Who Would Like to Buy an Oenpelli Python?

Discussion in 'Australian Snakes' started by The Reptile Outlet, Sep 27, 2011.

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  1. SteveNT

    SteveNT Very Well-Known Member

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    I'm seeing bandicoots, frillies, water pythons, lots of v mertensii, mulgas, whips and everything but quolls, lots of these guys vanished after the toads. Last time on Coroboree I saw toads in sunglasses backstroking across the river. Nothing touched them, not freshies, not salties, not birds and not fish. Country is more resilient than some would make out.

    Which Community? Jeez bro, that's "commercial in confidence" ha ha. Enjoy!
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2012
  2. Bushman

    Bushman Very Well-Known Member

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    It's good to hear that some species are starting to recover their numbers.
    Steve are you suggesting that native predators are learning to actively avoid the Cane Toad?
    This is remarkable given that these toads don't have the bright warning colours and patterns that are so often typical of other poisonous amphibians. If this is indeed the case, I wonder how they're learning to recognize the toads and hence avoid them.

    Steve is it possible that the toads haven't reached Central Arnhem Land yet due to some physical barrier?
    That's very impressive tracking skills by the TO's you were with to recognize an Oenpelli track as distinct from other large snake trails. When I was living up there, they taught me how to track and I was ever in awe of the incredible skill and tremendous insight that they had. Gavin should utilize the amazing abilities of the TO's in tracking down some more specimens if he isn't already doing so.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2012
  3. SteveNT

    SteveNT Very Well-Known Member

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    Bushman, they smell even to our inferior nostrils, anything with an olfactory organ will know that these ****heads are in the vicinity. Whether food or foe, they decide.

    The toads have been here long time, we cant kill them all. They moved through Central Arnhem a decade ago. Some country is not for them. They are from the floodplains of Guatemala and now they are back in the Oz equivalent. Eventually we will have to accept them as part of our biota. As has everything else.
     
  4. waruikazi

    waruikazi Legendary

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    Like i said Steve, i agree. We are seeing a resurgence in the numbers of some species that were effected by the toads. In the last two years i have started seeing the same animals as you returning to the land scape. I've even seen panoptes (young and old) turning up! I read a paper by Johhn Woinarski a month ago, where he had surveyed small mammal numbers in Kakadu near Jabiru. There were a number of species whose numbers were increasing over the last 10 years.

    Which is great. But it doesn't take into account the drop in numbers over the last 30 years. We know that numbers were going down since the 80's and earlier, the data is clear, but it was a gradual decline. When the toads turned up BAM! Over night there was a catastrophic drop in predator numbers, we saw animals in their death throws and even animals dead with toads still in their mouths. At that time it was easy to attribute all the losses to the toads.

    Now that the toads have been in the landscape for a decade or more we are starting to see species recover from the initial crash they caused. This has been seen numerous times across the country with feral animals, even the murray cod has recovered somewhat from the introduction of the ueropean carp. But this doesn't take into account the earlier and continued effect of weeds, fire, climate change, habitat destruction and other introduced ferals etc etc.

    I know that you know this already Steve.

    BTW, the toads are at the tops and centre of the escarpment. I never beleived they were until a week ago but i saw them with my own eyes and have the pictures to prove it.

     
  5. Bushman

    Bushman Very Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for that info Steve. In time I suppose predators may also learn to recognize their characteristic gait and swimming style, as backstroke in sunglasses is pretty distinctive! lol

    Putting toads aside for now, as Morelia oenpelliensis are unlikely to prey directly on them; there is no doubt that there's been a dramatic decline in native mammal numbers across the Top End since the arrival of white man. Since large mammals are more susceptible to changes in land use and threats from introduced species, as has occurred, this has no doubt had a direct impact on the Oenpelli Python. Since large mammals are the major food source of adults in particular, their decline would have had a significant impact on Oenpelli numbers. As a large apex predator, M. oenpelliensis are particularly vulnerable to declines in available mammalian prey.

    As we know, the total population of M. oenpelliensis is poorly surveyed and no study has been made of the rate of its decline. This is partly due to the inaccessibility of the region. The conservation status of M. oenpelliensis is listed by the Northern Territory Government as vulnerable to extinction. This has been evaluated by known threatening factors, such as altered land use and fire regimes, and population inferred from the relative abundance of its prey. Suitable habitat is also limited in the distribution range of the species.

    So I don't think there's any good argument against establishing and therefore protecting this species against extinction through captive breeding programmes. However, I'm not sure if the model being used is the best one. The notion of 'first in, best dressed' for distribution of the first captive bred offspring is somewhat problematic in my opinion. By all accounts, of which there are very few admittedly, this species is not easy to keep and breed in captivity. Therefore, I think that the first generation of CB Oenpelli Pythons should only go to the most experienced python keepers/breeders in the country. Once established in captivity in good numbers by these breeders, then they can be distributed to hobbyists.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2012
  6. SteveNT

    SteveNT Very Well-Known Member

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    They are very keen on fruit bats and countrymen tell me they like black wallaroos and rock wallabies also. As far as I am aware none of these have suffered population crashes.

