Monday, May 16, 2011

Leapin' Leachies, Reptile Tanks & A Couple Of Corn Snakes Made For An Interesting Afternoon

There I was, yesterday, at the monthly meeting of the Long Island Herpetological Society. I was ready for what I figured would be a ho-hum presentation at best, at just another monthly meeting. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with the monthly meetings, I just figured this would be a typical one.

I mean, the meeting began as usual, a bunch of us showing up at the classroom at SUNY Farmingdale and waiting for everyone else. We greeted one another, and then chatted about this reptile and that amphibian, or other topics society related or not. More folks came. Some brought animals for sale, other brought tanks and accessories they were trying to offload at decent prices. I made the rounds, said my hellos, jawboned for a bit, then looked at what was on hand for sale. A couple of nice commercially made reptile tanks with lights at $30 apiece, some Kingsnakes, some Corn Snakes, a Rainbow Python, another reptile tank, a bigger one. Nothing was of particular interest to me and I passed on all of them even though the pair of smaller reptile tanks had caught my eye. Still though, I passed. After all - I have enough tanks and enough critters.

Moments before the meeting got underway officially, Dave, the guy selling the Kingsnakes and the pair of tanks (with lights), asked if anyone had a pen. I dug one out of my jacket pocket and he took it, bent over, started writing on his for sale sign, and changed the price of the two tanks he was selling to $20 apiece. When I saw that, resistance was futile. I immediately said I would take both and pay him at the end of the show. Then I thought better and pulled out the cash and almost had to force him to take it. It seems someone else was thinking of taking one of them. I said okay, I will just take one. The other guy, Wayne, was nice enough to let me take them both, in fact he insisted. That was nice.

Now that I had the tanks - I was satisfied. Or was I? Truth be told, the two corn snakes for sale had also caught my eye more so than I at first had allowed myself to believe. One was an Okeetee Corn Snake. The Okeetee Corn Snake is simply a color variant from a particular wild population of corn snakes. The name is often misspelled as Oaketee; the proper spelling is Okeetee, after the Okeetee Club in Jasper County, SC where these snakes were first described by Carl Kauffeld in his book Snakes: The Keeper & The Kept. The other was a reverse Okeetee Corn Snake (the albino variant of the Okeetee morph). My buddy Mark wanted a hundred bucks for the pair (a breeding pair as was obvious by what they were doing in the tank in which he had them). That was a good deal but the heavens knew, I did not need any snakes. I got into newts, salamanders, tortoises and turtles to try to get away from snakes and lizards but I do miss them now and then. Corn Snakes were one of my early interests in herps and are one of the most beautiful among all the snakes that I have kept or seen. Still though, I kept my money and passed on them even though a corn snake expert, Rich H., told me that they were a great deal.

The meeting was called to order soon after my purchase. We all took seats and sat back for what turned out to be the best presentation I had been to so far this meeting year, which began in September and ends next month (we skip July and August for meetings). Steve Cemelli of Leapin’ Leachies,
, gave a the talk. It was all about Rhacodactylus leachianus geckos, which are the largest geckos in the world. They come only from New Caledonia and its surrounding outer islands. It was truly an interesting talk and lots of questions were asked and answered too.

Rhacodactylus, in essence, means big foot, and these beauties do have pretty large feet that help them climb the trees in their forest abodes. On display, Steve had representatives of each of the different varieties of these fascinating lizards. One thing we learned about them was the difference between these geckos when from different locations. Each area of New Caledonia’s big island and each of the small outlying islands seem to have distinct variations among the same species. The differences are so notable that I was surprised to discover they are still classified as a single species. Interesting creatures that eat anything from insects, to other lizards, to birds to one sub-species that eats crabs. Steve had lots of adults in the display and each was brought around the room by LIHS member John H. for all to see. There were even a few juveniles for sale but while I would love to get a few of these and breed them, there is not a chance of it in my near future. They go anywhere from about $400 each up to about $750 each. The ones at the meeting were no exceptions. Possibly a good project for my upcoming retirement but I will have to save my change for quite the while..

Once the talk was over, I headed over to look at those corn snakes again. They sure were a tempting offer and sooner than later I asked Mark if he would take $80 for the pair. He agreed and I am now the new owner of two corn snakes. Surprisingly enough my wife did not seem to mind at all, when over dinner, I told her about them having come home with me.

Funny thing about them, they were mating while Mark brought them to the meeting, again while at the meeting and yet again when I left the meeting with them both in the same tank (one of the tanks I just bought). After the show, I went to visit my mom for awhile and when I left her place, the corn snakes were at it again in the back seat of the car (inside the tank - of course). When I got home, I left them in the car for later retrieval. Then, at about 10:30 PM, my son reminded me they were in the car. He had gone out somewhere, in the car, and I guess he was sort of surprised to find them there (not too surprised as well as he knows his old man). Well, when I went out to get them, yep - they were at it again. If the female is only 6 years old as I was told, then she is still young enough to lay eggs, and if both she and the male are fertile, then I got a good deal indeed. Corn Snakes can lay up to 25 eggs, or more, in a single clutch. The average is lower at about 12 to 15. Even if she lays only that many and they all hatch, I can make my money back if I sell the babies from a single clutch. She can have as many as two clutches a year.

Nope, not just another ho-hum presentation and not just another monthly meeting, at least not for me.

All the best,
Glenn B

PS: Pics of the snakes will be published, in the not too distant future, in a new post, probably this coming weekend.