Animals at Basel Zoo

Alongside mammals and birds, BASEL ZOO is home to a large number of other kinds of animals. Under this heading, we present a selection of fish, amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates, insects and arachnids to you.
As far back as 560 million years ago, invertebrates like jellyfish and snails inhabited the Earth. These animal species have a very simple body plan.

Arachnids and insects belong to the group of animals with the biggest number of species – the arthropods. In arachnids, the segmentation that exists in the form of the front and rear sections of the body is not clearly visible. A distinctive characteristic of this animal species is its four pairs of legs. On insects, the threefold division of the body into the head, thorax and abdomen is clear to see. Simple and compound eyes are to be found on the head, together with antennae and mouthparts, while the trunk has three pairs of legs attached to it, and the abdomen never has any limbs on it at all.

Fish are adapted to life in the water. They breathe with the aid of gills, and their skin is covered with scales. The fish's body is supported by a vertebral column, and fish use their fins for moving around.
Amphibians were the first four-legged vertebrates to live on land. It was their lungs for breathing air that made life on land possible. They still lay their eggs in water, with the larvae developing in the water and breathing through gills.

Reptiles live independently of water. Their heavily scaled skin protects them from drying out. How active they are depends on the outside temperature. The hotter it is, the more active they become.

Egg-eating snake
Name African egg-eating snake Dasypeltis scabra
Family Adders Colubridae
Geographic range Africa
Habitat Savanna
Diet Eggs
Enemies Birds of prey
The African egg-eating snake Dasypeltis scabra lives in savanna areas throughout Africa. This unimposing and non-poisonous adder has very special feeding habits. It feeds exclusively on birds' eggs.

By touching an egg with its tongue, the egg-eating snake is able to establish the size of the egg and, at the same time, tell whether it is fresh or has already been incubated. If the egg is fresh, the egg-eater starts slipping its big, extensible mouth over the egg. The snake has special vertebral hypapophyses which protrude into its gullet. As soon as the egg has reached this point, the snake straightens up at the front, using its body to press the egg against these hypapophyses until the eggshell has been penetrated. The contents are pressed into the stomach, and the empty eggshell regurgitated. This whole process takes about 20 minutes.