Print Page | Close Window

Aesculapian snake

Printed From: Reptiles and Amphibians of the UK
Category: Alien & Naturalised species of the UK
Forum Name: Naturalised
Forum Description: Concerning non-indigenous species that are no threat to native fauna
URL: http://www.herpetofauna.co.uk/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=2204
Printed Date: 25 Sep 2018 at 4:36pm
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 11.06 - http://www.webwizforums.com


Topic: Aesculapian snake
Posted By: Vicar
Subject: Aesculapian snake
Date Posted: 25 Aug 2007 at 7:54pm
Just a quick note to confirm that there is indeed an Aesculapian snake colony present in central London...not far from London Zoo.

One was found and photographed by four RAUK members last weekend, following news of a recent capture in the area. I'll let Rick add more detail and pics in this thread.


-------------
Steve Langham - Chairman     mailto:steve@surrey-arg.org.uk">
Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group



Replies:
Posted By: yellowhammer
Date Posted: 27 Aug 2007 at 9:16am
What fresh lunacy is this?! More info would be greatly appreciated!  

-------------
Cheers, Ian


Posted By: Deano
Date Posted: 27 Aug 2007 at 4:44pm
See the thread intitled 'The Camden Creature'.




-------------
Deano
Better to be lucky than good looking.


Posted By: Deano
Date Posted: 28 Aug 2007 at 3:33am

BTW Steve

How big was the one you found? The one I found was about a metre long, although my mate Ron thought it was more like 6 foot!

p.s. Good to have y'all back.



-------------
Deano
Better to be lucky than good looking.


Posted By: Vicar
Date Posted: 28 Aug 2007 at 5:46am
Rehi...

I'll nudge Rick to add some further details, it was his find

The snake was probably a sub-adult male, measuring almost exactly 2 ft. Some of the folks present have better pictures, but here's one that gives an indication of size.



-------------
Steve Langham - Chairman     mailto:steve@surrey-arg.org.uk">
Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group


Posted By: arvensis
Date Posted: 28 Aug 2007 at 8:04am
Should've let me know about this, I would've liked to gone with you all and find them.

Mark


Posted By: herpetologic2
Date Posted: 28 Aug 2007 at 9:13am

Its near the Zoo eh

I would like to have details of that if that is possible through pm

Any chance of further surveys?

Regards

Jon

Check this beauty out - Essex (not from a colony though)

 

 

 



-------------
Report your sightings to the Record Pool http://recordpool.org.uk" rel="nofollow - http://arguk.org/recording


Posted By: AGILIS
Date Posted: 28 Aug 2007 at 10:02am
HI Steve & Rick well found and good picture was it near the canal embankment  & did it bite you? keith

-------------
   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID


Posted By: st rick
Date Posted: 28 Aug 2007 at 12:08pm

Welcome back everyone!

I'm a bit slow off the mark on this one after 3 days camping in the woods on the North Downs Way. 

The snake was was indeed found close to the canal embankment and Keith, yes, the first thing it did was sink it's teeth in to me!  This along with the fact it was in exactly the same spot as another recent Aesculapian sighting, led me to believe it was not a funny looking Grass Snake with a really bad temper!

These 2 recent sightings of juveniles does not prove scientifically there is a breeeding population there, though it points in that direction more precisely than if an adult snake had been found.  I have no idea of how many there are:  but it only took 10 - 15 minutes to locate this specimen.

 

 

 

 



Posted By: arvensis
Date Posted: 28 Aug 2007 at 1:38pm
Anyone up for a little trip to find some more? I have 2 weeks off in September so I'm available quite a bit.

Mark


Posted By: Vicar
Date Posted: 28 Aug 2007 at 2:33pm
Mark,

I was going to suggest the same thing, as rail links to the area are excellent. Don't make the same mistake I did and drive !

I'm not sure about my availability in September yet, but a few people looking in good weather might just give an idea of how widespread they are !


-------------
Steve Langham - Chairman     mailto:steve@surrey-arg.org.uk">
Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group


Posted By: arvensis
Date Posted: 28 Aug 2007 at 2:55pm
Well I have the w/c Sunday 9th and w/c Sunday 30th off so plenty of options.  October maybe getting a little late but considering how variable the weather has been, anything is possible!

