Available now
Mark O'Shea's new softback edition
Venomous Snakes of the World.

Also his Dangerous Snakes of Papua New Guinea stamp issue
and all his other books on the new 'O'Shea's Herp Shop'


Available now
new edition
DK Handbook to Reptiles and Amphibians.

Visit the
'O'Shea's Herp Shop'



News from
(most recent events at top, spool down page for earlier news)



West Midland Safari Park is the venue for the annual International Herpetological Society's
"Herpers on Safari"

The next "Herpers on Safari" meeting will take place on 20th August 2011 (click here for details)


As Mark prepared to depart for Phase IV of the Timor-Leste Reptile and Amphibian Survey he received news from his colleague Steve Slater at WMSP, that the big female Reticulated python (Python reticulatus) which had arrived from Wroclaw Zoo, Poland in August 2010 (see below) and immediately been courted by the resident male, had started to lay eggs.


Keeper Dan Hall's photographs of the incubating female Reticulated python




In August a 17ft (5.2m) female Reticulated python (Python reticulatus) arrived in the collection from Wroclaw Zoo, Poland. Weighing in at 8.5stone (119lb/54kg), it has joined a slightly smaller male in the Record Breakers section.

The Reticulated python is the longest known living snake species with a specimen from the early 20th Century being reputedly measured at 33ft (10m)

This large female Reticulated python, which arrived from a Polish zoo, is almost 6.0m long and weighs 54kg. Keepers (L-R) Dave Bain, Dan Hall, Steve Slater, Mark O'Shea
Photo: John James for WMSP



In July a female North American Alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temmincki) was finally captured in the Engine Pool, one of the Earlswood Lakes in Solihull, near Birmingham, West Midlands, by angler Steve Bellion. Itis thought the turtle may have been living for at least two decades, it has been captured and released or escaped from anglers on previous occasions.

The British Waterways ecologist Paul Wilkinson contacted Mark who was in East Timor at the time. He put Paul in contact with his colleagues at West Midland Safari Park and the turtle was transported there and placed into quarantine.

The Park already has another female Alligator snapping turtle of similar size, which currently lives in the Alligator House, and it is hoped eventually to obtain a male.

Despite press reports to the contrary, the turtle weighed 15kg (not 25kg), our existing specimen is also a female, and the turtle in the lake was not a risk to shipping or children although it could be a serious threat to fish stocks being a voracious piscivore.

Mark O'Shea with our existing alligator snapping turtle and Keeper Dan Hall with the new arrival.
Photo: John James for WMSP



In March, West Midland Safari Park sent Senior Reptile Keeper Steve Slater out to Papua New Guinea to join Mark O'Shea who was busy with fieldwork for the Australian Venom Research Unit.

Steve spent two weeks in PNG and to all accounts he found it quite different from the West Midlands. Whilst there he learned to milk highly venomous Papuan taipan (Oxyuranus scutallatus canni) to obtain their venom for antivenom production and snakebite research, went road-cruising at night for snakes and searched swamps, rainforest and grasslands.

Steve has prepared an exciting Keynote presentation about his experiences, while details of Mark's 2010 PNG expedition, which Steve flew out to join, can be found here.

Steve Slater preparing for Papua New Guinea