Mammals

 

Three-Banded-Armadillo-Tolypeutes-tricinctus-ArnoldThree-Banded Armadillo (Tolypeutes tricinctus) “Arnold”

South America

Armadillo is a Spanish word that means “little-armored one.” The “armor” isn’t the only protection this armadillo has from predators. When a frightened three-banded armadillo curls up into a ball, it often leaves a space open. If a predator puts a paw or nose into that space to try to pry the armadillo open, the little animal slams its shell shut—ouch! Only three-banded armadillo can curl into the ball to protect itself from predators. Other armadillos run or dig a hole when they need to escape from predators. There are 20 species throughout the world.  Armadillos are the only mammals covered by a shell. But it’s different than a seashell or a tortoise shell. An armadillo’s shell is made up of bony plates covered by thick, hard skin. Besides insects, they like to eat small mammals, baby birds, eggs, carrion, roots and fruit. Like anteaters, they have long sticky tongue that works perfectly when they hunt ants and termites. Armadillos are great swimmers. They can hold their breath for 6 minutes when they dive.

Fennec-Fox-Vulpes-zerda-FrancescaFennec Fox (Vulpes zerda) “Francesca”

Africa

The Fennec fox is the smallest of all the world’s foxes, weighing only 2.2 pounds.  It has enormous ears, measuring 6 inches, which it appears to have borrowed from a much bigger relative. Fennec foxes are sometimes called “desert foxes” because they live in desert zones of North Africa and the Sinai and Arabian peninsulas. They are nocturnal and avoid the daytime heat of the desert environment.Their batlike ears radiate body heat and help keep the foxes cool. They also have long, thick, soft fur coats with a wooly undercoat that insulates them during cold nights and protects them from the hot sun during the day. They have been known to jump in the air 2 feet (.6 meters) high from a standing position, and they are able to leap a distance of 4 feet. These foxes dwell in small groups of up to ten individuals. Like dogs and other canids, male Fennecs mark their territory with urine. They forage for plants but also eat rodents, eggs, reptiles, and insects. Like most desert dwellers, the Fennec fox has the ability to go for long periods without water. These foxes are cream-colored with black-tipped tails.

Kinkajou-Potos-flavusKinkajou (Potos flavus)

Central and South America

The Kinkajou, also called “night walkers” or “Honeybears”, lives in tropical rain forests from southern Mexico through Brazil. Its small, hand-like feet have fingers that are a bit webbed and end with sharp little claws. Dense, wooly fur acts as a raincoat to help keep the animal dry. The Kinkajou’s tail is longer than its head and body and is thickly furred and slightly prehensile. The scientific name for the Kinkajou is Potos flavus.  This roughly translates to golden drinker, as the Kinkajou has a golden-brown coat and is fond of nectar. The common name Kinkajou comes from a word that means honey bear, as this slender animal raids beehives for the golden liquid. As you might have guessed, the Kinkajou has quite a sweet tooth!  Looking a bit like a monkey, Kinkajous are often mistakenly called primates. They do have many traits and features like those of primates. But kinkajous are carnivores in the family Procyonidae, which includes raccoons, coatis, ringtails, and olingos. Kinkajous and binturongs are the only two carnivores that have a prehensile tail. The tail is for balance, to hold onto branches while reaching for food, and even to snuggle with while sleeping. Kinkajous can hang by the tip of their strong tail, then turn their body in such a way that they can climb back up their own tail!

Owl-Monkey-Aotus-miconax-Archer-jungle-joes-wildlife-adventuresOwl Monkey (Aotus miconax) “Archer”

Central and South America

Owl monkeys (Aotus), also called night monkeys, are the only nocturnal monkeys in the New World. Their large eyes give them excellent night vision. Their fur is wooly and their ears are hardly visible beneath their dense fur.  Their habitats range from Panama to Argentina. They are the most widely distributed of the New World monkeys. Despite this fact, their survival is threatened by habitat loss, hunting for food, and capture for use in pharmaceutical research. They live in trees, spending daylight hours hidden in hollows or in vine tangles. At sundown, they move about easily on all fours on branches and vines in the forests. They can leap across gaps up to 16-feet; a great distance for their tiny size.  Owl monkeys are most active one hour after dusk and one hour before dawn. In regions where there are fewer daytime predators, owl monkeys are more active during the day. Strictly nocturnal owl monkeys are more than twice as active during a full moon. They eat fruit, insects, leaves, and nectar. Because of their nighttime activity, there is less competition with daytime fruit eaters, plus they gain the advantage of meals of larger nocturnal insects. They are particularly adept at grabbing flying insect out of the air or snatching them off of a branch.

Chinchilla (Chinchilla lanigera)  

South America

Chinchillas are two species of crepuscular rodents, slightly larger and more robust than ground squirrels. They are native to the Andes mountains in South America and live in colonies called “herds” at high elevations up to 14,000 ft. Historically, chinchillas lived in an area that included parts of Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, and Chile, but today colonies in the wild are known only in Chile. Along with their relatives, viscachas, they make up the family Chinchillidae. The chinchilla has the second-densest fur of any land mammal, exceeded only by the sea otter and is named after the Chincha people of the Andes, who once wore its dense, velvet-like fur. By the end of the 19th century, chinchillas had become quite rare due to hunting for their ultra-soft fur. Most chinchillas currently used by the fur industry for clothing and other accessories are farm-raised. In the wild, chinchillas have been observed eating plant leaves, fruits, seeds, and small insects.

