Bearded Dragon

Bearded dragons get their name from their throat pouch, which is covered with large spikes. Dragons will puff out this pouch, and the spiny “beards” of males can also change color to dark bluish-black when the dragon is excited or agitated.  Bearded dragons can live up to 10 years in captivity and grow up to 22 inches long. WonderLab’s bearded dragons (Lydia, Ralph, and Al) are full-grown adults born in fall 2006 and donated by a family member of a museum.

Habitat and Range
Bearded dragons live in rocky, semi-desert regions and arid, open woodlands. They are  native to central Australia.

Diet
Bearded dragons are omnivores that eat a wide variety of insects, leaves, flowers, and fruits in the wild.  At WonderLab, the dragons eat crickets and salads made of various vegetables and fruits.

Behavior and Adaptations
Bearded dragons use a wide variety of body movements and positions to communicate with other dragons.  For example, in addition to the beard display, bearded dragons can also flatten their bodies like a pancake to make themselves look bigger.

Blue Tongue Skink

First time viewers of the Blue Tongue Skink confuse it with a snake. This is because of the skink’s elongated neck that resembles a snake’s head. Because skinks have such short legs they appear to slither much like a snake, too. But don’t be fooled! A skink is a type of lizard. The WonderLab skink is named Mooch, and he is quite friendly.

Habitat and Range
There are about 1,200 species of skinks all around the world; they are very adaptable. The only places that skinks do not inhabit are boreal and polar regions. Each species has different traits, and many gardeners enjoy their company because they help keep down insect populations. Mooch is a cross between two types of skink that originate in Indonesia and Australia.

Diet
Blue-tongued skinks are omnivores, meaning that they can eat plants and animals. At WonderLab, Mooch eats salads consisting of greens, squash, zucchini, sweet potato, bell pepper, blueberries, corn, and carrots.  For protein, he eats cockroaches, meal worms, and dog food. Once a week he enjoys a bowl of blueberries.

Behavior and Adaptations
Skinks are generally curious and, although shy, interested in their surroundings. They have short legs. While they’re not good at digging, they do like to hide. Mooch enjoys moving through his hiding spaces; you’ll frequently find him scooting through the coconut hull fibers in the bottom of his tank.

Like many lizards, Mooch’s eyelids move up when he blinks. This helps keep dirt and light out of his eyes. His large, smooth scales give him a glassy appearance and are supported by bony plates called osteoderms. These provide an extra layer of protection like a suit of body armor.

Chuckwalla

Chuckwallas are large lizards that live to be about fifteen to twenty-five years old in captivity and can grow up to sixteen to eighteen inches in length. Lucky, the WonderLab chuckwalla, is a full-grown adult. Before coming to WonderLab, he belonged to Indiana University – Bloomington and lived in Jordan Hall’s reptile exhibit.

Habitat and Range
Chuckwallas live in rocky desert and lava flow regions of the Sonoran and Mojave deserts of southern California, southwestern Nevada, southwestern Utah, western Arizona, Baja California, and northwestern Mexico.

Diet
Chuckwallas are herbivores, meaning they mainly eat plants.  In the wild, they generally eat wildflowers, buds, fruits, and leaves of desert plants. At WonderLab, the chuckwalla eats a daily salad made of vegetables including dark leafy greens, zucchini, squash, and bell peppers.

Behavior and Adaptations
To escape from predators, a chuckwalla can crawl into a tiny space, such as a rock crevice, and suck the maximum amount of air into its lungs. This expands the chuckwallas body size and wedges it between the rocks, making it harder for predators to pull out. If a predator grabs a chuckwalla by its tail, the tail will separate from the body and continue to wriggle, allowing the chuckwalla to escape.

Chilean Rose Tarantula

The Chilean rose tarantula is a ground-dwelling spider that hatches from one of fifty to two thousand eggs deposited in a silken cocoon. As the tarantula grows, it periodically molts, or sheds, its exoskeleton, leaving behind what looks like a whole spider. Tarantulas will molt ten to fifteen times until they reach maturity in about ten years. At this point, a male will die during his next molt, but females can live for many more molts–up to thirty years. If you see the tarantula lying on her back, she is probably molting!

Habitat and Range
The Chilean rose tarantula lives in rocky, bushy, scrub desert areas of the northern Atacama Desert region of Chile, Bolivia and Argentina.

Diet
Tarantulas are predators that mostly eat arthropods such as crickets but have also been known to eat larger prey such as small lizards, frogs, mice, and birds. Tarantulas eat by using their fangs to put venom into their prey to stop it from moving, spraying the food with digestive juices, mashing it with their fangs, and drinking the liquefied food. At WonderLab, the tarantula usually eats a cricket every week.

