The tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus) or spiney back in Maori, is a lizard like reptile endemic to New Zealand.
The tuatara is ectothermic like all reptiles, yet they are active at very low temperatures. They maintain normal activity at temperatures as low as 7°C.
Tuatara have the slowest metabolism of all reptiles.
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A number of animals do not camouflage themselves, but copy the bright colours of a dangerous one, a strategy called Batesian mimicry.
This harmless milk snake for example looks much like the very dangerous coral snake.
There are a number of little rhymes to differentiate based on the colour bands, like this one:
Red follows black – friend of Jack
Red follows yellow – dangerous fellow.
Did I mention it only holds true for North American snakes? (Do check place of birth before getting too friendly.)
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Crocodiles have a heart with four chambers (two connected to the lungs and two connected to the rest of the body) just like birds and mammals.
However crocodiles also have the ability to have their heart act as a three chambered heart to mix oxygenated and deoxygenated blood (through the foramen of Panizza) to slow down their metabolism.
The also have a further mechanism (a cog toothed valve) to completely block the flow of blood to the lungs when submerged.
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It is perhaps more accurate to state that there are officially no snakes in New Zealand, neither native nor introduced.
There is however the odd reported sighting (but no trapping) of what appears to be Victorian Copperhead on the West Coast of the South Island.
(Image – not a Copperhead, this fella is better looking.)
This photo taken at the Addo Raptor and Reptile center. I was unable to find them on the web. The Colonial on Arundel Bed & Breakfast have some information.
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