African Pygmy Hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris)

African pygmy hedgehogs have been domesticated from the African four-toed or white-bellied hedgehogs and may also have breeding influence from the Algerian hedgehog.  Hedgehogs are solitary, nocturnal animals. They have poor vision and rely highly on smell, touch, and hearing to navigate and hunt. Hedgehogs can cover miles in a single night foraging for food. They have a high tolerance for toxins and have been seen consuming toxic plants, poisonous amphibians, and even scorpions! If they encounter a predator, hedgehogs roll tightly into a ball, protecting their head, belly, and legs. In the wild, a hedgehog is opportunistic and will eat many things, but the majority of the diet comprises insects, supplemented with small snakes, amphibians, bird eggs, snails, worms, fruit, and grassroots.

Three-Banded Armadillo (Tolypeutes tricinctus) “Arnold”

South America
Three-Banded-Armadillo-Tolypeutes-tricinctus-Arnold

Armadillo is a Spanish word that means “little-armored one.” The “armor” isn’t the only protection this armadillo has from predators. When a frightened three-banded armadillo curls up into a ball, it often leaves a space open. If a predator puts a paw or nose into that space to try to pry the armadillo open, the little animal slams its shell shut—ouch! Only three-banded armadillo can curl into the ball to protect itself from predators. Other armadillos run or dig a hole when they need to escape from predators. There are 20 species throughout the world.  Armadillos are the only mammals covered by a shell. But it’s different than a seashell or a tortoise shell. An armadillo’s shell is made up of bony plates covered by thick, hard skin. Besides insects, they like to eat small mammals, baby birds, eggs, carrion, roots and fruit. Like anteaters, they have long sticky tongue that works perfectly when they hunt ants and termites. Armadillos are great swimmers. They can hold their breath for 6 minutes when they dive.

Fennec Fox (Vulpes zerda) “Francesca”

Africa
Fennec-Fox-Vulpes-zerda-Francesca

The Fennec fox is the smallest of all the world’s foxes, weighing only 2.2 pounds.  It has enormous ears, measuring 6 inches, which it appears to have borrowed from a much bigger relative. Fennec foxes are sometimes called “desert foxes” because they live in desert zones of North Africa and the Sinai and Arabian peninsulas. They are nocturnal and avoid the daytime heat of the desert environment.Their batlike ears radiate body heat and help keep the foxes cool. They also have long, thick, soft fur coats with a wooly undercoat that insulates them during cold nights and protects them from the hot sun during the day. They have been known to jump in the air 2 feet (.6 meters) high from a standing position, and they are able to leap a distance of 4 feet. These foxes dwell in small groups of up to ten individuals. Like dogs and other canids, male Fennecs mark their territory with urine. They forage for plants but also eat rodents, eggs, reptiles, and insects. Like most desert dwellers, the Fennec fox has the ability to go for long periods without water. These foxes are cream-colored with black-tipped tails.

Kinkajou (Potos flavus)

Central and South America
Kinkajou-Potos-flavus

The Kinkajou, also called “night walkers” or “Honeybears”, lives in tropical rain forests from southern Mexico through Brazil. Its small, hand-like feet have fingers that are a bit webbed and end with sharp little claws. Dense, wooly fur acts as a raincoat to help keep the animal dry. The Kinkajou’s tail is longer than its head and body and is thickly furred and slightly prehensile. The scientific name for the Kinkajou is Potos flavus.  This roughly translates to golden drinker, as the Kinkajou has a golden-brown coat and is fond of nectar. The common name Kinkajou comes from a word that means honey bear, as this slender animal raids beehives for the golden liquid. As you might have guessed, the Kinkajou has quite a sweet tooth!  Looking a bit like a monkey, Kinkajous are often mistakenly called primates. They do have many traits and features like those of primates. But kinkajous are carnivores in the family Procyonidae, which includes raccoons, coatis, ringtails, and olingos. Kinkajous and binturongs are the only two carnivores that have a prehensile tail. The tail is for balance, to hold onto branches while reaching for food, and even to snuggle with while sleeping. Kinkajous can hang by the tip of their strong tail, then turn their body in such a way that they can climb back up their own tail!

Owl Monkey (Aotus miconax) “Archer”

Central and South America
Owl-Monkey-Aotus-miconax-Archer-jungle-joes-wildlife-adventures

Owl monkeys (Aotus), also called night monkeys, are the only nocturnal monkeys in the New World. Their large eyes give them excellent night vision. Their fur is wooly and their ears are hardly visible beneath their dense fur.  Their habitats range from Panama to Argentina. They are the most widely distributed of the New World monkeys. Despite this fact, their survival is threatened by habitat loss, hunting for food, and capture for use in pharmaceutical research. They live in trees, spending daylight hours hidden in hollows or in vine tangles. At sundown, they move about easily on all fours on branches and vines in the forests. They can leap across gaps up to 16-feet; a great distance for their tiny size.  Owl monkeys are most active one hour after dusk and one hour before dawn. In regions where there are fewer daytime predators, owl monkeys are more active during the day. Strictly nocturnal owl monkeys are more than twice as active during a full moon. They eat fruit, insects, leaves, and nectar. Because of their nighttime activity, there is less competition with daytime fruit eaters, plus they gain the advantage of meals of larger nocturnal insects. They are particularly adept at grabbing flying insect out of the air or snatching them off of a branch.

