Alligator mississippiensisAmerican Alligator

Family

  • Alligatoridae

Lifespan

  • Wild: 30 to 40 years
  • Captivity: 50 to 80 years

Size

  • Length: 9 to 18 feet, with the tail accounting for half the length
  • Weight: The average female ranges from 150 to 300 pounds; The average male ranges from 400 to 600 pounds

Origin

  • Southeastern United States, from North Carolina to Texas, as well as parts of Central America

Habitat

  • Swampy areas, ponds, lakes, sluggish rivers, freshwater, and brackish marshes.

Diet

  • Wild: Insects and fish as well as a variety of reptiles, birds, and mammals
  • Zoo: Frozen thawed large adult mice and enrichment items such as chicken, fish, yams, tomatoes, and frozen thawed rats.

Reproduction

  • Bulls roar loudly to attract a female and to warn off other males because they are very territorial during breeding season.
  • Near the end of courtship, both animals engage in a bout of snout and back rubbing.
  • Alligators are egg-layers and females will lay 20 to 50 eggs in a single clutch per year.
  • The eggs are laid in a nest of mud and rotting vegetation near the water’s edge.
    • Michigan’s climate is too cold for alligator eggs to hatch.
    • Sex is usually determined by the warmth of the eggs during incubation
  • Alligators reach maturity past 6 years of age.

Special AdaptationsAmerican Alligator

  • The alligator has a wonderful camouflage.
    • Young alligators have yellowish bands on their body, but adults are generally gray or black in color.
    • The ears and nostrils have valves that close when the alligator is submerged, and it can remain under water for up to an hour.

Unique Characteristics

  • The alligator has a broad snout and all the teeth in its upper jaw overlap with those in the lower.
  • There are about 80 teeth in those powerful jaws!
    • As teeth wear down or break, a new tooth replaces the old
      • Alligators go through about 2,000 to 3,000 teeth in a lifetime.

Conservation

  • IUCN: Lower Risk
  • CITES: Appendix II
  • The main predator for the American alligator is humans.
    • Hunted for its skin and meat, alligators were once on the brink of extinction.
  • Preservation of wetlands is very important for alligator habitats.
  • The American alligator is a keystone species to the ecosystem, so its preservation is crucial.
  • Conservation efforts have since taken the American alligator from the endangered species list.

What’s the Difference?

Ever wonder the difference between alligators and crocodiles? Alligators have broad heads with short, blunt snouts and their lower teeth fit into the edge of the upper jaw and cannot be seen when the mouth is closed. Crocodiles have a narrow head and a slender snout. Their lower teeth are visible while their mouth is closed.

American Alligator

Sources

  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. www.cites.org
  2. IUCN Red List. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org

 

Anolis carolinensisanole fb1

Family

  • Polychrotidae

Lifespan

  • 2 - 8 years

Size

  • Length: 5 - 8 inches
  • Weight: 3 grams

Origin

  • The green anole is found thoughout much of the southeastern united States, extending north through parts of North Carolina, west to Texas, and south through Florida. It has been introduced to Hawaii, Japan, Cuba, the bahamas, and Guam.

Habitat

  • An arboreal lizard, they like to hide in trees. They are often seen in urban areas as there are lots of places to hide in.

Diet

  • Wild: Small invertebrates such as butterflies, cicadas, juvenile grasshoppers, and flies.
  • Zoo: Freeze-dried fruit flies.

Reproduction

  • The majority of green anoles are polygynous. Especially in larger populations, they usually will mate only within their own territories.
  • To attract the attention of females, males bob their heads up and down and extend their dewlaps.
  • Males protect their mating partners from other intruding males by defending their territory.
  • Unlike other Anolis species, such as Anolis aeneus, green anoles do not leave their hatch sites after breeding.

General Information

  • Green anoles are the only species of anoles native to North America.
  • Recent introductions of invasive species of anoles int he green anoles' range may cause population concerns in the future.
  • The green anole can change its color and is sometimes referred to as the "American Chameleon," although its color changing is not nearly as dramatic or as sophisticated as a true chameleon.

