To share or not to share?

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AlterEgo
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To share or not to share?

Post by AlterEgo » July 24th, 2015, 2:46 pm

Hi,

I'm a long time contributor writing under an alias as I don't want to draw attention to myself or the find and locality my question relates to - yet, at least.

Anyway, here goes...

Checking out a new spot today I found an exceedingly rare albino / leucistic / hypo / whatever (orange!) viperid. I only caught a quick glimpse of the snake as it slid away into a large dense thicket of thorny bushes where searching for it seemed impossible. Ideally I would have tried to wait it out, giving it a while to come back out to bask again. However, as luck would have it, I found it at the last moment before I had to head back to pick up my son. I waited some 6-8 minutes, the very most I could afford, and tried in the meantime to call my wife to see if she could pick him up instead but she didn't answer. Eventually, I had to leave without seeing the snake again and without pics.

My conundrum now is that I really want confirmation and photos of the snake yet I know I will not have the time to go back to the spot anytime in the near future. I don't really have any companions I can trust to search for me and keep quiet about it. Therefore I am debating with myself whether to publicize my find to allow others to search for the snake or to keep it to myself and go back when I have the time with significantly less chance of the snake thus being found again. The species in question is protected though not threatened and the locality I would not consider particularly sensitive. Generally speaking, I have no reason to believe illegal collection is an issue around here.

I can't seem to make up my mind so I'm asking you guys for input. What do you think?

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Noah M
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Re: To share or not to share?

Post by Noah M » July 24th, 2015, 5:30 pm

Don't bothering sharing the location. This is a public forum. Who knows who is reading this. Who knows what those people would do to find this creature.

If you just have to share this with somebody, email your local fish and wildlife office (like a state biologist) with the information.

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reptologist
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Re: To share or not to share?

Post by reptologist » July 24th, 2015, 5:51 pm

Another option may be to PM someone here that you trust.

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chris_mcmartin
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Re: To share or not to share?

Post by chris_mcmartin » July 24th, 2015, 6:59 pm

reptologist wrote:Another option may be to PM someone here that you trust.
I second this motion.

I'd say 99% of the posters here wouldn't do anything nefarious, but who knows what an unknown number of lurkers could do? :shock:

AlterEgo
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Re: To share or not to share?

Post by AlterEgo » July 24th, 2015, 10:20 pm

Thanks for the replies.

Reading them I realize I wasn't clear at first. I never actually considered posting locality data on this forum but only elsewhere where it would draw less wide attention. Still on the hedge.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: To share or not to share?

Post by Kelly Mc » July 25th, 2015, 12:23 am

How would you handle the matter if there were no such thing as The Internet?


Thats what you should do.

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cbernz
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Re: To share or not to share?

Post by cbernz » July 25th, 2015, 5:49 am

AlterEgo wrote:I don't really have any companions I can trust to search for me and keep quiet about it.
If you can't trust your friends, why would you trust a stranger? That doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

I would say if your number one concern is that this snake stay unharmed and in the wild, don't tell anyone where it is. If your number one concern is getting documentation of a really cool find, pick your most trustworthy friend and live with the inherent risk that he/she will tell someone else about it, or call your state biologist, like captainjack suggested.

After you sort that out, your first priority should be to befriend some trustworthy herpers!

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Kelly Mc
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Re: To share or not to share?

Post by Kelly Mc » July 25th, 2015, 8:26 am

It is was cool to see but in the bigger picture albinos arnt that big a deal - its a defect that can occur in any animal.

Sometimes I wonder about indigenous peoples and folklore or tribe beliefs and what a glimpse of an albino meant .

In this time with our idiosyncrasies per visual morphs it shouldn't mean terrible luck for a snake in the wild or the area it was seen.

Its an unusual sight but nothing to lose sleep over. Examine albinism from a genetic standpoint and it fades its magical candy spell.

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krismunk
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Re: To share or not to share?

Post by krismunk » July 25th, 2015, 11:31 am

Edit: Mispost, sorry

AlterEgo
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Re: To share or not to share?

