Tag Archive: reptiles

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.


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.


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.


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

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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


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.


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


California Academy Of Sciences Swamp Feb. 5, 2016

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Animal Diversity Web  animaldiversity.org/accounts/Agkistrodon_contortrix/


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



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

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

Genus/species: Ahaetulla fronticincta


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. 


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.


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.


Water Planet, Feeding Cluster 


California Academy of Sciences Water is Life Exhibit


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/

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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia (snakes, worm lizards, lizards, alligators, caimans, crocodiles, tortoises, turtles, and tuataras)
Order: Squamata (scaled reptiles, all lizards and snakes)
Family: Chamaeleonidae Chameleons

Genus/species: Furcifer pardalis


GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: This arboreal species has a laterally compressed body, prehensile tail, zygodactylous feet, protruding eyes covered with muffler-like lids, independent eye rotation and an extensile tongue. length to 23 cm (9.06 in).

A popular misconception is that chameleons change color to match their surroundings. While chameleons can in fact, change color, they are limited by a natural range of color unique to each species and, in the case of the panther chameleon, unique to the locales within the species. Color change occurs based on temperature, lighting, time of day, and the individual’s mood. It is also a way for the chameleons to communicate with one another.  Ref. Academy Rainforest blog 2-10-14      

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Endemic to Madagascar, the panther chameleon is found in lowland areas of the northeast and east, where it is locally abundant. They prefer humid disturbed scrub and forest. 

DIET IN THE WILD: F. pardalis forages diurnally for insects, small vertebrates and vegetation.

REPRODUCTION: Lays 10–46 eggs after about 45 days following copulation. Can produce four clutches per year. Young hatch 4–9 months later, depending on climatic conditions. Growth is rapid. Sexual maturity at 6–9 months.


PREDATORS: The most common threat to chameleons are birds — as these are diurnal canopy searching predators with excellent vision.  At night, roosting chameleons are also vulnerable to rats, mouse lemurs, arboreal tenrecs, carnivores, and snakes. But they usually choose sleeping points at the ends of thin branches or leaves, and will drop off if they feel vibrations towards them.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List No Special Status. CITES Appendix II. In 1998, 34,000 wild-taken of this species were exported from Madagascar for the pet trade. CITES established an export quota of 2,000 in 1999. The facts that this chameleon has populated disturbed areas and is one of the few chameleons that is bred outside of Madagascar on a commercial basis have supported its survival rate.

REMARKS: Chameleons also are known for their unusual grasping feet ideally adapted to climbing and for their long tongues that, missile-like, can project to remarkable distance to capture prey.

The independent rotation of their eyes allows chameleons to see where they’re going and where they’ve been at the same time or even to recognize a prey item in the foreground and a predator behind.

Color of life note: The Panther Chameleon uses cryptic coloration (conceals or disguises an animal’s shape) by changing the colors of its skin to make them look similar to its surroundings.

This change occurs through active tuning of a lattice of guanine nanocrystals within a superficial thick layer of dermal iridophores. These nanocrystal act like the structural lattice of the Blue Morpho butterfly but in the chameleon the nanocrystal are moved to create different color reflections of structural light. 

Nature  http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2015/150302/ncomms7368/full/ncomms7368.html

Other References

California Academy of Sciences Rainforest Docent Training Manual 2014

Animal Diversity Web (ADW) animaldiversity.org/accounts/Furcifer_pardalis/

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

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

Genus/species: Crotalus adamanteus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: They have a large head with a light bordered dark stripe running diagonally through the eye and a large pit between the nostril and eye.. The body is bulky with a row of large dark diamonds with brown centers and cream borders down its back. The ground color of the body ranges from olive, to brown, to almost black. The tail has a well-developed rattle. Maximum length to 7 feet (average length 33 to 72 inches).


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Endemic to the southeast of the United States. Found in in the coastal lowlands, barrier islands. Occasionally it may venture into salt water, swimming to the outlying Keys off the Florida coast.

