Exhibition of Reptiles

Excursion of the Lower Hall is finished by examination of the Recent reptiles. Just five orders of these vertebrates survived after former magnificent prosperity and diversity of the dinosaurs. All these orders are shown on the display.

The turtles belong to several families (terrestrial, freshwater, large-headed, snapping, soft-shell, snake-necked, marine) and are pretty diverse. They differ mutually in size (from quite small box- turtle to very large Galapagos tortoise and green sea turtle) and sometimes in bright patterns of their shield.

Hawksbill sea turtle that lives in all tropical open seas is famous for horny plates of its shield. Covered by beautiful yellow-brown pattern, it has being used by humans for making different artefacts (buttons, combs, jewelry) from ancient times. This caused mass extermination of its population, which is now, like all other sea turtles, is listed in the International Red Data Book.

The grey monitor lizard

Among unique exhibits is, of course, the tuatara, a very ancient reptile that looks like a massive big lizard (length of adult males reaches 65 cm, their weight is up to 1 kg). It is the only living member of the order Rhynchocephalia, who survived on only a few islands of New Zealand.

The lizard order is represented by main families (geckos, agamas, chameleons, iguanas, plate-tailed and common lizards) and some others, smaller ones. Among the latter, of interest is the gila, which is the only venomous lizard of relatively large size (up to 90 cm), living in the southwestern United States and Mexico.

The grey monitor lizard belonging to the varanid family is the largest lizard of the former Soviet Union, its total length is about 1.5 m and its weight is up to 3.5 kg. This huge lizard inhabits deserts and semi-deserts of North Africa and SW to C Asia. It disappeared in many places and belongs now to the protected species.

The snake order is represented by species of different families: boids (pythons and boas), colubrids and other non-venomous snakes, along with venomous elapids, sea snakes and viperids possessing venom glands and specialized fangs.

The reticulated python

Reticulated python is a non-venomous snake up to 10 m in length. This species is widely distributed in SE Asia and Indonesia.

In the family of sea snakes, the two-color bonito stands out for its extensive distribution range from the east coast of Africa to the west coast of America. Sea snake venom has neurotoxic effect.

The two-color bonito (to the left) and skeleton of the Gabon viper

The Gabon viper is a very large and massive African snake reaching in length up to 2 m. Its impressive poisonous fangs are as long as 3-4 cm! However, its temper is quite phlegmatic, so it bites rarely. The exhibition demonstrates the skeleton and stuffed skin of this snake.