Reptiles are animals with backbones (vertebrates) that are cold-blooded, lay their eggs on land, and are covered scales or a hard, bony plate. They include:
- Turtles and Tortoises
- Alligators and Crocodiles
Portia – “Snow Corn” Snake
Corn Snakes are so named because they are commonly encountered in corn fields and corncribs where they feed on mice and rats. They are also commonly referred to as “red rat snakes”. Ophelia (below left) and Portia (below right) are two different phases of albino corn snakes. Ophelia is a type known as “amelenistic” (lacking the black/brown pigment melanin), also known as “red albino”. Portia is a color phase sometimes called “Snow Corn”. Both have red eyes.
Coral – Milksnake
Milksnakes(Lampropeltis triangulum) are in the same family, in fact are even the same genus, as the kingsnake. Like the Kingsnake, their diet consists of rodents, small animals and reptiles, including other snakes. The Milksnake got its name from the fact that it was frequently encountered in barns (where it was feeding on the mice). Long ago the farmers began saying that it was “milking the cows”.
The Milksnake is found throughout the eastern United States to just west of the Rocky Mountains and down into Mexico. Coral is known as a Sinaloan Milksnake which is the northernmost form of the Mexican west coast milksnakes, occurring in southwest Sonora and extending south along the coast of Sinaloa.
The shape, size and coloration of the harmless Milksnake is very similar to the highly venomous Coral snake. The color pattern sequence, however, is not the same. The coral snake has the red ring bordered by the yellow, whereas the Milksnake has the yellow bordered by black. This can sometimes be confusing, so here are a few ways you can try to remember how to tell the difference: One way is the verse “Red and yellow kill a fellow!”. I prefer to tell people that if the light colored rings (they can be whitish, cream or yellow) are between the black like the frosting in an Oreo cookie-then they are not dangerous. We all know that Oreos are fairly harmless.
Medusa – Python
Burmese Pythons originated in the lush forests and moist lowlands of Southeast Asia and the Indo-Australian Archipelago. For many years they were killed for their skins, which were turned into boots, belts and purses. Female Burmese Pythons like Medusa (left) can grow to a length of 13 to 19 feet, and achieve a weight of over 200 pounds. The majority of Burmese Pythons in the United States came from Thailand, where they are now protected by law. Medusa, however, is a “captive bred” snake and was not removed from the wild.
Elvis – California Kingsnake
The Kingsnake is a harmless, beneficial snake which feeds on rodents and other reptiles (including rattlesnakes).
The California Kingsnake is chocolate-brown to blackish with white to cream bands and can reach lengths to 5 feet but average 3-4 ft. They are found from the tip of Baja to southern Oregon, west coast of California to desert areas of Nevada and Arizona.
Thor – Savannah Monitor
Savannah Monitors originally came from Africa, but most of them (like Thor, at left) now are captive-bred, meaning they are not removed from the wild.
Savannahs are related to the Komodo Dragon, which at 10 feet, is the largest of the Monitors. Savannah Monitors do not get as large as their “cousins”, though. Their length can be 3-5 feet. The Monitor lizards are carnivores, or meat eaters. Savannahs will eat insects, rodents and other small animals.
Blue – Blue-tongued Skink
Blue-tongued Skinks (Tiliqua scincoides) are found in Australia and New Guinea and parts of Tasmania. They are so-named for their bright blue tongue.
Blue-tongued Skinks can reach a length of about 20″ or so and are omnivorous, meaning that they eat meat and fruits & vegetables.
Worf – California Desert Tortoise
For all you “Trekkies”… Worf was so-named because his shell looks like a Klingon forehead. The California Desert Tortoise is the Official State Reptile. Tortoises are land turtles (terrestrial) with heavy, club-shaped legs and feet. Their carapace (upper shell) is highly domed. The California Desert Tortoises are an endangered species and are protected by law.
Pandora – Box Turtle
The Box Turtle gets its name from the fact that the bottom shell (plastron) is hinged, allowing the turtle to withdraw its legs and head and “close up”. This is used as a defense against predators.
Isabel – Green Iguana
Green Iguanas, like Isabel (left), originate from Mexico and Central to South America. They are large, herbivorous (plant eating) arboreal (tree dwelling) lizards that can reach a length of four to five feet, with some males getting as long as six feet (Keep this in mind if you are considering purchasing a “cute little baby” iguana). They can live for 10-15 years in captivity. Iguanas require a lot of attention and work to keep them healthy. Their diet should consist mainly of dark green leafy vegetables such as dandelion greens, collards, mustard greens, and occasionally Romaine Lettuce (never Iceburg) and spinach (but not in large quantities and always mixed with other greens). An assortment of fresh fruits and shredded vegetables (zucchini, carrots, etc.) and other squashes including cooked orange squash could be offered for variety. The periodic offering of certain flowers such as dandelion, rose petals, and hibiscus are always appreciated. Properly gradiated temperature ranging from the 70’s to 100 degrees farenheit and medium to high humidity are also necessary. In adddition to this, they require full spectrum UVA and UVB lighting.