Josh Ruffell is a freelance animal trainer and consultant who has worked with leading animal training companies on a number of films and television shows. In this capacity, his responsibilities include wildlife safety consulting and on occasion, standing in for actors in potentially challenging animal scenes. Particularly interested in reptiles, Josh Ruffell attributes some of this fondness to his first pet snake, a ball python he acquired as a teenager.
Ball pythons generally make good pets because they are relatively small, usually docile, and easy to care for. One aspect of care it is crucial to get right is the housing, which will help keep your ball python safe, healthy, and free of stress.
Juvenile ball pythons do not need a very large enclosure, as smaller enclosures actually help them feel more secure, whereas a larger habitat might overwhelm your snake and cause it stress. For adults, the sweet spot seems to be approximately one and a half times its overall length.
For the substrate, most reptile-friendly substrates you find at your local pet store will work. Provide your ball python with plenty of places to hide, as these shy snakes often prefer the safety and comfort of solitude. While you do not want to clutter the enclosure too much, provide at least one hiding place at each end where the temperatures will differ.
Speaking of temperature, as ectotherms or cold blooded animals, ball pythons need an ample supply of external heat to stay active and healthy. Providing areas of varying temperature within your snake’s enclosure will allow them to self-regulate depending on their current needs. Set your habitat up with a basking site of around 88 to 90 degrees, and a cooler area around 78-80 degrees.
Durham Warriors Survival Challenge
Leveraging over 25 years of experience working with animals, Josh Ruffell is a Los Angeles-based freelance animal trainer and consultant who has worked on films such as Bad Boys 2, Hidalgo, and Cheaper by the Dozen. From 2005 to 2008, Josh Ruffell served as a wildlife consultant on the CBS show Survivor.
Now in its 34th season, Survivor has developed a large following of fans interested in attempting the team-oriented challenges that those on the show complete. Only a select few each season are chosen to appear on the show’s remote locations around the world, but one former winner of the show, Bob Crowley, allows fans and Survivor alumni the opportunity to compete in similar challenges at his farm in Maine.
Hundreds of fans gather at the farm each year to watch contestants take part in the Durham Warriors Survival Challenge, which raises money for the Durham Warrior Project, a nonprofit organization which provides financial support to military veterans. The four-day event functions the same as Survivor in that, upon losing a challenge, one tribe must vote a member out. Survivor alumni Adam Klein, Susie Smith, and LJ McKanas, among others, attended the 2017 event, which was won by Bethany Sass, a Chicago-based accountant.
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
A graduate of Moorpark College’s Exotic Animal Training and Management Program, Josh Ruffell has over 25 years of experience working with animals in a variety of settings. Josh Ruffell specializes in working with reptiles.
After a 2004 study of data from 32 different index sites, assessors from Southwest Fisheries Science Center found a 48 to 67 percent decline in the number of nesting mature female green sea turtles over the previous three generations. That conclusion led the International Union for Conservation of Nature to list the green sea turtle as an endangered species. The decline in the green sea turtle population is attributed to the growth in commercial harvest of the turtles and their eggs as well as pollution and diseases such as fibropapillomatosis (FP), which causes tumors to form on their mouths, eyes, and skin. More than one-fifth of dead green sea turtles found in Florida from 1980 to 2005 had FP tumors.
However, a recent study published in the U.S. Geological Survey detailed a breakthrough in FP research, in which scientists successfully engineered the skin of green sea turtles in a laboratory. Consequently, they were able to grow the virus that causes the cauliflower-shaped tumors in the turtles, which in the future should lead to better-tailored treatment options for turtles affected by FP. It was the first time ever that researchers were able to grow the skin of a non-mammal.