Post by AlterEgo » July 25th, 2015, 12:16 pm

Thanks for your comments, they helped me get a perspective :)
cbernz wrote:If you can't trust your friends, why would you trust a stranger? That doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
...
After you sort that out, your first priority should be to befriend some trustworthy herpers!
I actually do have trustworthy herping friends, just none that live near this location, and those that live at least relatively nearby are all so busy that they would be very hard pressed to find the time to look anyway. Add to that the fact that I don't really want to risk sending them on a wild goose chase. Rare as such a critter is I can't help continually questioning myself as to what I really saw (though I am quite certain). I'm sorry I was just too lazy or hurried to spell all that out at first.
cbernz wrote:...or call your state biologist, like captainjack suggested.
With my knowledge of the working conditions of "state biologists" around here, sadly I can't really see one take much of an interest in one freak individual of a common species, and I don't even blame them.
cbernz wrote:I would say if your number one concern is that this snake stay unharmed and in the wild, don't tell anyone where it is.
It's a freak of nature with low long time survival chances in the wild, unlikely to propagate itself, hence I have little concern for the future of the individual in the wild. There are other arguments against disclosure, though. I have a concern about how shady individuals might behave in the pursuit of such an individual and how this might affect the habitat and population as a whole. Further, I do not wish to aid anyone in behaviour I find wrong. Finally, from an egoistic perspective I might worry that information falling into the hands of the wrong people might limit rather than strengthen my chances of the find being documented and my learning more about the snake.

cbernz wrote:If your number one concern is getting documentation of a really cool find, pick your most trustworthy friend and live with the inherent risk that he/she will tell someone else about it
That's the option I went with. We'll see when any of us actually finds the time to search for it again.
Kelly Mc wrote:It is was cool to see but in the bigger picture albinos arnt that big a deal - its a defect that can occur in any animal.
...
Its an unusual sight but nothing to lose sleep over. Examine albinism from a genetic standpoint and it fades its magical candy spell.
I agree completely and have only disdain for the targetting and selective breeding of such defects in the realm of herpetoculture. That said, I must admit any natural occurence that is so rare and strikingly different holds a special allure simply by virtue of same rarity and visual difference. Freak shows are enticing.

simus343
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Re: To share or not to share?

Post by simus343 » July 25th, 2015, 8:55 pm

I have a couple questions about the original details. As your profile , AlterEgo, at least as far as what is shown whenever you post is concerned, you do not have an listed region (Asia, Europe, US (state/county)) listed.

Therefor, my first question - What region do you live in? I.E. California, Kentucky, Utah, Germany, Malaysia, etc. I didn't see anything about this in your posts.

Then, based on the answer to my first question - were you able to at least ID the species? Or even group (rattlesnake, cottonmouth, etc)?

If you were not able to ID the snake, perhaps it is a species where an orange aberration is common/uncommon-but-not-rare? For me I have a secret spot where I can turn up bright orange Banded Water Snakes (hypo-anathrystic or something like that - I'm not a morph guy). I also occasionally see Cottonmouth adults 2-3 feet long that fully retain the bright orange/copper color of the neonates. Though rare, I've seen 3 of them and 0 albinos so far, one of which today I realised may have possibly been an elusive "florida copperhead".

Dissimilar to albinism and unusual-melanism, the super-orange expression in snakes that naturally have orange pigment seems rather common. If the viper species you saw naturally has orange in it, I reckon it may be more common than an albino/melanistic for sure. Still certainly worth the picture though.

I'd be secretive about location except with people you know personally or DNR/FWC/etc Biologists. There are people that will cross state/country borders just to collect specially colored vipers for captive collections - legally or otherwise.

I know how you feel about just edging to get that picture though! I got my lifer coral snake a few weeks ago and am doing everything I can and taking every opportunity I get to try and find another to get a picture :cry:. Good luck in your search for this orange viper of yours :beer:!


Also what cbernz meant by state biologist, there are many "state biologists" but there is a lead one that catalogs finds of all sorts of flora and fauna submitted to him/her. If you call your state DNR/FWC and inquire, or visit the website, someone/the website may lead you to the person you would want to inform that would show more interest than the typical worker-bee biologist.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: To share or not to share?

Post by Kelly Mc » July 25th, 2015, 10:12 pm

The OPs post lacks the innocence of a newbie and is thoughtfully composed with notes of provocativeness.

There are some guys, like Simus who uses a username yet radiate sincerity and easy personal detail.

And then there have been the others, whom maintain scrupulous
anonymity because they just want to **** with people.

I don't know if thats what's going on here but, just sayin .

AlterEgo
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Re: To share or not to share?

