Thursday, November 12, 2009

Orienting to the Garden Lizard!

As a child I came to know about a wonder thing that kept on raising itself above the ground
and dropping down to the ground. When there was a disturbance I was able to identify it to be a living thing - it ran away using its legs! It is the Oriental Garden Lizard ( known also as Crested Tree Lizard, Calotes versicolor, 'Onaan' in Tamil). It is usually seen on fence tops merging with it. So, you shall have to look for it carefully - as it also does not show any movement at all. Sometimes it is seen to foray into the portico and climbing on to the plants scaring the occupants of the house. It looks ferocious when it changes its color from its usual dull brown to bright red. This color change is seen only in males in the breeding season. Males are seen driving out any other intruding males and doing their territorial exercises of 'Push- ups' with which I first identified the animal earlier as a child. At the college Biology Laboratory, as a Zoology student, I have found the male lizard to have double copulatory organs (on dissecting a specimen of it)! The rubbery and oval eggs are laid in burrow and covered by the slender female lizard. They hatch out in seven weeks into young ones.

Though this lizard has several teeth, it does not bite; but only grips with them. I have seen many young garden lizards on the wet grounds after monsoon showers, jumping and catching Flying Termites along with Velvet Mites.

It is a wonder lizard that we see often on the top of fence granite stone, basking in sun!

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