reptiles

Monitoring a Monitor!

Monitoring a Monitor!

We went looking for a medium sized reptile today! We found this gorgeous animal and it was so fun to watch!

sand monitor

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Date: 4/19

Location: Great Victorian Desert

Sand Goanna Fun Facts:

  • Sand goannas are members of the monitor family.

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  • Sand goannas are burrows. They dig burrows for shelter.
  • They are diurnal (active during the day).
  • They have forked tongues to help them “smell” the air.
  • Sand goannas sense of smell is so good they can find buried prey.
  • Sand goannas lay their eggs in a termite mound. The termites keep the eggs warm.

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These monitors are so cool to watch! Other members of the monitor family include the famous Komodo dragon!

Categories: adventure, Animals, Children, conservation, education, endangered species, nature, reptiles, science, Today's Post, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Skink not a Skunk!

A Skink not a Skunk!

After we settled in at camp we decided where we should go on our first adventure! We wanted to meet a neat little lizard we knew lived in this habitat! We headed off for the day with our day packs full of snacks and MUD SPF 30 sunscreen!

great desert skink

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Date: 4/3

Location: Great Victorian Desert

Great Desert Skink Fun Facts:

  • Great desert skinks vary in color from tan to grey or dark brown.
  • They store fat in their tales during the winter.
  • Males are slightly larger than females.
  • Great desert skinks live in complex burrows with several entrances and areas.

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  • A family group occupies the burrow. Babies stay with their family for up to three years.
  • They generally hunt at night in the hotter months.

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We had such fun going to look for these little short legged lizards! They remind us of another Australian skink- the blue tongued skink! They are both so cool! And they aren’t slimy at all- very smooth!

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Howdy Gecko!

Howdy Gecko!

What’s more fun than meeting a new friend right in your camp? When you’re out exploring, some of the coolest animals can be found wandering around your home base! In this case, we found the Madagascar Day Gecko on the porch!

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Date: 3/27

Location: Madagascar- Base Camp

Madagascar Day Gecko:

  • Madagascar day geckos do not have eyelids.
  • They have flat toe pads to help them grip when climbing.
  • Madagascar day geckos are one of the largest day gecko species.

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  • They can range from green to bluish-green in color.
  • Madagascar day geckos prefer a humid habitat.

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We had the best time watching these little reptiles at camp. They are so cute and funny!

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One Tiny Lizard!

One Tiny Lizard!

We headed into the forest to look for one of smallest lizards in the world! Madagascar is home to many species of chameleons. We wanted to find some of the smaller ones- the brown leaf chameleon. It takes a good eye, some nice binoculars and a great guide to find these cute reptiles!

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Date: 3/20

Location: Madagascar

Brown Leaf Chameleon Fun Facts:

  • Brown leaf chameleons resemble dried up leaves on the forest floor.

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  • When threatened, they curl up their legs and tail and roll over on their side and stay perfectly still.
  • Like other chameleons their eyes move independently of each other.
  • Male brown leaf chameleons attract a female by rocking their body and nodding their head.
  • Professor Carl is showing us how long the brown leaf chameleon is!

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  • Brown leaf chameleons are not always brown! They can be olive, green, beige or red!
  • They have a stiff ridge running down their spine.
  • Brown leaf chameleons are diurnal.

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We had a lovely day exploring the forest. We had to walk carefully to watch for these small reptile predators. We love chameleons and their crazy eyeballs and funny feet!

 

Categories: adventure, Animals, Children, conservation, Environment, nature, reptiles, science, Today's Post, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

We’re Monitoring a Monitor

We’re Monitoring a Monitor

We’re spent our day looking for a large lizard that calls the Serengeti home. The monitor family includes the famous Komodo dragon! The lizard we were searching for does not get to be as big as a komodo, but they are just as cool!

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Date: 2/6

Location: Serengeti

Nile Monitor Fun Facts:

  • Nile monitor lizards are known by many names including the African small grain lizard.
  • Nile monitor lizards have long sharp claws for climbing, digging and ripping apart prey.
  • They have a range of colors from olive to to brown.
  • Nile monitors are the largest lizard in Africa.
  • They have a stout strong tail to help ward off predators.

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  • Those forked tongues give the Nile monitor a keen sense of smell.
  • They are known to hunt cooperatively. One monitor will lead a crocodile away from the  nest, while another eats the eggs.
  • Nile monitors are excellent swimmers and will take to water to escape a predator.

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We watched a monitor for quiet a while. These amazing lizards are intimidating to see in the wild. They are often kept as pets. As with all exotic pets, it is important to do your homework before getting a pet that will grow large and possibly unruly. There are now populations of Nile monitors in California and Florida. These lizards can be harmful to the local wildlife.

Categories: adventure, africa, Animals, Children, conservation, education, Environment, nature, reptiles, science, Today's Post, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is That an Iguana in the Ocean?

Is That an Iguana in the Ocean?

