Steve Irwin

  In my life I take inspiration from almost everything I come across, but there have  only been a few people that have extremely impacted my life. Certainly my step dad that raised me like I was his own biological son and taught me the value of hard work and honesty. My grandfather who was the definition of integrity and then there was my hero Steve Irwin.

  Growing up I was so passionate about animals and my mind was like a sponge reading and watching everything I could about them. But it wasn’t until I saw my first Steve Irwin broadcast that I realized how amazing ALL wildlife was. Sure I loved animals, but his passion sparked something in me to not only pursue my passion for reptiles, but to also open my eye to every living animal on the planet.

  Over the next decade I watched his programming with amazement. Each new show was like a Christmas gift, where would he go? What animals would he highlight? What would he get bitten by? He wore his passion on his khaki sleeve. He made people love animals that in the past had been looked at only as evil and not worth saving. I truly believe that even to this day Crocodiles are looked upon as amazing animals mainly because of Steve’s love of them.

  I have been fortunate to call Steve’s dad, Bob Irwin a friend over the past few years, and have been blessed to spend time with him on his property named after Steve’s hunting dog, Camp Chili. There’s no doubt where Steve’s passion came from, although Bob doesn’t run around and  scream “Crickey”. He certainly is the most passionate wildlife lover I have ever met. He inspires me to be more than I am… to achieve more than I could have imagined.

  Over the past several years I have been on a path to educate and entertain people about animals, mainly reptiles. This passion has become an obsession and one that I know live every second of every day. Although it has never been about my success or fame, it drives me to reach more people. I guess I always had hoped that I would make it into the TV world and follow in my hero’s footsteps. The truth is that now there’s little interest from the TV execs to provide this type of experience to their viewers. So I started my own network with Steve’s spirit in mind. I pray that one day our effort with AnimalBytesTV will inspire people the same way Steve Irwin inspired me.

  Today my heart is heavy on the 8th anniversary of Steve’s death, with my thoughts with his family and my good friend Bob. But I hope to help carry his legacy and hold up the things that mattered to him. I miss you like you were my best friend. Keep that passion for animals!

Stepping out of your comfort zone

In life we often want to play it safe, not make waves and take the path of least resistance. And in a lot of cases that’s exactly what you should do. But in honesty, I have never subscribed to that lifestyle. From an early age I bucked the trend and went towards things that everyone said I couldn’t achieve. And if I’m telling the truth many times I failed. But it never stopped me from trying to go after the next dream or crazy idea.

I started breeding snakes when there wasn’t even one person in the world that did it full time, but I wanted to spend my life around animals and I didn’t listen to my family and friends that told me I was crazy for wasting my time on such an endeavor. Here I am 25 years later and I have enjoyed such an amazing experience meeting people around the World and working with animals I dreamt about as a child.

The vast majority of people would sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labor and just ride the wave, but not me. I’m now starting the next chapter in life, of course that’s AnimalBytesTV. You see the truth is even with how passionate I am with my animals, I’m even more passionate about educating people and changing their minds about animals. And I’m not just talking snakes, although they are certainly my largest passion. Nothing make me feel more accomplished than talking with someone that tells me that they have become a snake lover because of something I have done, such as SnakeBytesTV.

Do I know exactly what the future holds for me? Not 100%, but I know that I will be putting all the energy I have to give into this new adventure believing we’ll make a difference to people around the world. Is it the best financial business move I’ve ever made? Most likely not, but to me it’s never about the money, it’s always about what brings me happiness. And making people love and care for wildlife brings me more happiness than anything else in the world.

To answer the rumors out there, yes.. BHB will change a bit over the next year. I’ll streamline in some areas to allow more time for ABtv, but I will ALWAYS work with reptiles and always be a part of the reptile hobby. It’s been my life and will always be my life. So please do not buy into the rumors of me getting out for one reason or another. I’m just making sure that both BHB and ABtv are getting the attention they deserve. As for how much BHB will change? I’m not 100% sure yet? Maybe just a little, or maybe a lot?

So I hope you’ll join me and support me in this new chapter in my life and please offer your advice as I go. It’s like I always say, without you guys I could never pursue the dreams that you allow me too! And for that I will always be grateful. I hope to make all of you proud of what we accomplish!

AnimalBytesTV is here!