DIET IN THE WILD; C. adamanteus is crepuscular and are most active in the evening or early morning. They feed primarily on small mammals, from mice to rabbits. Location of the prey is by odor, as well as by sensing the infrared waves (heat) given off by their warm-blooded prey.


REPRODUCTION: Brood size ranges from 6 to 21. The gestation period is six to seven months. Young are born live, in retreats such as gopher tortoise burrows or hollow logs and can live over 20 years.

PREDATORS: Young are taken by hogs, carnivorous mammals (the gray fox), raptors (the red-tailed hawk), and other snakes (especially king snakes). Adults have no natural predators.

CONSERVATION: Red List (LC) Least concern but the population is decreasing due to fragmentation by agriculture, forestry practices and urbanization.

REMARKS: It preys on rats, mice, rabbits, and other small mammals, many of which are pests to humans.
It can strike up to 2/3 its body length; a 6-foot specimen may strike 4 feet. It has potent venom with a mortality rate for humans is nearly 40 percent. The only acceptable treatment for venomous snakebite, involves the use of antivenom.

Color of Life note: Pit vipers, boas and pythons have heat sensing organs which detect infrared (IR) wavelengths on their face.  The snake can tell the direction from which a signal originates, depending on where the nerve signal strikes a membrane. This partnership between heat detection and visual sensory inputs allows the snake to detect its warm-blooded prey, even when it is too dark to pick out prey from the background.

Ref: California Academy of Sciences Color of Life Exhibit 2015.


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Florida Museum of Natural History www.flmnh.ufl.edu/herpetology/fl-snakes/list/crotalus-ada…

IUCN Red List  www.iucnredlist.org/details/64308/0

Animal Diversity Web  animaldiversity.org/accounts/Crotalus_adamanteus/

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata (chordates with backbones)
Class: Reptilia (turtles, crocodilians, snakes, lizards and tuatara
Order: Squamata (scaled reptiles)
Suborder: Serpentes (snakes)
Family: Pythonidae (pythons)

Genus/species: Morelia viridis

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Adults are green with a distinct ridge of scales that is usually white to yellow in coloration and forms a broken or continuous line down the length of the body.
Ventrally, the scales are generally yellow. Juveniles may be either bright yellow or brick-red. They have series of white blotches edged in black or brown. A white streak edged in black runs from the nostril through the eye and to the back of the head.
Average length of 1.5 m (5 ft); with the largest up to 2.2 m (7.2 ft).


Morelia viridis18399138824_510cf00ea1_k

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Found in the Mainland New Guinea, its offshore islands, and in eastern Indonesia and in the northeast Cape York Peninsula of Australia. Found mainly in moist forests from lowland to mid-montane altitudes.

DIET IN THE WILD: They are nocturnal hunter when larger nocturnal prey are active as well. M. viridis changes color when it changes its diet from small reptiles and invertebrates to rodents and birds in the rainforest canopy.

Morelia viridis19021843505_b2a60523a7_o

REPRODUCTION: M. viridis exhibit some maternal care by brooding their eggs before they hatch. Females have been observed coiling around their clutches. They will often shiver and contract their coils, apparently to produce metabolic heat and thus maintaining a temperature, which ranges from 84 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit.
Yellow and red individuals averaging 30.5 cm (12.8 inches) in length hatch out of 6 to 32 eggs in captivity but colors are separate on different islands.

PREDATORS: Main predators of green tree pythons are rufous owls, black butcherbirds, and an assortment of diurnal raptors.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List Least Concern (LC)
Threats: It is becoming increasingly popular in the pet trade.

REMARKS: Each color stage appears to provide camouflage suitable to its immediate habitat. As a young snake, the red or yellow color blends in better in forest gaps or edges, where smaller animals reside. Adult green coloration blends in best in the closed canopy of the rainforest, where larger prey live.


