Around the World Land and Amphibian Animals
Scroll through the species below or click on the link to go directly to a specific animal.
- American Alligator
- Australian Blue-Tongue Skink
- Freshwater Australian Terrapin
- Hawkesbill Sea Turtle
- Japanese Fire Belly Newt
- Red-Eared Slider
- Reeves Turtle
- Snake Eating Twin Hinged Tortoise
Names: American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis).
Habitats: Freshwater wetlands, marshes and swamps in southeast USA.
Size: 3.4-4.6m and can weight up to 453kg.
Feed: Fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Hatchlings feed mostly on invertebrates like insects and shrimp.
Special Features: The biggest American Alligator ever recorded was rumoured to be 5.84m and over 1000kg!
The American Alligator is native to freshwater wetlands from Texas to North Carolina in the USA. It is the largest reptile in North American and has survived on Earth for more than 200 million years!
Adults may be brown, gray, olive or black, while their underbellies are almost always cream. Some alligators are missing an inhibited gene for melanin, which makes them albino. American Alligators have broad snouts and when their jaws are closed, the edges of their upper jaws cover their lower teeth, which can number up to 80!
American Alligators are apex predators and consume fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. They play an important role as ecosystem engineers in wetland ecosystems through the creation of alligator holes, which provide both wet and dry habitats for other organisms.
Throughout the year, but especially during the breeding season, American Alligators bellow to declare territory and locate suitable mates. Females lay 25-60 eggs in nests of vegetation and mud in a sheltered spot in or near the water. Young are born with yellow bands around their bodies and are protected by their mother for up to a year.
Names: Australian Blue-Tongue Skink (Tiliqua spp.).
Habitats: Often found in domestic gardens and almost every other vegetative environment in Australia.
Size: Can grow up to 45cm.
Feed: Ground-foraging omnivores, feeding on a wide variety of insects, flowers, fruits and berries.
Special Features: Use their blue tongues to 'taste' the air.
Australian Blue Tongue Skinks use their bright blue tongues to 'taste' the air when feeding. Found in gardens and sometimes seen sunning themselves during the day, the Australian Blue Tongue Skink sheds its skin annually and gives birth to between 8-12 live young.
Names: Freshwater Australian Terrapin (Chelodina longicollis).
Habitats: Native to Australia, found in dirty water.
Feed: Small fish, frogs and crustaceans.
Special Features: Renowned for its long neck.
Freshwater Australian Terrapins have a long snake-like neck and live mainly in dirty water, keeping their nostrils and eyes just above the surface, while feeding mainly on small fish. They are also fantastic climbers.
Freshwater Australian Terrapins are inquisitive and make great pets with their quirky personalities. And when they feel being threatened by predators, they tuck themselves up and pull their neck in sideways for protection.
Names: Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata).
Habitats: Worldwide distribution.
Size: Up to 1m, 80kg.
Feed: Will eat pretty much anything.
Special Features: Unfortunately confuses plastic bags with jellyfish as food in the wild, which is deadly for them.
The National Aquarium's resident Hawksbill Sea Turtle is called Terry and he's the only Hawksbill in captivity in New Zealand. Terry arrived from Fiji in 1976 when he was only the size of a dinner plate and initially only grew about 5cm a year.
Hawksbill Sea Turtles have a beak like a hawk for crushing coral and shellfish and will eat almost anything, including poisonous corals and sponges. Hawksbill Sea Turtles come to New Zealand waters every year from Fiji and if the water temperature drops too quickly they become sick and stranded and are not able to return home.
Names: Japanese Fire Belly Newt (Cynops pyrrhogaster).
Habitats: Clear and cool bodies of water, usually ponds, ditches, pools, or lakes in Asia (Japan), Europe, USA.
Feed: Bloodworms, earthworms, shrimp,
Special Features: WARNING! Can cause death to humans by suffocation in as quickly as six hours after ingestion!
The skin of the Japanese Fire Belly Newt can contain tetrodotoxin (TTX), which is a neurotoxin with no known antidote, and can cause death to humans by suffocation in as quickly as six hours after ingestion.
The Japanese Fire Belly Newt is a common Asian newt with a permanent tadpole shape. These newts have a fiery orange marking on the belly that serves as a warning to predators and also produces a potent toxin called TTX. These newts are poisonous in the wild, but when bred in captivity may lose their toxicity.
Japanese Fire Belly Newts are typically brown to black on top with red specks or spots and orange to crimson down below in a blotchy dark pattern. Male newts will often have a blue iridescent sheen and smoother skin during the breeding season.
Names: Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans).
Habitats: Native to the southern USA and northern Mexico.
Feed: Omnivores with aquatic plants being their main food.
Special Features: A Red-eared Slider can live to 60 years old.
The Red-eared Slider (also known as Red-eared Terrapin) is the most popular pet turtle in the USA and is also popular as a pet in the rest of the world, including New Zealand. But it's also included in the world’s 100 most invasive species.
Red-eared Sliders get their name from the small red dash around their ears. The 'slider' part of their name comes from their ability to slide off rocks and logs and into the water quickly.
Native to the southern United States and northern Mexico, the Red-eared Slider has also become established in other places because of pet releases. Subsequently, it has become an invasive species in many areas, such as New Zealand, getting into waterways and destroying native habitats while competing with local species.
Names: Reeves Turtle (Mauremys reevesii).
Habitats: Found in China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
Size: Up to 30cm.
Feed: Tadpoles, small fish, insects and some aquatic plants.
Special Features: Placid temperament, easy to handle.
The Reeves Turtle is semi-aquatic and can be found basking in the sun on rocks or logs. They usually reside in marshes, relatively shallow ponds, streams, and canals with muddy or sandy bottoms.
The Reeves Turtle is highly endangered due to overhunting in Asia because of their plastron, which is found in the bottom of the turtle's shell, and is used in traditional Chinese medicine. Not surprisingly then, the Reeves Turtle is farmed in parts of Asia, on specialised turtle farms.
Names: Snake Eating Twin Hinged Tortoise (Cuora flavomarginata).
Habitats: Found on Ryukyu Island, China.
Feed: Frogs and snakes in the wild, worms and pet food in captivity.
Special Features: Doesn’t swim but can live in shallow water.
The Snake Eating Twin Hinged Tortoise is now an endangered species because they were previously caught and sold as a food speciality. They often live at reasonably high altitudes, with a preference for ponds and flooded rice fields.
The Snake Eating Twin Hinged Tortoise can seal itself within its shell for protection from predators. The bottom shell has a hinge, which is able to close the front and back sections.