Mark


Posted By: Danial
Date Posted: 29 Aug 2007 at 2:52am
I went with Steve to see the site and the snake, and am also keen to return in better weather.
The habitat on one side of the canal is woodland with a ground cover of ivy, and at the time quite cool and dark.
There are plenty of holes in the bank, probably rat, so lots of places to hide along with log piles, and possibly tree holes.

Some pics follow

Danial



-------------
Consultant Ecologist and Amphibians Officer of Surrey Amphibian and Reptile Group
www.surrey-arg.org.uk



Posted By: Alan Hyde
Date Posted: 29 Aug 2007 at 4:21am
Hi Daniel,
Nice pics mate. Hope you don't mind , I edited your post as the pics were side by side and difficult to view
Cheers,
Al

-------------
O-> O+>


Posted By: st rick
Date Posted: 29 Aug 2007 at 12:27pm

My availability is not great in September, but I could possibly manage Sunday 9th.  Not to worry - I live very close to the site and might even get down there tomorrow.  I feel a warm day is important as I think these reptiles enjoy a bit of heat.

Here is another pic.  Thanks to Paul for these pics - my camera out of action.  I hope he won't mind me posting these



Posted By: Deano
Date Posted: 29 Aug 2007 at 1:56pm

I'd be up for this trip. St Rick, when I found the bigger one it was 6-7 years ago. Wether this one is it's offspring I couldn't say. But, it was a lot bigger than this recent find. So maybe there is atleast a couple/pair.

Someone pick a date.



-------------
Deano
Better to be lucky than good looking.


Posted By: Danial
Date Posted: 31 Aug 2007 at 4:49pm
Hi Alan

Glad you liked the pics and thanks for editing them.

Danial


Posted By: AGILIS
Date Posted: 01 Sep 2007 at 7:07am
HI  daniel like the photos great shots its amazing to be able to jump of bus or tube in almost central London and get straight into a snake safari.no doubt in the future some one will pass a by law to have special licence . has there been any thought as to what else may have estabilished itself  lurking in the undergrowth maybe a friendly Cobra or a nice black mamba who knows ?.   keith 

-------------
   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID


Posted By: st rick
Date Posted: 01 Sep 2007 at 7:30am

It's occurred to me that a 7 foot Aesculapian (they go olive all over when adult) would not look unlike a Black Mamba, they're quick too, especially if encountered in the environs of London Zoo!



Posted By: herpetologic2
Date Posted: 01 Sep 2007 at 11:48am

Heres my mates mamba

Just a warning (I am sure everyone knows this) but you do need a license to release any animals captured at Regents.....

I would be up for a trip in September I was going to Jersey but I am delaying that until next spring.

Let me know and I would like to come along

Unofficial RAUK trip 3 or is it 4?

Jon

 

 



-------------
Report your sightings to the Record Pool http://recordpool.org.uk" rel="nofollow - http://arguk.org/recording


Posted By: herpetologic2
Date Posted: 01 Sep 2007 at 11:50am

A thought just occurred to me

Is there slight possibility that snakes from regents are making their way back into the pet trade?

J



-------------
Report your sightings to the Record Pool http://recordpool.org.uk" rel="nofollow - http://arguk.org/recording


Posted By: Deano
Date Posted: 01 Sep 2007 at 2:29pm
Hmm.. No need to buy in stock, just harvest a few juveniles. Was this the original plan?!!


Anybody for next Saturday (8th)?




-------------
Deano
Better to be lucky than good looking.


Posted By: arvensis
Date Posted: 01 Sep 2007 at 4:24pm
I may not be able to make next saturday - I may be working.  The 9th(Sunday) and the following Wednesday are also no good for me.   Any other day should be ok.

Cheers, Mark


Posted By: Deano
Date Posted: 03 Sep 2007 at 3:19am

Here's a piece about the Welsh Mountain Zoo population.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2006/05_may/16/snake.shtml - http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2006/ 05_may/16/snake.shtml



-------------
Deano
Better to be lucky than good looking.


Posted By: Alex2
Date Posted: 03 Sep 2007 at 5:25am
Originally posted by Caleb Caleb wrote:

Originally posted by herpetologic2 herpetologic2 wrote:

A thought just occurred to me


Is there slight possibility that snakes from regents are making their way back into the pet trade?


