The colourful and diverse range of reptiles hidden in the jungles of south and central America...
Plica sp. 'Racerunner Lizard'. Colours described as 'mint chocolate chip' to blend in with lichens and mosses on tree trunks that they run up and down. They are reported to even sleep clinging vertically onto the tree trunk.
Depending on taxonomy, there are five species of Boa. They are a lie-and-wait predator and strike and coil around their prey, cutting off blood circulation to their victim, then swallowing. They are found across the tropical parts of Central and South America.
Boa constrictor, 'Boa Constrictor'. This is one of the few species that has both the same common English name and scientific name. They are thick snakes, growing to a maximum of 4 metres. They have a variety of patterns, usually with a lighter base and including dark stripes, spots and saddles. Along with Boa imperator 'Central American Boa', this species is included in a group known as 'red-tailed Boas'; this describes the stronger and more contrasting colours towards the end of the animal, helping it camouflage in the forest. They feed on amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, the size of the prey getting bigger as the snake grows. Depending on species taxonomy, they are found in a range of habitats across South America, although more commonly associated with rainforest. There is an equivalent species in Central America. It is a common captive animal.
Anacondas include some of the biggest snakes in the world. Female anacondas are larger than males. They release pheromones during the breeding season to attract males; this can result in 'breeding balls', where up to a dozen males have been observed trying to copulate with a single female. The males try to stimulate the female's cloaca with their pelvic spurs to allow mating. The males have to have some patience, as the breeding balls have been recorded to last up to two weeks.
Eunectes murinus, 'Green Anaconda'. The largest of the anacondas. This is the heaviest snake in the world. They are found around freshwater habitats in across tropical South America east of the Andes.
Imantodes cenchoa, 'Blunthead Tree Snake'. With such large eyes and their vertical pupil slits, these snakes reportedly have great vision. Apparently, their eyes make up some 25% of their head! This snake was hanging out of tree when I was canoeing in the backwaters of the Amazon at night. They are found in lower trees in rainforest throughout South & Central America.
Melanosuchus niger, 'Black Caiman'. The largest of the Caimans, growing up to 5 metres; thus it is considered to be the apex predator in lowland Amazonian rainforest.
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