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Date: 10/11

Location: Galapagos Islands

  • Marine Iguanas colors vary by the island they live on.
  • The iguanas on Espanola are nicknamed “Christmas Iguanas” because of their red coloration.
  • They have large flat tails to help them swim along the rocky coasts.
  • Only the largest iguanas swim often. They do not lose body heat as much.
  • Marine Iguanas have razor sharp teeth that they use to scrape off algae and eat seaweed.

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  • They sun themselves on lava rocks after being the cold ocean waters.
  • During years when food is in shortage, marine iguanas actually get smaller. They are the only known vertebrate to be able to shrink.
  • Marine iguanas can live up to 60 years.

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We woke up a little late after our evening excursion looking for the rice rats. Once we were up, we headed back on the island to meet it’s little dinosaur looking iguanas! Marine iguanas may not be the cutest, but they are spectacular! We love their knobby heads and spiky spines. Watching them sneeze, is so funny too!

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That is One Big Tortoise

That is One Big Tortoise

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Date: 10/3

Location:  Galapagos Islands

  • Galapagos tortoises are the largest tortoise species on earth.

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  • These large reptiles can spend up to 16 hours a day sleeping.
  • They can also go up to a year without food or water, due to slow metabolisms.
  • The Galapagos Islands were actually  named after these gentle giants. Galapago is Spanish for tortoise!
  • There are 11 subspecies of Galapagos tortoise. They can be found on the different islands.
  • Galapagos finches are known to “clean” the tortoises by eating parasites off their skin. This mutual symbiotic relationship benefits the birds and the tortoise.

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We found a guide to help us through our tour of these special islands. Most of the Galapagos are now protected and people and horse & elephant adventurers can not just go exploring around on their own. These magnificent animals, were once hunted to near extinction with only 3,000 of them left. Conservationists have worked with captive breeding programs to bring those numbers up to around 19,000. Thank goodness we have such great people to protect these old reptiles!

We can not wait to go on to our next island to see an insect! We’ll need to get Edmond some sea sickness medicine first!

Categories: adventure, Animals, Children, conservation, education, endangered species, Environment, nature, reptiles, science, Today's Post, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Walks on Water!

Walks on Water!

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Date: 9/19

Location: Amazon rainforest

 

  • Common basilisks are also called the Jesus lizard for their ability to run on water.
  • Common basilisks can run up to 7 mph. The average is 5 mph.
  • They stand erect and run on their back feet. Younger, lighter lizards can run longer distances than adults.
  • They are also excellent swimmers and can stay in the water for up to a 1/2 hour.

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  • Common basilisks have large crests down their backs.
  • The males have crests on their heads and tails.
  • Commons basilisks are excellent climbers too.
  • These carnivores have a mouth full of sharp teeth.

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We happened upon a basilisk escaping from a predator as we walking around today. It ran so fast over the water before taking a swim. These lizards are amazing and those fast feet are a great adaptation to get away from predators.

 

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Don’t Let Them Get the Squeeze on You!

Don’t Let Them Get the Squeeze on You!

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Date: 9/13

Location: Amazon River

  • Green anacondas are members of the boa constrictor family.
  • They love swamps and marshes and spend most of their time in the water. They are very slow on land due to heavy bodies.

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  • They can swallow their prey whole, due to flexible ligaments in their jaws.
  • They can go weeks without eating.
  • Females incubate eggs inside and then give birth to live young.
  • Babies are almost 2 feet long when born and can take care of themselves.
  • Females can be 5x as big as the males.
  • They are nocturnal.
  • Their scientific name means “good swimmer” in Greek.

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We barely spotted this anaconda- hehehe- we rhymed! They are nocturnal and we were out during the day on our boat trip! We just caught a glimpse of its nostrils! These giants are amazing creatures, but we’ll stay away if they ask for a hug!

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An Alligator of a Different Name

An Alligator of a Different Name

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We’re meeting our last Brazilian animal today! This reptile has some nice chompers and can get to be one big dude! Are you ready to meet this caiman?

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Black Caiman Fun Facts:

  • Black caiman are found in the Amazon Basin and other part of South America in rivers, lakes and marshes.
  • They can grow up to 16 feet long and weigh up to 600 lbs. They are the largest member of the alligator family in South America.
  • Black caiman are carnivores. They eat fish, mammals and other large prey.
  • Black caiman are listed as least concern by the IUCN.
  • Caiman are a subfamily of the alligator family. Black caiman are bigger than their cousins the American Alligator.
  • The black caiman is the largest predator in its habitat.

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  • They are also ambush predators.
  • They have dark, almost black scales.
  • Black caiman are nocturnal.
  • Caiman have a bony ridge down their eyes to their snout.
  • Like other members of the alligator and caiman family, females protect their nests and their hatchlings.

caiman3 These relatives of the American alligator definitely look like their cousins. As apex predators we definitely will just visit from a distance!

Categories: adventure, Animals, Children, conservation, education, Environment, nature, reptiles, science, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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