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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Garden Lizards

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If you are passing through an area of naturally grown bushes, and you have a little interest in watching their architecture keeping your eyes in the side of the track, you are sure to spot a lizard hidden among tiny leaves of the flowering bush or sitting alert on a broad leaf of a calotropis plant growing there. As the law of nature permits, it remains in search of butterflies both big and small that visit these areas in venture of nectar collection but get swallowed by the reptile. If adaptations of a lizard fail to hide it from the cleaver eyes of a garden cat or a bird like an eagle or a bigger and stronger lizard, it is sure to become an easy prey. Thus a garden lizard may be a predator at some time and a prey at the other.

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What is a lizard? Well, it is a reptile and reptile means “to creep”. Reptiles are a group of animals that have scales (or modified scales), breathe air, and usually lay eggs. The term reptile is loosely defined to mean scaly, cold-blooded, egg-laying animals.

Lizards are native to Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Western Malaysia, Maldives, Vietnam, China, Indonesia, Mauritius, and many other countries of the world. It has been introduced and naturalized in Oman, Singapore, and United States. The lizards were introduced to Singapore in 1980s from Malaysia and Thailand. These are potential threat to the native green crested lizard in Singapore.

Lizards are well adapted to the changing environment. Most of these have capacity of changing their body colour according to the surrounding environment and thus these are not endangered. But yes, the destruction of natural habitats is posing strong resistance against their comfortable survival. The colour changing Lizards eat mainly insects and small vertebrates, including rodents and other lizards. 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. Sometimes, young inexperienced Changeable Lizards may choke on preys which are too large. Occasionally changeable lizards also consume vegetable matter. They are commonly found among the undergrowth in open habitats including highly urban areas.

Lizards for important links of the local food chains and hence they need protection. They often do not live in nicely cut grass of bushes. Hence, any one of us if he loves lizards and wishes to attract them, should leave some areas not much disturbed or mechanically dressed for creating artificial beauty.

Tiwaru, Manjula;Schiavina, Aurofilio 1990 Biology of the Indian garden lizard, Calotes versicolor (Daudin). Part I: Morphometrics Hamadryad 15: 30-33
Waltner, R.C. 1975 Geographical and altitudinal distribution of amphibians and reptiles in the Himalayas Cheetal (Dehra Dun, India) 16(1): 17-25; 16(2): 28-36; 16(3): 14-19; 16(4): 12-17.
Key words: lizard, reptile, prey, predator

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