Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Reptile Weekend 2014 Part 1

Our "Reptiles Bizarre & Beautiful" weekend was absolutely amazing!  Many, many thanks to all the VLM staff, volunteers, and guest exhibitors who worked long and hard to make this event a resounding success.  Today I'll focus on some lovely lizards exhibited by members of VIIPER (Virginians Interested In Protecting Every Reptile.)  I especially want to thank VIIPER President Bobby and Vice President Lara for their continued support of our annual event.  I had a chance to talk to several VIIPER members who enthusiastically shared their wonderful creatures with hundreds of visitors over the course of the weekend.  To start out, I'll show you a few "guess who" pictures...whose scales?
...whose tail?
...whose gorgeous eyes?
Lizards are, of course, reptiles--so they have scaly skin.  This weekend we saw all sorts of scales, in all sorts of colors.  The first picture showed off the intricate scale pattern of a steppe runner, an insectivorous lizard of the temperate grasslands of Russia, Romania and the Ukraine.  Thanks to Rachel for sharing this little beauty with us!
The odd-looking tail belongs to the brilliantly patterned leopard gecko, native to dry grasslands and deserts of southeast Asia, Pakistan, northwestern India and parts of Iran.  Thanks, Scott, for showing off this magnificent creature:
Lizard's eyes--so diverse in color and texture (the better to see you with, my dear?)  VIIPER member Jessica had lots to show me this weekend--here she displays a Columbian tegu.  This omnivorous lizard inhabits swamp, rainforest, savannah, and even urban habitats in northern and central parts of South America.  This lizard not only has beautiful brown eyes, but a nice long tongue, too!
The eye with the bizarre looking pupil belongs to a baby giant gecko--it's only about 5 inches long now, but will get up to 14 inches!  Giant geckos are the largest known gecko species in the world, native to the rainforests of New Caledonia.
The eye with the "eyelash" fringe around it belongs to the crested gecko, shown by Kylie and Madi.  This gecko, also a rainforest creature of New Caledonia, can get up 7-9" long.
The eye with the flaming orange border belongs to a gargoyle gecko, shown by Jessica.  This omnivorous gecko, also native to New Caledonian rainforests, will get up to 8-9" long.  Also noticeable in this photo--the "hole" on the side of its head is actually its ear opening.
Finally, the tongue belongs to an impressive lizard, an Argentine black and white tegu.  This gigantic lizard is owned by Laureen who has affectionately named him "Burrito."  Burrito is an adult male of unknown age (he was a rescued animal) and is approximately 3.5 feet long--yep, you heard me, 3.5 feet!  These omnivorous lizards can get up to 4.5 feet long, inhabiting savannahs and rainforests of Argentina, Uruguay, and parts of Brazil.
Here's a detail of his black and white scales--note the bumpy texture:
...a parting shot with that long, long tongue of his:
I'll post more photos from this year's "Reptiles Bizarre & Beautiful" in two weeks--I'll focus on other reptilians, including snakes.  Again, a very special thank-you to all the members of VIIPER!

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