J



I don't think there's really any demand for Aesculapians in the pet trade- people I've known who've bred them in recent years have had trouble giving them away, let alone selling them.

Don't see why it would be a problem, though...

Doesn't Chris Mattison breed longissimus?. The adults colouration is not exactly striking so I can see why there's a lack of demand compared to say Zamenis Situla which I think most would agree is Europe's prettiest ratsnake.



Posted By: Wolfgang Wuster
Date Posted: 03 Sep 2007 at 6:07am
Two little things to remember:

1. At the moment, you need a licence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act to release or even re-release an Aesculapian snake - so picking one up in Regent's Park is OK, as is selling it, keeping it or indeed killing it, but putting it back again is illegal. Good job all the photos posted so far, and the ones that will be posted in the future, are in situ!

2. Under new EU legislation coming in, you will also need a permit to own, move, sell etc. Aesculapian snakes, as they are protected under EU law, so it will be illegal to collect them as well.

Always best to know what the legal situation is before deciding what to do, and especially before posting about it in a public forum

Cheers,

Wolfgang

-------------
Wolfgang Wüster

School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor

http://pages.bangor.ac.uk/~bss166/


Posted By: Alex2
Date Posted: 03 Sep 2007 at 6:21am

Originally posted by Wolfgang Wuster Wolfgang Wuster wrote:

Two little things to remember:

1. At the moment, you need a licence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act to release or even re-release an Aesculapian snake - so picking one up in Regent's Park is OK, as is selling it, keeping it or indeed killing it, but putting it back again is illegal. Good job all the photos posted so far, and the ones that will be posted in the future, are in situ!

2. Under new EU legislation coming in, you will also need a permit to own, move, sell etc. Aesculapian snakes, as they are protected under EU law, so it will be illegal to collect them as well.

Always best to know what the legal situation is before deciding what to do, and especially before posting about it in a public forum

Cheers,

Wolfgang

Hi Wolfgang,

Sorry to go slightly off topic but the new EU legislation is one of interest to me as I keep CB Fire Salamanders and Marbled Newts, I have no records to say when I bought these etc so am concerned with what the potential outcome may be?. I've had these many years now and don't particularly want to lose them. Any idea when the new legislation will come into force?



Posted By: Alex2
Date Posted: 03 Sep 2007 at 7:26am

Thankyou Caleb, it therefore appears I'm breaking the law with my Marmoratus (not to mention my Bombina Variegata) as I cannot prove these are CB. I will check out your post on Caudata also. Not entirely sure what to do now, I presume that I'll have to hand over the Marmoratus and Variegata to relevant authorities. What a fantastic start to my holiday!.

P.s, Good to see another former YHC member on here ;) 



Posted By: Alex2
Date Posted: 03 Sep 2007 at 7:59am

Originally posted by Caleb Caleb wrote:

Well, you're not actually breaking the law, you'd just find it difficult to prove it... in practice, it's extremely unlikely that you'd be prosecuted.

If you're really that worried about it, it might be worth contacting DEFRA about applying for a licence under the new regulation (and treating the animals as if they're WC)- DEFRA have already stated that there's a three month grace period to apply for licences.

I've found my caudata.org post, it's http://www.caudata.org/forum/showthread.php?t=49620 - here .

Yes, I am indeed an ex-YHC member- long time ago now, though- did we ever meet?

I will be in touch with DEFRA, and thanks for the link as i did a search on Caudata but couldn't find your post. Regards YHC, yes we did meet on numerous occasions, mainly at the summer camps organised by Colin Fitzsimmons and Jan Clemons etc. Long time ago now (early 90's), also remember Chris Hallam whom I seem to remember was a friend of yours. One particular memory was of an 'enthusiastic' young American called John who's snake catching technique wouldn't of looked out of place on a Steve Irwin programme. And then there was Edward Santos and the whole 'Gingerly' thing. Great days in the wilds of Dorset but crap chips...

P.s, Apologies for taking this off-topic folks. 



Posted By: st rick
Date Posted: 05 Sep 2007 at 11:53am
Well, it looks to be fine and sunny tomorrow morning and Friday if anyone feels like a walk in the park....


