Reptiles in the suburbs

Winona Griggs

Reptiles in the suburbs

Hey there! I want to chat with you about something super cool – reptiles in the suburbs. It might sound a bit strange, but trust me, it’s fascinating!

Have you ever wondered what kind of reptiles you might find right in your own neighborhood? Well, guess what – the suburbs can be a pretty happening spot for all sorts of scaly creatures.

When I first found out about this, I couldn’t believe it. I always thought reptiles were only found in exotic jungles or deserts, not right next door. But it turns out that these sneaky reptiles have been lurking in the shadows, just waiting for us to notice them.

So, why are reptiles choosing to make the suburbs their home? It all comes down to one thing – habitat. You see, reptiles are incredibly adaptable creatures, and they can thrive in all sorts of environments.

When humans build houses and roads, we unknowingly create the perfect habitat for these reptiles. We provide them with plenty of places to hide, like under rocks or in tall grass. And with all the food sources that come with living near humans, like bugs and small rodents, it’s no wonder reptiles are flocking to the suburbs.

But it’s not just about the reptiles – we benefit from their presence too. These scaly neighbors help keep our ecosystem in balance. They control pests and help maintain a healthy environment for us and other animals.

Next time you’re out in the suburbs, keep an eye out for reptiles. You might be surprised at what you find – a slithery snake, a nimble lizard, or even a colorful turtle. These reptiles have made the suburbs their home, and they’re here to stay. So, embrace the scaly wonders around you and appreciate the beauty of reptiles in your own backyard!

Reptiles in the suburbs

Hey there! Did you know that even semi-urban residential estates can be home to amazing wildlife? It’s true! With the right care and attention, these areas can support a thriving ecosystem. I’m Ingrid Sellschop, a conservationist, photographer, and reptile enthusiast, and I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing the emergence of baby monitor lizards from their nests.

Reptiles in the suburbs

The call came early one January morning. I was out for a run near my home in Waterfall Estate in Midrand when I received a call from my friend Kevin Gow. The excitement in his voice was contagious. ‘Ings, your babies are hatching,’ he exclaimed.

Kevin and I have been friends for a long time, and he’s been actively involved in managing and conserving wildlife on Waterfall Residential Estate. It’s a special place, carefully protected to preserve its natural beauty and ecology, located on the border between northern Johannesburg and Midrand.

I immediately knew what Kevin was referring to when he mentioned ‘babies.’ It was something I had been eagerly anticipating. With a surge of energy, I ran the last 3 kilometers back home to grab my cameras and telephoto lens.

So, let me tell you a story that happened last September. I was walking our dogs in Waterfall, this amazing estate with lots of beautiful green spaces. They’ve done a great job preserving nature here, with wide-open grasslands, small dams, a flowing stream, and paths to explore.

Anyway, on this particular morning, I had a pretty incredible encounter. As I strolled along one of the pathways, I came face to face with an enormous Nile monitor lizard. This lady was on a mission, digging her way into a massive termite mound to build a nest. She was so focused on her task that she didn’t even notice me or the dogs. Speaking of dogs, Roxy and Benji were surprisingly uninterested in this scaly visitor and decided to lie down next to me while I watched in awe.

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Reptiles in the suburbs

I witnessed her determined excavation with awe. Nile monitors, also known as Varanus niloticus, lay their eggs by digging into active termite mounds. With her sturdy front feet and sharp nails, she diligently carved a path through the hardened earth, revealing the dark interior where she would lay her precious eggs.

I couldn’t resist the opportunity to capture this incredible moment with my camera and a powerful 400mm telephoto lens. Over the course of two days, she carefully laid her clutch of eggs, finding shelter in the termite mound at night and emerging under the morning sun on the third day. Excitedly, I shared this remarkable sighting with my friend Kevin, an amateur herpetologist with extensive knowledge of reptiles. Together, we kept a close watch on the termite mound for four and a half months, eagerly awaiting the next chapter in this captivating story.

