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Exotic Amphibians And Reptiles In New Zealand

Discussion in 'New Zealand' started by Chlidonias, 12 Mar 2011.

  1. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    This is a list of the exotic amphibians and reptiles in captivity in New Zealand. Native species (not listed below) include four species of frogs, eighty-odd species of skinks and geckoes, and one or two species of tuatara (depending on taxonomy). The species in the list are those which I know are in New Zealand that are held legally. Most are to be seen within zoos and aquariums; some chelonians are kept only in the private sector but would be available to zoos if they sought them out.


    AMPHIBIANS

    These are the only exotic amphibians held legally in New Zealand, either publicly or privately. Other species are probably also held illegally. Cane Toads (Bufo marinus) were commonly imported from Australia by the universities for their laboratories in the 1980s and 1990s, and were sometimes seen in zoos, but there are none left now. Up until the early 1990s Auckland Zoo had a Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) in its aquarium.


    *Golden Bell Frog (Litoria aurea)

    Introduced Australian species found wild in the top half of the North Island.

    *Southern Bell Frog (Litoria raniformis)

    Introduced Australian species common all over New Zealand.

    *Whistling Frog (Litoria ewingii)

    Introduced Australian species common in parts of New Zealand.

    *African Clawed Frog (Xenopus laevis)

    Originally brought in by University labs in the 1980s or earlier, now seen in a few zoos and public aquariums as well. Not legal to keep privately.

    *Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum)

    Common in the pet trade in various colour forms. Sometimes seen in zoos and public aquariums.

    *Japanese Fire-bellied Newt (Cynops pyrrhogaster)
    *Chinese Fire-bellied Newt (Cynops orientalis)

    Both these species of newts are in the pet trade in New Zealand, originally descended from smuggled animals. They are only occasionally seen in public collections.


    SNAKES

    No exotic snakes are allowed to be held in New Zealand, even for zoos. The larger zoos (i.e. Wellington and Auckland) have tried in the past to be permitted to hold male individuals of non-venomous species which wouldn't be able to survive in the New Zealand climate, but have been rejected every time. The only "native" snakes in New Zealand, in the sense that the individuals make their own way to the country, are the Sea Snakes which occasionally wash up on our shores half-moribund with cold. These are usually Yellow-bellied Sea Snakes (Pelamis platurus) although Banded Sea Snakes (Laticauda colubrina) also occur from time to time. Sea Snakes which are still alive are taken to Kelly Tarltons in Auckland for care, and they are sometimes displayed to the public until fit enough to be released in the tropical Pacific.



    LIZARDS

    There are probably a few more species than listed here kept illegally in private hands. As well as the following species, Auckland Zoo had an Asian Bloodsucker (Calotes versicolor) and Fijian Banded Iguanas (Brachylophus fasciatus) in their collection in the 1990s but these are long gone now (the iguanas lasted until the early 2000s). Wellington Zoo had a Gould's Monitor (Varanus gouldii) up until 2007 when it went to Ti Point where it lived until c.2009 - this was the last survivor of six animals imported in 1983/84. There were also Rhinoceros Iguanas (Cyclura cornuta) in New Zealand in the 1980s at either Auckland or Wellington (imported from Australia in 1984).


    *Scheltopusik (Ophisaurus (or Pseudopus) apodus)

    Auckland Zoo imported a pair in 1985 from Chester Zoo (UK) - I think one of these old animals is still alive. In 2013 Wellington Zoo imported five individuals from Artis Zoo (Netherlands) and these have since been bred from. Two animals were sent from Wellington Zoo to Auckland Zoo in 2017. The species makes a good snake-substitute. Not legal to keep privately.

