Did you know that in it’s natural environment, Physignathus cocincinus is quite shy and always prepared to take flight. Quite often it rests on branches overhanging the water. When startled it drops from the branches into the bodies of water and can remain submerged for longer time periods, but it may also run into the dense riparian undergrowth on its hind legs. They are good swimmers and divers and can even catch fish. Physignathus cocincinus has a „third eye“. Actually it’s a small round spot located at the top of the head, between the eyes and is really known as the parietal.
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Once a patch of wild space is named a protected area, it’s very easy to think that the place will be protected forever, that it is safe from the meddling hands of developers. But the trouble is, this is exactly the wrong thing to think, and sadly the Portland Bight Protected Area (PBPA) is a perfect example of why. PBPA is the largest protected area in Jamaica, a 724 square-mile patch that includes limestone forests, two-thirds of Jamaica’s mangroves, and sea-grass beds and coral reefs that act as nurseries for fish and shellfish species. And it is about to be plowed under.
Conservation photographer Robin Moore, a fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers, packed his camera gear and took a trip to the area to document the endangered species that find refuge here, and the lives of the 50,000 people who depend on the protected area for their livelihoods. Moore’s hope is that his images will win the hearts of the rest of the world, who perhaps can convince the Jamaican government to end their plans for development. One photographer, a pile of camera gear, and whole lot of determination could push this issue into the public eye across the world…
Read the full article [here]
WORK IN CURRENT HERPETOLOGY:
Two New Alligator Snapping Turtle Species Announced, Some Face Localized Risks
by Brett Smith, Red Orbit
A new study published in the journal Zootaxa reveals that the alligator snapping turtle is actually three different species – not one as previously thought.The report also indicated that the localized distribution of these species, which includes coastal rivers of the northern Gulf of Mexico, poses a significant threat to their continued survival.
“We have to be especially careful with our management of the Suwannee River species because this turtle exists only in that river and its tributaries,” said study author Travis Thomas, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission scientist, referring to a small river that winds through parts of Georgia and Florida. “If something catastrophic were to occur, such as a chemical spill or something that affects the entire river, it could potentially devastate this species. The turtle is extremely limited by its habitat. All it has is this river and it has nowhere else to go.”
Based on analyses of the fossil record and modern turtle morphology, study researchers revised the genus Macrochelys to include Macrochelys temminkii and the two newly-described species, Macrochelys apalachicolae and Macrochelys suwanniensis. Constrained to river systems that empty into the northern Gulf of Mexico, the species are split by geography, which triggered changes in genetics, according to the study team…
(read more: Red Orbit)
photo: Gary M. Stolz/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Lycodonomorphus rufulus - Common Brown Water Snake | ©Tyrone Ping (Montague Pass, South Africa)
The Common brown water snake, Lycodonomorphus rufulus (Colubridae) is a common snake in areas with permanent water in the wetter coastal and eastern parts of South Africa .
This colubrid can be identified by its uniform olive or light brown coloration, the pink or mother of pearl coloured underside, its good swimming ability and vertical pupils. It grows to an average length of 60 cm but may reach 85 cm .
Non-venomous and not dangerous to man and not likely to bite, however in the Zulu culture it is regarded as extremely dangerous.
Asked by eviljelllyfish
Your concerns are quite correct. The behaviour shown by the lizard in question is submissive. That is not to say that it necessarily indicates defense or stress; rather, it indicates that this individual knows its place in the hierarchy, and that it is subordinate to the keeper. It seems that the flipping behaviour as an indicator of submission is not common to all agamid lizards, but rather just a few species. Bearded dragons, for instance, are not known to flip in this manner.
I don’t want to overstep, but I think it may be a stretch to suggest that this behaviour is in any way detrimental to the health of the animal, or necessarily causing it stress (though the rubbing of its belly may indeed do so). I have seen assertions that reptiles cannot breathe very well on their backs, and while that might be true over an extended period (I have no evidence for or against that claim), such a short spell on its back is unlikely to cause any respiratory distress. Indeed, lizards seem to have no trouble breathing while on their backs for surgery. Perhaps theexoticvet can weigh in more significantly on that particular issue.
Herpetologists handling lizards flip them on their backs all the time. Many lizards, when placed on their backs, can be brought into an almost comatose state by sliding a finger along their bellies from snout to vent. We use this to examine and measure them. It causes minimal distress to the animals, and they immediately get up and go as soon as they are righted.
No, as far as I can tell, the lizard is acknowledging its place as a subordinate, but aside from being prodded in the belly, is not likely to be experiencing any physical or mental discomfort.