I’m not exactly sure how old I was, but I remember that Saturday morning like it was yesterday. You see I’m the baby of three siblings and rarely got his way with picking what TV program was going to be watched, especially on cartoon Saturday. But this day was different, I had woken up early and had the living room to myself. I turned on the tube and remember being captivated by a bearded Aussie running through the woods in chase of a Brown snake. I would later find out that his name was Harry Butler and he was one crazy wildlife presenter. I sat there in front of the TV memorized by him grabbing this deadly snake without hesitation and pulling it out of a tree root. From that day forward I was hooked, I watched ever wildlife documentary I could come across. Back then there was no cable TV, I know, I’m aging myself now.. But it was a staple of weekend programing to have educational, and entertaining wildlife programs. And they were one of the most memorable and enlightening parts of my childhood from Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom to Natgeo ‘s Explorer.. I guess I could say that “they” the presenters of these shows are responsible for my passion for animals and my desire to dedicate my life to caring for living creatures.
Of course as I got older and started on my career path of working with reptiles for a living some amazing changes in wildlife TV were about to happen. First a young Aussie in the same mold as Mr. Butler appeared on scene, his name was Steve Irwin. His rise to fame was mirrored by the launch of the TV network Animal Planet. For a wildlife freak such as I am, this was a dream come true. A 24 hour channel that played nothing but shows about wildlife! Over the next decade I spend more time dreaming about one day joining these amazing hosts in their adventures than almost anything else in my life. But then tragedy hit, Steve Irwin was sadly lost and along with him any chance for a future for these types of programming. To say that the networks took a turn away from that type of programming because of Steve’s death would be unfair. In fact there’s a good chance that they would have headed this direction even if the man in khaky was still running about the World in search of animal adventure. In honesty one can’t really say, but we all know that the good ole days were coming to an end. Slowly the other presenters such as Austin Stevens, Nigel Marvin, Mark Oshea, and Jeff Corwin started to disappear from our weekly watching routines and were being replaced with more and more sensational and reality TV programming. Don’t fret.. We have the Turtle man to supply us with good animal content, right? oops….
The more time went on and the more I was getting involved in both the internet TV and traditional TV, I started to realize that there was a changing of the guards. The web is the future of all entertainment and the future starts today! By this time I was five years into producing SnakeBytesTV and the shows audience was continuing to grow, but I realized that I had a relatively narrow market considering I was not only mainly a show about reptiles, but really a show about “breeding” reptiles. That was only going to appeal to a small part of the population of animal lovers Worldwide. This is when I hatched the plan to look for like minded animal lovers that had a passion for sharing their wildlife adventures. I wasn’t looking for people that wanted to be famous nor people that wanted to get rich on TV. I was looking for genuine wildlife experts that had a heart for the animals they love so dearly. We’d launch an online animal network and we would call it AnimalBytesTV. It’s proven to be slightly difficult to find both animal lovers and people that have the ability to produce a weekly show, but I have slowly and steadily been adding to our line up. I am so happy with the talent that we have working with us now and the ones that have just recently signed on to produce series for us. I think you’ll fall in love with each and every one of them as I have.
So this is how it’ll work.. As of today the YouTube channel SnakeBytesTV is now becoming AnimalBytesTV. Don’t freak out, SnakeBytesTV will be the exact same show and on every Wednesday like it has for nearly seven years, now you’ll just get other “bonus” shows from other animal lovers. Look at it like this, you get all this for the introductory cost of “zero” dollars! That’s right, we are an online network that will be YouTube based, so it’s free to watch. Unless you count the 20-30second video ad that you watch that helps us cover production costs (Sorry, but they are important for projects like this, so please watch them). We’ll start with five weekly shows highlighting Greg Graziani and his Family on the show The Python Hunter on Mondays, Animal freak and former pro BMX rider Kenan Harkin in Kamp Kenan on Tuesdays, yours truly on Wednesdays with SnakeBytesTV, Thursdays we travel down under to Australia for Peter Birch’s adventures on Crittacam and finally we wrap the week up with Timothy Raley and his love of nature in Primitive Tim. We hope to also bring you a bunch of wildlife documentary on Documentary Sundays.
So as you can see, there are tens of millions of animal lovers around the world that are being deprived of quality animal programing and we hope you’ll join us in making this venture a success so we can change the future. I want the next generation of kids to grow up and tell the same story I have about that crazy Aussie running around entertaining me when I was just a wee lad, and really inspiring me to take the path in life that I have.
So please help us by Subscribing to and visit our website at www.AnimalBytes.TV
and also follow us at:
Insargram @ AnimalBytesTV
Pintrest @AnimalBytesTV
Vine @AnimalBytesTV

Let’s take a journey to the wild side!


