10 facts about the Nosy Be Panther Chameleon

Panther_Chameleon5Considering our theme we couldn’t name our Chameleon anything other than Pascal. I’m sure you know the drill by now, here are the 10 facts about the lizard (whom is most likely relaxing in his new luxury apartment).

1. Like most of the Chameleon species found on the planet the Panther Chameleon is located in the eastern and northern parts of Madagascar in the tropical forest biome. It can also be found in Réunion and Mauritius but it was introduced here by us people.

2. Male panther chameleons are much bigger than females growing up to around 45cm in length, females are about half the size of the males.

3. Female Panther Chameleons have a dull brown colouration with hints of pink, peach, or bright orange patterning throughout their body. Males on the other hand have much brighter colours and patterns these vary depending on their geographical location known as “locales”. Panther chameleons from the areas of Nosy Be, Ankify, and Ambanja are normally a vibrant blue, while those from Antsiranana and Sambava are red, green or orange. The areas of Maroantsetra and Tamatave produce primarily red Chameleons, however this only applies to the males, female stay the same colour whatever location they are in.

4. One of the main characteristics of not only the Panther chameleons but all Chameleons are zygodactylous, meaning on each foot their five toes are fused into a group of two and a group of three, this gives the foot that recognisable oven mitt appearance. Chameleons use their specially adapted feet to form a tight grip on narrow branches helped by a sharp claw on each toe.

5. The Chameleons tail is prehensile, meaning they can use it to hang on to branches and assist in climbing the same way primates do.

6. Another of the Chameleons well known characteristic is their eyes which can move independently from each other giving them a full 360 degree arc of vision around their body. The upper and lower eyelids are joined together with only a pinhole large enough for the pupil to see through. They can rotate and focus separately enabling them to view two different directions at the same time. This comes in handy when looking out for predators or hunting insects, when prey is located, both eyes will focus in the same direction giving them excellent vision and depth perception. Enabling them to see small insects from a distance of around 5 -10m.

7. The Panther Chameleon uses its very long tongue, which in some cases can be longer than their own body length to catch fast moving prey. The tongue can fire out at around 26 body lengths per second and hit the insects in about 0.0030 sec. Thick mucus at the tip of the tongue forms a suction cup allowing the prey item to be drawn back into the mouth and crushed in its strong jaws. This process happens so quickly it can be missed by a humans naked eye even when they are paying attention and expecting it.

8. One of the many myths surrounding Chameleons is their ability to change colour depending on the ground they are standing on or next to. This is not true they in fact change colour depending on temperature, exposure to light and the mood they are in. For example Chameleons may go dark when cold to attract the heat so they can warm up more efficiently or display a variety of coloration and patterns to communicate messages to others. Bright colours may be used by a male to attract attention of a passing female, whereas dark colours could be used to show signs of stress or a warning to others.

9. Male Panther Chameleons are extremely territorial and live a solitary life, it is not uncommon for males to get aggressive with one another if their communication by colours does not work. Females are a little bit more tolerant towards one another but still prefer living on their own. The only time they would come together would be during the breeding season.

10. Panther Chameleons are not a long lived species of lizard, females live around 4-5 years because even when not bred they will produce infertile clutches of eggs, which take a lot of energy reducing their life span. Males live a bit longer reaching on average between 5-7 years.

Remember to read more about our family run company Snakes Alive, based in Essex, UK serving the East, South East and London areas by visiting the website http://www.snakesalive.co.uk

If you own a Chameleon and would like more care advice please visit:

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6 great reasons why schools should choose snakes alive – the interactive reptile experience!

1. The zoo that comes to you, first hand encounters without the stress or hassle of organising expensive field trips.

2. Close and personal encounters without the glass separating you from these vibrant exotic animals. Interactive learning where you don’t just watch a snake move, you feel a snake move, great for kinesthetic learning.

3. The opportunity to speak face to face with experienced animal handlers. When visiting a zoo little time is often spent with the keepers, with snakes alive we are present for the whole day to answer questions.

4. Tailor made and customised experiences that best suit your learners in an environment that best suits you.

5. An opportunity for students to learn about responsible pet ownership, the impact of the pet trade and the importance of wildlife conservation.

6. Suitable for all age groups, book us for the day and we can cater from the early years foundation stage through to year 6, or year 7 through to sixth forms.

