Creature Feature Soutpansberg 01 to 05 2015 (many pictures!)

Creature Feature Soutpansberg 01 to 05 2015 (many pictures!)

Postby rvanhuyssteen » Thu May 07, 2015 7:46 pm

For those who enjoy looking at indigenous animals here are some pictures from the Soutpansberg. I am doing a long term biodiversity survey and have been finding some really amazing animals.

Highlights so far for 2015.

Platysaurus relictus, these are common and I see them everyday. They are really amazing lizards. Always a pleasure to watch. The colours on them are so bright. The images really don't do them any justice. They actively hunt insect and will investigate bits of fruit or any high sugar food (for example honey). Just all round great animals.

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Smaug warreni depressus. These are also very common. They get big and can become very tame.

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Gerrhosaurus flavigularis, the blue phase is the most common in my area.

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Trachylepis margaritifer, these are very common skinks in the area. I found an unusual specimen, a juvenile without a blue tail, it is the first time I had seen one like this.

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A common bushveld species whichis quite rare in my area is T striata. I have only seen three and all on apple leaf trees in a sandveld area.

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Another lizard which is often seen is Matobosaurus validus. I sometimes see massive individuals. They seem to forage some distance away from where they sleep.

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Spotted-necked Snake-eyed Skinks (Afroablepharus maculicolis) are common in the area. These lizards are really beautiful.

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There are many gecko species in the area. The most common being Afroedura pienaari, Chondrodactylus turneri, hemidactylus mabouia (not pictured) and Homopholus wahlbergii. All four species live inside and around my hut. The afroedura and hemidactylus live side by side. The hemidactylus do bully the afroedura, but neither are dominant (if pressed I would say there are more afroedura in my hut). The boss is the Homopholus, they try and eat the others, I often see big chondrodactylus without tails and I suspect they got too near to a homopholus.

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There are many of these Agama armata lizards. I have only seen A atra once and still looking for tree agamas which must be in the area. Flap-necked chameleons are common. At the right time of year I can find up to six in a night. Still looking for a dwarf chameleon.

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We get both varanus species. Varanus niloticus being the most abundant.

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The two types of tortoise we get are Kinixys spekii and Stigmochelys pardalus. The hinged tortoises are very common and the population density is high. But they are very particular about when they come out. The best time to see them is during or after a shower.

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As far as snakes go, the area is good. The most common snakes are Psammophis subtaeniatus. It is not uncommon to see three a day.

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Second most common is the Mfezi. Now that the weather is cooling down I am seeing four or five a week. In midsummer one a week is normal. I also found a skeleton of a juvenile, it is really interesting to look at the head, it is comparable to a mammalian predator of the same size (i'm thinking dwarf mongoose).

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Python natalensis are not too uncommon. There is a lot of prey for them and a lot of good habitat (dassies). The big one pictured below was found at 1200 metres on a cliff.

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Those are the most commonly seen species. I saw my first bark snake (Hemirhagerrhis nototaenia) in January. I have been looking for this species for long but could never see them (in the second image you can see for yourself how difficult they are to see). WIithin two weeks I got four. Funny how that works. The literature says these snakes rarely bite. I got bitten by the first one I found and feel that was lucky.

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Philothamnus semivariegatus

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Boaedon capensis

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Myriopholis longicauda (Long-tailed thread snake). These are quite common.

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Puff adder tracks are often seen and occasionally I get to see one. This was a beautiful juvenile I found one warm afternoon.

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The boomslangs we get are this nice olive green colour. Unfortunately this snake was killed by a satanic fox terrier. This was a male.

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The highlight for me this year was finding a nile crocodile in the sand river. It is a new record for the area and exciting because it is free roaming. I saw the animal for the first time a month ago and have been staking out the area regularly ever since. Last week it paid off and I got a few pictures.

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That is it for reptiles. The rest is just some other animals in the area.

Opistophthalmus lawrencei

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Greater Painted Snipe

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Spiny Mouse

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Selous' Mongoose

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Large Spotted Genet

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Thick-tailed Bushbaby

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Bushpigs

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There are many leopards in the area. This is a big tom that lives up in the mountains in a remote forest. I go there about once every two weeks and always see scat full of bones and blood, scratch marks and occasionally nice big fresh tracks.

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Thanks for looking.

Ryan.

http://soutpansbergcbc.blogspot.com/
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Re: Creature Feature Soutpansberg 01 to 05 2015 (many pictur

Postby reptile » Thu May 07, 2015 8:26 pm

Lovely! Keep it up!
85% of all snakes are harmless!!!!
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Re: Creature Feature Soutpansberg 01 to 05 2015 (many pictur

Postby Durban Keeper » Fri May 08, 2015 1:40 am

Some very neat finds. Keep updating this thread as you find more. We are so fortunate to be able to apreciate these amazing creatures 90% of the world choose to ignore
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Re: Creature Feature Soutpansberg 01 to 05 2015 (many pictur

Postby Jedi Biscuit » Fri May 08, 2015 7:17 am

Absolutely amazing! Best thing to see first thing in the morning =D
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Re: Creature Feature Soutpansberg 01 to 05 2015 (many pictur

Postby Westley Price » Fri May 08, 2015 9:03 am

Awesome topic man!

I really like the Hemirhagerrhis nototaenia, but all the finds are amazing.