Posted By: jhanlon
Date Posted: 17 Mar 2008 at 5:06pm

I've only just found this thread and after being told about these London snakes last year by someone who went to see the Welsh ones I'd like to check them out. Guess they'll be coming out about now? Does anyone fancy a trip or can they give me directions to the best spot?

I knew about the Welsh ones when i was studying at Bangor in the nineties but thought they would be impossible to find (I read there were 1 or 2 sightings a year). Also, I had my hands full with polecats at the time...



Posted By: st rick
Date Posted: 14 May 2008 at 11:26am
I have only made one trip down to Regents Canal this year and had no luck spotting snakes.  I thought I might get lucky as it was very early on during one of the days that proved to be pretty hot last week. 

Anyone else had any luck on the Aesculapian front this year?


Posted By: will
Date Posted: 14 May 2008 at 3:31pm

Hi

Had some luck a fortnight ago when I took the kids to the zoo; saw 3 snakes including 2 in a bush - see top photo; what worries me is the proximity of hundreds of people within inches of the animals - someone might catch / kill one ?  Also is the zoo trying to catch and keep / euthanase the animals ?

Cheers

Will

PS those with the technical skills feel free to rearrange the photos vertically !






Posted By: will
Date Posted: 19 May 2008 at 10:39am

That's reassuring David; thanks.   I think someone at ZSL was going to do a survey of them but Richard Gibson who was the curator of herpetology has left and I have lost my contacts there.

 



Posted By: AGILIS
Date Posted: 19 May 2008 at 12:18pm

 Id  would like to know how eu law on catching aesculapian snakes can be applied here as they aint natural species from here and who would enforce it pc plod who can just about issue  motoring offencess, I would think the only crime would be some stupid byelaw as trespassing or some loitering   importuning  offence on crownland or British waterways enbankments within the regents park areas of left wing Camden towns  last bastion of the Blairite polit bureau enclave in England keith

-------------
   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID


Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 20 May 2008 at 8:48am

Will to get the piccies vertically

Do it like this

(space)

(hit the enter key to make another blank line)

etc



Posted By: will
Date Posted: 20 May 2008 at 11:20am

Thanks Gemma

I'm so

useless

with

technology !



Posted By: st rick
Date Posted: 21 May 2008 at 9:23am
Will, the pics were great.

I went to the park today and had a good snoop round, but outside the Zoo.  No joy.  I am starting to think I had beginner's luck on finding that original juvenile.

Are you of the opinion that the majority of animals are inside the zoo grounds?  Do you find them north or south of the canal?  I still find it odd that mine was on the south bank, which receives very little sun.  I am going to the zoo probably next week and could do with a couple of pointers.

Thanks

Rick


Posted By: will
Date Posted: 21 May 2008 at 3:30pm
Thanks Rick

I have indeed found the majority of snakes within the zoo grounds, on the sunny north bank (south facing, of course).   I have a success rate of 0.5 snakes per visit, if you see what I mean - they're not easy to spot.  Also some of the best habitat is 'off limits' to the public, unfortunately !

Good hunting

Will


Posted By: jhanlon
Date Posted: 28 May 2008 at 3:51pm

I'm planning a trip soon for these and I'd be grateful for any tips regarding seeing the snakes. From what I've read they can be on the ground or in the trees/ bushes and the N bank of the canal within the zoo grounds is best. Any time of day? Is mid summer a good time to look and is there any particular method in locating them?

If anyone is going to look outside the grounds and wants an extra pair of eyes PM me and I'll try to join you if I'm available.

 



Posted By: st rick
Date Posted: 30 May 2008 at 12:10pm
I think the majority of snakes are found inside the zoo grounds.  Personally, I haven't checked that out yet as the admission price is quite hefty, especially if you spend all your time chasing a creature that isn't officially in the zoo collection! 

It makes sense that most are on the sunny north bank, but the only one I ever found was on the south bank, which is mostly shady and outside the zoo.  However, this area is much more secluded.  I have been back several times and never found another one.  I think I had beginner's luck....  Let us know how you get on.  Be warned:  they bite!