   By now many of you have heard and hopefully seen the trailer for my latest endeavor AnimalBytesTV the first online Animal Network produce for animal lovers by animal lovers. But what exactly does this mean? First off lets’ get one thing straight, I will continue to produce SnakeBytesTV each week. So every Wednesday just like you have for almost 7 years you’ll get your weekly dose of my reptile enthusiasm. The only real difference is we’ll be giving you a whole line up of new shows. The will not be hosted by yours truly, but animal lovers and wildlife experts from around the globe. We’ll launch on July 1st and Monday July 7th will start the full first week of programming. We’ll start with only one show per weekday (Mon through Friday) with the possibility of “wildcard” Saturdays, meaning we might have no videos on Saturday or we might have 10? It’ll be a free day for our producers to release whatever they want as long as it fits within the message of our network. On Sundays we’ll be releasing unseen wildlife documentaries. Some will only be a few minutes long and others will be over an hour. I know, I know, but YouTube videos should never be over 10 minutes. Well, we’re doing things differently and we hope that Sunday evening you’ll be able to sit down with your family and watch amazing wildlife footage like the old days!  

  What is the message our network is trying to accomplish? To release positive educational and entertaining animal programming that has a heavy message of conservation and human animal relationships. We’ll have hosts that you’ve enjoyed from TV past as well as talented and passionate wildlife presenters that are just starting their journey into entertainment. As the network grows, and our goal is to have at least 30 weekly shows by the end of the year, we’ll endeavor into original wildlife films commissioned and produced by AnimalBytesTV in partnership with our producers and presenters. I can’t wait to share with you some of the amazing projects that are on the future drawing boards! Of course we have to learn to crawl before we can walk and we’ll start out with a small line up and as our audience grows we’ll keep adding to it.

  This is a network that I have dreamed about for years, one that all animal and wildlife lovers can be proud of and get behind. We do need all of your help in spreading the word for us. We can only become successful if YOU are watching, sharing and engaging with us.

  I know we can change peoples minds about so many animals with AnimalBytesTV. I’d love to hear your thoughts, your concerns, your advice… Thank you for allowing me the following to follow this dream! Now lets’ change the World together!

Is Animal Planet the problem?

Over the last few years there been many complaints about Animal Planet and their programming, in particular their negative animal programming. Now I don’t even want to touch on the accusations of animal cruelty in some of their shows, because that’s for another article and is never acceptable. What I do want to touch on is “why” Animal Planet has gone down this path and to ask the question “is it their fault”?
Let’s start by asking what the role of a GM of a network on TV is? It’s simply to get viewership, period. Sure some of the nieve folks out there would like to believe that a network such as History channel has an obligation to all the history buffs out there, right? Enter Axe Men, Ice Road Truckers and even Pawn Stars and I’d say that there are a lot of die hard history lovers that are having the same conversation about History channel as us animal people are having about Animal Planet.
Like it or not Animal Planet is enjoying the highest ratings the network has ever received since it’s inception. Say it ain’t so? But it is.. You see it’s really not the network and the network execs fault that the overall public wants to watch these over the top animal presenters ( I call them actors) and the animal attack shows more than the educational shows like my hero Steve Irwin produced. The fact remains that they are making more money and enjoying higher ratings then ever, and until the public changes their taste on what they want to see, expect a larger dose of the same, or possibly worst. I was recently told by a friend of mine that produces shows for Animal Planet that they have advised their producers to stop pitching ALL “pet” shows and to rarely pitch animal shows to them. They want “human” stories, whatever that means?
So before we gather into an agree mob ready to storm Animal Planets headquarters we best look at ourselves and realize they are doing what all the TV networks are in this current new world media market, and that’s moving away from their base and producing shows that reach across their bases lines and more into the mainstream. We don’t have to like it, but that’s the reality of what is happening today.
Now for the good news… New World media, meaning online video is taking over the future of all entertainment. Do you know many teenagers that watch TV anymore? No, they watch YouTube and streaming videos. The new way of reaching people is what the future is all about. The fact you can interact with your favorite YouTube stars on various platforms is what makes it all the more appealing. With TV, you watch and if you’re lucky you might get a tweet back from your favorite TV celebrity once ever hundred times you reach out to them. Don’t even bother sending an email, because you’ll only get their publicity companies response. With online video you HAVE TOO listen to your viewers or you’ll never be successful. It’s a two way street… you watch and you input your opinion, which is heard from and often responded to by the actual creature of that content.
Why am I telling you this? Some of you already know, but we have been working on an online animal network called AnimalBytesTV. It’ll be the very first independent animal network produced by animal lovers for animal lovers. We’ll launch this summer with a 5 show line up, one show each day Monday through Friday, with SnakeBytesTV staying in it’s usual time slot of 8am Wednesday. The shows will be presented by animal lovers that are experts in the field that their show is about. There will be shows about reptiles, birds, mammals and nature. We’re able to produce shows in the image of the old Animal Planet. We’re not bound by stock holders that demand higher ratings, we can cater to our base, which are animal lovers. Will there be some sensational videos from time to time, yes. But never negative just to get higher ratings. We have 15 shows that will be between 5-15 minutes per episode in development now and will keep rolling shows out over the remainder of 2014. Our goal is to have 30 original shows per week for your viewing pleasure. With the hopes of airing longer nature and animal documentaries on Sundays if you choose to watch.
This has been a costly and massive undertaking and I’m sure there will be growing pains and mistakes as we get this off the ground, but we’re hoping for all your support and to make you all proud of what we are trying to accomplish, which is to educate and entertain while putting a large emphasis on conservation of the planet and the animals we all love so dearly.
So next time you want to throw a brick through your TV because of an Animal Planet show, remember they are just doing their job and all you have to do is pull up YouTube and watch AnimalByteTV! Hatching soon…..
I’d love to hear your opinions or concerns…..