    *Jackson's Chameleon (Trioceros (Chamaeleo) jacksonii)

    Originally at Auckland Zoo, with seven animals imported from Australia in 1996. Stock bred there went to Ti Point, and Wellington Zoo also obtained a pair in January 2003, which bred at least once. The last animals at both Auckland and Wellington died out in 2007, leaving animals only at Ti Point. Wellington Zoo acquired three (1.2) from Ti Point in 2013, but in 2016 sent their last two (1.1) to Auckland Zoo. Currently there appear to be only a few males left in the country (one [still?] at Auckland and a couple [still?] at Ti Point) but these may have since died. Not legal to keep privately.

    *Veiled Chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus)

    Three animals (1.2) came to Wellington Zoo after being seized by Customs in October 2014 at Auckland Airport, and then an additonal two (1.1) which were seized in January 2016. There are no longer any on display at Wellington so they may have died out. Not legal to keep privately.

    *Eastern Water Dragon (Physignathus lesueurii)

    Originally mainly seen in zoos (Auckland Zoo and Ti Point, in particular, were breeding them well), but now common in the private sector as well.

    *Inland (Central) Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps)

    Common in both zoos and the private sector.

    *Coastal (Eastern) Bearded Dragon (Pogona barbata)

    Common in both zoos and the private sector.

    *Green Iguana (Iguana iguana)

    Currently at Wellington Zoo, Ti Point, Willowbank, Natureland, and Auckland Zoo. Four were imported by Wellington Zoo in August 2011 from Melbourne Zoo. Two (now just one) were kept at Wellington Zoo and two (since October 2012) are at Ti Point. The latter pair bred in 2015, producing 20 babies. Willowbank has two animals and Natureland has one, from the young bred at Ti Point. Auckland Zoo has six animals: one was seized by Customs in October 2014 at Auckland Airport, and the other five came from Ti Point at the start of 2018.
    Previously also held at Wellington Zoo and Napier Aquarium in the early 1980s to early 1990s (four animals were imported, all bred at Taronga Zoo in Australia). Ti Point also had animals in the early 2000s which were obtained from a private person; this stock was proven to be smuggled animals, all of which were seized and destroyed.

    *Lace Monitor (Varanus varius)

    Of the animals currently in New Zealand, Auckland Zoo imported six (3.3) captive-bred animals from Australia (via the Australian Reptile Park) in October 2015, and later two more were imported (bred at Snakes Down Under). Babies from a 2018 breeding at Auckland were reportedly obtained by Wellington Zoo and Ti Point (just two animals at each) but this hasn't been publicly confirmed by these zoos outside of the press release by Auckland Zoo - the Ti Point ones are on display, but the Wellington Zoo ones are not.
    Previously also held at Auckland Zoo (four animals imported in 1971; the last one died in 2002) and at Orana Park (two animals imported in 1988, the last one died mid-late 2000s).

    *Eastern Blue-tongue Skink (Tiliqua scincoides)

    Very common in zoos and the private sector.

    *Stump-tailed Skink (Tiliqua (or Trachydosaurus) rugosus)

    Not many left in New Zealand zoos any more. May still be some in the private sector as well.

    *Cunningham's Skink (Egernia cunninghami)

    Not many left in New Zealand zoos. Still some in the private sector as well.

    *Rainbow Skink (Leiolopisma delicata)

    Introduced Australian species common in the wild in the North Island.

    *Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius)

    Originally (four?) individuals were imported by Orana Park in 1988 for their new reptile house. Later they were passed on to Eric Fox of Otorohanga Kiwi House who bred them, and from there they entered the private sector. Now rarely seen in zoos.

    *Madagascar Day Gecko (Phelsuma madagascariensis grandis)

    Originally five animals imported from Australia in 2000 (I think by Auckland Zoo). There are still not a lot of them around. They are still currently at Wellington Zoo, Ti Point, and possibly the Parrot Ranch (not open to the public). Also formerly at Hamilton Zoo and the Otago Museum's Butterfly House in Dunedin. Not legal to keep privately.

    *House Gecko (Gekko monarchus)

    At Ti Point (still signed in Oct 2017: Ti Point Reptile Park species list).

