Reptiles

Tiger Python

Python molurus

Tiger Python

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Subphylum: Vertebrata

Class:   Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Suborder: Serpentes

Family: Pythonidae

Genus: Python

Species: P. molurus

Common Name/s: Asiatic Rock Python, Burmese Python, Indian Python, Tiger Python

 

Description

Pythons commonly reach a length of 0,5–8 meters. The color pattern is whitish or yellowish with the blotched patterns varying from shades of tan to dark brown. This varies with terrain and habitat. The hides are marked with a rectangular mosaic type pattern that runs the full length of the animal.

Habitat

Reticulated pythons are found in Southeast Asia from the Nicobar Islands, northeast India, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore, east through Indonesia and the Indo-Australian Archipelago  and the Philippines. The original description does not include a type locality.

The reticulated python lives in rain forests, woodlands, and nearby grasslands. It is also associated with rivers and is found in areas with nearby streams and lakes. An excellent swimmer, it has even been reported far out at sea and has consequently colonized many small islands within its range.

Diet

They eat small rodents, lizards, and birds.

Behavior

These snakes are primarily found on the ground, but will sometimes climb trees, pythons are also very often found in or near water.

Pythons will generally move only when food is scarce or when threatened. They may stalk prey, first locating it by scent or by sensing the body heat of the prey with their heat pits, and then following the trail

Reproduction

Tiger Python reaches sexual maturity between 2-3 years. Approximately 3-4 months later, the female will lay up to 8-100 eggs, each weighing as much as 207 g. At this time the female generally coils around the eggs in preparation for an incubation period. Incubation lasts between 2 months.

Life Span

These snakes can live approximately 25 years.

Conservation status

The Tiger Python is classified as Lower Risk /Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

African Rock Python

Python sebae

African Rock Python

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Subphylum: Vertebrata

Class:   Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Suborder: Serpentes

Family: Pythonidae

Genus: Python

Species: P. sebae

Description

The largest snake in Africa, African rock pythons, averages 3 to 5 m in length. African rock pythons have a relatively small, triangular head that is covered in irregular scales that are typically blackish to brownish-gray in color. The head also has two light-colored bands that form a spearhead shape from the snout to the back of the head just above the eyes, as well as a yellow, inverted V under each eye. There are two heat-sensing pits on the supralabial scales on the upper lip and four to six more pits on the infralabial scales.

The body is yellowish, gray-brown, or gray-green, with dark blotches that form a staircase-like pattern on the back. Belly scales are a white color with black specks producing a salt-and-peppery pattern. On the tip of the tail, there are two dark bands that are separated by a lighter band.

Habitat

African rock pythons prefer evergreen forests or moist, open savannahs. These snakes often frequent rocky outcrops that can be utilized for hiding purposes, or they may use mammal burrows in less rocky areas. African rock pythons reportedly have a close association with water and often are found near rivers and lakes. The highest elevation at which an African rock python was observed is 2300 meters, although most pythons are found well below that elevation.

Diet

The African rock python feeds birds, mammals, reptiles, fish. These snakes can go long periods of time between meals if necessary. A captive specimen reportedly fasted for over 2.5 years.

Behavior

African rock pythons mainly stay on the ground, but sometimes climb if the need arises. They can swim well and stay submerged for a long time, which is advantageous for avoiding potential threats. African rock   pythons may be active during the day to bask in the sun for thermoregulation. Mostly active at dawn and dusk, preferring to retreat to the safety of a rock formation or hollow tree during the day and night.

Reproduction

African rock python eggs are laid in hollows and protected by the coils of their mother during development. Once the young hatch they are independent.

Male and female African rock pythons reach sexual maturity at 5 to 6 years of age. Males will begin breeding at a size of 1.8 m, while females will wait until they have exceeded at least 2.7 m. Breeding usually takes place between November and March. Declining temperature and changing photoperiod act as signals for snakes to begin breeding. During the breeding season, both males and females cease feeding, with females continuing to fast until the eggs hatch. The female lays her eggs about three months after copulation. Clutches are, on average 50 eggs in number, although a large female can lay as many as 100 eggs in a single clutch. The eggs are quite large, often weighing 130 to 150 grams, and about 100 mm in diameter. In 60 to 90 days the eggs will hatch, at which time the female will leave the young to fend for themselves. Hatchlings average 450 to 600 mm in length.

Life Span

African rock pythons can live for up to 30 years in captivity.

Conservation Status

IUCN threat status: Not evaluated

It is not currently considered at risk of extinction, but is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning international trade in African rock pythons should be carefully monitored and controlled.

