Arizona Mountain Kingsnake

NOTE: Education Animals are “behind-the-scenes” animals & only appear to the public during Educational events. This includes scheduled events or programs such as daily animal mingles, private onsite programs, and zoo reaches. For more information, please reach out to edureservations@lvzoo.org.

Program and General Information

The Arizona Mountain Kingsnake is a small snake inhabiting parts of the southwestern US down into Mexico. They are a classic Batesian mimic, because their red, white, and black banding mimics the coloration and pattern of the venomous Western Coral Snakes. Even though these snakes are harmless, their coloration acts as a warning to predators and keeps them safe from predation.

They are a constrictor snake, relying on their ability to suffocate their prey before ingestion. They get their name, “kingsnake,” from their ability to eat other venomous snakes. They are immune to the venom, whether they are bitten by or eat the venomous snakes.

Common Physical Features

Their snout is white or yellow, and their head is usually black on top, sometimes with flashes of red over the eyes. Large eyes sit on the sides of their heads. Arizona mountain kingsnakes are encircled by over 40 rings of white or yellow-white bordered by thin black and wide red sections.

These snakes reach lengths from 18 to 44 inches

Habitat and Global Range

Arizona Mountain Kingsnakes live in habitats with mixtures of rocks, tree trunks, and undergrowth in mountainous areas with nearby water in Central to Southeastern Arizona down into Mexico, as well as parts of Utah and Nevada.

Diet

Lizards, rodents, and eggs.

Behavior and Life Cycle

These snakes prefer rocky areas and tend not to venture far from their rock-pile homes. They even regulate their body temperature by moving up or down within the rock pile rather than basking directly in the sun. During the winter they brumate in their rock pile.

To discourage predators, this species releases a very strong and foul smelling musk. Predators will often release the snake before any harm is done. The kingsnake derives its name from its habit of eating other snakes, including rattlesnakes, copperheads and coral snakes. Kingsnakes are immune to their venom. Kingsnakes first seize their prey with a bite, then kill the prey by constriction, and finally swallow the prey whole.

Before breeding, they emerge from brumation – how snakes survive rough weather conditions. In contrast to hibernation and when compared to normal levels of activity, an animal in brumation has less severe changes in body temperature, respiration, and heart rate. In the wild, snakes brumate when the weather gets too cold to survive. During brumation, the snake’s metabolism becomes lower and it remains inactive. If there is a warm day of weather, a snake can “wake up” and become active again. The snake may drink water during brumation, but it does not eat.

After emerging, the snakes spend several weeks gaining weight and finding mates. Males quickly find and eagerly court ovulation females. Arizona mountain kingsnakes are oviparous, which means they lay eggs rather than bear live young.

After breeding, the female produced three to 20 eggs. Eggs are leathery and oval-shaped. They young hatch in 47 to 81 days. At birth, hatchlings are between 8 to 13 inches in length. Arizona mountain kingsnakes are sexually mature by 3 to 4 years of age.

Fun Facts

  • Their coloration is similar to that of the Western Coral Snake (Micruroides euryxanthus), causing some experts to believe that the Arizona mountain kingsnake is a Batesian mimic. Batesian mimicry occurs when a harmless animal evolves to resemble another species which possess an anti-predator defense, such as venom.

Conservation Messaging

They are important predators as snakes consume many animals that humans consider pests, including mice, rats, and destructive species of insects. They help to control disease and damage to crops by preying on these species.

Amazon Milk Frog

NOTE: Education Animals are “behind-the-scenes” animals & only appear to the public during Educational events. This includes scheduled events or programs such as daily animal mingles, private onsite programs, and zoo reaches. For more information, please reach out to edureservations@lvzoo.org.

Program and General Information

The name “milk frog” does not refer to their coloration; it refers to the poisonous secretions this frog may secrete when threatened. This secretion is not only used to deter predators but it is used to also keep the frog hydrated.

Other Common Names: Mission Golden-eyed Tree Frog, Blue Milk Frog, Boatman Frog

Common Physical Features

Amazon milk frogs are a light gray color with patterns of brown or black banding. Juveniles show stronger contrast which fades as they age. Their skin may become bumpy with age. They range from 2.5 – 4 inches in length and are one of the largest frogs in South America. They are sexually dimorphic in size; the males are smaller than the females. Amazon milk frogs have large toe pads that allow for excellent climbing. The name “milk frog” does not refer to their coloration; it refers to the poisonous secretions this frog may secrete when threatened. This secretion is not only used to deter predators but it is used to also keep the frog hydrated.

Habitat and Global Range

Amazon milk frogs are found in Northern South America. They are commonly found in the countries of Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. These frogs will spend their entire lives in the tropical rainforest canopy. They will rarely, if ever, descend to the ground. This frog prefers to live close to slow moving waterways.

Diet

Insects, other invertebrates, and other small amphibians

Behavior and Life Cycle

Breeding takes place between November and May. The male frog externally fertilizes a clutch of about 2,000 eggs in a gelatinous mass floating in water. The egg mass may also be deposited in water trapped in a tree cavity. Eggs will hatch within one day, and metamorphosis from a tadpole to juvenile adult takes about three weeks.

