The Reptile House

Shore Excursions from La Romana

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  • iguana with girl small River Chavon

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  • iguana closeup small Billy, the cool iguana
     
  • boa constrictor with girl small Showing off with a Boa
     
  • tarantula on hand 2 small The Tarantula
     
  • dominican parrot 2 The Parrots
     
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The Reptile House

... a hands-on experience....

tarantula on hand

The reptile house offers an hands-on experience... Yes, you can touch the animals... if you dare. We have "Will" and "Bill", our two cool Iguana brothers... then it goes to "Bea", "Naran" and "Rocho": our full size Hispaniola Boa Constrictors. And for the brave: "Greepy" our -bit jumpy- Tarantula is waiting for you. In an interactive way we'll tell you some interesting and fun facts about these and other creatures that live in our reptile house. You may take your own photos.

girl holding a boa constrictor

The reptiles that can be touched are born in captivity. However on a weekly basis we get snakes and other reptiles in that are saved after they entered the villages or the houses of people. After an inspection and a decent meal they are released back in the wild, far from human settlements.

The guide will explain interesting facts about the animals. You can hold some of the animals for a perfect photo shoot. Our snakes are very relaxed and the iguana's love the human attention (they have been bred in captivity). The tarantulas are a different story, they don't do anything, but they look scary for most people. Tony, one of our guides, is the spider specialist of the Dominican Republic. He has photographed and documented more than 25 species of spiders that are not named and described yet....

For a lot of visitors the reptile encounter is one of the highlights of their visit to the Tanama Ranch, it's interactive and fun... and if you have a phobia for one of the animals... this is the chance to get over it....


The Snake House

The Hispaniola Boa, also known here as the Culebra Jaba, is a native to the island. This snake is the largest snake found in Dominican Republic, measuring up to 4 meters in length. Boas are said to be the most beautifully colored of all snakes, with colors varying from shades of black, brown, gray to even red. We have a very rare orange one in our snake house. We also have some smaller snake species.



The Iguana Cave

This is the territory of "Will" and "Bill", the coolest Iguana brothers of the Caribbean. They normally sunbath on the terraces, but especially Will likes to be pampered and scratched behind his ears. Will and Bill are green iguanas, this species occurs on the island together with the Rhinoceros iguana. You can pet our iguanas.



The Spider Burrow

Dominican Republic does have its share of spiders, scorpions, ticks, mites, centipedes and other nasty, ugly yet amazing creatures. They are not readily seen, especially in the cities, but in the country they can be plentiful. They are nocturnal and are rarely seen in the daylight. As said: the brave can hold a large tarantula, they don't bite although they have large fangs and are venomous.



The Frog and Toad pond

This display is under construction, but we are going to display some of the frogs and toads of the island.





The Parrot Tree

The Parrot Tree actually doesn't belong to the Reptile House, but.... Our Parrot Tree is home to our little chatters: the Hispaniolan Parrots (Amazona Ventralis). This species is endangered and we have special permission to keep them and try to breed them. In the meanwhile they are chatting and whistling happily and cause for some life in our reptile house. But watch out, they like to bite you...



World's Smallest Lizard Discovered in the Caribbean

jaragua lizard

The world's smallest lizard, the Jaragua lizard, has been discovered on a small Caribbean island off the coast of the Dominican Republic. The newly discovered species not only ranks as the smallest lizard, but it also is the smallest of all 23,000 species of reptiles, birds, and mammals known to our world. So small it can curl up on a dime or stretch out on a quarter, a typical adult of the species, whose scientific name is Sphaerodactylus ariasae, is only about 16 millimeters long, or about three quarters of an inch, from the tip of the snout to the base of the tail. It shares the title of "smallest" with another lizard species named Sphaerodactylus parthenopion, discovered in 1965 in the British Virgin Islands.


Fun facts about reptiles and amphibians

  • 1. There are 8,240 species of reptiles in the world, inhabiting every continent except Antarctica.


  • 2. Hundreds of millions of years ago, amphibians became the first vertebrates to live on land.


  • 3. Reptiles and amphibians are cold-blooded or "ectothermic" animals, which means that they depend on external sources, such as the sun, to maintain their body temperatures. Since they don't burn energy to heat internal "furnaces," reptiles eat 30 to 50 times less food than do birds and mammals (warm-blooded animals) of similar sizes.


  • 4. Some turtles and tortoises, including the Eastern box turtle, can live for more than a century.


  • 5. Only a few hundred of the world's 3,000 snakes are venomous. In the United States, only Rattlesnakes, Copperheads, Cottonmouths, and Coral snakes are poisonous. More Americans die each year from bee and wasp stings than from snake bites.


  • 6. One way to tell a frog and a toad apart: frogs have smooth, clammy skin, while toads have more dry, bumpy skin. Both frogs and toads lay their eggs in water, but toads spend more of their time on land than do frogs.


  • 7. Averaging 3-4 meter / 10-12 feet in length, the King Cobra is the largest venomous snake in the world. It is also the only known snake that builds a nest for egg incubation.


  • 8. Frogs can breathe not only with their lungs, but also through their skin. A frog's skin is thin and contains many mucous glands that keep it moist. Oxygen can be absorbed through this thin, damp skin.


  • 9. Depending upon the size of the meal, Anacondas can go several months between meals.


  • 10. More than 75 percent of all toad and frog species in the world live in tropical rainforests.


  • 11. The Emerald tree boa can strike a bird or small mammal in complete darkness. The pits along the lips of most Boas and Pythons, and the nostril-like cavities of Pit Vipers, are infrared heat receptors. Snakes use these pits to sense the location of anything that differs in temperature from its surroundings by as little as 1 degree Celcius / 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit.


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