Imagine this: I was lucky enough to stand close to a termite mound and witness something extraordinary. One morning, I noticed several baby monitor lizards emerging from a small opening inside the dark mound. They came out tentatively, sniffing the air, as if testing the outside world for the first time. Of course, I couldn’t contain my excitement and quickly joined my friend Kevin, who was already watching this incredible sight. We made sure not to disturb their space, finding the perfect spot to observe them. With my trusty telephoto lens, I captured this rare moment.

According to the existing research on Nile monitor lizards, the eggs usually take around 180 to 270 days to hatch. However, this varies depending on factors like the nest’s characteristics, the climate, and the seasonal temperatures.

Wow, I gotta tell you what I saw was pretty rare. Not many people have actually seen this thing before, so I feel pretty lucky that I got to witness it. Plus, it helped us figure out exactly how long it takes for these Nile monitors to hatch in the wild on the Highveld.

Reptiles in the suburbs

Did you know that Nile monitors are Africa’s biggest and most famous lizards? They are native to the continent and can be found in central and southern Africa, including a section of central Egypt along the Nile River. These incredible reptiles can live in various habitats as long as there are permanent bodies of water nearby.

Nile monitors can grow to be about 1.5 to 2.4 meters long, making them look a lot like their bigger relatives, the Komodo dragons found off the coast of Indonesia.

While Nile monitors are not currently in immediate danger, they do face challenges due to the expanding urban development and human settlements. But perhaps the most concerning threat to their survival is the belief held by many indigenous cultures that their skins and body fat possess healing properties. This misguided belief leads to the hunting and sale of Nile monitors for use in traditional medicine known as muthi.

You know, it’s actually illegal to keep, sell, or kill a Nile monitor in South Africa because they’re a protected species. But here’s the thing, in places where there’s not a strong respect for the law, like in developing countries, money seems to have a louder voice.

The Nile monitor is facing some tough challenges. They only breed once a year in a pretty short season, from June to October. After the spring rains, the female monitor digs a hole in the ground or sometimes in an active termite mound. She lays about 40 to 60 eggs there. The interesting thing is that once she leaves, the termites get to work. They repair the hole in their nest because they need to keep their fungus at just the right temperature. It’s a delicate balancing act for them.

READ  16 Wheelchair accessible tourist attractions in South Africa

Have you ever wondered how lizard eggs develop and hatch? It’s quite fascinating! In certain conditions with consistent temperature and humidity levels, the eggs are left alone to incubate for about six to nine months. After this time, adorable little hatchlings finally break free from their shells. What’s even more amazing is that at Waterfall Estate, the lizards managed to hatch in just four months!

Reptiles in the suburbs

Hey there! Did you know that Nile monitors are quite fascinating creatures? Let me tell you some interesting things about them!

First off, when Nile monitor hatchlings emerge from their eggs, they’re about 30cm long and weigh around 26g each. That’s tiny! As soon as they break free from their shells, they start digging their way out of the termite mound they were born in. It’s quite a challenge for them, but they’re determined to make it.

These little monitors are what we call “precocial.” Fancy word, right? It just means that once they’re out, they’re pretty much on their own for finding food. They don’t rely on their parents, they’re independent like that.

Now, guess what? Waterfall Estate, where we are, has plenty of delicious food for these little monitors. They’re omnivores, which means they eat all sorts of things. But their favorites are riverine crustaceans like small fish, frogs, and birds. Yum! Oh, and let’s not forget their love for zebra agate snails. These snails breed a lot here, so our little monitors should be pretty happy roaming around and snacking on them.

So there you have it! Nile monitors are amazing creatures, and they’ve got what they need right here at Waterfall Estate. How cool is that?

As I emerged from the tiny hole in the termite mound, I couldn’t help but feel a mix of excitement and fear. The world outside was vast and unknown, and I was just a small, vulnerable hatchling. I glanced nervously at my fellow hatchlings, all of us jostling and pushing against each other, desperate to catch a glimpse of what lay beyond.

