WCS’s New York Zoos maintain 50 species of snakes

New York (July 15, 2014)—
The Wildlife Conservation Society and its flagship Bronx Zoo are celebrating World Snake Day (Wednesday, July 16th) with its continuing efforts to educate the public about this amazing group of reptiles.

“Numbering more than 3,400 species worldwide, snakes occupy a wide range of tropical and temperate ecosystems, including deserts, mountains summits, and even marine environments. Since 2008, 309 new snake species have been described,” said Don Boyer, WCS Curator of Herpetology.

WCS’s New York-based zoos (Bronx Zoo, Queens Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, and Central Park Zoo) currently maintain approximately 50 species of snake. Profiles for four of these species are included below (images are attached):

1. Reticulated python Malayopython reticulatus
Oviparous (egg laying), females lay between 15 and 80 eggs per clutch. The female coils around her clutch protecting it from predators. Remarkably the female coiled around the eggs also raising the incubation temperature several degrees above the air temperature through muscular contracting called “shivering”. It is one of the largest snake species known with record a maximum record of 28 feet. More typically large adults are in the 10-20 foot range.

2. Green Tree Python Morelia viridis
The green tree python is a beautiful tree dwelling species from the tropical forests of Indonesia and Northeastern Australia. It often sits with coiled draped on either side of a branch. Its prehensile tail helps it hang on to its tree top perch. This species is also oviparous and hatchling emerges in one of two color patterns, bright yellow or dark orange. They lose this coloration after about one year of age.

3. King Cobra Ophiophagus hannah
The king cobra is the largest venomous snake species in the world achieving a maximum length of 18 feet! Female kings build a nest mound by gathering forest floor leaf litter in their coils. The snake then excavates a several chambers and deposits eggs in one of them. The decomposing leaf litter generates heat and acts as a natural incubator. The female stays with the eggs and aggressively defends the nest site.

4. Timber Rattlesnake Crotalus horridus

The timber rattlesnake appeared the American revolutionary war Gadsden flag with a yellow field depicting a rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike. Positioned below the rattlesnake are the words "Don’t tread on me". The timber rattlesnake is still found in a large range across the Eastern US however some populations of this majestic rattlesnake are in decline and many states have placed on their protected species list.

JOHN DELANEY: (1-718-220-3275; jdelaney@wcs.org)
STEPHEN SAUTNER: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org)
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. VISION: WCS envisions a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in more than 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: www.wcs.org; facebook.com/TheWCS; youtube.com/user/WCSMedia; follow: @theWCS.