistow, probably the state’s biggest seller of reptiles, didn’t find anybody who was aware of the proposed changes.

Under the proposal, some rare and threatened species, such as the Jefferson salamander, common mudpuppy and Eastern hognose snake, only could be possessed by those with special exhibitor permits, which usually are limited to zoos, museums and educational facilities.

Other species, such as the red-spotted newt — usually known as the red eft — and the painted turtle, could be collected by anybody, but only in small numbers: five amphibians and two reptiles.

Marchand said the changes were designed by experts to bring the state’s rules for reptiles and amphibians in line with those on the books for mammals, birds and fish.

Massachusetts has similar rules, Marchand said, while Vermont’s rules are much stricter. The Green State forbids anybody from collecting any native reptile or amphibian.

He said it wasn’t clear whether a problem existed in New Hampshire from people collecting the species covered by the proposed rules, because data hasn’t been collected.

“There are reports from other states and even anecdotal reports from New Hampshire, people saying we saw someone with a lot of bags collecting a species, but we don’t know for certain,” Marchand said.

But reptiles and amphibians, particularly frogs, are the subject of global concern about species disappearance due to the spread of disease, often fungal, from place to place. Curtailing collection and transportation of wild animals might help lower that threat, Marchand said.

However, he said, “development and habitat loss is still by far the greatest threat to amphibians and reptiles – and most wildlife, in fact.”

David Brooks can be reached at 594-5831 or dbrooks@nashuatelegraph.com.

From Nashuatelegraph

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Wildlife team rescues Nakaseke python

Posted by Miqe on April 2, 2007

Wildlife experts Tumanya, Henry Opio and Ogwang hold the python after

Wildlife experts Tumanya, Henry Opio and Ogwang hold the python after

By Chris Kiwawulo

A TEAM of experts from the Uganda Wildlife Authority and Uganda Wildlife Education Centre have rescued a giant python from Nakaseke district.

An officer from the centre, Julius Abigaba, said the male python was found at nakaseke Teachers training college farm in Kivule village on Thursday.

Measuring approximately four metres long, the reptile was found coiled near a borehole that is being drilled for the teachers’ college.

Wildlife experts swung into action as the reptile sneaked into the bush, apparently waiting for its prey.

Using a two-pronged stick, Oswald Tumanya tactfully held the python’s head against the ground while his colleagues took hold of the tail. A scuffle ensued as the reptile wiggled in their hands in an attempt to free itself. It was taken to the education centre in Entebbe.

Residents informed the rescue team that an unidentified man had earlier killed two pythons on the farm. They also reported that there was a leopard looming in the village.

Abigaba said there could be many more pythons in the farm, including the parents of the captured reptile.

While in the wilderness, a python feeds on rats, squirrels and antelopes. But while at the centre, Abigaba said they feed them on chicken, rabbits and goats.

As for the reported leopard, Abigaba said they would first lay a trap before they could venture into rescuing it.
He asked residents to monitor its movements.

From New Vision Online

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