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Australian Venomous Ants

Deaths from jumper ant stings have occurred in Australia

The “Jumper ant” Myrmecia pilosula

A primitive group of ants found only in Australia .
jumper ant
Photograph courtesy Alex Wild 2005 myrmecos.net
Allergic reactions to stinging ants are an important cause of anaphylaxis in Australia. The proteinaceous venom can be fatal to humans.
Allergic reactions to the Jack Jumper ant (also known as the Jumper Ant, Hopper Ant) are a uniquely Australian problem, although other species such as Bulldog Ants ( Myrmecia pyriformis ) , the Green Ant of Queensland, and introduced South American Fire Ant cause allergic reactions.
" Around 1 in 300 people in Australia are susceptible to severe allergic reactions to stinging insects, and some will die. "
Source: Stinging insect allergy / anaphylaxis http://www.allergycapital.com.au/Pages/GPSting.html
What is a Jack Jumper Ant?
Most Australian native stinging ants are from the genus Myrmecia a primitive group of antsfound only in Australiaand one other species ( Myrmecia apicalis ) can be found in New Calendonia.
There are 89 species within this group.
This group is broadly subdivided into “Jumper ants” and “Bull Dog ants”.
Bull Dog ants are large, around 15-25 mm long, whereas Jumper ants are generally 10 to 15 mm long and often display jerky, jumping movements, and when disturbed they move forward by a series of jumps of up to 50 mm each jump.
Jumper Ants are also known as “Hopper Ants” or “Skipper Ants” in South Australia. The Jumper Ant most frequently associated with allergic reactions is commonly known as the “Jack Jumper Ant” , “Jack Jumper” or “Jumping Jack”.
Jack Jumpers have a black body and orange/brown jaws/pincers and limbs.

Jumper ants sting , rather than bite , like bees and wasps, they grasp the victim in their jaws, then bend and sting them. The sting is in the tail.
They are aggressive, typically walk with a hopping motion, and can sometimes “jump” from surrounding vegetation.
Allergic reactions may occur to ant stings
There are different types of allergic reactions to stinging insects. The stings of jumper ants, like those of bees and wasps, are very painful.
Local swelling is very common and large local swellings can also occur, lasting a few days at a time.
The most serious reactions are known as generalised allergic reactions, of which the most severe is called anaphylaxis.

The proteinaceous venom of Jack Jumper Ants and Anaphylaxis.
Anaphylaxis :
Exaggerated reaction of an organism to a foreign protein or other substance.
Anaphylaxis occurs after exposure to an allergen (such as food, insect sting or medicine), to which a person is already extremely sensitive.
It results in potentially life-threatening symptoms, including:
o Difficulty/noisy breathing
o Swelling of tongue
o Swelling/tightness in throat
o Difficulty talking and/or hoarse voice
o Wheeze or persistent cough
o Chest tightness
o Abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting
o Confusion, loss of consciousness and/or collapse
o Pale and floppy (in young children)

