Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo
I saw a live reptile demonstrations with Little Ray’s Reptile Adventure at the 32nd Annual Maple Sugar Festival in Ottawa’s Vanier neighbourhood. Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo is a privately funded zoo and animal rescue founded and co-owned by Paul and Sheri Goulet. The zoo displays over 250 animals including Giant Pythons, Alligators, Cobras, Rattlesnakes, Tarantulas, Marmosets, Birds of Prey and more. The zoo is known as the largest and most diverse animal education outreach program in Canada. I introduce some of the reptiles I have seen on the demonstrations.
1. Cane Toad(Bufo marinus)
- Range: Throughout South America, northern Australia and parts of the Caribbean
- Average Size: 10-15 cm, but the record is 38 cm and over 2 kg!
- Cool Fact: Cane Toad have been introduced in many countries across the globe because of their ability to eat pests. In many of these countries they are now considered pests themselves due to a lack of predators, and because their hugs reproductive rate allows them to populate vast areas in only a few years.
2. Chuckwallas(Sauromalus ater)
- Range: Sonoran and Mojave deserts in Southern USA and North Western Mexico(Baja Pennisula)
- Average Size: 40-76 cm
- Lifespan: 20-25 years
- Adaptations for life in the desert: These lizards have a flat body shape. They live in rocky areas of the desert and when they are threatened by a predator they will dive into the nearest rocky crevice. Once in a tight fitting spot they will puff themselves up with air effectively jamming themselves in a tight area where no predator can dig them out. These lizards prefer to eat to eat plants(annuals and perennials), and rarely dine on insects. Their favourite foods are flowering desert plants such as brittlebush.
3. Western Fox Snake(Elaphe vulpine)
- Range: North America
- Average Size: 1-2m
- Diet: Carnivore mostly eating mice, rats, small mammals and birds
- Cool Fact: Ontario’s second largest snake after the Black Rat Snake. The Fox Snake is also a species at risk that needs our protection if its going to survive. Often found in swampy areas close to human habitation, this snake is an excellent climber who will enter barns in search of mice or other prey. This species also bears a passing resemblance to a rattlesnake and like a milk snake it is often killed by people who mistake it for its dangerous cousin.
4. Bearded Dragon(Pogona vitticeps)
- Range: Hot dry deserts of Central Australia
- Average Size: 60 cm
- Lifespan: 10 years
- Adaptations for life in the desert: Bearded dragons are true omnivores. They will eat small animals and soft plants with equal amount of enthusiasm. Their ability to eat food from many different sources means that in harsh desert conditions they the best chance of finding food because they are willing to eat a wide variety of meals.
5. Red Knee Tarantula(Brachypelma smithi)
- Range: South Western Mexico, especially in Colima and Guerrero
- Average Size: 15-20 cm
- Lifespan: 20-30 years
- Adaptations for life in the desert: To avoid the desert heat this spider will dig a very deep burrow usually has 2 chambers: one large chamber where the spider will eat its prey and one smaller chamber used for moulting. During the moulting process the spider will seal the burrow with silk to ensure its safety. This species is officially listed as endangered.
6. Red-footed Tortoise(Geochelone carbonaria)
- Range: Widespread throughout South America
- Average Size: Shell length of 30-40 cm, weighing 5-12 kg
- Cool Fact: Red-footed tortoises spend much of their day grazing in the understory of South American rainforests. Their diet consists mostly of leaves, rotting fruit and occasional carrion.