Vita-Bug Wrap Up

A few months back I set out to try to discover what the best and most nutritious way to feed our lizards, here at BHB reptiles. Our standard practice was the traditional way of either gut loading our bugs and/or powdering them with vitamin supplements. When I came across the Timberline “Vita-bugs” I was intrigued but truthfully skeptical. Was it possible that a nutritionally engineered bug would carry the same, or more, nutrients than adding supplements the traditional way? I was determined to get to the bottom of it.image

  My first course of actions as to reach out to Timberline with a whole host of questions and see if this was all smoke and mirrors. After spending a fair amount of time getting the background on Vita-Bugs,  I was convinced there was something to this new food source. But how would I know if they really were superior to the way we’ve been doing things for a decade? You see the truth is when running a commercial reptile breeding center it’s all about efficiency. Not only do you want to save as much time and money as possible, but you also want to make sure that the work is being done properly. In this case if one of the employees decides to skip the vitamin dusting process for a few weeks because it’s taking too much time the animals suffer. Of course we would hope that our crew would never do this, but trust me with having animal keepers working for me for almost 20 years, I have seen it all. Not to mention selling animals to the general public I’ve seen a large portion of animal buyers not willing to put the proper care into their animals. If we could skip the process of gut loading or powdering it would not only be beneficial to the animals, but also ensure that they are getting the vitamins they are needing to stay healthy. 

  Back to my dilemma of finding out if the Vita-bugs are all that Timberline was saying they were. I proposed an experiment where I would set up three groups of Bearded dragons that were all hatched within a day of on another and had the exact genetic make up. Each group would be made up of twelve babies. The first group would be fed with dusted crickets, the second group Vita-bugs and Calci-worms and the last group would be fed gut loaded crickets. I would keep them in the exact same set up and feed them the exact same amount of bugs each day. I would then keep track of the “average” weight of each group along with the overall “look” of each animal (the eyeball test). 

  I was extremely happy when Todd Goodman, CEO of Timberline Fisheries agreed to help with this experiment and was even more excited that he was so confident in the results we decided to have a Vita-bug contest and giveaway towards the end of the 90 day test group. Of course I preferenced this by telling Todd I would only proceed with the contest if I saw some results and was willing to endorse Vita-bugs as a good alternative for traditional supplementing of reptiles. 

   So it was all set, all we needed to do was hatch the animals and get the test groups set up and away we go! On the 9th of September we set up the three groups and started our feeding regiment. Of course the first week we didn’t see any change whatsoever, but I certainly wasn’t expecting any miracles. By week three we started to notice the Vita-bug group growing a bit faster and their overall look was just brighter. By the end of the first month we say some pretty significant results from the Vita-bug group. The dusted group was in second place and the gut load was lagging behind in last. image

  By the end of the second month it was very obvious that not only did the Vita-bug groups growth exceed the other two groups, but their colors were popping compared to the other animals as well as there were no animals in that group that were lagging behind unlike the other two groups where there were one of two animals that just didn’t seem to be thriving. With these results we launched the Vita-bug give way and were able to introduce thousands of people to this new way of supplementing their pet lizards. It was a huge success and the feedback was terrific!image

  The last month went accordingly without any major surprises. The Vita-bug group kept distancing itself from the other groups and the gut load group by far was the worst performing group. In the end even I was surprised at the success of Vita-bugs on rearing these baby Bearded Dragons. I feel that not only was it by far the healthiest test group we had and certainly the prettiest of them, image

 In the end, it was the easiest way to supplement our lizard groups. No more worrying about whether or not an employee of mine is supplementing the crickets as well as no more chasing vitamin supplements when supplies are low. We are switching all of our lizard groups to Vita-bugs and look forward to saving time and money as well as seeing the health of our breeding groups explode with the switch. image

  So if you’re tired of powdering crickets or making up a gut load, I would suggest giving Timberlines Vita-bugs a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the results. We will also have a wrap up SnakeBytesTV episode on the entire journey of our findings coming soon!   Thanks for joining me on this fun experiment! 