Continue reading

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10 facts about the Desert King Snake

Meet our Princess Jasmine, a Desert King Snake, and learn some interesting things about her species by reading the facts. Jasmine beautifully accompanies Flynn for photo shoots (sshh don’t tell Aladdin).snake1

1. The Desert King snake also known as the Sonoran kingsnake is a nocturnal subspecies of the common King snake.

2. This subspecies of King snake is very docile but if threaten they can flip onto their back, lie perfectly still and pretend to be dead.

3. They have a small head roughly the same size as their neck, black eyes, and a long smooth slender body. They have a black or dark brown body and head with a few white or light yellow markings which form lines across their back.

4. The Desert King snake has been recorded to reach a maximum length of 180cm although it is quite rare for a king snake to reach this size and most will usually grow between 90 –120cm long. Desert King snakes live for around 10-20 years on average.

5. The Desert King Snake is native to Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico

6. The Desert King snake is not only found in the dry arid desert areas but is more commonly found near water and in damp conditions, like the brush lands.

7. The Desert King snakes is cannibalistic which means it will eat other snake alongside more common food such as rodents and birds. They kill their prey in the wild by constriction.

8. The Desert King snake has a resistance to pit viper venom, meaning the desert King snake is able to consume young diamondback rattlesnakes that are found within its range.

9. Adult western diamondbacks will edge hastily backward, shielding their heads with defensive loops when they pick up the scent or get close to a King snake.

10. The kingsnake is the “king of snakes” because it will eat other snakes.

Read more about Jasmine by visiting our main website www.snakesalive.co.uk

Most of our animals come to us as rehomes because their owners can no longer keep them. Keeping any animal is a big responsibility and commitment. Please consider the care required carefully before purchasing.

If you are interested in reptiles but do not want the responsibility of keeping a pet consider having a reptile party where you can give the animals back at the end. Snakes Alive operate in the East and South East of the UK and the London area. Please visit our website or contact us for party or hiring enquiries.


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10 facts about the Land Hermit Crab


Sebastian and Scuttle are snakes alive’s pair of Land Hermit Crabs. Read some information about them below:

1. Land Hermit crabs are soft crabs that are only protected by the shells they temporarily live in.

2. Hermit crabs prefer to be with friends in large groups, sometimes reaching thousands. This is why you should not keep a solitary Land Hermit crab in captivity.

3. Land Hermit crabs like to burrow in a variety of substrate.

4. Land Hermit crabs are decapod crustaceans of the family Paguroidea. Most of the 1100 species have an asymmetrical abdomen which is concealed in an old gastropod shell which is carried around by the hermit crab.

5. The Land Hermit Crab protects its vulnerable abdomen by going inside a empty seashell, hollow pieces of wood or stone. As long as its whole body can retract inside the shell or object it is happy. This habit of living inside a second hand shell gives rise to the name “hermit crab”.

6. Land hermit crabs are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter.

7. There are more than 600 species of hermit crabs in the world.

8. Land Hermit crabs can get jealous of another crabs shell and may try to tempt the current owner out so it can move itself in.

9. Land Hermit crabs can live for up to 15 years, but in captivity with the correct conditions can live for up to 40 years.

10. Land Hermit crabs breathe with gills. If the air is too dry and not around the 70-80% humidity hermit crabs will suffocate and die.

Find out what other animals we can bring to your reptile themed party or event by visiting our website (www.snakesalive.co.uk) or clicking the link below:


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10 facts about the Mali Uromastyx


Introducing Todd, a Mali Uromastyx. Read about this species of lizard below:

1. The Mali Uromastyx is a genus of agamid lizard whose members are better-known as Spiny-tailed lizards, Uromastyxes, Mastigures, or Dabb lizards.

2. The Mali Uromastyx is mainly considered a herbivore but they sometimes eat insects to vary their diet.

3. They normally live in hilly, rocky areas with good shelter and accessible vegetation. Most days are spent in the hot sun, unless they are too hot or danger is near whereby they retreat to underground chambers.

4. The Mali Uromastyx’s colours change according to the temperature; when cool they appear dull and dark which allows their skin to absorb more sunlight becoming lighter as the get warmer – which can also enhance yellow markings on their backs.

5. An adult Mali Uromastyx reaches a size of around 35cm in length with a broad body.

6. If threatened the Mali Uromastyx use their spiked tail which is muscular and heavy as a weapon that can be swung at an attacker with great velocity.

7. The Mali Uromastyx will also use its tail to wedge itself into a burrow keeping it safe while it sleeps.

8. The Mali Uromastyx is found in North Africa, however, other species of Uromastyx have been found in the Middle East, ranging as far east as Iran. The species found further east are now placed in their own genus of Sarra.