California Academy of Sciences, Color of Life exhibit June 2015

IUCN Red List www.iucnredlist.org/details/177524/0

Animal Diversity Web  animaldiversity.org/accounts/Morelia_viridis/

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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class; Reptilia
Order; Squamata (scaled reptiles, all lizards and snakes)
Suborder; Iguania
Family: Chamaeleonidae (Chameleons)

Genus/species: Brookesia stumpffi

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: This small chameleon grows up to 9 cm (3.5 in).


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Northern Madagascar and on several offshore islands. Commonly found in primary rainforest, dry forests, and secondary vegetation.

DIET IN THE WILD: It hunts in the leaf litter of the forest floor during the day, where it feeds on insects such a crickets, cockroaches, grasshoppers, and moths. At night it sleeps on branches of small shrubs about 30–80 cm (1–3 ft) above the ground.

PREDATORS: Probably snakes, birds, small mammals.

REPRODUCTION: Females lay between 3 to 5 eggs in depressions under dead leaves on the forest floor. 

LIFE SPAN: About 3 years.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List) Least Concern (LC).   This chameleon occurs in a fairly large area and seems relatively adaptable to disturbed habitats; however, its popularity in the pet trade as well as pressure from slash and burn farming pose possible threats

REMARKS: Can rapidly change colors to blend with the forest leaf litter to avoid predators. 

When disturbed these chameleons will play dead, resembling a fallen leaf. The Brookesia species are often called “leaf chameleons” because their small body and morphology resembling a leaf makes them highly cryptic when on the ground. 

Madagascar MA14 


California Academy of Sciences Docent Rainforest Training Manual 2014

IUCN Red List  www.iucnredlist.org/details/176297/0

Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/1057220/details

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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Sauria
Infraorder: Gekkota
Family: Gekkonidae

Genus/species: Blaseodactylus salalava


DISTRIBUTION: Southwest Madagascar.


Madagascar MA10

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia (snakes, worm lizards, lizards, alligators, caimans, crocodiles, tortoises, turtles, and tuataras)
Order: Squamata (Lizards and Snakes)
Suborder Sauria (Lizards)
Family: Gekkonidae (Geckos)

Genus/species: Uroplatus henkeli

Henkel's Leaf-tailed Gecko 4226839485_62145bf20d_b

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS A master of camouflage: its grey-brown skin blends in with the colors of tree bark. The fringes of skin along its head and body mask shadows by breaking up the. outlines of its body. The charcoal/light grey patterns on some individuals’ bodies look like lichen. The short flat tail, for which the genus was named (uro – “flat,” platus – “tail”), looks like a dead leaf. The bulging eyes on its flat triangular head have pupils with vertical slits, an indication of a nocturnal life style. Size to 255 mm (10 inches).

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT Madagascar rainforest vegetation just a few metres off the ground

DIET IN THE WILD Nocturnal predator, eats mainly insects.

Henkel's leaf-tailed  Gecko  Uroplatus henkeli IMG_0394

REPRODUCTION: Eggs are deposited on the forest floor hidden under fallen leaves, beneath pieces of wood, or among dead leaves still attached to a plant. Juveniles hatch following a three-month incubation period.

MORTALITY Life span in the wild believed to be 3–5 years. Species has lived up to 15 years in captivity.

CONSERVATION IUCN Vulnerable from continued destruction of Madagascar forests. 

Listed in Appendix II of CITES.


REMARKS: To help escape predators. Like most lizard species, geckos can shed their tails. A new, shorter tail composed of cartilage will grow back. It can also frighten enemies by opening its mouth wide revealing a bright red interior. Also some geckos, including this one, have vocal cords, the only lizards that do. Its defensive behavior is often accompanied by loud distress calls.

Henkel's Leaf-tailed Gecko IMG_0742

Madagascar MAO7


California Academy of Sciences  Docent Rainforest Training Manual 2014

Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/961880/details

IUCN Red List:  www.iucnredlist.org/details/178653/0

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

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