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Friday, September 24th - General Meeting


Speaker: Brandon Kong on "Reptiles and Amphibians of the Bay Area: Their Diversity and Challenges"

Cubberly Community Center

Room H6, 4000 Middlefield Rd., Palo Alto.

Photo by Brandon Kong, our September Speaker

President’s Letter

Hello BAHS Members and Supporters!

Well, unfortunately, the Sacramento Reptile Show is cancelled. I don’t know how others are faring. There was a show in Anaheim recently.

On the upside, we are now back to our club meetings in person! They’re every fourth Friday of the month, except November and December. We have no meeting in November because of Thanksgiving, but we will have our annual Holiday Party and potluck on Saturday, December 4th from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Cubberley Community Center.

Our August meeting featured Terry Burtz, who discussed his decades-long care of Galapagos, Aldabra, and Sulcata tortoises. None of them brumate, so he has a Tortoise Barn fortified with underfloor heating. I recall that decades ago he had a barn raising party, and my young kids were feeding large tortoises via skewers. The height of the tortoises and my kids were equal. It was like something out of the movie “Lost World”!

Our September meeting features local herper Brandon Kong. I first met Brandon when he was working at Pets&More a few years back. He now regularly posts very riveting photos on our BAHS Facebook site. As more people go out and about herping again, this should be a good talk.

A few years back, when the Pokemon Go game was a craze, a herper friend of mine was out and about herping. He was checking his cell phone out in the field when he met a couple playing Pokemon Go. They asked if he was also playing that game. He informed them of what “herping” was about. Then he lifted up a rock and, lo and behold, a rattlesnake was there. I fantasized about a Pokemon Go style game for herpers where the goal would be to photograph a species for points.

Anyways, I hope everyone is doing well and has survived the fires and dirty air this season. Years ago, when my kids were little, we were coming down the Grapevine into the LA area for a vacation. On the left side of the freeway the hills were ablaze. To the right side a helicopter was getting water scooped up in a lake. On the radio the song “Los Angeles is Burning” came on. It was like being in an MTV video.

Hope to cya at our meeting!

Jeff Whitnack, BAHS President.


Suggest a New Meeting Location!

BAHS is looking for a new meeting location to help grow the club!

Do you know of a location in the South Bay Area where we could make our new home?

We are thinking of libraries, classrooms, community centers, or other shared spaces?

Obviously, the location should be pet friendly and affordable, and ideally it should be easier to get to for more club members than the current Palo Alto location.

Sanborn Salamanders

By Michael Go

Before COVID, my Boy Scout troop and I went on a campout to Sanborn Park after a rainy day. At first, I was not excited whatsoever. The dirt was marshy and wet, it was cloudy, and I knew that my clothes would get dirty. Most of the other scouts thought the same way: Some brought their consoles, some were on their phones, and others were playing cards.

But as I went to explore the area, I noticed that there were tons of leaf litter, hollowed logs, and mossy rocks. The area was shaded by large redwood trees, and most notably, I could hear the trickling of a nearby stream. If I was a herp, I would definitely want to live here.

And so, the hunt began. Under the first rock we flipped over, we found a slender salamander. Then another. Then another 20 more! It seemed like underneath every single rock we flipped over, we found at least one salamander. Almost all of them were slender salamanders. They were long and slender (hence the name), they looked like worms, and for the most part, did not move, most likely because they were dormant from the cold weather. However, some of them had orange bellies and big eyes. Those were Ensatinas. Other creatures found included darkling beetles, spiders, centipedes, and some strangely colored millipedes.

The habitat near our campsite.

Flipping Rocks

Slender Salamander!

Strange [a][b]Millipedes?

Upcoming Events

September 2021

September 11-12

Saturday-Sunday Sat 10 - 6 p.m.

Sun 11 - 5 p.m.

Anaheim Reptile Super Show & Breeder Expo - No BAHS representation - info only

Anaheim Convention Center, Hall A, 800 West Katella Avenue, Anaheim, CA 92802

Get real with the snake, lizard and amphibian kingdom at the Reptile Super Show! The Reptile Super Show & Breeder Expo is a fun and educational environment for the reptile enthusiast in your family, or to meet new pets they may otherwise never get the chance to know. We are also passionate about captive breeding and promote conservation of reptile and amphibian populations around the world. Tickets: Adults $15.69 online; kids (12 + under) $10.44 online at or at the show office in Anaheim: Adults $14, kids $9.

September 24


7:30 - 9:30 p.m.

General Meeting - Cubberley Community Center, Room H-6

Speaker: Brandon Kong, "Reptiles and Amphibians of the Bay Area: Their Diversity and Challenges"

September 28-29

Fri., Sat., Sunday

Fri 2 - 8 p.m.

Sat 9 - 6 p.m.

Sun 10 - 4 p.m.

Sacramento Reptile Show - CANCELLED!

The Pavilion at Cal Expo, 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95815

23rd year, bigger than ever, featuring the ever popular venomous reptile display featuring more than 45 venomous species. The reptile show and sale includes 100+ vendors and is a great way to educate both adults and children on the world of reptiles. This is your opportunity to come face to face with reptiles from around the world! Tickets: Single day: Adults+teens $14, kids 4-12 $10, 3&under free; 2-day pass: Adults $23, kids 4-12 $18; 3-day pass: Adults $32, kids 4-12 $24. Advance tickets are available for purchase online at Sacramento Reptile Show starting 8/1.

October 2021

October 2-3

Sat 10 - 5 p.m.

Sun 10 - 4 p.m.

