Lesser Siren

Lesser Siren, Siren intermedia

 

Lesser Siren | Siren intermedia

This print was created by applying india ink on the siren and pressing it onto paper. This is a rarely seen critter in streams of the southeastern US and northern Mexico. It is a tricky one to print as the exterior ‘gills’, seen in a red paint behind it’s long head, are very small. Likewise, it has two small appendages that are difficult to capture in the printed image.

Lesser Siren info via Wikipedia:

Lesser siren
Siren intermedia 2.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Subclass: Lissamphibia
Order: Caudata
Family: Sirenidae
Genus: Siren
Species: S. intermedia
Binomial name
Siren intermedia
Barnes, 1826,

The lesser siren (Siren intermedia) is a species of aquatic salamander native to the eastern United States and northern Mexico. They are referred to by numerous common names, including two-legged eel, dwarf siren, and mud eel. The specific epithet intermedia denotes their intermediate size, between the greater siren, Siren lacertina, and the dwarf sirens, Pseudobranchus spp.

Behavior

The lesser siren is nocturnal, spending its days hidden in the debris and mud at the bottom of slow-moving bodies of water. They feed primarily on aquatic invertebrates, including various kinds of worms, snails, and crustaceans. They will also eat the tadpoles and eggs of other amphibians.

Reproduction occurs in the spring, with eggs being laid in shallow depressions at the bottom of calm areas of water, usually surrounded by vegetation. Though little is known about their courtship, it is believed to be quite violent, as many specimens collected have scarring from healed bite marks from other sirens. About 12-300 eggs are laid at a time, and several clutches may be laid over the course of the year. Hatchlings are only about 0.4 in (1.1 cm) in length, but grow quickly. Maturity is reached in three to four years.

The lesser siren is vocal, unlike most salamanders, and will emit a series of clicks when it approaches others of its species, or a short screeching sound if handled.

If the habitat dries up during the summer, lesser sirens are capable of excreting a substance from their skin which protects them from dehydrating, and enables them to stay buried in dry mud for months until the water returns. Their small legs enable them to move on dry land for short periods of time.

Geographic distribution

The lesser siren is found in the United States, primarily from Virginia to Florida, and west to Texas (ranging into northeastern Mexico as far as Veracruz), and north to Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.

Taxonomy

Sources disagree on the number of subspecies within S. intermedia; most agree there are at least two, an eastern and a western variety. Many sources also include a third subspecies, the Rio Grande lesser siren, S. i. texana, but researchers disagree whether the Rio Grande variety belongs as a lesser siren, within S. intermedia, or as a greater siren, within S. lacertina, and some others even consider it to be its own species, as S. texana.

  • Eastern lesser siren, S. i. intermedia (Goin, 1942)
  • Western lesser siren, S. i. nettingi (Goin, 1942)
  • Rio Grande lesser siren, S. i. texana (Goin, 1957)

Conservation status

The lesser siren is quite common through most of its range, but rarely seen due to its secretive nature. Like almost all species of amphibian, their numbers are believed to be declining due to general reductions in water quality caused by agricultural pesticide and fertilizer runoff. They are frequently collected and used as bait for fishing. The species is believed to be extirpated from Michigan, and the S. i. texana subspecies is listed as a threatened species in Texas.

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesser_siren

Common Snapping Turtle Skull

Common Snapping Turtle | Chelydra serpentina

Common snapping turtle
Common Snapping Turtle.jpg
Female searching for nest site
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Family: Chelydridae
Genus: Chelydra
Species: C. serpentina
Binomial name
Chelydra serpentina
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Common snapping turtle range map.jpg
Native range map of C. serpentina
Synonyms

The common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) is a large freshwater turtle of the family Chelydridae. Its natural range extends from southeastern Canada, southwest to the edge of the Rocky Mountains, as far east as Nova Scotia and Florida. This species and the larger alligator snapping turtles are the only Macrochelys species in this family found in North America (though the common snapping turtle, as its name implies, is much more widespread).[2]

The common snapping turtle is noted for its combative disposition when out of the water with its powerful beak-like jaws, and highly mobile head and neck (hence the specific name serpentina, meaning "snake-like"). In water, they are likely to flee and hide themselves underwater in sediment. Snapping turtles have a life-history strategy characterized by high and variable mortality of embryos and hatchlings, delayed sexual maturity, extended adult longevity, and iteroparity (repeated reproductive events) with low reproductive success per reproductive event. Females, and presumably also males, in more northern populations mature later (at 15–20 years) and at a larger size than in more southern populations (about 12 years). Lifespan in the wild is poorly known, but long-term mark-recapture data from Algonquin Park in Ontario, Canada, suggest a maximum age over 100 years.[3]

Anatomy and morphology

Head
Skull
Illustration from Holbrook's North American Herpetology, 1842

C. serpentina has a rugged, muscular build with a ridged carapace (upper shell), although ridges tend to be more pronounced in younger individuals. The carapace length in adulthood may be nearly 50 cm (20 in), though 25–47 cm (9.8–18.5 in), is more common.[4]C. serpentina usually weighs 4.5–16 kg (9.9–35.3 lb). Per one study, breeding common snapping turtles were found to average 28.5 cm (11.2 in) in carapace length, 22.5 cm (8.9 in) in plastron length and weigh about 6 kg (13 lb).[5] Males are larger than females, with almost all animals weighing in excess of 10 kg (22 lb) being male and quite old, as the species continues to grow throughout life.[6] Any specimen above the aforementioned weights is exceptional, but the heaviest wild specimen caught reportedly weighed 34 kg (75 lb). Snapping turtles kept in captivity can be quite overweight due to overfeeding and have weighed as much as 39 kg (86 lb). In the northern part of its range, the common snapping turtle is often the heaviest native freshwater turtle.[7]

Ecology and life history

Common habitats are shallow ponds or streams. Some may inhabit brackish environments, such as estuaries. Common snapping turtles sometimes bask—though rarely observed—by floating on the surface with only their carapaces exposed, though in the northern parts of their range, they also readily bask on fallen logs in early spring. In shallow waters, common snapping turtles may lie beneath a muddy bottom with only their heads exposed, stretching their long necks to the surface for an occasional breath (their nostrils are positioned on the very tip of the snout, effectively functioning as snorkels). Snapping turtles consume both plant and animal matter, and are important aquatic scavengers, but they are also active hunters that prey on anything they can swallow, including many invertebrates, fish, frogs, reptiles (including snakes and smaller turtles), unwary birds, and small mammals. In some areas, adult snapping turtles can be incidentally detrimental to breeding waterfowl, as they will occasionally take ducklings and goslings but their effect on such prey is frequently exaggerated.[8]

A snapping turtle's eggs

Common snapping turtles have few predators when older, but eggs are subject to predation by crows, mink, skunks, foxes, and raccoons. As hatchlings and juveniles, most of the same predators will attack them as well as herons (mostly great blue herons), bitterns, hawks, owls, fishers, bullfrogs, large fish, and snakes.[7] There are records during winter in Canada of hibernating adult common snapping turtles being ambushed and predated by northern river otters.[6] Other natural predators which have reportedly preyed on adults include coyotes, black bears, alligators and their larger cousins, alligator snapping turtles.[9] Large, old male snapping turtles have very few natural threats due to their formidable size and defenses, and tend to have a very low annual mortality rate.[6]

These turtles travel extensively over land to reach new habitats or to lay eggs. Pollution, habitat destruction, food scarcity, overcrowding, and other factors drive snappers to move; it is quite common to find them traveling far from the nearest water source. This species mates from April through November, with their peak laying season in June and July. The female can hold sperm for several seasons, using it as necessary. Females travel over land to find sandy soil in which to lay their eggs, often some distance from the water. After digging a hole, the female typically deposits 25 to 80 eggs each year, guiding them into the nest with her hind feet and covering them with sand for incubation and protection. Incubation time is temperature-dependent, ranging from 9 to 18 weeks. In cooler climates, hatchlings overwinter in the nest. The common snapping turtle is remarkably cold-tolerant; radiotelemetry studies have shown some individuals do not hibernate, but remain active under the ice during the winter.[10] Hibernating snapping turtles do not breathe for, in the northern part of their range, more than six months since ice covers their hibernating site. These turtles can get oxygen by pushing their head out of the mud and allowing gas exchange to take place through the membranes of their mouth and throat. This is known as extrapulmonary respiration. If they cannot get enough oxygen through this method they start to utilize anaerobic pathways, burning sugars and fats without the use of oxygen. The metabolic by-products from this process are acidic and create very undesirable side effects by spring, which are known as oxygen debt.[11] Although designated as "least concern" on the IUCN redlist, the species has been designated in the Canadian part of its range as "Special Concern" due to its life history being sensitive to disruption by anthropogenic activity.[12]

Systematics and taxonomy

Currently, no subspecies of the common snapping turtle are recognized.[13] The former subspecies osceola is currently considered a synonym of serpentina, while the other former subspecies Chelydra rossignonii[14] and Chelydra acutirostris are both recognized as full species.[13][15]

Behavior

In their environment, they are at the top of the food chain, causing them to feel less fear or aggression in some cases. When they encounter a species unfamiliar to them such as humans, in rare instances, they will become curious and survey the situation and even more rarely may bump their nose on a leg of the person standing in the water. Although snapping turtles have fierce dispositions,[16] when they are encountered in the water or a swimmer approaches, they will slip quietly away from any disturbance or may seek shelter under mud or grass nearby.[17] Common snapping turtles are very aggressive if caught, and have a strong enough bite to easily amputate human fingers.[18]

Captivity

The common snapping turtle is not an ideal pet. Its neck is very flexible, and a wild turtle can bite its handler even if picked up by the sides of its shell. The claws are about as sharp as those of dogs, but cannot be trimmed as can dog claws. Despite this, a snapping turtle cannot use its claws for either attacking (its legs have no speed or strength in "swiping" motions) or eating (no opposable thumbs), but only as aids for digging and gripping. Veterinary care is best left to a reptile specialist. A wild common snapping turtle will make a hissing sound when it is threatened or encountered; however, when in the water and unprovoked, they are fairly docile towards humans.

It is a common misconception that common snapping turtles may be safely picked up by the tail with no harm to the animal; in fact, this has a high chance of injuring the turtle, especially the tail itself and the vertebral column.[19] Lifting the turtle with the hands is difficult and dangerous. Snappers can stretch their necks back across their own carapace and to their hind feet on either side to bite. When they feel stressed, they release a musky odor from behind their legs.

It may be tempting to rescue a snapping turtle found on a road by getting it to bite a stick and then dragging it out of immediate danger. This action can, however, severely scrape the legs and underside of the turtle and lead to deadly infections in the wounds. The safest way to pick up a common snapping turtle is by grasping the carapace above the back legs. There is a large gap above the back legs that allows for easy grasping of the carapace and keeps hands safe from both the beak and claws of the turtle. It can also be picked up with a shovel, from the back, making sure the shovel is square across the bottom of the shell. The easiest way, though, is with a blanket or tarp, picking up the corners with the turtle in the middle.

Snapping turtles are raised on some turtle farms in China.[20]

Invasive species

In recent years in Italy, large mature adult C. serpentina turtles have been taken from bodies of water throughout the country. They were most probably introduced by the unwise release of pets. In March 2011, an individual weighing 20 kg (44 lb) was captured in a canal near Rome;[21] another individual was captured near Rome in September 2012.[22] In Japan, the species was introduced as an exotic pet in the 1960s; it has been recorded as the source of serious bite injuries. In 2004 and 2005, some 1000 individuals were found in Chiba Prefecture, making up the majority of individuals believed to have been introduced.[23]

In politics

Political cartoon depicting merchants attempting to dodge the "Ograbme"

The common snapping turtle was the central feature of a famous American political cartoon. Published in 1808 in protest at the Jeffersonian Embargo Act of 1807, the cartoon depicted a snapping turtle, jaws locked fiercely to an American trader who was attempting to carry a barrel of goods onto a British ship. The trader was seen whimsically uttering the words "Oh! this cursed Ograbme" ("embargo" spelled backwards). This piece is widely considered a pioneering work within the genre of the modern political cartoon.[citation needed]

In 2006, the snapping turtle was declared the state reptile of New York by a sweeping vote of the New York Legislature after being popularly chosen by the state's public elementary school children.[24]

As food

The common snapping turtle is a traditional ingredient in turtle soup; consumption in large quantities however can become a health concern due to potential concentration of toxic environmental pollutants in the turtle's flesh.[25]

