Glass Lizard

Glass lizards are not too fragile, although they may fragment!

  • Glass lizards are a group of approximately 15 species of animal, that have the appearance of snake-like reptilians, but are lizards.
  • ‘Glass lizards’ are also known as ‘glass snakes’ and ‘jointed snakes’.
  • Glass lizards have the scientific name Ophisaurus and are from the family Anguidae, a family of numerous Northern Hemisphere lizards.
  • Glass lizards grow to be 0.6 to 1.2 metres (2 to 4 feet) in length, which includes the long tail, and they have a weight of 300 to 600 grams (11 to 21 ounces).
  • The diet of glass lizards mainly consist of small rodents and reptiles, insects, and spiders.
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A Glass Lizard
Image courtesy of vladeb/Flickr
  • Glass lizards have a head that is similar to the anatomy of lizards and they generally have no legs, although small stumps can sometimes be seen in place, in some species.
  • Glass lizards can be found primarily in some Asian countries like India, Indonesia and China, as well as North Africa and the United State’s southeast.
  • Glass lizards can fracture their tails into small, moving pieces, hence their name, and the tail can be regenerated after some time, although it will generally be shorter than the first.
  • Glass lizards come in a variety of colours including green, black, grey, brown, yellow and tan, depending on the species.
  • Glass lizards are typically preyed on by large mammals, birds and snakes, and they have a lifespan of ten to thirty years.
Bibliogrphy:
Glass Lizard, 2013, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/glass-lizard/
Glass Lizard, 2014, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass_lizard

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Gharial

One of the most unique creatures is the gharial, but is highly endangered.

  • Gharials are critically endangered, crocodile-related reptiles, found around India’s sandy banked rivers.
  • ‘Gharials’ are also known as ‘gavials’, ‘long-nosed crocodiles,’ ‘fish-eating crocodiles’ and ‘nakas,’ among others.
  • Gharials have the scientific name Gavialis gangeticus, and are said to be the only living species from the family Gavialidae, a family of reptiles.
  • A gharial can range from 3.5 metres (11 feet) in length, to the longest found – 6.25 metres (20.5 feet), and they can weigh between 150 to 977 kilograms (330 to 2154 pounds).
  • Gharials have a long snout and mouth, filled with up to 110 teeth, and they have scales that are typically black, grey, brown or olive in colour.
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Gharial
Image courtesy of Ryan Somma/Flickr
  • The habitat of a gharial typically consists of deep, sandy rivers, and the reptile generally spends the majority of its time in water.
  • The diet of gharials mainly consists of fish, but also other aquatic animals, and they are not usually highly dangerous to humans, as they are not built for eating large prey.
  • During March and April, an adult female gharial typically makes a nest, a hole in the riverbank, and lays an average of 30 to 50 eggs in the hole.
  • Gharials are critically endangered due to pollution, over fishing and habitat removal; and populations have decreased by around 96% in less than a century, to a maximum total of 235 animals, in 2006.
  • As part of a conservation program, some zoos breed gharials and release them into the wild, and the animals have an average lifespan of 20 to 30 years.
Bibliography:
Gharial, 2013, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/gharial/
Gharial, 2014, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gharial

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Tuatara

Tuataras are not lizards… but they are reptiles!

  • A tuatara is a species of reptile native to New Zealand and its nearby islands, and are the only extant members of the order Rhynchocephalia.
  • The scientific name of a tuatara is Sphenodon, from the family Sphenodontidae, and there are two living species.
  • Tuataras can grow up to 70 to 80 centimetres (28 to 31 inches) in length, and they can weigh up to 0.6 to 1 kilogram (1.3 to 2.2 pounds).
  • ‘Tuatara’ is a native Maori word, which in English can be translated as ‘spines on the back’, referring to the crested spikes on the animal.
  • The tuatara was first classified in 1831 by the British Museum after studying the reptile’s skull, and it was classed as a lizard, however, in 1867 this was determined to be inaccurate and was changed.
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Tuatara
Image courtesy of Sid Mosdell/Flickr
  • The skin of tuataras can be grey, green or brown in colour, which is shed many times and the reptile also features a spiny back and three eyes, one of which sits on top of its head.
  • Tuataras have a life span that ranges from 60 to 100 years, and they are preyed on by rats, pigs and cats and other introduced species.
  • The diet of tuataras typically includes insects, frogs, spiders, lizards, young birds and eggs, and they live in burrows, generally venturing out at night.
  • Tuataras are mainly found on isolated islands, although they are being reintroduced to mainland New Zealand, and there has also been a concerted effort to protect them, as their numbers are dwindling due to habitat loss, and the eggs and young are very vulnerable to introduced predators.
  • A female tuatara lays up to 19 eggs approximately once every four or five years, although the eggs can take up to 15 months to incubate, and the incubation temperature determines the gender of the hatched reptile.
Bibliography:
Tuatara, 2014, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/tuatara/
Tuatara, 2014, San Diego Zoo, http://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/tuatara
Tuatara, 2014, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuatara

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Spotted Salamander

Did the spotted salamander lose a body part? No problem! It can be regenerated.

