Saturday, 28 March 2015

Lizards 5: Solomon Islands Skink

Adult Corucia with juvenile
One of the more unusual, as well as larger, lizards on show at Bristol is a family group of the Solomon Islands Skink Corucia zebrata. Unfortunately, members of the public all too often walk by their enclosure as they tend to be secretive and immobile during visiting hours, often inside hollow cork tubes or resting on an overhead beam in their enclosure. This is a loss for the visitors, as they have one of the more complicated social structures and lifestyles of all lizards.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Lizards 4: Green Tree Monitor

Juvenile V.prasinus
Turning from desert living vegetarians, the subject of this post is an insectivorous species from the rain forests of New Guinea. The Green Tree Monitor Varanus prasinus is widely distributed in rain forests across the island, but as it spends all its time in the canopy it is not seen frequently unless a tree is cut down.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Lizards 3: Chuckwalla

Common Chuckwalla
Sharing the enclosure with the spiny lizards is a breeding group of Common Chuckwalla, Sauromalus ater. This is the most widespread species, ranging over rocky desert areas of much of the south western USA and Mexico. There are four other species, three on islands off the coast of Baja California and Mexico, which are classed as either Near Threatened or Endangered, mostly as a result of their limited range rather than any specific new threats. The remaining species, the Penisular Chuckwalla S.australis, is classed as Least Concern , as is the Common Chuckwalla.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Lizards 2: Blue Spiny Lizard

Blue Spiny Lizard
One of the more obvious lizards as you enter the reptile house at Bristol Zoo are the various members of a colony of Blue Spiny Lizards, Sceloporus serrifer cyanogenys. Also known as swifts or fence lizards, there are more than 90 described species of Sceloporus found in North America south through Mexico down into northern South America. There is a certain amount of debate around the taxonomy of the various Sceloporus species – some seem to intergrade with others and several species are divided into multiple subspecies.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Lizards 1: The Gila Monster

The first lizards that a visitor to Bristol Zoo will encounter are two young Gila Monsters (Heloderma suspectum) as they pass through Twilight World. Unfortunately, although these are fascinating animals, most visitors walk straight past as they are not exactly the most active of animals, in fact they generally behave as though they were stuffed. However, when readers of this blog next see an exhibit, I hope they will at least check them out.