Royal python, Ball Python

Python regius

Royal python, Ball Python

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animals

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptiles

Order: Squamata      

Family: Pythonidae

Genus: Python

Species: P. regius

 

Description

Adults generally do not grow to more than 1,2–1,5 m . Females tend to be slightly bigger than males.

The build is stocky while the head is relatively small.

The color pattern is typically black or dark brown with light brown or gold sides and dorsal blotches. The belly is a white or cream that may include scattered black markings. However, those in the pet industries have, through selective breeding, developed many morphs(genetic mutations) with altered colors and patterns.

Rang and Habitat

Royal pythons prefer grasslands, savannas and sparsely wooded areas. Termite mounds and empty mammal burrows are important habitats for this species. Usually found in West Africa, particularly in Sierra Leone, Togo, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Cameroon, Gambia, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Central African Republic, Ghana, Benin, Niger, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Uganda, and Sudan.

Diet

They eat small rodents and birds.

Behavior

This is the smallest of all Pythons found in Africa. They tend to stay in the wooded areas, the grasslands, and the savannahs. They will move about to various locations in order to find lots of food. They mainly stay on the ground but they will also go into the trees or the water at time. Do to their natural habitat being taken away though they seem to be spreading out more and more.

Royal Pythons are primarily nocturnal, meaning they venture out in the dark of night.

Royal pythons move by way of rectilinear locomotion, whereby bilateral symmetrical contractions propel them forward as they push against the surface. Ball pythons are known for the protective mechanism of “balling,” where they form a tight ball with the head at the center in response to threats, earning them their common name, “ball python.”

The average lifespan in the wild is 20 years and they can live up to 30 years in captivity.

Reproduction

This is an oviparous species. The mating season lasts from November to June. They lay 3-11 eggs. Incubation periods range from 68 to 90 days. Egg-laying takes place in January to March. The females usually stay with the eggs

Conservation status

In the IUCN Red List Royal Pythons is listed as a Least Concern species.

This species is listed on CITES Appendix II. Further research into the harvest levels of this species is suggested. Improved captive breeding strategies may help in reducing the pressure from the pet trade.

Madagascar ground boa

Acrantophis madagascariensis

Madagascar ground boa

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animals

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptiles

Order: Squamates

Family: Boidae

Genus: Boa

Species: Madagascar ground boa

 

Description

Mature individuals have 130-150cm length. Females are bigger than males. Boas living in eastern regions are greenish or greyish and boas of western regions are orange or brown.

Habitat

They occur in Madagascar Island.

Diet

They eat small rodents, lizards, and birds.

Behavior

They prefer live on trees or in bushes.

Reproduction

They are viviparous and give birth to 10-12 babies which have 30-40 cm length. During pregnancy female’s colour darkens to absorb more energy needed for babies.

Conservation status

The Madagascar ground boa is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

In some areas, people in Madagascar collect boas to consume as food. These strikingly patterned snakes have also been attractive to both the pet market and the leather industry.

Due to their popularity in the pet market and the leather industry, large snakes have received particular attention by international trade regulation. The inclusion of the Madagascar ground boa under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) effectively bans its export from Madagascar and import into other countries.

Ծիածանագույն վիշապ

Epicrates cenchria

Ծիածանագույն վիշապ

Գիտական դասակարգումը      

Թագավորություն` կենդանիներ

Տիպ` քորդավորներ

Դաս` սողուններ

Կարգ` թեփուկավորներ

Ընտանիք` կեղծոտանիներ

Ցեղ` հարթաշուրթ վիշապ

ՏեսակըԾիածանագույն վիշապ

Բնութագիրը

Ծիածանագույն վիշապի մարմնի երկարությունը  150-170 սմ է,  այն  կարող է  հասնել նաև 2 մ-ի: Հիմնական գունավորումը շականակագույնից մինչև կարմրավուն է՝ խոշոր բաց գույնի կետերով, միջքի երկայնքով շրջափակված մուգ օղակներով: Կողքերին մուգ փոքր կետեր են, վերևից բաց  կիսալուսնաձև շերտով: Որովայնը պատված է մի շարք փոքր մուգ կետերով: Արևի ճառագայթների  ներքո  թեփուկները փայլում են  անսովոր  մետաղական փայլով՝ շողալով ծիածանի բոլոր գոյներով, հատկապես, երբ վիշապը շարժման մեջ է:

Ծիածանագույն վիշապն իր անվանումը ստացել է ի պատիվ իր թեփուկների, որոնք բազմերանգ են:

Տարածվածությունը

Տարածված է Կենտրոնական Ամերիկայում, Արգենտինայի հյուսիսում: Բնակվում է արևադարձային անտառներում, խոնավ տարածքներում, ծառածածկ  և նախալեռնային թփուտներում:

Սննդակարգը

Սնվում է մանր կրծողներով, թռչուններով:

Վարքը և ապրելակերպը

Վարում է գիշերային կյանք: Նախընտրում է ապրել ծառերի վրա կամ թփուտներում: Երիտասարդ տարիքում Ծիածանագույն վիշապը  հիմնականում կյանքը վարում է ծառերի վրա, իսկ  հասուն տարիքում  նախընտրում է ապրել հողի վրա: Թաքնվում է փխրուն  հողում կամ թափված տերևների մեջ, երկար ժամանակ անցակացնում է ջրում:

Բազմացումը

Սեռահասնուն են դառնում 3-4 տարեկանում:

Ծիածանագույն վիշապը կենդանածին է: Հղիությունը տևում է հինգ ամիս: Ծնում է 8-25 ձագ,   որոնց երկարությունը հասնում է կես մետրի: Երիտասարդ ձագերն ակտիվ սնվում են 10-20 օր հետո՝ առաջին մաշկափոխությունից հետո:

Կյանքի տևողություն   

Ծիածանագույն վիշապն ապրում է 20 տարի:

Պահպանման կարգավիճակը

Հաշվառված չէ Բնության Պահպանության Միջագային Միության Կարմիր գրքում (IUCN):

Javelin sand boa

Eryx jaculus

Javelin sand boa

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animals

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptiles

Order: Squamates

Family: Boidae

Genus: Eryx

Species: Javelin sand boa

 

Description

The javelin sand boa (Eryx jaculus) is a relatively short snake with a thick, cylindrical body and a short, stubby tail. Like other sand boas (members of the genus Eryx), it is notable for its tendency to lie in ambush beneath the surface of the sandy areas it inhabits, springing upon prey from its hidden position.

As in other sand boas, the javelin sand boa’s head is small and not distinct from the neck, and its tiny eyes have vertical pupils. Keeled scales and a furrow along the back may help sand boas to remain hidden in the sand, as the grains are unable to slide off the snake’s back.

The back of the javelin sand boa is sandy yellow to greyish or reddish-brown, with irregular dark blotches running along its length and giving rise to its alternative common name of ‘spotted sand boa’. The underside of the body is a paler whitish colour, usually without any markings.

The javelin sand boa often has up to three short, dark stripes on the back of the neck, and a dark streak running from the eye to the corner of the mouth .

There are slight differences in appearance between the male and female javelin sand boa, with the female generally being longer than the male. In the female, the rudimentary hind legs that are present at the base of the tail are also usually larger than in the male.

Rang and Habitat

Javelin sand boa is found in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, the Middle East, and Africa.

The javelin sand boa typically prefers dry, sandy areas that are suitable for burrowing, including open, dry steppes and semi-desert. It is also frequently found in areas with soft soils, with a preference for clay and stony soils, and is sometimes found in agricultural areas, vineyards and gardens.

This snake has been recorded at elevations up to about 1,700 metres.

Diet

They eat small rodents, lizards, and birds.

Behavior

Most active during twilight hours, the javelin sand boa usually lies hidden under sand or in cracks in the soil during the day and hunts at dusk and dawn . This species typically burrows through sand and soil, but when travelling on the surface it moves with a wave-like motion.

Like other sand boas, the javelin sand boa is able to tolerate quite wide extremes of temperature and long periods of drought (4). This species becomes inactive between October and March or April, when it is likely to hibernate in loose sand, rodent burrows, crevices or beneath rocks.

Reproduction

The javelin sand boa is ovoviviparous, giving birth to live young that have hatched from eggs within the female’s body. In captivity, Eryx species mate in the spring and early summer, with development of the young inside the female taking around four to five months. The javelin sand boa usually gives birth to 4 to 20 offspring at a time, between August and September, with each of the young measuring about 120 to 150 mm in length and weighing around 8 grams.

Conservation status

The javelin sand boa has not yet been globally assessed, but is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN European Red List, and is also listed on Appendix II of CITES .

Armenian mountain viper

Vipera (Montivipera) raddei Boettger

Armenian mountain viper

Scientific Classification

 

Kingdom: Animals

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptiles

Order: Squamates

Family: Viperdae

Genus: Vipera

Species: Armenain mountain viper or Viper Raddei

 

Description

The Armenian mountain viper is a venomous species of snakes. The colour of Armenian vipers is mostly dark grey, but also grey-brown or black individuals do occur. The back of the animal is covered with numerous blotches that can be yellow, yellow-orange, brown-orange, or red – and often edged in black.