Agile Wallaby (Macropus agilis)

Australia
Agile-Wallaby-Macropus-agilis

The agile wallaby, also known as the sandy wallaby, is a species of wallaby found in northern Australia and New Guinea. In Australia they live in the tropical North. They like to live in woodlands, coastal areas and open forests, their preferred habitat is flood plains. When these become inundated in water they move up into the cliffs and other areas of higher ground.  In the dry season they do not generally stray from a water source. They will make their home near a billabong or river. In general the agile wallaby is a solitary animal, but it sometimes forms into groups when feeding on open pastures, a behavior that may help with predator awareness. The agile wallaby feeds mainly at night on grasses, legumes and other herbaceous plants, but may also forage by day, especially in the wet season. In the dry season the animal’s range grows larger as the quality of the grazing deteriorates and the diet expands to include flowers, fruit, twigs, fallen leaves, roots and bark.

Birds

 

Blue-and-Gold-Macaw-Ara-ararauna-ZiggyBlue and Gold Macaw (Ara ararauna), “Ziggy”

Central and South America

The Blue and Yellow Macaw, also known as Blue-and-gold Macaw, is a member of the macaw group of parrots. The Blue and Yellow Macaws breed in the swampy tropical rainforests of South America from Panama south to Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. Although classed as ‘Least Concern’ by the IUCN, the Blue and Yellow Macaw is an endangered species in Trinidad. The Blue and Yellow Macaw is often considered to be one of the most trainable and intelligent birds of these parrots. The Blue and Yellow Macaw is considered to be the most beautiful of all parrot species. The Blue and Yellow Macaw measures around 34 – 36 inches in length from the tip of its head to the tip of its tail making them one of the biggest parrots in the world. It has a wing span of 41 to 45 inches and weighs between 900 and 1300 grams. In the wild, Blue and Yellow Macaws eat palm fruit and other tree fruits. One of the Macaws favourite foods is the seeds of the Hura crepitans tree. They usually roost at a different place from where they eat. Their feeding ground may be some distance away. Often macaws gather at clay licks to eat mineral and salt bearing clay, which is found on river banks.

Canary-Winged-Parakeet-Brotogeris-versicolurus-Kiki-jungle-joes-wildlife-adventuresCanary-Winged Parakeet (Brotogeris versicolurus) “Kiki”

South America

The White-winged Parakeets or Canary-winged Parakeets are also known as “Bee Bee” and “Pocket parrots.” Canary-winged parakeets are small stocky parakeets – about 8.5 to 10 inches long, nearly half of its length, 4.3 inches, made up by its pointed tail. They are slightly larger than grey-cheek parakeets and lovebirdsThese boldly marked parakeets have an extensive native range throughout most of South America and can be found along the Amazon River, south over east, central and south Brazil, into north and east Bolivia, Paraguay, northern Argentina and eastern Peru. They are usually found near open forests, savannahs, seasonally flooded forests and river islands; but are also seen in suburban areas, parks and gardens – sometimes in flocks of up to about 50. Populations of released or escaped pet birds have established themselves in California (Los Angeles / Hollywood, San Francisco, San Fernando and San Gabriel Valley), Florida (Miami), in New York City and Puerto Rico. They are not noted as being great talkers – but some say that Canary-wing Parakeets are better talkers than the popular grey-cheeks. They usually can pick up a few words or sentences. They are considered to be semi-noisy birds. These parakeets are generally friendly and grow very tame; however, they may be jealous of other pets. When they feel threatened, the canary-winged parakeets raise their wings and clap them together to make explosive sound.

Eurasian-Eagle-Owl-Bubo-bubo-OliverEurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo) “Oliver”

Eurasia

The Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) is a species of eagle-owl that resides in much of Eurasia.It is one of the largest species of owl, and females can grow to a total length of 30 inches, with a wingspan of 6 ft 2 in, males being slightly smaller. Besides being one of the largest living species of owl, it is also one of the most widely distributed. The Eurasian eagle-owl is found in a number of habitats but is mostly a bird of mountain regions, coniferous forests, steppes and other relatively remote places. It is a mostly nocturnal predator, hunting for a range of different prey species, predominantly small mammals but also birds of varying sizes, reptiles, amphibians, fish, large insects and other assorted invertebrates. It typically breeds on cliff ledges, in gullies, among rocks or in some other concealed locations.

Blue and Gold Macaw (Ara ararauna), “Ziggy”

Central and South America
Blue-and-Gold-Macaw-Ara-ararauna-Ziggy

The Blue and Yellow Macaw, also known as Blue-and-gold Macaw, is a member of the macaw group of parrots. The Blue and Yellow Macaws breed in the swampy tropical rainforests of South America from Panama south to Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. Although classed as ‘Least Concern’ by the IUCN, the Blue and Yellow Macaw is an endangered species in Trinidad. The Blue and Yellow Macaw is often considered to be one of the most trainable and intelligent birds of these parrots. The Blue and Yellow Macaw is considered to be the most beautiful of all parrot species. The Blue and Yellow Macaw measures around 34 – 36 inches in length from the tip of its head to the tip of its tail making them one of the biggest parrots in the world. It has a wing span of 41 to 45 inches and weighs between 900 and 1300 grams. In the wild, Blue and Yellow Macaws eat palm fruit and other tree fruits. One of the Macaws favourite foods is the seeds of the Hura crepitans tree. They usually roost at a different place from where they eat. Their feeding ground may be some distance away. Often macaws gather at clay licks to eat mineral and salt bearing clay, which is found on river banks.

