ANIMALS IN THE BIOSPHÄRE POTSDAM

It rustles in-between the trees, in the bushes, birds are chirping and fly from twig to twig. A lizard slowly moves from stone to stone and rests there. Ducks and turtles live together in a lake and compete in swimming.

In the Biosphäre Potsdam you can experience many different animals, many of them in authentically designed terrariums and aquariums. 

You can also discover many small animals in-between the bushes.

This is a small selection of all animals living in the Biosphere.

Veiled chameleon

Veiled chameleon in the Biosphere Potsdam
© Gunter Hink

The veiled chameleon can also be called the Yemen chameleon, because it is very common in the south of the Arabian peninsula, especially in Yemen.

The chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus) can become as long as 50 centimeters and therefore belongs to one of the larger species.

One of the characteristics of this chameleon is its changing color. The changing color has less to do with its surroundings but is influenced by its emotions. For example gravid chameleons are dark green with blue and yellow spots.

Green Iguana

Don’t get confused! Unlike its name suggests, the Green Iguana (Iquana iquana) is not always green, but sometimes brownish or, like some males, even orange-red in color.

Characteristic of the diurnal tree dweller is its throat-dew, a scaly skin flap below the mouth, which serves both the thermoregulation and the communication with conspecifics. The heavily perfused skin fold cools him on warm days or warms him on cold days. For this purpose, the green iguana turns towards the sun and inflates the throat sack. A similar behavior can be observed when two male iguanas get in each other's way. However, here the puffiness shows dominance. Instead of fighting, the male with the bigger throat bag wins.

Common Morpho

Blauer Morphofalter in der Biosphäre Potsdam

The Blue Morpho Butterfly (Morpho peleides) reminds with its beautiful color of the blue sky. These dazzling colors are created by tiny scales on the wings, which reflects only the blue light. In contrast to the conspicuous wing top, the underside is in a rather simple brown with yellowish eyes. When it flies through the air, you can see the bright blue flash every now and then.

Superb starling

Dreifarben Glanzstar in der Biosphäre Potsdam

Our local starlings are known for their complex vocalizations and their ability to imitate various sounds - even cell phone tones. Like its native relatives, the superb starling (Lamprotornis superbus) is characterized by its complex vocalizations and ability to imitate. By imitating warning calls, the smart forest dweller succeeds in irritating its competitors and thus securing important food resources.

Surgeonfish

Ein Doktorfisch in Aquasphäre-Unterwasserwelt in der Biosphäre Potsdam
Foto: Tina Merkau

From the family of the surgeonfish (Acanthuridae) especially the blue yellow palette surgeonfish (Paracanthurus hepatus) is very well known. This family includes many other genera and thus covers a wide range of colors: from bright yellow to orange-blue striped to plain gray. These fish owe their comparison with surgeons because of a razor-sharp scalpel-like spine on her tail root. They use this for defense, but can also use it for attack. However the peaceful animals attack very rarely.

Red-eyed tree frog

Rotaugen-Laubfrosch in der Biosphäre Potsdam

The eponymous eye color of the red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas) can be easily overlooked at first. Since the animals are nocturnal, one gets to see them during the day more in the sleeping state and in this their eyes appear through the semi-transparent closed eyelids rather golden. When the frog awakens, the lid folds back and the red eyes are visible. The tree frog sheds every night and only then goes in search for food.

Sun Parakeets

Sonnensittich in der Biosphäre Potsdam

These birds are not only beautifully colored but also socially inclined. It is not uncommon to see two Sun Parakeets (Aratinga solstitialis) cuddling together on a branch. The animals, originally native to Brazil and Venezuela, are not only sociable but also very docile. Already the South American aborigines tamed Sun Parakeets and kept them in cages.

The common clownfish

The common clownfish in the Biosphere Potsdam
Copyright: Tina Merkau

The ocellaris clownfish is a rather bad swimmer, that’s why it uses anemones to hide from predators. Anemones protect the clownfish with their cnidocyte in their tentacles. At the same time, the clownfish protects the anemone from specialized predators. The anemone and clownfish engage in symbiosis – this is why the genus, to which the clownfish belongs, is called amphiprion. 

Walking leaves

Walking leaves

Walking leaves (Phyllium giganteum) are masters of camouflage. They can hardly be distinguished from a normal leaf. When in danger the walking leaf starts shaking like a leaf in the wind and therefore becomes almost invisible for their predators. 

Biologists call this mimicry.

Even in the terrariums of the Biosphere you need to look closely to discover them. 

Python regius

Even though the name (royal python) is suggesting something else, the python regius with its approximate length of 1.2 m is one of the smallest species of python.

The name possibly refers to the time, when some African rulers wore the python as jewelry on the head. If in danger the python coils up into a ball and hides it head – this is why it is sometimes called a ball python!

Due to its adaptability,  it does not only live in the tropical rain forests but also in savannahs of west and east Africa and occasionally gets close to men.