We must remember that not all lizards are dominant. It is perfectly legitimate for a lizard to assume its owner is the dominant individual, and display submissive behaviour in their presence. That need not be a stressful or uncomfortable behaviour for the lizard; it is merely a form of communication.
Nevertheless, that communication has clearly been misinterpreted by the owner of this lizard, who proceeds to tickle its tummy - an easy mistake to make for anyone who has spent even an hour with an affectionate cat. It should always be borne in mind that herp behaviour, while analogous to mammals in some ways, is completely different, and we should try not to confuse the two as much as possible.
Tool use in crocodylians: crocodiles and alligators use sticks as lures to attract waterbirds
In recent years it has – I really, really hope – become better known that non-bird reptiles (turtles, lizards, snakes, crocodiles, alligators and so on) are not boring dullards, but behaviourally complex creatures that get up to all sorts of interesting things. Play behaviour, complex social interactions, gaze recognition, pair-bonding and monogamy, social hunting, speedy learning abilities and good memories have all been demonstrated across these groups. And another interesting and unexpected bit of complex behaviour has just been published. It’s so interesting that I feel compelled to write about it today. It concerns what seems to be tool use in crocodiles and alligators.
As described by Dinets et al. (2013), Mugger crocodiles Crocodylus palustris in India and American alligators Alligator mississippiensis in the USA have both been observed to lie, partially submerged, beneath egret and heron colonies with sticks balanced across their snouts. Birds approach to collect the sticks for use in nest building and… well, let’s just say that it doesn’t end well for the birds. If the crocodylians really are using the sticks as bait to attract their bird prey, this is tool use, since the sticks are objects that are being employed for a specific function.
Using objects as hunting lures is very rare in nature, having been observed in just a handful of species. We report the use of twigs and sticks as bird lures by two crocodilian species. At least one of them uses this method predominantly during the nest-building season of its prey. This is the first known case of a predator not just using objects as lures, but also taking into account the seasonality of prey behavior. It provides a surprising insight into previously unrecognized complexity of archosaurian behavior.
Dinets, V., Brueggen, J. C. & Brueggen, J. D. 2013. Crocodilians use tools for hunting.Ethology Ecology & Evolution in press doi.org/10.1080/03949370.2013.858276 (x)
The Marbled tree snake is an attractive colubrid native to Southern Africa. Dipsadoboa aulica, as it is scientific named, can be identified by its large eyes (with vertical pupils), a head which is distinct from its body, a white tongue and its nocturnal lifestyle. It grows to an average length of 60 cm and a maximum length of 85 cm [source].
Mexican Black King Snake (Lampropeltis getula nigritus)
- Also known as the desert black or Western black king snake
- Found in Southern Arizona, Western Sonora and Northwestern Sinaloa, and Mexico
- Occasionally gives a warning by rattling its tail, presumably attempting to mimic rattlesnakes
- Prefer to prey on lizards and snakes
- Tend to do very well in captivity under proper researched husbandry
I do not own these images or this information
Back in January 2012, I was given the chance to see and photograph the recently discovered Central ranges taipan, Oxyuranus temporalis, held in quarantine at Adelaide Zoo, South Australia.
This species was first described back in 2007, and and since then, only a handful have been found. The pair held in Adelaide - the only animals of this species in captivity - were collected back in October 2010 during a joint survey between the WA museum, Museum Victoria and Adelaide Zoo.
It’s surprising to think that a member of such of high-profile genus of venomous snake could remain hidden in the Australian outback for so long!
TSA Turtle Tuesday: Sulawesi Forest Turtle
Little is known about the critically endangered Sulawesi Forest Turtle (Leucocephalon yuwonoi). The species occurs in a very remote region of Indonesia, in the forest of North and Central Sulawesi.
When spotted in the wild, they can be found along heavily wooded banks and in shallow clear streams. It is believed that their natural diet consists of various insects, leaves and fallen fruit. Because this species is so close to extinction in the wild, the TSA has made the management of a sustainable captive population a top priority.
Read more about our work with this amazing species…
photograph credit: Sheena Koeth
The Cape Melville leaf-tailed gecko, Saltuarius eximius, is a species of gecko that is endemic to the Melville Range on Cape Melville in Northern Australia.
The species was described in 2013 by Australian zoologists Conrad Hoskin (of James Cook University) and Patrick Couper (curator of herpetology at Queensland Museum).
The lizards are about 20cm long and are believed to be a relic species from the time period rainforests were more abundant in Australia. The name derives from the Latin word for “extraordinary” or “exquisite”, and refers to the lizard’s distinctive, camouflaged appearance. It hides among rocky boulders in the day and emerges at night to hunt on rocks and trees. The lizard has large eyes, a long and slender body, and specialized limbs adapted to life in dimly lit boulder fields.