Conservation

  • IUCN: Lower Risk
  • CITES: No Special Status

 

anole port1

Sources

  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. www.cites.org
  2. IUCN Red List. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org
  3. Animal Diversity Web: Anolis carolinesis. animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Anolis_carolinensis

 

Psammobates pardalistarantulacrh legs

Family

  • Theraphosidae

Lifespan

  • Females: 15 years
  • Males: 3 years

Size

  • Length: 4 - 5.5 inches
  • Weight: 2 - 3 oz

Origin

  • Chile and the surrounding countries to the north

Habitat

  • Mostly deserts and scrubland, ranging from coastal lowlands to more mountainous areas (inhabiting low shrubs).
  • Hubidity needs to be high (around 80% and up) and wet sphagnum moss, damp verniculite, or damp orchid bark will accomplish this.
  • 70 - 85°F

Diet

  • Carnivore
  • Wild: Small lizards, young snakes, amphibians, and small mammals such as rodents. Smaller forest dwelling or desert species prey on grasshoppers, beetles, or other spiders.
  • Zoo: 3 - 5 crickets per week. This animal will not overeat, and may be intimidated if offered too many insects at one time. 

Reproduction

  • Mating takes place at various times according to the species, usually in the fall from September to October. After mating, the female may eat the male.
  • The Chilean Rose Hair Tarantula deposits 500 - 1000 eggs once per year wrapped in silk and guard the sack for 6 - 7 weeks.

General Informationtarantulacrh fb

  • There are two basic types of spiders, web spinners and wandering spiders.  Tarantulas are wandering spiders, spending most of their time on the ground, in burrows, under rocks, inside tree hollows, and in other protected places.
  • Most wandering spiders have hairy legs and bodies.  The hair is very sensitive and helps them find their way along the ground locating prey.
  • They have to look for their food, so they require good eyesight.
  • Wandering spiders live on the ground, in burrows, under rocks, inside tree hollows, and in other protected places.
  • They have two claws on each foot and between them is a pad of hair. The claws give them a firm grip for walking on slippery surfaces.
  • Wandering spiders hunt in different ways.  Some stalk insects, some climb trees, and others dig burrows to hide from their prey.  There are also spiders that “fish” for prey, by diving underwater to kill fish, and one that catches prey by spitting on them.
  • Tarantula predators include animals such as coatimundis, raccoons, and skunks; one of their most deadly predators is the spider-hunting wasp which enters the spiders burrow, paralyzes it with its stinger, and drags it back to its nest.

Tarantulas & Humans

  • Spiders are the most important predators of insects; they help keep gardens healthy by protecting plants and controlling insect populations.
  • These are the most docile and easiest to handle group of spiders.
  • All tarantulas are venomous spiders, but do not carry enough venom to kill a person. However, some people may be allergic to their venom, and can be hospitilized. 

 

Fun Facts

 

  • Tarantulas have a resting heart rate of 30-40 beats per minute, however after 30 seconds of activity this may go up to 200 beats per minute.
  • No human is ever known to have died of a tarantula bite.
  • Tarantulas have two pairs of booklungs, while most spiders have only one pair.
  • The largest recorded spider in the world was a tarantula. It was a member of the species Pseudotherathosa apophysis, which had a leg span of almost 13 inches.

 

Conservation

  • IUCN: Not Listed
  • CITES: Not Listed

tarantulacrh udrock

Sources

  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. www.cites.org
  2. IUCN Red List. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org
  3. Chilean Rose Hair Tarantula: Grammostola gala – by Animal World. 
  4. Zoobooks: Spiders. Timothy Levi Biel

 

Psammobates pardalistortoisel port1

Family

  • Testudinidae

Lifespan

  • Wild: 100 years
  • Captivity: 75 years

Size

  • Length: 11- 37 inches long
  • Weight: 30 - 120 lbs

Origin

  • Africa and Ethiopia

Habitat

  • Range from dry arid plains to rassland ecosystems, most live in shrub type habitats.