Canary-Winged Parakeet (Brotogeris versicolurus) “Kiki”

South America
Canary-Winged-Parakeet-Brotogeris-versicolurus-Kiki-jungle-joes-wildlife-adventures

The White-winged Parakeets or Canary-winged Parakeets are also known as “Bee Bee” and “Pocket parrots.” Canary-winged parakeets are small stocky parakeets – about 8.5 to 10 inches long, nearly half of its length, 4.3 inches, made up by its pointed tail. They are slightly larger than grey-cheek parakeets and lovebirdsThese boldly marked parakeets have an extensive native range throughout most of South America and can be found along the Amazon River, south over east, central and south Brazil, into north and east Bolivia, Paraguay, northern Argentina and eastern Peru. They are usually found near open forests, savannahs, seasonally flooded forests and river islands; but are also seen in suburban areas, parks and gardens – sometimes in flocks of up to about 50. Populations of released or escaped pet birds have established themselves in California (Los Angeles / Hollywood, San Francisco, San Fernando and San Gabriel Valley), Florida (Miami), in New York City and Puerto Rico. They are not noted as being great talkers – but some say that Canary-wing Parakeets are better talkers than the popular grey-cheeks. They usually can pick up a few words or sentences. They are considered to be semi-noisy birds. These parakeets are generally friendly and grow very tame; however, they may be jealous of other pets. When they feel threatened, the canary-winged parakeets raise their wings and clap them together to make explosive sound.

Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo) “Oliver”

Eurasia
Eurasian-Eagle-Owl-Bubo-bubo-Oliver

The Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) is a species of eagle-owl that resides in much of Eurasia.It is one of the largest species of owl, and females can grow to a total length of 30 inches, with a wingspan of 6 ft 2 in, males being slightly smaller. Besides being one of the largest living species of owl, it is also one of the most widely distributed. The Eurasian eagle-owl is found in a number of habitats but is mostly a bird of mountain regions, coniferous forests, steppes and other relatively remote places. It is a mostly nocturnal predator, hunting for a range of different prey species, predominantly small mammals but also birds of varying sizes, reptiles, amphibians, fish, large insects and other assorted invertebrates. It typically breeds on cliff ledges, in gullies, among rocks or in some other concealed locations.

Reptiles & Amphibians

 

Boelens-Python-Morelia-boeleni-Black-Jack-jungle-joes-wildlife-adventuresBoelen’s Python (Morelia boeleni) “Black Jack”

Indonesia

Found in Indonesia (Western New Guinea in the Wissel Lakes region) and Papua New Guinea (the provinces of Eastern Highlands, Central and Morobe, and Goodenough Island). The species inhabits forested montane regions of over 1,000 m (3,300 ft) elevation. It is generally encountered on the forest floor, but is also reckoned to be an able climber. Adult Boelen’s pythons exhibit a breathtaking jet-black coloration. When the sun hits the iridescent body just right, the snake appears bejeweled with an array of intense blues and purples. Yellow, forward-facing bands breach the face and underside. Babies are a pristine burnt-red to orange, and their bodies are covered with yellow to cream bands. As they mature, the reddish body turns black, though some form of the bands remain.West Papua Boelen’s can often reach lengths of 8 to 9 feet. Those found in eastern New Guinea are more robust and can often reach 13 or 14 feet in length.This species is considered to be highly desirable by private keepers due to its beauty, but is also exceptionally rare in collections. Although captive-born snakes are fairly hardy in captivity, wild-caught individuals are considerably more difficult to keep successfully. Captive breeding is exceedingly rare, and the conditions necessary are still unclear.

Ball-Python-Python-regius-BarneyBall Python (Python regius) “Barney”

Africa

The ball python, also known as the royal python, is a python species found in sub-Saharan Africa. Like all other pythons, it is a non-venomous constrictor. Adults generally do not grow to more than 5 to 6 feet. This is the smallest of the African pythons and is popular in the pet trade, largely due to its small size and typically docile temperament. They can live quite long, with the oldest on record living more than 47 years. The name “ball python” refers to the animal’s tendency to curl into a ball when stressed or frightened.  The name royal python (from the Latin regius) comes from the fact that rulers in Africa would wear the python as jewelry. In the wild, their diet consists mostly of small mammals, such as African soft-furred rats, shrews and striped mice. Younger individuals have also been known to feed on birds.

