Friday, 26 July 2013

Dragon Spotting!

Every day on my morning walk I feel like I am being watched....... spooky!!....not really I am....... by Dragons!!

Singapore is home to numerous agamid lizards which are in themselves members of the Draconinae family - Dragons!

These Lizards spend most of their time in trees and live on insects (arboreal insectivores) The reason I feel that I'm being watched is that on most occasions I walk along the East Coast Park in Singapore which is treelined and watching me from the trunks are these lizards. I have become very adept at spotting them from afar - they almost look like peeling bark or a fallen leaf on the tree trunks.

These lizards will grow to between 20-50 cms in length although most of this is in the tail. The tail of these lizards do not regrow if damaged unlike many other types. I have frequently seen the same lizard on my walk with a missing tail. I believe he must be quite old as not only is he one of the largest I have spotted he is also very slow and will allow me to walk up to within just a few inches of him to take a photo. Normally the smaller ones are off in a flash and I'm lucky to snap them.

The photos on this page are of one of the most common lizards found in Singapore that of the changeable lizard (Calotes versicolor) these are at home in open urban spaces and are spotted on trees and fences. One friend has even photographed one on her bike after she returned from a long cycle (I expect the rubber held the heat in) and also of one being found on their pillow!!! not sure how I would react to that! These changeable lizards are in fact themselves made up of several close species of lizard.

As the name "changeable" suggests they can change colour depending on enviroment and mood. However, they are not chameleons, which are a completely different family and not found in this part of the world.

During the mating season the head and necks of the changeable lizard males will turn bright red/orange and he will be more easily spotted allowing himself to be seen by females. I have yet to see this but am looking forward to the spectacle. Due to this change in colour they have been nicknamed the "bloodsucker"

These lizards are not native to Singapore but are believed to have arrived from Thailand and Malaysia in the 1980s but have been so successful they are now common throughout all of Singapore. In fact they are so successful they have forced the decline of the once equally common local lizard, the green crested lizard (Bronchocoela cristella) To date I have yet to spot one of these vibrant green creatures but I live in hope. They are still relatively common but now seen mainly in secondary rainforest.

There are other types of lizards but as yet I havent encountered any. I look forward to hopefully seeing the flying dragons.... but who knows

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