RAUK - Archived Forum - The Camden Creature

This contains the Forum posts up until the end of March, 2011. Posts may be viewed but cannot be edited or replied to - nor can new posts be made. More recent posts can be seen on the new Forum at http://www.herpetofauna.co.uk/forum/

Forum Home

The Camden Creature:

This is Page 1

Author Message
Deano
Senior Member
Joined: 23 Aug 2005
No. of posts: 133


View other posts by Deano
Posted: 17 Apr 2007

Hi All

 

HereÆs a little story you may (or may not) find interesting.

 

 About 7-8 years ago I was working in Camden Town, right next to the canal. And some lunchtimes I would have a stroll along the canal towpath that went past London Zoo. On this particular day the temp was about 23-24oC  and some of the footpath was being replaced. As my friend and I strolled along, I suddenly noticed a snake head appear from under a cracked slab. I didnÆt immediately recognise the species other than it wasnÆt a grass snake or adder.  I picked it up and it was at about a metre long. I took it along to the study/teaching centre that was on that side of the canal (opposite side to ZSL),  thinking maybe one of their charges might have escaped. The man who answered the door protested that they hadnÆt lost anything and that there were snakes all along the canal bank and they lived in the burrows and ate the rats and said I should let it go. Okay if he was sure. And down a hole it went.

 

Now, I have just come across a picture that reminded me of that snake. It was a bit more grey but I think it was an Aesculapian Snake. What do you think guys an gals? Are they living and breeding on the Regents Canal?


Deano
Better to be lucky than good looking.
David Bird
Forum Specialist
Joined: 17 Feb 2003
No. of posts: 515


View other posts by David Bird
Posted: 17 Apr 2007
Yes, this is the other colony of Aesculapian snakes in the U.K. The north bank of the Regents canal. I am not certain how this came about or if it has anything to do with the London Zoo as I cannot remember ever seeing them on display or around the back ups there in the past. I have only had information from a few keepers and do not know how far they have been found from the zoo canal bank.

David
British Herpetological Society Librarian and member of B.H.S Conservation Committee. Self employed Herpetological Consultant and Field Worker.
Deano
Senior Member
Joined: 23 Aug 2005
No. of posts: 133


View other posts by Deano
Posted: 17 Apr 2007

Thanks for that David,

I wonder if they originated from 'Palmers Pets' that used to be in Parkway. I remember going in there as a kid, on my way to London Zoo, and seeing exotic pets like cotton eared marmosets.


Deano
Better to be lucky than good looking.
David Bird
Forum Specialist
Joined: 17 Feb 2003
No. of posts: 515


View other posts by David Bird
Posted: 17 Apr 2007
Possibly, but that is a fair way from the canal. I also used to drop in there on my way from Camden town tube to the zoo. They did sell reptiles as well. I will make a few enquiries to see if there is more known about the origins. I was told that all the ones that had been caught were the same sex, I think females but not 100% certain. Should be a lot of mouse and rat food in the area with the excess of zoo animal food in some cages/paddocks.
British Herpetological Society Librarian and member of B.H.S Conservation Committee. Self employed Herpetological Consultant and Field Worker.
Deano
Senior Member
Joined: 23 Aug 2005
No. of posts: 133


View other posts by Deano
Posted: 17 Apr 2007
Am I right in thinking the other population is also next to a Zoo. Coincidence?
Deano
Better to be lucky than good looking.
David Bird
Forum Specialist
Joined: 17 Feb 2003
No. of posts: 515


View other posts by David Bird
Posted: 17 Apr 2007
Yes the main population is in and around the Welsh Mountain Zoo, Colwyn Bay. I think it is probably a coincidence as Aesculapian snakes are not that common in collections and dont think tht any of the staff have worked as both zoos as far as I can remember but will enquire. There are a lot of postings about the Welsh colony on here as several students of Wolfgang Wuster have studied the population.

David.
British Herpetological Society Librarian and member of B.H.S Conservation Committee. Self employed Herpetological Consultant and Field Worker.
Alan Hyde
Senior Member
Joined: 17 Apr 2003
No. of posts: 1416


View other posts by Alan Hyde
Posted: 17 Apr 2007
Funny you know, I've always been surprised that garter snakes have not established themselves in UK. I remember hundreds in pet shops in the late seventies and some must've escaped or been released. They seem very similar to natrix in their habits (Apart from the fact they give birth to live young).



O-> O+>
David Bird
Forum Specialist
Joined: 17 Feb 2003
No. of posts: 515


View other posts by David Bird
Posted: 17 Apr 2007
Alan that has always surprised me too as the subspecies mostly imported Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis was fom the Manitoba inter lakes region in Canada so used to similar climate if not a much colder winter as the U.K. I was told that Garter Snakes are present close to Bournemouth airport but have looked in fields along the river several times as have others with no result. I have known Bull snakes to have survived several years outside and N.American King Snakes, Milk Snakes and Rat Snakes certainly survive but just seem to be the odd individuals. Garters Snakes were imported in much larger numbers and probably escaped in larger numbers knowing what escape experts snakes are. Perhaps some forum members may have some experiences of this species at large, I do have something at the back of my mind of having a telephone converation regarding animals somewhere in N.Kent.