References

  1. ^ Chelydra serpentina, IUCN
  2. ^ Ernst, C.H. (2008). "Systematics, Taxonomy, and Geographic Distribution of the Snapping Turtles, Family Chelydridae". In A.C. Styermark; M.S. Finkler; R.J. Brooks. Biology of the Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 5–13. 
  3. ^ "COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Snapping Turtle Chelydra serpentina" (PDF). 
  4. ^ Wilson, D.E.; Burnie, D., eds. (2001). Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife. London and New York: Dorling Kindersley (DK) Publishing. 624 pp. ISBN 0-7894-7764-5. 
  5. ^ Iverson, J.B.; Higgins, H.; Sirulnik, A.; Griffiths, C. (1997). "Local and geographic variation in the reproductive biology of the snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina)". Herpetologica 53 (1): 96-117.
  6. ^ a b c Brooks, R.J.; Brown, G.P.; Galbraith, D.A. (1991). "Effects of a sudden increase in natural mortality of adults on a population of the common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina)". Canadian Journal of Zoology 69 (5): 1314-1320.
  7. ^ a b Virginia Herpetological Society: Eastern Snapping Turtle Chelydra serpentina serpentina
  8. ^ Hammer, D.A. (1972). Ecological relations of waterfowl and snapping turtle populations. Ph.D. dissertation, Utah State University, Salt Lake City, UT. 72 pg.
  9. ^ Ernst, C.H., & Lovich, J. E. (2009). Turtles of the United States and Canada. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  10. ^ US Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center, Environmental Laboratory: Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
  11. ^ Tortoise Trust Web
  12. ^ COSEWIC. "Species Profile - Snapping Turtle". Species At Risk Public Registry. Government of Canada. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  13. ^ a b Rhodin, Anders G.J.; van Dijk, Peter Paul; Iverson, John B.; Shaffer, H. Bradley (2010-12-14). "Turtles of the world, 2010 update: Annotated checklist of taxonomy, synonymy, distribution and conservation status" (PDF). Chelonian Research Monographs. 5: 000.xx. doi:10.3854/crm.5.000.checklist.v3.2010. ISBN 0965354091. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-15. 
  14. ^ van Dijk, P.P.; Lee, J.; Calderón Mandujano, R.; Flores-Villela, O.; Lopez-Luna, M.A.; Vogt, R.C. (2007). "Chelydra rossignoni". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  15. ^ Chelydra, Reptile Database
  16. ^ Snapping Turtle, Encyclopedia.com
  17. ^ Common Snapping Turtle, Nature.ca
  18. ^ "Common Snapping Turtle". Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Retrieved June 23, 2016. 
  19. ^ Indiviglio, Frank (2008-06-24). "Handling Snapping Turtles, Chelydra serpentina, and Other Large Turtles". That Reptile Blog. That Pet Place. Retrieved 2008-07-20. 
  20. ^ Fang Anning (方安宁), "“小庭院”养殖龟鳖大有赚头" (Small-scale turtle farming may be very profitable). Zuojiang Daily (左江日报) (with photo)
  21. ^ "Una "azzanatrice" catturata fuori Roma". (March 17, 2011). Corriere della Sera. Milan.
  22. ^ http://www.ansa.it/web/notizie/photostory/curiosita/2012/09/17/Tartaruga-azzannatrice-presa-Tevere_7489581.html
  23. ^ Desaki, Yotaro (5 August 2014). "Invasive snapping turtles on the rise in Chiba, other areas". thejapantimes news. Retrieved 15 May 2017. 
  24. ^ Medina, Jennifer (2006-06-23). "A Few Things Lawmakers Can Agree On". N.Y./Region. New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-20. 
  25. ^ "Common Snapping Turtle: Interesting Facts". Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, State of Connecticut. DEEP (ct.gov). 8 November 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2017. 

External links

Further reading

  • Behler JL, King FW (1979). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 743 pp. ISBN 0-394-50824-6. (Chelydra serpentina, pp. 435–436 + Plates 322-324).
  • Conant R (1975). A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Second Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. xviii + 429 pp. + Plates 1-48. ISBN 0-395-19979-4 (hardcover), ISBN 0-395-19977-8 (paperback). (Chelydra serpentina, pp. 37–38 + Plates 5, 11 + Map3).
  • Goin CJ, Goin OB, Zug GR (1978). Introduction to Herpetology, Third Edition. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman and Company. xi + 378 pp. ISBN 0-7167-0020-4. (Chelydra serpentina, pp. 122, 142, 258).
  • Linnaeus C (1758). Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, diferentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio Decima, Reformata. Stockholm: L. Salvius. 824 pp. (Testudo serpentina, new species, p. 199). (in Latin).
  • Smith HM, Brodie ED Jr (1982). Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. New York: Golden Press. 240 pp. ISBN 0-307-13666-3. (Chelydra serpentina, pp. 38–39).
  • Zim HS, Smith HM (1956). Reptiles and Amphibians: A Guide to Familiar American Species: A Golden Nature Guide. New York: Simon and Schuster. 160 pp. (Chelydra serpentina, pp. 19, 24, 155).
source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_snapping_turtle

American Alligator

american alligator print

American Alligator | Alligator mississippiensis

American alligator
Temporal range: 8–0 Ma
Miocene – Recent
American Alligator.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Crocodilia
Family: Alligatoridae
Genus: Alligator
Species: A. mississippiensis
Binomial name
Alligator mississippiensis
(Daudin, 1802 [originally Crocodilus])
Rangemapx.gif
Approximate range of American Alligator
Synonyms
  • Crocodilus mississipiensis Daudin, 1802

The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), sometimes referred to colloquially as a gator or common alligator, is a large crocodilian reptile endemic to the southeastern United States. It is one of two living species in the genus Alligator within the family Alligatoridae; it is larger than the other extant alligator species, the Chinese alligator. Adult male American alligators measure 3.4 to 5 m (11 to 16 ft) in length, and can weigh up to 453 to 600 kg (1,000 to 1,320 lb). Females are smaller, measuring around 3 m (9.8 ft). The American alligator inhabits freshwater wetlands, such as marshes and cypress swamps from Texas to North Carolina. It is distinguished from the sympatric American crocodile by its broader snout, with overlapping jaws and darker coloration, and is less tolerant of saltwater but more tolerant of cooler climates than the American crocodile, which is found only in tropical climates.

American alligators are apex predators and consume fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Hatchlings feed mostly on invertebrates. They play an important role as ecosystem engineers in wetland ecosystems through the creation of alligator holes, which provide both wet and dry habitats for other organisms. Throughout the year, but particularly during the breeding season, American alligators bellow to declare territory and locate suitable mates.[2] Male American alligators use infrasound to attract females. Eggs are laid in a nest of vegetation, sticks, leaves, and mud in a sheltered spot in or near the water. Young are born with yellow bands around their bodies and are protected by their mother for up to one year.[3]

The American alligator is listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Historically, hunting had decimated their population, and the American alligator was listed as an endangered species by the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Subsequent conservation efforts have allowed their numbers to increase and the species was removed from the list in 1987. American alligators are now harvested for their skins and meat. The species is the official state reptile of three states: Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

Taxonomy and phylogeny

American alligator showing teeth

The American alligator was first classified by French zoologist François Marie Daudin as Crocodilus mississipiensis in 1801. In 1807 Georges Cuvier created the genus Alligator;[4] the American alligator shares this genus with the Chinese alligator. They are grouped in the family Alligatoridae with the caimans. The superfamily Alligatoroidea includes all crocodilians (fossil and extant) that are more closely related to the American alligator than to either the Nile crocodile or the gharial.[5]

Members of this superfamily first arose in the late Cretaceous. Leidyosuchus of Alberta is the earliest known genus. Fossil alligatoroids have been found throughout Eurasia as land bridges across both the North Atlantic and the Bering Strait have connected North America to Eurasia during the Cretaceous, Paleogene, and Neogene periods. Alligators and caimans split in North America during the late Cretaceous and the latter reached South America by the Paleogene, before the closure of the Isthmus of Panama during the Neogene period. The Chinese alligator likely descended from a lineage that crossed the Bering land bridge during the Neogene. The modern American alligator is well represented in the fossil record of the Pleistocene.[6] The alligator's full mitochondrial genome was sequenced in the 1990s and it suggests the animal evolved at a rate similar to mammals and greater than birds and most cold-blooded vertebrates.[7] However, the full genome, published in 2014, suggests that the alligator evolved much more slowly than mammals and birds.[8]

In 2016, a Miocene fossil alligator's skull was found at Marion County, Florida. Unlike the other extinct alligator species of in the same genus, the fossil skull was virtually indistinguishable from that of the modern American alligator. This alligator and the American alligator are now considered to be sister taxa, meaning that the Alligator mississippiensis lineage has existed in North America for over 8 million years.[9]

Characteristics

American alligator skull
The snout of an American alligator

Domestic American alligators range from long and slender to short and robust, possibly due to variations in factors such as growth rate, diet, and climate. American alligators have broad snouts, especially in captive individuals. When the jaws are closed, the edges of the upper jaws cover the lower teeth which fit into the jaws' hollows. Like the spectacled caiman, this species has a bony nasal ridge, though it is less prominent.[10] The teeth number 74–80.[10] Dorsally, adult American alligators may be olive, brown, gray, or black in color, while their undersides are cream-colored.[11]

Some American alligators are missing an inhibited gene for melanin, which makes them albino. These American alligators are extremely rare and almost impossible to find in the wild. They could only survive in captivity, as they are very vulnerable to the sun and predators.[12]

Size

The American alligator is a relatively large species of crocodilian. On average it is the second largest species in the Alligatoridae family, behind only the black caiman.[13] As with all crocodilians, and as opposed to many mammals where size eventually diminishes with old age, healthy American alligators may continue to expand throughout their lives and the oldest specimens are the largest. Very old, large male American alligators reach an expected maximum size of up to 4.6 m (15 ft) in length, weighing up to 453 kg (1,000 lb), while females reach a maximum of 3 m (9.8 ft).[14][15] On rare occasions, a large, old male may grow to an even greater length.[16][17] During the 19th and 20th centuries, larger males reaching 5 to 6 m (16 to 20 ft) have been reported.[10] The largest reported individual size was a male killed in 1890 on Marsh Island, Louisiana, and reportedly measured at 5.8 m (19 ft) in length, but no voucher specimen was available, since the American alligator was left on a muddy bank after having been measured due to having been too massive to relocate.[17] If the size of this animal were correct, it would have weighed approximately 1,000 kg (2,200 lb).[18] Large adult American alligators tend to be relatively robust and bulky compared to other similarly length crocodilians, for example captive males measuring 3 to 4 m (9.8 to 13.1 ft) were found to weigh 200 to 350 kg (440 to 770 lb) (although captive specimens may outweigh wild specimens due to lack of hunting behavior and other stressors).[19][20] The largest American alligator ever killed in Florida was 5.31 m (17.4 ft), as reported by the Everglades National Park.[21][22] The largest American alligator scientifically verified in Florida for the period from 1977 to 1993 was reportedly 4.23 m (13.9 ft) and weighed 473 kg (1,043 lb), although another specimen (size estimated from skull) may have measured 4.54 m (14.9 ft).[19]

However, American alligators do not normally reach such extreme sizes. In mature males, most specimens grow up to about 3.4 m (11 ft) in length, and will weigh up to 360 kg (790 lb),[23] while in females, the mature size is normally around 2.6 m (8.5 ft), with a body weight of up to 91 kg (201 lb).[24][25] In Newnans Lake, Florida, adult males averaged 73.2 kg (161 lb) in mass and measured 2.47 m (8.1 ft) in length while adult females averaged 55.1 kg (121 lb) and measured 2.22 m (7.3 ft).[26] In Lake Griffin State Park, Florida, adults weighed on average 57.9 kg (128 lb).[27] Weight at sexual maturity per one study was stated as averaging 30 kg (66 lb) while adult weight was claimed as 160 kg (350 lb).[28] While noticeably sexual dimorphic in size in very mature specimens, the sexual dimorphism of this species is relatively modest amongst crocodilians.[29] In the saltwater crocodile, for example, the females are only slightly larger at average (2.4 m (7.9 ft) in the American alligator, 2.6 m (8.5 ft) in the saltwater crocodile) than female American alligators, but the mature males, at 4.3 to 5.2 m (14 to 17 ft) on average as opposed to 2.4 to 4 m (7.9 to 13.1 ft) expected in mature male American alligators, are considerably bigger than male American alligators and at median are nearly twice as long as and at least four times as heavy as the female saltwater crocodiles of the same species.[30] Given that female American alligators have relatively higher survival rates at an early age and a large percentage of given populations are comprised by immature or young breeding American alligators, relatively few large mature males of the expected mature length of 3.4 m (11 ft) or more are typically seen.[31] Weight varies considerably depending on length, age, health, season and available food sources. Similar to many other reptiles than range expansively into temperate zones, American alligators from the northern end of their range, such as southern Arkansas, Alabama, and northern North Carolina, tend to reach smaller sizes. The largest American alligator caught in Alabama was 4.5 m (15 ft) in length, weighing 459 kg (1,012 lb). [32] In Arkansas a man killed an American alligator that was 4.04 m (13.3 ft) and 626 kg (1,380 lb).[33]

X-ray video of a female American alligator showing contraction of the lungs while breathing

Physiology

When on land, an American alligator moves either by sprawling or walking, the latter involving the reptile lifting its belly off the ground. The sprawling of American alligators and other crocodilians is not similar to that of salamanders and lizards, being similar to walking. Therefore, the two forms of territorial locomotion can be termed the "low walk" and the "high walk". Unlike most other land vertebrates, American alligators increase their speed through the distal rather than proximal ends of their limbs.[34] In the water, American alligators swim like fish, moving their pelvic regions and tails from side to side.[35] American alligators held the record as having the strongest laboratory-measured bite of any living animal, measured at up to 9,452 newtons (2,125 lbf). It should be noted that this experiment had not been, at the time of the paper published, replicated in any other crocodilians, and the same laboratory was able to measure a greater bite force in saltwater crocodiles;[36][37] notwithstanding this very high biting force, the muscles opening the American alligator's jaw are quite weak, and the jaws can be held closed by hand or tape when an American alligator is captured. During respiration, air flow is unidirectional, looping through the lungs during inhalation and exhalation;[38] the American alligator's abdominal muscles can alter the position of the lungs within the torso, thus shifting the center of buoyancy, which allows the American alligator to dive, rise, and roll within the water.[39]

