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Featuring creatures from South and Central America.

The concept of the new exhibition is to show visitors more of what can be discovered in the rainforests of South and Central America without having to leave the UK. The landscape, the plantscape, the creatures that live there and links to the ancient rainforest civilisation that is already a prominent feature within the butterfly farm, the Maya.

In 1991 Clive Farrell, owner of Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Farm, and his business partner Ray Harberd created the Fallen Stones Butterfly Farm in Southern Belize, named after the nearby site of ancient Maya ruins, Lubaantun-the place of the fallen stones.

This connection between the Maya and Stratford Butterfly Farm is the inspiration behind the new exhibition ‘Rainforest Realm’, which features animals that originate from the rainforests of Central America.

On display in the Realm is a Northern Emerald Tree Boa Snake, eight endangered Blackfoot Dart Frogs, two baby Yellow Spotted Amazon River Turtles and a trio of Basilisk lizards. There is also a Malagasy Giant Chameleon originating from Madagascar.

The Cenote!

At the heart of the new exhibition is a replicated ‘cenote’, complete with a water cascade, basking area and a deep and a shallow pool.

A cenote is a stunning natural sinkhole formed by the collapse of limestone that exposes and fills up with ground water. Cenote is derived from the Mayan word Dz’onot, which means cavern of water or well.

The ancient Maya sourced water from the cenotes which were respected as sacred places, symbolic of both life and death. The creatures you may typically find in and around a cenote are butterfllies, frogs, iguana’s and crocodiles!

On display within the cenote is a magnificent male Spectacled Caiman

  • The Cenote!The Cenote!
The Creatures of Rainforest Realm!
Spectacled Caiman

Caiman crocodilu

  • Spectacled CaimanSpectacled Caiman

The spectacled caiman belongs to the alligator family, Alligatoridae. It inhabits slow moving bodies of water in lowland regions of Central and South America.

Caiman are opportunist hunters, feeding on a variety of prey including crabs, fish, small mammals and invertebrates.

Males can grow to be up to 2.5m and are both heavier and longer than females; which grow to 2m.

Caiman populations are stable in the wild but they are hunted for their leather and meat. New regulations help prevent exploitation.

Conservation status - LC Least Concern

Malagasy Giant Chameleon

Furcifer oustaleti

  • Malagasy Giant ChameleonMalagasy Giant Chameleon

These chameleons are native to the islands of Madagascar, off the coast of Africa.

They are highly adaptable and are found in dry forest, savannah and even urban environments.

They are the largest chameleon in length and the second heaviest in weight.

Their large size enables them to eat small birds and reptiles alongside the more typical insects. 

Chameleons are famous for changing colour, however this colour change is used more for temperature regulation and social signalling than camouflage.

Conservation status - LC Least Concern

Northern Emerald Tree Boa

Corallus caninus

  • Northern Emerald Tree Boa Northern Emerald Tree Boa

Northern emerald tree boas are native to Northern South America.

Like all boas they are non-venomous but have the longest teeth of any constricting snake. These large teeth and fast reflexes enable them to capture fast moving prey such as birds, bats and rodents.

Emerald tree boas look very simular to green tree pythons of South East Asia.

This is an example of convergent evolution where two unrelated species evolve similar characteristics because they have simular roles and live in simular environments.

Conservation status - LC Least Concern

Black Foot Poison Dart Frogs

Phyllobates terribilis

  • Black Foot Poison Dart FrogsBlack Foot Poison Dart Frogs

Black foot poison dart frogs are found in a small patch of rainforest on the west coast of Columbia.

They are the worlds most toxic land vertebrate and can produce enough toxins through their skin to kill 10 adult humans.

However, captive populations of dart frogs are considered non-toxic as the compounds necessary to produce their toxins are derived from specific insects in their wild diet.

Wild populations of these dart frogs are in decline due to deforestation and agriculture.

At Stratford Butterfly Farm there ten on display within the same exhibition as the emerald tree boa.

Conservation status - EN Endangered 

Yellow Spotted Amazon River Turtles

Podocnemis unifilis

  • Yellow Spotted Amazon River TurtlesYellow Spotted Amazon River Turtles

These turtles are native to the tributaries of the Amazon and Northern South America.

They are one of the largest freshwater turtles in South America growing up to 60cm long with females being slightly larger than males.

They are omnivores, meaning their diet consists of both plant matter and small insects.

They are typically live for around 25 years, however some individuals have been known to reach 70!

There are two baby turtles living in the same exhibition as the basilisk lizards. They are currently only 10cm long but when they are bigger they will live in the cenote alongside 'Kenny' the spectacled caiman.

Conservation status - VU Vulnerable

Green Basilisk Lizard

Basiliscus plumifrons

  • Green Basilisk LizardGreen Basilisk Lizard

Green basilisks are native to the rainforest and wetland regions of Central America.

Green basilisks are arboreal, spending a lot of their time in trees above water. When threatened they are able to run across rivers and ponds with great speed, earning them the name Jesus Christ lizards.

Males have crests along the head, back and tail which is used to impress females.

Their diet cosists mainly of insects but they will also eat some vegetation.

There are a trio of basilisks living in Rainforest Realm.

Conservation status - LC Least Concern