Posted By: Ophiuchus
Date Posted: 18 May 2011 at 3:37pm
My friend Mark (Arvensis) and I had a great day in London yesterday, we were there to see Roger Waters performing The Wall but we also planned to have a look for the Aesculapian snake, what better way to kill some time than herping in the capital!
We checked one location and saw nothing, and the weather was not ideal. I had the idea that these snakes liked it quite sunny, well it was rather overcast that day, although still quite warm and there was a few times the sun did manage to shine through the clouds, but it wasn't direct sunlight, we did decide to check one other location and to cut a long story short, we got one! It was not how i expected to find one, i thought it would be hidden deep in the undergrowth, not this one, it was out basking, right in the open with no apparent cover in the immediate area for it to retreat to, although we did discover that it does have cover even though there was no dense vegetation nearby, it was so exposed someone could have easily stepped on it if they wasn't looking where they were going.
I was able to get a few photos and a video, although the photo isn't great because the head  is partly hidden by grass, you can just see the eye and its unmistakable what it is, this could possibly be my only photo of Aesculupian snake so I am going to cherish the image even if its isn't amazing! it is  in situ, 
With regards to my video footage, I would like to put this on Youtube as i cannot see any videos of the London Aesculapian snake, i don't think I've seen any footage of the north wales ones either. But i would like to hear other opinions on if that is a good idea, or is it best left that non herp loving folks are not made aware of them? I didn't mention any specific location on the video, just said in London.
Well, here is the little beauty, actually it wasn't that little, we think it was about 4 ft, although i understand they can get bigger, its still a huge snake compared to what i am used to seeing!



-------------
Ophiuchus *~*the serpent bearer*~*


Posted By: will
Date Posted: 18 May 2011 at 4:35pm
Hi, you did well.  I think you know what I'm going to say re posting on Utube - these snakes will most likely be collected/killed by every Tom Dick and Harry so I'd advise against.  Personally I'd just be happy (as you rightly are) to have seen a brief glimpse of these normally shy animals, and leave it at that.
Cheers
Will


Posted By: Ophiuchus
Date Posted: 18 May 2011 at 4:53pm
You are right Will, I have to remember that although i want to share my enthusiasm for reptiles with everyone, there are those who are not so keen, and i would hate to think i was responsible for alerting a bunch of reptile haters to go and hunt them and kill them, so i will keep the video for private viewing.


-------------
Ophiuchus *~*the serpent bearer*~*


Posted By: will
Date Posted: 18 May 2011 at 4:59pm
I'm sure the snakes would be grateful!  it's true that their existence is, of course, available on the net, (and it's even in various books on London's wildlife and in the national press) but U-tube opens up a whole new potentially hostile and ill-informed bunch of snakephobes !
Cheers
Will


Posted By: JaySteel
Date Posted: 07 Jul 2011 at 7:57pm
Hi Ophiuchus. Any chance of sharing your video on here with us? I'm interested in taking my camera up London next week in the hope of finding and photographing an aesculapian snake.

Best regards,
Jason


Posted By: Ophiuchus
Date Posted: 07 Jul 2011 at 8:50pm
Hi Jaysteel, I dont know a way i can post videos to this site, and the video isn't that great really, you dont see the snake moving or anything it stays in the same position as it is in my photo but you just get the added benefit of me prattling on in the background about how happy we were about finding it! Good luck with finding a Aesculapian, if you do I look forward to seeing your pics, hopefully you'll get one that shows its head, unlike mine!


-------------
Ophiuchus *~*the serpent bearer*~*


Posted By: JaySteel
Date Posted: 07 Jul 2011 at 9:40pm
OK thanks for your reply.

Best regards,
Jason


Posted By: dave fixx
Date Posted: 08 Jul 2011 at 5:49pm
Im pretty sure I had the pleasure of an aesculapian snake nr Alicante a few years ago ,I was in the pool at a villa when there was an almighty noise in a bush,a bird flew off and a large (4-6) foot snake similarly coloured fell out of the bush slithered alongside the pool and on into next door chicken run.My wifes face was a pictureLOL

-------------
Dave Williams
davewilliamsphotography.co.uk


Posted By: Wolfgang Wuster
Date Posted: 09 Jul 2011 at 7:14pm
Definitely not an Aesculapian - they only occur in NW Spain, nowhere near Alicante. Your choices are a ladder snake (Rhinechis scalaris) or a Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus) ;)

-------------
Wolfgang Wüster

School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor

http://pages.bangor.ac.uk/~bss166/


Posted By: dave fixx
Date Posted: 09 Jul 2011 at 10:22pm
aah, just looked up both and I would probably say montpellier looks most likely but Im  certainly not positive of that.Had convinced myself it was an aesculapian over the last  couple of years.Cheers for that Wolfgang will check my ranges better next time .