    *Northern Dtella (Gehyra australis)

    Formerly at Ti Point (apparently no longer present).



    CHELONIANS

    The turtles are found mainly in the private sector and range in abundance from very common to very rare. Apart for the Greek and Hermann's most of the tortoises can be classed as rare to very rare in New Zealand, and (for zoo-held individuals) are mostly housed at Ti Point. There are probably a few more species in New Zealand than listed below but they would be composed of one or two old individuals unless smuggled animals. Turtles could be freely imported from the UK and Japan up until the late 1980s, hence the interesting selection below. There may be other species still around which I am not aware of.


    *Galapagos Giant Tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra)

    A male and two females at Auckland Zoo, and one male which alternates between Ti Point and Auckland Zoo. All were bred at Honolulu Zoo (Hawaii) and imported in 1983. They have successfully bred once, with one baby hatching in January 2018. Not legal to keep privately.

    *Red-footed Tortoise (Chelonoidis carbonaria)

    Just one left at Ti Point.

    *Yellow-footed Tortoise (Chelonoidis denticulata)

    Just one left at Ti Point.

    *Chaco / Pampas Tortoise (Chelonoidis petersi / C. chilensis)

    Still two at Ti Point.
    [In New Zealand these are called Chaco Tortoises with the scientific name Geochelone chilensis (under the older genus name), but the Chaco Tortoise is petersi and the Pampas Tortoise is chilensis so I'm not actually sure which is the species in New Zealand]

    *Texas Tortoise (Gopherus berlandieri)

    At Ti Point (still?).

    *Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)

    I don't know the current status of this species in New Zealand.

    *Indian Star Tortoise (Geochelone elegans)

    Over twenty at Ti Point (having been bred there). Four were imported in 2000 from Australia by Auckland Zoo, but they no longer seem to keep them.

    *Elongated Tortoise (Indotestudo elongata)

    A few in private hands.

    *Greek (Spur-thighed) Tortoise (Testudo graeca)

    The commonest tortoise in the New Zealand pet trade.

    *Hermann's Tortoise (Testudo hermanni)

    The second-commonest tortoise in the New Zealand pet trade.

    *Leopard Tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis)

    Two females confiscated at Wellington airport in 1996 were sent to Auckland Zoo, where they were joined in 2002 by a male donated by a lady from Dunedin who had been keeping him as a pet since being given him in northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) in 1958! Ti Point also had at least one leopard tortoise, but Auckland Zoo has bred quite a number from their trio and the young ones can now be seen in several other New Zealand zoos including Butterfly Creek, Brooklands Zoo, Wellington Zoo, and Willowbank.

    *Red-eared Terrapin (Trachemys scripta elegans)

    Very common in the pet trade. There are suggestions in some circles that they should be banned to prevent them becoming established in the wild as a pest.

    *Cumberland's Terrapin (Trachemys scripta troostii)

    Fairly common in the pet trade.

    *Painted Terrapin (Chrysemys picta)

    *Florida Cooter (Pseudemys floridana)

    *Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin)

    May be none left now of the three species above.

    *Carolina Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina)

    Pretty common in the pet trade.

    *Three-toed Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina triunguis)

    Pretty common in the pet trade.

    *Florida Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina bauri)

    *[there may still be some other Terrapene around as well]

    *Reeves' Turtle (Chinemys reevesii)

    Common in the pet trade.

    *Asian Leaf Turtle (Cyclemys dentata)

    *Striped Leaf Turtle (Cyclemys atripons)

    *Spiny Turtle (Heosemys spinosa)

    *Asian Box Turtle (Cuora amboinensis)

    *Chinese Box Turtle (Cuora flavomarginata)

    The only Chinese Box Turtles I've seen in a public collection are the group of five males at Napier's National Aquarium.

    *[possibly some of the other Cuora species are still around as well]

    *Murray River Turtle (Emydura macquarii)

    Fairly common.

