False water cobra - Hydrodynastes gigas
Size: 220-300 cm
Distribution: it’s endemic to South America
Food: fish, frogs, rodents
Fun Fact: the false water cobra is endemic to South America. It is a venomous species however its venom is not too strong. The chance of envenomation in case of a bite is also quite low as this species have its fangs at the rear end of the mouth. Its venom has a blood thinning (anticoagulant) effect.
When threatened, it has the ability to flatten its neck similar to real cobras, which is a defensive reaction to look bigger and more intimidating, successfully scaring away potential predators.
Ball python - Python regius
Size: 1,5 m
Distribution: they are found in central and west Africa
Food: rodents, lizards and small birds
Fun Fact: Has a wide geographic range, can be found in tropical forests as well as on dry land, even in cultivated grasslands. It is the smallest amongst African pythons. Some tribes in Africa hunt them for their skin and their meat.
When threatened, coils up into a tight ball with its head and tail in the middle. The female lays eggs, curls around them and stays like this until they hatch. The little snakes reach maturity around 3-5 years old. The oldest known ball python lived up to 48 years old!
Honduran milk snake - Lampropeltis triangulum hondurensis
Size: 120 cm
Distribution: Honduras, Nicaragua and certain parts of Costa Rica
Food: rodents, lizards, small birds and even others snakes too
Fun Fact: The Honduran milk snake is originated from Honduras, Nicaragua and certain parts of Costa Rica. Because of its vivid colours this species can easily be mistaken for being highly dangerous although it is totally harmless. The bright pattern is a trick used to resemble the venomous coral snakes and to ward off potential predators. This group of milk snakes called Triangulum uses black, red and white or yellow rings, the red rings always being separated with a black one from the white/yellow: while on the venomous coral snakes the red ring joins directly the light rings. This difference in the pattern can be used to identify the two groups and decide whether the encountered snake is venomous or not.
The English name „milk snake” comes from the fact that farmers believed the snakes are visiting the farms to drink milk from the cows. The truth was that the snakes came to feed on the mice that lived there and actually did a useful favor to the farmers.
Green tree python - Morelia viridis
Green tree python (Morelia viridis)
The Green tree python is originated from New Guinea and Indonesia. It’s pattern makes it easy to camouflage in trees, shrubs and bushes. The species has a pit organ around it’s mouth which is used to detect and target warm-blooded prey even in the dark. Lays eggs, the hatchlings can be yellow or orange coloured so they can blend in with their surroundings, having spent their time mostly in bushes. Once they get older and move up onto the tree-level their colour changes to green.
Size: 150-180 cm
Distribution: New Guinea, North Australia and the sorrounding islands
Food: rodents, lizards and birds
Fun Fact: The species often hunt by wriggling the end of it’s tail like a worm to catch the attention of lizards or birds. The Emerald tree boa which is originated from South America is very similar to this species, which is a good example of the convergent evolution when non-related and geographically separate species independently evolve similar biological traits because of having to adapt to similar circumstances.
Rainbow boa - Epicrates cenchria cenchria
Size: 1,8 m
Food: rodents, birds
Conservation status: least concern
Distribution: Rainforests of Brazilia
Fun Fact: One of the smallest species of the Boidae family (which includes species such as the green anaconda or the red-tailed boa). The rainbow boa has nine subspecies. It is an ovoviviparous species, the hatchlings develop in egg sacks inside the female’s body, they also hatch inside but are born alive.
The scales of these snakes seem to be smooth on the surface, but they have tiny ridges along the edges, which act as prisms when the sun shines on them and create an iridescent effect- hence the name “rainbow boa”.
Cuban tree boa - Chilabothrus angulifer
Size: 3,5-4 m
Food: rodents, birds and bats
Conservation status: near threatened
Distribution: found in Cuba and adjacent islands
Fun Fact: Ovoviviparous, around 1-7 hatchlings develop in egg sacks inside the female’s body, after 4 months they hatch inside and are born alive. The small snakes live amongst branches of trees at first (being arboreal), but as they are growing larger it is more likely to find them on ground.
It happens that the boas try to snatch bats from the air, as they enter or exit roosting caves. Heat-sensing pits in crevices on their mouth help them to detect warm-blooded prey in the dark, because they are able to detect temperature changes as low as 0.10 degrees Celsius.
Albino Reticulated python - Python reticulatus
Size: 9 m
Distribution: Southeast Asia
Food: rodents, birds and larger mammals
Fun Fact: The reticulated python is one of the often kept big sized snakes. Nowadays it has been bred in different color morphs, as it is noticable in the case of other popular hobby animals. This color morph doesn’t occur in the wild.
The original albino strain comes in 3 distinct phases: white, lavender, and purple. There is a white phase, and purple phase albino whose genetic alterations are located on the same allele. When crossed together, they creat an albino that is an intermediate between the two lines, which is a lavender. Thus, a white bred to a white will produce all white offspring, and a purple to a purple will produce all purple offspring. Crossing a white to a purple will yield all lavenders, and two lavenders bred together will produce all 3 color phases in the same clutch.
Reticulated python - Python reticulatus
Size: 9 m
Distribution: Southeast Asia
Food: rodents, birds and larger mammals
Conservation status: it is not on the Red List
Fun Fact: Due to their body size, reticulated pythons are able to take large prey items. As they do not produce venom they kill their victim by constricting and suffocating them. The female lays 15-80 soft and leathery eggs and wraps her body around them to prevent them from shrivelling and predators. She also produces muscle contractions which serve to increase the overall temperature of the eggs if needed for their development.
They are widely regarded as the world’s longest snake, although not as heavily built as the green anaconda (Eunectes murinus) which is considered the heaviest snake. Several reticulated pythons were reported to be longer than 6-7 meters although most of them are “only” around 3-6 meters long.
Silvery-cheeked hornbill - Bycanistes brevis
Hill mynah - Gracula religiosa
Ross's turaco - Musophaga rossae
Red-crested turaco - Tauraco erythrolophus
Guinea turaco - Tauraco persa
Alligator snapping turtle - Macrochelys temminckii
Size: 81 cm, 113 kg
Distribution: Southeastern United States
Food: fish, frogs and even other small turtles
Conservation status: Vulnerable
Fun Fact: They are one of the largest freshwater turtles in the world, being almost totally aquatic (water-dwelling). They hunt by sitting quietly at the bottom of murky water, letting their jaws hang open to reveal their tongues, which look like small, pink, worm-like lures in the back of their gray mouths, and lure the prey into striking distance. When it is close enough they snap their jaws shut and the prey is caught before realizing it.
They are unable to retract their head to the shell. To protect themselves, they often open their mouth wide when handled, which can be dangerous as their bite is the strongest among turtles. Their shell has a special extra row of scales on their carapace which are called
supramarginals, being also a unique trait among recent turtle species.