-------------
Dave Williams
davewilliamsphotography.co.uk


Posted By: JaySteel
Date Posted: 12 Jul 2011 at 7:09pm
Well I spent several hours searching in vain for these elusive creatures yesterday until Will found me and pointed me in the right direction. So a huge "Thank you!" to Will.
Here's a couple of shots taken in-situ of the aesculapian snakes showing how adapt they are to climbing trees and bushes. 





It amazes me how these snakes just sit there unnoticed and unbothered whilst hundreds of people walk past them every day. I'm going to have to make another trip one day to get some better shots but for now I'm very pleased that it wasn't a wasted trip thanks to Will.

Best regards,
Jason


Posted By: JaySteel
Date Posted: 12 Jul 2011 at 7:10pm


Posted By: will
Date Posted: 12 Jul 2011 at 8:52pm
Thanks Jay; pleasure to show a couple to you, and great in situ shots too. Cheers, Will


Posted By: Ophiuchus
Date Posted: 12 Jul 2011 at 9:08pm
Great pics, as expected!  I hope one day I will have another reason to be in that area so i can get a shot that's better than the one i have were you able to get quite close or did you use a zoom?


-------------
Ophiuchus *~*the serpent bearer*~*


Posted By: JaySteel
Date Posted: 12 Jul 2011 at 9:21pm
Thanks guys. I used the Canon 100mm 2.8 IS lens which meant that I had to get pretty close. These shots were taken from about 1.5-2ft away. These two snakes were totally ignoring me. I was even able to carefully lift a couple of leaves that were obscuring their faces without scaring them off. The real difficulty was the height of the bush that they were perched on top of. A step ladder would have come in very handy and would've resulted in getting better shots. I'm very happy with these for now though.

Best regards,
Jason


Posted By: will
Date Posted: 12 Jul 2011 at 9:28pm
- good enough pics to ID number 7 (above) and 27 (below)!


Posted By: JaySteel
Date Posted: 12 Jul 2011 at 9:35pm
I'd love to know them all individually. It must make you feel pretty protective over them Will?
What surprised me is how small they look when coiled up. They are a very long slender snake indeed.
An adder with a head size similar to these two would probably only be about 2ft in length, and a grass snake probably only about 3ft. When number 7 (thanks for the ID) finally slithered off it just kept on unwinding and going and going . . . .


Posted By: tim hamlett
Date Posted: 12 Jul 2011 at 10:23pm
great shots jay...well done.

tim


Posted By: dave fixx
Date Posted: 12 Jul 2011 at 10:28pm
well done Jay and Will.Smile

-------------
Dave Williams
davewilliamsphotography.co.uk


Posted By: JaySteel
Date Posted: 12 Jul 2011 at 10:55pm
Thanks guys.


Posted By: will
Date Posted: 13 Jul 2011 at 8:16am
Hi Jay - I guess I do feel quite protective of them, both as individuals I've got to know over the last four years but also because they may become part of a study which could help with 'proper' conservation of relict Aesculapian populations (and those of other snakes, for example our own adders) by providing useful info on inbreeding, population dynamics etc).  You're right that they're longer than you'd think when you see them coiled up - snake 7 is around 1.3m, I think.


Posted By: Robert V
Date Posted: 22 Jan 2017 at 10:28am
Oi

-------------
RobV


Posted By: Robert V
Date Posted: 22 Jan 2017 at 10:35am
Hi all ye that survive! Lol
 
I thought I'd regurgitate this thread as I came across an interesting snippet in an ancient archive of anecdotes called Wild Animals in Captivity by A D Bartlett, the superintendent of Regents Park zoo during the late 1800's.
 

REPTILE HOUSE.