The body of a male Armenian mountain viper can reach a length of 1 m the females can grow up to 80 cm.

 

 

Habitat

The Armenian mountain viper is endemic to the Armenian Highlands stretching from Turkey via Armenia to Iran. In Armenia isolated sub-populations of these snakes can be found in Kotayk, Ararat, Vayots Dzor, Syunik regions. Armenian mountain vipers also occur in Turkey (Vilayets Kars, Agri, Igdir, Van), Nakhichevan (Azerbaijan), Iraq, and fragmented populations in the mountains of northwestern Iran. Little is known about its range in Iraq. The species lives in mountainous dry forests, Juniper forests, mountainous steppes, on stony slopes with scarce flora, on 1300-1800m above sea, sometimes on 2500-2700m. They also enter valleys where they stay in stone heaps.

 

Diet

They feed on small rodents, lizards, birds and insects. Armenian mountain vipers like all snakes flick their tongue to detect food. Snakes literally smell with their tongue through an extremely complicated receptor system.  When the tongue is flicked out into the air, receptors on the tongue pick up minuscule chemical particles, which are perceived as scent. When the tongue is retracted the chemical information that has been gathered is send to the brain, where the information is quickly processed and analyzed so that the snake can act promptly on it. With its tongue the Armenian mountain viper – as all snakes – can not only detect food but also identify possible predators or locate mates.

Envenomations to humans by the Armenian viper, Montivipera raddei are rare due to the species occurrence in rugged human unfrequented habitat.

 

Behavior

They are active from the beginning of April till the end of October. In summer they are more active in the morning and late in the evening. They become passive in the night as in mountains temperature is quite low.

In fall, Armenian mountain vipers return to their den sites which are located in rocky crevices on south-facing slopes. Usually an Armenian mountain viper uses the same den for many years. During winter the species forms congregations which mean many vipers share a den to spend the coldest part of winter. During this period their bodies slow down and enter a hibernation-like state.

 

Reproduction

The Armenian Mountain Viper is an ovoviviparous species. This group of species produces eggs and hatches them within the body so that the young are born alive but without placental attachment, as certain reptiles or fishes. After a pregnancy lasting 140 – 160 days the female snakes give birth to between three and eighteen young. The hatchlings are born between August and late September.

Conservation status

In the IUCN Red List the Armenian Mountain Viper is listed as Near Threatened because it has experienced significant and continuing declines as a result of habitat loss and overexploitation. In particular the latter has resulted in a drastic decrease of the species as large numbers of Armenian vipers are collected for their venom, used as a blood-clotting agent in surgery. Like all snakes and particularly vipers, this venomous species is also subject to local persecution.

In the Red Book of Animals of the Republic of Armenia the Armenian Mountain Viper is categorized as Vulnerable. The major threats for the species in Armenia are habitat loss and poaching. Only a small portion of the range of the species is protected in Khosrov Forest State Reserve, Shikahogh Reserve and Arevik National Park.

Short facts

·   Male Armenian vipers “wrestle” for the opportunity to mate with females. During combat, the two rivals rear up and entwine the front portion of their bodies, each trying to push the other to the ground.

·    Armenian mountain vipers bite if they feel threatened. Their venom is deadly dangerous for humans and animals!

Հայկական միջերկրածովյան կրիա

Testudo graeca armeniaca

Հայկական միջերկրածովյան կրիա

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class:   Sauropsida

Order: Testudines

Suborder: Cryptodira

Family: Testudinidae

Genus: Testudo

Species: T. graeca

Subspecies: T. graeca armeniaca

 

Description

Armenian tortoises are species of Mediterranean tortoise. These tortoises have dark brown and yellow shell. The circles of shell are visible. Front feet are thick and adapted for digging. The tortoises have 20-23 cm length. Armenian tortoises are listed in Armenian Red Data Book.

Range and Habitat

The range encompasses western areas of Caspian Sea, eastern and central Caucasus (southern Turkey). In Armenia Armenian tortoises can be found in semi-desert areas, in Araks river valley as well as in Ijevan, Noyemberjan and Shamshadin. They live in desert and semi-desert areas, in hillsides covered with bushes, in forests and meadows. They avoid salted soils and places with scarce flora.