Primarily nocturnal, this frog spends his days hiding from predators in the leafy canopy of the rainforest. They emerge at night to hunt nocturnal insects

Fun Facts

  • Their Latin name, Trachycephalus, refers to their long snouts which are used for pushing aside leaves and branches and allowing this nocturnal frog to tuck itself into tight hiding places during the day.
  • Milky Tree frogs are arboreal and spend their lives in trees and other plants. Milky tree frogs have special toe-pads on their feet to help them climb plants. They can hold up to 14 times the animal’s body weight.

Conservation Messaging

Amazon milk frogs are not a significantly threatened species at this time, but current loss of habitat due to agriculture and logging could lead to future endangerment.

Tawny Frogmouth

These nocturnal birds have cryptic, drab-colored plumage and they roost themselves vertically in a tree with their bills to the sky during the day, giving them the ability to camouflage to look like a broken branch!

In order to protect and defend their chicks, a male tawny frogmouth will ruffle up his plumage, as well as hiss and snap his impressive bill at a potential predator.

Unlike owls, tawny frogmouths have short, weak legs and feet, so they hunt prey by scanning the ground from low perches in their territory. Once located, they glide down and pounce on it, snapping it up in their powerful bills, and return to the same perch to eat it. They have a wingspan of 18-24 inches.

Domestic Chicken

About: Domestic chickens vary greatly in appearance due to breed, though they share common traits: squat stature, rounded bodies, dense feathers, and wattles of flesh around the face. Adult roosters (males) have distinct combs of red flesh and striking plumage including flowing tails and shiny, pointed feathers. Roosters may also have spurs on their legs, which they employ in battles with other males. With some breeds, a “beard” of feathers is prominent under the chicken’s face. There are ‘bantam’ breeds, a smaller variety of chicken, and some breeds have tail feathers that span several feet long!

Life Cycle/ Social Structure Chickens have very sophisticated social behavior with a dominance hierarchy where higher individuals dominate subordinate individuals. This is where the term “pecking order” comes from! The dominant male protects the females (hens) and they choose to feed close to him for safety. Roosters are generous when it comes to food-the males may call to their hens when he finds food, prompting them to eat first. This behavior is also seen with hens and their chicks.

Bald Eagle

About: The adult bald eagle has a white head and tail with a dark brown body and wings. They have an 8 foot wingspread. Their bills are bright yellow with a sharp hook. Legs are also bright yellow with powerful black talons and rough scales for holding on to fish. Young birds have a brown head until attaining adult coloring at about five years of age!

The bald eagle population drastically declined from the late 1800’s to the late 1900’s. Many were killed for sport, but the biggest impact may have come from powerful pesticides used in the farming industry. These pesticides caused high chick mortality, and the eagle population plummeted, earning it a spot of the USA Endangered Species List. Due to the regulation of pesticides and the protection afforded by the ESA, the bald eagle has reached stable numbers and was delisted from the ESA in 2007.

All bald eagles are under the supervision of the USFWS. The zoo’s resident eagle came to the zoo after he was rehabbed for being hit by a car, and can no longer fly. The zoo collects all naturally fallen feathers and sends them to the USFWS!

Predators: Adult eagles are at the apex of the food chain and have no natural predators. Nestlings and eggs are at risk from gulls, crows, hawks, owls, other eagles, bobcats, black bears, and raccoons.

Life Cycle/ Social Structure Bald eagles mate for life and reinforce their pair bond through spectacular flight displays that involve midair courtship dances. In winter, bald eagles sometimes collect in large groups close to fish-packed bodies of water. Bald eagles become territorial during breeding season and may aggressively defend nesting sites by grappling in midair. Their territories vary greatly by geographic location and home ranges appear to overlap. Suitable roosting sites are usually large trees near water and ideal sites are selected for their height, diameter and protection from inclement weather and predators. Timing of reproductive activity differs by climate and latitude, but usually occurs between October and May. Nest sites are returned to and expanded each year. Nests may grow as long as 9 feet wide and 15 feet deep!

How you can help: One way to help eagles and other birds is to recycle paper! Trees are needed for all wildlife to thrive, and eagles need large old trees to build sturdy nests! You can help us bring birds of prey back from the brink by supporting the Lehigh Valley Zoo.

Domestic Turkey

Habitat/Range: Domestic turkeys are raised throughout the temperate parts of the world. Their wild counterparts prefer hardwood and mixed conifer-hardwood forest with varied clearings such as pastures, fields, orchards and marshes. Turkeys are native to North America and were taken to Europe by the Spanish in the 1500’s.

Life Cycle/ Social Structure

Males are polygamous and mate with as many hens as are available. Male turkeys display for females by puffing out their feathers, spreading out their tails and dragging their wings, known as strutting. Males may be seen courting in groups, with the dominant male strutting and gobbling.