croctober

Dwarf Crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis)

Dwarf Crocodile
photo by wikiuser Thesupermat

Common Name:  Dwarf Crocodile and Broad-snouted Crocodile
Scientific Name: Osteolaemus tetraspis
Family: Crocodylidae – Crocodile family
Locations: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic; Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoirej, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo
Size: 4.9 feet (1.5 m)

The Dwarf Crocodile is the smallest living crocodile (Cuvier’s Dwarf Caiman (Paleosuchus palpebrosus) is the smallest living crocodilian). They are primarily nocturnal, spending the day hiding in pools or burrows. Their diet mostly consists of invertebrates such as crabs and gastropods. Other part of their diet is filled with frogs and fish. It is reported that they can live to 100 years old.

The crocodile lives in the tropical rain forests and swamps of western Africa. Females lay 10 – 14 eggs early in the wet season (May to June) on mounds they build. Then, the females will stay there to protect their offspring.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List assesses the Dwarf Crocodile as Vulnerable to Extinction. They are over harvested for food and leather. Some areas of the range is threatened by deforestation.

croctober

Chinese Alligator (Alligator sinensis)

Chinese Alligator
photo by J. Patrick Fischer

Common Name: Chinese Alligator or Yangtze Alligator
Scientific Name: Alligator sinensis
Family: Alligatoridae – Alligator family
Locations: China
Size: 5 – 7 feet (1.5 – 2.1 meters)

The Chinese Alligator lives in slow moving, fresh water streams, rivers, lakes, swamps, and canals of the lower Yangtze River. While this might make you think it spends its summer days floating in the water, and soaking up the sun, the gator spends a lot of its time in its underground burrows. However, these aren’t your regular underground burrows, they have pools inside of them.

The Chinese Alligator is one of the two living species of the genus Alligator, the other being the American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). The Chinese Alligator is smaller than the American, has more of an upturn snout, and bone-stomach plates called osteoderms.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List assesses the Chinese Alligator as Critically Endangered. There is thought to be less than 100 mature individuals of the species left in the wild. How did this happen? First, in the past, the crocodile has been hunted a lot, like a lot. Next, lets destroy most of its habitat and pollute it. Amazing, impressive, wow no wonder why its critically endangered. Thanks China!

croctober

CROCtober 2023

Welcome to Croctober 2023! Get ready to embark on a thrilling journey into the world of one of nature’s most formidable and fascinating creatures: the crocodile (and other crocodilians). Throughout this month, we’ll be diving deep into the depths of these ancient reptiles, uncovering their secrets, and celebrating their remarkable existence.

croctober

Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus)

Nile Crocodile
photo by flickr / wikiuser dewet

Common Name: Nile Crocodile
Scientific Name: Crocodylus niloticus
Family: Crocodylidae – Crocodile Family
Locations: Angola, Botswana, Burund, Cameroon, Congo, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe
Size: 16 – 20 feet (4.8 – 6 meters), 500 – 1,650 pounds (227 – 750 kilograms)

The Nile Crocodile lives not just by the Nile River but throughout most of Africa. The croc can live in salt water but prefers fresh or brackish waters. The males of the species are larger than the females, typical for crocodilians. They are apex predators. They are also considered the second largest living reptile by body mass.

During the mating season, the male crocodiles try to attract the females by bellowing, blowing air out of their nose, or smacking their snout on the water. Honestly, pretty much anything to get the females attention. Males can fight between themselves over territory. I won’t go into the details on the mating but its not great for the female.

One to two months later, the female lays between 25 – 80 eggs in a nest that she made. She needs no man.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List assesses the Nile Crocodile as Least Concern for Extinction. The crocodile has a wide range and are numerous throughout it.

Uncategorized

Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)

Saltwater Crocodile
photo by flickr user fvanrenterghem

Common Name: Saltwater Crocodile or Salties
Scientific Name: Crocodylus porosus
Family: Crocodylidae – Crocodile family
Locations: Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vanuatu, and Vietnam
Size: 17 – 23 feet (5.1 – 7 meters)

The Saltwater Crocodile is the largest living crocodile species in the world. These crocodiles can reach 23 feet and over 2,200 pounds! They received their name due to their resistance to saltwater. Most crocodiles only enter the saltwater in emergencies while the Saltwater Crocodile just lives there. They are capable of living over 70 years in the wild and longer in captivity.

Saltwater Crocodile Reproduction

The Saltwater Crocodile breeds during the wet season when the water levels are the highest. The females select a nesting site where she and a male eventually mates. The male is a dead beat dad and doesn’t provide any care for his offspring. He leaves the mom and tries to find more potential mates. The female crocodile shows a high amount of parental care.

The mother guards her nest of eggs, even splashing water on the eggs to help prevent them from drying up. The eggs take 3 months to hatch. The sex of the offspring depend on the incubation temperature. Temperatures below 86 ºF (30 ºC) result in females. Meanwhile, temperatures above 89 ºF (32 ºC) results in male offspring. Once the eggs hatch, the female digs out the babies and carries them to the water in her mouth. Then, she protects the babies until they are able to take care of themselves. What a mom!

