Nose-Horned Viper

The Nose-Horned Viper (Vipera ammodytes ammodytes) is a highly venomous reptile in the Viperidae family of viper snakes. It is a viperid. It is also known as the Horned Viper and Western Sand Viper. Scientists think it might be the most dangerous snake in Europe.

The Nose-Horned Viper has a head covered with small, irregular scales that can be smooth or slightly keeled (ridged). It has 10-13 small scales around its eyes. The nasal (nose) scale is large that looks like a horn with 9-17 smaller scales along it, but it is soft and flexible. 

The male has irregular dark-brown, dark-grey, or black markings and a thick black stripe from its eye to its jaw. The male has V-shaped markings on its back like a zig-zag pattern. The female lacks the dark V-shaped markings on its body, and is browner and more bronze-coloured than the male. Its underbelly can be grey, yellowish-brown, or pinkish. Both have a black tongue and golden or copper-coloured eyes.

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Cuvier’s Dwarf Caiman

The Cuvier’s Dwarf Caiman (Paleosuchus palpebrosus) is a reptile in the Alligatoridae family of alligators. It is also known as the Musky Caiman and the Smooth-Fronted Caiman.

The Cuvier’s Dwarf Caiman looks like a small alligator with a broad head and a U-shaped snout (nose). The adult is dark-brown to black, while juveniles are brown with black bands. It has an upturned lip. The upper jaw extends further than the lower jaw. It has strong scales for protection. It has brown eyes with vertical slits.

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Hermann’s Tortoise

The Hermann’s Tortoise (Testudo hermanni) is a small to medium-sized reptile in the Testudinoidea family of land chelonians. It is related to the Greek Tortoise (Testudo graeca). 

The Hermann’s Tortoise has a slightly domed, rounded shell, called a carapace. The carapace is black and pale-yellow with markings, but the colour fades with age, and becomes grey or straw-coloured. Its underbelly shell, called a plastron, is creamy-beige. It has no teeth, but it has a strong, short beak. It has scaly brownish-grey, stumpy legs with five claws. Its back legs are thicker than its front legs. The tip of its tail has a spur (a horny, short spike). 

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Spider Tortoise

The Spider Tortoise (Pyxis arachnoides) is a reptile in the Testudinidae family. It is named after the pattern on its shell. 

The Spider Tortoise has a web-like pattern of yellow lines on its dark-brown carapace (upper shell). It has a dark head with yellow spots. It has a yellow, semi-hinged underbelly – the under shell is called a plastron. It pulls its head into its shell for protection. Its legs and tail are brown. 

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Geoffroy’s Side-Necked Turtle

The Geoffroy’s Side-Necked Turtle (Phrynops geoffroanus) is a freshwater aquatic reptile in the Chelidae family of long-necked turtles. It is a chelonian or a chelid. Chelonians include turtles, tortoises, and terrapins. It is also known as the Geoffroy’s Toadhead Turtle. 

The Geoffroy’s Side-Necked Turtle is black to dark-grey. Its carapace (top shell) is slightly domed. Its tail and legs are grey-brown, and its plastron underbelly (bottom shell) is yellowish. Instead of its neck sticking in and out, it has a side-necked position where it places its head sideways in its shell. It has four sharp claws on its feet. 

The Geoffroy’s Side-Necked Turtle does not have a hinged plastron, so it has to put its head sideways under its shell. But this means that it has a strong neck. When it is upside down, it can flick its muscular neck to right itself – to turn itself the right way up. Other terrapins and tortoises are unable to do this. 

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Madagascar Giant Day Gecko

The Madagascar Giant Day Gecko (Phelsuma madagascariensis or Phelsuma grandis) is a reptile in the Gekkonidae family of gecko lizards.

The Madagascar Giant Day Gecko is bright green with a red stripe from its nostril to each eye. It has red coloured dots or bars on its back. Its underbelly is creamy-white or yellow. It has round pupils (instead of vertical pupils like nocturnal lizards). It has no eyelids, so it keeps its eyes moist and clean by licking them with its long tongue.

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Panther Chameleon

The Panther Chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) is a reptile in the Chamaeleonidae family. 

The male Panther Chameleon can vary in colour from blue to red, green, orange. The female is usually tan and brown with a bit of pink or orange. It has distinctive eyes, with a pin-hole where the pupil is located. Its eyes, with good eyesight, can rotate independently, giving the Panther Chameleon 360 degrees of vision (all around it). It has a very long tongue with a suction-capped tip to catch insects.

It has five toes on each foot, but some are fused together so it looks like it only has two toes on each foot: two together and three together. Its feet act like tongs and can grip branches. Each toe has a sharp claw. 

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RESEARCH: Snakes know how much venom they have and they won’t attack if they don’t have enough

Not all snakes are venomous, but scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Chengdu wanted to know more about venomous snakes.

The researchers studied venomous Sharp-Snouted Pit Vipers (Deinagkistrodon acutus). The New Scientist magazine (22 June 2021) reported the research results.

The aggressive Sharp-Snouted Pit Viper may be able to sense how much venom it has and it won’t attack if it doesn’t have enough venom (poison). 

Previous research indicates that venomous animals, including spiders, scorpions, and snakes, use their venom frugally and carefully because they do not produce a lot of venom. However, previous research did not study the possibility of whether venomous snakes save their venom for specifc situations, such as self-defence.

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CREATURE FEATURE: Green Basilisk Lizard

The Green Basilisk Lizard (Basiliscus plumifrons) is a reptile in the Corytophanidae family of iguana lizards. It is also known as the Plumed Basilisk and the Double Crested Basilisk.

The Green Basilisk Lizard is brilliant green with bright yellow eyes, and small blue spots on the ridge of its back. The male has three crests: one crest on its head, one crest on its back, and one crest on its tail. The female only has the head crest. 

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Viper Horns

The West African Gaboon Viper (Bitis gabonica rhinoceros) is a reptile in the Viperidae family of venomous viper snakes. It is a viperid snake.

The West African Gaboon Viper from Sub-Saharn Africa has a flat, triangular head with a pair of horn-like structures between its nostrils. They are not real horns. They are hard protuberences called rostral horns.

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Great Padloper

The Great Padloper (Homopus femoralis) is a small chelonian reptile in the Testudinidae family of land tortoises.

The Great Padloper Tortoise has a brown domed-shaped shell called a carapace, although it can be reddish-brown or olive-brown. It has darker markings bordering its scutes (scales). As it ages, the dark markings often become thin white lines. The top part of the carapace is slightly flattened. Its pale cream bottom shell is called a plastron. It has a small head and brown eyes. It has four toes on its thick, stumpy legs. 

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How does a Python eat?

How does a Python eat? 

The jaws of a python are not like a human’s jaws. Humans cannot open their mouth very wide, but a python can.

The jaws of a python are extremely flexible because they are not fused together and they are not connected to the back of its mouth. 

A python can open its jaws so wide that it can eat a medium-sized animal whole – such as a deer, antelope, pig, cat, or dog.

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Komodo Dragon’s Tongue

The Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis) is a large reptile in the Varanidae family of monitor lizards. It is an ectotherm varanid. 

The Komodo Dragon has sharp teeth and a long, yellow, deeply-forked tongue. 

It eats invertebrates, birds, and mammals, such as monkeys. It uses venom to kill its prey, because the toxins stop the prey’s wound from clotting. The animal loses blood pressure and lots of blood. The Komodo Dragon takes a bite out of an animal, even a large animal, and the animal dies within a few days. 

The Komodo Dragon can eat a monkey or a deer whole. So, why does it need a long tongue? 

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