Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Reptile Weekend Update Feb 18-20, 2012

Wow!--Reptile Weekend was fantastic!  We had nearly 4,000 visitors (3,999 to be exact) over three days that came to explore the exotic reptiles displayed by several guest exhibitors.  Since I was working most of the weekend in our Planetarium, I didn't get a chance to photograph everyone--but my friend, Judy Triska in our Marketing Department captured some great photos which you can see on our VLM Facebook page.  I did, however, stop by and talk to the great folks from VIIPER (Virginian's Interested In Protecting Every Reptile) and also to Jimmy Kuhn and his crew who run IguanaFIRST, a local iguana rescue organization.  So, if you missed out on this weekend, this blog is for you--especially for my readers in distant lands.  To date, I've had readers from 64 countries--I'm honored, and thank you for reading my blog!

In the tradition of my other "Guess Who" blogs, can you guess what reptile guests we saw?  Check out these armor-like scales:
 And do you know what has these brilliant orange hues on its scaly toes?:
If you're not sure about the second photo, here's another clue:  this animal has a "third eye" in the center of it's forehead--look closely at what appears to be a "plastic-like bubble" in the center of the photo below:
More scales--notice the beautiful iridescence:
Here's a brilliantly colored--and spiky!--side view of a reptile native to Australia:
The weekend was full of beautiful scales, and some scales have very interesting qualities.  For example, check out the thin, flat scales on these awesome toes!  They help this critter stick to the sides of its glass aquarium:

Ready for the answers?  The first photo showed the scales of an African spur-footed tortoise, kindly loaned to us for the weekend by our amazingly talented and very dedicated Vet Tech, Linda Addison--thanks Linda!
The second and third photos showcased the gorgeous features of "Binty" a green iguana owned by Jimmy Kuhn of IguanaFIRST.  That "third eye" is also known as a "parietal eye" and is not really like our eyeballs--think of it more as a light sensor.  It functions to detect light and dark and serves to warn iguanas of aerial predators.  Wild green iguanas are native to southern Mexico, Central and South America.  People considering owning a pet iguana (or any other reptile) need to do their homework!  Did you know that green iguanas get up to 5-6 feet long and can weigh up to 18 pounds?  Also, be committed to their proper care including adequate living space (usually a whole room of your house!), special UV lamps, and dietary needs:
The fourth photo showed off the shimmering scales of "Polaris" a reticulated tiger python owned by Eric of VIIPER.  Here's a close up of the snake's face:
Stretched out, Polaris is about 16 feet long, weighs 85 pounds--and is only 6 years old!:
The fifth photo showed off a very charismatic lizard--a bearded dragon called "Buster" owned by Ron and Karen Saltzman (affiliated with IguanaFIRST).  Here's a close up of the dragon's gorgeous face and "beard."  By the way, Ron recommends for those needing reputable information on how to take good care of bearded dragons.
VIIPER brought a bearded dragon as well--here's a full length profile.  Adult male dragons can get up to about 2-feet long:
Okay--the critter with the great toes is a Giant Day Gecko, native to Madagascar and can get up to 11 inches long.  The special thin scales or "lamellae" on their toe pads help them to climb on glass or other slick surfaces.  Is that cool or what?:
A few more photos I couldn't resist....first, a close-up view (behind glass of course!) of a Venezuelan Rattlesnake--notice the heat-sensing pits between the eyes and the nostrils:
And just because they fascinated me so much, here are a couple of Kenyan Sand Boas--kindly shown off by Sierra of VIIPER:
When Sierra placed them in their container, it only took about 10-15 seconds for them to completely bury themselves in the sand--way cool!
There were so many awesome reptilian sights and many, many people and organizations that came out to support this very special weekend event--though I can't list everyone, I'd like to say a special thanks to Bob Jenkins (President and Founder of VIIPER), Jared Watts (who shared some incredible snake stories!), Kelly Settle, Eric, Lara, Tara, Ben, Chris & Chris, Myles, Sean, Lucas, and Rich--all members of VIIPER.  Many thanks also to all the wonderful staff (especially Travis, Adrienne, and Maggie in our Herpetology Department!) and volunteers here at the Museum who worked long and hard to make this event a tremendous success!

More off the beaten path in two weeks,

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