Diet

  • Wild: Low lying vegetation, berries, and fruits when available.
  • Zoo: Fresh vegetables and fruit daily. During the summer, they have access to an outdoor exhibit and will graze on the fresh grass. 

Reproduction

  • Monogamous
  • They bury their eggs, which have a gestation period of 9 - 12 months.
  • Females can lay 5 - 7 clutches a year.
  • Mothers leave after hatching, causing the hatchlings to be independent immediately.
  • Temperature-dependent births, meaning that the eggs are born male or female depending on the temperature.

General Informationtortoisel 2

  • Some believe that you can determine the age of a tortoise by counting the rings on its shell. However, this is not possible. The rings or scutes are formed during growth periods and leopard tortoises (like all tortoises) may grow at different times and rates during the year.
  • The leopard tortoise is one of the largest mainland tortoises and has an elevated carapace (the top part of the shell) that is tawny, yellow or buff, with brown centers to each scute with black radiations and spots. Because of this pattern, they've been given the name "leopard."
  • The male has a slightly concave plastron near the tail and a longer tail.
  • African Leopard Tortoises, like all tortoises and turtles, cannot come completely out of their shell. Their spine is fused to the underside of the carapace. 

Differences Between a Turtle and a Tortoise

  • Turtles have flat feet with long claws that help them swim, where as tortoises have elephant-like feet to help them walk on land.
  • Some tortoises, like the African leopard tortoise, are so heavy and dense that they cannot swim at all, and will drown in water levels above their head.
  • Turtles generally are more hydrodynamic, meaning they have a flatter shell that is less water resistant. This allows them to swim quickly.

Conservation

  • IUCN: Lower Risk
  • CITES: Appendix II
    • The biggest threat to this species is human beings, which harvest them for food and for illegal export for the pet industry.

tortoisel 3

Sources

  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. www.cites.org
  2. IUCN Red List. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org
  3. Smithsonian National Zoological Park: Leopard Tortoise Fact Sheet. nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/ReptilesAmphibians/Facts/FactSheets/Leopardtortoise.cfm

 

The mission of the Children's Zoo is to be a resource to the Great Lakes Bay Region through recreation, education and conservation.

Zoo Camps 

The Zoo offers one-, two- or three-day zoo camps to fit every schedule and interest. Campers visit different animals in the zoo, talk with keepers and participate in activities geared toward camp themes. 

Event Days 

Theme days are scheduled throughout the zoo season. Theme days include: Reptile Slither, D.E.A.R at the Zoo, Fun on the Farm, and many more. Theme Days give visitors an opportunity to learn more about specific animals and resources in the local area. Visit the event calendar for updates on theme days scheduled. 

Zoo-to-you Outreach 

The Zoo Outreach Program brings live animals and animal artifacts to local classrooms. Each presentation introduces students to some of our animals for an up-close-and-personal glimpse into the animal kingdom.  Look for new and improved programs coming soon.  

Exhibit Signs

When visiting the Zoo be sure to read about all the Zoo animals.  Each exhibit has a sign posted giving information about each of our animals. Exhibit signs include information about an animals diet, natural history, lifespan, habitat, conservation status and some fun facts. 

School Field Trips

Bring your class to the Zoo! The Zoo offers a group rate for registered classes to come to the Zoo and spend the day with the animals. Available now a new self-guided scavenger hunt is available for school field trip groups. 

Zoo Crew

Interested in learning what it takes to work at the Zoo. The Zoo Crew Program allows teenagers ages 13 to 18 a chance to volunteer and learn about all the different jobs at the Children's Zoo. 

Daily Education Programs

Amphitheater shows, keeper talks and demonstrations and animal feedings are all offered daily to Zoo visitors. The visitor has the opportunity to talk with a Zoo keeper and learn more about animals in the Zoo collection. Some daily programs also offer the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the Zoo's animals. 

 

Penguin Silhouette Alligator SilhouetteButterfly Silhouette Donkey SilhouetteTortoise Silhouette Sheep Silhouette