Sauropsida

Yellow-spotted Amazon turtle

Yellow-spotted Amazon turtle, Podocnemis unifilis

In the 1960s, vast numbers of the tiny, brightly colored young of this species were sent to the US with shipments of tropical fish, but most did not survive. Since females may exceed 17 inches in shell length, they are not appropriate for most home aquariums. Serious private collectors and zoos have done well with them, and they have bred many times in captivity. While considered vulnerable to extinction, they remain an important resource for Native Americans in parts of their wide South American range.

Cuvier’s dwarf caiman

Cuvier’s dwarf caiman, Paleosuchus palpebrosus

Rarely longer than five feet, this widespread South American alligator relative is the smallest species of living crocodilians. In contrast to most other crocodilians, it prefers fast moving streams with relatively cool water. Rare in collections before the 1980s, it is now bred in captivity.

Striped basilisk

Striped basilisk, Basiliscus vittatus

Named for a mythical crowned serpent, basilisks are specialized iguana relatives from Central and South America. They are capable of running on their hind legs so quickly that they can cross water without sinking. The ornate crest on the head is actually an extension of the skull. This species is found from Belize to Colombia, and is also now one of the many reptiles that have become feral in Florida.