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Posted by kerry on January 09, 2002 at 14:57:18:
In Reply to: thanks for the compliment and they are unrelated. posted by kealrey on January 08, 2002 at 04:50:30:
......let me try to answer you paragraph by paragraph.
: To me its amazing, having not seen one in the wild or knowing specific locality data, that you can name geographical locations as a possibility of origin much like is done with gray banded kings, green tree pythons, banded rock rattlesnakes etc. etc. (and I mean this as a compliment) It has been my experience with other reptiles that have a broad range or a range that occurs through different types of habitats that there is a variation in "appearance" within the same species. Do you feel this is the case with the gila monsters. From what I understand they occur in the Sonoran and Mojave desert areas. And it is also my understanding that these two deserts are different in the flaura and overall appearance.
I have read where it has been theorized that the banded pattern is closest in appearance to the prehistoric ancestral form and as the lizard expanded its range to the south the reticulated pattern came about as an evolutionary result of the change in habitats. In the northern "Mojave Desert" end of the range the lizard is more dependant upon large rocks on southerly facing slopes in rocky areas below about 4,000'(3,600' in Utah) than any other habitat component, effectively making the lizard a habitat "specialist", being more localized or "spotty" in distribution. As you move further south and east into central Arizona the habitat gradually changes into "Sonoran Desert" which is characterized by a change in plant communities with a general increase in vegetation density due to rainfall. Here is where the lizards seem to be as at home in the dry washes that run well out of the hills on to the valley floors as they are in the rock piles, becoming habitat "generalists". Still further south they can be commonly found in the mesquite grasslands where there are numereous mesquite trees(often growing in large stands with branches that grow close to the ground) great distances from any hillsides or large rocks. This association(as well as the rockier upland) continues south from southern Arizona until it gives way to "Tropical Thornscrub" in southern Sonora, Mexico. Just try and spot a reticulated gila resting in the shade beneath a mesquite tree... bet ya' don't see it 'til it moves!!! Most of the really reticulate gilas I've ever seen are from the mesquite grasslands, which lends support to the theory.
: Honestly out of all of the gilas I possess I can not tell you any original location of the founding stock just what institutions bred them and when but not where their parents came from "originally" etc.
: Getting back to the parents. Not that it matters, but the male is a light cream color with a slightly more peach colored head and the female is faintly pink (which intensified when she was grvaid. Is it common to find different colors within the same population. Generally speaking with our herps here in Florida you can isolate some patterns as populations barring of course genetic anomalies.
Oh yeah, you can find everything from an almost off-white to an almost light red within the Phoenix area(Maricopa County) alone. I saw a gila near Phoenix once(20 years ago) that was nearly white with a chocolate brown mask and pattern... INCREDIBLE!!! Ironically, the redest gila I've ever seen was only about 25 miles away from where I saw the whitest one... so go figure(LOL).
: I was always under the (layman) impression that the male's genetic origins might have been from the more northern range (Utah, Nevada) because of his color and pattern. And when you had said that you had seen other six tail banded gilas in the Utah area it made this seem even more possible. It is interesting to know that this can occur around the more south central Arizona area.
Even though I mentioned the Phoenix area as a possible genetic locality for the original breeding stock, I have seen lizards that look much like your male further to the northwest..... i seriousely doubt any Utah/Nevada connection though.
: You see I feel this is part of the confusion. When you look in field guides or other literature that documents where the animal was located with the picture. It is hard not to assume that all the animals from that area look like this. And I, like many others that don't live in their range and have seen first hand, have nothing else to go by but this type of literature.
: Another interesting observation is that if the appearance of both the dam and sire could be found in the same locale and of their prodigy only 3 of the five bear a resemblence the other two look totally different. Now once again this could be atributed to the fact of what is in their past genetics that might be coming out or other factors.
: It would be nice if you could have a chart, much like with gray bands, of different variations and where they all occur, But I somehow don't think this would solve the problem because I am sure that if you bred two from different areas there is a possibility that their offspring would look like either one of the locales or a different locale. The only true way would be through DNA research.
: With the alligator snapping turtle for instance, an acquantance of mine here in Florida has done research with pin pointing, through DNA, where the animal originated from. They have been able to break down the range on a genetic level. They can take a blood or tissue sample and tell where the animal originated from. Neat stuff.....
: I feel that my approach of a gila is a gila is a gila, some pretty some not so pretty, is the safest way to look at things from a captive perspective. Now if I lived in Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, California, or even Mexico I might have a different approach because of seeing them in the wild.
: Thank you for your input and the compliment.