Monday, February 18, 2008

Oakland Zoo: Giant Tortoise, other Reptiles and Bats

Feb 10

Descriptions of animals retrieved from :

Aldabra Tortoise:

SPECIES: gigantea
Hind legs are cylindrical and columnar like those of an elephant. Forelegs have anterior surface covered by thick, often bony scales. Toes are short; two-jointed. Snake-like neck and legs are retractile. The very small pointed head is covered with scales. High domed gray shell can measure up to 56” in length. Weight to 560 pounds. Males are larger than females and have longer, thicker tails.

Aldabra Island in the Indian Ocean, near the Seychelles. They live in grasslands, scrub areas and mangrove swamps.

African Spurred Tortoise:

Carapace is flattened and of a tan or brown color with darker brown borders on the growth rings bordering the scutes. Plastron is ivory to light tan in color. Head and limbs are the same color as the shell and are protected with thick scales. Has one or more enlarged, conical spurs (or tubercles) on the upper hind limbs. Largest mainland tortoise in the world with some males weighing over 200 pounds, females about half as much. Length up to 30 inches.

Arid savannah and acacia scrublands at the southern edge of the Sahara, from Mauritania to Ethiopia.

Fossil of a giant turtle.

American Alligator:

Broadly rounded snout distinguishes it from crocodiles. Fourth tooth on each side of lower jaw is hidden when mouth is closed. Young are black with yellowish cross-bars. Mature alligators are coal black when wet, dark gray when dry. Males are 11 to 12 feet long and weigh 450-550 pounds. Females are no longer than 9 feet and weigh about 160 pounds. Record length is 20 feet.

North Carolina to Florida Keys and west to central Texas. Lacking the salt-removing glands found in crocodiles they live in fresh water swamps and waterways only. When given protection, alligator populations rebound and soon reoccupy areas where they have long been absent.

Fossil find : This is a cast of the Sarcosuchus imperator fossil unearthed by paleontologist Paul Sereno in 2000.The nearly complete crocodile fossil was discovered in the hot, dry sands of the Sahara, where raging rivers coursed over 100million years ago.

White-Throated Monitor:

All monitors have long, forked tongues, sharp teeth, relatively long necks, pointed snouts, sharp claws, and non-autonomous tails. The eyes have eyelids and round pupils. Body is usually fairly massive, with four powerful legs, each bearing five clawed toes. The tail is thick and long and functions as a rudder, as a prehensile organ and as a weapon. It is twice as long as the body. The body is covered with various small, non-overlapping scales that form a granular pattern. Typically gray-brown with conspicuous white or yellowish markings. Can grow to six feet, but average length is four feet.

South Africa north to Zimbabwe, south into Namibia, and northeast into Mozambique. It lives in dry steppe or savannah regions, seeking shelter under tree roots or in burrows during hottest part of day.

Taiwan Beauty Snake:

Color variable, usually light and dark shades of brown and yellow. Anterior part of the snake is patterned with splotches and banding while the tail has just stripes.

Forests of Taiwan.

Royal Python


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