Werner’s Chameleon - Trioceros werneri
Trioceros werneri (Chamaeleonidae) is a medium-sized green and brown chameleon endemic to the forests of the Udzungwa and Uluguru Mountains in Tanzania’s Eastern Arc Mountain Range.
Adults can reach total lengths of 24-30 cm. Males of this species possess three annulated horns, one extending from the snout and two extending forward from in front of the eyes. In contrast, females possess only a single annulated horn on the snout.
Males are presumed to be territorial and to use their horns for combat, but the function of females’ horns is less clear. Both sexes also possess a single highly prominent fused occipital lobe.
Photo credit: ©Stephen Zozaya | Locality: Udzungwa Mountains, Tanzania (2014)
Head Start For Troubled Turtles:
Baby Blanding’s Turtles raised at Detroit Zoo released in Saginaw County national wildlife refuge
by Lindsay Knake
In an effort to increase the number of rare Blanding’s turtles in Michigan, the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge partnered with the Detroit Zoo five years ago. In that time, they have raised and released 147 Blanding’s turtles into the refuge’s waters.
"If it weren’t for the Detroit Zoo, this wouldn’t be happening," refuge manager, Steve Kahl said. "Who knows how long it’s been since we’ve had 147 new Blanding’s turtles in the refuge?"
Blanding’s turtles are threatened in Michigan and endangered in some states because of the loss of wetland habitat, increase in roads and the rise of the raccoon population that eats the turtles’ eggs, Kahl said…
(read more: Michigan Live)
photos: Tina Shaw/USFWS and Jeff Schrier
Amphiglossus reticulatus (Kaudern, 1922)
Amphiglossus reticulatus is fairly widespread in northwestern Madagascar, where it is found in transitional and dry deciduous forests.
Morphology & Colouration:
Amphiglossus reticulatus is a large skink, reaching total body lengths of over 42 cm, the tail accounting for half that length. It has a typical skink bauplan, with a long body. Its legs however are quite robust.
These skinks are quite variable in appearance, ranging from brown with dark reticulations, to uniformly grey. Juveniles have more yellow spots above, and yellow and dark brown reticulations on the sides. The lips often have brown and yellow alternating markings.
Amphiglossus reticulatus is an aquatic skink. It is to be found quite commonly in rice fields and streams at the edge of forests. It can land hefty bites that apparently leave the surrounding area numb for some time afterward. It seems to have variable activity, but in some locations at least it is nocturnal.
Amphiglossus reticulatus is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, due to its wide distribution, apparent abundance, and tolerance of forest degradation.
Amphiglossus waterloti (Angel,1930) is considered a junior synonym of this species. However, there is morphological variation in this species, and taxonomic work is needed.
Glaw, F. and M. Vences. 2007. A Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Köln, Germany
Forest Hinge-back Tortoise (Kinixys erosa) will have none of your nonsense. The Turtle Conservancy has studied and bred this rare species in captivity, but the most important conservation work happens in the wild. It is not well understood how well this rarely seen turtle is surviving in changing wetland habitats in central and Western Africa.
Hey so snakes that inject venom into the bloodstream are pretty bad, how about a snake that injects venom into your bloodstream AND makes you bleed out from every orifice? Sound good?
The boomslang (Dispholidus typus) is a venomous tree snake native to Sub-Saharan Africa. Blunt-faced and pretty, with relatively enormous eyes and a bright, light green colour in males and brown in females, the boomslang spends its days up in the trees, hunting for lizards, frogs, chameleons, mice and birds. It’s a super shy and non-aggressive species – if it comes across anything it can’t swallow, it’ll be out of there so fast, the thing it couldn’t swallow probably won’t have even noticed it was there. It’s also basically the cat of the snake world, often moving into the enclosed nests of nearby birds so it can curl up and hibernate in peace during the winter months. Quit whinging birds, you got flight, you can’t complain about anything ever.
On top of their non-aggressive tendencies, the way boomslangs are built means you have to be extremely, extremely unlucky to be bitten by one. Known as ‘rear-fanged’ snakes, their fangs are positioned way back in their mouths behind several other teeth, which means to inject someone with venom, they have to open their mouths really wide – up to 170 degrees – so they can wrap them around the flesh and stab. There have so far been less than 10 recorded deaths from boomslang bites around the world.
Because they’re so anatomically unsuited to biting people, boomslangs were assumed to be harmless up until the late 1950s. A fantastic article by Paul Donovan for Reptiles Magazine describes how on the 26th of September 1957, eminent herpetologist, Karl P. Schmidt from Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, died from a boomslang bite. It was the first such recorded death, and it left his peers shocked. Schmidt had received a bite from a single fang in his thumb as he opened a sack containing a young boomslang that had spent its life in captivity, and he thought nothing of it. Not only did the scientific community think this species posed no threat – very few rear-fanged snakes in the family Colubridae are dangerous to humans – but the way its venom works means that the symptoms don’t kick in until several hours after the bite. Schmidt recorded every symptom as it arrived. Around 24 hours after his bite, Schmidt was found dead in his home from respiratory arrest and severe brain haemorrhaging.