Central Valley Reptile Expo - No BAHS representation - info only

Madonna Inn Expo Center, 100 Madonna Inn Road, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405

Come see incredible, rare, and beautiful reptiles and other amazing creatures from all over the globe. It’s fun for the whole family! Pet supply vendors with discounted products; reptiles for sale; workshops. Come touch an alligator, sulcata tortoise, and see a most adorable sloth! Adults $12, children $8.

Reptile Show website:

October 22


7:30 - 9:30 p.m.

General Meeting - Cubberley Community Center, Room H-6

Speaker: Stephen Sifuentes will speak on rhinoceros iguanas!

October 23-24


Sat 10 - 5 p.m.

Sun 10 - 5 p.m.

NorCal Reptile Expo - No BAHS representation - info only

Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Hall of Flowers, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

This expo brings an awesome and unique number of vendors, including specialized breeders, wholesale cages and supplies, cool and amazing animal displays and activities for the little ones. Adults/teens $10, children 6-12 $5, 5 & under free. Parking $10, no in/out privileges -- not confirmed.

Reptile Show website:

November 2021 - NO GENERAL MEETING (Thanksgiving)

November 13-14


Sat 10 - 5 p.m.

Sun 10 - 5 p.m.

Reptile Breeders Expo - No BAHS representation - info only

Lodi Grape Festival Fairgrounds, 413 E. Lockeford Street, Lodi, CA 95240

Our mission is to support the private breeders and the small business people. Adults/teens $12, children 6-12 $7, 5 & under free; military/seniors $10. Parking $10, no in/out privileges. ⇒ prices/dates not validated, check website!

Reptile Show websites:,

December 2021 - NO GENERAL MEETING (Holiday party instead)

Adoptions News

By Aleks Haecky

A couple of years ago we discontinued BAHS Adoption Services because we didn’t have the resources, that is staffing, to continue. We didn’t have volunteers to continue coordinating connecting owners with adopters, keep the animal list updated, or take in any animals.

The Board has decided to put back into place a limited service, supported by your newsletter editor. In addition to posting on Facebook, you can list animals in our newsletter.

Please, see the BAHS website ( for details on how to get your animal listed.

Komodo Dragon Numbers

By Aleks Haecky

I started out this exploration when I stumbled over an article from last year that headlined that Komodo dragons were endangered ( This had me confused. Haven’t they been endangered for decades? And weren’t they doing better? What about captive breeding successes?

Image:, CC BY 2.0

The following is a sampling of what I found trying to answer my questions. There is a lot more information at the cited links!

Let’s roll back. Way back.

Komodo Dragons were discovered only in 1910 (several sources). As early as the 1920s, the Dutch authorities started protecting the Komodo Dragons by restricting access. Indonesia protected Komodo Dragons in 1931. Listed in CITES Appendix in 1975, vulnerable in 1996. (

In 1994 The New York Times posted a cheerful article about a possible come-back of endangered Komodo dragons. You can look at it here in an archived version: In spite of generously using descriptives such as “ugly” and “repulsive”, the article is atypically packed with information and worth reading. It lists an educated guess of 5000 - 8000 dragons, based on not a lot of data, so this number is a big ballpark.

Fast Forward to roughly today. Once you manage to dig through popups, cookie acceptances, and the mandatory litany about climate change, you’ll discover that the reported numbers of how many are left in the wild are vastly fluctuating. A common number is 3000 - 5000. A recent article from the Natural History Museum in the UK claims there are only 1400 left world-wide ( Who do you believe?

The IUCN Redlist ( helps sort it out. There are indeed only and estimated around 1400 mature adults, however, counting all Komodo Dragons, the numbers are more in the 3K - 5K range. We don’t even know if they are declining! Or perhaps they are increasing! Read this part of the article to see how 20 years of data adds up to educated guesses (

This made me wonder. How many Komodo Dragons were there when they were first discovered? How many does it take to sustain the species? Not all animals are abundant, yet they thrive in their limited way.

I turned to Wikipedia ( which cites a large number of sources. Topics includes attacks, venom, captive breeding, possible virgin births, and “the terrifying truth” ( - click bait) . But still no history of numbers.

I turned to the Wayback Machine (*/komodo%20dragons). I found a 2001 page from the Komodo Dragon Park that gave “instructions'' on fish blasting and other destructive practices ( And this link has lots of species information (

I started out on this journey, when I questioned a headline and started wondering about the actual numbers of Komodo Dragons. It seems that in 2021, Komodo Dragons were indeed moved to a status of endangered, and it seems that decision was partly driven by concerns over habitat changes.

However, no matter where I searched, I couldn’t find historical estimated numbers. Maybe you can? One thing is clear. Whether the numbers are stable, decreasing, or increasing, there are relatively few of these amazing animals on our planet, and we should do everything we can to help them survive for their own benefit, the benefit of natural food chains, and future generations of fascinated humans.

Wildlife & Harvest Video Festival

This is organized by the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society.

2020 Contribution 2020 from the Palo Alto Junior Museum:

2020 Finale (

The festival will run from mid-October to Thanksgiving. Videos will be released weekly and will target younger viewers at elementary and high schools. This does not mean your video needs to be just for kids—plenty of the videos we featured last year were more mature and dealt with important environmental issues. Still, a significant number of viewers will be young so it’s good to remember that. Any video should include the BAHS Logo, website, interesting information about herptiles! and promote the club

If you want to submit a video on behalf of BAHS: Deadline is October 1st.. Contact Aleks through behindbaars@ for more information!

See You at the LIVE Meeting!

BAHS is an educational and conservational group of amateur and professional herpetologists who want to share their knowledge, enthusiasm, and friendship with others interested in these fascinating creatures. We promote knowledge and enjoyment of reptiles, amphibians, and other herptiles.

Newsletter created by Aleks Haecky and Michael Go. Contact:

Bay Area Herpetological Society Website Facebook Group



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