Category: REPTILES


TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Superfamily: Varanoidea
Family: Helodermatidae

Genus/species: Heloderma horridum

 

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Stout body covered with dark brown and yellow beadlike scales. Powerful limbs, long fat tail. Males usually have broader heads and longer necks than females.

Length to 1 m (3 ft) weighing 5-6 pounds.

Mexican Beaded Lizard IMG_0335

DISTRIBUTION/ HABITAT: Western coast of Sonora, Mexico south to Western Guatemala.
in tropical, deciduous woodland and thorn scrub. Frequently climbs trees. Often diurnal, on very hot days remains in burrows and emerges to hunt at night.

 

DIET IN THE WILD: H. horridum is a carnivore feeding on young rodents, fledgling birds, eggs, reptiles, arthropods and uses chemosensorily sensors to locate food with its forked tongue.

Academy Diet: Small mice.Mexican Beaded Lizard IMG_1679

 

LONGEVITY: Thirty years or more.

REPRODUCTION: The female lays her eggs — anywhere from two to 22 — between October and December, and they hatch the following June or July.

REMARKS: Venom is used more for defense than for stunning prey. Venom glands are located in the lower jaw (vs. in upper jaw in venomous snakes). At the base of each tooth is a grooved pit for venom delivery.

The two members of this family, which also includes the Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum), are two of the three venomous lizards.  Their tenacious, chewing bite is potentially, though rarely fatal to humans.

Mexican Beaded Lizard P1050903

The third venomous lizard is the Komodo Dragon.

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Waterplanet Desert Cluster 2018

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-Sn

Ron’s flickr  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157625194985646/with/2982092236/

St Louis Zoo.  www.stlzoo.org/animals/abouttheanimals/reptiles/lizards/m…Zoo America. www.zooamerica.com/animals/mexican-beaded-lizard/

Animal world   www.stlzoo.org/animals/abouttheanimals/reptiles/lizards/m…

 

 

TAXONOMY
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Tetrapodomorpha
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Pythonidae (Pythons)

Genus/species: Aspidites ramsayi

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Like the black-headed python,
the Woma’s head is unusually narrow for a python. Gray, olive-brown, or red-brown above with darker olive brown to black crossbands on the body. Sides and undersides pale.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Central and southwest Australia. Found in arid zones on sand plains and dune fields. Shelters in hollow logs, animals burrows, or vegetation during the day.

DIET IN THE WILD: A nocturnal hunter of small mammals, ground birds, and lizards. Because it hunts its prey in narrow tunnels, it cannot throw coils around its target. Instead the snake pushes a loop of its body against the prey, crushing it to death against the side of the burrow.

ACADEMY DIET: One rat every 2 weeks. (M Avila, Academy biologist)

REPRODUCTION: Aspidites ramsayi is oviparous, like all pythons. The female coils around the 5–20 eggs, protecting and warming them with heat generated by muscular “shivering” for the 2–3 month incubation period.

CONSERVATION: Listed as endangered on the IUCN’s Red List. Threats include the clearing of land for agriculture and grazing, and perhaps high predation by foxes and feral cats.

The Adelaide Zoo in South Australia is coordinating a captive breeding program with offspring being released to the wild. Active research is aimed at returning the woma to its former range.

REMARKS: The Woma, like its relative the blackheaded python, lacks the heat-sensing pits that border the mouth of most other pythons. The woma is a prized food item for desert Aboriginal people. Hunters follow the track of a woma to its burrow and then dig it out.

References

California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Water Planet Little Water 2018

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/4822587209/in/album-72157662092331262/

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink https://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1Z0

Arkive www.arkive.org/woma-python/aspidites-ramsayi/#text=All

IUCN Red List (June, 2008) www.iucnredlist.org

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Pythonidae (Pythons)

Genus/species: Aspidites melanocephalus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The head is covered with shiny black scales; body a striped or brindled pattern in shades of black and gray-brown, gold and cream. Juveniles are more vividly marked. Females are larger than males.

A large snake with maximum length of 2.5 m, though 1.5 to 2 m more common.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia. The Black Headed Python is found in open woodlands, shrub lands, outcrops, humid coastal forests, and seasonally dry tropical woodlands. It is not found in very arid regions. Found among rocks and loose debris. During cooler temperatures, evidence suggests that when termite nests are present, they tend to burrow into these habitats as a way of maintaining a stable body temperature.

