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Wildlife of the World

Wildlife of the World

Our Indoor Exhibit Corridor

Rivers, Oceans and Seas

Red-eared and yellow-bellied sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans/Trachemys scripta scripta)

These freshwater turtles are known as “sliders” due to their habit of sliding off of river side rocks when disturbed. The red-eared variety are found across North America with the yellow-bellied sliders being found in the southern states. They can be found wild in other countries due to the pet trade.

Map Turtle (Graptemys geographica)

Another North American species of freshwater turtle, the Northern map turtle can be found in North-eastern United States and Canada. They are named “map” as their scutes, the plates of their shell, have patterns similar to contour lines found on maps.

African Cichlids

Lake Malawi has over 500 endemic species of cichlid fish, all likely to have evolved from a common ancestor within the last million years. While closely related, the variety in colour and form is massive. We have 5 different species, L. freibergi, L. zebroides, M. estherae, M. zebra, and P. saulosi.


If you were to visit the coastal areas of the UK, you may find some of the species in this tank.

Rockpools are small pools left behind when the sea retreats from coastal rock that has been eroded. They are havens for a variety of species but only species can better cope with salt can stay there, with water continuously evaporating until the tide returns to fill the pools.

Our more obvious residents are the beadlet anemone (A. equina). They close when the pools recede to retain moisture.

We have three species of fish; Common blenny (L. pholis), Black goby (G. niger), and common goby (P. microps). All are smaller than 20 cm, which is a benefit when faced with constantly changing water levels in rock pools.

And lastly, we have two species of periwinkle; the common and the rough periwinkles (L. littorea, L. saxatillis). Both have been an important source of food for British natives for around 10,000 years.

Tropical Marine

Our tropical marine tank is home to a variety of reef fish. Coral reefs have been referred to as one of the biggest biological shelters known to the science, housing thousands of species. Unfortunately, climate change and the wildlife trade continue to damage reefs all over the world.

Our most well-known residents, the clownfish, are found in different reefs off of the coast of Australia. When growing into juveniles, they will look for an anemone to become their home. Our two species of clownfish are occelaris clownfish (A. occelaris) and orange finned/blue striped clownfish (A. chrysopterus). The large anemone in our tank, favoured by the orange finned clownfish, is Haddon’s carpet anemone (S. haddoni). It may sometimes retreat into the rock it is attached to so don’t worry that it has disappeared.

Second in the rankings, our regal tang (P. hepatus). An animated regal tang featured in the films “Finding Nemo” and “Finding Dory”. The character Dory is named for another, much larger fish known as a John Dory (Z. faber). We have two species of damselfish. Both pale damsels (A. indicus)

Atlantic mudskipper (Periophtalmus barbarus)

A most unusual but amazing species. Atlantic mudskippers are a species of fish that have adapted to spending time on land, absorbing oxygen through their skin and mouth lining. Their eyes are located at the top of their head to let them look out for land predators without their head leaving the water.

Awesome Amphibians

Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra fastuosa)

Fire salamanders are found across much of Europe, a very well-known species. Bright colours warn you of potential toxins and in the case of this amphibian, it produces a toxin known as samandrin. Some scientists believe the toxin is intended to cause an animal to vomit if the salamander is eaten, increasing its chances of escape.

Mossy Frog (Theloderma corticale)

The name of this species is very apt as both in colour and form, the mossy frog looks just like moss. This very strong form of camouflage is beneficial in the northern rainforests of Vietnam where they live.  Other relatives of theirs camouflage differently; T. moloch is believed to mimic tree bark and T. albopunctatum mimics animal droppings!

Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantiaca)

Golden Mantella are truly tiny frogs – mature adults measure just 26mm long! These frogs are threatened in the wild by the destruction of their natural habitat. Their current range is just 10km2.  They are a potentially toxic species; brightly coloured to warn you of their ability to retain and modify the toxins of their food.

Incredible Invertebrates

Sun Beetle (Pachnoda marginata peregrina)

A species of scarab beetle, the Sun beetle originated in Central and West Africa. There are 9 different subspecies, Peregrina being the one we have. The come in a range of colours from yellow and maroon to almost golden. In terms of size, they reach 2cm-3cm but their larvae can be two to three times the size at 6cm.

