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Right Fish for You? – Top Aquarium Tip #4

PROBLEM: Many people go to the pet store and just start picking out fish for their new tank like an interior decorator picks out new furniture for a mansion. Often the only criteria is what looks good; i.e. the most colorful fish or the most impressive. Occasionally, their checkbook makes the decisions and only the cheap fish are selected. While there is nothing wrong with desiring the nicest-looking fish for your aquarium, or simply being economical, there is often very little thought given to the long term “big picture.” Can your tank really hold that many fish? Will that fish outgrow the...
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Swamp People: A Review

When the History Channel aired the pilot episode of “Swamp People,” I couldn’t resist my curiosity to sit down and watch, despite my affinity for animals. For those of you not aware, Swamp People is a TV series that showcases the legalized hunting season of the American alligator in the state of Louisiana, and the culture surrounding this practice. “Gator hunting” is a tradition dating back as far as 300 years, and many veteran hunters earn the majority of their yearly income within the 30-day window that makes up the open season for these large reptiles. Their success is largely dependent on...
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Venomous Snake I.D. in the Southeast – Part 3

At last, we come to the rattlesnakes. There are three main species native to the southeast United States, and here I will briefly describe them to you, in no particular order. The smallest, and arguably, the most frequently encountered is the pygmy rattlesnake. Often referred to as the ground rattler, this diminutive serpent has a much more slender body shape than its larger relatives, and rarely grows over 2 feet in length. It is typically a greyish hue with dark black markings saddling its back and sides, although some localities can be red or tan in coloration. Its natural color and pattern is...
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Venomous Snake I.D. – Part 2

These next two snakes are more commonly encountered than the elusive coral snake, which I described in the previous blog regarding identifying venomous snakes. They are the southern copperhead and the western cottonmouth. In the pit viper family, both species can be active during daylight hours and are frequently found near bodies of water. It is for these reasons that they are arguably the most commonly encountered venomous snakes in the southeast United States; virtually any sizable body of fresh water near a wooded area could be potential habitat for these snakes, whether it is a pond, creek, river...
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Venomous Snake ID in the Southeast – Part 1

As an avid animal-lover with a particular affinity for the reptilian beasties, I am always a little disheartened when someone I know informs me that they have recently killed a snake on their property. In many cases, the tale is accompanied by a photo, either via Facebook, email, or cellphone, with the intent that I (the unofficial “snake guy” that they know) can identify the species. Regrettably (especially for the snake), most of the time, it turns out to be a completely harmless species, such as a garter snake, rat snake, or the common Dekay’s brown snake, rather than a venomous, potentially...
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