DIET IN THE WILD: A. melanocephalus feeds on birds, other reptiles; small mammals, especially rodents. They are active at night. In the absence of infralabial sensory pits it is probable that tactile, olfactory, and visual cues play an important role in communication and perception in black-headed pythons.

ACADEMY DIET: Two rats every 2 weeks. (M Avila Academy biologist)

Lifespan: from 20 to 30 years

REPRODUCTION: Oviparous. Females guard the five to 10 eggs per clutch.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Not evaluated

REMARKS: Like all pythons, a non-venomous species that kills by constriction. To save energy during the dry season when food and water are scarce, pythons reduce their body temperature. Can dig and live in burrows to escape daytime heat. Small, streamlined head and nonprotrusive eyes may be adaptations to entering burrows and hollows.

The glossy, black head that is characteristic of this species helps regulate body temperature as well, allowing the majority of the snake’s body to remain hidden while it extends only its head from its burrow. In order to cool themselves, they may bury their dark head in the sand. When disturbed, black-headed pythons occasionally hiss, but rarely bite. They may also strike with their mouths closed when threatened

References: California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Water planet: Little Water 2018

Ron’s Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/8410654794/in/album-72157662092331262/

Animal Diversity Web: https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Aspidites_melanocephalus/

Ron’s WordPress shortlink https://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1YU

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Pythonidae (Pythons)

Genus/Species: Morelia bredli

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: A large, heavily built species, unlike its two more slender Aspidites exhibit companions, who are built for burrowing. Distinct, but variable colors and pattern; often brown-to-reddish background color with cream patterning surrounded by black.
Undersides lighter. Note the multiple heat sensing pits in the upper and lower jaws.

Length up to 2 m, known to reach 3 m in captivity

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Northern Territory of Central Australia in arid desert areas. Most often on rocky outcrops and river banks in or around trees and shrubs. as birds are a favored prey item.

 

DIET IN THE WILD: Birds are a favored prey item. Like all pythons, a non-venomous species that kills by constriction. To save energy during the dry season when food and water are scarce, pythons reduce their body temperature.

REPRODUCTION: Centralian Pythons are oviparous, like all pythons. The female coils around the eggs, protecting and warming them with heat generated by muscular “shivering” for the incubation period.

REMARKS: Like all pythons it is a non-venomous species that kills by constriction. To save energy during the dry season when food and water are scarce, pythons reduce their body temperature. 

Color of Life note: Pit vipers, boas and pythons have heat sensing organs which detect infrared wavelengths on their face. This feature that detects heat is used in the dark to detect warm blooded prey.

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium, Water Planet little water 2018

The Reptile Database reptile-database.reptarium.cz 1981

Inland Reptile. www.inlandreptile.com/bredli/morelia bredli.htm

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink. https://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1YO

Rons flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/albums/72157662092331262

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Boida (Boas)

Genus/species: Eunectes murinus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS  Can grow to more than 29 feet (8.8 meters), weigh more than 227 kilograms (550 pounds) and measure more than 30 cm (12 in) (30 centimeters) in diameter. Gigantic, heavy-bodied, dark green boa with dark spots.  A distinctive stripe runs from the rear edge of the eye, diagonally downwards to the back of the head. The stripe is edged with black and varies in colouration, from greenish to orange. Eyes and nasal openings are on top of their heads, allowing them to lay in wait for prey while remaining nearly completely submerged. The female dwarfs the male and is almost five times heavier. 

Anaconda 8629891977_66e2cd6195_b

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT South America: Amazon and Orinoco drainages from Colombia and Venezuela to East Bolivia and Central Brazil. Associated strongly with watercourses, swamps and other freshwater locations.

DIET IN THE WILD Monkeys, deer, peccaries, pacas, agoutis, birds, fish, caiman and turtles. Prey usually killed by constriction; prey suffocates but is not crushed. Usually feed in water. Jaws attached by stretchy ligaments allow them to swallow their prey whole, no matter the size, and they can go weeks or months without food after a big meal. Primarily a lie-in-wait predator.

IMG_7000 

REPRODUCTION  Female Anaconda retain their eggs and give birth to two to three dozen live young. Baby snakes are about 0.6 meters (2 ft). After mating, the female may eat one or more of her mating partners, as she does not take in food for up to seven months.

