Photography

Oriental Garden lizard (Calotes versicolor)

Hello you beautiful people, you have seen a lot of bird watching activities in my blog. Yes I am addicted to birds and their beautiful activities which are usually very very different from humans. But, for a change today, I am going to talk about one of the most common species in our gardens usually go unseen by us as they are not considered beautiful. These reptiles can be found in most gardens in Indian subcontinent, you just need to have the eye to see their beauty, as I always say.

A few weeks ago, on one of my early morning rides, I wasn’t feeling very good after not having a very good light for photographing birds in a beautiful spot. So I left the spot with my Tamron 70-300mm (non vc ) lens to return home. But As I said I was not in a mood to enter my gloomy house in the cloudy day, I stopped by this road-side to better my mood watching kids playing cricket near a beautiful temple. Casually side siting on my vehicle, my eyes caught this big lizard showing off its colourful throat at times. And this was it. I brought out my already set cam from the pouch and went into the bushes. And I will tell you how it felt afterwards. Before that, have a look at all the angles I could capture and lets gain some knowledge about the Oriental garden Lizard from India.

 Oriental Garden Lizard

Also known as changeable lizard or eastern garden lizard.

Scientific name: Calotes versicolor

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Curiosity.  EXIF: f/4.5  ss:1/2000  iso:500 @180mm

Appearance:  It measures over 10 cm (3.9 in) in length snout-to-vent. Total length including the tail is up to 37 cm (14.5 in). Skin is rough and spiny. Head is large. Adults have a crest that rises up from behind the eyes to the back. (that makes this one an adult) Small spines can be seen just above the external ear. Dark lines radiate out from the eye. They have long legs and long toes. Tail is very slender and more than twice as long as the body. Underbelly is white. Like other reptiles, they shed their skins. Like chameleons, Oriental Garden Lizards can move each of their eyes in different directions.

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Full display.  EXIF: f/5.0  ss:1/1600    iso:500   @180mm

Habitat: Naturally found in open forest and shrub-land, but has adapted tremendously well to urban environments and can be found in agricultural areas, parks, empty lots, gardens, and even decorative shrubs in front of businesses.The native range of the species includes SE Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Western Malaysia, Maldives, Vietnam, Pulo Condore Island, South China, Indonesia, Mauritius. It has been introduced to Oman, Singapore, and United States. The lizards were introduced to Singapore from Malaysia and Thailand in the 1980s. The Oriental Garden Lizard is relatively common and found in a wide range of habitats. They appear to adapt well to humans and are thus not endangered. They are very well found in house gardens/ backyards and hence the name.

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EXIF: f/5.6  ss:1/1250  iso:640  @192mm

Diet: Garden skinks feed on larger invertebrates, including crickets, moths, slaters, earthworms, flies, grubs and caterpillars, grasshoppers, cockroaches, earwigs, slugs, dandelions, small spiders, ladybeetles, ants and many other small insects, which make them a very helpful animal around the garden. Although they have teeth, these are designed for gripping prey and not tearing it up. So prey is swallowed whole, after it is stunned by shaking it about.

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EXIF:  f/5.6  ss:1/1250  iso:400  @300mm

Breeding: During the breeding season, the male’s head and shoulders turns bright orange to crimson and his throat black. Males also turn red-headed after a successful battle with rivals.Males become highly territorial during breeding season. They discourage intruding males by brightening their red heads and doing “push-ups”. Each tries to attract a female by inflating his throat and drawing attention to his handsomely colored head.

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Showing off colored throat

During breeding season, the male Oriental Garden Lizard will approach the female while extending its “gular” (throat sac), raise the front of its body as high as possible while nodding its head, and open and close its mouth repeatedly. Males may also demonstrate this aggressive behavior when approached by people during the breeding season.

About 10—20 eggs are laid, buried in moist soil. The eggs are long, spindle-shaped and covered with a leathery skin. They hatch in about 6–7 weeks. They are able to breed at about 1 year old.

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Exif: f/5  ss:1/2000   iso:400  @180mm

Contribution to the ecosystem: Helps control insect populations. Will occasionally eat small lizards, baby rodents, or seeds. Provides food for snakes and birds.

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Close up.  EXIF: f/5.6   ss:1/1600   iso:640  @176mm

Fun fact:  1)The Oriental Garden Lizard is also known as the “Changeable Lizard”, due to its wide variation in coloration and ability to change colors significantly during the breeding season.

2) Both males and females have a crest from the head to nearly the tail, hence their other common name “Crested Tree Lizard”.

3) The Oriental Garden Lizard is referred to as the “Bloodsucker” in many areas.  Obviously, the Oriental Garden Lizard is an insect-eater and does not suck blood from anything.

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Crested tree lizard. 

All the images has been made by me using my canon 80D and Tamron 70-300 f/4-5.6 LD Di macro lens (non-vc) at macro mode. I wish to get more and better opportunities in future. Till then, keep loving wildlife and nature.

Much love,

Riya

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