“The [Chicago] Tribune said the diary covered a 15-hour period from the time he boarded a suburban train on the day he was bitten until the next morning. Associates said he believed he had recovered and was planning to return to work. The last entry was made after breakfast Sept 26. Associates said Dr Schmidt apparently made no further entries because he was up and around later in the morning and had notified the museum he would be back at work the next day. Unattended by a physician, he went into a coma at 2pm.”
Donovan, himself a renowned snake expert, describes the impact of Schmidt’s death on the herpetological community, saying, “Schmidt’s death changed our perception of the boomslang, and subsequent analysis of its venom found it to be as toxic, if not more toxic, than many front-fanged snakes. Today, the boomslang ranks as one of Africa’s most venomous snakes.”
While the venom causes several symptoms such as headache, nausea, and sleepiness, the real worry is its anti-coagulating properties. The venom is a hemotoxin, which means it destroys red blood cells, loosens blood clotting, and causes organ and tissue degeneration. Victims suffer extensive muscle and brain haemorrhaging, and on top of that, blood will start seeping out of every possible exit, including the gums and nostrils, and even the tiniest of cuts. Blood will also start passing through the body via the victim’s stools, urine, saliva, and vomit until they die. “Death is attributed to progressive internal bleeding, and it can be a slow and lingering process, taking anywhere from three to five days,” says Donovan at Reptiles Magazine. “Interestingly, many bite victims report “seeing with a yellow tinge,” which may be due to bleeding inside the eyes.”
The fact that the venom is relatively slow to act in humans means that bite victims have some time to get access to the anti-venom and be saved, but it also puts those who don’t know any better at serious risk. During those few crucial hours of grace, they assume there’s nothing to fear.
False Coral Snake - Anilius scytale
This is a South American snake scientifically named Anilius scytale, and included in the poorly known Family Aniliidae. The False Coral Snake is commonly found in Brazil, Venezuela, Trinidad, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, French Guiana, and Peru.
It has a cylindrical body of uniform diameter and a very short tail; it is brightly banded in red and black (but without yellow bands such as coral snakes); reduced eyes lie beneath large head scales. It is considered to be one of the snakes that most resembles the original and ancestral snake condition (basal snake).
The scarce information available indicates that A. scytale has fossorial habits (lives underground) and can occasionally be seen both on the ground and in aquatic environments, where it forages mainly at night. It can also be active during the day, but this habit has been observed less frequently.
Photo credit: ©Thierry Montford | Locality: French Guiana (2014)
TSA Turtle Tuesday: Indian Tent Turtle
The Indian Tent Turtle (Pangshura tentoria) gets its name from the tent-like appearance of its shell. They can be found in Central and Northern India, Western Bangladesh and Southern Nepal. Young turtles start out eating an omnivorous diet and lean more towards herbivores as adults. They prefer large rivers and their tributaries, spending a great deal of time basking on banks, rocks and logs during the day. (A juvenile is pictured.)
(via: Turtle Survival Alliance)
Dwarf Caiman - Paleosuchus palpebrosus
Also named Cuvier’s Smooth-fronted Caiman, Paleosuchus palpebrosus (Crocodylia - Alligatoridae) is a small, South American caiman, found near rivers and inundated savanna areas. This species is the smallest of the family. Males grow to about 1.3-1.5 meters, while the females grow to 1.2 meters.
Paleosuchus palpebrosus is a social species with diverse and interesting behaviors. Like most crocodilians, they can convey social messages through sounds, postures, movements, smells, and touch. Although most crocodilians are somewhat social, P. palpebrosus are typically found alone or in pairs.
Systematic studies of adults indicate that there are dominance hierarchies within groups. The most hostile and aggressive individuals appear to be the most dominant. These individuals control access to mates, nest sites, food, and living space. Dominance is asserted and maintained by social signals and displays.
Photo credit: ©Thierry Montford | Locality: French Guiana (2008)
Oh man…I might be getting the lined day gecko I fell in love with at the SPCA I volunteer at with her full setup for $30…help!
She currently has a 10G tank. I’m assuming I should work on getting a deal on a tall terrarium for her, right? Like something with similar or slightly larger specs but tall? Would the 12x12x18 exo terra be good? Or would that be too small? I’m going to keep an eye on Craigslist until something good comes up.