Are Animal Auctions The Death of a Market?

   I remember when Ben Siegel launched his first FaceBook auctions. I initially thought how brilliant is was and then contemplated the morality of auctioning off animals to the highest bidder. After really looking at it more closely I felt the way Ben was doing it was perfectly ethical and I saw no real major problem with it, it’s not like he was auctioning off King Cobras to a twelve year old? Shortly there after I threw my hat in the ring and spent a few months doing BHB Auctions. In honesty some animals sold for fair prices and others went far below retail and in turn I decided to stop doing them. The amount of energy put into the auctions along with the uncertainty of the sales price was just not for me. I found that after a while people would be upset if they didn’t get the animal for a “steal” price. So for me the decision to stop was based solely on dollars and cents. 

   Fast forward a couple of years and Ben Siegel has made an empire out of his FaceBook page auctions and I’m sure if anyone was being 100% honest they would admit how jealous they are of him, I know I am! With that said I am concerned over the abundance of people doing FaceBook auctions and the effect it’s having on the pricing of some animals, in particular Ball Python morphs. You see when Ben has 80,000 “likes” and has tens of thousands of people following you can get a reasonable idea of what “people” are willing to pay for an animal. Sure some things go cheap, but for the most part it’s a fair auction and does not hurt the market. But when “Johnny Appleseed” has 1000-3000 “likes” you can not expect to get a good representation of the market and more times that not the winning bid is FAR less then market value. Let me break it down for a minute. Lets say you have 1000 “likes” on your FaceBook page, that means that only about 300 people actually see your post because of the FaceBook algorithm, maybe this helps clarify when you see that number at the bottom of your post that says “300 people saw this post”. FaceBook has done this because they want you to PAY for the people that follow you to see your post. Of course this infuriated me, but that’s for another blog. So if 300 people see your auction what are the chances of many of them actually wanting that particular animal unless it goes for a ridiculous price? Not many, right? So then the animal sells for next to nothing and the perception is that the “new” price should be what people saw said animal sell for.  I recently saw a FaceBook auction on a big name Ball Pythons breeders FaceBook page, he has 3000 “likes” and had only two people bid on this morph Ball Python. It sold for 90% off his asking price. Now the issue I see here is two fold, one the perception of the market to many is that animal is now “worth” that amount. Let’s face it when a “name” in the business sells a morph animal for 10% of it’s value it becomes almost impossible for a non-named person to sell it for a fair price. And secondly it appears that the seller is desperate and will take anything just to get rid of his animals. What I’m saying is that many people will see an animal auction off for a certain price and then assume that the winning price is now the actual market value of that animal. 

   I’ve always been a guy that believes pricing is based on what people are willing to pay for an animal. Some animals are pretty pets and can sustain a price of $100 or even $500 and others are sought after investment animals that demand $50,000 or even more. But I am very concerned what this latest fad of FaceBook auctions is doing to the perception of the market. When I see an animal that is posted for $1000 sell for $75 I think what effects this has on all the other people trying to get a fair “retail” price for their animals. Listen, I know the market is soft at the moment and I attribute that to over supply, not lack of demand. I would be willing to bet that there is more interest in Ball Python morphs then there has ever been, but there is ten times the amount of animals available. So obviously it’s harder for one person to sell all of their animals, it’s just simple economics. I have to believe this is why so many people are turning to FaceBook auctions in hopes to sell their remaining stock. 

  Do I have the answer to how to sell all our animals if people aren’t buying? Not really, but I can assure you that giving them away on a FaceBook auction will only make it even harder to sell them for decent money down the road. I think we have to focus on bringing new people into our hobby, educate the masses and get people excited about it again. I can tell you that talking to a TON of the new comers that are getting into keeping and want to breed Ball Pythons they are frightened to invest their hard earned money when all they are seeing is pricing dropping like mad. I recently had a customer come and want to buy some morph Ball Pythons and every time I quoted him a price he countered by saying he saw a similar animal sell on a FaceBook auction for far less. Again, he assumed that if they sold for that price that it must be the new price? In the end he left without buying one snake. 

