Anyone who likes to study reptiles won’t find a better place than Amazonia. It has an amazing variety of serpents and other species of reptiles all across the Amazon Basin. Ground, tree and water dwelling species abound. What follows is a short list of what can be found in the rainforest.
(Chelus Fimbriata): Mata-matas are freshwater turtles that are found in swamps, marshes, stagnant pools or slowing moving water. They look like tiny prehistoric dinosaurs and grow to around 18 inches and can weigh up to 33lb. Their shell or carapace is oblong in shape and their neck is as long as their body, ending in a long rounded snout. Usually colored black or brown, they are camouflaged to look like bark or logs. They have a horn and various skin flaps. Carnivorous, they are suction feeders and swallow their prey whole, as they cannot chew.
(Melanosuchus Niger): It is called black because it’s dark color, but has brown and grey bands under its jaw. At an average of 16 ft. it is only second in size to the Orinoco crocodile, which makes it one of the largest predators in the rainforest. Will be found in lakes, rivers and wet savannas throughout the Amazon Basin. An indiscriminate feeder, it will hunt almost anything. It will attack humans. Once, it was almost hunted to extinction, but the numbers have recovered.
Yellow Footed Tortoise
(Chelonoidis Denticulatus): A giant tortoise with a long oval shaped body and domed back, but a small head. It can grow to upwards of 15 inches. The carapace shades from yellow to dark brown. The skin areas, yellow to orange. Eats all kinds of foliage. An endangered species, it is found in both wet and dry open areas.
Northern Caiman Lizard
(Dracaena Guinensis): Similar in shape to a crocodile with a long flat tail and horny scales along its back. A short, heavy body with powerful limbs. Bright green with dark green banding. A water dweller, it has strong jaws and a third eyelid for diving. Feeds on clams, crawfish and snails. Grows up to 4ft and around 10lbs.
Aquatic Coral Snake
(Micrurus Surinamensis): A water dweller. It has broad red and black banding separated by thin yellow bands. Grows to between 3-5 ft. It has a flattened tail, like a fin, to aid swimming.
(Enyaliodes Laticeps): Also known as Guichnot’s Dwarf-Iguana or Amazon Wood Lizard. Found all over the western Amazon. Tiny, omnivore and ground dweller.
(Drymarchon Corais): Also known as an indigo snake, it suffocates its prey. It eats small mammals, birds, turtles, lizards and other snakes.
As you can see, the rainforest hosts a wide range of strange and exotic reptiles, many of which have been catalogued, but have not come under serious and sustained study. Information about them is still lacking. Any serpent and reptile lover would benefit from a trip to the Amazon Basin and maybe add to the scientific knowledge of these creatures.