An Evening of Reptiles on PBS World

An Evening of Reptiles on PBS World

Thu, 08/19/2010 - 7:00pm - 10:00pm
A Nile crocodile basking on Lake Chamo in Ethiopia.

Credit: Rom Whitaker

Snakes and lizards and crocs - oh my!

If you love reptiles, you've come to the right place. The night kicks off with one of the world's most notorious snakes on Nature "Black Mamba" at 7 p.m. followed by the largest lizards to walk the planet on NOVA "Lizard Kings" at 8 p.m.. We finish off with truly giant reptiles on Nature "Supersize Crocs" at 9 p.m. on PBS World (cable 524/DT21.2).

Nature "Black Mamba"

The black mamba is one of Africa’s most dangerous and feared snakes, known for being aggressive when disturbed. Rearing up with its head four feet above the ground, it strikes with deadly precision, delivering venom that is packed with three different kinds of toxins 10 times more deadly than needed to kill an adult human. Without treatment, the mortality rate is 100 percent. Until now, little has been known about the black mamba’s natural behavior in the wild because, in Africa, most people kill a black mamba on sight and feel lucky to have done so. But in the tiny country of Swaziland in southern Africa, a team of snake handlers has an entirely different “take” on these creatures and hopes their six-week study will change public perception of what they feel is the world’s most misunderstood snake.

NOVA "Lizard Kings"

Though they may look like dragons and inspire stories of man-eating, fire-spitting monsters with long claws, razor-sharp teeth and muscular, whip-like tails, these creatures are actually monitor lizards, the largest lizards to walk the planet. With their acute intelligence — including the ability to plan — these lizards are a very different kind of reptile, blurring the line between reptiles and mammals. And even though these bizarre reptiles haven’t changed all that much since the dinosaurs, they are a successful species, versatile at adapting to all kinds of settings. “Lizard Kings” looks at what makes these tongued reptiles so similar to mammals and what has allowed them to become such unique survivors. But while the creatures can find their way around many different habitats, finding them is no easy task. Natural loners, and always on guard, they sense anything or anyone from hundreds of feet away. NOVA follows expert lizard hunter Dr. Eric Pianka as he tracks the elusive creatures through Australia’s heartland with cutting-edge “lizard cam” technology for an unparalleled close encounter with these versatile “living dragons.”

Nature "Supersize Crocs"

Tall tales of giant man-eating crocodiles inhabit a world between fact and fiction. The truth is that some crocodile species, such as Nile crocs and American crocs, have been known to exceed 20 feet; the Asian-Pacific saltwater croc has been recorded to 23 feet. Today these gigantic creatures are very, very rare, but some of them are still out there in the wild, with a few held in captivity. Renowned herpetologist Romulus Whitaker attempts to ensure the future of the last of these leviathans.