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!

Meet the King of the Woods!

Meet the King of the Woods

We’re going to meet a snake today who is the king of the woods! So let’s get to it campers! We also have a fun cartoon for you!

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SLIDERS!!!

SLIDERS!!!

We’re meeting an awesome reptile today at camp! These turtles live in Lake Salamander, we see them when we go canoeing or hang out on the dock! They are friendly,  but never wave back- maybe that’s because turtles are not good at waving! Hahaha! Let’s meet the red-eared slider!

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RED EARED SLIDER FUN FACTS:

  • Red eared sliders live in the Southern United States to Mexico in wetlands, ponds and rivers.
  • They are omnivores. They eat fish, tadpoles and plants.
  • They grow up to 13 inches.
  • Red eared sliders are listed as common by the IUCN.
  • Red eared sliders have red dashes around their ears.
  •  They bask in the sun during the day.

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  • Red eared sliders don’t have saliva and must eat their food under water.
  • Red eared sliders have claws on their front feet. Their feet are also webbed.
  • They brumate (become less active and hang out on the bottom of rivers/ponds during the fall and winter).

Red eared sliders are super cute. They unfortunately are listed as one of the most invasive species by the IUCN. They are popular pets, but once they grow to large or their owners get bored with them, they release them in to the wild, whether it is the proper habitat or not.

Having pet turtles is great, but you must do your homework and know how big they will grow and how long they will live. Releasing pets in to the wild is not good for them or for local wildlife that is native to the area.

World Sea Turtle Day!


World Sea Turtle Day!

Come learn some cool facts about sea turtles and then meet four turtles! Woohoo- it’s all about the turtles at camp today!

  • Sea turtles have been around for 65 million years.
  • Most sea turtles travel many miles to lay their nest of eggs one the beach where they were born.
  • Most sea turtle species are listed as threatened or endangered.
  • Sea turtles come ashore at night to lay their eggs in nests at the edge of sand dunes.
  • Sea turtles can not pull their heads and fins in to their shells.
  • Baby sea turtles use the full moon  to guide them to the ocean after they hatch.

Keeping our beaches & oceans sea turtle friendly:

  • Keep all trash off the beach- especially plastic bags.
  • Turn off all beach lights at night so turtles are not confused.
  • Keep noise levels down at night.
  • If you are walking on the beach and need a light, use a flashlight with a red lens.

Now it’s time to meet our sea turtle friends!

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Flat as a Pancake!

Flat as a Pancake!

Since it was World Turtle Day yesterday, we decided to meet a one today! These flatties live in the deserts of Africa! So let’s find the pancake tortoise!

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MEET THE PANCAKE TORTOISE!

   Range/Habitat: E Africa (Tanzania/Kenya)/rocky outcrops and savannas

   Diet: Herbivore: grasses, leaves, fruit

   Length/Weight: 5 ½”-7”/ 1 lb

   Conservation Status: Vulnerable

 

 

Fun Facts:

  • Pancake tortoises live in East Africa in rocky outcrops and savannas.
  • They are herbivores. They eat grasses, leaves and fruit.
  • Pancake tortoises can grow up to 7″ long and weigh up to 1 lb.
  • They are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN.

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  • Pancake Tortoises have flat carapaces (top shell) that are flexible. This is a very unusual adaptation.
  • Pancake tortoises can squeeze into narrow crevices. This helps protect them from predators.
  • They don’t move to far from their shelter.

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  • They live in small colonies and share their shelters.
  • They can live up to 25 years old.
  • Pancake tortoises are crepuscular (most active at dusk and dawn).

Pancake tortoises are really neat little tortoises with their flat shells and ability to climb. And they have pancake in their name and who doesn’t love pancakes!

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Happy World Turtle Day!

Happy World Turtle Day!

Let’s Shellabrate!

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It’s World Turtle Day and we’re having a Shellabration with fun facts and photos! Tell us what you love about turtles and tortoises!

  • Turtles have been on the earth for about 200 million years.
  • Box turtles can live to be over a 100 years old.
  • Turtles live on every continent except Antarctica.
  • There are around 300 species of turtle and tortoises in the world. 

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  • There are seven species of sea turtles. The Leatherback is the largest.
  • The top shell is called the carapace and the bottom shell is the called the plastron.

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  • Turtles and tortoises are attached to their shells.
  • The shells are part of their skeleton.

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  • Scutes are made up of keratin, the same protein that makes up human hair and nails.turtle4
  • Turtles don’t have ears.
  • There are about 250 species of turtles.
  • Some sea turtles can dive as deep as 3,000 feet.
  • Turtles are reptiles.turtle7
  • Turtles lay eggs.
  • Hatchlings have a special tooth that they use to crack open their eggs.

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We think turtles are just the coolest! It’s fun to find them when you are walking around ponds, lakes and rivers! One day we’ll travel to Professor Baxter Bird’s home islands- the Galapagos to meet their esteemed tortoise residents!

 

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Apartment Builders of the Wild!

Apartment Builders of the Wild!

Since we we’re talking about burrows this week, we wanted to feature one of the best burrowers of animal world! These cute reptiles are the state reptile of Georgia too (our home state)!

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gopher tortoise

  • Gopher tortoises live in the sandy soil habitats of the Southeastern United States.
  • Gopher tortoises grow up to 12 inches long and have an average weight of 9 lbs.
  • They are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN.
  • These tortoises are herbivores. They eat up to 300 varieties of plants.
  • They rarely drink water because they get it from plants.IMG_6686
  • Gopher tortoises are a keystone species. The burrows they dig are important, as they provide shelter for many animals, including indigo snakes, burrow owls and rabbits. Scientists think up to 400 species of animals use gopher tortoise burrows!
  • Like other tortoises, gophers do not swim and spend their life on land.
  • Gopher tortoises front feet are shaped like shovels to help them dig those burrows.
  • These tortoises have suffered major habitat loss and are now protected in every state the live in, because of this! Without them, many animals would not have shelter.

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Let’s give three cheers for these amazing reptiles! Go Gopher Tortoises!