With a burst of courage, I pushed myself forward, determined to explore this new world. Slithering out of the hole, my body tingled with anticipation. The fresh air filled my senses, and the grass stretched out before me, beckoning me forward.

I quickly made my way up and over the termite mound, my tiny legs propelling me forward. I felt a surge of triumph as I maneuvered over obstacles, my heart pounding with excitement. As I reached the top, I couldn’t believe my luck – I found myself on Kevin’s arm, right in front of his camera!

Since I’ve had a chance to observe, I can tell you about the banks of the small river that runs through our estate. It’s amazing how many monitor burrows I’ve noticed! These burrows are actually used by the shy but harmless reptiles during their breeding season. We’re so fortunate to have them here. In fact, they’ve managed to survive because our estate is built on what used to be a big open area filled with Egoli grassland and lots of drainage lines.

Reptiles in the suburbs

In this area, there are wetlands and grasslands that provide a home for many plants and animals. The people who take care of the estate have made sure to protect the termite mounds, which are important for lizards to lay their eggs.

Since we saw the baby lizards being born, I’ve been keeping an eye out for adult lizards at the dam near the termite mound. Every morning, as I walk, I hope to see one of the big male lizards basking in the sun by their burrows along the Jukskei River.

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6 interesting reptiles

Slithering, burrowing skink

Hey there! Let’s talk about some fascinating creatures that have gone through some incredible evolutionary changes. And no, we’re not talking about snakes! These are lizards that have adapted and evolved over time in some truly unique ways.

First up, we have the Durban dwarf burrowing skink. Don’t let the name confuse you – this lizard is not your typical skink. It has actually lost its legs because, well, it simply doesn’t need them anymore. You’ll find this critically endangered species in KwaZulu-Natal and Mozambique. It’s a true survivor!

Next, we have the geometric tortoise, and boy, is it a cutie! This little fellow has sadly lost 90% of its habitat in the Western Cape due to human development. It’s petite, measuring only 15cm long, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in style. With its beautiful black shell adorned with bright yellow geometric patterns, this tortoise is truly one-of-a-kind.

Lastly, we have the armadillo girdled lizard. Named after its unique behavior of curling up like an armadillo when threatened, these lizards can be found in the mountains and rocky areas of the succulent Karoo. Sadly, their popularity as exotic pets is becoming a growing threat to their survival.

These incredible lizards show us just how amazing and diverse our natural world can be. It’s up to us to protect and preserve their habitats so that future generations can continue to marvel at their beauty and adaptability. Remember, we all have a role to play in ensuring the survival of these incredible creatures. Let’s do our part!

About Albany Adders

Have you ever heard of the Albany adder? It’s one of the rarest snakes on Earth! Can you believe there have only been 17 sightings of this snake in the wild? Talk about elusive! Albany adders live in the succulent thickets of Algoa Bay, and they’re really small, only growing up to 25cm in length.

The Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake

Another fascinating snake is the yellow-bellied sea snake. This snake can be found along the southern and eastern shores of South Africa. It’s the most widely distributed sea snake in the world. What makes it even more impressive is its diving ability. It can dive deeper than 50m and stay underwater for more than three hours! That’s a real deep-sea explorer!

But be careful if you ever encounter a yellow-bellied sea snake. It’s highly venomous – just half a teaspoon of its venom could potentially kill a human. However, don’t worry too much because they are not known to be aggressive. They’d rather explore the depths of the ocean than bother humans. Smart choice!

Let me tell you about the amazing Namib sand gecko! This little gecko lives only in the Namib Desert. It’s really cool because it’s almost see-through and blends in perfectly with its surroundings. What’s even more interesting is that it has webbed feet, which help it to dig into the sand or move around on the loose sand of the Namib Desert.

An article about this gecko was published in the August 2022 issue of Getaway

Written by Ingrid Sellschop and David Henning. Photos by Ingrid Sellschop

Make sure to follow us on social media for more travel news, inspiration, and guides. And don’t forget to tag us if you want to be featured!

