Native to the jungles and grassy marshes of Southeast Asia, Burmese pythons are among the largest snakes on Earth. They are capable of reaching 23 feet or more in length and weighing up to 200 pounds with a girth as big as a telephone pole! When young, they will spend much of their time in the trees. However, as they mature and get bigger, they are mainly ground-dwelling. They are also excellent swimmers and can stay submerged for up to 30 minutes before surfacing for air.
Burmese pythons are carnivores, surviving primarily on small mammals and birds. They have poor eyesight, and stalk prey using chemical receptors in their tongues and heat-sensors along their jaws. Burmese Python kill by constricting, grasping a victim with their sharp teeth, coiling their bodies around the animal, and squeezing until it suffocates. They have stretchy ligaments in their jaws that allow them to swallow all their food whole.
Burmese pythons are popular pets in United States because of their attractive color pattern, reputed docility, and the allure of owning a giant snake. However, they grow large quickly and can reach 8 feet within their first year! Unable to handle their giant snakes and unable to find new homes for them, some owner illegally releases them into the wild. Released and escaped Burmese pythons are now breeding in the wild, and their growing numbers may result in dire consequence for native.
They are considered an invasive species, which means that they are not constrained by natural factors (such as predators) to keep their numbers in check. The release of Burmese pythons in South Florida is especially troublesome because the subtropical climate, the vast undisturbed habits of the Everglades and the plentiful prey enable the species to thrive at the expense of native and sometimes endangered species. Pythons’ rapid and widespread invasion is facilitated by their diverse habitat use, broad dietary preferences, long lifespan (15-25 years), high reproductive output, and ability to move long distances.
Red-tailed boa constrictors originate from tropical South and Central America, from Brazil and Columbia all the way north through Mexico. Female boas are larger than males and adults can grow up to 13 feet in length and can weight up to 13 feet in length and can weigh up to 50 pounds! They are mostly brown and gray with red coloring towards their tails, thus the name red-tailed boas. They live in woodlands, semi-arid forests and tropical rain forests. Although they love warm, humid weather, they are nocturnal snakes that spend the hot days lazing about under logs or cooling off in rivers. During cooler nights, they hunt for prey, including small mammals, rodents and lizards. Their jaws are lined with small, hooked teeth for grabbing and holding prey while they wrap their muscular bodies around their victim, squeezing until it suffocates.
Red-Tailed Boas are solitary reptiles, and although excellent swimmers, they prefer to spend their time in hollow logs and abandoned mammal burrows or, being partially arboreal snakes, hanging on low branches. They generally only spend time together during mating, which can take place at any point throughout the year. Females give birth to live babies and can have up to 60 two-foot long babies at a time!
There is something lurking on the banks of the Peconic River… it’s a Gator Invasion! From June to September, right across from the Ancient Reptile Ruins, the banks of the Peconic River at the Long Island Aquarium are visited by huge American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis).
American alligators can be found throughout the Southeastern and Southern United States. Once listed as endangered due to overhunting and habitat loss, American alligators have become more numerous in recent years.
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
The green tree python is a skilled and dangerous predator! Adapted to living up in the trees in the rainforests 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. Though they can grow up to six feet in length, the specimens in our Ancient Reptile Ruins are babies! Additionally, they do not yet have the green coloration that they will when they are adults; instead, they are bright yellow, red and orange!
Monitors are living dragons! Growing several feet in length, monitor lizards are all aggressive, intelligent predators. Mangrove monitors are beautiful specimens from Southeast Asia and one of the few monitor species that has been known to dive deep in saltwater to catch fish. They also feed on eggs of other reptiles and birds and hunt rodents, insects, and other small animals. They have even been known to feed on baby crocodiles!