Burmese pythons are a length and a half!
- Burmese pythons are a species of lengthy snake, native to parts of south to southeast tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, and they can be found in (but not limited to) Indonesia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Thailand, China, Nepal, Laos, Cambodia, China, and India.
- The scientific name of the Burmese python is Python bivittatus, formerly known as Python molurus bivittatus (up until 2009), and it is from the family Pythonidae, the family of pythons.
- Burmese pythons are generally between 3.7 to 5.7 metres (12 to 18.7 feet) long, and are among the lengthiest snakes in existence; and while the longest of this species was originally thought to have been 7.6 metres (25 feet) or more in length, this measurement has been disputed.
- Brown coloured patches are found over the entire length of Burmese pythons, which are surrounded by a cream to beige colour, although albino colourings exist; and they are a popular pet, in part due to the interestingly patterned appearance.
- Burmese pythons are typically found among thick undergrowth; in trees; or in water, as the python can remain up to 30 minutes underwater without air; and their diet consists primarily of small mammals, including rodents, as well as the odd reptile or bird.
- Burmese pythons generally have a maximum weight between 90 to 137 kilograms (198 to 302 pounds), and females tend to be larger than males.
- To locate prey, a Burmese python uses its tongue to sense chemicals in its environment, while it can detect the body warmth of other animals due to its own inbuilt sensors; and it kills its prey by suffocating it by constriction and subsequently consuming it whole.
- Burmese pythons are listed as a vulnerable species, threatened by exotic pet trade; hunting for their skin and food; and a decline in habitat quality.
- Florida’s wetland Everglades, in the United States, saw the introduction of Burmese pythons around the 1980s, which have since become invasive; this being a serious issue as many native mammals they eat as prey, have had significant population decline over the past few decades.
- During a breeding season, female Burmese pythons can lay as many as 80 to 100 eggs, and the snake surrounds the eggs to incubate them at a consistent temperature, which it helps to control by its own muscle movements.
Barker D, Barten S, Ehrsam J & Daddono L, The Corrected Lengths of Two Well-known Giant Pythons and the Establishment of a New Maximum Length Record for Burmese Pythons, Python Bivittatus, 2012, Vida Preciosa International, Inc., http://vpi.com/sites/default/files/Barker-et-al_CorrectPythonLengths_2.pdf
Stuart B, Nguyen T, Thy N, Grismer L, Chan-Ard T, Iskandar D, Golynsky E & Lau M, Python Bivittatus, 2012, The ICUN Red List of Threatened Species, http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/193451/0
Mangshan pit vipers are stunning in more ways than just one.
- A Mangshan pit viper is a large species of nocturnal pit viper snake, found in a small region of mountainous forests in the Guangdong and Hunan provinces in southern China.
- ‘Mangshan pit vipers’ are also known as ‘Mangshan iron-head snakes’, ‘Chinese pit vipers’, ‘Mang Mountain pit vipers’, ‘ironhead pitvipers’, ‘Mount Mang pitvipers’, ‘Mangshan vipers’ and ‘Mt Mang pit vipers’.
- The scientific name of the Mangshan pit viper is Protobothrops mangshanensis, from the family Viperidae, the family of vipers, and it was first scientifically documented in 1990 and was formerly referred to as Trimeresurus mangshanensis.
- Mangshan pit vipers are one of two snakes that are not technically a cobra, that can spit their venom.
- Mangshan pit vipers generally grow to be a length of 1.4 to 2.1 metres (4.6 to 7 feet) and they weigh 3 to 5 kilograms (6.6 to 11 pounds).
- The venom of Mangshan pit vipers can be spat up to a distance of 2 metres (6.6 feet); however they will more often bite prey with their large fangs, such as frogs, birds, insects, or small mammals, to inject toxins.
- The scales of Mangshan pit vipers range from green to yellow and brown in colour, layered in intricate camouflaging patterns, making it an attractive snake, and sought after as a pet.
- The Mangshan pit viper population had shrunk to an estimated 500 specimens in 2009, partly as result of habitat destruction, as well as illegal trade for the pet industry, and with this continuing to be a prominent threat, the species is considered endangered.
- Mangshan pit vipers have a tail tip that is white, that is used to attract prey by appearing to be a grub.
- The venom of Mangshan pit vipers can cause severe blood clotting and corrode muscle tissue, and thus it can be fatal to humans.
One definitely should not cross the path of a black mamba.
- Black mambas are a snake species native to the grassy plains, woody areas and rocky habitats of African countries south of the Sahara Desert.
- The scientific name of the black mamba is Dendroaspis polylepis and it is from the family Elapidae, a family of venomous snakes.
- Black mambas generally reach a length of 2 to 3 metres (6.6 to 9.8 feet), though they can be as long as 4.3 metres (14 feet), and they can weigh as much as 1.6 kilograms (3.5 pounds); and are notable for being the longest venomous snake in Africa.
- Black mambas can be grey, brown, or a brown-green colour, however the inside of its mouth is black, hence the word ‘black’ in its common name.
- Black mambas are very capable hunters, fitted with deadly venom and speedy movements, reaching speeds of at least 11 km/h (6.8 mph) and up to 20 km/h (12.4 mph).
- The diet of the black mamba consists primarily of birds, bats and smaller mammals, including rodents.
- A black mamba’s bite is easily deadly, and can cause a fatality in a human within 20 minutes, or up to 15 hours if left untreated, by causing the shutdown of the nervous system.