Boa-Constrictor-Boa-constrictor-Big-BerthaBoa Constrictor (Boa constrictor) “Big Bertha”

Central and South America

The boa constrictor (Boa constrictor), also called red-tailed boa, is a species of large, heavy-bodied snake. It is a member of the family Boidae found in Central, and South America, as well as some islands in the Caribbean. The boa constrictor is a large snake, although it is only modestly sized in comparison to other large snakes, such as the reticulated python and Burmese python, and can reach lengths from 3–13 ft. depending on the locality and the availability of suitable prey. The boa constrictor is a heavy-bodied snake, and large specimens can weigh up to 60 lbs. They are nocturnal, but they may bask during the day when night-time temperatures are too low. As semi-arboreal snakes, young boa constrictors may climb into trees and shrubs to forage; however, they become mostly terrestrial as they become older and heavier.[ Prey includes a wide variety of small to medium-sized mammals and birds. The bulk of their diet consists of rodents, but larger lizards and mammals as big as ocelots are also reported to have been consumed. Young boa constrictors eat small mice, birds, bats, lizards, and amphibians. The size of the prey item increases as they get older and larger.

Argentine-Black-and-White-Tegu-Tupinambis-merianae-TippyArgentine Black and White Tegu (Tupinambis merianae) “Tippy”

South America

Argentinian black and white tegus, also called giant tegus, are the largest tegus in the world. Adults often reach a size of 4 feet or even longer (including the tail). They range from temperate climates in Argentina, with warm summer temperatures and cold winters, to tropical forests that surround the Amazon in southern Argentina. They also live in Uruguay’s meadows, river valleys and mountains. Because of this great range, Argentine black and white tegus exhibit great versatility and can hibernate in cold weather. In August, they stop eating and begin to prepare burrows in which they will hibernate. Often, several giant tegus will hibernate in one burrow. In September, they enter the burrow and close it from the inside. There they will hibernate for 6 months before emerging the following March and begin eating again in April. Giant tegus, while primarily terrestrial, are also able swimmers and will, if threatened, retreat underwater and stay there for large periods of time. Unlike the much more common Colombian black and white tegus, the Argentine tegus are omnivorous. They feed primarily on vegetables and fruits, and will eat insects, snails, bird eggs, small mammals, fish and amphibians. Sometimes they even steal fish bait and lunch from the local fisherman!

Monkey-Tail-Skink-Corucia-zebrata-SollyMonkey Tail Skink 
(Corucia zebrata) “Solly”

Solomon Islands archipelago

Also known as the prehensile-tailed skink or the monkey-tailed skink, Solomon Island skinks are one of only a few species of skinks that are known to live an arboreal existence, climbing slowly from branch to branch. Solomon Island skinks are also completely herbivorous. They are members of the giant skink family and are the only known species of skinks with prehensile, or grasping, tails. Skinks give birth to only one or two extremely large offspring, which may be up to one-half the size of the mother. These lizards show a degree of parental care not observed in other lizards; the parents will actually protect their young as well as their territory. In defense, the skink is able to make a sharp hissing noise and can deliver a savage bite. Solomon Island skinks are one of the few lizards not able to cast off their tail in defense and later regenerate a new one. As with many tropical forest species, the extensive loss of forests is severely affecting Solomon Islands skinks. They rely entirely upon the trees for food and shelter. Their coloring is an adaptation that camouflages them in the dense canopies of these forests to protect them against predation. Because of their low reproductive rates, this species is at risk due to the pet trade and losses caused by predation by newly introduced species.

Bearded-Dragon-Pogona-vitticeps-Elvis-and-PriscillaBearded Dragon 
(Pogona vitticeps) “Elvis and Priscilla”

Australia

Inland bearded dragons live in the arid woodlands and deserts of central Australia. They spend much of their waking hours in bushes and trees. They can also be found basking on rocks in the warm sun. When it is extremely hot, bearded dragons will burrow underground. They are diurnal and omnivores; in other words, they forage for food such as insects; small lizards and mammals; fruit; flowers; and other plant material during the daytime. The beard of these dragons is used for both mating and aggression displays. Both sexes have a beard, but males display their beard more frequently, especially in courtship rituals. Females will, however, display their beard as a sign of aggression. The beard turns dark to jet-lack and inflates during the display. In addition, to appear more intimidating, bearded dragon also may open their mouths and gape. Another interesting behavior is arm waving, during which the bearded dragon stands on three legs and waves one of its forelimbs in a slow circular pattern. One function of arm waving seems to be species recognition. Arm waving is also used to show submission; a smaller bearded dragon responds with arm waving when confronted with a larger, more dominant bearded dragon. Females also arm wave to avoid aggression from males, especially if the male is bobbing its head.

Caiman-Lizard-Dracaena-guianensis-DragoCaiman Lizard (Dracaena guianensis) “Drago”

South America

The Caiman lizard is a large, heavy bodied lizard that is well adapted to life in and around water. Caiman lizards are native to South America around the Amazon River Basin from Brazil, and Guyana westward to Peru and Ecuador. In the past, the Caiman lizard was heavily hunted for its skin, but since protection was provided for them in the 1970s, the export has dropped and now these animals are not considered to be under the threat of extinction. Covered in large, bony scales the skin of a Caiman lizard resembles that of a Caiman- a crocodilian species that also inhabits Central and South America. While its appearance and semi-aquatic lifestyle may suggest that that the caiman lizard is related to these crocodilians, it is actually a cousin of the Tegu. The caiman lizard spends most of its time in or near water. At night, it hides in trees and bushes. Caiman lizards in the wild will take a variety of prey: snails, fish, crawfish, clams, invertebrate and other freshwater inhabitants all can make up a caiman lizards diet. However they do specialize in snails. It takes the snail in the jaws, raises its head up so that the prey will slide into the back of the mouth, then crushes it with its back teeth. It then spits out the pieces of shell. The lizard has been known to even kill and eat amazon river turtles by crushing the shell by the edges and eating the softer parts chunk after chunk.