I read a little about the heat gradient needed and I’m just a little confused. Right now if I remember correctly she has a UV lamp, the type that is used for a basking spot, and I don’t think she has an under-tank heater. I can’t remember if she has a fluorescent light, though I think she does, I will update on that on Thursday when I pick her up. I do live in CA if it’s relevant, the house is kept around 70*F year round, though it is usually a few degrees higher in the summer and 68 at the lowest in winter. I intend to install two or three thermometers throughout the tank to monitor the temp. So at night when the lights are off, will I need an under-tank heater or infrared lamp, or would the temp be okay for her?
As far as feeding, I’ve gathered that it would be good to primarily feed gut-loaded crickets and maybe mealworms too, and feed something along the lines of a day gecko formula a couple times a week, is that right? What about freeze dried foods? Are live crickets definitely needed, or are freeze dried ones comparable? It’s been a LONG time since I kept any sort of reptile so I’m lost. Also I read a little bit about vitamin and calcium supplements. What is needed and what isn’t?
Also, what should her feeding schedule look like? I’m not finding a clear answer about how often and how much to feed her.
How does the cleaning process work? How often do I clean? Do I throw out all the substrate every time, or if not, how do I clean and do I use any kind of cleaner like vinegar or anything? If I do need to throw it out regularly, what’s the most cost-effective way to keep appropriate substrate?
I read that you can pretty much put any plants in there that will survive a tropical environment. Is that true? What about the issue of if they may have had pesticides used on them at one point or another, or if they need fertilizer? I’ve never been great at keeping plants but I’d like to at least give it a shot. Any recommendations?
Then as far as water goes…what’s the best setup for that? Right now she has a typical little shallow reptile dish with water. I read that she should be misted about twice a day. So do I just do an even spray with a misting bottle over the entire enclosure?
I also know I shouldn’t handle her. I read that the best way to move her during cleaning is by catching her in a fishing net and securing her with my hand. Does that sound right? Any tips to ensure she doesn’t escape?
Finally, any general tips or anything I’ve missed?
I commented on your other post without first seeing this one. You should, whenever possible, only acquire Phelsuma after you have a tank set up, because the transitional stage can literally kill them. They are extremely sensitive geckos. It will take a while to set up a tank that will allow your gecko to thrive.
Fast advice is given below. I have divided the response into sections for convenience.
Light and Conditions
She should have a UV light and a spot. The UV is absolutely vital, and if not provided, she will succumb to rickets through a calcium deficiency.
You need to move her into another terrarium as soon as you can - waiting for something to come up on craigslist might involve outwaiting the lifespan of your gecko in her current conditions.
70°F is not warm enough. She needs to be at least twenty degrees F warmer. At night her tank should stay relatively warm if it is the right temperature through the day, so you should be okay without an infra-red bulb or anything like that. These geckos are from rainforest and they get very cold in the dry season (but still, don’t let it get below 60°F ever). Good daytime temperature ranges are around 90-93°F, and humidity levels between 60 and 80%. At night, temps can drop to high 60s. Humidity levels should stay high throughout the night, but can drop a little. Monitor humidity very closely - it is more important than temperature.
If the humidtiy is too low, your gecko will fail to shed properly. There are things you can do about that, but generally if the shed is going poorly, your conditions are wrong. Fix them.
Gutloaded crickets are vital, and you should feed them live if you can. Phelsuma will not take dead crickets unless they are moving, but usually are good eaters, so you could get one of the vibrating dishes if you can’t afford live crickets. Crickets should always be dusted with vitamin supplements and calcium before feeding (I don’t know American brands so I am no use there)
Feed three or four crickets every two or three days. Mealworms should be kept as a rare option, with waxworms even less often (they’re SUPER fatty).
These geckos also eat goop - I make mine from half a banana, mushed, with a few drops of honey and a pinch of vitamin powder. I put this in a jam jar lid. Feed this every two weeks or so, or more often if you want.
You need to get a tall terrarium. There are two ways you can go about the enclosure. Either you can plant it as a vivarium - this requires more money and more effort, but is much more attractive, or you can have it as a somewhat sterile tank. Either way, you need to keep the terrarium HOT and humid. The easiest way to do that is to plant it well. Remember also that UVB and UVA do not penetrate glass very well, so your UV lights must be inside your cage.
Substrate for a vivarium can be soil or moss, both of which maintain humidity well. I recommend combining normal potting soil (WITHOUT fertiliser) with some ‘herp soil’ which tends to be more sandy. Straight potting soil is often fine too, especially if it is for tropical plants.
Plant your terrarium with Sansevieria and place small and large bamboo sticks vertically, horizontally, and diagonally in the tank. Place the horizontal bamboo branch beneath a small spot for the gecko to bask. Other good plants include pothos and banana, but bear in mind that banana will quickly outgroup your tank. Avoid plants that secrete latex when their leaves are broken (e.g. rubber plants). Orchids can be planted to brighten the enclosure up, but most commercially available orchids are dry specialists and will die in the high humidity of your enclosure.
