A wide diversity of adopted & rescued reptiles call Animal Embassy home. Most are former exotic pets whose families could no longer care for them. We provide a nurturing and nourishing home for these animals, while incorporating them into our educational outreach programming. Keep reading to learn more about a few of our most interesting & beautiful Animal Ambassadors!
The Green Iguana (Iguana iguana) is a large, arboreal, mostly herbivorous species of lizard native to Central, South America, and the Caribbean. The Green Iguana is a popular exotic pet; families often purchase this species for a child and later cannot devote the time necessary for its care. As such, there is a need for adoptive homes for many of these creatures.
Due to a combination of events, this stunning creature is considered an invasive species in South Florida. The original small populations in the Florida Keys were animals that were stowaways on ships carrying fruit from South America. Over the years, other iguanas were introduced into the wild mostly originating through the pet trade - some escaped homes and some were intentionally released by their owners. These iguanas survived and have thrived in their new habitat and have become a threat to Florida's ecosystem.
Above, Henry the African Sulcata Tortoise (Centrochelys sulcata), joined us at Stamford STEMFest, an event promoting the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) education in the schools. Henry is one of several Sulcata Tortoises that we have adopted. Sulcatas can grow to weigh 100-200 pounds, and have a lifespan of 50-150 years. It is vitally important to research any prospective pet purchase before making what should be a lifetime commitment.
The Sulcata Tortoise is native to the Sahara Desert and the Sahel (zone of transition in Africa between the Sahara Desert and Sudanian Savanna). They dig deep burrows to reach areas with higher moisture, where they spend much of the warmest part of the day.
The Red-Footed Tortoise (Chelonoidis carbonaria) is native to South America and lives in dry forest areas, grasslands and the savanna as well as areas of rainforest close to open habitats. Red-footed tortoises are not an endangered species, however, they are a protected species, meaning that they may not be exported from their home country without a permit.
The predominant threat to the survival of red-footed tortoises is over-hunting by humans. Additionally, loss of habitat through drainage of wetlands for agriculture, housing, logging and construction of roads threatens this species.
The Solomon Islands Monkey-Tailed Skink (Corucia zebrata) is native to the Solomon Islands archipelago and is an arboreal (tree-dwelling) species. Logging is a serious threat to the survival of this species and excessive pet trade exports have affected wild populations. Export of this species from the Solomon Islands is now restricted and the animal is now protected.
This species are herbivores, feeding on the leaves, flowers, fruit, and growing shoots of several different species of plants. With a prehensile tail, they can curl themselves around objects such as branches and hold onto them for balance. The prehensile tail also help to maneuver from branch to branch.
The Olive Python (Liasis olivaceus) is native to Australia and is Australia's second-largest snake species. This snake can be found in rocky areas, gorges and especially rocky areas near sources of water. They seek shelter mostly in caves and rock crevices.
The Olive Python has a high mid-body scale count of 61–72 scales. This makes the python’s skin look smoother than other species.
The Arizona Mountain King Snake is native to southeastern Arizona and into Mexico, and parts of Utah and Nevada. Interestingly, their beautiful coloration is similar to that of the western coral snake. Some experts believe that the Arizona Mountain King Snake is a Batesian mimic. Batesian mimicry occurs when a harmless animal evolves to resemble another species which possess an anti-predator defense, such as venom. This stunning species helps us to teach people of all ages about mimicry as well as about North American wildlife.
Our reptilian Animal Ambassadors play an important role in our educational outreach programming, both in science-based programming about habitats, adaptations, classifications and conservation, as well as in helping families to make informed pet choices. Although these captive creatures do not have the opportunity to live in their natural habitats, through education they will help us all to understand that they belong in the wild.