Animal Diaries Archive
Finally winter is over!
21 September 2007
It's just about every reptile keeper's favourite time of the year. The time where we are so flat out we just about run out of our shoes. You may not be aware but most reptiles eat very little to nothing at all during the cooler months of the year. Snakes especially have a much slower metabolism than mammals like us so don't need to eat as regularly. Some large species of Boids (pythons and boas) have been observed to go up to 2 years without food!! That's hard to imagine. As the weather warms up though, our reptiles get their appetite back. This means most of our time is taken up feeding, and hence cleaning up after, our cold blooded friends.
Our snakes particularly have just cottoned on to the rise in the mercury and have been much more active in their foraging behaviour as you may notice when heading through the venomous snake house. We usually feed in the afternoon so we have to be ready for an excitable snake when ever enclosures are opened at this time, which keeps us on our toes. Snakes swallow their food whole so their food varies according to their size, but they all eat in relatively the same way. Our pythons and boas use constriction to hold onto their prey to facilitate swallowing while our elapid snakes bite and hold onto their prey allowing their venom to subdue and eventually help break down their food in their stomach. Snakes jaws are loosely aligned by ligaments, rather than bone like ours. This allows them to eat much larger prey items than other animals of similar size.
Carnivorous lizards such as members of the varanids or monitor family, can also eat large amounts in one sitting. Komodo dragons have even been recorded eating up to 60% of their own body weight! That can be up to 60 to 80kgs of food in one sitting!
Our Amazing Reticulated Pythons
Reticulated Pythons have amazing patterns on their bodies which are designed to help them blend into the leaf litter of the rainforests. These patterns are a mi ...more