    *Jardine River (Red-bellied) Turtle (Emydura subglobosa)

    Fairly common.

    *Eastern Snakeneck (Chelodina longicollis)

    Very common in the pet trade.

    *Narrow-breasted Snakeneck (Chelodina oblonga)

    May still be around.

    *Broad-shelled Snakeneck (Chelodina expansa)

    May still be around.

    *Florida Softshell Turtle (Apalone ferox)

    Still one male at Ti Point which is the only one left in the country. Ti Point formerly held a pair which had come from the National Aquarium in Napier in 2009 or 2010.

    *Chinese Softshell Turtle (Pelodiscus sinensis)

    These used to be commonly seen for sale as babies in the 1980s and 1990s, so in theory they should still be around in private hands in some numbers.

    *Snapping Turtle

    I can't remember if the one(s) in New Zealand were Common or Alligator Snappers. I doubt there are any left now.

    *Matamata (Chelus fimbriatus)

    These used to be in New Zealand in private trade, probably none left now.

    *Marine turtles

    Kept at Kelly Tarltons and the National Aquarium in Napier. The latter still has one male Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) which came from Fiji in 1979 (two were imported at the time). Kelly Tarltons provides a rescue service for sea turtles which wash up in New Zealand. If possible, after recovery at the facility they are returned to the wild in the tropical Pacific. The most common species received at Kelly Tarltons is the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) but they also receive Hawksbills (Eretmochelys imbricata), Loggerheads (Caretta caretta), and Olive Ridleys (Lepidochelys olivacea).



    CROCODYLIANS

    Obviously not legal to hold privately in New Zealand. Most public facilities aren't set up to hold large crocodylians so there are not many here. Additional individuals held in the past few decades included a Spectacled Caiman (Caiman crocodilus) at Auckland Zoo into at least the 1980s, an American Alligator at Wellington Zoo up until at least the late 1980s, a Saltwater Crocodile at Napier's National Aquarium until 2010, and a Saltwater Crocodile at the now-closed North Brighton Zoo in Christchurch until 1995.


    *American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)

    There are nine individuals (1.8) in the country: at Auckland Zoo (0.3), Ti Point (1.1), Butterfly Creek (0.3), and Napier's National Aquarium (0.1).
    Auckland previously had five animals: a female named Doris, imported from Australia in 1982, and four imported in 2010 from Australia Zoo - their current three are from the 2010 import.
    The Ti Point pair are a male originally imported to Auckland Zoo in 1982 (with the female Doris), and a female from Australia Zoo (imported in 2010 together with the four that went to Auckland Zoo).
    Butterfly Creek imported five females together as babies from Australia in 2009. Three are still at Butterfly Creek and two were sent to Napier's National Aquarium (which now just has one).

    *Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)

    Now only at Butterfly Creek, which holds two adult males imported in 2009 from Australian crocodile farms (originally wild-caught in Queensland and the Northern Territory). Butterfly Creek also had six young ones hatched from imported eggs in June 2011 but all six were exported to Ireland in July 2014.
    Previous individuals of the species in New Zealand were one held at the National Aquarium in Napier - originally imported from a Singapore crocodile farm c.1990 - which died in July 2010; and one held at the North Brighton Zoo in Christchurch - originally imported from Australia in 1954 - which died in 1995 (and the zoo itself closed in 1996).
     
    Last edited: 25 Jun 2019
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  2. Electus Parrot

    Electus Parrot Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting stuff, thanks Childonias.
     
  3. Maguari

    Maguari Never could get the hang of Thursdays. Premium Member

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    Indeed - these threads are fascinating. No snakes (not even odd males for display) is a weird thought.

    Incidentally, I do enjoy how these threads give us almost a New Zealand Zootierliste at this point!
     
  4. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    Excellent job as always!

    I would suspect the Auckland Galapagos giants to be Chelonodis porteri (as they all originate from Honolulu Zoo captive-breds ... bred 1969/1970, not since ... alas).