Behavior

Mediterranean tortoises are diurnal reptiles and for digesting food they need solar energy. Tortoises are cold-blooded animals so they don’t produce necessary temperature and have to move to sunny places. Their body temperature is about 22-37° C. To digest food tortoises need 30° C temperature for some hours. They can have such temperature being in sunny places from the morning. In cold months tortoises stay under sun late in the mornings then they disappear.

Temperature higher 40° C can be dangerous for Mediterranean tortoises so in summer they appear only in morning and midday. On cold days tortoises hide in cold soil. Their metabolism stops if temperature is lower 8° C. Their heart works slower and respiration slackens. Many species of Mediterranean tortoises including Armenian tortoises fall in deep sleep between September and March.

Diet

Armenian tortoises are herbivorous animals. Their diet includes different grasses. In Spanish National Park it was found out that Mediterranean tortoises eat 86 different plants. They also eat flowers, fruits and buds. Because of lack of food they can eat even poisonous plants during summer season.

Reproduction

Males differentiate from females with 6 main features. First of all, they are smaller, then their tale is longer and shells are larger.

Just after hibernation their instincts arise. During mating season male opens its month, shows its red tongue and make calls.

During mating season female is calm, and then she begins to move from one side to another. After mating female can lay eggs several times. While laying eggs female displays worried behavior trying to find a good place for laying eggs. It makes such calls as male does during mating season. It is done to show that female should not be disturbed. When the favorable place is found female lays eggs. It can put between 5-13 eggs in every hole.  Incubation period lasts 100 days, sometimes 200 days.

Baby tortoise breaks the egg itself and starts to breath for the first time. It stays in the egg to be protected from predators. Besides, it avoids solar rays as it can sunburn.

Conservation status

In Ijevan there are 0.5-2 tortoises on every hectare. The average number of Armenian tortoise is less than 1000. Human beings damage these reptiles and they are on the brink of extinction. Testudo graeca armeniaca is threatened with complete disappearance in the medium term; the harvest and the conquest of human habitats are real threats to its future. Nevertheless, it enjoys a protected area in the Khosrov State Reserve in Armenia.

IUCN threat status: Not evaluated

Red-eared slider

Trachemys scripta

Red-eared slider

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptilia

Order: Testudines

Family: Emydidae

Genus: Trachemys

Species: T. scripta

 

Description

The red-eared slider is a medium sized turtle with a dark green oval shell, marked with yellow in younger turtles, green legs with thin yellow stripes and a green head with a red stripe behind the eye. They all have the typical red “ear” coloration that runs from the eyes to the back of the head.

The carapace of this species can reach up to 30 cm in length, although some individuals have been known to reach more than 40 cm, but the average length ranges from 12 to 20 cm.

Males are slightly smaller than females and have longer claws on the forefeet. Old specimens, especially males, may become very dark, with black coloration obscuring the striped pattern on the skin and shell.

Range and habitat

The red-eared slider originated from the area around the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico, in warm climates in the southeastern corner of the United States.

Owing to their popularity as pets, red-eared sliders have been released or escaped into the wild in many parts of the world.Feral populations of red-eared sliders are now found in Australia, Europe, South Africa, the Caribbean, Israel, Bahrain Mariana Islands, Guam, and south east and far east Asia.

This turtle lives in ponds, lakes, marshes, and in slow-moving rivers that have soft, muddy bottoms.

Behavior

Red-eared sliders are almost entirely aquatic, but, as they are cold-blooded, they leave the water to sunbathe to regulate their temperature.

They are excellent swimmers. When they are out of the water, they remain alert and flee from any predators or from humans. On sensing a threat, they rapidly launch themselves back into the water. During the day, they usually alternate between warming themselves in the sun and spending time in the water.

Diet

Red-eared Sliders feed mainly on plants and small animals, such as crickets, fish, crayfish, snails, tadpoles, worms, aquatic insects and aquatic plants. Turtles don’t have teeth, but instead have horny ridges that are serrated and sharp on their upper and lower jaws.

Reproduction

The breeding season lasts from late spring to early summer. Courtship and mating activities for red-eared sliders usually occur between March and July, and take place underwater. Turtles are amniotes which requires females to nest on land. Females prefer soft, sandy soil with good exposure to the sun for their nest site. The nest is no deeper than 10 to 12 centimeters. The females will lay 6 to 10 oval, soft shelled eggs. The eggs are fertilized as they are being laid and buried in the sand.

The sex of the turtle is determined during a critical phase of embryogenesis according to the incubation temperature. These temperature-dependent reptiles lack sex chromosomes that determine gender. Pond slider eggs that are incubated at temperatures between 22 and 27 degrees Celsius become only males, while eggs that are incubated at warmer temperatures become females.