MORTALITY/LONGEVITY: Lives to over 29 years.

REMARKS: The Anaconda is, pound for pound, the largest snake in the world. Its cousin, the reticulated python, can reach slightly greater lengths, but the enormous girth of the Anaconda makes it almost twice as heavy. Can remained submerged for a very long time lying in wait for its next meal.
The California Academy of Sciences specimen is a female. Length/wt 2013: 13 ft 11 inches long and weight 92 lbs.
2008 she was 3m (10 feet) long and weighed 90 lbs.

IMG_6987

Color of Life Note: The dark brownish-green Anaconda demonstrates concealment by laying hidden in the murky waters of the Amazon. It is more visible at the California Academy of Sciences exhibit water which is markedly more transparent.

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Flooded Amazon Anaconda Exhibit 2018

U. of Michigan Animal diversity Web animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Eunectes_murinus/

Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/794661/overview

 Ron’sWordpress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-bt

Ron’s flickr   http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608449603666/with/3636385495/

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Cordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines (turtles)
Family: Pelomedusidae (Afro-American Side-necked Turtles)

Genus/species: Podocnemis expansa

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The side-necked turtles have a long neck which can be withdrawn horizontally within the shell, leaving it partly exposed.  P. expansa is the largest river turtle in South America. Its Carapace is broad, flat; wider in the back than the front and olive-green to brown in color. Males smaller than females, which can weigh up to 90 kg (200 lbs). 

Carpace length up to: 80 cm (32 in)

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Northern South America: Amazon, Negro and Orinoco River basins. Found in freshwater; large rivers and their tributaries, lagoons and forest ponds. Restricted to calm waters of large rivers during the dry season, but move into the flooded forest where food is plentiful during the high-water season.

DIET IN THE WILD: Aquatic vegetation and fruit, insects and slow-moving prey and carrion. Mutual cleaning behaviour between individuals of this species has been observed. One turtle will position itself at right angles to a second turtle and use its jaws to pull algae from its shell. The turtles will then switch position

REPRODUCTION: During the dry season the Arrau River turtle migrates to nesting sites on beaches. Females dig a nest in which they lay 75-125 spherical eggs, and then cover them with sand. After about 45 days, hatchlings emerge, usually at night or early morning to avoid midday heat and predators, and head directly to water. Colonial nesting and simultaneous hatching helps maximize survival numbers of this perilous journey.

MORTALITY: Can live up to 50 years.

CONSERVATION:  IUCN: Lower Risk/conservation dependent. CITES Appendix II. P. expansa eggs and adults have been over-collected for food. These turtles are considered rare throughout the Amazon. Middle Orinoco River has included the protection of nesting beaches, a nursery program for the care and release of hatchlings, and an environmental education program for the public.

REMARKS: A fossil Pelomdusid is thought to be the largest freshwater turtle to have ever lived (carapace length: 230 cm). Even today, the Arrau is one of the largest freshwater turtles in the world. As a side-necked turtle it has a long neck which can be withdrawn horizontally within the shell, leaving it partly exposed a vertical ‘S’ bend , rather than retracting it as in most other turtles (all North American turtles are not side-necked). 

“Art,” as we call our senior turtle (Weight: 20 kg or 44 lbs. Age: unknown.) was confiscated in Miami and came to the SF Zoo via the Miami Metro Zoo in 1997 by government import authorities . The turtle is on loan to us until the zoo has an appropriate location for it.  Several younger turtles ha subsequently joined our senior turtle.

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Amazon Flooded Tunnel 2018

Ron’s flickr link  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608449490716/

eol Encyclopedia of Life  http://eol.org/pages/6868408/details

IUCN Red List and CITES Appendix II  http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/17822/0

Archive http://www.arkive.org/giant-south-american-turtle/podocnemis-expansa/

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-au

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata (scaled reptiles, all lizards and snakes)
Suborder: Serpentes (snakes are elongated, legless, carnivorous reptiles)
Family: Viperidae  (vipers, venomous snakes)
Subfamily: Crotalinae (Pit Vipers, crotaline snakes, or pit adders)

Genus/species: Agkistrodon contortrix

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: They have distinctive reddish-brown bodies with a crossband pattern consisting of tan, copper, and brown colors that extending throughout its body. Its colors enhance its camouflage in leaf litter in wooded habitats. Heat sensitive pit organs are present between the eye and the nostril.
Length up to 53 inches

24836741386_49dde98dc0_k

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Found in deciduous forest and mixed woodlands in the central and eastern U.S.A. They are also found in swamps. Subspecies are recognized by slight changes in color pattern shape and hue. The Southern Copperhead extends through Massachusetts, westward to Texas and southeastern Nebraska.