Distribution and habitat

American alligator (right) and American crocodile (left) at Mrazek Pond, Florida

American alligators are found in the wild in the southeastern United States, from the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia and North Carolina, south to Everglades National Park in Florida, and west to the southern tip of Texas. They are found in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Some of these locations appear to be relatively recent introductions, with often small but reproductive populations.[40] They inhabit swamps, streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes. A lone American alligator was spotted for over ten years living in a river north of Atlanta, Georgia.[41] Females and juveniles are also found in Carolina Bays and other seasonal wetlands. While they prefer fresh water, American alligators may sometimes wander into brackish water,[42] but are less tolerant of salt water than crocodiles, as the salt glands on their tongues do not function.[43] One study of alligators in north-central Florida found the males preferred open lake water during the spring, while females used both swampy and open water areas. During summer, males still preferred open water, while females remained in the swamps to construct their nests and lay their eggs. Both sexes may den underneath banks or clumps of trees during the winter.[26]

American alligators are less vulnerable to cold than American crocodiles. Unlike an American crocodile, which would immediately succumb to the cold and drown in water at 45 °F (7 °C), an American alligator can survive in such temperatures for some time without displaying any signs of discomfort.[44] This adaptiveness is thought to be the reason why American alligators are widespread further north than the American crocodile.[44] In fact, the American alligator is found farther from the equator and is more equipped to handle cooler conditions than any other crocodilian.[45] When the water begins to freeze, American alligators stick their snouts through the surface which allows them to breathe above the ice.[42]

Ecology and behavior

A young American alligator preying on a bullfrog

American alligators modify wetland habitats, most dramatically in flat areas such as the Everglades, by constructing small ponds known as alligator holes. This behavior has qualified the American alligator to be considered a keystone species. Alligator holes retain water during the dry season and provide a refuge for aquatic organisms. Aquatic organisms that survive the dry season by seeking refuge in alligator holes are a source of future populations. The construction of nests along the periphery of alligator holes, as well as a buildup of soils during the excavation process, provide drier areas for other reptiles to nest and a place for plants that are intolerant of inundation to colonize. Alligator holes are an oasis during the Everglades dry season, so are consequently important foraging sites for other organisms.[46] In the limestone depressions of cypress swamps, alligator holes tend to be large and deep, while those in marl prairies and rocky glades are usually small and shallow, and those in peat depressions of ridge and slough wetlands are more variable.[47]

American alligator in the Everglades

American alligators play an important role in the restoration of the Everglades as biological indicators of restoration success.[48] American alligators are highly sensitive to changes in the hydrology, salinity, and productivity of their ecosystems; all are factors that are expected to change with Everglades restoration. American alligators also may control the long-term vegetation dynamics in wetlands by reducing the population of small mammals, particularly coypu, which may otherwise overgraze marsh vegetation.[49] In this way, the vital ecological service they provide may be important in reducing rates of coastal wetland losses in Louisiana.[50] They may provide a protection service for water birds nesting on islands in freshwater wetlands. American alligators prevent predatory mammals from reaching island-based rookeries and in return eat spilled food and birds that fall from their nests. Wading birds appear to be attracted to areas with alligators and have been known to nest at heavily trafficked tourist attractions with large numbers of American alligators, such as the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, Florida.[51] In addition to basking on shore, American alligators can and will climb trees to bask in if no shoreline is available. However, this is not often seen as the American alligators will retreat back into the water by jumping from their perch.[52]

Hunting and diet

The American alligator is considered an apex predator throughout its range. They are opportunists and their diet is determined largely by both the size and age of the American alligator and the size and availability of prey. Most American alligators will eat a wide variety of animals, including invertebrates, fish, birds, turtles, snakes, amphibians, and mammals. Hatchlings mostly feed on invertebrates such as insects, insect larvae, snails, spiders, and worms. As they grow, American alligators gradually expand to larger prey. Once an American alligator reaches adulthood, any animal living in the water or coming to the water to drink is potential prey, due to the size and power of the American alligator. However, most animals captured by American alligators are considerably smaller than the American alligator itself.[10] Stomach contents show, among native mammals, muskrats and raccoons are some of the most commonly eaten species.[53] In Louisiana, where introduced coypu are common, they are perhaps the most regular prey for adult American alligators, although only larger adult American alligators commonly eat this species.[49][53] Other animals may occasionally be eaten, even large deer or feral wild boars, but these are not normally part of the diet. Occasionally, domestic animals, including dogs, cats, and calves, are taken as available, but are secondary to wild and feral prey.[10] Other prey, including snakes, lizards, and various invertebrates, are eaten occasionally by adults.[16]Water birds, such as herons and egrets, storks, waterfowl and large dabbling rails such as gallinules or coots, are taken when possible. Occasionally, unwary adult birds are grabbed and eaten by American alligators, but most predation on bird species occur with unsteady fledgling birds in late summer as the prey of American alligators, as fledgling birds attempt to make their first flights near the water's edge.[16]

The diet of adult American alligators from central Florida lakes was dominated by fish, highly opportunistically based upon local availability. In Lake Griffin, fish made up 54% of the diet by weight, with catfish being most commonly consumed while in Lake Apopka, fish made up 90% of the food and mostly shad were taken and in Lake Woodruff the diet was 84% fish and largely consists of bass and sunfish. Unusually in these regions, reptiles and amphibians were the most important non-piscivore prey, mostly comprised by turtles and water snakes.[54] In southern Louisiana, crustaceans (largely crayfish and crabs) were found to be present in the southeastern American alligators but largely absent in the southwestern American alligator which consumed a relatively high proportion of reptiles, although fish were the most recorded prey for adult American alligators and adult males consumed a large portion of mammals.[55] In East Texas, diets were diverse and adult American alligators took mammals, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates (i.e. snails) in often equal measure as they did fish.[56]

Fish and other aquatic prey taken in the water or at the water's edge form the major part of American alligator's diet and may be eaten at any time of the day or night. Adult American alligators also spend considerable time hunting on land, up to 50 m (170 ft) from water, ambushing terrestrial animals on trailsides and road shoulders. Usually, terrestrial hunting occurs on nights with warm temperatures.[57] When hunting terrestrial prey, American alligators may also ambush them from the edge of the water by grabbing them and pulling the prey into the water, the preferred method of predation of larger crocodiles.[16] The teeth of the American alligator are designed to grip prey, but can not rip or chew flesh like teeth of some other predators (such as canids and felids), and depend on their gizzard instead to masticate their food. The American alligator is capable of biting though a turtle's shell or a moderately sized mammal bone.[58] Additionally, American alligators have recently been filmed and documented killing and eating sharks and rays; four incidents documented indicated that bonnetheads, lemon sharks, Atlantic stingrays and nurse sharks are components of the animal's diet. Sharks are also known to prey on American alligators in turn, indicating encounters between the two predators are more common than thought.[59][60]

American alligators will occasionally prey on large mammals, such as deer, but will usually do so when fish and smaller prey levels go down.[61] Rarely, American alligators have been observed killing and eating bobcats, but such events are not common and have little effect on bobcat populations.[62][63] Although American alligators have been listed as predators of West Indian manatees, very little evidence exists of such predation.[64] In the 2000s, when invasive Burmese pythons occupied the Everglades, American alligators have been recorded preying on them, possibly controlling populations, thus preventing the invasive species to spread up north.[65][66]

American alligator eating a crab.

In 2013, American alligators and other crocodilians were reported to also eat fruit.[67] Such behavior has been witnessed, as well as documented from stomach contents, with the American alligators eating such fruit as wild grapes, elderberries, and citrus fruits directly from the trees. The discovery of this unexpected part of the American alligator diet further reveals that American alligators may be responsible for spreading seeds from the fruit it digests across its habitat.[68] Additionally, American alligators engage in what seems to be cooperative hunting.[69]

Tool use

American alligators have been documented using lures to hunt prey such as birds.[70] This means they are among the first reptiles recorded to use tools. By balancing sticks and branches on their heads, American alligators are able to lure birds looking for suitable nesting material to kill and consume. This strategy, which is shared by the mugger crocodile, is particularly effective during the nesting season, in which birds are more likely to gather appropriate nesting materials.[71]

Vocalizations

Crocodilians are the most vocal of all reptiles and have a variety of different calls depending on the age, size, and gender of the animal.[72] The American alligator can perform specific vocalizations to declare territory, signal distress, threaten competitors, and locate suitable mates. Juvenile American alligators can perform a high-pitched hatchling call (a "yelping" trait common to many crocodilian species' hatchling young)[73] to alert their mothers when they are ready to emerge from the nest. Juveniles also make a distress call to alert their mothers if they are being threatened. Although American alligators have vocal cords, they function differently from those of mammals.[74] Both males and females bellow loudly to attract mates and declare territory by sucking air into their lungs and blowing it out in intermittent, deep-toned roars. The bellowing of the American alligator is distinct from the loud roaring of most crocodilians, and is considered unique. Male American alligators are known to use infrasound during mating bellows. Bellowing is performed in a "head oblique, tail arched" posture. Infrasonic waves from a bellowing male American alligator can cause the surface of the water directly over and to either side of its back to literally "sprinkle",[75] in what is commonly called the "water dance".[76] Large bellowing "choruses" of American alligators during the breeding season are commonly initiated by females and perpetuated by males.[77] Observers of large bellowing choruses have noted they are often felt more than they are heard due to the intense infrasound emitted by males. American alligators bellow in B flat (specifically "B♭1", defined as an audio frequency of 58.27 Hz), and bellowing choruses can be induced by tuba players, sonic booms, and large aircraft.[78] In addition to bellowing, American alligators can growl, hiss, or cough to threaten others and declare territory.

Reproduction

The breeding season begins in the spring. On spring nights, American alligators gather in large numbers for group courtship, in the aforementioned "alligator dances".[79] The female builds a nest of vegetation, sticks, leaves, and mud in a sheltered spot in or near the water. After she lays her 20 to 50 white eggs, about the size of a goose egg, she covers them with more vegetation, which heats as it decays, helping to keep the eggs warm. This differs from Nile crocodiles, which lay their eggs in pits.[44]

Nest and young in Florida

The temperature at which American alligator eggs develop determines their sex (see temperature-dependent sex determination). Those eggs which are hatched at a temperature of 34 °C (93 °F) or more become males, while those at a temperature of 30 °C (86 °F) or lower become female. The nests built on levees are warmer and thus produce males, while the cooler nests of wet marsh produce females.[80] The female remains near the nest throughout the 65-day incubation period, protecting it from intruders. When the young begin to hatch — their "yelping" calls can sometimes even be heard just before hatching commences — the mother quickly digs them out and carries them to the water in her mouth,[10] as some other crocodilian species are known to do.

Young American alligator swimming, showing the distinctive yellow striping found on juveniles

The young are tiny replicas of adult American alligators with a series of yellow bands around their bodies that serve as camouflage.[10] Hatchlings gather into pods and are guarded by their mother and keep in contact with her through their "yelping" vocalizations. Young American alligators eat small fish, frogs, crayfish, and insects.[81] They are preyed on by large fish, birds, raccoons, and adult American alligators.[10] Mother American alligators eventually become more aggressive towards their young, which encourages them to disperse.[81] Young American alligators grow 3–8 in (7.6–20.3 cm) a year and reach adulthood at 6 ft (1.8 m).[42]

Interactions with exotic species

Nutria were introduced into coastal marshes from South America in the mid-1900s, and their population has since exploded into the millions. They cause serious damage to coastal marshes and may dig burrows in levees. Hence, Louisiana has had a bounty to try to reduce nutria numbers. Large American alligators, however, feed heavily on nutria, so American alligators may not only control nutria populations in Louisiana, but also prevent them spreading east into the Everglades. Since hunting and trapping preferentially take the large American alligators that are the most important in eating nutria, some changes in harvesting may be needed to capitalize on their ability to control nutria.[49]

Recently, a population of Burmese pythons became established in Everglades National Park. Substantial American alligator populations in the Everglades may be a contributing factor in keeping the python populations low, preventing the spread of the species up north. While events of predation by Burmese pythons on young alligators have been observed, no evidence of a net negative effect has been seen on overall American alligator populations.[82][83][84]

American alligator predation on Florida panthers is rare, but has been documented. Such incidents usually involve a panther trying to cross a waterway or coming down to a swamp or river to get a drink. The American alligator is the only known natural predator of the panther.[85] American alligator predation on black bears has also been recorded.[86][87][88]

Conservation status

Historically, hunting and habitat loss have severely impacted American alligator populations throughout their range, and whether the species would survive was in doubt. In 1967, the American alligator was listed as an endangered species (under a law that was the precursor Endangered Species Act of 1973), since it was believed to be in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.[89]

Both the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and state wildlife agencies in the South contributed to the American alligator's recovery. Protection under the Endangered Species Act allowed the species to recuperate in many areas where it had been depleted. States began monitoring their American alligator populations to ensure that they would continue to grow. In 1987, the USFWS removed the animal from the endangered species list, as it was considered to be fully recovered. The USFWS still regulates the legal trade in American alligators and their products to protect still endangered crocodilians that may be passed off as American alligators during trafficking.[89]

Relationships with humans

Attacks on humans

Defensive American alligator with mouth open

American alligators are capable of killing humans. Mistaken identity leading to an attack is always possible, especially in or near cloudy waters. American alligators are often less aggressive towards humans than larger crocodile species, a few of which (mainly the Nile and Saltwater crocodiles) may prey on humans with some regularity.[17][90] American alligator bites are serious injuries due to the reptile's sheer bite force and risk of infection. Even with medical treatment, an American alligator bite may still result in a fatal infection.[91]

As human populations increase, and as they build houses in low-lying areas or fish or hunt near water, incidents are inevitable where American alligators intrude, or at least appear to intrude, on human life. Since 1948, 257 documented attacks on humans in Florida (about five incidents per year) have been reported, of which an estimated 23 resulted in death.[92] Only nine fatal attacks occurred in the United States throughout the 1970s–1990s, but American alligators killed 12 people between 2001 and 2007. In May 2006, American alligators killed three Floridians in less than a week.[93] There have been at least 28 fatal attacks by American alligators in the United States since 1970.

