Creature Feature: Sudan Plated Lizard

Sudan Plated Lizard

Gerrhosaurus major


Reptiles Alive Name: “Major Gary”

Hisssstory: We rescued Major Gary in September 2001 when he became unwanted by his owner.

RA Diet: Gary devours crickets, meal worms, super worms, roaches, earthworms, greens, vegetables, and fruit.

Natural Diet: Wild plated lizards love insects, especially termites, and vegetation.

Range: Africa

Habitat: Semi-arid grasslands around rock piles and especially in and around termite mounds.

Size: Grows 16 to 28 inches.

Lifespan: Plated lizards can live over 20 years.

Reproduction: Plated lizards lay 2-6 eggs that hatch in three to four months. They will often lay eggs in termite mounds where the temperature stays around 85 degrees.

Conservation: Plated lizards are often captured in the wild and then sold as pets, and sadly, most wild pets do not survive.

Cool Facts: Plated lizards are covered in large scales called osteoderms – scales that have bone in them.  Crocodiles and alligators have similar scales.  Osteoderms protect them from the harsh environment and enemies, kind of like a knight wearing armor.  Plated lizards also have huge ears. Can you seem them in the picture above?

Creature Feature: Prehensile Tailed Skink

Prehensile Tail Skink, aka Solomon Island Skink, aka Monkey Tail Skink

Corucia zebrata

Reptiles Alive Name: “Mortimer”


Hissstory: Mortimer belonged to a former Reptiles Alive animal keeper who left for another job and left Morty here  in May 2002.

Zoo Diet: Greens, vegetables, and fruit.

Natural Diet: Leaves,  blossoms, and fruit.

Range: Solomon Islands near Papua New Guinea and Australia.

Habitat: The canopy of old-growth tropical rain forest.

Size: Prehensile tailed skinks are one of the largest skink species in the world!  They can grow 18-24 inches long, most of which is tail.

Lifespan: Prehensile tailed skinks can live over 25 years.

Reproduction: Unlike most lizards, prehensile tailed skinks bear live young and even care for their babies!  They become very protective of the one or two large baby skinks for about a year after giving birth.

Conservation: Prehensile tailed skinks are sometimes eaten by indigenous people, but their biggest problems are the pet trade and habitat destruction.  They are now listed as CITES Appendix II and are  no longer legally imported for the pet trade.

Cool Facts: Prehensile tailed skinks are nocturnal – they come out at night and sleep in the day.  Because of their funny faces and nightime habits, they are sometimes referred to as “Island Gnomes” or ghosts, by the people who live in the Solomon Islands.

Creature Feature: Schneider’s Skink

Schneider’s Skink

Novoeumeces schneideri


Reptiles Alive Name: “Schneider”

Hissstory: Schneider came to live at Reptiles Alive on June 23, 2003 as an unwanted pet.

Zoo Diet: Schneider LOVES to eat super worms, but we also feed him: meal worms, earthworms, roaches, greens, vegetables, and fruit.

Natural Diet: Schneider’s skinks are omnivores, so they eat both meat and plants.  Insects, vegetation, grasses, fruit, berries can all be a part of their diet.

Range: Northwestern Africa to western Asia.

Habitat: Dry grasslands, rocky steppes, semi-desert, and oasis.

Size: Grows 13 – 18 inches.

Lifespan: Lives over 20 years.

Reproduction: Females lay 3-20 eggs under moist sand and coil around them for the 6 weeks of incubation

Conservation: Most Schneider’s skinks found in the pet trade are still wild caught. This means they have been kidnapped out of the wild and sold to pet stores. Many are shipped to the United States in horrible conditions.

Cool Facts: Like many lizards, they can break off their tail when danger threatens. Nerves in the tail will cause it to wiggle on the ground for several minutes after detaching, giving the lizard time to escape. With enough food and time, the lizard can usually grow the tail back. The tail however, does not grow back as long or as flexible as it once was. This makes it more difficult for the lizard to escape in the future.

Creature Feature: Tokay Gecko

Tokay Gecko

Gecko gecko


Reptiles Alive Name: Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon

Hissstory: We received Freddy as an unwanted pet on April 29, 2005.

RA Diet: Crickets, mealworms, earthworms, roaches, and dead mice.

Natural Diet: Anything that moves and is smaller than the gecko.  Tokays will eat birds, snakes, other lizards, insects, frogs – you name and they will eat it!

Range: Tokay geckos naturally occur in Southeast Asia and Malaysia, but they have been Introduced in Florida, Hawaii and many other tropical places around the world.

Habitat: The understory and canopy of tropical rainforests. They can also be found living in cities and even inside of homes in tropical areas.

Size: Tokays can grow to 8 – 10 inches – that is a BIG gecko!

Reproduction: Tokays lay 2-3 sticky eggs in the crevices of tree bark and rocks.

Lifespan: Can live over 50 years.

Conservation: Tokay geckos are important in controlling pests such as cockroaches and locusts.  However, they can also eat small birds, mammals, frogs, and other reptiles, which makes them a potentially damaging invasive species in locations where they have been introduced – such as Hawaii.

Cool Facts: Tokay geckos get their name from the loud “Tow-kay” call they make. Like most geckos, Tokays can walk vertically or even upside down on nearly any surface,  including glass.   They do this by using microscopic scales in the shape of hooks on the bottom of their feet. These scales grab on to microscopic imperfections found on every surface. Scientists are studying gecko feet in order to develop super strong tape, and maybe even gloves and shoes you could wear to walk up a wall.  Just like Spider-man – or GECKO MAN!