Behavior and Adaptations
Tarantulas do not build suspended webs but do produce silken threads that they weave into a mat on the ground. These ground webs can alert the tarantula of intruders or prey.  Tarantulas use their sensitive hairs to detect vibrations, chemical signals, heat, air movement, and possibly even sound.  Several tarantula species, including the Chilean rose, have urticating (irritating or inflaming) hairs on their abdomen that can be flicked or pushed into threatening animals and cause burning, swelling, and itchiness.

Corn Snake

Corn snakes are a common type of snake found in many parts of North America. Like all reptiles, they cannot generate heat internally to warm their body. This is what is means to be “cold-blooded.” Because their body temperature changes with the temperature of the environment, they require an external source of heat.

Habitat and Range
Corn snakes live in a variety of habitats, including trees, fields, and rock piles.  Corn snakes are found from southeastern New Jersey to the southernmost tip of the Florida Keys to west-central Kentucky and eastern Louisiana.

Diet
In the wild, corn snakes eat mice and other small rodents, playing an important role in controlling rodent populations. At WonderLab, the snakes are fed frozen mice every two weeks.

Behavior and Adaptations
Corn snakes are not venomous, but they do have teeth. Corn snakes are constrictors that eat by striking their prey to stun it and then quickly wrapping their coils around the prey to suffocate it then slowly swallow the prey whole.

Honey Bee

Honey bees are less than an inch in length and have a hairy brownish thorax and a dull orange and black banded abdomen. A colony consists of three different kinds of bees: a queen, workers, and drones. Each colony has only one queen, whose sole job is to lay eggs. Most of the bees in the colony are workers, which are all female and do all the work around the hive. There are also a few drones (male bees) in the colony, whose main role is to mate with receptive queens.

Habitat and Range
Honey bees are found in croplands, orchards, gardens, fields, and woodlands. They were originally native to Europe, Asia, and Africa but were introduced to North America in the early 1600s. Today, they range throughout North America except the far north.

Diet
The main food source for honey bees is pollen and nectar from flowers, which they can convert into honey.

Behavior and Adaptations
The life cycle and activity of honey bees follows the seasons. In cooler months, egg laying and honey production decreases and may stop completely. The colony must survive cold temperatures with scarce resources. In warmer months, egg laying and honey production increases once again.  Honey bee colonies are commonly maintained by humans who collect the honey and other products of the hive. This practice, known as beekeeping or apiculture, dates back thousands of years.

Northern Walking Stick

Northern walking sticks are one of the most common species of walking sticks in the United States. They live six to eight months in the wild, and their life cycle has three stages: egg, nymph, and adult. After they hatch from eggs, nymphs look like tiny bright green adults only a orthern walking sticks are one of the most common species of walking sticks in the United States. They live six to eight months in the wild, and their life cycle has three stages: egg, few millimeters long. They go through a series of five to six molts, shedding their exoskeleton, and grow to be three to four inches long as adults.

Habitat and Range
Walking sticks are generally found in forests or heavily wooded areas. As adults, they typically spend their time high up in the leaves of the canopy. Northern walking sticks are found throughout North America. In the United States, they range along the Atlantic coast from Maine to Florida to as far west as New Mexico.

Diet
Walking sticks are herbivores that only eat leaves. Their favorite types of leaves include oak, hazelnut, maple, sassafras, apple, black cherry, and raspberry. At WonderLab, they are mostly fed rose bramble or oak leaves.

Behavior and Adaptations
Walking sticks protect themselves by so closely resembling the twigs and branches of trees that they are generally overlooked by predators. They can stretch their antennae and front legs to sty still for long periods of time, more effectively blending in with their surroundings. They also “sway” or “wobble” to mimic the movement of branches.

Rough-Skinned Newt

Rough-skinned newts look like lizards but are actually amphibians. Their eggs are laid in ponds, and they are born with gills and no legs. Legs and lungs develop after they go through metamorphosis. They grow to be about three-and-a-half to eight inches long and are estimated to live for about twelve years. Cleese, the WonderLab newt, has been at the museum for many years.

Habitat and Range
Rough-skinned newts live at the interface between land and flowing water, in shallow water, and on and under the moist forest floor. This species is commonly found in the Pacific Northwest.

Diet
Rough-skinned newts mostly eat small invertebrates, as well as amphibian eggs and larvae.  At WonderLab, they are fed thawed bloodworms.

Behavior and Adaptations
Newts produce toxins in their skin secretions that if ingested by a predator, causes muscles (including the heart) to stop working. Newts advertise this toxin with their bright ventral (bottom) side but have a dark dorsal (top) side to blend in with their surroundings.

Garter snakes that live in the same areas as these newts have evolved adaptations to the toxin, and are one of the only animals that can eat a newt without dying. Newts can stay underwater because they take in oxygen from the water around them, which can diffuse directly into their skin.  In the winter, a rough-skinned newt may go into torpor at the bottom of a deep pond or underground.  This means that they are physically and mentally inactive, their body temperature drops, and their physiological functions are reduced. When the weather warms, the newt will gradually come out of torpor and become physically and mentally active again.