Alligator wrestling

Man wrestling American alligator

Since the late 1880s, alligator wrestling has been a source of entertainment for some. Created by the Miccosukee and Seminole tribes prior to the arrival of Europeans, this tourism tradition continues to persist despite criticism from animal rights activists.[94]

Alligator farming

Today, alligator farming is a large, growing industry in Georgia, Florida, Texas, and Louisiana. These states produce a combined annual total of some 45,000 alligator hides. Alligator hides bring good prices and hides in the 6 to 7-ft range have sold for $300 each.[95] The market for alligator meat is growing, and about 300,000 pounds (140,000 kg) of meat is produced annually.[96] According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, raw alligator meat contains roughly 200 Calories (840 kJ) per 3-oz (85-g) serving, of which 27 Calories (130 kJ) come from fat.

Symbol

The American alligator is the official state reptile of Florida,[97] Louisiana,[98] and Mississippi.[99] Several organizations and products from Florida have been named after the animal.

"Gators" has been the nickname of the University of Florida's sports teams since 1911. In that year, a printer made a spur-of-the-moment decision to print an alligator emblem on a shipment of the school's football pennants. The mascot stuck, perhaps because the team captain's nickname was Gator.[100]

The Gator Bowl is a college football game held in Jacksonville annually since 1946, with Gator Bowl Stadium hosting the event until the 1993 edition. The Gatornationals is a NHRA drag race held at the Gainesville Raceway in Gainesville since 1970.

See also

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  59. ^ Jason Bittel (20 September 2017). "Alligators Attack and Eat Sharks, Study Confirms". National Geographic. 
  60. ^ Nifong, James C.; Lowers, Russell H. (2017). "Reciprocal Intraguild Predation between Alligator mississippiensis (American Alligator) and Elasmobranchii in the Southeastern United States". outheastern Naturalist. 16 (3): 383–396. 
  61. ^ "American Alligator". News Daily. 
  62. ^ "Gator eats bobcat". Flickr. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  63. ^ "Sneaky alligator nearly eats bobcat". Kens5. Archived from the original on January 11, 2014. Retrieved June 1, 2012. 
  64. ^ Whitaker, John O. (1996). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mammals. New York, pg. 808. ISBN 978-0-679-44631-6.
  65. ^ Dorcas, M. E.; Willson, J. D.; Reed, R. N.; Snow, R. W.; Rochford, M. R.; Miller, M. A.; Hart, K. M. (2012). "Severe mammal declines coincide with proliferation of invasive Burmese pythons in Everglades National Park". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 109 (7): 2418–2422. doi:10.1073/pnas.1115226109. PMC 3289325Freely accessible. PMID 22308381. 
  66. ^ Nolen, R. S. (2012). "How big is Florida's python problem?". J Am Vet Med Assoc. 240 (7): 778–782. doi:10.2460/javma.240.7.778. PMID 22443430. 
  67. ^ Choi, Charles Q. (August 30, 2013). "Crocodiles and alligators like to chomp down on ... fruit !". NBC News: Science. Retrieved August 31, 2013. 
  68. ^ Platt, S.G; Elsey, R.M; Liu, H. (2013). "Frugivory and seed dispersal by crocodilians: an overlooked form of saurochory?". Journal of Zoology. 291 (2): 87. doi:10.1111/jzo.12052. 
  69. ^ Dinets, Vladmir (2014). "Apparent coordination and collaboration in cooperatively hunting crocodilians". Ethology Ecology & Evolution. 27 (2): 244–250. doi:10.1080/03949370.2014.915432. 
  70. ^ Dinets, V; Brueggen, JC; Brueggen, J.D. (2013). "Crocodilians use tools for hunting". Ethology, Ecology and Evolution. 1: 74–78. doi:10.1080/03949370.2013.858276. 
  71. ^ "Crocodiles are cleverer than previously thought: Some crocodiles use lures to hunt their prey". ScienceDaily. December 4, 2013. Retrieved December 8, 2013. 
  72. ^ Britton, Adam. "Crocodile Talk". University of Bristol and Florida Museum of Natural History. 
  73. ^ "Yelping" of alligator hatchlings. YouTube.com (September 3, 2013). Retrieved on 2016-09-07.
  74. ^ Riede, T; Tokuda, I. T.; Farmer, C. G. (2011). "Subglottal pressure and fundamental frequency control in contact calls of juvenile Alligator mississippiensis". Journal of Experimental Biology. University of Utah. 214 (Pt 18): 3082–95. doi:10.1242/jeb.051110. PMC 3160820Freely accessible. PMID 21865521. 
  75. ^ Male alligator "sprinkling" while bellowing in near-infrasound during courtship. YouTube.com (April 28, 2010). Retrieved on 2016-09-07.
  76. ^ Garrick, L. D.; Lang, J. W. (1977). "Social Displays of the American Alligator". American Zoologist. 17: 225–239. doi:10.1093/icb/17.1.225. 
  77. ^ Garrick, L.; Lang, J.; Herzog, H. (1978). "Social Signals of Adult American Alligators". 60 (3): 153–192. 
  78. ^ Kilnkenberg, Jeff (June 21, 2013). "Alligators in B Flat? Gatorland's denizens roar in ecstasy". Tampa Bay Times. "We want to hit the B flat two octaves below middle C, " Mickelsen reminded his young assistant. "At 57 hertz. That's what that old scientific report advised...BLAAAA!...Though only a few clouds scudded across the sky, we heard what sounded like thunder in the distance. It was a randy male American alligator, turned on by tuba, telling the world that he was a stud...He lifted his upper body out of the water while lowering the middle and raising his tail. Though he barely moved, a droplet spray exploded from the water covering his back. "The water dance!" Tim Williams cried. Toxic let loose a roar that shook the earth. 
  79. ^ Dinets, V. L. (2010). "Nocturnal behavior of the American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) in the wild during the mating season". Herpetological Bulletin. 111: 4–11. 
  80. ^ Joanen, T.; Ferguson, M. W. J. (1982). "Temperature of egg incubation determines sex in Alligator mississippiensis". Nature. 296 (5860): 850–53. doi:10.1038/296850a0. PMID 7070524. 
  81. ^ a b Hunt, R. H.; Watanabe, M. E. (1982). "Observations on the maternal behavior of the American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis". Journal of Herpetology. 16 (3): 235–39. doi:10.2307/1563716. JSTOR 1563716. 
  82. ^ Gator-guzzling python comes to messy end. Associated Press (October 5, 2005). Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  83. ^ Butler, Rhett A. (October 5, 2005) Python explodes after swallowing 6-foot alligator in Florida Everglades. Mongabay.com. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  84. ^ United States Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey (February 20, 2008). USGS Maps Show Potential Non-Native Python Habitat Along Three U.S. Coasts. www.usgs.gov. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  85. ^ Sivlerstein, Alvin (1997). The Florida Panther. Brooksville, Connecticut: Millbrook Press. pp. 41+. ISBN 0-7613-0049-X.
  86. ^ "American Alligator". Animal List. 
  87. ^ "Alligators". Aquatic Community. 
  88. ^ "Key West Florida Attractions | Alligator Exhibit". Key West Aquarium. Retrieved December 20, 2012. 
  89. ^ a b "American Alligator Alligator mississippiensis" (PDF). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. February 2008. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  90. ^ Crocodile and Alligator Differences – Animal Facts for Kids. Sciencekids.co.nz (July 11, 2012). Retrieved on 2012-08-21.
  91. ^ Harding, Brett E.; Wolf, Barbara C. (2006). "Alligator Attacks in Southwest Florida". Journal of Forensic Sciences. 51 (3): 674–677. doi:10.1111/j.1556-4029.2006.00135.x. PMID 16696720. 
  92. ^ McLaughlin, Eliott C.; Almasy, Steve and Shoichet, Catherine E. (2016-06-16) Disney alligator attack: Resort to add warning signs, source says. CNN
  93. ^ "A String of Deaths by Gators in Florida". nytimes.com. May 15, 2006. Retrieved May 15, 2006. 
  94. ^ "Alligator wrestling – cruelty or tradition?". BBC News.com. March 17, 2009. Retrieved August 29, 2012. 
  95. ^ Lane, Thomas J.; Ruppert, Kathleen C. (June 2008). "Alternative Opportunities for Small Farms:Alligator Production Review" (PDF). University of Florida. Retrieved August 29, 2012. 
  96. ^ Reig Eimeric (2006). "Gator Maters: Florida farmers find lucrative business mating alligators". Orange and Blue Magazine. Archived from the original on May 30, 2013. Retrieved August 29, 2012. 
  97. ^ "Alligator". Florida State Symbols. Florida Division of Historical Resources. 2013. Retrieved April 6, 2013. 
  98. ^ "About Louisiana". Louisiana.gov. State of Louisiana. Retrieved April 6, 2013. 
  99. ^ Act No. 302 of July 1, 2005. Retrieved on April 6, 2013.
  100. ^ "History: 1906–1927, early Gainesville". University of Florida. Archived from the original on December 31, 2010. Retrieved February 13, 2011. 

External links

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_alligator

Western Diamondback – curl

 Western Diamondback | Crotalus atrox

 


Western Diamondback info via Wikipedia:

Western diamondback rattlesnake
Crotalus atrox USFWS.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Genus: Crotalus
Species: C. atrox
Binomial name
Crotalus atrox
Baird & Girard, 1853
Crotalus atrox distribution.png
Synonyms
  • Crotalus cinereous
    Le Conte in Hallowell, 1852
    (nomen oblitum)
  • Crotalus atrox
    Baird & Girard, 1853
    (nomen protectum)
  • Crotalus adamanteus var. atrox
    Jan, 1859
  • Caudisona atrox var. atrox
    Kennicott, 1861
  • Caudisona atrox var. sonoraensis
    Kennicott, 1861
  • C[rotalus]. adamanteus var. atrox
    – Jan, 1863
  • C[rotalus]. atrox var. sonoriensis
    – Jan, 1863
  • C[audisona]. atroxCope, 1867
  • Crotalus adamanteus atrox – Cope in Yarrow in Wheeler, 1875
  • Caudisona atrox var. sonorensis
    Boulenger, 1896
  • Crotalus atrox atrox – Cope, 1900
  • [Crotalus] atrox sonoraensis
    Amaral, 1929
  • Crotalus atroxKlauber, 1972
  • Crotalus sonoriensis – Golay et al., 1993
  • Crotalus atrox – Golay et al., 1993[2]

The western diamondback rattlesnake[3] or Texas diamond-back[4] (Crotalus atrox) is a venomous rattlesnake species found in the southwestern United States and Mexico. It is likely responsible for the majority of snakebite fatalities in northern Mexico and the greatest number of snakebites in the U.S.[5] No subspecies is currently recognized.[3]

Description

C. atrox

Adults commonly grow to 120 cm (4 ft) in length. Specimens over 150 cm (5 ft) are infrequently encountered, while those over 180 cm (6 ft) are very rare, and the largest reported length considered to be reliable is 213 cm (7 ft).[6] Males become much larger than females, although this difference in size does not occur until after they have reached sexual maturity.[5] Rattlesnakes of this species considered medium-sized weighed 1.23 to 2.7 kg (3 to 6 lb), while very large specimens can reportedly weigh up to 6.7 kg (15 lb).[7][8][9] Overall, it is probably the second largest-bodied species of rattlesnake, behind only its close cousin the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, and is also the second largest of North American venomous snakes (the bushmasters, which attain probably similar weights and greater total length, occur up as far as Nicaragua).[10][11][12]

The color pattern generally consists of a dusty-looking gray-brown ground color, but it may also be pinkish-brown, brick red, yellowish, pinkish, or chalky white. This ground color is overlaid dorsally with a series of 24–25 dorsal body blotches that are dark gray-brown to brown in color. The first of these may be a pair of short stripes that extend backwards to eventually merge. Some of the first few blotches may be somewhat rectangular, but then become more hexagonal and eventually take on a distinctive diamond shape hence the name "Diamondback rattlesnake" .The tail has two to eight (usually four to six) black bands separated by ash white or pale gray interspaces; this led to the nickname of "coon tail", though other species (e.g., Mojave rattlesnake) have similarly banded tails. Its postocular stripe is smoky gray or dark gray-brown and extends diagonally from the lower edge of the eye across the side of the head. This stripe is usually bordered below by a white stripe running from the upper preocular scale down to the supralabial scales just below and behind the eye.[5] Its off-white belly is usually unmarked, its anal scale is undivided, and its dorsal scales are extremely keeled, often in rows of 25 to 27 near the midbody.[citation needed]

The wide range of this species overlaps, or is close to, that of many others. It may be confused with them, but differences exist. The Mohave rattlesnake (C. scutulatus), also has tail rings, but the black rings are narrow relative to the pale ones. The timber rattlesnake (C. horridus), has no tail rings. In the western rattlesnake (C. oreganus), the pale tail rings are the same color as the ground. The tail of the black-tailed rattlesnake (C. molossus), is a uniform black, or has indistinct tail rings. The Mexican west coast rattlesnake (C. basiliscus), also has a mostly dark tail with obscure or absent rings. The tiger rattlesnake, (C. tigris), has a relatively small head and large rattle along with a dorsal pattern consisting more of crossbands. The Middle American rattlesnake (C. simus), has a generally uniform gray tail without any rings, as well as a pair of distinctive paravertebral stripes running down the neck. Members of the genus Sistrurus lack tail rings and have enlarged head plates.[5]

Common names

Common names for this species include: western diamondback rattlesnake, western diamond-backed rattlesnake,[3] adobe snake, Arizona diamond rattlesnake, coon tail, desert diamond-back, desert diamond rattlesnake, fierce rattlesnake, spitting rattlesnake, buzz tail, Texan rattlesnake, Texas diamond-back, and Texas Rattler.