David
British Herpetological Society Librarian and member of B.H.S Conservation Committee. Self employed Herpetological Consultant and Field Worker.
armata
Forum Specialist
Joined: 05 Apr 2006
No. of posts: 928


View other posts by armata
Posted: 17 Apr 2007
Quite a few garters were released around Bristol, late 1960s I think. One was found crossing a road near Avon Causeway five years ago, so who knows?
'I get my kicks on Route 62'
Jimpklop
Senior Member
Joined: 23 May 2006
No. of posts: 200


View other posts by Jimpklop
Posted: 17 Apr 2007
I have read this several times and still cant make sense of it, this will probably irritate some people.

But are there two colonies of Elaphe Longissima in the UK? One in Wales one in London?

Sorry

James

Im Craving Adder's(www.jimpklop.moonfruit.com)
armata
Forum Specialist
Joined: 05 Apr 2006
No. of posts: 928


View other posts by armata
Posted: 17 Apr 2007
David is right the odd snake and other reptiles pop up now an then. I have found corn snake under tin in Ringwood Forest. I was sitting in the heather at Hankley in the 70s haveing a bite with KC when this large hermans tortoise came crashing through the heather.

Also, after the bad fire at Frensham in the 70s a dead boa constrictor was found; that blows your mind a bit; it was about 2.5m in length.
'I get my kicks on Route 62'
David Bird
Forum Specialist
Joined: 17 Feb 2003
No. of posts: 515


View other posts by David Bird
Posted: 17 Apr 2007
Yes it does seem that there are two colonies, the older more publicised one is in Wales and another one in N.central London that is far less known.

David
British Herpetological Society Librarian and member of B.H.S Conservation Committee. Self employed Herpetological Consultant and Field Worker.
Alan Hyde
Senior Member
Joined: 17 Apr 2003
No. of posts: 1416


View other posts by Alan Hyde
Posted: 17 Apr 2007
Hi David, Tony.
The only thing I can think of is, perhaps those garters need a harsher winter in order to procreate? Or maybe the extremely high population found in hibernacula may have something to do with survival.

Tony, a dead BC must've been a sight! The only foriegn species i've ever found was natrix tesselata along the motorway embankment at Shepperton middx and european pond turtle also found in Shepperton swimming in the gravel pits.

O-> O+>
AGILIS
Senior Member
Joined: 27 Feb 2007
No. of posts: 694


View other posts by AGILIS
Posted: 19 Apr 2007
hi all I think deanos got a good point abouts Palmers pet shop being part of the equasion as it was only walking distants from canal banks . But I have confession to make in the 1950s security at the zoo was so slack no cct unheard of , and  probably one keeper patroling now and then the whole zoo compound . Me and my mate both 12 year olds helped our selves to a green lizard a wall liz and +a baby adder from an outside round enclosure due to the lack of money as we could not afford the 20P for a lac viridis in Palmers pet shop so who knows what was taken and let out? I wonder if they still have this snake pit out side as what we used to call it . keith   ( self confessed reptile felon of the 50s) AGILIS39191.1096990741
   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID
Deano
Senior Member
Joined: 23 Aug 2005
No. of posts: 133


View other posts by Deano
Posted: 19 Apr 2007

Hi Keith

No that round encloser (snake pit) is long gone.


Deano
Better to be lucky than good looking.
AGILIS
Senior Member
Joined: 27 Feb 2007
No. of posts: 694


View other posts by AGILIS
Posted: 19 Apr 2007
Hi deano when did the pit close ?  I must point out the adder was let free near High beech in Epping forest  after I took it to school and showed to all and terrorised a few girls with it , so it ended up a lot better of then living in the pit might be a few decendents still living there.  keith AGILIS39191.6065625
   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID
David Bird
Forum Specialist
Joined: 17 Feb 2003
No. of posts: 515


View other posts by David Bird
Posted: 19 Apr 2007
The reptilary by the main gate was demolished in October 1970 to make way for the Primate display, I can never remember seing any Aesculapian snakes in there and I spent hours there on each visit looking for and counting all the specimens of the British species.
British Herpetological Society Librarian and member of B.H.S Conservation Committee. Self employed Herpetological Consultant and Field Worker.
armata
Forum Specialist
Joined: 05 Apr 2006
No. of posts: 928


View other posts by armata
Posted: 19 Apr 2007
Ah!! SO IT WAS YOU EH''
'I get my kicks on Route 62'
armata
Forum Specialist
Joined: 05 Apr 2006
No. of posts: 928


View other posts by armata
Posted: 19 Apr 2007
THEY USED TO HAVE SOME WHOPPING GREAT GRASS SNAKES IN THAT ENCLOSURE - I KNOW TORTOISES USED TO GET NICKED; I WAS WITH DAVE BALL WHEN HE CAUGHT SOMEONE IN THE ACT

(was it you Keith? )
'I get my kicks on Route 62'
AGILIS
Senior Member
Joined: 27 Feb 2007
No. of posts: 694


View other posts by AGILIS
Posted: 19 Apr 2007
innoccent m,lud.........    Dont think I see any Aescu how do you spell it snakes  either only walls greens adders and grass.If you got caught by the authorities today nicking them the punishment would more likly be a  2 month holiday in the West Indies or S Africa, unlike in the 1950s you got a good thrashing and sentenced to ten years in a secure mental institution unless it was a capital offence how I miss them good old Blairite  pc free  days .  keith  AGILIS39191.7705092593
   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID

- The Camden Creature

This is Page 1

Content here