Posts Tagged 'reptiles'

Autotomy

Lizards can shed their tails to escape predators, including the two-legged kind. This is called autotomy (“self-severing” or self amputation): reptiles, amphibians, spiders, mollusks, even some mammals have various forms of it. The lizard tail situation is probably the best known manifestation of this adaption.

There will be some regeneration, as you can see here, but not quite as perfect as the original.

When I was ten-ish, we lived north of Naples, Italy. The place, a Sixth Fleet suburb called Parco Azzuro, was terraced up a hillside. There was a tufa retaining wall on one side of the property dropping down to the road. This is where we saw most of the local lizards. Something about a wall doth a lizard love. (In fact, the NYC lizards pictured here, Podarcis sicula are also known as Italian Wall Lizards and originated in the Mediterranean region.) Trying to catch them meant I came away with still-twitching tails several times. One lives and learns. I suppose that is what is so wonderful about us a species. The countervailing tendency is to hunker down and endlessly repeat initial errors. That’s another human characteristic, rather less laudatory. And a good description of the bunkered politics of roughly a quarter of the population. Low-information partisans fortified by the conspiracies and bigotries of Fox and it’s even more grotesque familiars InfoWars, Limbaugh, and the like, are unquestionably the enemies of democracy.  These crazies have never been more powerful.

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Someone asked if this blog’s fundraiser was still open: it is.

Whose Woods?

In Sweden, the woods belong to the red wood ants (Formica). They build large mounds, are essential forest managers, and aren’t afraid of taking on bigger critters.A young Kopparödla or Slowworm (Anguis fragilis) is being taken down. (Movie)
Duncan takes a closer look at one of the mounds. This was the last we saw of him…

Pond Life and Death

The Snappers Are Restless

One of the gigantic Chelydra serpentina of Brooklyn.Another? There were at least two big ones in this pond. But note the difference in leech positions.

By the way, just look at all the parasitic life-forms latched onto this one’s head and neck! Crowd-sourcing these pictures to Twitter, I found some suggestions that these were Placobdella parasitica and P. ornata, a.k.a. the turtle leech.

Garters

Does this snake have a head at both ends?Eastern Garter Snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis).And another. Great Swamp NWR. I wanted to turn these into Ribbon Snakes. They were, after all, on tiny islands in the swamp. But look at the black marks on the sides of their faces. Ribbon Snakes, which are in the same genus, don’t have those. Compare my examples with this image of a Ribbon from the VA Herpetological Society.

Yellowbelly

On a 40F day, a single turtle is observed on the edge of the Sylvan Water. What’s this, though? Not a Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), by far the most common turtle across the city. I once counted 70 basking along the Lullwater in Prospect Park.

This is a Yellow-bellied Slider (Trachemys scripta scripta). As their binomials, which are actually trinomials, suggest, they’re the same species. Both sliders are native to the southeast. The pet trade has spread them all over.

Please don’t get a turtle for a pet. It’s a wild animal. It shouldn’t be captive. I don’t think it matters that they’re bred for the trade: nobody should be making a profit off of them. Also, those shitballs on the sidewalk who sell them when they’re under 4″ are illegal animal traders, so report them.

So many of these impulse buys are then disposed of, if the turtles are lucky, in local fresh water far from their native region by irresponsible fools. It’s a great way to spread disease and screws the turtles who are supposed to be here. What the fuck is wrong with people who do this kind of thing?

Make Your Own Metaphors

Turtle with a leech latched onto its…brain? Some people say the Senator from Oligarchy, Mitch McConnell, whose career is based on an infusion of foreign cash, looks like a turtle. I wouldn’t want to insult a turtle with that comparison. But the miserable old cynic sure acts like a leech on democracy… so there’s that.


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