Geographic range

It is found in the United States from central Arkansas to southeastern and Central California, south into Mexico as far as northern Sinaloa, Hidalgo and northern Veracruz. Disjunct populations exist in southern Veracruz and southeastern Oaxaca. The type locality given is "Indianola" (Indianola, Calhoun County, Texas).[2]

In the United States, it occurs in central and western Arkansas, Oklahoma excluding the northeast, north-central region and the panhandle, Texas excluding the northern panhandle and the east, southern and central New Mexico and Arizona, extreme southern Nevada, southwestern Utah, and in southeastern California on either side of the Chocolate Mountains. Records from extreme southern Kansas (Cowley and Sumner Counties) may be based on a natural occurrence of the species, while multiple records from near Kanopolis Reservoir in Ellsworth County seem to indicate a viable (although isolated) population.[5]

In Mexico, it occurs in Nuevo León, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Sonora, extreme northeastern Baja California, northern Sinaloa, northeastern Durango, Zacatecas, most of San Luis Potosí, northern Veracruz, Hidalgo, and Querétaro. Specimens have been collected in the mountains northwest of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, on numerous occasions, but have not been reported there since the 1940s.[5]

This species has also been reported on a number of islands in the Gulf of California, including San Pedro Mártir, Santa María (Sinaloa), Tíburon and the Turner Islands.[5]

Habitat

Its habitats range from flat coastal plains to steep rocky canyons and hillsides; it is associated with many different vegetation types, including desert, sandy creosote areas, mesquite grassland, desert scrub, and pine-oak forests. It is common to see the western diamondback on rural blacktop roads in early evening, because of the heat retention of these surfaces, as ambient temperatures drops.

Behavior

C. atrox, patternless specimen

C. atrox is solitary except during the mating season. Usually inactive between late October and early March, these ectotherms occasionally may be seen basking in the sun on warm winter days. In the winter, they hibernate or brumate in caves or burrows, sometimes with many other species of snakes. Life expectancy is more than 20 years.[citation needed]

They are poor climbers. Natural predators include raptors such as hawks and eagles, roadrunners, wild hogs, and other snakes. When threatened, they usually coil and rattle to warn aggressors. They are one of the more aggressive rattlesnake species in the US in the way that they stand their ground when confronted by a foe. If rattling does not work, then the snake will strike in defense.[13]

Prey

A comprehensive study by Beavers (1976) on the prey of C. atrox in Texas showed, by weight, 94.8% of their prey consisted of small mammals.[5] According to Pisani and Stephenson (1991), who conducted a study of the stomach contents of C. atrox in the fall and spring of Oklahoma, mammalian prey included prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus), kangaroo rats (Dipodomys ordii), pocket gophers (Geomys bursarius and Cratogeomys castanops), voles (Microtus ochrogaster), woodrats (Neotoma floridana), pocket mice (Perognathus hispidus and P. flavescens), white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus and P. maniculatus), Old World rats and mice (Rattus norvegicus and Mus ssp.), harvest mice (Reithrodontomys megalotis), fox squirrels (Sciurus niger), cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus), ground squirrels (Spermophilus spilosoma), rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus), jackrabbits (Lepus californicus), and an unidentified mole species.[5] Klauber mentioned large specimens are capable of swallowing adult cottontail rabbits and even adult jackrabbits, although he figured the latter required confirmation.[6]

Birds, lizards, and mice are also preyed upon, with lizards mostly being eaten by young snakes. Avian prey include mockingbirds (Mimidae), quail, a nearly full-grown Gambel's quail, a burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia),[6] a fledgling horned lark (Eremophila alpestris) a black-throated sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata), and an eastern meadowlark (Sturnella magna).[5] Lizard prey include a whiptail lizard (Cnemidophorus), spiny lizards (Sceloporus), a Texas banded gecko (Coleonyx brevis),[6] and a side-blotched lizard (Uta palmeri). One case reported by Vorhies (1948) involved a juvenile specimen that had attempted to eat a horned lizard (Phrynosoma solare), but died after the lizard's horns had punctured its esophagus, leaving the lizard stuck there.[5]

Hermann (1950) reported C. atrox also feeds on lubber grasshoppers (Brachystola magna). Klauber (1972) once found a single specimen in which the stomach contents included grasshoppers, beetles, and ants. However, mammal hairs and an iguanid lizard were also found in the same stomach, which made it more likely that the insects had first been eaten by the mammal or the lizard before they had been eaten by the snake.[6]

They hunt (or ambush prey) at night or in the early morning.

These snakes can go for up to two years without food in the wild. A 5½-month starvation study showed the snakes reduced energy expenditures by an average of 80% over the length of the study. The snakes also feed from within on energy-rich lipid stores. The most interesting finding was the snakes grew during the study, indicating while the snake's mass was shrinking, it was putting its resources into skeletal muscles and bone.[14]

A key participant in the food chain, it is an important predator of many small rodents, rabbits, and birds. In turn, it is preyed upon by a variety of larger mammals and birds, such as coyotes, foxes, hawks, and owls. Crotalus atrox can be active at any time of the day or night when conditions are favorable. It is primarily diurnal and crepuscular in spring and fall and becomes primarily nocturnal and crepuscular during the hot summer months.[15]

Venom

C. atrox

Like most other American pit vipers, the venom contains proteolytic enzymes. Proteolytic venoms are concentrated secretions that destroy tissues as a result of catabolism of structural and other proteins, which help in disabling prey. The venom of C. atrox is primarily hemotoxic, affecting mainly the blood vessels, blood cells and the heart. The venom contains hemorrhagic components called zinc metalloproteinases.[16][17] The venom also contains cytotoxins and myotoxins which destroy cells and muscles that add to the failure of the cardiovascular system.[18] In addition to hemorrhage, venom metalloproteinases induce myonecrosis (skeletal muscle damage), which seems to be secondary to the ischemia that ensues in muscle tissue as a consequence of bleeding and reduced perfusion. Microvascular disruption by metalloproteinases also impairs skeletal muscle regeneration, being therefore responsible for fibrosis and permanent tissue loss after bites from this species.[19] General local effects include pain, heavy internal bleeding, severe swelling, severe muscle damage, bruising, blistering, and necrosis; systemic effects are variable and not specific, but may include headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dizziness, and convulsions. Hemorrhagins causing bleeding is a major clinical effect.[20]

This species has LD50 values of 2.72 mg/kg intravenous, 20 mg/kg intramuscular and 18.5 mg/kg subcutaneous, which is far less toxic than many other rattlesnakes.[21][22] However, because of its large venom glands and specialized fangs, the western diamondback rattlesnake can deliver a significant amount of venom in a single bite. The average venom yield per bite is usually between 250 and 350 mg, with a maximum of 700–800 mg.[5][23] Severe envenomation is rare, but possible, and can be lethal. Mortality rate of untreated bites is between 10 and 20%.[20]

Reproduction

A male crotalus atrox with a pair of intromittent organs called hemipenes, used for reproduction

Rattlesnakes, including C. atrox, are viviparous. Gestation lasts six or seven months, and broods average about a dozen young. However, the young only stay with the mother for a few hours before they set off on their own to hunt and find cover, thus the mortality rate is very high. Mating occurs in the fall, and the females give birth to as many as 25 young, which may be as long as 30 cm (12 in). The young are fully capable of delivering a venomous bite from the moment they are born.

Conservation status

This species is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List (v3.1, 2001).[1] Species are listed as such due to their wide distribution, presumed large population, or because they are unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category. The population trend was stable when assessed in 2007.[24]

They are also heavily collected from the wild, frequently being drawn out of their hiding places with gasoline, and used in Rattlesnake Round-Ups, where they are killed for food, skins, and entertainment.

Gallery

References

  1. ^ a b Frost, D.R., Hammerson, G.A. & Santos-Barrera, G. (2007). Crotalus atrox. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  2. ^ a b McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. (1999). Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, vol. 1. Herpetologists' League. ISBN 1-893777-01-4.[page needed]
  3. ^ a b c "Crotalus atrox". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 28 November 2006. 
  4. ^ Wright AH, Wright AA. (1957). Handbook of Snakes. Comstock Publishing Associates. (7th printing, 1985). ISBN 0-8014-0463-0.[page needed]
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Norris R. (2004) "Venom Poisoning in North American Reptiles" in Campbell JA, Lamar WW. The Venomous Reptiles of the Western Hemisphere. Comstock Publishing Associates, Ithaca and London. ISBN 0-8014-4141-2.
  6. ^ a b c d e Klauber LM. (1997). Rattlesnakes: Their Habitats, Life Histories, and Influence on Mankind. 2nd ed. First published in 1956, 1972. University of California Press, Berkeley. ISBN 0-520-21056-5.[page needed]
  7. ^ Stolpe, Michael R; Norris, Robert L; Chisholm, Carey D; Hartshorne, Michael F; Okerberg, Carl; Ehler, William J; Posch, John (1989). "Preliminary observations on the effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) venom poisoning in the rabbit model". Annals of Emergency Medicine. 18 (8): 871–4. doi:10.1016/S0196-0644(89)80216-1. PMID 2757285. 
  8. ^ Crotalus atrox Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake. Encyclopedia of Life
  9. ^ Feldman, A., & Meiri, S. (2012). Length–mass allometry in snakes. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 108(1), 161-172.
  10. ^ Minton, S. A., & Weinstein, S. A. (1986). Geographic and ontogenic variation in venom of the western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox). Toxicon, 24(1), 71-80.
  11. ^ Taylor, E. N., & Denardo, D. F. (2005). Sexual size dimorphism and growth plasticity in snakes: an experiment on the Western Diamond‐backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox). Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological Genetics and Physiology, 303(7), 598-607.
  12. ^ Vial, J. L., & Jimenez-Porras, J. M. (1967). The Ecogeography of the Bushmaster, Lachesis muta, in Central America. American Midland Naturalist, 182-187.
  13. ^ "Snakes in the Garden- the Good, the Bad and the Ugly". Dave's Garden. 
  14. ^ McCue, Marshall D. (2006). "Characterizing the starvation syndrome in the western diamond-back rattlesnake, a species well-suited to tolerate long-term fasting". The FASEB Journal. 20 (5): A827. Lay summaryScienceDaily (April 6, 2006). 
  15. ^ Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) – Reptiles of Arizona. Reptilesofaz.org. Retrieved on 2016-12-26.
  16. ^ Bjarnason, Jon Bragi; Fox, Jay William (1988). "Hemorrhagic Toxins from Snake Venoms". Toxin Reviews. 7 (2): 121–209. doi:10.3109/15569548809059729. 
  17. ^ Bjarnason, Jon B.; Tu, Anthony T. (1978). "Hemorrhagic toxins from western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) venom: Isolation and characterization of five toxins and the role of zinc in hemorrhagic toxin e". Biochemistry. 17 (16): 3395–404. doi:10.1021/bi00609a033. PMID 210790. 
  18. ^ Calvete, Juan J.; Fasoli, Elisa; Sanz, Libia; Boschetti, Egisto; Righetti, Pier Giorgio (2009). "Exploring the Venom Proteome of the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, Crotalus atrox, via Snake Venomics and Combinatorial Peptide Ligand Library Approaches". Journal of Proteome Research. 8 (6): 3055–67. doi:10.1021/pr900249q. PMID 19371136. 
  19. ^ Gutiérrez, J; Rucavado, A (2000). "Snake venom metalloproteinases:Their role in the pathogenesis of local tissue damage". Biochimie. 82 (9–10): 841–50. doi:10.1016/S0300-9084(00)01163-9. PMID 11086214. 
  20. ^ a b Clinical Toxinology Resource (Crotalus atrox). Toxinology.com. Retrieved on 2016-12-26.
  21. ^ Sean Thomas LD50. Seanthomas.net. Retrieved on 2016-12-26.
  22. ^ Fry, Bryan Grieg. LD50 Menu. venomdoc.com
  23. ^ Brown JH. (1973). Toxicology and Pharmacology of Venoms from Poisonous Snakes. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas. LCCCN 73–229. ISBN 0-398-02808-7.[page needed]
  24. ^ 2001 Categories & Criteria (version 3.1) at the IUCN Red List. Accessed 13 September 2007.

