Snakes In The Cliff

Want to check out the biggest snakes in Dallas? We’re not talking about a trip to City Hall, but rather a visit to one of Oak Cliff’s own gems, the Dallas Zoo.

Billed as one of the premier reptile and amphibian collections in the United States, the reptile house at the Dallas Zoo is a great place to escape the heat and check out some truly amazing and sometimes bizarre sights.

Whether you are a kid, or just a kid-at-heart, the reptile house always delights and fascinates. Finding yourself eye-to-eye with a venomous pit viper, separated by a seemingly invisible pane of glass, can send a shiver up even the most macho spine. There is something about snakes and lizards that give them the ability to simultaneously repulse and attract your attention.

Gila Monsters

Habitat: Deserts, wooded areas, near washes where they have access to water or damp soil. Active at night during warm months; active during day in cool spring months
Terrestrial: lives on land
Size: adults average 12 to 15 inches in length
Diet: Small animals, birds and their eggs
Reproductive Habit: egg-laying

– This and the related Mexican Beaded Lizard are the only known venomous lizards in the world
– Bites have caused fatalities but are not usually life threatening
– Research suggests they are active only 60 days of the year
– Venom is injected by chewing

Green Tree Skink

Habitat: From grasslands to coconut groves to forests and forest edges

Diurnal: active during the day
Terrestrial and arboreal
Size: adults average 8 inches in length
Diet: insects
Reproductive Habit: egg-laying

– Can be found in Indonesia, the Philippines, New Guinea to Micronesia
– Although it primarily consumes insects, it sometimes feeds on fruit
– Its tail may break off during a predator attack but will grow a new one like many other species of lizards

Burmese Python

Habitat: Grasslands, swamps, marshes, rocky foothills, woodlands, jungle and river valleys
Nocturnal: active during the night
Terrestrial: lives on land, but smaller specimens will venture into trees to search for prey
Size: adults average 14 to 20 feet
Diet: Mammals and birds
Reproductive Habit: egg-laying

– City of Dallas prohibits the ownership of any constricting snake, regardless of size.
– Can be found in northeastern India east through southern China and south through the Malay Peninsula and East Indies.
– It is the 3rd largest snake species in the world.
– It can lay up to 100 eggs, but averages 40.

Crocodile Monitor

Habitat: Rainforests and adjacent savannas
Diurnal: active during the day
Arboreal: lives in trees
Size: adults grow up to 12 feet
Diet: Birds and their eggs, small mammals
Reproductive Habit: egg-laying

– Although the Komodo Dragon is the most massive lizard in the world, the Crocodile Monitor is the longest. Its tail makes up at least half its body length and is especially adapted for balance.
– Can be found in Papua New Guinea
– They are fantastic climbers and live the majority of their lives in the canopy of trees
– Very little is known to science about its natural history
– Natives of Papua New Guinea call it “Artrellia” which means “dragon”

The Collection
• Bird and reptile building opened in 1967
• Currently houses more than 300 species with a significant number being priority or endangered
• Maintains one of the largest collections of venomous snakes in the U.S.

Awards
• Received two of the coveted Edward H. Bean Award (recognizes the rarest birth occurring during a given year)
• Most notable hatching of the Bismarck Ringed Python (1979)
• Captive propagation of the Bushmaster (1988)
• Received more than 28 breeding awards from the American Zoo and Aquarium Association

Publications
• Over the past 20 years, the department authored more than 200 scientific papers published in a variety of journals including:
• British Journal of Herpetology
• Copeia
• Herpetologica
• Herpetological Review
• Journal of Herpetology
• Zoo Biology

 


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