Leave a Comment

Reptiles in the suburbs

Hey there! I want to chat with you about something super cool – reptiles in the suburbs. It might sound a bit strange, but trust me, it’s fascinating!

Have you ever wondered what kind of reptiles you might find right in your own neighborhood? Well, guess what – the suburbs can be a pretty happening spot for all sorts of scaly creatures.

When I first found out about this, I couldn’t believe it. I always thought reptiles were only found in exotic jungles or deserts, not right next door. But it turns out that these sneaky reptiles have been lurking in the shadows, just waiting for us to notice them.

So, why are reptiles choosing to make the suburbs their home? It all comes down to one thing – habitat. You see, reptiles are incredibly adaptable creatures, and they can thrive in all sorts of environments.

When humans build houses and roads, we unknowingly create the perfect habitat for these reptiles. We provide them with plenty of places to hide, like under rocks or in tall grass. And with all the food sources that come with living near humans, like bugs and small rodents, it’s no wonder reptiles are flocking to the suburbs.

But it’s not just about the reptiles – we benefit from their presence too. These scaly neighbors help keep our ecosystem in balance. They control pests and help maintain a healthy environment for us and other animals.

Next time you’re out in the suburbs, keep an eye out for reptiles. You might be surprised at what you find – a slithery snake, a nimble lizard, or even a colorful turtle. These reptiles have made the suburbs their home, and they’re here to stay. So, embrace the scaly wonders around you and appreciate the beauty of reptiles in your own backyard!

Reptiles in the suburbs

Hey there! Did you know that even semi-urban residential estates can be home to amazing wildlife? It’s true! With the right care and attention, these areas can support a thriving ecosystem. I’m Ingrid Sellschop, a conservationist, photographer, and reptile enthusiast, and I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing the emergence of baby monitor lizards from their nests.

Reptiles in the suburbs

The call came early one January morning. I was out for a run near my home in Waterfall Estate in Midrand when I received a call from my friend Kevin Gow. The excitement in his voice was contagious. ‘Ings, your babies are hatching,’ he exclaimed.

Kevin and I have been friends for a long time, and he’s been actively involved in managing and conserving wildlife on Waterfall Residential Estate. It’s a special place, carefully protected to preserve its natural beauty and ecology, located on the border between northern Johannesburg and Midrand.

I immediately knew what Kevin was referring to when he mentioned ‘babies.’ It was something I had been eagerly anticipating. With a surge of energy, I ran the last 3 kilometers back home to grab my cameras and telephoto lens.

So, let me tell you a story that happened last September. I was walking our dogs in Waterfall, this amazing estate with lots of beautiful green spaces. They’ve done a great job preserving nature here, with wide-open grasslands, small dams, a flowing stream, and paths to explore.

Anyway, on this particular morning, I had a pretty incredible encounter. As I strolled along one of the pathways, I came face to face with an enormous Nile monitor lizard. This lady was on a mission, digging her way into a massive termite mound to build a nest. She was so focused on her task that she didn’t even notice me or the dogs. Speaking of dogs, Roxy and Benji were surprisingly uninterested in this scaly visitor and decided to lie down next to me while I watched in awe.

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Reptiles in the suburbs

I witnessed her determined excavation with awe. Nile monitors, also known as Varanus niloticus, lay their eggs by digging into active termite mounds. With her sturdy front feet and sharp nails, she diligently carved a path through the hardened earth, revealing the dark interior where she would lay her precious eggs.

I couldn’t resist the opportunity to capture this incredible moment with my camera and a powerful 400mm telephoto lens. Over the course of two days, she carefully laid her clutch of eggs, finding shelter in the termite mound at night and emerging under the morning sun on the third day. Excitedly, I shared this remarkable sighting with my friend Kevin, an amateur herpetologist with extensive knowledge of reptiles. Together, we kept a close watch on the termite mound for four and a half months, eagerly awaiting the next chapter in this captivating story.

