Tuesday, February 07, 2012
The Program Reptiles
They are part of the program animal team. Often looked upon as sidekicks as they are often teamed up with the “glamour” animals, the mammals and birds, during presentations, these critters are quite interesting in their own right. They’re scaly, slithery and even slimy looking. They are the Program Reptiles of the Aquarium of the Pacific. And here are some of them.
You often see these reptiles during an animal presentation in front of the Molina Animal Care Center. They are a great representation of the diversity of wildlife and great ambassadors for their species. They are called by such names as skink, chuckwalla, rosy boa, and iguana. As a husbandry volunteer I know them by the names of Bruce, Lloyd, Rex, and Iggy.
Bruce the Blue-tongued Skink
When I first met Bruce all I knew about him was that he was a skink. While watching him one day I thought I had caught a hint of blue briefly at his mouth. What was that? I thought to myself. As I watched further I discovered that his tongue was blue! Talking with one of the program animal staff I asked, “What is the skink with the blue tongue called?” “The blue-tongued skink?” was the reply that I thought I heard. “Yes”, I said. “the skink with the blue tongue. What’s it called?” It’s called a “BLUE-TONGUED SKINK” was the reply, said with a hint of amusement at my naiveness. Gotta like an animal whose name actually describes what they look like. Skinks get confused with amphibians because of their sleek, almost slimy looking skin. But they are reptiles.
Lloyd the Chuckwalla
As unfamiliar as I was with skinks during my initial encounter with Bruce, when it came to my first meeting with Lloyd I was in familiar territory. During a zoology class in college I was introduced to and studied the species of lizard known as chuckwallas. I am as comfortable with Lloyd the chuckwalla as I am with any of the sea lions or otters that I normally work with. A native of the local deserts, chuckwallas look like they run around wearing inflatable life jackets with loose skin around their bodies. They can inflate that jacket of skin but it’s not for staying afloat in water. It’s actually used to wedge themselves in rock crevices so that predators can’t pull them out.
Rex the Rosy Boa
Rex is a snake. A real cool snake. In fact he is the most calm and laid back snake I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen him get nervous or antsy during a presentation. He seems to have the attitude of “I know I’m good looking so go ahead and enjoy my presence when I’m out here with you”. He’s the perfect presentation animal and a crowd pleaser.
Iggy the Green Iguana
The best description I have for Iggy the Iguana is “Mini-Godzilla”. He has all the attributes a kid could love. He’s big. He’s green. He has menacing claws. He reminds you of what a dinosaur would look if you ever ran into one in person. And to me he looks like he came right out of a 1950’s Toho movie set.
Amongst the Aquarium’s reptiles there are also Matches the bearded dragon, Borrego the desert tortoise, Elvis the king snake and Harry the chuckwalla. Perhaps at a later date I’ll tell you about them.
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