Copyright © 2005-2017 Ray Plowman All Rights Reserved
This collection of reptile images features saltwater crocodiles (Order Crocodilia), lizards, skinks and snakes (Order Squamata) and turtles (Order Testudines) photographed in their natural habits.
I photograph lizards, skinks and snakes on an opportunity basis, this is challenging as they tend to scamper or slither away before I'm ready. On tour, I'm time limited at most locations and on walks so not able to hang around too long. If I'm staying nearby then I can sometimes return with the right camera and lens and with patience may get some images. The other reptile species; turtles and crocodiles I target known locations to photograph them.
Saltwater or estuarine crocodiles are not what you expect to find in Singapore but a small population, possibly as many as ten individuals, can be seen in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Kranji Reservoir and in other Singapore rivers.
The featured saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) belongs to the Crocodylidae (Crocodiles) family, which live in brackish and freshwater habitats, eat fish, birds and mammals and grow to 8m although the specimens I photographed were only 3m to 4m long. In 2015, I photographed several individuals swimming in the Buloh Besar River or basking on the bank and in 2016 a young specimen perched on a log waiting for the water rise and prey to swim near.
The gallery features lizards (Order Squamata) that I photographed in their natural habitat, two temperate and ten tropical region species.
There are four images of insectivores from the Agamidae family that include a changeable lizard (Calotes versicolor) and a Sumatran gliding lizard (Draco sumatranus) both photographed in Singapore, a gliding lizard (Draco sp.) photographed in Malaysia and Jacky lizard (Amphibolurus muricatus) photographed in southern Australia.
Images of the common house gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus) and a Mauritius endemic, the Mauritius ornate day gecko (Phelsuma Ornata), both from the Gekkonidae family.
A common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis), which belongs to the Teiidae family, photographed in southern France.
Two members of the Lacertidae family gold tegu (Tupinambis teguixin) and giant ameiva (Ameiva ameiva) both photographed in Trinidad.
Images of two carnivorous monitor lizards clouded monitor (Varanus nebulosus) and water monitor (Varanus salvator) from the Varanidae family photographed in Singapore.
One member of the Dactyloidae family, the Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei), which is an introduced species to Singapore.
There are more images of the five families together with a brief description and habitat of each species in the lizards (Squamata) webpage.
Skinks are lizards that belong to the Scincidae family, which has around 1500 species. They have smooth scaled skin, small legs, mostly diurnal and are generally carnivorous feeding on insects. They vary in size; small skinks have a snout-to-vent length (SVL) up to 7cm and medium-sized skinks have SVLs over 8cm. Their length doubles or triples when the tail is included.
Images of four medium sized species feature in the gallery:
(a) Mangrove skink (Emoia atrocostata) photographed at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in Singapore. It's medium sized and can be found in back beach vegetation and mangroves.
(b) I photographed the Greater Windward skink (Copeoglossum aurae) in a heavily degraded secondary forest on Trinidad. Data on this species is sparse.
(c) The endemic Seychelles skink (Trachylepis seychellensis), photographed on the island of Mahe, is medium sized found in wide variety of habitats such as urban, gardens, forest, shrubland and plantations.
(d) Common sun skink (Eutropis multifasciata) is medium sized, its habitat is secondary forest and is often seen on the forest floor. I photographed both images in Singapore.
Eight species of snake from the Squamata order are featured:
(a) Boas (Boidae family): Ruschenberger tree boa (Corallus ruschenbergerii) photographed in Trinidad's Caroni Swamp. An arboreal species found in forests, savanna often coiled up in tree near open water. They are nocturnal feeding on rodents, birds, bats and lizards. The largest of species in the family being up to 2m long. They are non-venomous, killing prey by bite and constriction. Trinidad's population are pure bronze with patterns.
(b) Colubrids (Colubridae family) are the largest snake family with nearly 2000 species and are mostly non-venomous although some Asian genus have caused human fatalities:
(i) Oriental vine snake (Ahaetulla prasina) a diurnal and arboreal species found in many habitats including urban and rural gardens. The image was taken in Singapore's botanical garden. Grow up to 2m and feed on vertebrates including small nesting birds, lizards and frogs.
