During your next visit to the Zoo, be sure to stop by the Aquatic & Reptile Center for Potato Ole’ and Guacamole. No, not a snack – Potato Ole’ and Guacamole are chuckwallas that recently arrived from the Dallas Zoo and currently sharing the Gila Monsters’ habitat.
The chuckwalla belongs to the iguana family of animals and is native to the rocky deserts of the western United States and northwestern Mexico. These lizards are both 6 months old, and because they’re both still juveniles, their sex hasn’t been determined yet. Potato Ole’ and Guacamole are common chuckwallas, currently listed as Stable in the wild. They’re engaged and interested, with healthy appetites for plenty of salad. Common chuckwallas also eat other types of vegetation and fruit – and occasionally insects – and the moisture in the plants they consume helps them stay hydrated.
Chuckwallas are petite, averaging just 6.4 inches in length, but adults can reach lengths of over 15 inches. To escape predators, they take shelter in small holes and crevices, inflating its lungs and expanding its skin to wedge itself into place. The colors of a chuckwalla further help it camouflage and blend into its surroundings. These lizards burrow in crevices to hibernate during the winter as well.
While this specific species is a new addition, the Zoo previously had a San Esteban chuckwalla that passed away from old age.
Stay tuned for future opportunities to get up close and possibly interact with the chuckwallas during a Wild Connections tour!