    Yes Gordo I have seen the toads on top of the escarpment but in nothing like the numbers on the floodplains or woodland. I believe the local wildlife is learning to avoid the toads which is great.
     
  7. Darlyn

    Darlyn Very Well-Known Member

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    Hey Waruikazi do you know what Gavin intends to feed them with?
     
  8. waruikazi

    waruikazi Legendary

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    His exact words were 'Anything that it will take.'
     
  9. wokka

    wokka Guest

    Rodentfarm has offered to supply rabbits if they will take them.
     
  10. Jeffa

    Jeffa Well-Known Member

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    Do Hatchies and Juvies eat the following? Do not think so. Small reptile and mammals would also be the key for these guys to keep the population sustainable. Are they potentially affected as a result of the toads? All animals need to "learn from experience" as they cannot pass this dangerous info onto their offspring. Speculate all you want, but this may be the only chance we save this species from exctinction. I am proud to be in this time where we potentially grasped a species from exctintion, well done Gavin and all involved.
     
  11. Slickturtle

    Slickturtle Not so new Member

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    Hi Steve and all

    I wrote a paper on the feeding preferences of this species back in 77. As Steve says, fruit bats are their favourites. Maybe when those pythons are common in captivity the owners can do a deal with the managers of the big city botanic gardens!! I can see some synergy there! But seriously, their diet in the wild is an interesting topic as they obviously can't start off by eating Black Wallaroos and rock wallabies. I critical shortage of the right sized prey at all ages of the snake is essential. In their early years they would be after roosting micro bats and the mid sized bats like Taphazous (dog faced free tailed bats) and Ghost Bats (still common - we think- in the region.) This is one of the reasons why I get annoyed with the Govt. conservation agencies. Paying some mammologists to look at the population distribution and dynamics of cave dwelling bats would be a very useful project. They could report on all forms of life in the caves and might turn up good numbers of Oenpellis and Giant Skinks and God knows what else. But nothing is done. They could even invite volunteers to assist the zoologist at little or no cost to the park service and therefore get maximum bang for their buck money wise. It would be a fabulous project to be involved in and I can image that there would be a few people on this forum who would put their hand up to spend a week or two exploring the uncharted caves of west Arnhemland and Kakadu.

    The fruit bat is interesting too. They are regionally nomadic and some have moved into Jabiru and Katherine and other towns. Does this means that they are no longer returning to their traditional, historic roosts where saving pythons are patiently waiting in vain? There is so much that we don't know. One argument would be that if the bat numbers have not gone down, then the python should be /could be doing OK as the bats alone (from micro to mega [flying foxes]) are enough to sustain the pythons from egg to grave.

    And Steve - Carlia is fine. Not so a year ago when she was diagnosed with aggressive and advanced Lymphatic cancer whilst 7 months pregnant!! She had about 10 days to live when she was admitted to Darwin hospital. But - thanks to modern medicine and 8 moths in Adelaide getting a stem cell transplant - she is now fixed and running around Darwin just like any other young mother with 2 little kids in tow. (Apologies to all the non human oriented forum members)

    Cheers

    Curse these computers. I just re-read my post to discover that if you have cancer the best thing to do is to take "8 moths in Adelaide". I can't remember what kind of moths!! And as for pythons "saving" instead of "starving", well, I have no excuse.....!!!!!
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2012
  12. SteveNT

    SteveNT Very Well-Known Member

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    Cheers Greg.

    I am really happy to hear Carlia has made it through! She was always a tough nut. Congrats on your grandfatherhood also. As you'd be aware spelling has paled to insignificance these days.
    And my father is fighting the C at the moment. I cant visit him until quote “ he needs me”. Fair enough.

    I’m back in central AL next week. Just 4 days but I will learn a ****load about that country from the dialogues I set up 2 weeks ago.
    Regarding caves I spent 6 months in Kalkaringi last year and from what I saw there is enough to keep any speliologist or cave biologist going for years!

    8 moths? How about 299 crow butterflies?
     
  13. Unclewo-wo

    Unclewo-wo Active Member

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    I have been making my way through the book "keeping and breeding Australian pythons" and have come across the Morelia oenpelliensis. To answer your question I would love to have one. my question/s to anyone that can help, where can I find more information about them or talk to any one with information about them. If one has not been started can we make a page so those in the know can update on their status and learn more.
    please and thank you from wazza aka unclewowo.
     
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