9. A female Mali Uromastyx can lay anywhere from 5 to 20 eggs, depending on her age and the situation at the time.

10. They can live around 35 years, which is considered one of the longest life spans for lizards.

Read more about snakes alive’s collection of animals by visiting our website http://www.snakesalive.co.uk

Todd is sure to be joining us for events and reptile parties in 2014, or more information about our services click here

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10 facts about Flat Rock Scorpions

Squashy is one of the newer scorpions to enter our family of animals. Learn a bit about them here:

1. The Flat Rock Scopion or Hadogenes troglodytes is a species of scorpion from southern Africa and has the longest recorded body length of any scorpion, reaching up to 20 cm in length.
2. Male Flat Rock Scorpions have a much longer tail than the females.
3. The Flat Rock Scorpion can be found in small crevices and under rocks they are also good climbers.
4. Flat Rock Scorpions can live between 6 to 8 years.
5. The Flat Rock Scorpion is quite calm and will give a slight pinch when disturbed rather than sting.
6. The Flat Rock Scorpion is nocturnal, which means they sleep during the day and come out at night to eat.
7. Flat Rock scorpions like to burrow down under the ground to a depth of around 10cm
8. If stung by the Flat Rock Scorpion its venom is harmless, even for small children, and is not allergenic.
9. Six months after mating in the spring, the female Flat Rock scorpion will give birth to 30-60 live young, which she will care for on her back for a week or more before leaving.
10. The Flat Rocks distinguishing feature is that their head and body and extremely flat, so much so that at first people think it is a squashed scorpion.

Squashy will be attending parties and events and is available to hire for media or corporate usage.

Read more about snakes alive’s services by clicking the following link:


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10 facts about the Mexican Black King Snake

Meet our new Mexican Black King Snake called Flynn (keeping up our Disney themed names). A beautiful black snake that is already popular with children and has been used on photo shoots along with Jasmine. Read 10 interesting things about this snake:

  1. The Mexican Black King snake is a subspecies of the Common King Snake.
  2. It has a small oval shaped head which is roughly the same size as the neck and slender body so it loses that typical snake head shape.
  3. This snake will typically grow to 90-120cm long, but given the correct care some have been known to reach lengths of around 150cm and live for around 10-20 years.
  4. The Mexican Black King Snake can mainly be found living in the rocky, semi desert and grassy areas of Mexico, the Sonora desert, North-West Sinaloa and small areas of Arizona.
  5. They are carnivores that kill their prey in the wild by constricting, they are not venomous.
  6. The title ‘King’ often refers to animals that will eat their own species, so the Mexican Black King Snake is cannibalistic and they have been known to eat other snakes.
  7. The Mexican Black King snake is very territorial and do not like living in groups.
  8. The king snake is a diurnal snake hunting and eating during the day unless it is too hot in which case they may hunt at night when it is cooler.
  9. Adult female Mexican kings will lay 1-2 clutches each year with 5-18 eggs per clutch.  The eggs are incubated at 82-84 degrees and will hatch in 42-56 days.
  10. They have black eyes, a long slender body with smooth scales that are normally black or very dark brown and reflect a blueish shimmer.

To adopt Flynn or one of our other animals – Click here

Meet Flynn at one of our parties or events – Click here

For more information about how to hire Flynn for a photo shoot, modelling, film visit http://www.snakesalive.co.uk

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Snakes Alive work with the Lorraine Kelly Show and Paul McKenna

Peter Hepplewhite and our Chilean Rose Tarantula Spider called Rose appear live on ITV’s Lorraine Kelly Show as part of their Happiness Habits. Paul McKenna has been helping three people overcome fears and bad habits from public speaking to insomnia. Yesterday, however, was arachnophobia, the fear of spiders.

The three brave ladies and the researchers came to our location in Southend-on-Sea last week for some preliminary filming of genuine reaction shots and filming of various spiders we had available for cut away shots with snakes alive handler Daniel Hepplewhite.

Yesterday Peter and Rose appeared live in the Lorraine studio to see whether Paul McKenna had cured their spider fears by getting them to hold Rose live on air. Paul McKenna had been working hard that morning with Tina Taylor to help the three ladies gain the confidence to do so and within 90 minutes they were all confident enough to do so. Success!

We were made to feel very welcome at the studios and are grateful to work with some leading names in the entertainment industry.