Morelets-Crocodile-Crocodylus-moreletii-CarlosMorelet’s Crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii) “Carlos”

Central America

Also known as the Mexican crocodile, is a modest sized crocodilian found only in fresh waters of the Atlantic regions of Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. Morelet’s crocodile is small compared to most other crocodiles and it usually grows to about 9.8 ft. in length and the body mass in this species is often around 84–128 lbs. Like most crocodilians, Morelet’s crocodiles are highly opportunistic and will prey on practically anything that they can overpower that comes in their territories. Juvenile crocodiles feed largely on fish and insects until they become bigger and more capable of bringing down larger prey.  Adults largely prey on small mammals, birds, and other reptiles as well as gastropods, crustaceans and other invertebrates. Morelet’s crocodile has long been threatened by habitat destruction and illegal hunting. Both of these factors have significantly lowered their populations. It was hunted for its hide during the 1940s and 1950’s because high quality leather can be made from their skins. Crocodile leather can be used to make wallets, coats and shoes.

American-Alligator-Alligator-Mississippiensis-WallyAmerican Alligator (Alligator Mississippiensis) “Wally”

North America

American alligators are the largest reptiles in North America. These animals can be distinguished from American crocodiles by their short, rounded snout and black color. Adult alligators can reach up to 18 feet in length, although the average is 13 feet. An alligator’s tail accounts for half of its length. Male alligators, or bulls, are generally larger than females. On average, the males weigh from 450 to 600 pounds. Alligators can be found in rivers, swamps, bogs, lakes, ponds, creeks, canals and bayous. They can tolerate some saltwater and so have been spotted in marshes as well. Widespread in Florida, alligators also live in southern Texas, Louisiana, and parts of North and South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. Alligators eat just about anything, including lizards, fish, snakes, turtles, small mammals, birds, crustaceans and even small alligators. They hunt for prey underwater and often swallow their meal whole. Female alligators build their nests in marshy areas and along shorelines. The temperature of the nest determines the sex of the hatchlings. The mother stays close to her nest to protect it, and when the young hatch and peep, the mother helps the hatchlings out of the nest and carries them in her mouth to the water.

Aldabra-Tortoise-Geochelone-gigantean-Victor-jungle-joes-wildlife-adventuresAldabra Tortoise (Geochelone gigantean) “Victor”

Aldabra Island

The Aldabra Giant Tortoise is a giant species of Tortoise native to the Aldabra Islands in the Indian ocean. The Aldabra giant tortoise is one of the largest species of Tortoise on the planet and is also one of the world’s longest living animals, with one Aldabra Giant Tortoise individual reaching the grand old age of 255 years old. Aldabra Giant Tortoises are found both individually and in herds, which tend to gather mostly on open grasslands. The Aldabra Giant Tortoise is generally most active in the mornings when they spend the most time browsing for food, before the temperature gets too high. The Aldabra Giant Tortoise is also known to dig underground burrows or rest in swamps to keep cool during the heat of the day. Despite being slow and cautious. Despite being slow and cautious animals, the Aldabra Giant Tortoise is said to be uninterested in the presence of people, indicating that one of the reasons that they were so easy for Human settlers to hunt, was simply because these animals had no fear of them. Aldabra Giant Tortoises also eat leaves, fruits and berries from the surrounding vegetation and are known to actually reach up on their hind legs to nibble on the treats slightly higher up.

Giant-Marine-Toad-or-Cane-Toad-Bufo-marinus-MooseGiant Marine Toad or Cane Toad (Bufo marinus) “Moose”

Central and South America (native range)
introduced to Florida, Australia, and many Pacific islands and other tropical areas.

Giant marine toads, also called cane toads, are the largest of Florida’s frogs and toads. When this “immigrant” to Florida is threatened, it secretes a highly toxic milky substance from the large parotoid glands in the back of its head. This substance may burn eyes, inflame skin, and possibly kill cats and dogs that ingest it. The giant marine toad’s natural distribution is an area extending from the northern portion of South America through Central America to the very southern part of Texas in the United States. Yet, the frogs have been introduced to Australia and some South Pacific islands as well as Florida, making them the most widespread Latin-American amphibian. While the frog’s main diet is insects, it is not fussy and has been known to eat small snakes, frogs, lizards and even mice. These frogs will also eat bees straight out of the hive and dog food right out of the bowl. Bufo marinus can grow to 9 inches in length and more than 2 pounds in weight. They have been known to live for at least 15 years in captivity.

