Yellow-Spotted River Turtle

The Yellow-Spotted River Turtle (Podocnemis unifilis) is a freshwater reptile in the Podocnemididae family of river turtles. It is also known as the Yellow-Headed Sideneck Turtle.

The Yellow-Spotted River Turtle has a black or brown oval-shaped carapace (upper shell). It has yellow spots on the side of its head. The spots fade with age. It has a side neck – it bends its head to fit under its shell instead of sticking its head in and out of its shell.

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Does a Lizard Shed its Skin?

Most people know that a snake sheds its skin, but does a lizard shed its skin?

A lizard is a reptile. Reptiles include snakes, lizards, crocodiles, alligators, caimans, turtles, tortoises, and terrapins. Reptiles lay soft-shelled eggs on land.

The Balkan Slow Worm (Pseudopus apodus) is also a reptile. It is not a worm and it is not a snake. It is a legless lizard. It actually has small (almost invisible), undeveloped rear legs, but it does not use its legs for locomotion. It is not a snake because it has eyelids (snakes do not have eyelids). It has a long tail. It is also known as the Pallas’s Glass Lizard, the European Glass Lizard, the Sheltopusik, or the Giant Russian Legless Lizard.

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Tree-Crevice Skink

The Tree-Crevice Skink (Egernia striolata) is a reptile in the Scincidae family of skink lizards. It is a squamate. It is also called the Tree Skink.

The Tree-Crevice Skink has a thick, flattened body with small eyes. It has 26-36 rows of scales. It is dark-black to grey-brown with a pale stripe of scales down its body from its head to its tail. Its underbelly is pale or cream-coloured. It eyes have vertical, narrow pupils.

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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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