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Herps In The News Local or national articles where reptiles or amphibians have made it into the news media. Please cite sources.

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Old 09-26-2023, 12:07 PM   #1
My article in USA Today

Not trying to toot my own horn here, but I thought some of you might appreciate this article in USA Today:

We've been working on this LA pine breeding project in my classroom since 2016, and this year we finally managed to get fertile eggs and hatch 4 feisty little babies!

I keep a menagerie of various critters in my classroom and I'm stupid fortunate to teach where I do. My district not only tolerates my reptile eccentricities and allows me to keep them in my room, but they also let me offer "Critter Care" advisory sessions - basically a 30-min session in the morning where students learn the natural history and captive husbandry of the animals.

This kind of exposure has helped countless students get over their ophidiophobia, and I'm happy to say I've also inspired at least a few budding young herpers. That I can also help students make personal connections with endangered species and maybe go on to donate or help raise awareness about them is a huge bonus!
Old 09-26-2023, 02:47 PM   #2
Socratic Monologue

Are you working with any institution/organization/agency on a release program?
Old 09-26-2023, 04:22 PM   #3
Alas no, my animals aren't part of any AZA studbook and they've been housed near exotics, so they aren't candidates for release. Their offspring will just continue to perpetuate the captive gene pool.

That being said, I have a group of students who are about to use them in a genetics research project. We've located two genes that we can get sequences specific to ruthveni. We're going to extract DNA from our animals and from sheds from animals at one of the zoos breeding ruthveni, target the genes of interest, and confirm the genetic identity of our animals. We also should be able to calculate the heterozygosity between the animals to see how related they are. We're hoping to use this project in some of our local science fair competitions, since there aren't too many schools doing this kind of genetics and ecological research.
Old 09-29-2023, 06:03 PM   #4
Very exciting! I read it earlier in the week on There is a lot to be proud of, congratulations. When I was in elementary school (4 decades ago, lol), I would be allowed to bring in herps that I would catch at the creek and house them in the room for a while. We would do lessons with them and then I would release them back where I found them before winter hibernation. Your situation is rare to say the least. Keep up the good work.
Old 09-29-2023, 09:35 PM   #5
Socratic Monologue
Originally Posted by Chance View Post
That being said, I have a group of students who are about to use them in a genetics research project.
That will be a great experience for them.

I'm no scientist, but just today I was trying to work through a debate in the taxonomy of Lampropeltis, and the technical details are really hard for me to grasp. A basic understanding of how how sequencing works in these contexts would help me to better understand the zoomed-out issues like how many species there actually are in a given species complex (that's what the debate was, basically).

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