Posts in Wildlife
The Tropidurus Genus & Struggling with Taxonomy

Ah taxonomy…thou art a beautiful and heartless bitch. If you’ve ever looked into the tropidurus genus post 1979, you know what I’m talking about!

It’s not uncommon for friends and family to send or show me photographs of reptiles and amphibians they encounter during their holidays. They often ask me to identify the species, and usually, this can be done fairly easily - especially when you know exactly where the individual was found. However, some species can be very hard to differentiate by image and location alone.

My brother found the individual displayed in the above photograph in Rio de Janeiro a few years ago. Truthfully, I had never paid much attention to this genus before, and figuring out the species became even more complicated the more I looked into it. As Frost, et al. (2001, pp.352) very eloquently put in their publication, “from 1979 to present (…) effort on the elucidation of the systematics of the taxon has increased, seemingly exponentially”. In his 1987 paper, Rodrigues gives us a brief history of the genus and the species that were once recognised under it. Boulenger (1885) was the first attempt at revising the then established norm that the genus encompassed about 15 different species but Boulenger maintained only 3 species from the fifteen - Tropidurus hygomi, Tropidurus torquatus and Tropidurus hispidus.

Read More
The Yellow Cururu Toad (Rhinella icterica)

A few weeks ago, I was tidying up my portable hard drive and came across a few photographs that my brother took of a couple of Yellow Cururu Toads (Rhinella icterica) copulating.  He'd found them during a trip to the countryside of Sao Paulo, Brazil, at the end of 2011 - towards the end of the species' breeding season.

The R. icterica is an endemic species that can be found in Brazil, eastern Paraguay and the northeastern part of Argentina. It is considered to be a large toad species with males ranging from 100 - 166 mm in length and females ranging from 135 - 190 mm. Due to its sexual dimorphism, it is easy to differentiate males and females of this species - males have a distinct yellow colouration whereas females tend to be a greyish/brownish colour with symmetrical dark spots on either side of their spinal cord.

Read More
The Common Egg-Eater (Dasypeltis scabra)

Taking a trip down memory lane is always a gamble. We've all had good and bad experiences but I think it's fair to say that both help shape us into who we are today. 

A while ago whilst visiting my mother-in-law, I started to truly appreciate the impressive bookshelf that my husband cultivated as a child. Reading has always been one of his favourite things to do. His bedroom's bookshelf (the one he had as a child) is filled with fantasy books. Next to these books is a picture of his child-self smiling whilst pointing at the spider climbing his naked torso. To this date, he still loves spiders and other critters, which brings me to my biggest find on the bookshelf - a book called 'Amazing Snakes' written by Alexandra Parsons which is part of the 'Amazing Worlds' series published in 1990. As I understand it, this was a birthday present he got alongside the 'Amazing Spiders' book of the same series that was nowhere to be found. 

Read More