I have lost track of all the Afroedura species of recent. If anyone has the PDF publications describing the news species (I think it was published in 2014) please give me a shout.
"I am dying by inches from not having anybody to talk to about insects." - Charles Darwin
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Re: Creature Feature Soutpansberg 01 to 05 2015 (many pictur

Postby Mitton » Fri May 08, 2015 10:18 am

Awesome post man, thanks for sharing. The Mfezi pic of it standing up on the rocks is fantastic!
Do you maybe have pics of the place you stay, you mention a hut?
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Re: Creature Feature Soutpansberg 01 to 05 2015 (many pictur

Postby Matt Robinson » Fri May 08, 2015 12:39 pm

Great Post. Please do update it as and when you can.
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Re: Creature Feature Soutpansberg 01 to 05 2015 (many pictur

Postby Fooble » Fri May 08, 2015 3:36 pm

Epic post! Thanks for taking the time to put it all together!
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Re: Creature Feature Soutpansberg 01 to 05 2015 (many pictur

Postby Allen G. Liebenberg » Fri May 08, 2015 4:31 pm

This is fantastic! I really want to see more posts like this-this is the basis of our interest in nature.
Well done! A. :shock:
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Re: Creature Feature Soutpansberg 01 to 05 2015 (many pictur

Postby Mike Perry » Fri May 08, 2015 4:53 pm

Great post and great photos. Where are the black mambas? The Soutpansberg is full of mambas!
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Re: Creature Feature Soutpansberg 01 to 05 2015 (many pictur

Postby Ales » Fri May 08, 2015 5:05 pm

Great! Really pretty little puffie. Please also include a few habitat pictures.
What a world....
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Re: Creature Feature Soutpansberg 01 to 05 2015 (many pictur

Postby rvanhuyssteen » Fri May 08, 2015 5:28 pm

Thanks everyone.

I have the zootaxa paper on afroedura. If you want it, send me an email (ryanvanhuyssteen at gmail dot com).

This is my hut, it is very basic. No electricity. Is is situated on the banks of the Sand River in some nice knob thorn woodland.

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I am basically in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Some environmental shots -

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Black Mambas are full up in the area. For some reason I have not seen one this year, but I am sure sightings will go up now that it is cooling down.

Here is my reptile list for the area so far-

Pelusios sinuatus Serrated Hinged Terrapin
Kinixys spekii Speke’s Hinged-back Tortoise
Stigmochelys pardalis Leopard Tortoise
Crocodylus niloticus Nile Crocodile
Afroedura broadleyi
Chondrodactylus turneri Turner’s Gecko
Hemidactylus mabouia Common Tropical House Gecko
Homopholis wahlbergii Wahlberg’s Velvet Gecko
Lygodactylus capensis capensis Common Dwarf Gecko
Lygodactylus ocellatus soutpansbergensis Soutpansberg Dwarf Gecko
Pachydactylus vansoni Van Son’s Gecko
Chirindia langi occidentalis Soutpansberg Worm Lizard
Vhembelacerta rupicola Soutpansberg Rock Lizard
Smaug warreni depressus Flat Dragon Lizard
Platysaurus relictus Soutpansberg Flat Lizard
Broadleysaurus major Rough-scaled Plated Lizard
Gerrhosaurus flavigularis Yellow-throated Plated Lizard
Matobosaurus validus Common Giant Plated Lizard
Afroablepharus maculicollis Spotted-Necked Snake-Eyed Skink
Mochlus sundevallii sundevallii Sundevall’s Writhing Skink
Trachylepis margaritifer Rainbow Skink
Trachylepis striata Striped Skink
Trachylepis varia Variable Skink
Varanus albigularis albigularis Southern Rock Monitor
Varanus niloticus Nile Monitor
Chamaeleo dilepis dilepis Flap-Necked Chameleon
Agama armata Northern Ground Agama
Agama atra Southern Rock Agama
Afrotyphlops bibronii Bibron’s Blind Snake
Python natalensis Southern African Python
Bitis arietans arietans Puff Adder
Aparallactus capensis Black-headed Centipede-Eater
Aparallactus lunulatus lunulatus Reticulated Centipede-Eater
Atractaspis bibronii Bibron’s Stiletto Snake
Boaedon capensis Common House Snake
Hemirhagerrhis nototaenia Eastern Bark Snake
Psammophis mossambicus Olive Grass Snake
Psammophis subtaeniatus Stripe-bellied Sand Snake
Dendroaspis polylepis Black Mamba
Naja mossambica Mozambique Spitting Cobra
Dasypeltis scabra Rhombic Egg-Eater
Dispholidus typus Boomslang
Philothamnus semivariegatus Spotted Bush Snake
Myriopholis longicauda Long-tailed Thread Snake

I will update the thread later this year.

Thanks again.
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Re: Creature Feature Soutpansberg 01 to 05 2015 (many pictur

Postby Chris89 » Mon May 11, 2015 8:42 pm

Fantastic post R. Must be brilliant having all those geckos in your spot! Very cool to see the selous mongoose. Camera traps are grand. Is that on a termite mound? Not a whole lot of info on that species.. I'm sure you have many discoveries to make up there, looking forward to the pics haha. Keep it up!
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Re: Creature Feature Soutpansberg 01 to 05 2015 (many pictur

Postby rvanhuyssteen » Thu May 21, 2015 3:37 pm

Hi Chris,

The Mongoose is on a rock in a drying up pool along the river.

Living with these wild reptiles is really a treat. The geckos become very tame very quickly. I even hand feed the big chondrodactylus and homopholis by hand (when I can get a tiger moth).

Thanks for the encouragement.
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Re: Creature Feature Soutpansberg 01 to 05 2015 (many pictur

Postby Ruan Stander » Fri May 22, 2015 1:28 pm

Now this is just outstanding. Wow.

The photo of the M'fezi is lovely.

The flap-necks are very common in good habitat, I found twelve in less than three hours one evening.
Are there any Bradypodion that occur there ? If so,is it one of the recently described or discovered species ?
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