DIET IN THE WILD: Diurnal, ambush predators feeding on small mammals (rodents primarily), birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects.

REPRODUCTION: Usually viviparous but Southern Copperheads can reproduce asexually through parthenogenesis. Females kept in captivity in the absence of males periodically produce one fully developed neonate along with a group of aborted ova.

LONGEVITY: Up to 29 years in captivity. Average 15 years in the wild.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Least Concern

REMARKS: Copperheads are venomous but their venom is somewhat mild compared to other snake species. It usually not fatal to healthy human adults.

References

California Academy Of Sciences Swamp Feb. 5, 2016

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/24836741386/in/photostream/

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1E

Animal Diversity Web  animaldiversity.org/accounts/Agkistrodon_contortrix/


TAXONOMY

Kingdom:  Animalia
Phylum: Chordata  (presence of a notochord (an internal skeletal rod that provides support) during some stage of the animal’s development).
Class: Reptilia (snakes, worm lizards, lizards, alligators, caimans, crocodiles, tortoises, turtles, and tuataras).
Order: Crocodylia (crocodiles, alligators, caimans and the gharial)
Family:  Alligatoridae (Alligators and Caimans).

 Genus/species:   Alligator mississippiensis

American Alligator 8273409677_0914c84c2e_b

 

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The average adult size for a female is 2.6 m (8.2) and for males is 3.4 m (11.2 ft).  Exceptionally large males can weigh over 450 kg (1000 pounds). They have muscular laterally flattened tails for propulsion and defense.  Dorsally their skin is armored bony plates called osteoderms and scutes.  They have four short legs with five toes on the front and four on the back.  The snout is broad with upper facing nostrils to aid in breathing while major portion of the body is under water. 

 Differences between alligators and crocodiles:

1. Alligators tend to have wide, U-shaped, rounded snouts, while crocodiles tend to have longer, more pointed, V-shaped snouts.

 2. The large lower fourth tooth of an alligator fits into a socket in the upper jaw and is not seen when the mouth is closed, whereas in crocodiles this tooth is visible.

3. Alligators live in freshwater; crocodiles tend to inhabit salt water. 4. On average alligators are smaller than crocodiles

Alligators have between 74 and 80 teeth, which are replaced as they wear down; an alligator can go through 2,000 to 3,000 teeth in a lifetime.

 

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Southeastern United States, from North Carolina to the Rio Grande in Texas.   Usually found in freshwater, especially in slow-moving rivers. They are also found in swamps, marshes, and lakes. They can tolerate salt water only briefly. They dig “gator holes” for use during low water periods in the summer.

 

DIET IN THE WILD: Alligators eat almost anything, but primarily consume fish, birds, turtles, mammals and amphibians.

Alligators spin on their long axis to rip off bite sized portions small enough to swallow when eating large animals such as deer.

Since they are ectothermic their need for food is decreased allowing them to survive without food for up to 3 years.

They are a mild threat to humans with approximately one death every 5 years reported between 1973-1990.

 

 

ACADEMY DIET: They consume about 55 chunks of “gator chow” three times per week which contains fish meal and vitamins. 

CONSERVATION: Not listed by the IUCN with limited hunting allowed in some states.

REMARKS: The Academy has one white pink-eyed albino alligator born 9-15-1995.
Recent Claude stats
2010 length 2.6m (8.5 feet), weigh 82 kg (181 pounds).
6-10-12 length 9.0 feet, weight 190 pounds.
6-10-13 length 3 meters or 9.5 feet, weight 100+ kg or 222 pounds.
He may be started on a weight reduction diet because he is a “bit chubby” according to Freeland Dunker staff veterinarian. The albino gene is recessive. Claud’s vision is impaired because of lack of pigment which protects the eye from ultraviolet rays of the sun.
Leucistic alligators are also white but have normal eye color thus are not albinos.