- Black mambas are preyed on by certain snake species and some birds of prey, and the occasional mongoose; and they have an average lifespan of around 11 years.
- Black mambas have a status of being particularly dangerous, the most dangerous snake in Africa; but despite this, the snake would rather shy away from humans as it is relatively timid, always attempting to keep distance from potential threats.
- Female black mambas lay from 6 to 17 eggs in a hollow or cavity in or on the ground, and once the eggs are laid, they are left alone to hatch, afterwhich the young are required to take care of themselves.
Cane toads are more than just a bump in the ecosystem.
- Cane toads are a species of toad native to southern areas of North America, to the northern half of South America, and they are notoriously regarded as a pest in many other countries.
- The scientific name of a cane toad is Rhinella marina, although previously listed as Bufo marinus, and it is from the family Bufonidae, the family of true toads.
- ‘Cane toads’ are also known as ‘marine toads’, ‘giant toads’, ‘giant marine toads’ and ‘giant neotropical toads’.
- Cane toads are generally 10 to 15 centimetres (4 to 6 inches) in length and weigh an average of 500 to 800 grams (1.1 to 1.7 pounds), however, they can grow to be more than double the average size.
- The skin of cane toads is dry and has wart like bumps, and can vary in colour from shades of brown, grey, yellow or olive.
- Cane toads have been introduced in Australia, the Pacific, the United States and other countries, primarily to control pests on sugar cane, particularly the cane beetle, however, they have instead become highly invasive in some areas and fatal to native animals when eaten.
- The diet of cane toads consists of insects, rodents, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and the odd vegetation, and they will also eat pet food.
- The skin of cane toads, as well as the glands behind their head, contains bufotoxin, making them poisonous to touch or consume, to the extent of being fatal to many animals, and dangerous to humans.
- Cane toad toxin has been collected and used as an arrow poison and a drug, while some parts, including skinned legs, are edible.
- Female cane toads may produce from 8000 to 35,000 eggs every six months, breeding in water, and they have an average lifespan of five to ten years.
Frilled-neck lizards will attempt to intimidate anyone, including you!
- Frilled-neck lizards are a species of lizard native to wooded areas and dry forests of northern parts of Australia and southern areas of New Guinea.
- ‘Frilled-neck lizards’ are also known as ‘frillneck lizards’, ‘Australian frilled lizards’, ‘frilled dragons’ and ‘frilled lizards’.
- The scientific name of a frilled-neck lizard is Chlamydosaurus kingii and it is from the family Agamidae, the family of iguanian or dragon lizards.
- Frilled-neck lizards have a flap of skin that reaches from their head down to the neck, which they can extend outwards to frill around their neck.
- A frilled-neck lizard has a long tail and the lizard typically ranges from 60 to 90 centimetres (24 to 35 inches) in length, though only a third of it is the length of its body, and it usually has a weight ranging from 0.5 to 1 kilogram (1.1 to 2.2 pounds).
- The scale colour of frilled-neck lizards is generally a combination of tan, brown, yellow and black, while the frill is coloured vibrant reds and oranges, and they mainly live in trees on branches or the trunks where they are generally camouflaged.
- The diet of frilled-neck lizards consist primarily of beetles, rodents, termites and other insects, as well as spiders, while smaller lizards are also sometimes consumed.
- Female frilled-neck lizards generally lay between 4 to 14 eggs at one time, laid in a nest in the ground, and hatchlings are usually female when incubation temperatures are above 35°C (95°F).
- As a popular symbol of Australian fauna, a depiction of a frilled-neck lizard can be found on the discontinued Australian two cent coin.
- When threatened or scared, a frilled-neck lizard will arch its body and flare its frill, hiss and lunge, and if all else fails, flee quickly.
Chlamydosaurus kingii, 2001, Animal Diversity Web, http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Chlamydosaurus_kingii/
Gila monsters have turned back the clock!
- Gila monsters are a lizard of larger size native to the southwest of the United States and to the northwest of Mexico, and were named after the Gila River Basin or the Gila River, where they were initially found, in the United State’s Arizona.
- A Gila monster has the scientific name Heloderma suspectum and is from the family Helodermatidae, the family of American venomous lizards.
- Gila monsters typically grow to be 30 to 60 centimetres (12 to 24 inches) in length, making them the largest living land-dwelling lizard in the United States, and they usually weigh between 1.3 to 2.2 kilograms (3 to 5 pounds).
- Habitats that Gila monsters thrive in include desert, shrubby areas, woodlands and rocky areas, and they mostly live alone in burrows spending most of their time there.
- The diet of Gila monsters is carnivorous, consisting primarily of frogs, eggs, insects, birds, small mammals and lizards.
- Gila monsters can live without food for months, although they may eat up to a third of their body weight in a single sitting, mostly eating their prey by swallowing whole.
- Gila monsters have a very strong grip and are thus difficult to pry from a bite, while submerging underwater is the best method to force release, and although their bite is venomous it is not lethal to a healthy adult despite causing symptoms of weakness, great pain and a drastic reduction in blood pressure.
- Around two to thirteen eggs are produced by female Gila monsters at a single time, and they are buried in a shallow hole.
- Gila monsters are listed as near threatened, and in 1952, they were protected under law and were the first venomous animal to receive such protection.
- The saliva of Gila monsters contains a chemical that can be used as a treatment for those with diabetes, as it assists in controlling blood sugar levels.