Conservation Status

The species listed in the IUCN Red List and evaluated as Least Concern.

Caspian Turtle

Mauremys caspica

Caspian Turtle

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animals

Phylum: Chordata

Class:  Sauropsida

Order: Testudines

Family: Geoemydidae

Genus: Mauremys

Species: M. caspica

 

Description

This is a tan to blackish, medium-sized (to 30 cm), semiaquatic turtle.

The carapace is olive to black often with yellow/cream-colored patterning on the scutes. It exhibits a dorsal keel, most prominent in juveniles, with no serrations along its edge. The lower shell, or plastron, is notched posteriorly and is black with yellow markings or yellow with reddish to brown blotches. The head and legs are olive, brown or black. The head exhibits yellow stripes, while the legs have yellow to gray stripes or network patterns.

Females are generally larger than males, have flat plastra and shorter tails with the vent under the rim of the carapace. The smaller males have concave plastra and longer, thicker tails with the vent beyond the rim of the carapace.

Habitat

Caspian Turtles have a wide natural range from Eastern Europe to Caucasus and Transcaucasia: Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and other Middle Eastern countries. They are highly adaptable, surviving in most any river habitat and climate in their range. Waters where they live may run fast or they may live in rocky ponds. They are found in fresh waters, brackish waters.

Diet

The natural diet of Caspian Turtles is highly biased towards filamentous algae, insect larvae, earthworms, molluscs, small amphibians and tadpoles and various aquatic plants, fish, shrimp.

Behavior

It inhabits slow-moving and standing freshwater bodies, permanent and temporary, usually with muddy bottom and dense aquatic vegetation. The species has also been recorded from swamps and marshes and from fast flowing rivers. It can tolerate saline and polluted conditions, and can take advantage of certain human habitat alterations (irrigation canals, ditches, water storage ponds, etc.)

Reproduction

Breeding usually takes place in early spring, but may also occur in the fall. The courtship behavior has not been described, but must be similar to that in captivity. Nesting occurs in June and July. A typical clutch is four to six, elongated (20-30 x 35–40 mm), brittle-shelled, white eggs. Hatchlings have round carapaces about 33 mm in length, and are brighter colored than the adults. The Caspian turtle may occur in large populations in certain areas, especially in permanent water bodies. In temporary waters, it is forced to aestivate in the mud in summer, and the more northern populations hibernate during winter. It often basks, but disappears at the least disturbance. Many are killed each year by humans who obtain their eggs to use in treating ubiquitous eye ailments. Storks and vultures also take a heavy toll of juveniles and adults, respectively. It is carnivorous, feeding on small invertebrates, aquatic insects, amphibians, and carrion.

Mating usually occurs underwater, but occasionally may take place on land. Females can sustain serious bites to the face and neck at this time, so should be placed under careful observation. Males can sometimes be mutually aggressive, but I have maintained two male M. caspica together for several years with no evident problems (these specimens also happily share a pond with Cuoraamboinensis). M. caspica lays clutches of 4-6 eggs measuring 25 x 38 mm. M. leprosa lays slightly larger clutches, of between 5-10 eggs measuring 36 x 22 mm. These can be incubated successfully in a medium-high humidity environment (75-90%) at 27-30C. The average incubation period at these temperatures is 65-75 days. The juveniles are initially carnivorous and usually feed first upon insect larvae.

Conservation status

No specific conservation action appears to be required, though confirmation of the occurrence in securely protected areas would be desirable, as would studies of status and conservation biology. It is present in many protected areas.

In the IUCN Red List Caspian Turtle  islisted as a Least Concern species.The species is listed as strictly protected (Appendix II) under the Berne Convention.

Nile Crocodile

Crocodylus niloticus

Nile Crocodile

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptilia

Order: Crocodilia

Family: Crocodylidae

Genus: Crocodylus

Species: C. niloticus

 

Description

Nile Crocodiles are the largest species of crocodile in Africa. They have a body length between 3.5 and 6 m and they weigh between 225 and 500 kg, though exceptionally large males can range up to 900 kg or more, in weight.

Nile crocodiles have a dark bronze colouration above, with black spots on the back and a dirty purple on the belly. The flanks, which are yellowish-green in colour, have dark patches arranged in oblique stripes. There is some variation relative to environment; specimens from swift-flowing waters tend to be lighter in colour than those dwelling in lakes or swamps. They have green eyes.