The old reptile house became unfit for the safe keeping

of the lizards, venomous snakes and other reptiles that

were deposited therein. It is very fortunate that no

serious accidents occurred by reason of some of them

having made their escape. The practice of feeding some

of the snakes upon tame white mice was looked upon by

many of the lady and children visitors as cruel. When I

was spoken to, and written to, on the subject I took

adv.antage of a suggestion that the common brown mouse,

of which we had more than enough, would answer for

feeding purposes quite as well as white ones. I therefore

had mouse-traps set in all directions, and supplied the

wild instead of the tame white ones.

 

I soon discovered my mistake. These wild brown mice,

if not killed directly, were soon engaged in gnawing their

way out of the case, and the same opening which they

made also allowed some of the snakes to follow. The

tame white mice seldom or never attempt to gnaw their

way out. Years after the old reptile house had been

disused, harmless snakes that had escaped in this way

were found in the mill-room underneath the old house.

They had doubtless lived upon the rats and mice that

swarmed in this place.

 

The keeper of the reptile house came to me one day

and told me that he had missed one of the cobras. I

examined the empty cobra case, and found a mouse-hole in

the corner leading into the water-viper's case. The water-viper

appeared to have lately fed and to be well filled out, and

I had some misgivings that the lost cobra,

in creeping through the mouse-hole, had been caught and

swallowed by the water-viper.

 

The fear, coupled with the anxiety of thinking that so

dangerous a serpent as a cobra was at liberty, caused me

to determine to settle the question at once. I had the

water- viper killed, and, upon examination, found the nearly

digested cobra, which was a great relief to me and all the

others. 


-------------
RobV


Posted By: Paul Ford
Date Posted: 23 Jan 2017 at 11:15am
Very interesting Rob!

Thanks


Posted By: JaySteel
Date Posted: 22 Mar 2017 at 10:12am
Thanks for sharing this. It does make one question whether there is the possibility that at least some of the Aesculapian Snakes found along Regents Canal did indeed originate from escapees from ZSL?



Posted By: Caleb
Date Posted: 22 Mar 2017 at 11:34am
Originally posted by JaySteel JaySteel wrote:

It does make one question whether there is the possibility that at least some of the Aesculapian Snakes found along Regents Canal did indeed originate from escapees from ZSL?

I don't think this is particularly likely, given that the origin and timing of the introduction is already quite well known. Will & Tom Langton's http://herpecology.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/Langton-pages.pdf" rel="nofollow - piece in the London Naturalist gives this summary:

"A second feral population has been extant since the mid 1980s along a canal embankment habitat in Camden, north London.This was first reported to TESL in 1998 by Ester Wenman, then head keeper of reptiles at London Zoo. Aesculapian snakes had apparently colonized the area during an experiment reported by the British Herpetological Society Legal Officer, Peter Curry, who was working there and keeping this species at the Inner London Education Authority Centre for Life Studies at the time that it was closed down around 1986. One account was that eight snakes had been released ‘on the quiet’ around the time of closure to try to form a population, several of which were recaptured, but some remained at large.Those caught initially were being euthanased but the view was then taken to leave the others ‘to take their chances’ where they were. Ten years later, in an aviary close to the embankment, fragments of juvenile Aesculapian snakes were found in a laughing thrush Garrulax sp. aviary, suggesting that the snakes had bred."


Posted By: JaySteel
Date Posted: 22 Mar 2017 at 12:02pm
Yes, they would have to of remained undetected for a hundred years or so before breeding with the LEA released specimens. Highly unlikely, as you say.


Posted By: will
Date Posted: 22 Mar 2017 at 5:57pm
I'd agree with Caleb (well, I would, wouldn't I, given that I co-authored the quoteWink) - but wouldn't it be nice to prove their single-location origin with DNA swabs from any snakes found on the canal?  Oh, of course, NE and ZSL aren't interested in doing the kind of study that CCW/WMZ are conducting in North Wales, worse luckConfused


Posted By: JaySteel
Date Posted: 22 Mar 2017 at 6:09pm
There must be some organisation that would be willing to fund this research for the London snake population? 


Posted By: will
Date Posted: 23 Mar 2017 at 6:28am
it's not a question of funding but politics...Wink



Print Page | Close Window

Forum Software by Web Wiz Forums® version 11.06 - http://www.webwizforums.com
Copyright ©2001-2016 Web Wiz Ltd. - https://www.webwiz.co.uk