Further reading

  • Baird, S.F. & C. Girard. 1853. Catalogue of North American Reptiles in the Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. Part I. – Serpents. Smithsonian Institution. Washington, District of Columbia. xvi + 172 pp. (Crotalus atrox, pp. 5–6.)
  • Yancey FD II, Meinzer W, Jones C. 1997. Aberrant morphology in western diamondback rattlesnakes (Crotalus atrox). Occasional Papers of the Museum of Texas Tech University, 167: 1–4. PDF at Natural Science Research Laboratory. Accessed 26 August 2007.
  • Richards, I. S., & Bourgeois, M. M. (2014). Principles and practice of toxicology in public health (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crotalus_atrox

 

 

Western Diamondback

  Western Diamondback | Crotalus atrox

 


 

Western Diamondback info via Wikipedia:

Western diamondback rattlesnake
Crotalus atrox USFWS.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Genus: Crotalus
Species: C. atrox
Binomial name
Crotalus atrox
Baird & Girard, 1853
Crotalus atrox distribution.png
Synonyms
  • Crotalus cinereous
    Le Conte in Hallowell, 1852
    (nomen oblitum)
  • Crotalus atrox
    Baird & Girard, 1853
    (nomen protectum)
  • Crotalus adamanteus var. atrox
    Jan, 1859
  • Caudisona atrox var. atrox
    Kennicott, 1861
  • Caudisona atrox var. sonoraensis
    Kennicott, 1861
  • C[rotalus]. adamanteus var. atrox
    – Jan, 1863
  • C[rotalus]. atrox var. sonoriensis
    – Jan, 1863
  • C[audisona]. atroxCope, 1867
  • Crotalus adamanteus atrox – Cope in Yarrow in Wheeler, 1875
  • Caudisona atrox var. sonorensis
    Boulenger, 1896
  • Crotalus atrox atrox – Cope, 1900
  • [Crotalus] atrox sonoraensis
    Amaral, 1929
  • Crotalus atroxKlauber, 1972
  • Crotalus sonoriensis – Golay et al., 1993
  • Crotalus atrox – Golay et al., 1993[2]

The western diamondback rattlesnake[3] or Texas diamond-back[4] (Crotalus atrox) is a venomous rattlesnake species found in the southwestern United States and Mexico. It is likely responsible for the majority of snakebite fatalities in northern Mexico and the greatest number of snakebites in the U.S.[5] No subspecies is currently recognized.[3]

Description

C. atrox

Adults commonly grow to 120 cm (4 ft) in length. Specimens over 150 cm (5 ft) are infrequently encountered, while those over 180 cm (6 ft) are very rare, and the largest reported length considered to be reliable is 213 cm (7 ft).[6] Males become much larger than females, although this difference in size does not occur until after they have reached sexual maturity.[5] Rattlesnakes of this species considered medium-sized weighed 1.23 to 2.7 kg (3 to 6 lb), while very large specimens can reportedly weigh up to 6.7 kg (15 lb).[7][8][9] Overall, it is probably the second largest-bodied species of rattlesnake, behind only its close cousin the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, and is also the second largest of North American venomous snakes (the bushmasters, which attain probably similar weights and greater total length, occur up as far as Nicaragua).[10][11][12]

The color pattern generally consists of a dusty-looking gray-brown ground color, but it may also be pinkish-brown, brick red, yellowish, pinkish, or chalky white. This ground color is overlaid dorsally with a series of 24–25 dorsal body blotches that are dark gray-brown to brown in color. The first of these may be a pair of short stripes that extend backwards to eventually merge. Some of the first few blotches may be somewhat rectangular, but then become more hexagonal and eventually take on a distinctive diamond shape hence the name "Diamondback rattlesnake" .The tail has two to eight (usually four to six) black bands separated by ash white or pale gray interspaces; this led to the nickname of "coon tail", though other species (e.g., Mojave rattlesnake) have similarly banded tails. Its postocular stripe is smoky gray or dark gray-brown and extends diagonally from the lower edge of the eye across the side of the head. This stripe is usually bordered below by a white stripe running from the upper preocular scale down to the supralabial scales just below and behind the eye.[5] Its off-white belly is usually unmarked, its anal scale is undivided, and its dorsal scales are extremely keeled, often in rows of 25 to 27 near the midbody.[citation needed]

The wide range of this species overlaps, or is close to, that of many others. It may be confused with them, but differences exist. The Mohave rattlesnake (C. scutulatus), also has tail rings, but the black rings are narrow relative to the pale ones. The timber rattlesnake (C. horridus), has no tail rings. In the western rattlesnake (C. oreganus), the pale tail rings are the same color as the ground. The tail of the black-tailed rattlesnake (C. molossus), is a uniform black, or has indistinct tail rings. The Mexican west coast rattlesnake (C. basiliscus), also has a mostly dark tail with obscure or absent rings. The tiger rattlesnake, (C. tigris), has a relatively small head and large rattle along with a dorsal pattern consisting more of crossbands. The Middle American rattlesnake (C. simus), has a generally uniform gray tail without any rings, as well as a pair of distinctive paravertebral stripes running down the neck. Members of the genus Sistrurus lack tail rings and have enlarged head plates.[5]

Common names

Common names for this species include: western diamondback rattlesnake, western diamond-backed rattlesnake,[3] adobe snake, Arizona diamond rattlesnake, coon tail, desert diamond-back, desert diamond rattlesnake, fierce rattlesnake, spitting rattlesnake, buzz tail, Texan rattlesnake, Texas diamond-back, and Texas Rattler.

Geographic range

It is found in the United States from central Arkansas to southeastern and Central California, south into Mexico as far as northern Sinaloa, Hidalgo and northern Veracruz. Disjunct populations exist in southern Veracruz and southeastern Oaxaca. The type locality given is "Indianola" (Indianola, Calhoun County, Texas).[2]

In the United States, it occurs in central and western Arkansas, Oklahoma excluding the northeast, north-central region and the panhandle, Texas excluding the northern panhandle and the east, southern and central New Mexico and Arizona, extreme southern Nevada, southwestern Utah, and in southeastern California on either side of the Chocolate Mountains. Records from extreme southern Kansas (Cowley and Sumner Counties) may be based on a natural occurrence of the species, while multiple records from near Kanopolis Reservoir in Ellsworth County seem to indicate a viable (although isolated) population.[5]

In Mexico, it occurs in Nuevo León, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Sonora, extreme northeastern Baja California, northern Sinaloa, northeastern Durango, Zacatecas, most of San Luis Potosí, northern Veracruz, Hidalgo, and Querétaro. Specimens have been collected in the mountains northwest of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, on numerous occasions, but have not been reported there since the 1940s.[5]

This species has also been reported on a number of islands in the Gulf of California, including San Pedro Mártir, Santa María (Sinaloa), Tíburon and the Turner Islands.[5]

Habitat

Its habitats range from flat coastal plains to steep rocky canyons and hillsides; it is associated with many different vegetation types, including desert, sandy creosote areas, mesquite grassland, desert scrub, and pine-oak forests. It is common to see the western diamondback on rural blacktop roads in early evening, because of the heat retention of these surfaces, as ambient temperatures drops.

Behavior

C. atrox, patternless specimen

C. atrox is solitary except during the mating season. Usually inactive between late October and early March, these ectotherms occasionally may be seen basking in the sun on warm winter days. In the winter, they hibernate or brumate in caves or burrows, sometimes with many other species of snakes. Life expectancy is more than 20 years.[citation needed]

They are poor climbers. Natural predators include raptors such as hawks and eagles, roadrunners, wild hogs, and other snakes. When threatened, they usually coil and rattle to warn aggressors. They are one of the more aggressive rattlesnake species in the US in the way that they stand their ground when confronted by a foe. If rattling does not work, then the snake will strike in defense.[13]

Prey

A comprehensive study by Beavers (1976) on the prey of C. atrox in Texas showed, by weight, 94.8% of their prey consisted of small mammals.[5] According to Pisani and Stephenson (1991), who conducted a study of the stomach contents of C. atrox in the fall and spring of Oklahoma, mammalian prey included prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus), kangaroo rats (Dipodomys ordii), pocket gophers (Geomys bursarius and Cratogeomys castanops), voles (Microtus ochrogaster), woodrats (Neotoma floridana), pocket mice (Perognathus hispidus and P. flavescens), white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus and P. maniculatus), Old World rats and mice (Rattus norvegicus and Mus ssp.), harvest mice (Reithrodontomys megalotis), fox squirrels (Sciurus niger), cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus), ground squirrels (Spermophilus spilosoma), rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus), jackrabbits (Lepus californicus), and an unidentified mole species.[5] Klauber mentioned large specimens are capable of swallowing adult cottontail rabbits and even adult jackrabbits, although he figured the latter required confirmation.[6]

Birds, lizards, and mice are also preyed upon, with lizards mostly being eaten by young snakes. Avian prey include mockingbirds (Mimidae), quail, a nearly full-grown Gambel's quail, a burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia),[6] a fledgling horned lark (Eremophila alpestris) a black-throated sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata), and an eastern meadowlark (Sturnella magna).[5] Lizard prey include a whiptail lizard (Cnemidophorus), spiny lizards (Sceloporus), a Texas banded gecko (Coleonyx brevis),[6] and a side-blotched lizard (Uta palmeri). One case reported by Vorhies (1948) involved a juvenile specimen that had attempted to eat a horned lizard (Phrynosoma solare), but died after the lizard's horns had punctured its esophagus, leaving the lizard stuck there.[5]

Hermann (1950) reported C. atrox also feeds on lubber grasshoppers (Brachystola magna). Klauber (1972) once found a single specimen in which the stomach contents included grasshoppers, beetles, and ants. However, mammal hairs and an iguanid lizard were also found in the same stomach, which made it more likely that the insects had first been eaten by the mammal or the lizard before they had been eaten by the snake.[6]

They hunt (or ambush prey) at night or in the early morning.

These snakes can go for up to two years without food in the wild. A 5½-month starvation study showed the snakes reduced energy expenditures by an average of 80% over the length of the study. The snakes also feed from within on energy-rich lipid stores. The most interesting finding was the snakes grew during the study, indicating while the snake's mass was shrinking, it was putting its resources into skeletal muscles and bone.[14]

A key participant in the food chain, it is an important predator of many small rodents, rabbits, and birds. In turn, it is preyed upon by a variety of larger mammals and birds, such as coyotes, foxes, hawks, and owls. Crotalus atrox can be active at any time of the day or night when conditions are favorable. It is primarily diurnal and crepuscular in spring and fall and becomes primarily nocturnal and crepuscular during the hot summer months.[15]

Venom

C. atrox

Like most other American pit vipers, the venom contains proteolytic enzymes. Proteolytic venoms are concentrated secretions that destroy tissues as a result of catabolism of structural and other proteins, which help in disabling prey. The venom of C. atrox is primarily hemotoxic, affecting mainly the blood vessels, blood cells and the heart. The venom contains hemorrhagic components called zinc metalloproteinases.[16][17] The venom also contains cytotoxins and myotoxins which destroy cells and muscles that add to the failure of the cardiovascular system.[18] In addition to hemorrhage, venom metalloproteinases induce myonecrosis (skeletal muscle damage), which seems to be secondary to the ischemia that ensues in muscle tissue as a consequence of bleeding and reduced perfusion. Microvascular disruption by metalloproteinases also impairs skeletal muscle regeneration, being therefore responsible for fibrosis and permanent tissue loss after bites from this species.[19] General local effects include pain, heavy internal bleeding, severe swelling, severe muscle damage, bruising, blistering, and necrosis; systemic effects are variable and not specific, but may include headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dizziness, and convulsions. Hemorrhagins causing bleeding is a major clinical effect.[20]

This species has LD50 values of 2.72 mg/kg intravenous, 20 mg/kg intramuscular and 18.5 mg/kg subcutaneous, which is far less toxic than many other rattlesnakes.[21][22] However, because of its large venom glands and specialized fangs, the western diamondback rattlesnake can deliver a significant amount of venom in a single bite. The average venom yield per bite is usually between 250 and 350 mg, with a maximum of 700–800 mg.[5][23] Severe envenomation is rare, but possible, and can be lethal. Mortality rate of untreated bites is between 10 and 20%.[20]

Reproduction

A male crotalus atrox with a pair of intromittent organs called hemipenes, used for reproduction

Rattlesnakes, including C. atrox, are viviparous. Gestation lasts six or seven months, and broods average about a dozen young. However, the young only stay with the mother for a few hours before they set off on their own to hunt and find cover, thus the mortality rate is very high. Mating occurs in the fall, and the females give birth to as many as 25 young, which may be as long as 30 cm (12 in). The young are fully capable of delivering a venomous bite from the moment they are born.

Conservation status

This species is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List (v3.1, 2001).[1] Species are listed as such due to their wide distribution, presumed large population, or because they are unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category. The population trend was stable when assessed in 2007.[24]

They are also heavily collected from the wild, frequently being drawn out of their hiding places with gasoline, and used in Rattlesnake Round-Ups, where they are killed for food, skins, and entertainment.