Like all crocodiles, the Nile crocodile is a quadruped with four short, splayed legs, a long, powerful tail, a scaly hide with rows of ossified scutes running down its back and tail, and powerful jaws. It has nictitating membranes to protect the eyes and lachrymal glands to cleanse its eyes with tears. The nostrils, eyes, and ears are situated on the top of the head, so the rest of the body can remain concealed underwater. The coloration also helps to camouflage it; juveniles are grey, multicoloured, or brown, with dark cross-bands on the tail and body. As it matures, it becomes darker and the cross-bands fade, especially those on the body. The underbelly is yellowish green.

Range and habitat

The Nile crocodile is the most common crocodilian found in Africa today. They were found as north as the Mediterranean coast in the Nile delta. Today they are common in Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Egypt, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Gabon, Angola, South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Sudan, South Sudan, Botswana, and Cameroon.

In East Africa, they are found mostly in rivers, lakes, marshes, and dams.

Behavior

Nile Crocodiles have a four-chambered heart, physiologically similar to the heart of a bird, which is especially efficient at oxygenating their blood. They normally dive for only a few minutes, but will stay underwater for up to 30 minutes if threatened, and if they remain inactive they can hold their breath for up to two hours.

They have a rich vocal range, and good hearing. Their skin has a number of poorly understood integumentary sense organs that may react to changes in water pressure.

Diet

Nile Crocodiles feed on fish, antelope, zebras, birds, carrion or anything that is unfortunate enough to come within striking distance.

Reproduction

Nile Crocodiles lay 20 – 95 eggs in a hole dug on a river bank high above the level of the water. Nesting is in November or December, which is the dry season in the north of Africa, and the rainy season in the south. The female guards the eggs throughout incubation and upon hatching the young crocodiles call out and the female will gently dig them out and carry them to the water in her mouth. They stay together for 6 – 8 weeks then they gradually disperse.

Nile crocodiles have temperature-dependent sex determination, which means the sex of their hatchlings is determined not by genetics, but by the average temperature during the middle third of their incubation period. If the temperature inside the nest is below 31.7°C, or above 34.5°C, the offspring will be female. Males can only be born if the temperature is within that narrow range.

Conservation status

The species listed in the IUCN Red List and evaluated as Least Concern.

Green Iguana

Iguana iguana

Green Iguana

Scientific classification:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Subphylum: Vertebrata

Class: Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Suborder: Iguania

Family: Iguanidae

Genus: Iguana

Species: Iguana iguana

 

Description

Within three years, a young, 12 gram hatchling iguana can become a 1 kg adult.  Upon hatching, the length of Green Iguanas range from 17 to 25 cm. Most mature iguanas weigh between 4 and 6 kg, but some in South America, with proper diet can reach up to 8 kg. These large lizards can reach head to tail lengths of around 2 m. Although called Green Iguanas, these animals are actually variable in color. The adults become more uniform in color with age, whereas the young may appear more blotchy or banded between green and brown. Color of an individual may also vary based upon its mood, temperature, health, or social status. Such color alteration may aide these animals in thermoregulation. In the morning, while body temperature is low, skin color will be darker, helping the lizard to absorb heat from sunlight. However, as the hot mid-day sun radiates upon them, these animals become lighter or paler, helping to reflect the sun rays and minimizing the heat absorbed. Active dominant iguanas usually have a darker color than lower-ranked iguanas living the same environment. Most color variation seen in this species is exhibited by males, and may be attributed in part to sex steroids. Six to eight weeks prior to and during courtship, males may acquire a bright orange or gold hue, although coloration is still related to dominance status. Mature females, for the most part, retain their green coloring.

Range and habitat

Green Iguanas inhabit the areas throughout Central and South America, from Sinaloa and Veracruz, Mexico, south to the Tropic of Capricorn in Paraguay and southeast Brazil. They are also present in many islands throughout the Caribbean region and the coastal eastern Pacific, and have been introduced into southern Florida and in Hawaii. This is the largest known lizard to occur within the borders of the United States.

Green Iguanas live high in the tree canopy. Juveniles establish areas lower in the canopies while older mature iguanas reside higher up. This tree dwelling habit allows them to stay in the sun.  They usually only come down when females dig burrows to lay eggs. Although they prefer a forest environment, they can adjust well to a more open area.  Regardless of their habitat they prefer to have water within reach they are excellent swimmers and will dive beneath the water to avoid predators.

Behavior

In the wild, most disputes between iguanas take place over basking sites. There is usually adequate food for these herbivorous lizards, but good perches are limited. Basking is important for increasing body temperature and aiding digestion.

