This is the eighth post in my monthly series on the fascinating nature I encounter here in South Africa.
My biggest problem right now is deciding which photos to show you this month – between our adventures over Christmas and adding a birdbath and a new bird feeder to our garden, I have enough wildlife pics for at least three posts! But I’ve decided that this month I want to talk about the lizards in my garden. (Please don’t be squeamish; these little guys are totally harmless, and they’re really helpful to have around because they eat bugs and stop my garden from being overrun with insects.)
It’s hard to believe there’s such a variety of wildlife in one small back garden – I’ve found three completely different types of lizard, and and they are all very small (5″ long or less) and non-threatening. I love having them around – it’s fascinating to be able to watch them.
PS – keep reading to the end; I’ve saved the best for last!
There are lots of little geckos in the garden, although we usually only see them when we move something they were sitting behind or inside, and then they run like lightning to escape to safety! That makes them very difficult to photograph; these are the best photos I’ve managed so far.
As you can see from the pics above and below, their colouration is quite varied, so I’m not sure if they’re all Marbled Leaf-Toed Geckos, or if we actually have a second species too.
Our Cape Skinks are a little more scary looking – they have long smooth snakelike bodies and flicky tongues. It’s only when you spot their tiny legs that you know you’re not looking at a snake! They also move lightning fast, but if you sit still for a while they get braver and come out to sunbathe or look for insects. Of course, they only do that when I don’t have my camera handy, so even in my best photos, they are half-hidden in foliage…
A Cape Skink – or is it a snake?!
No, it’s definitely a lizard – you can see the leg more clearly here.
You can’t imagine my excitement when I looked at our wild peach tree one day and saw a bright green Cape Dwarf Chameleon looking back at me! Completely different from the other lizards, the chameleon’s camouflage involves moving veeeeeery slooooowly and swaying, so their motion looks like a leaf blowing in the wind. And it works! It’s very hard to spot, even when you know it’s there, but once you do, it’s great for taking photos. Just look at these:
How amazing is this?! Look at his two-toed feet.
Colour changing from bright green to blackish green (yep, it’s the same chameleon in both pics!)
Tongue shooting out to catch food – his tongue is as long as his whole body, with a suction cup on the end…
Perfect accuracy with the tongue grab – tasty insect acquired.
This pic just made me laugh – I feel like he’s about to reach for his top hat and cane and break into ‘Hello, My Baby‘
I still can’t really believe I took these photos in my own garden – it’s like having my own private zoo! I think it’s partly because we have an older house (1920s) so the garden and our big tree are very established, and there are lots of wildlife habitats. And it’s partly because I go outside most days and actually look for wildlife in the garden – I bet that, if you have a garden, there’s more interesting wildlife in it than you realise! (Although you probably won’t find anything as cool as a chameleon, sorry…)
I hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s photos! Please leave me a comment if you did – I’ll stop posting if/when you get bored with seeing my pics, so I’d really like to know that you’re still interested.
In case these pics have inspired you to crochet a lizard of your own, my Gecko pattern might be just what you’re looking for. And I’m pretty sure there’ll be a PlanetJune Chameleon coming at some point in the future!