Boelen’s Python (Morelia boeleni) “Black Jack”

Indonesia
Boelens-Python-Morelia-boeleni-Black-Jack-jungle-joes-wildlife-adventures

Found in Indonesia (Western New Guinea in the Wissel Lakes region) and Papua New Guinea (the provinces of Eastern Highlands, Central and Morobe, and Goodenough Island). The species inhabits forested montane regions of over 1,000 m (3,300 ft) elevation. It is generally encountered on the forest floor, but is also reckoned to be an able climber. Adult Boelen’s pythons exhibit a breathtaking jet-black coloration. When the sun hits the iridescent body just right, the snake appears bejeweled with an array of intense blues and purples. Yellow, forward-facing bands breach the face and underside. Babies are a pristine burnt-red to orange, and their bodies are covered with yellow to cream bands. As they mature, the reddish body turns black, though some form of the bands remain.West Papua Boelen’s can often reach lengths of 8 to 9 feet. Those found in eastern New Guinea are more robust and can often reach 13 or 14 feet in length.This species is considered to be highly desirable by private keepers due to its beauty, but is also exceptionally rare in collections. Although captive-born snakes are fairly hardy in captivity, wild-caught individuals are considerably more difficult to keep successfully. Captive breeding is exceedingly rare, and the conditions necessary are still unclear.

Ball Python (Python regius) “Barney”

Africa
Ball-Python-Python-regius-Barney

The ball python, also known as the royal python, is a python species found in sub-Saharan Africa. Like all other pythons, it is a non-venomous constrictor. Adults generally do not grow to more than 5 to 6 feet. This is the smallest of the African pythons and is popular in the pet trade, largely due to its small size and typically docile temperament. They can live quite long, with the oldest on record living more than 47 years. The name “ball python” refers to the animal’s tendency to curl into a ball when stressed or frightened.  The name royal python (from the Latin regius) comes from the fact that rulers in Africa would wear the python as jewelry. In the wild, their diet consists mostly of small mammals, such as African soft-furred rats, shrews and striped mice. Younger individuals have also been known to feed on birds.

Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor) “Big Bertha”

Central and South America
Boa-Constrictor-Boa-constrictor-Big-Bertha

The boa constrictor (Boa constrictor), also called red-tailed boa, is a species of large, heavy-bodied snake. It is a member of the family Boidae found in Central, and South America, as well as some islands in the Caribbean. The boa constrictor is a large snake, although it is only modestly sized in comparison to other large snakes, such as the reticulated python and Burmese python, and can reach lengths from 3–13 ft. depending on the locality and the availability of suitable prey. The boa constrictor is a heavy-bodied snake, and large specimens can weigh up to 60 lbs. They are nocturnal, but they may bask during the day when night-time temperatures are too low. As semi-arboreal snakes, young boa constrictors may climb into trees and shrubs to forage; however, they become mostly terrestrial as they become older and heavier.[ Prey includes a wide variety of small to medium-sized mammals and birds. The bulk of their diet consists of rodents, but larger lizards and mammals as big as ocelots are also reported to have been consumed. Young boa constrictors eat small mice, birds, bats, lizards, and amphibians. The size of the prey item increases as they get older and larger.

Argentine Black and White Tegu (Tupinambis merianae) “Tippy”

South America
Argentine-Black-and-White-Tegu-Tupinambis-merianae-Tippy

Argentinian black and white tegus, also called giant tegus, are the largest tegus in the world. Adults often reach a size of 4 feet or even longer (including the tail). They range from temperate climates in Argentina, with warm summer temperatures and cold winters, to tropical forests that surround the Amazon in southern Argentina. They also live in Uruguay’s meadows, river valleys and mountains. Because of this great range, Argentine black and white tegus exhibit great versatility and can hibernate in cold weather. In August, they stop eating and begin to prepare burrows in which they will hibernate. Often, several giant tegus will hibernate in one burrow. In September, they enter the burrow and close it from the inside. There they will hibernate for 6 months before emerging the following March and begin eating again in April. Giant tegus, while primarily terrestrial, are also able swimmers and will, if threatened, retreat underwater and stay there for large periods of time. Unlike the much more common Colombian black and white tegus, the Argentine tegus are omnivorous. They feed primarily on vegetables and fruits, and will eat insects, snails, bird eggs, small mammals, fish and amphibians. Sometimes they even steal fish bait and lunch from the local fisherman!

Monkey Tail Skink 
(Corucia zebrata) “Solly”

Solomon Islands archipelago
Monkey-Tail-Skink-Corucia-zebrata-Solly

Also known as the prehensile-tailed skink or the monkey-tailed skink, Solomon Island skinks are one of only a few species of skinks that are known to live an arboreal existence, climbing slowly from branch to branch. Solomon Island skinks are also completely herbivorous. They are members of the giant skink family and are the only known species of skinks with prehensile, or grasping, tails. Skinks give birth to only one or two extremely large offspring, which may be up to one-half the size of the mother. These lizards show a degree of parental care not observed in other lizards; the parents will actually protect their young as well as their territory. In defense, the skink is able to make a sharp hissing noise and can deliver a savage bite. Solomon Island skinks are one of the few lizards not able to cast off their tail in defense and later regenerate a new one. As with many tropical forest species, the extensive loss of forests is severely affecting Solomon Islands skinks. They rely entirely upon the trees for food and shelter. Their coloring is an adaptation that camouflages them in the dense canopies of these forests to protect them against predation. Because of their low reproductive rates, this species is at risk due to the pet trade and losses caused by predation by newly introduced species.