   I have to reiterate that I am not telling anyone what to do and I applaud Ben Siegel for doing it the right way, I just think many of these online FaceBook auctions are doomed to failure and it’s causing even more concern for the confidence if future markets. So before you post that animal on your FaceBook auction, think whether the small amount of money you “might” make is worth it. I would love to know what your opinion is of this very tricky topic. 

The Reptile Report Best Of Awards

   Over the past few weeks The Reptile Report started the second annual “Best Of Awards”. This year was much expanded covering dozens of categories from best Python image all the way to best Brick and Mortar Store. They also promoted the “peoples choice” awards, where YOU could nominate and vote for who you think deserves each award. Pretty cool, huh?

   Our hobby is in a tough spot at the moment, with peoples concerns about pricing on certain species and of course the pending rule change that could possibly add a few new species including Reticulated Pythons and Boa Constrictors to the lacey act, which would basically shut the trade down on those animals and cost the reptile hobby hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Along with these major issues people are searching for what organization they need to support to help save our hobby, with passionate debates on all sides. 

  So why care about a silly award that some people are deeming a “popularity” contest? Hence the reason for this blog. We all work hard at the things we are passionate about, in my case it’s the reptile hobby. I produce a weekly web show called “SnakeBytesTV”, I post dozens of times EACH day on FaceBook, Twitter, Instgram, Pinstrest and of course YouTube. I promote the positive of the hobby along with doing my best to entertain. These awards may seem insignificant to some, but the truth is they are a reward for countless hours of dedication we put in. Sure, there are well deserving people that are not on the list, but who’s fault is that? If you thought someone deserved to be on the list all you had to do was nominate them. If they were nominated then vote for them, it’s really that simple. Certainly not each winner will be the BEST, but they will be the peoples choice for the BEST. 

  I guess I’m just a little confused and saddened that some have once again taken a great  positive promotion such as The Reptile Awards “Best Of” awards and tried to put a negative slant on it. It’s not like we are forgetting the big picture and only focusing on these awards. I can assure you that along with doing all the things we do for the hobby we are in fact extremely involved in the battles we need to fight, but there is no harm in rewarding the people that work so hard with an award expressing your gratitude for all that we do.

  It may seem like a popularity contest, and in fact that’s what it is. You win because the MOST people vote for you. You get popular because you are being rewarded with people’s support for the things you do. In the end I care more about the hobby then anyone I know, but I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it wouldn’t feel great to get as many awards as possible. Maybe some see this as childish, but who doesn’t want to be recognized for all their hard work.  

  I know I won’t win all the categories I was nominated for, heck I might not win any of them, but if I do I will be proud and very gracious for all the support you all give me and I can promise I will always have my eyes on the big picture and continue to do whatever I can to fight for all our rights to keep working with ALL the animals we love so dearly.. 

  If you feel so compelled these are the categories I am nominated for. You can vote once a day per category. If I win I’ll be forever grateful for you voting. Thanks to The Reptile Report for expending all the time, money and energy for this awards! Let’s not ruin them by not seeing them for what they are, a reward for those that put in the effort to make this hobby a better one!

Video Show of the Year.

Ball Python Image of the Year

Show Both of the Year

Colubrid Breeder of the Year

Online Store of the Year

Python Breeder of the Year

Social Media Presence of the Year

The Brown Tree Snake Of Guam

The Brown Tree snake (Boiga irregularis) is an interesting snake that has caught a lot of news headlines over the past decade. It’s a rear fanged colubrid snake endemic to the Northern coast of Australia, Papua New Guinea, and  the Islands in northwestern Melanesia. It’s venom is thought to be both neurotoxic and cytotoxic, but because of the small teeth as well as the rear fanged nature of the venom delivery it’s rarely a threat to humans. They are one of roughly 25 species of Boiga commonly known as “cat eyed snakes”. They are highly arboreal  spending most of their time in the  canopy of the rainforest feeding on birds, lizards, bats and a variety of small rodents. They are an extremely slender snake reaching up to six feet, but more commonly measured at between three and four feet in length.

   Now I could go on about the characteristics of the Brown snake for quite a while seeing as I’m a fan of all snakes, but that’s not what’s made this interesting snake such a celebrity over the years. The rise to fame started just shortly after WWII when inadvertently they were introduced to the small military Island of Guam. Many believe that they came in on freighters carrying supplies for the troops, and soon after their population exploded. This was most likely because of the abundance of food sources on the Island, which came mainly in the form of native birds such as the Mariana Fruit Dove, the Guam Flycather, the Rufous Fantial and the Micronesian Mysomela. As a matter of fact biologist believe that the Brown Tree snake may be the cause of up to a dozen native bird species extinction.  Snakes probably play important roles as predators in their native ecosystems, when they are introduced to new areas with prey that are not used to them, this normally important role wreaks havoc on native animals. With the abundant food supply and lack of any main predator to slow their population growth down there’s no doubt why this invasive species thrived in it’s new environment. There have been recent studies where there could be up to 100 Brown Snakes per hectare (2.5 acres).

