Galapagos tortoises are the largest living tortoises, moving slowly at a rate of 0.16 miles per hour (0.26 kph). When male tortoises battle one another, rather than physically fighting, they will open their mouths and stretch their heads as high up as possible. Regardless of who is the larger tortoise, the tortoise that can stretch the highest usually wins.
The Komodo dragon is the largest lizard in the world. It is a fast runner but also spends some time underground in tunnels that they dig in order to regulate their body temperatures. Komodo dragons are also great swimmers and some have been known to swim from one island to another when needed. These animals are active both day and night, but do most of their hunting at night. They are solitary animals with a great sense of sight and smell, and are both predator and scavenger.
The green basilisk lizard spends much of its time in trees that are near water. If they feel threatened while on a branch hanging over the water, they simply let themselves drop into the water and take off running. They can run upright approximately 5 feet per second across the surface of the water and are sometimes called the Jesus Christ Lizard.
Cuban crocodiles are strong swimmers and are also adept at walking and leaping. From below the surface of the water, they use powerful thrusts from their tail to catch prey from overhanging tree branches.
They have a total of 66 to 68 large teeth, which they use to crush turtle shells, one of their main food items.
Did you know that the crocodile monitor is thought to be the longest lizard in the world? Its tail is twice as long as its head and body! It is usually black and white with yellow and or green specks and has folds around its throat.
These monitors are arboreal and spend most of their time in trees. While they are thought to be a calm lizard, they do have a very powerful tail that can cause damage if the animal is threatened. They use their tail like a whip to deter predators.
Boa constrictors are both terrestrial (ground dwelling) and arboreal (tree dwelling), and are great at camouflage. Depending on the habitat they are trying to blend into, their bodies can be many different shades of tan, brown, gray and black. The patterns can also vary. Boas are non-venomous constrictors, meaning that they squeeze their prey. Their jaws can stretch wide to swallow their prey whole. These snakes are solitary and nocturnal.
The bushmaster is the largest of the pit vipers and the largest venomous snake in South America. The bushmaster is considered dangerous, with potentially lethal venom. They have pits located between the eyes and nostrils that are used to “sense” the body heat of prey. They swallow their prey head-first, but the snake will also bite and release larger or more dangerous prey.