  • A spotted salamander is an amphibian that moves through a metamorphosis process, from a water dwelling creature to one that spends its time on land, except for breeding purposes.
  • Adult spotted salamanders can grow to lengths of 15 to 25 centimetres (5.9 to 9.8 inches), and they look similar to a lizard due to their short legs and tail.
  • Spotted salamanders are native to the United States and Canada, in North America, and are also known as ‘yellow-spotted salamanders’ and have the scientific name Ambystoma maculatum.
  • Spotted salamanders are nocturnal and live among rocks, logs, leaves, or in abandoned burrows in forest habitats, that contain temporary water sources during the rainy season, and they usually stay hidden unless it is damp or raining.
  • Spotted salamanders have the family name Ambystomatidae, the family of mole salamanders, and are one of the 32 species of the genus Ambystoma, the only genus in the family.
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Spotted Salamander
Image courtesy of Brian Gratwicke/Flickr
  • Spotted salamanders are primarily coloured black, but they can also be dark blue, brown, grey or green , and they are patterned with yellow to orange spots.
  • Female spotted salamanders lay an average of two hundred eggs in temporary freshwater ponds that lack much wildlife, like fish, during the rainy season, typically breeding in the same hole annually, reached by the same route.
  • When threatened, spotted salamanders release a poisonous substance on enemies, although they generally prefer to stay out of danger by hiding.
  • Spotted salamanders can regrow body parts, from organs to limbs, and while they only have up to a 10% survival rate in the pool of water, once they change to their adult form they can live to 20 or 30 years.
  • Spotted salamanders’ diet mainly consists of spiders, insects, bugs, worms and slugs that they catch with their sticky tongue, and they are preyed upon by snakes, birds, raccoons and other creatures.
Bibliography:
Spotted Salamander, 2014, National Geographic, http://animals.nationalgeographic.com.au/animals/amphibians/spotted-salamander/
Spotted Salamander, 2014, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spotted_salamander
Stout, N. and G. Hammond, Ambystoma maculatum, 2007, Animal Diversity Web, http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Ambystoma_maculatum/

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Green Anaconda

Constrict these facts like a green anaconda.

  • Green anacondas are constrictor snakes found in South America’s tropical swamps and creeks.
  • ‘Green anacondas’ are also known as ‘common anacondas’ and ‘water boas’, and have the collective nouns of ‘knots’ and ‘beds’.
  • Green anacondas are from the family Boidae, the family of boas that are snakes that are non-venomous.
  • Green anacondas have the scientific name of Eunectes murinus, meaning ‘good swimmer’ and ‘of mice’ from Greek and Latin respectively.
  • Green anacondas are the heaviest known snake in the world and are said to weigh up to 250 kilograms (550 pounds) and have lengths of 10 metres (33 feet) or more, rating them as the second longest snake, although these sizes are debated, and their average weight and length is generally considered less, growing on average 4.6 to 5 metres (15 to 16 feet) in length and 30 to 70 kilograms (66 to 154 pounds) in weight.

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Green Anaconda
Image courtesy of Cristóbal Alvarado Minic /Flickr
  • Green anacondas have olive green scales spotted with black patches, and a head with an orange/yellow stripe down each side.
  • Green anacondas can be 30 cm (12 inches) or more in diameter and their jaws can stretch wide open so they can swallow their prey whole.
  • Green anacondas typically spend a lot of time in the water, and hunt at night, lurking in the water, striking at weaker animals like fish, turtles, birds, caiman and mammals, and sometimes larger animals like deer, constricting them and then consuming them.
  • Green anacondas birth between 20 to 40 live babies, that start at a length of 70 to 80 centimetres (2.3 to 2.6 feet).
  • Green anacondas have an average lifespan of 10 years in the wild and are popularly depicted in media as large snakes that swallow humans whole, although in reality, this is a very unlikely occurrence.
Bibliography:
Eunectes murinus, 2014, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eunectes_murinus
Green Anaconda, 2014, National Geographic, http://animals.nationalgeographic.com.au/animals/reptiles/green-anaconda/

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Komodo Dragon

Komodo dragons do not fly.

  • ‘Komodo dragons’ are also called ‘komodo monitors’ and ‘komodo island monitors’.
  • Komodo dragons are native to some of the Lesser Sunda islands of Indonesia, Asia, and were not known to the western world until the early 1900s.
  • Komodo dragons are from the family Varanidae, the family of monitor lizards, and have the scientific name ‘Varanus komodoensis’.
  • Komodo dragons are the world’s largest species of lizard not extinct, and are vulnerably threatened, particularly by human hunting, with approximately 3000 to 5000 in the wild.
  • Komodo dragons can grow up to 3 metres (10 feet) in length and 70 kilograms (150 pounds) in weight, although some are much heavier and can be more than double this in weight.
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Komodo Dragon
Image courtesy of Austronesian Expeditions/Flickr
  • Komodo dragons have bluey grey scales that are hard and sturdy and a forked tongue that is yellow, and numerous bacteria in their saliva that causes death in their prey.
  • Komodo dragons have an excellent sense of smell, one ear bone causing it to have a restricted hearing range, and it can see up to 300 metres (980 feet) away.
  • Komodo dragons live in habitats of grasslands, savannahs and forests, in areas that are hot and dry.
  • A komodo dragon’s diet consists of birds, mammals, reptiles, insects and the meat of dead animals, and can, in one feeding, eat up to 80% of its own weight.
  • Komodo dragon females lay an average of 20 eggs in a mound or a hole, that generally hatch in April.
Bibliography:
Komodo Dragon, 2014, National Geographic, http://animals.nationalgeographic.com.au/animals/reptiles/komodo-dragon/
Komodo Dragon, 2014, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Komodo_dragon

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