Reptiles – Nile Crocodile, Rock Python, Variable Skink, Water Monitor

Reptiles are some of the most amazing animals to see in South Africa and depending on the time of year that your programme takes place you will either have a lot of sighting or a few.

Below you will find information on a few of the reptiles you may encounter during your programme in Africa as well as links to other sites such as Wikipedia, AWF, WWF and ICUN for more information should you require it.

 

THE NILE CROCODILE (CROCODYLUS NILOTICUS)

Baby-Croc
croc

Conservation Status: Least Concern

 

The Nile Crocodile may live for 70 – 100 years. It’s brain and heart are much more advanced than that of other living reptiles and they have little changed in the last 65 million years. They swim using their tale to propel them through the water and they have a ‘high walk’ when on land. Their hind feet are webbed and can be used if they need to submerge quickly. An adult Nile Crocodile can weigh 2,000 pounds and Nile Crocodiles’ of up to 21 feet have been recorded.Bull crocodiles defend their territories during breeding season by roaring and constantly patrolling the borders. After mating which occurs in the water, the female digs a hole in soft soil, lays about 50 eggs and covers them with soil. Then she stands guard for three months, never leaving to eat, while the eggs develop in the underground nest.Their diet varies with age. The juveniles eat spiders, frogs, insects, snakes, lizards and other small vertebrates. Fish make up a substantial part of the diets of older offspring and adults. Larger, mature Nile crocodiles capture zebras, antelope, wart hogs, large domestic animals and human beings. Crocodiles grab the large mammals at the edge of the water and drag them underwater and drown them.

 

 BBC Wild Africa footage – Crocodile hunting buffalo

 

 More information on the Nile Crocodile

 

 More images of the Nile Crocodile

THE ROCK PYTHON (PYTHON SEBAE)

python

The African Rock Python is the largest of all snake species on the African continent. Large adults, especially females measure between 4 and 5 meters. Larger specimens of 7 and 8 meters have been recorded.

 

African Rock Pythons are often found near water in savannah, grassland as well as rocky outcrops. Their preferred retreats are under piles of driftwood and inside old termite mounds and abandoned aardvark burrows.

 

Rock Pythons will eat mammals such as small to medium sized antelope, dassies (hyrax), rodents, hares, monkeys, monitor lizards, crocodiles and occasionally fish are eaten.

 

During the summer months the female lays between 20 and 60 eggs in a termite mound or aardvark burrow. Large pythons can lay as many as 100 eggs.
The female remains with her eggs for the 2 to 3 month incubation period. During this period she will not feed but will leave on occasion to drink.

 

On warm days she will often bask in the sun and then use the absorbed heat to help incubate the eggs by coiling around them. By constantly twitching her body she also generates heat to help raise the temperature of the eggs.

 

 YouTube tourist footage of rock python after swallowing an antelope

THE VARIABLE SKINK (TRACHYLEPIS VARIA)

variable-skink-2

Approximately 50 – 60 mm long this is a medium sized skink with a rounded snout. It’s colour varies, the back may be blackish, olive, pale brown or red-brown, with or without black spots. There’s always a distinct white lateral stripe down the backbone and on the upper sides. The belly is bluish white.

 

Females lay 6-12 eggs which hatch after a 2 month incubation period. Growth is rapid and both sexes reach maturity in only 8 months.

 

Skinks will eat grasshoppers, caterpillars and termites, spiders and, in exceptional cases, other lizards.

MONITOR LIZARD (VARANUS ALBIGULARIS)

monitor-lizard-2

Monitor lizards will lay from 7-37 eggs in a nest which are generally constructed inside a hollow tree stump and covered in soil for protection and heat regulation.

 

Monitors are large lizards growing to approximately 2 meters and have long necks and very strong jaws, legs, tails and claws.

 

It is said that this lizards name came from a certain behaviour where they will sit up on their hind legs and ‘monitor’ their surroundings.

 

Monitor lizards will eat almost anything that they are capable of overpowering from frogs and insects to small and large rodents.

 

– Monitor lizard footage from vehicle in South Africa

PLEASE DONATE TO HELP OUR GIRAFFE CONSERVATION FIELD STUDIES SUCCEED
LATEST UPDATES
Multi Tools 101

Do You Need a Multi-Tool for Your African Adventure?

By Jel Gueco/ Africa Wild Trails Blog Writer | March 18, 2019

  In many travel guides and blogs about Africa, one recommendation that is very common is to bring a multi tool. For people who are not familiar with what a multi tool is, it is a compact device that has multiple functions.   Depending on the brand, the design and the functionalities also differ. However,…

The Highlights of the Anglo-Zulu War

By Jel Gueco/ Africa Wild Trails Blog Writer | March 11, 2019

One of the most fascinating stories to hear when travelling to a foreign land is the rich history and heritage the country possesses. For people travelling to South Africa, one interesting topic is when and how European settlers first set foot in the land and their interactions with the locals.   For South Africa and…

Image of a herd of African elephants going to drink

13 Interesting Facts About African Elephants

By Jel Gueco/ Africa Wild Trails Blog Writer | March 4, 2019

  African Elephants (Loxodonta Africana) are the largest land animals on Earth. These magnificent giants are slightly larger than Asian elephants and can be found roaming countries in sub-Saharan Africa.   There are many interesting anecdotes about elephants. In some cultures, people consider elephants as a lucky symbol for prosperity and business. This is why…