Imagine this: I was lucky enough to stand close to a termite mound and witness something extraordinary. One morning, I noticed several baby monitor lizards emerging from a small opening inside the dark mound. They came out tentatively, sniffing the air, as if testing the outside world for the first time. Of course, I couldn’t contain my excitement and quickly joined my friend Kevin, who was already watching this incredible sight. We made sure not to disturb their space, finding the perfect spot to observe them. With my trusty telephoto lens, I captured this rare moment.

According to the existing research on Nile monitor lizards, the eggs usually take around 180 to 270 days to hatch. However, this varies depending on factors like the nest’s characteristics, the climate, and the seasonal temperatures.

Wow, I gotta tell you what I saw was pretty rare. Not many people have actually seen this thing before, so I feel pretty lucky that I got to witness it. Plus, it helped us figure out exactly how long it takes for these Nile monitors to hatch in the wild on the Highveld.

Reptiles in the suburbs

Did you know that Nile monitors are Africa’s biggest and most famous lizards? They are native to the continent and can be found in central and southern Africa, including a section of central Egypt along the Nile River. These incredible reptiles can live in various habitats as long as there are permanent bodies of water nearby.

Nile monitors can grow to be about 1.5 to 2.4 meters long, making them look a lot like their bigger relatives, the Komodo dragons found off the coast of Indonesia.

While Nile monitors are not currently in immediate danger, they do face challenges due to the expanding urban development and human settlements. But perhaps the most concerning threat to their survival is the belief held by many indigenous cultures that their skins and body fat possess healing properties. This misguided belief leads to the hunting and sale of Nile monitors for use in traditional medicine known as muthi.

You know, it’s actually illegal to keep, sell, or kill a Nile monitor in South Africa because they’re a protected species. But here’s the thing, in places where there’s not a strong respect for the law, like in developing countries, money seems to have a louder voice.

The Nile monitor is facing some tough challenges. They only breed once a year in a pretty short season, from June to October. After the spring rains, the female monitor digs a hole in the ground or sometimes in an active termite mound. She lays about 40 to 60 eggs there. The interesting thing is that once she leaves, the termites get to work. They repair the hole in their nest because they need to keep their fungus at just the right temperature. It’s a delicate balancing act for them.

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Have you ever wondered how lizard eggs develop and hatch? It’s quite fascinating! In certain conditions with consistent temperature and humidity levels, the eggs are left alone to incubate for about six to nine months. After this time, adorable little hatchlings finally break free from their shells. What’s even more amazing is that at Waterfall Estate, the lizards managed to hatch in just four months!

Reptiles in the suburbs

Hey there! Did you know that Nile monitors are quite fascinating creatures? Let me tell you some interesting things about them!

First off, when Nile monitor hatchlings emerge from their eggs, they’re about 30cm long and weigh around 26g each. That’s tiny! As soon as they break free from their shells, they start digging their way out of the termite mound they were born in. It’s quite a challenge for them, but they’re determined to make it.

These little monitors are what we call “precocial.” Fancy word, right? It just means that once they’re out, they’re pretty much on their own for finding food. They don’t rely on their parents, they’re independent like that.

Now, guess what? Waterfall Estate, where we are, has plenty of delicious food for these little monitors. They’re omnivores, which means they eat all sorts of things. But their favorites are riverine crustaceans like small fish, frogs, and birds. Yum! Oh, and let’s not forget their love for zebra agate snails. These snails breed a lot here, so our little monitors should be pretty happy roaming around and snacking on them.

So there you have it! Nile monitors are amazing creatures, and they’ve got what they need right here at Waterfall Estate. How cool is that?

As I emerged from the tiny hole in the termite mound, I couldn’t help but feel a mix of excitement and fear. The world outside was vast and unknown, and I was just a small, vulnerable hatchling. I glanced nervously at my fellow hatchlings, all of us jostling and pushing against each other, desperate to catch a glimpse of what lay beyond.

With a burst of courage, I pushed myself forward, determined to explore this new world. Slithering out of the hole, my body tingled with anticipation. The fresh air filled my senses, and the grass stretched out before me, beckoning me forward.

