Saturday, April 24, 2010

Out on a Limb

Rhacodactylus ciliatus
RNA (A.K.A. Ribo)
Glendale, California
August 6th, 2007

I took this photograph of one of my male crested geckos a few years back. I own several crested geckos, as well as a pair of viper geckos, several bearded dragons, and an anerythristic corn snake. Of my collection of reptiles, I think the crested gecko has one of the most interesting natural histories. 

The crested gecko, Rhacodactylus ciliatus, is endemic to southern New Caledonia (Grand Terre and the Isle of Pines). It was first described by Alphone Guichenot, a French zoologist, in 1866. The gecko was thought to have been extinct until it was rediscovered in 1994. A few individuals were taken back to the United States and Europe were the gecko was found to be a prolific breeder, and easy to maintain. Today they are one of the most popular geckos to keep. 

Unfortunately, the in the wild, the crested gecko has not been so lucky. This species is threatened by human encroachment on its habitat, and by the introduced little fire ant. The little fire ant (Wassmannia auropunctata) was introduced to New Caledonia sometime between 1955 and 1972. It was most likely brought in with ornamental or agricultural plants. The ant competes with the gecko for food (insects and other small arthropods), and preying on the gecko itself. 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Towhee Poses for a Picture

Pipilo crissalis 
Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve
Los Angeles County, California
March 28th, 2010

This little California Towhee (Pipilo crissalis) posed for a few pictures on a recent birding trip to the Selpulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve. This trip will be memorable because it was the first trip I took with my wife. She was great for her first time out, she often spotted unique birds before I did, and she makes a great companion. Hopefully, she will join me on future outings as I had a great time with her. 

The California Towhee is a common bird of the chaparral and scrublands of California and Southern Oregon. They are uniformly brown, with a reddish brown eye-ring and under-tail coverts. They essentially look like a big brown sparrow. They tend to live in the dense shrubs along coastal slopes and foothills, but they are also resident visitors of backyards and city parks. One interesting bit of information on this towhee is that they often make their nests in poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) and feed on the plants berries.