The country of Venezuela lies along the northern coast of the South American continent, and is noted for its diverse variety of natural landscapes and ecosystems. The country has tropical islands off of its coast line, like the Los Roques archipelago or the Isla de Margarita. On the mainland the country is home to the Andes Mountains, vast tropical grassland plains, salt flats, sand dunes, tropical rainforests, cloud forests and more various ecosystems. Venezuela is also often listed as one the most bio-diverse countries in the world in terms of environments and endemic species. This environment makes the country ripe to be home to a wide variety of unique reptile species, some of which will be discussed in detail here.
False Coral Snake
The False Coral Snake, scientific name Erythrolamprus bizona, is a species of colubrid snake that is part of the Colubridae Family of snakes. The species has a black color head with two white bands on it and black eyes. The snakes body is a alternating pattern of bands that go in a reddish-orange, black, white, black, reddish-orange colored pattern. An adult of this species generally grows to be around 1 meter (3.28 feet) in length. The diet of the species mostly consists of eating other snakes, but it has also been known to eat lizards. This species of snake is found in lowland dry forests and moist forests that are at a elevation of 200 meters (656 feet) or lower. This species is found from the slopes of Costa Rica's mountains southward into Panama, Colombia and Venezuela and it is also though that they could be found in Nicaragua. However, Venezuela is the only country where this species is a common site to see. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the False Coral Snake has been listed as a species of least concern since 2013. The species is facing no known major threat in Central America, but in Colombia and Venezuela it is threatened by deforestation.
The Giant Ameiva, scientific name Ameiva atrigularis, is a species of teiid lizard that is a member of the Teiidae Family, and is also commonly referred to as the Amazon Racerunner. Aduit of the species are either a consistently brown color or can be bi-colored, being green in the front and brown in the black depending on where they are found. Fully grown Giant Ameiva adults can reach up to being 186 millimeters (7.3 inches) in length. This species is known to feast on a diet of fruits, especially figs, as well as on flowers, insects, bird eggs and other small vertebrate species. The species is found in the various forests types including deciduous, semi-deciduous and pre-montane evergreen forests, as well as on pastures, cropland, city parks and plantations. This species is found on the Caribbean island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, the Venezuela island states of Nueva Esparta and the Federal Dependencies of Venezuela and on the Venezuelan mainland. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the Giant Ameiva has been listed as a species of least concern since 2014. Currently, the species' population is stable and it faces no major threats anywhere that it is found.
Zulia Toad-Headed Sideneck Turtle
The Zulia Toad-Headed Sideneck Turtle, scientific name Mesoclemmys zuliae, is a species of turtle that is part of the Chelidae Family of turtles. The species is a small turtle, with a light to very dark brown colored shell and greyish looking skin and head. The species is known to be found in the freshwater systems and swamp environments of Venezuela and are known to have terrestrial nest sites for laying eggs. The species is only found in and around the southwestern basin of Lake Maracaibo and in the Ciénagas de Juan Manuel National Park in the state of Zulia. This species of turtle is endemic to the country of Venezuela, meaning that it is only found their and no where else in the world. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the Zulia Toad-Headed Sideneck Turtle has been listed as a vulnerable species since 1996. Currently, little is known about the species as there was insufficient data to make an assessment on its status before 1996 and it is currently unknown as to what its population status is or the major threats that it might face.
Significance of Reptiles in Venezuela
The native reptiles of Venezuela, as with all reptilian species everywhere in the world, are important to protect and save, especially if they are already considered to be endangered species. Reptiles, like every living species on Earth play an important role in the food chain, as they are predator and prey, providing food for other animals while also making sure the species they eat do not grow out of control. Some reptiles species, specifically those that eat fruits and seeds, have also been known to act as pollinators for these plants. It is our job as humans to help protect reptiles and all species to make sure that the fragile food chain does not break.