I quickly made my way up and over the termite mound, my tiny legs propelling me forward. I felt a surge of triumph as I maneuvered over obstacles, my heart pounding with excitement. As I reached the top, I couldn’t believe my luck – I found myself on Kevin’s arm, right in front of his camera!

Since I’ve had a chance to observe, I can tell you about the banks of the small river that runs through our estate. It’s amazing how many monitor burrows I’ve noticed! These burrows are actually used by the shy but harmless reptiles during their breeding season. We’re so fortunate to have them here. In fact, they’ve managed to survive because our estate is built on what used to be a big open area filled with Egoli grassland and lots of drainage lines.

Reptiles in the suburbs

In this area, there are wetlands and grasslands that provide a home for many plants and animals. The people who take care of the estate have made sure to protect the termite mounds, which are important for lizards to lay their eggs.

Since we saw the baby lizards being born, I’ve been keeping an eye out for adult lizards at the dam near the termite mound. Every morning, as I walk, I hope to see one of the big male lizards basking in the sun by their burrows along the Jukskei River.

READ  16 Wheelchair accessible tourist attractions in South Africa

6 interesting reptiles

Slithering, burrowing skink

Hey there! Let’s talk about some fascinating creatures that have gone through some incredible evolutionary changes. And no, we’re not talking about snakes! These are lizards that have adapted and evolved over time in some truly unique ways.

First up, we have the Durban dwarf burrowing skink. Don’t let the name confuse you – this lizard is not your typical skink. It has actually lost its legs because, well, it simply doesn’t need them anymore. You’ll find this critically endangered species in KwaZulu-Natal and Mozambique. It’s a true survivor!

Next, we have the geometric tortoise, and boy, is it a cutie! This little fellow has sadly lost 90% of its habitat in the Western Cape due to human development. It’s petite, measuring only 15cm long, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in style. With its beautiful black shell adorned with bright yellow geometric patterns, this tortoise is truly one-of-a-kind.

Lastly, we have the armadillo girdled lizard. Named after its unique behavior of curling up like an armadillo when threatened, these lizards can be found in the mountains and rocky areas of the succulent Karoo. Sadly, their popularity as exotic pets is becoming a growing threat to their survival.

These incredible lizards show us just how amazing and diverse our natural world can be. It’s up to us to protect and preserve their habitats so that future generations can continue to marvel at their beauty and adaptability. Remember, we all have a role to play in ensuring the survival of these incredible creatures. Let’s do our part!

About Albany Adders

Have you ever heard of the Albany adder? It’s one of the rarest snakes on Earth! Can you believe there have only been 17 sightings of this snake in the wild? Talk about elusive! Albany adders live in the succulent thickets of Algoa Bay, and they’re really small, only growing up to 25cm in length.

The Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake

Another fascinating snake is the yellow-bellied sea snake. This snake can be found along the southern and eastern shores of South Africa. It’s the most widely distributed sea snake in the world. What makes it even more impressive is its diving ability. It can dive deeper than 50m and stay underwater for more than three hours! That’s a real deep-sea explorer!

But be careful if you ever encounter a yellow-bellied sea snake. It’s highly venomous – just half a teaspoon of its venom could potentially kill a human. However, don’t worry too much because they are not known to be aggressive. They’d rather explore the depths of the ocean than bother humans. Smart choice!

Let me tell you about the amazing Namib sand gecko! This little gecko lives only in the Namib Desert. It’s really cool because it’s almost see-through and blends in perfectly with its surroundings. What’s even more interesting is that it has webbed feet, which help it to dig into the sand or move around on the loose sand of the Namib Desert.

An article about this gecko was published in the August 2022 issue of Getaway

Written by Ingrid Sellschop and David Henning. Photos by Ingrid Sellschop

Make sure to follow us on social media for more travel news, inspiration, and guides. And don’t forget to tag us if you want to be featured!

Leave a Comment