Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Monday, August 31, 2015

CARL MARSHALL: Deadly new resident at Stratford Butterfly Farm

A deadly black widow spider Latrodectus mactans is settling into a new life at Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Farm after being found in a VW campervan imported from California, USA.
The campervan was imported from Sacramento, California, last October by a couple (who do not wish to be named) who bought it from the states unaware of its potentially dangerous passenger.

The deadly find was discovered by a mechanic working underneath the vehicle, who after power washing the underside noticed a small black spider with a red hourglass marking on the underside of its abdomen.

We then collected the unwanted stowaway and it now resides in my "nasties" tank - a locked and alarmed biological hazard enclosure devoted to venomous species located in Arachnoland, near Insect City.
Black widows are extremely venomous and though they do not always cause death, because they only inject a small amount of venom, their bite is extremely painful and symptoms can last for several weeks if one is lucky enough to survive.

Also a few weeks ago I was asked to collect a "small banded snake" from an elderly gentleman's garden in Stratford which turned out to be a harmless baby corn snake Pantherophis guttatus; obviously an escaped pet!

Both of these unusual visitors can now be viewed in complete safety at Stratford Butterfly Farm.

For more information visit

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