Gallery

References

  1. ^ a b Frost, D.R., Hammerson, G.A. & Santos-Barrera, G. (2007). Crotalus atrox. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  2. ^ a b McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. (1999). Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, vol. 1. Herpetologists' League. ISBN 1-893777-01-4.[page needed]
  3. ^ a b c "Crotalus atrox". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 28 November 2006. 
  4. ^ Wright AH, Wright AA. (1957). Handbook of Snakes. Comstock Publishing Associates. (7th printing, 1985). ISBN 0-8014-0463-0.[page needed]
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Norris R. (2004) "Venom Poisoning in North American Reptiles" in Campbell JA, Lamar WW. The Venomous Reptiles of the Western Hemisphere. Comstock Publishing Associates, Ithaca and London. ISBN 0-8014-4141-2.
  6. ^ a b c d e Klauber LM. (1997). Rattlesnakes: Their Habitats, Life Histories, and Influence on Mankind. 2nd ed. First published in 1956, 1972. University of California Press, Berkeley. ISBN 0-520-21056-5.[page needed]
  7. ^ Stolpe, Michael R; Norris, Robert L; Chisholm, Carey D; Hartshorne, Michael F; Okerberg, Carl; Ehler, William J; Posch, John (1989). "Preliminary observations on the effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) venom poisoning in the rabbit model". Annals of Emergency Medicine. 18 (8): 871–4. doi:10.1016/S0196-0644(89)80216-1. PMID 2757285. 
  8. ^ Crotalus atrox Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake. Encyclopedia of Life
  9. ^ Feldman, A., & Meiri, S. (2012). Length–mass allometry in snakes. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 108(1), 161-172.
  10. ^ Minton, S. A., & Weinstein, S. A. (1986). Geographic and ontogenic variation in venom of the western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox). Toxicon, 24(1), 71-80.
  11. ^ Taylor, E. N., & Denardo, D. F. (2005). Sexual size dimorphism and growth plasticity in snakes: an experiment on the Western Diamond‐backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox). Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological Genetics and Physiology, 303(7), 598-607.
  12. ^ Vial, J. L., & Jimenez-Porras, J. M. (1967). The Ecogeography of the Bushmaster, Lachesis muta, in Central America. American Midland Naturalist, 182-187.
  13. ^ "Snakes in the Garden- the Good, the Bad and the Ugly". Dave's Garden. 
  14. ^ McCue, Marshall D. (2006). "Characterizing the starvation syndrome in the western diamond-back rattlesnake, a species well-suited to tolerate long-term fasting". The FASEB Journal. 20 (5): A827. Lay summaryScienceDaily (April 6, 2006). 
  15. ^ Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) – Reptiles of Arizona. Reptilesofaz.org. Retrieved on 2016-12-26.
  16. ^ Bjarnason, Jon Bragi; Fox, Jay William (1988). "Hemorrhagic Toxins from Snake Venoms". Toxin Reviews. 7 (2): 121–209. doi:10.3109/15569548809059729. 
  17. ^ Bjarnason, Jon B.; Tu, Anthony T. (1978). "Hemorrhagic toxins from western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) venom: Isolation and characterization of five toxins and the role of zinc in hemorrhagic toxin e". Biochemistry. 17 (16): 3395–404. doi:10.1021/bi00609a033. PMID 210790. 
  18. ^ Calvete, Juan J.; Fasoli, Elisa; Sanz, Libia; Boschetti, Egisto; Righetti, Pier Giorgio (2009). "Exploring the Venom Proteome of the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, Crotalus atrox, via Snake Venomics and Combinatorial Peptide Ligand Library Approaches". Journal of Proteome Research. 8 (6): 3055–67. doi:10.1021/pr900249q. PMID 19371136. 
  19. ^ Gutiérrez, J; Rucavado, A (2000). "Snake venom metalloproteinases:Their role in the pathogenesis of local tissue damage". Biochimie. 82 (9–10): 841–50. doi:10.1016/S0300-9084(00)01163-9. PMID 11086214. 
  20. ^ a b Clinical Toxinology Resource (Crotalus atrox). Toxinology.com. Retrieved on 2016-12-26.
  21. ^ Sean Thomas LD50. Seanthomas.net. Retrieved on 2016-12-26.
  22. ^ Fry, Bryan Grieg. LD50 Menu. venomdoc.com
  23. ^ Brown JH. (1973). Toxicology and Pharmacology of Venoms from Poisonous Snakes. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas. LCCCN 73–229. ISBN 0-398-02808-7.[page needed]
  24. ^ 2001 Categories & Criteria (version 3.1) at the IUCN Red List. Accessed 13 September 2007.

Further reading

  • Baird, S.F. & C. Girard. 1853. Catalogue of North American Reptiles in the Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. Part I. – Serpents. Smithsonian Institution. Washington, District of Columbia. xvi + 172 pp. (Crotalus atrox, pp. 5–6.)
  • Yancey FD II, Meinzer W, Jones C. 1997. Aberrant morphology in western diamondback rattlesnakes (Crotalus atrox). Occasional Papers of the Museum of Texas Tech University, 167: 1–4. PDF at Natural Science Research Laboratory. Accessed 26 August 2007.
  • Richards, I. S., & Bourgeois, M. M. (2014). Principles and practice of toxicology in public health (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crotalus_atrox

 

Mediterranean Gecko

Mediterranean Gecko | Hemidactylus turcicus

 


Mediterranean Gecko info via Wikipedia:

Mediterranean house gecko
Mediterranean house gecko.JPG
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Gekkonidae
Genus: Hemidactylus
Species: H. turcicus
Binomial name
Hemidactylus turcicus
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The Mediterranean house gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus) (not to be confused with the Asian species Hemidactylus frenatus known as common house gecko) is a small gecko common to the Mediterranean which has spread to many parts of the world. It is commonly referred to as the Turkish gecko[2] as represented in its Latin name and also as the "Moon Lizard" because it emerges in the evening[citation needed]. A study in Portugal found H. turcicus to be totally nocturnal, with the highest activity peak around 2am.[3] They are insectivorous, rarely exceeding 15 centimetres (5.9 in) in length, have large, lidless eyes with elliptical pupils, and purple - or tan-colored skin with black spots, often with stripes on the tail. Their bellies or undersides are somewhat translucent. In countries where the species has been introduced, they are not considered invasive due to their habits and small size; they rarely threaten populations of native animals.[citation needed]

In many parts of the world the range of H. turcicus is increasing,[2] and unlike many other reptiles, they appear to be highly resistant to pesticides. The increase may be explained as a consequence of having few predators in places where they have been introduced, and also of their tendency to take shelter in the cracks and unseen areas of human homes, for example inside walls. Reliance on human habitation has thus contributed to their proliferation, similar to rodents. In some Eastern Mediterranean countries such as Turkey and Cyprus it is a taboo to harm them due to their benignant nature and they are often kept as house pets.

Description

Scan of the ventral side of a Mediterranean house gecko, showing good detail of skin and toepads.

Snout rounded, about as long as the distance between the eye and the ear-opening, 1.25 to 1.3 the diameter of the orbit; forehead slightly concave; ear-opening oval, oblique, nearly half the diameter of the eye. Body and limbs moderate. Digits variable in length, the inner always well developed; 6 to 8 lamellae under the inner digits, 8 to 10 under the fourth finger, and 9 to 11 under the fourth toe. Head with large granules anteriorly, posteriorly with minute granules intermixed with round tubercles. Rostrum four-sided, not twice as broad as deep, with medial cleft above; nostril pierced between the rostrum, the first labial, and three nasals; 7 to 10 upper and 6 to 8 lower labials; mental large, triangular, at least twice as long as the adjacent labials, its point between two large chin-shields, which may be in contact behind it; a smaller chin shield on each side of the larger pair. Upper surface of body covered with minute granules intermixed with large tubercles, generally larger than the spaces between them, suboval, trihedral, and arranged in 14 or 16 pretty, regular longitudinal series. Abdominal scales small, smooth, roundish-hexagonal, imbricate. Males with a short angular series of 4 to 10 (exceptionally 2) preanal pores. Tail cylindrical, slightly depressed, tapering, covered above with minute scales and transverse series of large keeled tubercles, beneath with a series of large transversely dilated plates. Light brown or grayish above, spotted with darker; many of the tubercles white, lower surfaces white.[4] They may be completely translucent except for the spotting. Some are darker. They often seek darkness when fleeing. They may be seen singularly or in a group ranging from 2 to 5 together.

Geographic distribution

Gecko being handled by a human

Native to the Mediterranean region, the "med gecko" is one of the most successful species of geckos in the world. It has spread over much of the world and established stable populations far from its origins, due to this it holds no threatened or endangered status. It can be found in countries with Mediterranean climates[5] such as Portugal, Spain, France, Italy (including Lampedusa island, Elba), Israel, Albania, Greece, (incl. Kalymnos, Paros, Antiparos, Despotiko, Lesbos, Chios, Lemnos, Samos, Samothraki, Milos, Tinos, Crete), Malta, Macedonia, coastal Croatia (except western Istria), Czech Republic (only warm parts of Moravia and Czech Silesia), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Adriatic islands, coastal Montenegro, coastal part of Albania, Cyprus, Turkey, northern Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, northern Yemen (Socotra Archipelago), Somalia, Eritrea, Kenya, southern Iran, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Pakistan, India, Balearic Islands (Island Addaya Grande), Canary Islands (introduced to Gran Canaria and Tenerife), Panama, Puerto Rico, Belize, Mexico (Baja California, Chihuahua, Durango, Nuevo León, Yucatán; introduced), Cuba (introduced).[citation needed] It has also been introduced to the southern USA (Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, Arizona, Florida, California,[5]Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma, Virginia, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Kansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Missouri).[citation needed] It can also be occasionally found as far north as Ohio.[citation needed]

Behaviour

Hemidactylus turcicus individuals hunting and breathing, observed through a glass window

Mediterranean house geckoes emit a distinctive, high-pitched call somewhat like a squeak or the chirp of a bird, possibly expressing a territorial message. They are voracious predators on moths and small roaches, and are attracted to outdoor lights in search of these prey. Although a calling male decorated cricket (Gryllodes supplicans) may be located safely out of reach in a burrow, female crickets attracted to the male's call can be intercepted and eaten.[6]

Notes

  1. ^ NatureServe (2013). "Hemidactylus turcicus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  2. ^ a b http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/157261/0
  3. ^ Mateus, O. & Jacinto, J.J. (2002): Contribution to the study of Hemidactylus turcicus (Reptilia, Gekkonidae): rhythms of activity and microhabitat in Évora, Portugal. P. 136, in S.P.H. [Sociedade Portuguesa de Herpetologia] & A.H.E. [Associación Herpetológica Española] (coord.) Livro de resumos do VII Congresso Luso-espanhol de Herpetologia / XI Congreso Español de Herpetologia. S.P.H. & A.H.E.. Évora, Portugal.
  4. ^ Boulenger, G. A. (1890) Fauna of British India. Reptilia and Batrachia.
  5. ^ a b http://www.texasinvasives.org/animal_database/detail.php?symbol=17
  6. ^ Matthews, Robert W.; Matthews, Janice R. (2009). Insect Behavior. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 314–319. ISBN 978-90-481-2389-6. 

References

  • Franklin, Carl J. 1997 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus. Herpetological Review 28 (2): 96
  • Burke, Russell L. 1996 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus. Herpetological Review 27 (1): 32
  • Davis, W.K. 1974 The Mediterranean gecko, Hemidactylus turcicus in Texas J. Herpetol. 8(1): 77-80.
  • Dowling, Richard G. 1996 The Mediterranean Gecko, Hemidactylus turcicus, in Prattville, Alabama Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society 21 (11): 203
  • Dundee, H. A. 1984 Hemidactylus turcicus (Mediterranean gecko) Herp Review 15 (1): 20
  • Frick, Michael G. 1997 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus Herpetological Review 28 (1): 50
  • Husak, Jerry F. 1996 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus Herpetological Review 27 (4): 211
  • Jensen, Steve L.;George, Steven G. 1993 Hemidactylus turcicus (Mediterranean gecko). USA: Louisiana Herpetological Review 24 (4): 154
  • Knight, C. Michael 1993 A northern range extension of Hemidactylus turcicus in the United States Dactylus 2 (2): 49-50
  • Means, Ryan C. 1999 Geographic distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus Herpetological Review 30 (1): 52
  • Proudfoot, Glenn;McCoid, Michael James 1996 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus Herpetological Review 27 (2): 87
  • Ray, John;Cochran, Betsy 1997 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus Herpetological Review 28 (3): 157
  • Williams, Avery A. 1997 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus Herpetological Review 28 (2): 96
source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediterranean_Gecko

 

Mediterranean Gecko – skin

Mediterranean Gecko | Hemidactylus turcicus

 


 

Mediterranean Gecko info via Wikipedia:

Mediterranean house gecko
Mediterranean house gecko.JPG
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Gekkonidae
Genus: Hemidactylus
Species: H. turcicus
Binomial name
Hemidactylus turcicus
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The Mediterranean house gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus) (not to be confused with the Asian species Hemidactylus frenatus known as common house gecko) is a small gecko common to the Mediterranean which has spread to many parts of the world. It is commonly referred to as the Turkish gecko[2] as represented in its Latin name and also as the "Moon Lizard" because it emerges in the evening[citation needed]. A study in Portugal found H. turcicus to be totally nocturnal, with the highest activity peak around 2am.[3] They are insectivorous, rarely exceeding 15 centimetres (5.9 in) in length, have large, lidless eyes with elliptical pupils, and purple - or tan-colored skin with black spots, often with stripes on the tail. Their bellies or undersides are somewhat translucent. In countries where the species has been introduced, they are not considered invasive due to their habits and small size; they rarely threaten populations of native animals.[citation needed]

In many parts of the world the range of H. turcicus is increasing,[2] and unlike many other reptiles, they appear to be highly resistant to pesticides. The increase may be explained as a consequence of having few predators in places where they have been introduced, and also of their tendency to take shelter in the cracks and unseen areas of human homes, for example inside walls. Reliance on human habitation has thus contributed to their proliferation, similar to rodents. In some Eastern Mediterranean countries such as Turkey and Cyprus it is a taboo to harm them due to their benignant nature and they are often kept as house pets.

