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3 Unbelievable Reptiles Right Here In Canada
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3 Unbelievable Reptiles Right Here In Canada

This post was written by guest blogger Sean Feagan. [caption id="attachment_33785" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of sean feagan Sean Feagan, Guest Blogger[/caption] While Indiana Jones was not a fan of snakes , there is a lot to appreciate about reptiles. Canada's reptiles are a varied bunch in terms of their appearance, life history and ecology. The three main groups, snakes, lizards and turtles, all have bony shells, scaly skin and an ectothermic metabolism, which means that unlike us, their body temperature is largely determined by the external environment. While some reptiles lay soft-shelled "leathery" eggs some are viviparous, meaning they give birth to live young ones. Canada has 49 species of reptiles and the Canadian Herpetological Society has a great overview of each species on its website. Unfortunately, many are either imperiled or vulnerable to decline (33 species are listed on the federal Species at Risk Act with six additional species believed to now be extirpated in Canada). Ontario and British Columbia have the greatest number of species, many of which are endangered. All other Canadian provinces, with the exception of Newfoundland, have reptile populations. While Yukon and Nunavut lack resident reptiles, den sites of red-sided garter snakes have been identified in the Northwest Territories. So what is threatening our reptile species? Unfortunately, there are numerous and often interacting threats afflicting reptiles in Canada, including habitat loss and fragmentation, road mortality, collection as pets, pollution, invasive species, climate change, disease, and human persecution. These threats have reduced the size and geographical extent of many reptile populations throughout Canada. In fact, the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre recently announced a state of emergency for Ontario's turtles where seven out of eight species are at risk due to the number of road collisions this summer. While all of the reptile species in Canada are interesting and unique in their own ways, here are few of my favourites: Spiny Softshell Turtle With a squat, smooth shell and an elongated snout, the Spiny Softshell Turtle is, well, weird looking. In Canada, this species exists in southern Quebec and Ontario and is listed under the Species at Risk Act as Threatened. It is found in a variety of freshwater habitats, typically in those with a soft substrate and sparse aquatic vegetation. Unfortunately, this one and other related softshell species have been the victims of poachers who sell them to restaurants. To combat this and other threats, captive breeding and release programs are underway in Quebec and in Ontario


[caption id="attachment_34736" align="alignright" width="300"]Image of a Greater Short-Horned Lizard Greater Short-Horned Lizard showing off its camouflage ability at Grasslands National Park (Photo credit: Sean Feagan)[/caption] Greater Short-horned Lizard Among the hoodoos and cacti of the Canadian badlands lives this spiky and diminutive (generally less than 10 cm in length) member of Canada's limited (five species) lizard assemblage. Two populations of this species exist both in southwest Saskatchewan (in and around Grasslands National Park) and in southeastern Alberta (near Medicine Hat). The species is listed in the Species at Risk Act as Endangered and is threatened primarily by habitat loss and alteration from various activities. Worth noting, it has the “charming” ability to shoot blood from its eyes when threatened.
[caption id="attachment_34734" align="alignleft" width="300"]Image of a Five-lined Skink Five-lined Skink at Point Pelee National Park (Photo credit: Sean Feagan).[/caption] Five-lined Skink While many birders travel to Point Pelee National Park to admire migrant songbirds, others may visit the park to see this species. Two populations are recognized in Canada: the Great Lakes / St. Lawrence Population (listed as Special Concern), and the Carolinian Population (listed as Endangered). Younger skinks exhibit interesting colouration with five cream stripes over iridescent green-black bodies and a striking blue tail.
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Nature Canada to host community fall BioBlitz in Ottawa’s Mud Lake area
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Nature Canada to host community fall BioBlitz in Ottawa’s Mud Lake area

OTTAWA (September 10, 2014) ― Nature Canada and naturalist experts from across the National Capital Region are gathering this weekend to host a fall “BioBlitz” in Ottawa’s Mud Lake area near Britannia Park. The event is open to the general public and is part of a larger effort to learn more about the state of local biodiversity and catalogue changes over time in population patterns. The event runs over a 24 hour period from 3pm on Friday to 3pm on Saturday and includes guided tours for the general public focussing on how to identify groups such as plants, birds, amphibians and reptiles. “Our goal is to involve the general public in the scientific process and to have fun while doing it,” said Alex MacDonald, Nature Canada’s Manager of Protected Areas. MacDonald continued, “our hope is that lots of people join us for a fun, engaging day at this unique urban wilderness site”. MacDonald and other Ottawa-area naturalist experts are aiming to locate, identify and photograph as many different species as possible around the site in a 24 hour period. For more information including a full schedule of events and directions to the site, members of the general public are encouraged to visit: http://naturecanada.ca/news/blog/nature-canadas-fall-bioblitz-at-mud-lake/

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[one_half][separator headline="h2" title="Media Contacts:"] Paul Jorgenson, Senior Communications Manager 613-562-3447 ext 248 | pjorgenson@naturecanada.ca Sarah Kirkpatrick-Wahl, Conservation Coordinator 613-562-3447 ext 252 | skirkpatrick-wahl@naturecanada.ca Monica Tanaka, Communications Coordinator 613-562-3447 ext 241 | mtanaka@naturecanada.ca [/one_half] [one_half_last][separator headline="h2" title="About Nature Canada"] Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Over the past 75 years, we’ve helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and the countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, we represent a network of over 45,000 members & supporters and more than 350 nature organizations in every province across Canada.[/one_half_last]

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