During the breeding season, males become territorial and display head bobbing, dewlap extension, and color changes. They will bite at each other. Injuries in the wild are rare, as there is ample space for males to retreat when threatened. However, in captivity where space is limited, injuries are more common. Females may also display some of these behaviors when nesting sites are limited.

Green Iguanas may travel considerable distances in several cases. Females migrate to the same nesting site for several years in a row, then travel back to their home territory once their eggs are laid. Hatchlings may disperse over large distances as well.

Diet

Green Iguanas are primarily herbivores, or animals that only eat plants. On occasion they eat a small amount of carrion or invertebrates.  Preferably, they eat green leafy plants or ripe fruits.

Iguanas require a high amount of dietary protein in their first two to three years for adequately fast growth. During this time period, young iguanas may consume insects and spiders. Older iguanas that have reached close to maximum growth consume a low phosphorous, high calcium, leafy diet for their maintenance requirements.

Breeding

Most Green Iguanas reach sexual maturity between three and four years of age, although maturity can be reached earlier. Iguanas tend to breed in the dry season, ensuring that young hatch in the wet season when food is more readily available.

Mating appears to be polygynandrous, or when both males and females pair with multiple mates. Courtship occurs within a defined territory where more than one female may be present. Conflicts between males are not uncommon. Courtship behavior of males includes head bobbing, extending and retraction of the dewlap, and nuzzling or biting a female’s neck. Dominant males may also mark rocks, branches, and females with a waxy pheromone-containing substance secreted from their femoral pores.

Females lay their eggs about 65 days after mating (eggs take 59 to 84 days to develop before they are laid). The females may lay from 18 to 24 eggs, each measuring around 15.4 mm in diameter, and 35 to 40 mm in length. Eggs are deposited into nests which are located 45 cm to more than a meter deep, and may be shared with other females if nesting areas are limited.

Incubation lasts from 90 to 120 days. Temperature should range from 85 to 91 degrees Fahrenheit.

Conservation Status

Although some populations have suffered from poaching and collection for the pet trade, Green iguanas are not considered a conservation risk at this time.

Short Facts

  • The Green Iguana’s long and muscular tail allows it to be a very adept swimmer. It will let its four limbs hang down in the water while it uses its tail to propel itself through the water with strong side-strokes.
  • Green Iguanas are common in captivity as pets. They can grow between 5- and 6-feet-long head to tail and weigh between 9 and 20 pounds.
  •  Although these iguanas are called Green Iguanas, their coloration is variable. The juveniles are usually splotchy, and mature iguanas are usually uniform in color. Even within the span of one day, the Green Iguana can vary its color, which aids in its temperature regulation.
  • A baby Green Iguana takes about three years to reach maturity.
  • Iguanas are able to hold their breath for up to 30 minutes.
  • Green Iguanas will often jump from tree to water using their powerful tail for swimming to escape. They are also able to leap down 40-50 feet without injury.
  • To attract a mate, mature males may turn orange during breeding season.
  • Green Iguanas store large amounts of fat in their lower jaw and neck area in order to survive times of famine. The pouch at the base of their neck is called a dewlap, and is used in display.
  • The tail of Green Iguana shave weakened vertebrae so the iguana can break free and escape if caught by the tail. Iguanas are also able to whip their tail in defense, leaving behind a stinging welt or worse.
African spurred tortoise

Centrochelys sulcata

African spurred tortoise

Scientific  Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Sauropsida

Order: Testudines

Species: C. sulcata

 

Description

C. sulcata is the third-largest species of tortoise in the world. Adults are usually 60–90 cm long and can weigh 45 – 91 kg. They grow from hatchling size  very quickly, reaching 6-10 in (15–25 cm) within the first few years of their lives.

Distribution and habitat

The African spurred tortoise is native to the Sahara Desert , found in the countries of  Chad, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan

Behavior 

This species excavates burrows in the ground to get to areas with higher moisture levels, and spends the hottest part of the day in these burrows. They are able to go long distances without water, but when having access to basins may drink lots of water.

Diet

Sulcata tortoises are herbivores. Primarily, their diets consist of many types of grasses and plants, high in fiber and very low in protein. Feeding of too much fruit should be avoided.

Reproduction

Copulation takes place right after the rainy season, during the months from September through November. Males combat each other for breeding rights with the females.  For five to fifteen days, four or five nests may be excavated before the female selects the perfect location in which the eggs will be laid. Clutches may contain 15-30 or more eggs.  Incubation will take from 90 to 120 days.

Conservation Status

Listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and evaluated as “Vulnerable”