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Inviato da Wes von Papinešu on Marzo 28, 2000 at 19:52:15:
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (Australia) 28 March 00 Sliver of a chance for pythons (James Woodford)
A clutch of 14 diamond pythons, saved and hatched by an amateur naturalist after they were abandoned by their mother, has gone forth into a world where the odds of survival are minute.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service estimates that only one or two of the juveniles released yesterday at Bulli will make it through to maturity.
The rest will become owl, kookaburra or currawong food or fall prey to feral cats. Those are just a few of the dangers they face in the next week.
Some may be found and kept illegally by snake collectors and others, even if they make the cut and become three-metre-long serpents, may be mistaken for a venomous species and get bashed on the head with a shovel.
Their mother was small - a mere 150 centimetres long - when she was found incubating her 17 eggs, by naturalist Mr Colin Hamilton in mid-February. When he returned at the end of the month, however, it had been raining for weeks, her nest was sodden and she was gone, probably forced away to ensure her own survival.
Mr Hamilton waited for a week until he was sure the mother would not return, notified the NPWS of his intentions, collected the eggs and warmed them in a makeshift incubator for five days at 32C.
The eggs are bizarre, similar in appearance, Mr Hamilton said, to a batch of scones, because after they are laid they remain stuck together. They are soft-shelled and the size of a small chicken egg.
On March 19, during an action-filled day of eggshell cracking, 14 30-centimetre pythons were born. The snakes in the remaining eggs had died.
For their first 10 days, the reptiles survive off nutrients they have absorbed from the yolk of their egg.
At 10 days of age they slough - shed their skin - and continue their battle with chance.
The babies released yesterday, already sporting intricate patterns from head to toe, will probably start hunting for skinks on the Illawarra Escarpment in the next few days.
Mr Hamilton was more optimistic than the NPWS and said the number of little snakes that survived from the clutch could be as high as five.
"For a week or 10 days they will move around at night-time or possibly on dull days," Mr Hamilton said.
When they are full-grown they will be able to eat "just about anything", but will rely heavily on rabbits and possums.
Ranger Mr Jamie Erskine said the species' preferred habitat was tall, wet forest and they spent much of their lives high in the crowns of trees.
"It gives me a real kick to let these little guys go," Mr Erskine said.