Komodo Dragons at Reptiland

Komodo dragons are found on only a handful of Indonesian islands and are rarely exported to other countries. North American zoos cooperatively manage a captive population of dragons as an SSP (Species Survival Plan), but in recent years, the US population suffered the loss of many adult females and the breeding program stalled. In 2010, the Los Angeles Zoo successfully hatched a large clutch of eggs, breathing new life into the dragon population. Reptiland received two of those offspring and joined the Komodo Dragon SSP.

Komodo dragons at Reptiland
The Peeling Productions team installing a perimeter fence around what will become the home for our Komodo dragons.

We committed to building a facility to house and breed these giant lizards in Central PA, and work on a new 3,000 square foot building has begun. Komodo dragons are unlike other lizards—they are active and need lots of space. Our new facility will include a 1,300 sq ft indoor exhibit, a large indoor holding area with shift facility, and a lush outdoor exhibit for warm weather viewing. Because dragons like it hot—95 degrees everyday, year-round—the building will need to be very well insulated. With that in mind, we have incorporated a living roof into our design, a first at Reptiland.

*6/14/13 Update: The Komodo dragon exhibit, Island Giants, is now open to the public!

Geckos: Disposable Parts

Have you ever wondered what it is like to be unable to outrun an enemy and be too small to fight? The answer for most geckos is to give up their tail. Built-in weak spots in the bones of the tail make it easy to break. Most require a tug, but some geckos can pop off their own tail by pushing it against an object.  The broken tail wriggles to distract the predator, and muscles around the break quickly seal torn blood vessels in the gecko’s body. Most geckos eventually grow a new tail supported by cartilage instead of bone.  Re-generated tails are also shorter and lack the color and texture of the original.

geckotailA common frog-eyed gecko (Teratoscincus scincus) who has “dropped” its tail.

Another interesting adaption of geckos has is known as “Shock Shedding”. Grab the wrong gecko and you’ll find yourself holding nothing but skin! Gecko skin has two layers of dermis, creating built-in “tear zones.”  The outer skin easily peels off as the gecko squirms free and the inner layer remains as a barrier against infection.

Reptiland currently exhibits four species of geckos, including the giant leaf-tailed gecko, lined leaf-tailed gecko, tokay gecko, and giant day gecko. Additionally, you can create your own gecko when you pay a visit to our Build-A-Gecko interactive station!

Tyrannosaurus rex

Dinosaur Fun Facts: Tyrannosaurus rex

Tyrannosaurus rex, or “Tyrant Lizard”, one of the largest dinosaurs to have walked the earth, lived 70 million years ago in what is now North America. Weighing in at 7.5 tons, standing 15-20 feet tall and 40 feet long, T. rex was a fierce predator!  This dinosaur’s massive jaws were lined with 50-60 serrated teeth, some measuring 9 inches long. Preserved bone and muscle fragments in T. rex feces show that it took big, bone-crushing bites consuming up to 500 lbs of meat in one bite! Its 4-foot-long jaws were big enough to swallow an adult human!

See this massive meat-eater along with seven other dinosaur species at Dinosaurs Come to Life, a special outdoor exhibit at Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland. Due to its popularity, Dinosaurs Come to Life has been extended through the end of October 2011.

Tyrannosaurus rex