Spray all plants down with normal clean water a few times before putting them in your enclosure. This is why it is good to set up the enclosure a week or two before getting the animal, so the pesticides have a chance to wash away.
The enclosure will have to be misted fairly regularly. If mould begins to grow from the high humidity, buy tropical springtails at your local pet store, and add these to the soil. They eat mould. Tropical pillbugs can also be bought to keep other fungi under control and build up a healthy soil.
Soil should be aerated every couple of months (mix it with your hands), and maybe exchanged once a year, but if done correctly can be kept for longer. Clean out faeces whenever you see it to stop it rotting.
I like to coat the walls of my tanks in cork bark, which you can buy as flat sheets. This adds more surfaces to the vivarium for the gecko to climb well on, and makes the whole thing more natural. It also makes the geckos feel safer, which is important for flighty species like P. lineata.
Water should be offered in a small bowl. Change the water daily.
Mist the tank at least twice a day, or as often as it takes to keep the humidity high enough. Tropical Phelsuma are high maintenance in this regard.
If you can manage to keep the humidity high enough, you can have the substrate of your tank be paper towels. You can lean and place bamboo poles on this, but again make sure to have a vertical perch for the gecko to bask on. The paper towels will need to be changed once a week or so.
Capture and transfer
You heard right, you cannot touch your gecko. They are very sensitive. The real best way to catch her is to place a plastic box over her, and slide a piece of card under her feet. You can then put the lid on that box. A net will almost certainly injure her.
Phelsuma are not easy to keep, but with the right care they can be good, long-lived (>14 years) pets. I wish you the best of luck.
For extra good advice on care for Phelsuma geckos, I refer you to the best gecko keeper forum on the internet. They are friendly people with a wealth of experience.
Endangered on the IUCN Red List
Anolis cusuco is endemic to Cusuco National Park, Honduras. Its range is approximately 314 square kilometres and is under threat due to deforestation for agriculture. Further research into the habitat and threats to this species are needed.
Photo: Andrew M. Snyder on ARKive.
Emerald Tree Boa - Corallus caninus
The common name of these beautiful boas is due to the exquisite green coloration on their dorsal surfaces. Scientifically named Corallus caninus (Boidae), many populations have striking white markings occurring along the dorsal midline, although some individuals lack them, and other individuals have black coloration on the dorsum.
Emerald tree boas perceive prey primarily through sight and infrared heat receptors located in the labial scales (clearly shown in the picture). These heat-sensitive pits are critical for locating prey at night. Like other snakes, they also use their tongues and vomeronasal organs to sense chemical cues and they can detect vibrations.
Emerald tree boas are found in lowland tropical rainforests in the Amazonian and Guianan regions of South America.
Photo credit: ©Thierry Montford | Locality: French Guiana (2011)
Pseudoxyrhopus tritaeniatus Mocquard, 1894
This species is known to occur along the length of the eastern rainforest belt of Madagascar, from Masoala in the north to Andohahela in the south.
Morphology & Colouration:
Pseudoxyrhopus tritaeniatus is among the largest members of the genus Pseudoxyrhopus, reaching lengths of up to one metre. It is characterised by 25 dorsal scale rows at midbody, a character it shares with only two other congeners, P. microps and P. ankafinaensis.
The colouration of P. tritaeniatus is striking and unique in Madagascar, reminding somewhat of Oreocryptophis porphyraceus coxi. The snake is typically red, with four or five black dorsal stripes.
Pseudoxyrhopus tritaeniatus is a nocturnal, terrestrial snake. It is known to eat rodents, but its diet may consist of other mammals, small reptiles, and possibly fish and birds if it can get them. During the day, it is known to seek shelter under rotten wood.
Pseudoxyrhopus tritaeniatus is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, due to its wide distribution inside well protected areas.
Systematics and Taxonomy:
Pseudoxyrhopus tritaeniatus is unmistakable. It is not currently clear which species are its closest relatives, but it is quite possible that P. microps is among them, given its similarities in scale counts, size, and overall appearance.
Sind Saw-scaled Viper - Echis carinatus sochureki
Despite its relatively small size (up to 61 cm long), the Sind Saw-scaled Viper, Echis carinatus sochureki (Viperidae) is considered a dangerous snake, with an aggressive temperament, a lightning-fast strike and powerful venom.
This viper is distinguished by a prominent, dark brown, arrow-shaped marking on the head and is covered in small, heavily keeled scales. Three or four enlarged scales form a slight ridge above each eye.
This subspecies is known from the parts of southern Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Iraq, Iran, Oman, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.
Photo credit: ©Drew Gardner | Locality: Dubai, United Arab Emirates (2007)