  It’s not just the local wildlife that is suffering, but even the electrical grid is being taxed by this invasive species. The arboreal snakes stretch from trees onto the power lines and create an arch that can destroy the power supply lines that provide the much needed electricity to the islands inhabitants. These power outages have caused millions of dollars in repairs to the island over the years.  As you can see these invaders are causing a stink in Guam. The bigger question is what to do about them? How do we put the cork back into the bottle?

  Enter the Brown Tree snake control, interdiction, research and eradication act. Which sole purpose was to find a scientific way to get rid of this pesky invasive species to the tune of up to $2.6 million dollars per year from 2006 through 2010. The first thing that comes to mind when I hear this is, I know a bunch of fun spirited herpers that we could hire for not much more than a plane ticket and a good supply of beer that would happily catch every Brown Tree snake on the island and we would save the government load of money, but I digress.

  One of the ideas was to identify potential predators and introduce them into the habitat. So let’s think about this for a minute. Let’s introduce some invasive species to eradicate an invasive species? Sounds like good science to me? Maybe the story of the  Cane toad In Australia comes to mind? Well if you haven’t heard it, it goes something like this. In 1935 there was a major issue in Australia with the cane beetle. Seeing as Sugar cane was a major industry and these beetles would not only eat the crops leaves, but more importantly the larvae would feed on the roots of the plant. They felt that something had to be done to reduce the threat of the cane beetle on their Sugar cane crops. The idea to introduce the Cane toads as a natural predator came from the Bureau of Sugar and Experiment Stations. In August of that year 102 young toads were released in Northern Queensland. The bad news is not only did they not have any effect on the Cane beetles attack on the sugar cane crops, but the introduced Cane toad now number up to 200 million strong and have been the culprit to destroying much of the fragile Australian ecosystem.  Not to worry because one the two main candidates to help in Guam was in fact the Cane toad along with the Red-bellied Black snake. Fortunately cooler heads prevailed and they realized that the introduction of said species may “possibly” have a positive impact on the reduction of the population of the Brown snakes, but would most certainly have a negative impact on other  species on Guam and thankfully the plan not implemented.

   After millions of dollars of research we still seemed to be no closer to the answer to the growing problem of the Brown Tree snake. But fear not there’s always a plan and this one comes from the sky above! No literally I mean the sky above.  In 2010 the US Department of Agriculture dropped expired mice that had been injected with Acetaminophen, the generic equivalent for Tylenol, into a small test area that had make shift parachutes on. You see it seems that Acetaminophen is deadly to the Brown snake, killing them within 72 hours, and they felt that putting tiny parachutes on dead mice packed with the drug was the best way to kill off the invaders. I’m not really sure you could make this stuff up, but in fact the test was so successful that they have decided to expand the skydiving Tylenol packed dead rodents to a larger area. They will drop 2000 Brown Tree snake killing rodents into the entire fenced in area that the air force base encompasses to the tune of eight million dollars. I haven’t checked on the cost of tiny parachutes lately, but I’m pretty aware of the cost of frozen rodents and Tylenol and someone seems to be making some extra profit on this event. If the results are positive there are plans to expand this measure to the entire island of Guam, I wonder what that will cost?

  For more than 60 years Guam has been dealing with the invasive Brown Tree snake and still to this day there has not been a solid plan to eradicate them from the island. I’m guessing that the hopes are that these latest efforts are the best we can come up with and with the people and economy of Guam on the line I can only hope that it will be effective, but I still can’t help to think that this problem seems to have a much easier fix than what is being proposed. But then again what do I know? I just clean snake poop for a living….

The fate of the Reticulated Python

   Over the past 24 hours there has been a lot of panic and speculation about the fate of Reticulated Pythons, Anacondas and possibly even Boa Constrictors. Most of this stems from some recent posts that made it seem as if these species are going to be added or possibly have already been added to the Lacey act. This of course prompted me to get to the bottom of what is going on and try to calm the hobbies nerves. For starters “nothing” has been added to the list of injurious species as of yet. As we all know several species including Burmese Pythons were added to the Lacey act last year. Within this rule change there is a possibility that they can add additional species to the list without going through the entire process, but in many cases these additions are denied. 

