Ancient Reptile Ruins

Overgrown and forgotten, this ancient Atlantean marketplace now provides a home to some of the most interesting reptiles on Earth! The abandoned storefronts come alive with snakes, lizards and dragons! Come and check out some of our newest reptile inhabitants:

Green Tree Python
Morelia viridis
The green tree python is a skilled and dangerous predator that can grow to up to six feet in length! Adapted to living up in the trees in the rain forests of Southeast Asia, these snakes sit and wait for small mammals and reptiles to wander close enough for them to strike. They lack venom and use constriction to kill their prey.

Salvator merianae

Tegus are lizards, native to South America. They are resourceful and live in a variety of different habitats, including rain forests, savannahs and deserts. They are omnivores, feeding on both plant material (such as seeds and fruits) and animals (such as insects, spiders, snakes, and small rodents). Despite their huge size, they are generally very gentle if handled regularly as pets, though they can be aggressive and have a powerful bite! Their bite is stronger than some small crocodilians!

Green Iguana
Iguana iguana

Habitat Green iguanas are arboreal (meaning they tend to like living up in trees and forest canopies), active during the day, and usually found near water. Iguanas are herbivores, feeding mostly on plant matter, and as such, they are presented with a special problem: salt. Since plant matter has a high salt content and iguanas must eat a lot to meet their energy needs, the lizards are in danger of a deadly, internal water imbalance. Fortunately, they have two salt glands within their two prominent nostrils, which they use to sneeze out excess salt!

Green Aracari
Pteroglossus viridis

The Green Aracari gets its name from the beautiful green feathers covering its back. At just over a foot long and weighing less than half a pound, these birds are some of the smallest members of the toucan family. Interestingly, in spite of their small size, their beaks can be nearly half as long as their body! You can tell a lot about a bird based on its beak! Green Aracaris use their large, serrated beaks to grab and tear through fruit, which comprises the majority of the bird’s diet. However, these beaks can serve other functions, as well. They often use them as tools to excavate tree cavities for nest building and can be tapped on rocks or trees as a warning to predators. These birds come from the tropical rain forests of northern South America. Males have black heads and females have reddish brown heads.

Did you know that many of the reptiles that call Long Island Aquarium home were donations from people who previously had them as pets?  Many of these species like the Green Iguana and Argentine Tegu that you can see in the reptile ruins simply get too big or have specific needs and requirements that many are not able to provide for long term.  It is important to make sure research is done before looking to acquire a pet to be sure that it will be a good match for you and your lifestyle.  Please understand that Long Island Aquarium cannot always accept animal donations.

Sometimes when people get overwhelmed, they may choose to release them.  PLEASE NOTE YOU SHOULD NEVER RELEASE YOUR PET.  Places like Long Island many of these pets will not survive the winters.  However, in places that have warmer year-round temperatures the animals can thrive.  These animals then become an invasive species and compete with native animals for their environment, shelter, and food sources.

Examples of this is in the Florida everglades where nonnative Iguanas, Tegu’s and Burmese Pythons thrive, but cause a lot of destruction to the environment.

Iguanas are herbivorous and can destroy both native and landscape plants.  They tend to like plants with flowers and non-citrus fruits.  They are then outcompeting some native animals that feed on similar plant matter, like the native but endangered Miami Blue Butterfly.

Tegus are omnivorous animals that in Florida have been documented eating many native species.  They will eat eggs and have been found eating Alligator eggs and disrupting Crocodile nests.  Deceased animals have even been found with young Gopher Tortoises in their stomachs, which is a native and threatened species in Florida.  With their ability to have many offspring in a single clutch of eggs they are a huge treat to the Florida ecosystems.

Burmese Pythons are quite possibly one of the biggest threats to the native wildlife of the Florida Everglades.  These snakes are one of the largest species and can reach a size of 18 feet in length.  At this size they are known to eat large prey such as alligators, white tailed deer, and bobcats.  Studies have been done and have linked the decline of mammals in the Florida everglades to the Burmese Pythons.  They are also known to prey upon threatened species such as wood storks!  Not only do these pythons feed on the native wildlife, the outcompete the native wildlife for food, space, and shelters.  Like the Tegu these snakes can produce at an alarming rate.  Although the average clutch of eggs produced by the Burmese pythons is around 35, large females can lay upwards of 100 eggs in a single clutch!

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