Friday, February 5, 2016

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Relaxed Rear View

The back end of pure relaxation in my happy place.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

My Cousin: The Mata Mata Turtle

First thought: what the heck is that? I'd say one of the more mysterious and bizarre species.

The Mata Mata Turtle is a fresh water turtle found in South America, primarily in the Amazon and Orinoco basins. These are large, sedentary, brown or black turtles that sport a large triangular flattened head characterized with many tubercles and flaps of skin and a "horn" on its long and tubular snout. There are three barbels on the chin and four additional barbels at the upper jaw, which is neither hooked nor notched. These features may be meant to allow the turtle to resemble a piece of bark, with the head resembling fallen leaves, camouflaging it from possible predators.

LOOK at this creature!!!
This sneaky guy blends into surrounding vegetation until its prey comes close. The mata mata thrusts out its head and opens its large mouth as wide as possible, creating a low-pressure vacuum that sucks the prey into its mouth, known as suction feeding. The mata mata snaps its mouth shut, the water is slowly expelled, and the fish is swallowed whole; the mata mata cannot chew due to the way its mouth is constructed. The mata mata is carnivorous, feeding exclusively upon aquatic invertebrates and fish.

This species grow quite large, is slow-moving and prefers shallow water. They have wide mouths that occupy the entire front of the face, often appear smiling, and extraordinarily long necks. Since they can grow to 18 inches long, their size doubles when the neck is extended.

As with all aquatic turtles, water quality is one of the keys to keeping this species successfully in captivity.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Freak Show is Back!

This Mata Mata beauty is serving up a big smile just for you!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Happy McGee

Yep, I'm all smiles.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Alone Again

Naturally. Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My Cousin: The Australian Snake Neck Turtle

The Australian Snake-necked Turtle is typically found in swamps, lakes, slow moving waterways, creeks and billabongs in southeastern and eastern Australia. This species may migrate overland during the summer months (December to February in Australia) and they are often found wandering on overcast days during this time.

The carapace may reach up to 12 inches in length. These are the most commonly kept turtle in eastern Australia; it is generally shy but wil adapt quickly into captivity and is the easiest of all Australian species to maintain. Newly captured specimens will musk, emitting a strong smelling liquid as a means of defense. This, however, ceases as they settle into captivity.

Their diet in the wild includes frogs, tadpoles, small fish and crustaceans. In captivity they will feed on vitamin supplemented raw meat, small mice, fish, and dry puppy chow. They will also even accept canned dog food.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Friday, December 18, 2015

Monday, December 14, 2015

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Giant Leatherback Lays Eggs

A rare sight in South Africa indeed.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Jumbo Snapper

Check out this giant alligator snapper turtle that Coyote Peterson discovers in Florida:

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

My Cousin: The Leatherback Sea Turtle

Leatherbacks are the largest turtles on Earth, growing up to seven feet  long and exceeding 2,000 pounds. These reptilian relics are the only remaining representatives of a family of turtles that traces its evolutionary roots back more than 100 million years. Once prevalent in every ocean except the Arctic and Antarctic, the leatherback population is rapidly declining in many parts of the world.
While all other sea turtles have hard, bony shells, the inky-blue carapace of the leatherback is somewhat flexible and almost rubbery to the touch. Ridges along the carapace help give it a more hydrodynamic structure. Leatherbacks can dive to depths of 4,200 feet — deeper than any other turtle—and can stay down for up to 85 minutes.

Unlike their reptilian relatives, leatherbacks are able to maintain warm body temperatures in cold water by using a unique set of adaptations that allows them to both generate and retain body heat. These adaptations include large body size, changes in swimming activity and blood flow, and a thick layer of fat.

Leatherbacks undertake the longest migrations between breeding and feeding areas of any sea turtle, averaging 3,700 miles each way. After mating at sea, females come ashore during the breeding season to nest. The nighttime ritual involves excavating a hole in the sand, depositing around 80 eggs, filling the nest, leaving a large, disturbed area of sand that makes detection by predators difficult, and finally returning to the sea.

 It is estimated that only about one in a thousand leatherback hatchlings survive to adulthood. Eggs are often taken by humans from nests to be consumed for subsistence or as aphrodisiacs. Many leatherbacks fall victim to fishing lines and nets, or are struck by boats. Leatherbacks also can die if they ingest floating plastic debris mistaken for their favorite food: jellyfish.

Leatherbacks are currently designated as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The number of leatherbacks in the Atlantic appears to be stable or increasing, but the Pacific population is declining at an alarming rate due to egg harvest, fishery bycatch, coastal development, and highly variable food availability. Some Pacific populations have disappeared entirely from certain areas, such as Malaysia.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Saturday, November 14, 2015

My Cousin: The Speckled Cape Tortoise

The Speckled Cape Tortoise, known locally as the speckled padloper, and internationally as the speckled cape tortoise, is the world's smallest tortoise. A member of the genus Homopus, it is endemic to South Africa and Southern Namibia.

Naturally restricted to a small area in Little Namaqualand, an arid region in the west of South Africa, here it normally lives on rocky outcrops, where it forages among the rocks for the tiny succulent plants it eats.

Males measure 2.5 to 3 inches, while the larger females measure up to almost 4 inches; they weigh about 3.5 – 6 oz. This species has a flattened shell with slightly serrated edges. The orange-brown shell is covered in hundreds of black spots. The males have a noticeably concave belly.

This tiny tortoise can be distinguished from the other Homopus species by its speckles, and by five toes on its forefeet, unlike many of its relatives, which have four toes, on all four feet.

The species is threatened by traffic on roads, habitat destruction and poaching for the pet trade. Many are taken from their natural habitat each year, and nearly all subsequently die as a result, as they do not readily adapt to typical captive diets and climatic change.

However,  their diet (while very varied) is not highly specialized, which would allow the species to adapt well to captivity, provided that proper attention is paid to temperature, dryness and a sufficiently varied diet.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Giant Leatherback Goes Home

The videos show her going from her nest until she disappears into the Atlantic Ocean on Crescent Beach, Florida. The leatherback is the largest, deepest diving, and most migratory and wide ranging of all sea turtles. The adult leatherback can reach 4 to 8 feet in length and 500 to 2000 pounds in weight.