If I didn’t have photographic proof, would you ever have believed that I found a lizard with blue spots? Well this Aruban Whiptail lizard with a ‘too cool for school’ facial expression is real and comes in differing degrees of blue. Many species of whiptails reproduce asexually by parthenogenesis, meaning the females eggs undergo chromosomal doubling without being fertilized and produce babies with the genetic make up (clones) of the mother. Because of this reproductive quirk, many species of whiptail lizards are all females. Goodbye males and genetic diversity and hello to a world where females rule all. See ladies, it can happen!
This little anole is a type of lizard native to the Bahamas and Cuba. However, it is easily spotted on many other Caribbean Islands. It is a highly invasive species and easily outcompetes other small lizards and frogs because it will eat anything that can fit into its mouth. Like other lizards, they will communicate through mostly visual displays. When angry or threatened they expand the flap of skin on their throat to display an orange and yellow warning and perform some push ups. If the threat continues, they will bite, urinate and defecate, but also have the ability to detach their tail as a moving decoy to facilitate their escape from a predator. These traits are what makes this little lizard a very skilled survivor.
I’m sure I’ve said in the past that all reptiles are beautiful, but I think this Iguana might just be the exception. I think he might have even been the inspiration for Gremlins (and not the cute furry one). He seemed like the king of this particular paddock, so it seems that looks don’t matter in the Iguana world and size definitely does!
For more Iguana’s that are easier on the eyes click here.
It is said that Yosemite National Park is home to only one type of rattlesnake, and I was honored to meet him. This is the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake which is patterned with grey and white markings. I might be the only person that would call this the highlight of their trip to this spectacular national park. My friends were understandably horrified when I told them that this was the perfect snake to photograph – not frightened and running away nor aggressive, just happily working it’s way through the tree roots and occasionally stopping for a photo. What a treat!
This is a gorgeous snake from Belize, which was happily perched on a tree branch hanging over a river taking a nap. By far the most sizeable snake I have ever seen in the wild, I was so excited to be taking its photo. I was quite close to the snake, trying to get a good angle through the leaves, and even though I didn’t know what kind of snake I was dealing with, I knew that if it remained happily coiled, I was going to survive the encounter. After a few photographs, the snake was clearly aware of my presence and started darting its tongue in and out to get a sense of what I was. I persisted with my photographs, and to my relief the snake stayed happily relaxed and allowed me to get my photo. After showing this photo to a snake expert, I was told it is a boa constrictor, a serial asphyxiator, a snake who chokes for a living! I was photographing a snake that belongs to the family of largest snakes in the world, made up of anacondas, pythons and boa constrictors. What an incredible thrill!
After returning recently from an epic trip to Belize, I will start off with my favorite animal. This glorious and giant iguana who was longer than I am tall, was perched high up in a palm tree, enjoying the view of the ocean on the coast of Belize. I have so much love for these beautiful, dinosaur-like reptiles, but sadly they never return my love. Instead I always get a stony glare, and this one went so far as to wag his chin flap at me to show me just how annoyed he was that I was taking his photograph. This action of disdain, to his disappointment, only made me love him even more!
This relaxed goanna was photographed in Western Australia, warming up on the sand in the morning sun at the entrance to a gorgeous beach. In Australia we have 25 of the 30 known goanna species. This one would have been about a meter and a half long (about 5 feet). Considering that some goanna species such as Varanus giganteus can grow over 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) long, this one is only medium sized. Even still, goannas can be one of Australia’s more intimidating lizards. I remember once walking along a narrow bush track and in front of me was a large goanna, slowly lumbering in the same direction that I wanted to go. I was not bold enough to overtake him on such a narrow path, nor spook him into hurrying up, so I had to patiently follow until he decided to eventually get off the track and let me pass. These huge lizards can give a very nasty bite which often bleeds profusely. The bleeding was thought to be caused by bacterial infection transferred from their teeth upon biting, but recent research suggests that they may in fact have oral venom-producing glands. If true, this would add another venomous animal to Australia’s huge list of venomous creatures… as if we needed any more!