March 22, 2023 by lancasterherp
We want to thank everyone who attended March’s meeting of Lancaster Herpetological Society (LHS) this past Friday at That Fish Place/That Pet Place.
We were lucky to have Owen McIntyre of Rogue Reptiles talk to the group about his experiences breeding pythons and about herping in Australia. Owen has been breeding snakes since 2005 and has largely focused on pythons from the Morelia genus. This was part of the inspiration for his podcast Morelia Python Radio which he has done with co-host to Eric Burke since 2011. Since then, Morelia Python Radio has racked up an impressive number of more than 350 episodes and has discussed all things snake, interviewing a whole host of notable reptile breeders (which has had a way of spurring Owen into working with and breeding many new snakes)!
Owen has spent considerable time herping in the United States, trying his best to appreciate the diversity of snakes in our own country. It is easy to take for granted the reptiles that can be found in your own backyard, but Owen’s contact with snake enthusiasts around the world helped impress upon him how special all those snakes are! Rattlesnakes are only found in the Americas, and Pennsylvania is home to two different rattlesnakes, the Timber rattlesnake and the Eastern Massasauga! Beyond those rattles snakes, Pennsylvania is also home to the venomous Copperhead, which is the most common venomous snake in the state. Up until recently, he had not even seen a Copperhead in the wild, despite living in Birdsboro (where the LHS went on a nature walk last summer and found a few almost immediately).
Beyond herping in the United States, Owen has had the opportunity to go herping in the Northern Territory of Australia! Anyone who is a snake enthusiast will know that Australia is home to a wide array of reptiles, including many venomous snakes and other dangerous creatures. Signs warn visitors and residents of the danger of saltwater crocodiles with the catch phrase “be crocwise.”
Australia has strict laws designed to help protect its native reptiles. It is against the law to remove native reptiles from the wild (under the Biodiversity Conservation Act of 2016). Handling reptiles in the wild is frowned upon, partially because many are dangerous, but also because the country is worried about people smuggling the reptiles out of the country for the pet trade. Owen talked about six species of pythons that he looked for and saw on his trip to the Northern Territory: Water python, Black-headed python, Carpet python, Olive python, Children’s python, Oenpelli python. Excitingly, he owns and breeds a number of these pythons, so he had a few to show! Of the pythons he discussed, the rarest is the Oenpelli python, which was first described in 1977 and is endemic to a small region of sandstone outcropings in the Northern Territory. The species has significance to the Aboriginal people, and the few that are in private hands are to be brought back to their home at the end of their lives so they can die in their ancestral land.
It was wonderful to hear from Owen about his experiences and to see some of his pythons. We want to thank him for being willing to talk to us, and thank That Fish Place for providing us a venue for the meeting.
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