Color of Life note Color Conceals:
White alligators are prime example of what happens when color does not conceal. Albinism (total lack of pigment) results from a genetic change which puts the alligators at great risk because they are easy to spot by predators in their environment. Ref. California Academy of Sciences Color of Life Exhibit 2015

Swamp

References

Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/796029/details

Audubon Institute www.auduboninstitute.org/media/releases/audubon-insectari...

ARKive   www.arkive.org/american-alligator/alligator-mississippien..

IUCN Red List (September, 2009)  www.iucnredlist.org

 flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157625194985646/

 WORDPRESS SHORTLINK  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-Bb

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Boidae

Genus/species: Boa constrictor constrictor

Red-tailed Boa IMG_0186

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The background color is cream or brown that is marked with dark “saddle-shaped” bands. The head of a boa constrictor has 3 distinctive stripes. First is a line that runs dorsally from the snout to the back of the head. Second, there is a dark triangle between the snout and the eye. Third, this dark triangle is continued behind the eye, where it slants downward towards the jaw. However, there are many variations on appearance.
Length to 13 feet (3.9 m) as adults. Generally between 2 and 3 meters(6.5 – 10 feet) in length. Weigh 40 to 50 pounds.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Exclusive to the New World (Mexico to Argentina). Boa constrictors are both terrestrial and arboreal. They are found in deserts, wet tropical forests, open savanna, and cultivated fields, and from sea level to moderate elevation having the least need for water of all boas.

DIET IN THE WILD: They ate aglyphous, meaning they do not possess any elongated fangs. Instead, they have rows of long, recurved teeth of about the same size. Teeth are continuously replaced. They are carnivores eating small mammals, including bats, and birds or anything that fits in their mouths. Prey are killed by constriction and swollen whole taking 4-6 days to digest.

REPRODUCTION: Fertilization is internal. The male uses pelvic spurs (hind leg remnants found on either side of the cloacal opening) to aid the use of hemipenes (double penis) for cloacal insertion. Females give birth to live young (ave. 25 in number).

Red-tailed Boa 2775385563_c91e7827ff_o

MORTALITY: Lifespan, 25-30 years.

PREDATORS  Include humans, jaguars, and crocodile 

CONSERVATION : IUCN Red list; not evaluated.

REMARKS: In Mexico and South America, they are valued as destroyers of rodents. B. constrictor constrictor have been “domesticated” for this reason.

Color of Life Note: The Red-Tailed Boa demonstrates concealment with its beige and dark brown markings hiding it in the filtered light coming through tree branches and leaves.

References

California Academy of Sciences Flooded Amazon Exhibit 2015

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-VA

Ron’s flickr  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608449603666/

U. of Michigan Animal Diversity Web animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/ site/ accounts/ information/ Boa_constrictor.html.

Smithsonian National Zoological Park  http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/ReptilesAmphibians/Facts/FactSheets/Boaconstrictor.cfm

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae (Colubrids)

Genus/species: Ahaetulla fronticincta


IMG_5338

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Pencil thin, delicate; green and brown scales. Bulbous wide-set raised eyes.   Length to 60 cm (23.5 inches). 

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Myanmar (formerly Burma) Mostly arboreal in brackish mangrove swamps. Diurnal hunter of small fish: gobies, and rice fish. 

IMG_8805

DIET IN THE WILD: Diurnal hunter of small fish: gobies, and rice fish. Prey immobilized with mild venom  from enlarged rear fangs. Visually oriented hunter.

REPRODUCTION: Fertilization internal. Viviparous. Newborn snakes are a subtle shade of brown. Polymorphic: some adults turn green, brown, or more rarely two-toned.
The Steinhart Aquarium was the first to display this species. Academy field research on this little-known species continues. An arboreally-adapted species that consumes fishes is an oddity. In the Steinhart, feed on guppies and goldfish. Steinhart’s vine shakes have bred and reproduced in captivity, a first for this species.

IMG_1259

Color is Life: Pencil thin, delicate; green and brown scales conceal these snakes in the bushes along the banks of tidal rivers in brackish mangrove swamps.

CONSERVATION: IUCN  Least Concern (LC)

Water Planet, Feeding Cluster 

References

California Academy of Sciences Water is Life Exhibit

https://search.yahoo.com/search?ei=utf-8&fr=aaplw&p=steinhart+Burmese+Vine+Snake+video

IUCN Red List  www.iucnredlist.org/details/192058/0

Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/1057253/details

Ron’s flickr  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608449603666/

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-OM

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