Post by AlterEgo » July 25th, 2015, 11:25 pm

simus343 wrote:I have a couple questions about the original details. As your profile , AlterEgo, at least as far as what is shown whenever you post is concerned, you do not have an listed region (Asia, Europe, US (state/county)) listed.

Therefor, my first question - What region do you live in? I.E. California, Kentucky, Utah, Germany, Malaysia, etc. I didn't see anything about this in your posts.
Kelly Mc wrote:And then there have been the others, whom maintain scrupulous
anonymity because they just want to **** with people.
I do not live in the US. My location is a main reason for my lack of detail as I stand out from the crowd here. Kelly, I know what you are referring to, remember some instances. I assure you I am not messing with you, just feel a need for secrecy in this regard and, as this does not come naturally to me, perhaps I'm overdoing it a little.
simus343 wrote:Then, based on the answer to my first question - were you able to at least ID the species? Or even group (rattlesnake, cottonmouth, etc)?

If you were not able to ID the snake, perhaps it is a species where an orange aberration is common/uncommon-but-not-rare? For me I have a secret spot where I can turn up bright orange Banded Water Snakes (hypo-anathrystic or something like that - I'm not a morph guy). I also occasionally see Cottonmouth adults 2-3 feet long that fully retain the bright orange/copper color of the neonates. Though rare, I've seen 3 of them and 0 albinos so far, one of which today I realised may have possibly been an elusive "florida copperhead".

Dissimilar to albinism and unusual-melanism, the super-orange expression in snakes that naturally have orange pigment seems rather common. If the viper species you saw naturally has orange in it, I reckon it may be more common than an albino/melanistic for sure. Still certainly worth the picture though.

I'd be secretive about location except with people you know personally or DNR/FWC/etc Biologists. There are people that will cross state/country borders just to collect specially colored vipers for captive collections - legally or otherwise.

I know how you feel about just edging to get that picture though! I got my lifer coral snake a few weeks ago and am doing everything I can and taking every opportunity I get to try and find another to get a picture :cry:. Good luck in your search for this orange viper of yours :beer:!
I did not get a good enough look to positively ID the snake out of context. Given my location, the habitat, and what I did see there is really only one realistic possibility though, one that I am secretive about for the same reasons as regards my location. Leucism / albinism is known from this species but is super rare. It is a species that can have a slight orange hue though typically it doesn't. I have found specimens that were what I would consider "super-orange". This was different. I'd say I'm about 95% certain of what it was and the need for a picture (though a desire to show off also comes into play) is really more about eliminating the 5% than anything else.

Oh, and corals are cool - good luck. You'll get it soon enough :-)
simus343 wrote:Also what cbernz meant by state biologist, there are many "state biologists" but there is a lead one that catalogs finds of all sorts of flora and fauna submitted to him/her. If you call your state DNR/FWC and inquire, or visit the website, someone/the website may lead you to the person you would want to inform that would show more interest than the typical worker-bee biologist.
It doesn't quite work that way around here - hence "state biologist".

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Kelly Mc
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Re: To share or not to share?

Post by Kelly Mc » July 26th, 2015, 12:31 am

AlterEgo in reference to your quote of my comment, it was reassuring.

I meant no offense, it has happened here with one US herper: (?) or should I say "outdoor enthusiast" in particular.

I just wanted to acknowledge the good spirit of your reply.


- Kel

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soulsurvivor
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Re: To share or not to share?

Post by soulsurvivor » July 26th, 2015, 3:32 am

I find it curious that my own husband, who herps with me on occasion, can't get approved membership here by Mr Scott Waters, yet someone with the user nam "AlterEgo" can. :?:

To the original poster: if I were you, I would tell no one the locality and continue to go back to the spot myself. Imagine the rush YOU will feel when you finally get your photo and see the animal in the open with your own two eyes. As mentioned previously, there's nothing genetically amazing about wild albinos or the like. It happens. Fish and game organizations won't care. But to see one yourself would be a thrill, so why give that opportunity away?

~Bree

simus343
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Re: To share or not to share?

Post by simus343 » July 26th, 2015, 4:59 am

Now that you mention that you don't live in the US, I would be quite secretive. From other posts here on FHF, I know that biologists in various Asian countries will euthanize perfectly healthy herps to make museum specimens. It would be a real shame if this happened (in any country) to an aberrant snake no matter what type of mutation. Heck, I know biologists here in the US that did this with many amazing snakes that I would never dream of killing for any reason, educational or not. I also wouldn't put it past any scientist of any other region of the world. Killing and preserving live animals in jars is one of my less-appreciated aspects of zoology. Live museum specimens are much better in my opinion, just for my own morals, if a close-up specimen must be used for education.