    True or false: someone suggested on ZooChat Galapagos giants moves in the works. What is to happen to the Auckland group?
     
  5. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    yes I wasn't quite sure what the Galapagos tortoises at Auckland were species-wise so just listed them under the lumped name nigra (both the Auckland and Honolulu Zoo websites still just call them Geochelone elephantopus anyway). One of the Auckland group's males moved to Ti Point last year because he was interfering with mating attempts or something like that. He is a non-breeder himself (I believe he had his personal area mutilated by the other male tortoise, to put it delicately), but as far as I know there are no plans to move the other three anywhere.
     
  6. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm not going to attempt listing fish and invertebrates if that's what you're suggesting! :D
     
  7. Ituri

    Ituri Well-Known Member

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    Interesting. Much like Hawaii. It would seem that the Honolulu Zoo on Oahu has a permit to hold 2 male, non-venomous snakes at any given time. These would be the only snakes legally in the state.
     
  8. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    I was just at the Napier Aquarium and didn't see any soft-shell turtles, and they now only have one hawksbill turtle (now very big!)
     
  9. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

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    When I visited the National Aquarium in 2008, as part of a class trip, they had Florida Soft-shelled Turtle(s?), but these were not on display and were in a tank out the back, but we were given a 'behind the scenes' tour and I got some very blurry photos of them. They may still be there.
     
  10. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    if so they should put them in their old crocodile tank - its totally wasted at the moment housing red-eared and snake-necked terrapins!
     
  11. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

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    I remember seeing the turtles at Ti Point in November 2009, and being quite surprised to see them there, as they were not a species I had seen there previously.

    The turtles are listed in the 2007 and 2009 Arazpa censuses (censi?) as being 1.1.1 at National Aquarium, but there are no records of them (anywhere) from the current census.

    I think that the turtles probably left National Aquaqrium for Ti Point in 2009, and have a) died out, or b) are still there and not being reported. This is a definite possibility as there seems to be a few species missing from their species (capuchins, red-eared sliders and Australian snake-necks for example, which I'm sure they must have). I will check it out next time I'm up there, which will be Easter weekend (weather and other zoos permitting).
     
  12. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

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    The August 2009 Ti Point Reptile Park Newsletter has this to say about the Florida Soft-shells:

     
  13. Jabiru96

    Jabiru96 Well-Known Member

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    Are there any plans for any NZ zoos to import Komodo Dragons? A regional breeding program could be established if there were more individuals and NZ got on board.
     
  14. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    not as far as I'm aware
     
  15. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    there are now legal green iguanas in New Zealand once again, with four at Wellington Zoo imported from Melbourne Zoo in August.
     
  16. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    a small (and tardy) crocodylian update, the National Aquarium in Napier now has two American alligators (since December 2011) on loan from Butterfly Creek in Auckland:
    Pair of alligators on loan to Napier aquarium - National - NZ Herald News
    Izzy mentioned in the article was actually the aquarium's saltwater crocodile, not an alligator.
     
  17. AskAlice

    AskAlice Well-Known Member

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    Apparently Ti Point Zoo does have two alligators. My daughter went there a few days ago and said there were two alligators each in separate enclosures. I'll double check with her. We do have some photos from that visit.
     
  18. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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  19. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    scheltopusiks now also at Wellington Zoo (imported this year, not yet on display).
     
  20. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    Wellington Zoo now has Jackson's chameleons (from Ti Point). Ti Point is the only other collection with them as far as I'm aware. The Parrot Ranch near Wellington did have them at one time (also from Ti Point) but they were no longer there when I visited in 2011.

    However I did just now (while googling) find out what happened to Auckland Zoo's colony:
    http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/file...surveillance/issue-33-3/surveillance-33-3.pdf (Sept 2006)
    I still don't know where the zoo's chameleons came from originally though.