Reptiles Alive Name: Atlas
Hisssstory: Atlas was an unwanted pet that someone released into a Fairfax VA pond. A park naturalist was able to capture the turtle and then transferred it to Reptiles Alive.
RA Diet: Atlas eats a diet of crickets, superworms, earthworms, and special zoo turtle pellet food.
Natural Diet: In the wild, false map turtles will eat a variety of aquatic insects, mollusks, and fish.
Range: False map turtles range all along the Mississippi river and its tributaries in the mid-western United States.
Habitat: False map turtles prefer rivers and streams with a current and plenty of vegetation to hide in and fallen logs to bask on.
Size: Male map turtles grow to around 6 inches in length. Females grow larger, up to 12 inches long.
Lifespan: False map turtles can live 35 years or more.
Reproduction: False map turtle mate twice a year in spring and then again in fall. Males wiggle their front feet to get the female’s attention. Clutches of 8-22 eggs are laid in burrows dug by the females in sandy soil. Like many reptiles, the temperature at which the eggs are incubated determines if the baby turtles will be male or female.
Conservation Issues: Although false map turtles are not currently listed as threatened, their populations are subject to the same threats as other aquatic species including water pollution and habitat destruction,
Cool Facts: False map turtles belong to the same genus Graptemys as all other map turtles, so their is nothing false about calling them a map turtle. Map turtles are also known sawback turtles because of the pointy protrusions along the back of their shell.
Kenyan Sand Boa
Eryx colubrinus loveridgei
Reptiles Alive Name: “Tremors”
Hissstory: A friend of Caroline’s donated Tremors to Reptiles Alive in March of 1997.
Natural Diet: Sand boas eat small mammals and lizards. When food is scarce, sand boas may live over a year without any food at all.
Range: Kenyan sand boas are found in Northeast Africa.
Habitat: Sand boas are found in hot, dry deserts.
Size: Sand boas are some of the smallest boa species on Earth. They typically grow only 1-2 feet long.
Reproduction: Sand boas give live birth to 7-10 young after a gestation period of about four months.
Lifespan: Sand boas can live over 15 years. Tremors was born in 1997 – and he is still in great shape!
Cool Facts: The eyes and nostrils of the sand boa are on the top of the head so they can breath and search the surface for prey while the rest of their body lies hidden beneath the sand.
Giant Madagascar Hognose Snake
Reptiles Alive Name: “Mr. Leo Heterodon”
Hissstory: Mr. Leo was a pet in Chincoteague, VA until his owner did not want him anymore. He was sent to a reptile rescue group in western Virginia where, in 2002, we adopted him.
RA Diet: Mr. Leo loves to dine on frozen and then defrosted medium to large sized rats. Delicioussssssssssss!
Natural Diet: Madagascar hognose snakes in the wild will eat small mammals, amphibians, and possibly small birds.
Habitat: Madagascar hognose snakes are found in mountain forests at low altitudes, coastal areas, and grasslands often near water and human habitation. They spend most of their time hiding in shallow burrows or rocky crevices.
Size: Madagascar hognose snakes can grow over 5 feet long and are very heavy-bodied.
Life Span: Madagascar hognose snakes can live over 20 years.
Reproduction: The females snakes lay 6-12 eggs. The young hatch in 60-80 days and are about 12 inches long.
Conservation: Habitat loss is a major threat to most animals found in Madagascar.
Cool Facts: Giant Madagascar hognose snakes are opistoglyphous, which means they have fangs in the back of their mouth. Their mild venom is not dangerous to humans, but it helps them catch their prey. When Madagascar hognose snakes are threatened, they hiss loudly and can flatten their neck – like a cobra!