Every snake we see alive today, I can feel safe to say, had an ancestrally different pattern within the same species (linear evolution) or with whatever ancestor species it came from (divergent evolution). As an example, with what highly limited knowledge I have of the "evolution tree", I strongly doubt the first organism to be what we call a snake today would have been predominantly green for example. Yet today, we have green snakes.

My point I am making here is, aberrations in pattern, while albinism may be a "weakness" so to say (easy for predators to spot), other mutations such as this orange hugh (hypo-melanistic was the morph I meant to refer to in my last note about banded water snakes), if a kajillion other variables work out right, may result in a new "dominant" wild morph for a species.

About a year and a half ago I was talking with a professor of mine that happens to be an evolutionary geneticist specializing in herpetology. During my pursuit to learn about Eastern Hognose color morphs he brought up an example of a European snake that I cannot remember the name of at all. Historically there was a good deal of color and pattern variation within the species, similar to is seen in Eastern Hognoses. Over time, the selective pressure of winter resulted in the melanistic form becoming the dominant wild morph of the snake. The reason being the black ones were able to thermo-regulated better on warm days during cold periods - thus allowing a higher winter survival rate.

My point here is, if you believe your country's biologists or even academic scholars will kill the snake to preserve it as a museum specimen and what you saw ends up being a confirmed color aberration, it would be a shame if it was killed because of what potential it has to pass its genetics on to further generations that may be expressed as a standard wild morph in generations to come.

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Re: To share or not to share?

Post by BillMcGighan » July 26th, 2015, 5:52 am

I have to agree with Bree on this:
To the original poster: if I were you, I would tell no one the locality and continue to go back to the spot myself. Imagine the rush YOU will feel when you finally get your photo and see the animal in the open with your own two eyes. As mentioned previously, there's nothing genetically amazing about wild albinos or the like. It happens. Fish and game organizations won't care. But to see one yourself would be a thrill, so why give that opportunity away?

If it is a sport or mutation, it probably has very little effect on the overall local population, unless it has a compatibility with the habitat, or a habitat change. This makes it just a curiosity to science and deli-cup audiences alike.
If it’s not a color trend of the area, and, since most of the popular deli-cup mutations are genetically recessive, “taking it” from the habitat for self gain, curiosity, or to sacrifice for a museum is irrelevant, to the population, since all three effectively “kill” the animal genetically to the local population.


A curmudgeon’s response to sharing:

IMHO I’m sure you’ll decide for yourself what to do, and it will be fine because you’ve obviously thought about it, but, personally, I would tell no one, and return as often as possible to try to document with a photo voucher, a GPS location, and even a tissue sample, just for your own experience.
I rarely even tell a sensitive location to “trusted friend”, since this “trusted friend” can tell two of his/her “trusted friends”, who can tell two of his/her “trusted friends”, who can tell two of his/her “trusted friends”, who can tell two of his/her “trusted friends”, etc. Each iteration increases the probability of abuse.

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Antonsrkn
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Re: To share or not to share?

Post by Antonsrkn » July 27th, 2015, 6:34 am

I have to admit I'm dying of curiosity but I understand your reasons for not disclosing the species.

Like others have said in this sort of case i'd probably keep it to myself and try to find it again. Depending on the species I guess, but if its a viperid then its likely that it won't move terribly far on its own and you may know the general area of its denning site, depending on if you're in the tropics or not. So you may be able to comb the same area in coming years even, you have yourself a bit of a white whale to pursue now. Good luck! I hope you encounter it again in the future!

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Re: To share or not to share?

Post by hellihooks » July 27th, 2015, 1:52 pm

the one thing no herper seems able to keep... a secret. Once word gets out it spreads like wildfire... and there are those who WILL travel to other countries to try for a new morph.

Hell... i watched a show on the worlds newest, rarest viper (Maylaysian i think)... saw one for sale for like 10 grand at a reptile supershow, the next week... :shock:

In 40 years of herping I've never found an albino... and very few hypos, anerys, etc. document this yourself... very likely a once-in-a-lifetime deal. good luck... :beer: jim

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