Description

Scan of the ventral side of a Mediterranean house gecko, showing good detail of skin and toepads.

Snout rounded, about as long as the distance between the eye and the ear-opening, 1.25 to 1.3 the diameter of the orbit; forehead slightly concave; ear-opening oval, oblique, nearly half the diameter of the eye. Body and limbs moderate. Digits variable in length, the inner always well developed; 6 to 8 lamellae under the inner digits, 8 to 10 under the fourth finger, and 9 to 11 under the fourth toe. Head with large granules anteriorly, posteriorly with minute granules intermixed with round tubercles. Rostrum four-sided, not twice as broad as deep, with medial cleft above; nostril pierced between the rostrum, the first labial, and three nasals; 7 to 10 upper and 6 to 8 lower labials; mental large, triangular, at least twice as long as the adjacent labials, its point between two large chin-shields, which may be in contact behind it; a smaller chin shield on each side of the larger pair. Upper surface of body covered with minute granules intermixed with large tubercles, generally larger than the spaces between them, suboval, trihedral, and arranged in 14 or 16 pretty, regular longitudinal series. Abdominal scales small, smooth, roundish-hexagonal, imbricate. Males with a short angular series of 4 to 10 (exceptionally 2) preanal pores. Tail cylindrical, slightly depressed, tapering, covered above with minute scales and transverse series of large keeled tubercles, beneath with a series of large transversely dilated plates. Light brown or grayish above, spotted with darker; many of the tubercles white, lower surfaces white.[4] They may be completely translucent except for the spotting. Some are darker. They often seek darkness when fleeing. They may be seen singularly or in a group ranging from 2 to 5 together.

Geographic distribution

Gecko being handled by a human

Native to the Mediterranean region, the "med gecko" is one of the most successful species of geckos in the world. It has spread over much of the world and established stable populations far from its origins, due to this it holds no threatened or endangered status. It can be found in countries with Mediterranean climates[5] such as Portugal, Spain, France, Italy (including Lampedusa island, Elba), Israel, Albania, Greece, (incl. Kalymnos, Paros, Antiparos, Despotiko, Lesbos, Chios, Lemnos, Samos, Samothraki, Milos, Tinos, Crete), Malta, Macedonia, coastal Croatia (except western Istria), Czech Republic (only warm parts of Moravia and Czech Silesia), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Adriatic islands, coastal Montenegro, coastal part of Albania, Cyprus, Turkey, northern Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, northern Yemen (Socotra Archipelago), Somalia, Eritrea, Kenya, southern Iran, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Pakistan, India, Balearic Islands (Island Addaya Grande), Canary Islands (introduced to Gran Canaria and Tenerife), Panama, Puerto Rico, Belize, Mexico (Baja California, Chihuahua, Durango, Nuevo León, Yucatán; introduced), Cuba (introduced).[citation needed] It has also been introduced to the southern USA (Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, Arizona, Florida, California,[5]Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma, Virginia, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Kansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Missouri).[citation needed] It can also be occasionally found as far north as Ohio.[citation needed]

Behaviour

Hemidactylus turcicus individuals hunting and breathing, observed through a glass window

Mediterranean house geckoes emit a distinctive, high-pitched call somewhat like a squeak or the chirp of a bird, possibly expressing a territorial message. They are voracious predators on moths and small roaches, and are attracted to outdoor lights in search of these prey. Although a calling male decorated cricket (Gryllodes supplicans) may be located safely out of reach in a burrow, female crickets attracted to the male's call can be intercepted and eaten.[6]

Notes

  1. ^ NatureServe (2013). "Hemidactylus turcicus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  2. ^ a b http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/157261/0
  3. ^ Mateus, O. & Jacinto, J.J. (2002): Contribution to the study of Hemidactylus turcicus (Reptilia, Gekkonidae): rhythms of activity and microhabitat in Évora, Portugal. P. 136, in S.P.H. [Sociedade Portuguesa de Herpetologia] & A.H.E. [Associación Herpetológica Española] (coord.) Livro de resumos do VII Congresso Luso-espanhol de Herpetologia / XI Congreso Español de Herpetologia. S.P.H. & A.H.E.. Évora, Portugal.
  4. ^ Boulenger, G. A. (1890) Fauna of British India. Reptilia and Batrachia.
  5. ^ a b http://www.texasinvasives.org/animal_database/detail.php?symbol=17
  6. ^ Matthews, Robert W.; Matthews, Janice R. (2009). Insect Behavior. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 314–319. ISBN 978-90-481-2389-6. 

References

  • Franklin, Carl J. 1997 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus. Herpetological Review 28 (2): 96
  • Burke, Russell L. 1996 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus. Herpetological Review 27 (1): 32
  • Davis, W.K. 1974 The Mediterranean gecko, Hemidactylus turcicus in Texas J. Herpetol. 8(1): 77-80.
  • Dowling, Richard G. 1996 The Mediterranean Gecko, Hemidactylus turcicus, in Prattville, Alabama Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society 21 (11): 203
  • Dundee, H. A. 1984 Hemidactylus turcicus (Mediterranean gecko) Herp Review 15 (1): 20
  • Frick, Michael G. 1997 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus Herpetological Review 28 (1): 50
  • Husak, Jerry F. 1996 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus Herpetological Review 27 (4): 211
  • Jensen, Steve L.;George, Steven G. 1993 Hemidactylus turcicus (Mediterranean gecko). USA: Louisiana Herpetological Review 24 (4): 154
  • Knight, C. Michael 1993 A northern range extension of Hemidactylus turcicus in the United States Dactylus 2 (2): 49-50
  • Means, Ryan C. 1999 Geographic distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus Herpetological Review 30 (1): 52
  • Proudfoot, Glenn;McCoid, Michael James 1996 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus Herpetological Review 27 (2): 87
  • Ray, John;Cochran, Betsy 1997 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus Herpetological Review 28 (3): 157
  • Williams, Avery A. 1997 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus Herpetological Review 28 (2): 96
source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediterranean_Gecko

 


Mediterranean Gecko – hand

Mediterranean Gecko | Hemidactylus turcicus

 



 

Mediterranean Gecko info via Wikipedia:

Mediterranean house gecko
Mediterranean house gecko.JPG
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Gekkonidae
Genus: Hemidactylus
Species: H. turcicus
Binomial name
Hemidactylus turcicus
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The Mediterranean house gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus) (not to be confused with the Asian species Hemidactylus frenatus known as common house gecko) is a small gecko common to the Mediterranean which has spread to many parts of the world. It is commonly referred to as the Turkish gecko[2] as represented in its Latin name and also as the "Moon Lizard" because it emerges in the evening[citation needed]. A study in Portugal found H. turcicus to be totally nocturnal, with the highest activity peak around 2am.[3] They are insectivorous, rarely exceeding 15 centimetres (5.9 in) in length, have large, lidless eyes with elliptical pupils, and purple - or tan-colored skin with black spots, often with stripes on the tail. Their bellies or undersides are somewhat translucent. In countries where the species has been introduced, they are not considered invasive due to their habits and small size; they rarely threaten populations of native animals.[citation needed]

In many parts of the world the range of H. turcicus is increasing,[2] and unlike many other reptiles, they appear to be highly resistant to pesticides. The increase may be explained as a consequence of having few predators in places where they have been introduced, and also of their tendency to take shelter in the cracks and unseen areas of human homes, for example inside walls. Reliance on human habitation has thus contributed to their proliferation, similar to rodents. In some Eastern Mediterranean countries such as Turkey and Cyprus it is a taboo to harm them due to their benignant nature and they are often kept as house pets.

Description

Scan of the ventral side of a Mediterranean house gecko, showing good detail of skin and toepads.

Snout rounded, about as long as the distance between the eye and the ear-opening, 1.25 to 1.3 the diameter of the orbit; forehead slightly concave; ear-opening oval, oblique, nearly half the diameter of the eye. Body and limbs moderate. Digits variable in length, the inner always well developed; 6 to 8 lamellae under the inner digits, 8 to 10 under the fourth finger, and 9 to 11 under the fourth toe. Head with large granules anteriorly, posteriorly with minute granules intermixed with round tubercles. Rostrum four-sided, not twice as broad as deep, with medial cleft above; nostril pierced between the rostrum, the first labial, and three nasals; 7 to 10 upper and 6 to 8 lower labials; mental large, triangular, at least twice as long as the adjacent labials, its point between two large chin-shields, which may be in contact behind it; a smaller chin shield on each side of the larger pair. Upper surface of body covered with minute granules intermixed with large tubercles, generally larger than the spaces between them, suboval, trihedral, and arranged in 14 or 16 pretty, regular longitudinal series. Abdominal scales small, smooth, roundish-hexagonal, imbricate. Males with a short angular series of 4 to 10 (exceptionally 2) preanal pores. Tail cylindrical, slightly depressed, tapering, covered above with minute scales and transverse series of large keeled tubercles, beneath with a series of large transversely dilated plates. Light brown or grayish above, spotted with darker; many of the tubercles white, lower surfaces white.[4] They may be completely translucent except for the spotting. Some are darker. They often seek darkness when fleeing. They may be seen singularly or in a group ranging from 2 to 5 together.

Geographic distribution

Gecko being handled by a human

Native to the Mediterranean region, the "med gecko" is one of the most successful species of geckos in the world. It has spread over much of the world and established stable populations far from its origins, due to this it holds no threatened or endangered status. It can be found in countries with Mediterranean climates[5] such as Portugal, Spain, France, Italy (including Lampedusa island, Elba), Israel, Albania, Greece, (incl. Kalymnos, Paros, Antiparos, Despotiko, Lesbos, Chios, Lemnos, Samos, Samothraki, Milos, Tinos, Crete), Malta, Macedonia, coastal Croatia (except western Istria), Czech Republic (only warm parts of Moravia and Czech Silesia), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Adriatic islands, coastal Montenegro, coastal part of Albania, Cyprus, Turkey, northern Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, northern Yemen (Socotra Archipelago), Somalia, Eritrea, Kenya, southern Iran, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Pakistan, India, Balearic Islands (Island Addaya Grande), Canary Islands (introduced to Gran Canaria and Tenerife), Panama, Puerto Rico, Belize, Mexico (Baja California, Chihuahua, Durango, Nuevo León, Yucatán; introduced), Cuba (introduced).[citation needed] It has also been introduced to the southern USA (Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, Arizona, Florida, California,[5]Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma, Virginia, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Kansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Missouri).[citation needed] It can also be occasionally found as far north as Ohio.[citation needed]

Behaviour

Hemidactylus turcicus individuals hunting and breathing, observed through a glass window

Mediterranean house geckoes emit a distinctive, high-pitched call somewhat like a squeak or the chirp of a bird, possibly expressing a territorial message. They are voracious predators on moths and small roaches, and are attracted to outdoor lights in search of these prey. Although a calling male decorated cricket (Gryllodes supplicans) may be located safely out of reach in a burrow, female crickets attracted to the male's call can be intercepted and eaten.[6]

Notes

  1. ^ NatureServe (2013). "Hemidactylus turcicus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  2. ^ a b http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/157261/0
  3. ^ Mateus, O. & Jacinto, J.J. (2002): Contribution to the study of Hemidactylus turcicus (Reptilia, Gekkonidae): rhythms of activity and microhabitat in Évora, Portugal. P. 136, in S.P.H. [Sociedade Portuguesa de Herpetologia] & A.H.E. [Associación Herpetológica Española] (coord.) Livro de resumos do VII Congresso Luso-espanhol de Herpetologia / XI Congreso Español de Herpetologia. S.P.H. & A.H.E.. Évora, Portugal.
  4. ^ Boulenger, G. A. (1890) Fauna of British India. Reptilia and Batrachia.
  5. ^ a b http://www.texasinvasives.org/animal_database/detail.php?symbol=17
  6. ^ Matthews, Robert W.; Matthews, Janice R. (2009). Insect Behavior. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 314–319. ISBN 978-90-481-2389-6. 

References

  • Franklin, Carl J. 1997 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus. Herpetological Review 28 (2): 96
  • Burke, Russell L. 1996 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus. Herpetological Review 27 (1): 32
  • Davis, W.K. 1974 The Mediterranean gecko, Hemidactylus turcicus in Texas J. Herpetol. 8(1): 77-80.
  • Dowling, Richard G. 1996 The Mediterranean Gecko, Hemidactylus turcicus, in Prattville, Alabama Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society 21 (11): 203
  • Dundee, H. A. 1984 Hemidactylus turcicus (Mediterranean gecko) Herp Review 15 (1): 20
  • Frick, Michael G. 1997 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus Herpetological Review 28 (1): 50
  • Husak, Jerry F. 1996 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus Herpetological Review 27 (4): 211
  • Jensen, Steve L.;George, Steven G. 1993 Hemidactylus turcicus (Mediterranean gecko). USA: Louisiana Herpetological Review 24 (4): 154
  • Knight, C. Michael 1993 A northern range extension of Hemidactylus turcicus in the United States Dactylus 2 (2): 49-50
  • Means, Ryan C. 1999 Geographic distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus Herpetological Review 30 (1): 52
  • Proudfoot, Glenn;McCoid, Michael James 1996 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus Herpetological Review 27 (2): 87
  • Ray, John;Cochran, Betsy 1997 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus Herpetological Review 28 (3): 157
  • Williams, Avery A. 1997 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus Herpetological Review 28 (2): 96
source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediterranean_Gecko

 

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