Friday, 15 May 2015

Lizards 12: Common Chameleon

The third of the chameleon species at Bristol is not often seen in zoos. The Common Chameleon Chamaeleo chamaeleon is the “original” chameleon. It has a range that at least formerly included several of the Greek islands, although now it is only found on Samos, and extends all around the southern and eastern coasts of the Mediterranean, extending as far east as Iran. It is also found in southern Spain, Malta and Crete.  Other species of Chamaeleo are found in sub-Saharan Africa, the Arabian peninsula and in India as far south as Sri Lanka. One of the largest is also the species hobbyists are most familiar with, the Veiled Chameleon C.calyptratus.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Lizards 11: Bearded Dwarf Chameleon

Bearded Dwarf Chameleon - in center of picture
While panther chameleons are among the larger species of chameleon, many species have become miniaturised in the course of their evolution and are generally referred to as pygmy or dwarf chameleons. This has happened on at least two separate occasions, resulting in the dwarf chameleons of mainland Africa and the even smaller leaf chameleons of Madagascar. As a result of their small size and limited capacity to disperse, there are almost certainly many more species of these marvelous little lizards than are currently described.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Lizards 10: Panther Chameleon

Female Panther Chameleon
Of all the world’s lizards, chameleons are perhaps the most instantly recognizable. The distinctive eyes, which are extremely sharp – chameleons probably have some of the best vision of all reptiles – can either give good vision in any direction or be focussed on the same target to give stereoscopic vision and depth perception, essential when using their other distinctive feature, the extensible tongue (which can be as long as their bodies), to catch their prey.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Lizards 9: Yellow Headed Day Gecko

The second species of day gecko kept at Bristol is the much smaller Yellow Headed or Neon Day Gecko, Phelsuma klemmeri. Growing to a maximum length of around 10cm, this species is one of the species more widely kept and bred by hobbyists. In the wild it is only known from a total area of under 1000 km2 on the Ampasindava peninsula in north west Madagascar. As a result of its limited range, where it is only known from two regions, it is currently classed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Lizards 8: Standings Day Gecko

In Madagascar and nearby islands of the Indian Ocean some of the most visible reptiles are the various species of Phelsuma geckos. Usually referred to as day geckos (although at least one species on Mauritius is nocturnal) they are mostly small lizards, living in trees and bushes. There are numerous species, many with ranges limited to a single island or patch of forest, and consequently many are classed as threatened or worse by the IUCN. At least 2 species are extinct, one of which was the largest known species, the Rodrigues Giant Day gecko, which reached at least 40cm. .
At Bristol, 2 species are on display, the tiny Yellow-Headed Day Gecko P.klemmeri and Standing’s Day Gecko P.standingi.