Salt Water Crocodile
photo by Richard Fisher

Conservation

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Saltwater Crocodile as Least Concern for Extinction. They have a fairly large range but the destruction of potential nesting sites is a concern. Another threat is hunting of the crocs for their pelts and meat. These threats are rather low though.

Herper of the week

Herper of the Week: Caroline Dong

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The goal of Herper of the Week is to highlight people from all walks of life who work with reptiles and amphibians and show their work to others. This week’s Herper of the Week is Caroline Dong, Ph.D candidate at  Stuart-Fox lab at The University of Melbourne. She completed her Master of Science in Zoology at The University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2015 and her Bachelor of Science in Biology at Saint Louis University in 2012.

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Painted Turtle

Her interest in reptiles began because she had a pet Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta) as a child. This lead to a fascination with fresh water turtles, where she undertook a senior research project on Painted Turtles physiology and then went on to do her Master’s project on Asian Softshell turtle population genetics.

When it came time to start her Ph.D, she thought about what really interested her about in Painted Turtles in the first place and she realized it was the function and evolution of coloration in animals. She came across a posting for a Ph.D student to study the coloration of the Tawny Dragon and boom, she applied and moved off to Australia. Her research examines patterns of speciation and secondary contact, particularly the contribution of animal coloration to reproductive isolation and divergence in a contact zone between two distinct lineages of tawny dragon.

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Tawny Dragon

Her advice to future herpers is to get outdoors and observe the natural world. Simple observations in the field can lead to great research discoveries. It’s essential to understand the context in which the animal exists in the wild in order to formulate hypotheses and draw conclusions in any area of biology (e.g. ecology, genetics, behavior, etc).

You can visit her website at https://www.carolinedong.com/

You can follow her on twitter @colorfulagamids 

 

 

Articles

The Hate on Keeping Reptiles and Amphibians as Pets

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Pet owners of reptiles and amphibians are often criticized for their love of their animals. TV and movies often show people who own herps (reptiles and amphibians) as weird and strange. Articles are often posted about how reptiles and amphibians shouldn’t be kept as pets.  There’s so much hate and dislike for these wonderful creatures. I’m going to go over some of the benefits of owning herps.

Herps, especially snakes, are often feared and hated by the general public. This hate and fear can have serious consequences for the animals. There are festivals where they round up snakes and kill them. People try to kill all the snakes that they encounter which is the #1 cause of being bitten in the United States. Herp owners often try to change this attitude. Many owners are part of groups that do public events to try to show the positive signs of herps and to change people’s mind.

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Having a pet herp can also inspire people to help animals. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life until I received some fire bellied toads. After feeding them and watching them, I learned what I wanted to do: save frogs. Many other scientists and conservationists have similar stories.

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Skylar, one of the original Fire Bellied Toads

Reptiles can be therapy animals and better than cats or dogs for some people. Reptiles don’t show emotions, like cats or dogs, which is better for some people. Some people are also allergic to cats and dogs but not reptiles. Reptiles are also less active than a dog so you don’t have to take it on a walk.

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Bearded Dragons are great therapy animals

One common arguments that people make against having a herp as a pet is that they are a common invasive species. Common herp pets such as Burmese Pythons, Cane Toads, and tegus are all invasive species in Florida (and elsewhere). These species are to blame for problems but are they worse than more common pets? It is estimated that cats kill over a million birds per day in Australia. That is an insane number for one country. Cats are maybe one of the worst mammal invasive species on the planet. Dogs are also considered an invasive species. Fish are huge problems. People release their fish from their aquariums all the time. Goldfish are found in many water bodies around the world now and these fish can grow BIG. There are more examples but I think I made my point. I don’t think we should blame herps when it’s all pets that are invasive.

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DO NOT RELEASE YOUR GOLD FISH

I will admit, there are problems with the herp pet trade. Some breeders keep their animals in terrible conditions. Some stores sell malnourished or sick animals. Animals are removed from the wild, even ones that are low in numbers. These imported animals could be spreading diseases such as Chytrid Fungus. We need to fix these problems. Better regulations need to be put in place.

 

Herper of the week

Herper of the Week: David Steen Ph.D

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The goal of Herper of the Week is to highlight people from all walks of life who work with reptiles and amphibians and show their work to others. This week’s Herper of the Week is David Steen Ph.D. Steen is an assistant research professor at Auburn University. He obtained his Ph.D from Auburn too.

David Steen’s research focuses on restoring habitat for reptiles and trying to have reptiles and people can coexist. One project he is currently working on is the re-introduction of the Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi) in the Conecuh National Forest in Alabama.

David Steen has been named the best biologist on twitter by Slate.com. His science communication work is amazing. He helps identify snakes especially helping people tell the difference between Copperheads (venomous snake) and non-venomous snakes (#notacopperhead).

You can follow him on various social media accounts.

https://www.facebook.com/LivingAlongsideWildlife/
http://www.livingalongsidewildlife.com/
https://davidasteen.com/
@AlongsideWild

You can help him out by becoming a patron of him