17:02 PM

ZooAmerica Observes National Reptile Awareness Day

Guests can See and Touch a Reptile at ZooAmerica During Creatures Of The Night

Did you know that October 21 is National Reptile Awareness Day? In honor of this important observance, ZooAmerica stopped by the set of FOX43 Morning News today with four reptile friends to help promote the education and conservation of reptiles. Theresa Wilson, Education Specialist, brought along a chuckwalla, desert tortoise, Eastern rat snake and an American alligator.

Watch the clip below or keep reading to learn more about these reptiles. 

All About the Chuckwalla

The chuckwalla is a flat-bodied lizard (nicknamed a pancake lizard) that is found in the southwest part of the United States. ZooAmerica is home to two chuckwallas that arrived in March 2018. FOX43 viewers were introduced to Reptar, a male chuckwalla who is larger in size and has a redder tail compared to his female counterpart. When threatened, chuckwallas like Reptar will gulp air to puff up their bodies and wedge themselves in between rocks for camouflage and safety. According to Wilson, chuckwallas can even detach their tails and survive if faced with a life or death situation. 

All About the Desert Tortoise

As its name indicates, the desert tortoise is a slow-moving reptile that lives in a variety of desert habitats in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. Desert tortoises cope with the heat by becoming active only during the cooler morning hours or early evening once the sun sets and the temperature drops a bit. ZooAmerica visitors can find six desert tortoises living in the Desert Garden of the Great Southwest Building at the zoo. FOX43 viewers met Louis, a two-year-old desert tortoise that hatched at ZooAmerica. Wilson described to viewers how they can tell the difference between a turtle and a tortoise. Hint - look at the shape of the shell!

All About the Eastern Rat Snake

Eastern rat snakes are large snakes found in fields, woods and farms in Pennsylvania. This type of snake is an important reptile as it helps to control the rodent population. The Eastern rat snake has an elongated (not diamond-shaped) head, which indicates that it is nonvenomous. Wilson noted that Pennsylvania is home to 21 species of snakes, only three of which are venomous.

All About the American Alligator

Last but certainly not least, FOX43 viewers got the chance to learn about Drogo, a four-year-old American alligator. The American alligator is not found in Pennsylvania, but it does live in the southeastern part of the United States. This reptile can grow anywhere from 10 to 14 feet on average. Since Drogo is still small, he is housed off-exhibit at ZooAmerica and used as an ambassador in various educational programming. There are two American alligators on exhibit at ZooAmerica for guests to see when they visit. 

The fall is the perfect time of year to see these reptiles and other North American animals at ZooAmerica. In fact, guests can touch a reptile during Creatures Of The Night attraction, which runs for two more weekends - Oct. 25-27 and Nov. 1-3.