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Lizards Photographed in their Natural Habitat

This collection of reptile images features lizards (Order Squamata) photographed in their natural habitats and feature species from the Agamidae, Dactyloidae, Gekkonidae, Lacertidae, Teiidae and Varanidae families.

Most lizards lay eggs (oviparous) as do most other reptiles. They vary in size and weight. The smallest, dwarf geckos have snout-to-vent lengths (SVL) of less than 20mm and weigh less than 1g. Komodo dragons, the largest species have SVLs of 2m to 3m and weigh around 70kg, captive Komodos can be much larger. Tail lengths can be shorter or longer than SVL and in some species, such as whiptails, the tails are two to three times longer. Apart from the nocturnal house geko the other featured species are diurnal.

Monitor Lizards

The gallery features images of two carnivorous lizards from the Varanidae family that eat anything smaller than themselves but also scavenge:

(a) The the second largest lizard species are water monitors (Varanus salvator). They are a semi aquatic species distinguished from the clouded monitor by the position of its nostrils that lie near the tip of the snout. Mature males have an average SVL of around 1.5m to 2m, over double for snout to tail length and they weigh around 20kg. Habitats include forest, shrubland, wetlands, rural gardens and can be found in urban areas. Distribution is South and SE Asia, I photographed these reptiles in several places in Singapore including the Botanical Gardens, Japanese Garden, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

(b) Clouded monitor (Varanus nebulosus) can be found in South East Asia and Java. I photographed this animal in Singapore's Botanic Gardens. Can be distinguished from the water monitor by the position of its nostrils, which lie mid-way between the eye and snout. It has yellow spots on a brown-grey base. Males are heavier than females but have same SVL of around 0.5m to 1.75m. Habitat is scrubland and forest.

Water Monitor (Varanus salvator), swimming in Symphony Lake at Singapore's Botanic Gardens, 2015 Clouded Monitor (Varanus nebulosus), climbing down a tree in Singapore Botanic Gardens, 2015 Clouded Monitor (Varanus nebulosus), on the ground in Singapore Botanic Gardens, 2015 Water Monitor (Varanus salvator), young lizard climbing tree at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Singapore, 2015 Water Monitor (Varanus salvator), pair of lizards confronting each other at Singapore's Chinese Garden, 2015 Water Monitor (Varanus salvator), scavenging at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Singapore, 2015 Water Monitor (Varanus salvator), swimming in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Singapore, 2008 Clouded Monitor (Varanus nebulosus), climbing down a tree in Singapore Botanic Gardens, 2015 Clouded Monitor (Varanus nebulosus), climbing down a tree in Singapore Botanic Gardens, 2015

On a visit to Sungei Buloh in 2016 I was fortunate to witness and photograph a couple of large males fighting in the water near the Wetland Centre. I've selected eight images of the wresting match. When I started to photograph them one had already been bloodied so the fight was in full swing. One seemed to be unscathed and eventually pined the other down before chasing the bloodied one off into the mangrove swamp. My photographic encounter lasted about seven minutes but the fight must have lasted much longer as I was late to the scene.

Male water monitor lizards sparing at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve Male water monitor lizards fighting at Sungei Buloh, Singapore Male monitor lizards body hug at Sungei Buloh Male monitor lizards body hold at Wetland Reserve in Singapore Male water monitor lizards fighting at Wetland Reserve in Singapore Male monitor lizards pin hold Wetland Reserve in Singapore Male water monitor lizards wrestling at Sungei Buloh Male monitor lizards pin hold at Sungei Buloh

Agamid Lizards

Images of four insectivores from the Agamidae family feature in the gallery:

(a) Changeable lizard (Calotes versicolor) habitat is undergrowth in open areas including urban and found in Iran, India, South East Asia, Indonesia, Southern China and have been introduced into the Seychelles and Mauritius. A medium sized lizard with an SVL of 10cm and longish tail. It has a dorsal crest and is usually dull brown, grey or olive with speckled bands but also in other colours. In the breeding season males head and shoulders are bright orange with a black throat. The images were captured in Singapore and Mauritius and two images show males in breeding colours, one is eating a bee.

(b) Jacky lizard (Amphibolurus muricatus) a crested lizard that inhabits dry forests. I photographed this individual in the wild bushland at Cranbourne, Victoria, Australia. It's a medium sized lizard with pale grey to dark brown with dark patches along middle and back.

