I am always meeting the most wonderful, helpful people and it was a pleasure to meet Johan Marais last week. He is the co-author of the book "A Guide to the Reptiles of Southern Africa". When I contacted him and asked if he would help on the project identifying reptiles for the website, he confirmed that he would without any hesitation.
It is a fascinating book and a "must have" in any home, with beautiful pictures and full of excellent advice, descriptions and information on the species found here. To find out more about him and his book, please click on the book cover below.
Thank you Johan, you do not know how much I appreciate your help in this. Your book is fascinating to say the least. I have spent all my free time reading it and I have already learnt so much. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.
Tree Agama (Acanthocercus atricollis) also know as the Blue-headed lizard for obvious reasons. They are found throughout SA and are very large, this specimen being about 12-13 inches in body length. Under threat, they are able to change their skin color.
Sungazer lizards (Cordylus giganteus) are very spiny and this specimen is about 12 inches in length. Their prey consists of beetles, millipedes, bugs, ants, grasshoppers and ants.
Female tortoises dig nesting burrows in which they lay from one to thirty eggs. Egg laying typically occurs at night, after which the mother tortoise covers her clutch with sand, soil, and organic material. The eggs are left unattended, and depending on the species, take from 60 to 120 days to incubate.
This is a Madagascan Star Tortoise (Geochelone elegans)
The Yellow-throated Plated Lizard (Gerrhosaurus flavigularis). During the breeding season, the throat of the males becomes a bright orange in color. In some areas they are very common and this picture was taken in Pilansberg Game Reserve which I so often go to.
TheTropical House Gecko (Hemidactylus maboeia) is one of more than 1,130 found worldwide. This little one s tiny as you can see and I think it was playing dead in the hop I would let it go which I of course did. They are mostly nocturnal so it was unusual to find one during the day.
Hinged tortiouse are so called because of a well developed hinge between the 7th and 8th marginal scutes on the posterior half of the carapace. Egg laying takes place from November to April with clutches numbering 2-10 hard-shelled eggs.
This is a completely new one to me and Johan said it is a Cape Wolf Snake (Lycophidion capense) and no, we do not have wolves in SA but are named for their long teeth which have adapted for grasping prey. :) They are completely harmless though for someone like me who does not know snakes at all, I will not try to go near or pick up any of the species.
The Snouted Cobra (naja annulifera) is venomous as all in the species are. Females lay clutches of 8-33 eggs in early summer. They are found in the northern parts of SA.
Male Rainbow Skinks (Trachylepis margaritifer) are a copper brown in color while the famels have this wonderful blue tail. They are fairly common here and I see them almost all the places I travel to. At most, they are about 6 inches in length.
One very interesting pieces of information Johan has in his book is the following:
"Tails can be shed in response to physical grasping or stress of impending capture. Some species lose tails much more easily than others. A lizard will often return and eat its own tail if it has not been consumed by the predator. In this way, the lizard wins back some of the resources sacrificed in flight."
The Water Monitor (Varanus niloticus) is the largest of our species of lizards and I have seen them reach about 5 feet in length including the tail. They get their name from the fact that they are usually found near water and are excellent swimmers propelling themselves through the water with their tails.