In some cases, anaphylaxis is preceded by less dangerous allergic symptoms, eg:
o Swelling of face, lips and eyes
o Congestion and watering of the nose and eyes
o Hives or welts on the skin
o Headaches, anxiety, flushing
Article from Romsey Australia  http://home.iprimus.com.au/foo7/jumperant.html
Newspaper Article in
The Australian 2 December 2010
Newspaper Article in
Courier Mail  10 October 2012
Newspaper Article in
Sunshine Coast Daily 31 January 2013
Article written in the Mummy Mag.
Every Parents worst nightmare.
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Snakes don't swim-do they?
Image by Ross Knudsen  Snake Swimming in Lake Eillden in January 2012Snakes have an elongated body, equipped with large to small overlapping scales. So how can they swim? Well, by gentle undulations of a long body that provides movement. The important component here is that snakes inflate their lungs, which adds buoyancy!
Images by Ross Knudsen  Snake Swimming in Lake
Eillden in January 2012 (above) and resting at the
shoreline to regain its preferred body temperature
It is believed that most snakes have a main lung that extends down a reasonable proportion of its body. It divides into two parts; one for gas exchange and the other provides the buoyancy aspect. The first part of the lung is used heavily and the second is small and largely unused, but it will inflate this when needed. Snakes can also dive if they have to and remain submerged for 30 minutes or more. This 1.2 m, venomous Eastern Brown Snake (Pseudonaja textilis) was seen on Lake Eildon, Victoria.  It is a common snake sighting across the country but
largely more common in eastern Australia. This snake was snapped on a hot day crossing over to another shoreline. Often snakes take to water when surprised, chased or simply to try new foraging grounds. The water drops their optimal body temperature, which is why the snake rested on the other shoreline for 20 minutes to regain its preferre
d thermal temperature before moving off.
This article above can be found in the Australian Wildlife (secrets) Magazine. in Voume 1  Number 5
Ask Gecko Dan with Danny Brown Article   (below)
gecko dan
Winding down for Winter ... It's that time of the year again, when 'lizard season' comes to a close and several important issues arise: Should I cool my lizards? How do I prepare for cooling? What are the risks of cooling and of not cooling? Do cooling requirements differ between species?
Should I cool my lizards? 'Cooling' lizards refers to a simple process of reducing the ambient temperature to mimic what would happen naturally with the onset of winter. In many reptiles, this cooling process is essential as part of the reproductive preparation for the following season. Development and maturation of ovum and sperm requires a period of reduced body temperature in many species. On this basis, animals that are not being bred, and juveniles of any species will technically not require cooling. Other species that should have limited cooling are tropical species that would not normally be exposed to significant winter temperature reductions.
How do I prepare for cooling? Answer: For many owners, this time of the year can be quite concerning. Despite our efforts and our absolute certainty that we are providing perfect temperature gradients, many lizards can still sense subtle environmental changes that tell them winter is coming. These animals may stop feeding and start to put themselves to bed despite our wishes for this not to occur. The main thing with regard to preparing for cooling, or even if you intend not to cool, is to start early. On March 1 st, I usually commence increased feeding so that my intended breeding animals are in prime condition, and carrying a little fat just prior to cooling. In my reptile room, natural cooling starts in the first weeks of April, so ideally they should have six weeks of extra feeding before they put themselves to bed. If your intention is to not cool your lizard, then at this
time you should be increasing the enclosure heat
to counteract ambient cooling. Once a lizard has decided that it wants to cool it is better to allow it to continue, rather than to deny it, as it may already be starting to wind things down metabolically. Forcing a lizard to remain warm whilst it is trying to cool itself will result in an individual that is stressed, and will increase weight loss over this period. This will also occur if your cooling temperature is too high. In these cases, the lizards will only partly shut down. They will metabolise stored energy but will be insufficiently warm to feed and maintain body condition.
What are the risks of cooling and of not cooling? Answer: The risk of not cooling 'an intended breeding lizard is the potential for poor reproductive performance, although this varies dramatically between species. Some species consider themselves adequately cooled with only a couple of degrees centigrade temperature reduction (mostly tropical or subtropical species,) while others may require dramatic temperature reductions to be considered sufficiently 'cooled' (mostly temperate species). Tropical species are generally less cued to breed by environmental factors like temperature, and can be more influenced by indicators of good environmental conditions, such as a good food supply. Cooling also carries risks. The primary risk is associated with the fact that, once an individual is cooled, both its immune system and digestive system cease functioning at normal levels. This leaves the animal more susceptible to infection, and it may have remnant food material decomposing in its gastrointestinal tract. To avoid these issues, onlyhealthy animals should be cooled, and feeding should cease once an individual starts to bed itself away for the winter. It is usually not recommended
to regularly wake up cooling reptiles to check on them unless they can be checked with minimal handling, and can then be repositioned back in their preferred cooling site.
Do cooling requirements differ between species? Answer: Different groups 'cool' in different ways. 'Passive' cooling is seen in many geckos and skinks, and in some monitors. This simply involves the lizard spending more time in its normal sleeping position until it chooses to stay 'sleeping' for an extended period. This is a more common strategy in arboreal species. 'Active' cooling is seen when an individual actively digs a hole under a structure or a deep burrow in the substrate. This strategy can be used by both terrestrial and arboreal species.
Habitat and geographical distribution may also affect how a species should be cooled. Species that live in coastal areas often need less severe cooling, as coastal weather is often less extreme between summer and winter lows. Species from inland deserts will often experience extreme weather shifts between summer and winter and these may need more extreme cooling techniques to stimulate breeding and to maintain health. This is particularly true of very small, high metabolism desert dragons that can be especially difficult to get cold enough over the winter period. These dragons will often waste away over winter, because they are still actively metabolising despite what we consider cold temperatures.
Some breeders prefer a "soft cool" for more tropical species where overall temperatures are appropriately reduced, but full heating is provided for two or three hours a day. This can be useful in subtropical monitors and some dragons and allows individuals to intermittently "fire up" the immune system and perform basic functions like drinking.
This article can be found in the Scales & Tails Australia Magazine in Issue 18 - July 2011