Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Suicidal Skinks: A Press Howler from 1949

When looking for something in British Newspaper Archives it is possible to be easily diverted as searches throw up all sorts of titbit. Sometimes, a report emerges from the archives that is a complete howler. This is one, from the Derby Daily Telegraph of 10 November 1949.



Under the headline, Mayor Meets the “Star” Python, the reporter describes the opening of the Derby Aquarists’ Society’s annual show by the Mayor of Derby. He continued with the fact that the six-year old python which had appeared in a film, Black Rose, was owned by the Society’s president, a Mr D.R.W. Hobbs who acquired it from his friend, a snake expert in Manchester. You will note that the Mayor and Mayoress have their hands on the snake. That would be pretty unusual at the time, even now, for most local politicians and most Mayoresses would run a mile from a snake. They were clearly of the right stuff—which is rare praise for Derby from a Nottinghamshire man. So far, so good.

The reporter then described what else was on show and owned by Mr Hobbs including a number of lizards. He continued:

The Red Flank skinks* were to have been on show, but the male died yesterday morning, and Mr Hobbs thinks that the female, who is obviously fretting, will commit suicide.
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*The report says they were from the 'West African Jungle'. They must have been the Red-flanked or Fire Skink, Lepidothyris fernandi.