(c) Sumatran gliding lizard (Draco sumatranus) can be found in Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra, Borneo and Palawan. I photographed this individual at Singapore's Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. It's a flying lizard and this one few onto my back, I was wearing a grey polo shirt at the time so I guess it thought it would blend in. Habitat includes forest, urban and gardens. It has elongated ribs and skin flaps on body sides, is a tree dweller with an SVL around 9cm. Colour is dark grey-brown with stripes and patterns for camouflage.

(d) Gliding Lizard (Draco sp.) photographed at Malaysia's Tasman Negara National Park at the edge of the forest edges, which is its preferred habitat. It feeds on ants and termites and is closely related to Sumatran gliding lizard.

Male Changeable Lizard (Calotes versicolor), in breeding colours, eating a bee, Singapore Botanical Gardens, 2011 Changeable Lizard (Calotes versicolor), Singapore Botanical Gardens, 2015 Changeable Lizard (Calotes versicolor), Pamplemousses Botanic Garden, Mauritius, 2014 Jacky Lizard (Amphibolurus muricatus), Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne, Australia, 2013 Sumatran Gliding Lizard (Draco sumatranus), Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Singapore, 2015 Male Changeable Lizard (Calotes versicolor), in breeding colours, Singapore Botanical Gardens, 2011 Sumatran Gliding Lizard (Draco sumatranus), Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Singapore, 2015 Changeable Lizard (Calotes versicolor), in Jungle Flame (Ixora javanica) shrubs, Singapore Botanical Gardens, 2011 Gliding lizard (Draco sp.) Taman Negara Changeable lizard (Calotes versicolor) on hot rock Gliding lizard (Draco sp.) on tree in Taman Negara Gliding lizard (Draco sp.) displaying throat pouch

Anoles, Geckos, Tegus, Whiptails and Wall Lizards

Images from Anoles, Gekkonidae, Teiidae and Lacertidae family of lizards in their natural habitat feature in the gallery:

(a) Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei) from the Dactyloidae family is native to Bahamas and Cuba, but has been introduced to warm parts of North America and Singapore where I photographed this specimen. It's a small terrestrial species inhabiting open vegetation.

(a) Geckos, Gekkonidae family:

(i) Common house gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus) is a nocturnal insectivore often seen in urban areas and in houses at night especially near artificial lights. Its distribution is worldwide in tropical zones and has an SVL around 6cm. Other habitats include forest, savanna, rocky areas, desert and plantations.

(ii) Mauritius ornate day gecko (Phelsuma Ornata) is endemic to Mauritius, it prefers drier areas, trees, rocks where vegetation has been cleared and has an SVL is about 6cm. I photographed these on Traveller Palms, an invasive species in Mauritius, where they were feeding on insects.

(b) Common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis) is part of the Lacertidae family of lizards with a European distribution. I photographed several lizards in different location in France. Its SVL is less than 20cm and has a very thin tail, which accounts for more than half of its length and varies in colour. It prefers open, sunny areas with little vegetation and can often be seen near old houses and on old stone walls.

(c) Teiidae family:

(i) Gold tegu (Tupinambis teguixin), photographed in Trinidad where it locally known as a tiger lizard. Inhabits tropical forest and is native to middle and south America. A medium sized lizard, males are larger than females, they feed on insects, invertebrates, mammals, reptiles, birds, fish and sometimes fruit.

(ii) Giant ameiva (Ameiva ameiva) is found on ground foraging for food such as insects and fruit. They have an SVL less than 20cm but with tails that are twice as long. They are found in South America including Trinidad inhabiting savanna, grassland and rainforest. I photographed this species in two locations in Trinidad; one near the beach in the forested area and another in a savanna area.

Common Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis), Bouisse, Languedoc Roussillon, France, 2004 Common House Gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus), eating insect, Anse Aus Pins, Seychelles, 2011 Common Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis), Le Moulin Du Bousquet on the River Aveyron, France, 2002 Gold Tegu (Tupinambis teguixin), Near Discovery Trail, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Mauritius Ornate Day Gecko (Phelsuma Ornata), Macchabee Trail from Petrin, Black River Gorges National Park, Mauritius, 2014 Giant Ameiva (Ameiva ameiva), La Vaga, Trinidad, 2015 Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei), an introduced lizard species to Singapore Common Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis), Le Moulin Du Bousquet on the River Aveyron, France, 2002 Common Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis), Le Moulin Du Bousquet on the River Aveyron, France, 2002 Gold Tegu (Tupinambis teguixin), Near Discovery Trail, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad, 2015 Pair Mauritius Ornate Day Gecko (Phelsuma Ornata), Macchabee Trail from Petrin, Black River Gorges National Park, Mauritius, 2014

Abbreviations

SVL: Snout-to-Vent-Length