Important Links:

To learn more about snakes alive animal hire – Click here

To watch our performance on the Lorraine Show (16th January 2014) – Click Here

To view Paul McKenna’s website – Click Here

To learn more about Lorraine’s Happiness Habits – Click Here

Please visit our website for more information about who we are and what we do: www.snakesalive.co.uk

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Snakes Alive and the Guinness Book of World Records 2014


When we received the phone call from the Guinness world records we were not sure what service snakes alive were actually being asked to supply. None of our own snakes were the holders of any records that we knew of. Further information was requested from Guinness world records and it transpired that the 2013 Guinness book of records was to contain a section devoted to snakes and snakes alive were to help with promoting the book at several prominent media offices in central London.

So I was on the train to Guinness world records head office in London accompanied by two snakes Meeshak, a Royal python weighing in at 5lbs and Belle, a fully grown female Boa Constrictor weighing in at 20 lbs both tucked up in their travelling case complete with heat mats and all the other paraphernalia that you need to ensure that the snakes have a safe and comfortable journey. Both snakes are ideally suited for media work as they are both content to be handled and no not shy away from crowds or show any bad reactions from flash cameras.

I arrived in good time and was soon introduced to the team at Guinness world records. A photo shoot was arranged and Belle and Meeshak were introduced to everyone. Now I am always aware that not everyone I meet is as enthusiastic about snakes as we are at Snakes Alive and I never intentionally place any snake close to a person who I know is not to confidant about snakes so when I took Belle out of her travelling bag and several people took a step backwards I knew that I had a bit of work to do with confidence building. Fortunately I was the one who would be handling the snakes most of the time however many people at Guinness world records got to hold Belle for a photo opportunity.

While waiting for the car to arrive I was briefed on the days agenda. We were to visit The Sun newspaper, National Geographic Kids, First news, Real people magazine and Toxic magazine. At all these events the new Guinness Book of World Records 2014 was presented and the use of 3D apps were displayed then all staff involved got the chance to hold Belle or Meeshak for a photo shoot.

Snakes Alive and Belle was also invited for the official launching of the 2014 Guinness book of world records at 1 Marylebone. I was here that I got a chance to meet some of the world’s current record holders including

Chris Walton – The lady with the longest fingernails
Imaan – The shortest stand up comedian
Stephen Taylor – The man with the longest tongue

Belle was introduced to a large number of celebrities, such as Vanessa Feltz, One Direction, Rav Wilding, Warwick Davis and Luisa Zissman, amongst many others, who were given the opportunity to pose for a photo with Belle (although not all accepted).

The evening went on to include several attempts at some records and lots of entertainment. When all that was required of Belle was concluded I placed her into her warm travelling case and started the journey home.

My time at Guinness World Records was absolutely fascinating and I got the chance to meet many interesting people. Snakes Alive Animal Hire Services is becoming frequently used for media opportunities in London, for more information Contact Us!

P.s. Does anyone know the reason we were there? Have a guess or go and treat yourself to a copy of the book for Christmas (the 3d elements were a big hit with my granddaughter).

Written by Peter Hepplewhite

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Snakes Alive visit West Midland Safari Park & Bristol Zoo

We have found reptile displays to be disappointing at many of the zoo’s we have visited in the past as we normally own more than the zoo’s do. However when we reached the reptile house at Bristol zoo my first word was “wow” not only was it a large house they had some unusual species that we had not seen on display at any other zoo. As you can imagine we were in there some time and many photos were taken, not just of the reptiles but of their enclosure setups as well. They had spent lots of time making sure each enclosure was perfect for its inhabitant right down to the last detail. Well done to the team in charge of this area, we were very impressed and aspire to have a specialist reptile collection like this one day.

At West Midland Safari Park we opted for the guided tour in the park’s mini bus instead of driving around ourselves – we were on a well deserved holiday after all. We would definitely recommend this to anyone visiting as not only did you get a commentary from one of the keepers as you were driving around, they was allowed to go off the road into places the other cars could not go allowing us to get up close and in some areas feed the animals from the vehicle.

Now for those of you that don’t know West Midlands Safari park is home to Mark O’Shea’s reptile collection and on the way back from the safari the keeper driving casually says “oh that’s Mark O’Shea’s car, he must be in the park today”. Having been talking to one of the keepers about reptiles that morning we were delighted that the whilst eating our lunch he came over and introduced us to Mark O’Shea whom sat and ate with us before giving us a two-hour private tour of his collection. We felt extremely fortunate to not only to have met Mark but to have spent that much time with such a knowledgeable man, thank you for making our day.


Interested in hearing some of the new facts we learnt from our trip why not book a party or educational talk for your school or setting?

Visit http://www.snakesalive.co.uk

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