The world we live in is filled with magnificent creatures that also call this place their home. Some of these animals are very well-known among the human population. Some of the animals on the other hand are not. These creatures are not given the attention and appreciation they so rightfully deserve. One of these animals is the Uromastyx.
Recently, another zoo reached out to ask Tanganyika Wildlife Park for help. United States Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) had confiscated nearly 100 uromastyx lizards that were being illegally smuggled into the United States for the pet trade. All the lizards were going to be confiscated and some were not in good health.
The zoo in California took in all of the lizards and worked to get them healthy before reaching out to zoos across the country for support. Tanganyika Wildlife Park answered the call and took Vera here at the park. She might have had a harrowing journey to get to our park, but now she gets spoiled by her keepers and caretakers.
Also referred to as the spiny-tailed lizard, mastigures, uromastyces, or dabb lizards, the Uromastyx is native to several regions around the world. Here are some key facts about this unique creature:
- Global Distribution: Uromastyx can be found in various locations including North Africa, the Sahara Desert, North America, Northern India, and the Middle East.
- Body Adaptation: Since most Uromastyx species live in warmer areas, their bodies are well-adapted to the harsh weather, allowing them to withstand high temperatures.
- Physical Appearance: The Uromastyx has a flattened, very wide, and rather muscular body. A heavy spiked tail helps them stand out from other reptiles, hence the name spiny-tailed lizard. To protect themselves from potential predators, they tend to use their tails as a weapon of self-defense.
- Coloration: The Uromastyx does not have a distinctive or specific color. Due to the vast number of species within the Uromastyx genus, the color varies. Their appearance adapts to the environment they are in, meaning sometimes they may be very colorful, and other times dark and pale.
- Size: Most Uromastyx species tend to be less than 14 inches long, but some species can be smaller and/or larger than that.
Moving on to their lifestyle and dietary habits:
- Diet: Like most other reptiles, the Uromastyx species are herbivores, gaining most of their daily nutritional needs from vegetables, plants, and fruits, both in the wild and in captivity.
- Social Behaviour: Uromastyx are known to be very social, engaging, but also very territorial. They may even experience trouble getting along with other Uromastyx.
- Activity Period: Uromastyx are diurnal creatures, which means they are active during the day. They often bask in the sun to regulate their body temperature.
The conservation status of the Uromastyx varies among each different species, with some being listed as vulnerable and others endangered. Causes for this include habitat loss and the overcollection of the pet trade. Up next, we will discuss another fascinating creature: the Burmese Python.
Learn About the Burmese Python: Habitat, Behavior, and Their Care
The Burmese Python, like the Uromastyx, is an underappreciated creature despite its unique features and behaviors. They share several commonalities, including belonging to the reptile family. However, they also have some distinct characteristics which set them apart from each other.
Here are some fascinating facts about the Burmese Python:
- Size: The Burmese Python is one of the largest snakes in the world, reaching lengths of up to 23 feet and weighing as much as two-hundred pounds.
- Behavior: They are generally solitary and docile creatures, meaning they aren’t naturally aggressive.
- Habitat: Predominantly native to Southeast Asia, they also inhabit other regions, like the Florida Everglades. According to the National Park Service, tens of thousands of these snakes inhabit that area.
- Appearance: Sporting beautifully patterned skin, they are usually tan in color with a pattern reminiscent of a giraffe’s blotches covering their back and sides. They also have a rather pale belly with a smooth and glossy body.
Contrasting the Burmese Python with the herbivorous Uromastyx, the Python is a carnivore, meaning it feeds on flesh or meat.
- Diet: They eat smaller animals like birds and mice, and larger ones like goats and pigs depending on their size. Their ability to swallow animals five times wider than their head is a testament to their jaws’ stretchy ligaments.
- Eating Frequency: Despite their large size, their eating frequency is surprisingly low. Baby pythons are fed around two times per week in captivity, while adult pythons eat once every two weeks or so.
The Burmese Python is currently listed as vulnerable, with their population slowly declining. Like most animals, this is due to habitat loss, illegal pet trade, etc. This is why it is so critical that we support zoos looking to protect and provide for these animals. This leads us to our next topic on how someone like you can help a zoo’s conservation efforts.
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How You Can Support Conservation in Zoos Such as Tanganyika
Tanganyika Wildlife Park, along with hundreds of other zoos, has all made a positive impact in saving many different species of animals from extinction. We are proud to say that we are actively taking care of and making a difference for over 500 animals here at Tanganyika Wildlife Park.
Unfortunately, some animals we care for are listed as endangered or critically endangered. Some of these animals include but are not limited to the Amur Leopard, Indian Rhino, Cheetah, Forsten’s Lorikeet, Ring-tailed Lemur, Uromastyx, and the Burmese Python. With that being said, how does someone like you help conservation in zoos?
You can support conservation in zoos simply by attending! Since zoos attract large numbers of people, revenue from such high attendance numbers and memberships is often allocated to additional conservation efforts worldwide. These funds help with tasks such as restoring an animal’s lost habitat, feeding them, implementing breeding programs, and much more! This is all something that Tanganyika Wildlife Park partakes in.
Another way to help conservation in zoos is by understanding how to care for the animals and knowing why we do it. Animals provide so much to their local environment and the entire planet as a whole. Tanganyika Wildlife Park educates the public on animal conservation by offering the best educational experiences possible by having the most knowledgeable and trained keepers in the Midwest. After all, we did not become the most interactive zoo in the Midwest for no reason.
By getting the chance to interact with the animals up close, you develop an even greater personal connection with the animals and truly understand why animal conservation is needed. Some of the animals you can interact with while at Tanganyika Wildlife Park include swimming with penguins, petting kangaroos, feeding lemurs, feeding rhinos, feeding giraffes, and so on.
Around fifty percent of the world’s population lives in big cities. This means people are not in direct contact with the beauty of nature. This is where zoos and even aquariums come into play. Having zoos in such areas allows the people living there to better understand wildlife and how they can support the zoo’s conservation efforts.
Spreading the word that zoos are helpful and safe for animals is also essential. It is critical that we all support zoos in their conservation efforts in order to make a difference.
To learn more about how Tanganyika Wildlife Park specifically makes a difference and to help us in our conservation efforts, click here. We will now end the blog by briefly discussing the Uromastyx and Burmese Python that can be found at Tanganyika Wildlife Park.
Tanganyika Wildlife Park’s Very Own Uromastyx and Burmese Python
Tanganyika Wildlife Park has exactly one Uromastyx and one Burmese Python. This means we are very excited to have them in the family. This also means we have to be very cautious and ensure we provide them the best care possible. Both animals are fed the appropriate foods and amounts to ensure they meet their nutritional needs.
The specific type of Uromastyx that is located at our park is Ornate Uromastyx. What makes our Burmese Python, named Ra, so unique is that rather than tan, it is yellow! We are thrilled to have them both and even offer our guests the opportunity to interact with them! One of our most fascinating animal experiences is “Sunbathe with Ra,” where you can interact with him and learn about them.
We are so happy to be making a difference for the Uromastyx and Burmese Python and all of our animals. That said, come down to Tanganyika Wildlife Park and see how we are making a difference, and learn how you can do the same! Interactions, animal experiences, and educational experiences are just some of the things we can’t wait for you to experience for yourself.
Visit our website to purchase your tickets to Tanganyika Wildlife Park today!
About the author: Jonathan is a marketing intern at Tanganyika. He is currently a business student at Wichita State University looking to graduate in December.