  My first call was to Phil Goss, president of USARK. He is of course concerned and very engaged with this process, but assures me that there has been no “new” information released and that this process has been going on for months. There will be a ruling in the coming months that may or may not include some species of snakes. USARK has been involved in every step of this process and will be releasing a statement with very valuable information in the coming days. They had already planned on releasing this statement prior to the latest buzz, but are fast tracking it and hoping to have it out very soon. Phil ensures us that they are doing everything to protect ALL reptile keepers and that this is a process and there is no way to predict what the final ruling will be. Phil followed our conversation up with this email:

Phil Goss (president USARK)

The stuff floating around is not new information and additional species
have not been listed as injurious. USARK has been working on it all year
and we continue to do so. For reference, below is the original text from
the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs by the Department of the
Interior (DOI)/USFWS in 2011:

Abstract: We have made a final determination to list nine species of large
constrictor snakes as injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act: Indian
python (including Burmese python), reticulated python, Northern African
python, Southern African python, boa constrictor, yellow anaconda,
DeSchauensee’s anaconda, green anaconda, and Beni anaconda.

This is what was posted months ago and been brought to light again

Abstract: We are making a final determination to list four species of
large constrictor snakes as injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act:
Reticulated python, DeSchauensee’s anaconda, green anaconda, and Beni
anaconda. The boa constrictor is still under consideration for listing.

As you know, only four species were listed previously. This announcement
is not a final ruling but for someone who does not know that, it sounds
very dire indeed. It is just wording that could be misinterpreted
that was posted in the Unified Agenda. Any reference to a July, 2013
statement is from the most recent hearing and not from the Unified Agenda
as it was simply republished as part of the hearing record.

Below is one link where you can see that this exact information has been
around since Spring 2013.

  My next call was to Bill Brant, seeing as he spent 10 years on the board of PIJAC I thought he could shed some light on the subject. Bill is very concerned about the potential for any additions to Lacey that will effect our hobby, but also ensured me the engagement that PIJAC had in the process and also confirmed that there was no “new” information out there. We all knew that the process to potentially add additional animals was in the works for several months and there is nothing that has developed in the past few days. With that said, Bill feels the the attention this has gotten is not necessarily a bad thing as long as the hobby does not panic and the snake market become effected. He believes that attention to all potential threats is very important and peoples involvements into these issues is paramount to the future of our hobby. This was PIJAC’s statement on what has happened in the last 24 hours. :

Statement on Constrictor Rule

USARK and PIJAC have been in constant communication about these issues for quite some time, and worked very hard to submit pertinent information during the rule making process. We are aware the internet has been flooded with speculation as to what might or might not come out in the future as it relates to which species might be listed as injurious under the Lacey Act.

PIJAC does not respond to speculative comments that involve an existing rule making. Based on the variety of rumors that we have heard, one of these rumors is bound to be right, just based on the mathematical probability. The responsible course of action is to wait until the Final Rule is published. It makes no difference to any reasonable person what is said or unsaid before the Final Rule is published.

PIJAC would never ask an agency person to violate their ethical obligations and leak any information before the Final Rule is issued, because it is unethical or possibly illegal. It puts the agency person’s (the leaker) job in jeopardy.  And, as the party receiving this information, your reputation is ruined at the agency because other agency staff wonder how you got the inside information and will resent you for bringing scrutiny to the confidentiality of their work. PIJAC is in the business of representing the pet industry for the long haul and needs to be able to deal with federal agencies on myriad issues: herps, fish, invasive species of all types, etc. Sound representation is not about being first, but about being right. The only way PIJAC can guarantee being right is to read the Final Rule when it comes out.

We caution the industry against taking any action with their reptile collections until the Final Rule is issued. Here is an interesting article about the mechanics of the federal rulemaking process:

  So to wrap this up, we need to be concerned about the potential for some species including Reticulated Pythons and possibly Boa Constrictors, but until the ruling is made there is little we can do except put our faith in the process and the advocacy groups such as USARK, PIJAC and Herp Alliance. What we do have to take out of this is that fact that as a hobby we need to be united and be one voice. We can only win these battles if we are together. So this is not time to call names or complain about bad information, but a time to prepare ourselves and ready to stand up for our rights. This ruling may come down as early as February of 2014 or may be postponed for many months. In the end we can not panic and cause damage to our hobby when ‘nobody” knows the outcome. I for one am staying positive and hope that common sense prevails and they do not allow any further animals to be added to the Lacey Act. So there you have it, the full story. I hope this calms your nerves as much as it did mine. Keep that passion for reptiles! Brian