Remarkable Reptiles

Australian Water Dragon (Intellagama lesueurii)

As Australia’s largest dragon species, this lizard spends its time basking in trees overhanging rivers. This allows it a quick getaway from birds of prey by dropping to the waters below where it can hold its breath on the riverbed for up to 90 minutes, or use their powerful tail to quickly swim away. Our two Australian Water Dragons are called Ross and Rachel.

Green Iguana (Iguana iguana) and Freshwater mixed species tank

As the longest of the iguana species, the Green Iguana’s natural range includes Central and South America (for example, Brazil and The Caribbean Islands). However while found in Florida, they are invasive, causing damage to walkways and seawalls due to burrowing causing erosion. With powerful tails, covered in spikey scales they will defend themselves aggressively by whipping it at their predators.

In the freshwater tank below, you will find Upside down catfish (S. nigriventris), Bristlenose catfish (Ancistrus sp.), Buenos Aires tetra (H. anisitsi), Freshwater angelfish (P. scalare), Butterfly goodeid (A. splendens), Zebra nerite snail (N. turrita), and Cherry shrimps (N. davidi)

Tokay gecko (Gekko gecko)

As one of the largest gecko species, named for the unusual noise they make (to-kay), these reptiles will warn predators by opening their mouths wide to let you know they have teeth. Geckos are well known for their ability to stick to almost any surface by way of trillions of nanoscopic hairs on each toe. The grip force of these geckos is especially impressive and can support around 450 pounds.

Californian king snake (Lampropeltis californiae)

With a scientific name meaning ‘shiny shield’, these colubrid snakes are covered in very shiny scales, especially those on the head. They constrict their prey and in defence against predators will sometimes vibrate their tail impersonating a rattlesnake, one of their prey species.  Due to often eating other snakes, including those that are venomous and/or much larger than themselves, they were given the title ‘king’ in their common name.

Uromastyx (Various Uromastyx species)

Also known as Saharan Dabb Lizards or Spiny-Tailed Lizards, these agamids are very well adapted to the dry, arid deserts of Africa. They are equipped with a muscular, spiked tail used to swing at predators, often accompanied by an open mouth, displaying their small teeth. With a diet including plants that have very little water, they use a special gland in their nostrils to eliminate this excess salt from their body without losing water. They can often be seen with white salt around their noses.

Mesquite spiny lizard (Sceloporus grammicus)

Named for a leguminous tree making up its habitat, the mesquite spiny lizard is native to the southern U.S. and Central America.
Each one of its scales has a spine on the tip, making it very difficult to handle. The scales on a males belly are bright blue, used to display to females.

Sudan plated lizard (Gerrhosaurus major)

This species is found across Africa and a number of its neighbouring islands.
It has thick, square shaped scales that act as armour with the addition of extra bones fused to the skull known as osteoderms (bones of the skin).

Nocturnal Animals

Hogg island boa (Boa constrictor imperator)

Named for the islands which it inhabits, these snakes are a subspecies of Boa Constrictor. They have experienced insular dwarfism, an evolutionary process by which island animal populations become smaller than their mainland relatives due to the food available. As snakes consume their prey whole, smaller prey animals will mean these snakes can be smaller, therefore requiring less resources.

Blind cave fish (Astyanax mexicanum)

Sometimes known as Mexican tetra, the blind cave fish is a species of characin fish from Central America. It has only been a cave-dwelling species for a short amount of time in an evolutionary sense. This was proven with the discovery of the same species living in rivers on the surface, except not blind and with some skin pigment.

Cave cockroach (Eublaberus serranus)

This species is relatively new to science, only being discovered in 2015. This means very little research has been done on these animals. Cockroaches, as a whole, are very important to the environment. This is because they are detritivores, meaning they break down rotten biological material. This means animals, across the world, are less exposed to harmful diseases associated with dead plants and animals.

Large hairy armadillo (Chaetophractus villosus)

This species is covered in very long hairs that likely work as sensory organs for finding food. They are needed as large hairy armadillos are mostly subterranean, making burrows to sleep in and also digging for their food. 

Sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps)

Sugar gliders are a flying squirrel-like marsupial from Australia and Papua New Guinea.  It has evolved similar physiology to flying squirrels despite being 160 million years from a common ancestor. This is known as parallel evolution, and is a result of being exposed to the same evolutionary pressures. For example, developing the ability to glide may be linked to living in a forest, same as the Northern flying squirrel (G. sabrinus).