Bearded Dragon 
(Pogona vitticeps) “Elvis and Priscilla”

Australia
Bearded-Dragon-Pogona-vitticeps-Elvis-and-Priscilla

Inland bearded dragons live in the arid woodlands and deserts of central Australia. They spend much of their waking hours in bushes and trees. They can also be found basking on rocks in the warm sun. When it is extremely hot, bearded dragons will burrow underground. They are diurnal and omnivores; in other words, they forage for food such as insects; small lizards and mammals; fruit; flowers; and other plant material during the daytime. The beard of these dragons is used for both mating and aggression displays. Both sexes have a beard, but males display their beard more frequently, especially in courtship rituals. Females will, however, display their beard as a sign of aggression. The beard turns dark to jet-lack and inflates during the display. In addition, to appear more intimidating, bearded dragon also may open their mouths and gape. Another interesting behavior is arm waving, during which the bearded dragon stands on three legs and waves one of its forelimbs in a slow circular pattern. One function of arm waving seems to be species recognition. Arm waving is also used to show submission; a smaller bearded dragon responds with arm waving when confronted with a larger, more dominant bearded dragon. Females also arm wave to avoid aggression from males, especially if the male is bobbing its head.

Morelet’s Crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii) “Carlos”

Central America

Morelets-Crocodile-Crocodylus-moreletii-Carlos

Also known as the Mexican crocodile, is a modest sized crocodilian found only in fresh waters of the Atlantic regions of Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. Morelet’s crocodile is small compared to most other crocodiles and it usually grows to about 9.8 ft. in length and the body mass in this species is often around 84–128 lbs. Like most crocodilians, Morelet’s crocodiles are highly opportunistic and will prey on practically anything that they can overpower that comes in their territories. Juvenile crocodiles feed largely on fish and insects until they become bigger and more capable of bringing down larger prey.  Adults largely prey on small mammals, birds, and other reptiles as well as gastropods, crustaceans and other invertebrates. Morelet’s crocodile has long been threatened by habitat destruction and illegal hunting. Both of these factors have significantly lowered their populations. It was hunted for its hide during the 1940s and 1950’s because high quality leather can be made from their skins. Crocodile leather can be used to make wallets, coats and shoes.

American Alligator (Alligator Mississippiensis) “Wally”

North America
American-Alligator-Alligator-Mississippiensis-Wally

American alligators are the largest reptiles in North America. These animals can be distinguished from American crocodiles by their short, rounded snout and black color. Adult alligators can reach up to 18 feet in length, although the average is 13 feet. An alligator’s tail accounts for half of its length. Male alligators, or bulls, are generally larger than females. On average, the males weigh from 450 to 600 pounds. Alligators can be found in rivers, swamps, bogs, lakes, ponds, creeks, canals and bayous. They can tolerate some saltwater and so have been spotted in marshes as well. Widespread in Florida, alligators also live in southern Texas, Louisiana, and parts of North and South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. Alligators eat just about anything, including lizards, fish, snakes, turtles, small mammals, birds, crustaceans and even small alligators. They hunt for prey underwater and often swallow their meal whole. Female alligators build their nests in marshy areas and along shorelines. The temperature of the nest determines the sex of the hatchlings. The mother stays close to her nest to protect it, and when the young hatch and peep, the mother helps the hatchlings out of the nest and carries them in her mouth to the water.

Aldabra Tortoise (Geochelone gigantean) “Victor”

Aldabra Island
Aldabra-Tortoise-Geochelone-gigantean-Victor-jungle-joes-wildlife-adventures

The Aldabra Giant Tortoise is a giant species of Tortoise native to the Aldabra Islands in the Indian ocean. The Aldabra giant tortoise is one of the largest species of Tortoise on the planet and is also one of the world’s longest living animals, with one Aldabra Giant Tortoise individual reaching the grand old age of 255 years old. Aldabra Giant Tortoises are found both individually and in herds, which tend to gather mostly on open grasslands. The Aldabra Giant Tortoise is generally most active in the mornings when they spend the most time browsing for food, before the temperature gets too high. The Aldabra Giant Tortoise is also known to dig underground burrows or rest in swamps to keep cool during the heat of the day. Despite being slow and cautious. Despite being slow and cautious animals, the Aldabra Giant Tortoise is said to be uninterested in the presence of people, indicating that one of the reasons that they were so easy for Human settlers to hunt, was simply because these animals had no fear of them. Aldabra Giant Tortoises also eat leaves, fruits and berries from the surrounding vegetation and are known to actually reach up on their hind legs to nibble on the treats slightly higher up.

Giant Marine Toad or Cane Toad (Bufo marinus) “Moose”

Central and South America (native range)
introduced to Florida, Australia, and many Pacific islands and other tropical areas.
Giant-Marine-Toad-or-Cane-Toad-Bufo-marinus-Moose

Giant marine toads, also called cane toads, are the largest of Florida’s frogs and toads. When this “immigrant” to Florida is threatened, it secretes a highly toxic milky substance from the large parotoid glands in the back of its head. This substance may burn eyes, inflame skin, and possibly kill cats and dogs that ingest it. The giant marine toad’s natural distribution is an area extending from the northern portion of South America through Central America to the very southern part of Texas in the United States. Yet, the frogs have been introduced to Australia and some South Pacific islands as well as Florida, making them the most widespread Latin-American amphibian. While the frog’s main diet is insects, it is not fussy and has been known to eat small snakes, frogs, lizards and even mice. These frogs will also eat bees straight out of the hive and dog food right out of the bowl. Bufo marinus can grow to 9 inches in length and more than 2 pounds in weight. They have been known to live for at least 15 years in captivity.