Tuesday, September 01, 2009

You shouldn't be here.....

So there has been a lot of focus recently on exotic reptiles invading FC's home state of Florida recently. The bulk of this attention, for obvious reasons, is going to the Burmese Pythons currently spreading through the Everglades like wildfire - I went looking for these by the way, the results will feature soonish - and to a lesser extent to Nile Monitor lizards, both large, potentially ecologically disastrous species. They are however the tip of the iceberg. For herpers, Florida is a huge open air zoo. Depending upon where you go there are small populations (often confined by urban areas) of all sorts of critters from big species like Boa constrictor, Green and spiny iguanas to little critters like madagascan giant day geckos or south east asia's tokay geckos. Spectacled caiman have even been suggested to be a breeding species! One introduced Florida herp is very easy to find due to its extremely restricted range and, since it was somewhere I was going already, I had to look it up.

agama male 4

This is the Red-headed Rock Agama - Agama agama africana and as that subspecific name suggests it is of african origin. It's also awesome looking hence its presents in the States where five or so populations exist thanks to careless and/or idiotic reptile dealers. The most famous of these inhabits the rock garden of Fairchild Tropical Garden.

agama male1crop

In creating a garden based on shale, sand, gravel and big rocks Fairchild have produced a perfect little spot for a population of these guys and they do very well here. The population seems to not have spread particularly far and is centred around the rock pile where brightly coloured males bob their displays of dominance at one another and females lunge for small insects among rare succulents and cacti.

agama male 7

If you want to see this species in Florida looking around the rock pile should be a locked on cert. Otherwise its to sub-saharan Africa for you.


Anonymous said...

Wow, it has never been a secret that people "dump" their pets, but I didn't realize to what extent. Thanks for sharing, and those are amazing looking lizards.

jason said...

They're rather fetching, aren't they? At least they're not as destructive and prolific as the pythons.

tai haku said...

Thanks both - NLSM the irreponsibility of some people is amazing to me;
Jason - I agree totally. I fear we may wind up being glad of the boas if they can control the monitor lizards!