- San Diego Zoo
Plants: Gardens: Reptile Mesa
Reptile Mesa has all kinds of exotic-looking plants (including, appropriately, dragon trees!) from all kinds of exotic locations. The task of maintaining a varied plant collection while creating natural habitats for the animal residents can be challenging. For example, in the green iguana exhibit on Reptile Mesa, the evergreen shrub, Xylosma sp., was selected because it is not a particularly flavorful plant from an iguana's point of view, so the lizards would not consume it as fast as we planted it, which can often occur. Moreover, this plant is sturdy enough to allow these large-bodied lizards, which can weigh up to eight or ten pounds (3 to 5 kilograms), to bask on top of them.
Amazingly enough, Gal￡pagos tortoises enjoy cactus now and then, whether the spines have been scraped off or not! That's because the spines don't hurt their leathery mouths, and the pads make a delicious, juicy snack. Keepers often harvest pads from the prickly pears and other cactuses on Reptile Mesa to make tortoise treats. And many of our lizards get hibiscus leaves and flowers for browse.