(ii) Striped bronzeback snake (Dendrelaphis caudolineatus) is a non-venomous, long slender snake up to 1.5m long, has very large eyes. It is diurnal and arboreal but often comes to ground and habitats forest, secondary growth and scrubland. They feed on frogs, lizards and possibly young birds. I photographed this species in Jurong.
(iii) Viperine snake (Natrix maura) this individual was swimming in Frances River Aveyron. Its preferred habitat is rapidly flowing rivers and streams, close to or in waterbodies such as streams, ponds, meadows, open woodlands. It is small being 60cm to 70cm, non-venomous and diets on frogs, newts, fish, their eggs and other aquatics.
(iv) Western Whip Snake (Hierophis viridiflavus) is a non-venomous, probably a young snake being a grey / brown with a marbled head. Roadside verge in Peyreleau village Tarn Gorges France.
(c) Vipers (Viperidae) family: Shore pit viper (Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus), this dangerously verminous snake was close to the path in Singapore's Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. It's unpredictable and will strike without warning, its venom can cause serious illness or death. An arboreal nocturnal species found in mangroves, coastal forests and swamp that grow to 1m, During the day and be can be found low down on tree branches. They feed on lizards, frogs, and small animals, possible small birds. I photographed this snake for five minutes, it hardly changed position looking like it was keeping still. When I later examined my images I realised that it was homing in on its next meal, a Lineate nerite (Nerita balteata) snail, I was on my way to photograph Ospreys so missed the potential kill.
(d) Elapidae (Elapids) family: Banded Krait (Bungarus fasciatus), a highly venomous but aggressive species, common throughout Southeast Asia, although sightings are rare as it is nocturnal. There main habitat is forest, agricultural land and coastal areas often near water. I photographed this specimen in the low light of the mangrove swamp in Kuala Selangor Nature Park, West Malaysia where it was hunting. They feed on vertebrates such as rodents and lizards. Average length is about 1.2m to 2.1m and in some parts of Southeast Asia they have yellow and black bands.
(e) The last image in the gallery is an unidentified species that had been killed on Girdle Road in Fraser's Hill, Malaysia.
Three species of turtle photographed on tropical islands that belonging to three families from the Testudines order feature:
(a) Critically endangered on the ICUN red list is the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), Cheloniidae family, my favourite reptile species. In the Seychelles, the females come ashore during daylight hours to lay their eggs. They are found in all the tropical oceans where they feed on toxic sponges.
(b) Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Dermochelyidae family is IUCN listed as Vulnerable. They are the largest turtle species, around 130cm to 180cm and weigh from 300 kg to 599 kg and diet on soft-bodied animals almost exclusively in jelly fish. They have a worldwide distribution; Atlantic, Indian, Pacific, Mediterranean and Black sea. The females nest on sandy tropical beaches at night.
(c) Common slider (Trachemys scripta), Pond Turtle, Emydidae family. The images of this New World species, that has been introduced in SE Asia, were taken in Singapore. It is known locally as red-eared terrapin, it’s a small turtle with a caprice around 30 cm.
My Seychelles travel webpage features several Hawksbill Turtle galleries together with a brief introduction to the species and conservation efforts by Marine Conservation Society, Seychelles (MCSS). Species descriptions and more images of leatherback turtles feature on my Trinidad Grande Riviere webpage.
IUCN: International Union for Conservation of Nature
Agamidae (Agamas) family
Changeable Lizard (Calotes versicolor)
Gliding Lizard (Draco sp.)
Jacky Lizard (Amphibolurus muricatus)
Sumatran Gliding Lizard (Draco sumatranus)
Dactyloidae (Anoles) family
Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei)
Lacertidae (Lacertids, Wall Lizards) family
Common Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis)
Gekkonidae (Geckos) family
Mauritius Ornate Day Gecko (Phelsuma Ornata)
Common House Gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus)
Teiidae (Whiptails and Tegus) family
Gold Tegu (Tupinambis teguixin), known locally as the Tiger Lizard
Giant Ameiva (Ameiva ameiva)
Varanidae (Monitor Lizards) family
Clouded Monitor (Varanus nebulosus)
Water Monitor (Varanus salvator)