Monthly Archives: July 2017

Water Monitor

This rather large species of water monitor (Varanus niloticus) is also known as a leguaan in South Africa.

Monitor lizards are, as a rule, almost entirely carnivorous, consuming prey as varied as insects, crustaceans, arachnids, myriapods, molluscs, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Most species feed on invertebrates as juveniles and shift to feeding on vertebrates as adults.

Water monitors are excellent swimmers, folding their legs in and using their tails like crocodiles, and can stay underwater for well over half an hour. They can run astonishingly fast over a short distance and invariably head for water when disturbed.

A Water Monitor making his way across the road into the longer grass on Sibuya Game Reserve.
These lizards can grow up to 2.5 meters long and this fellow looks pretty close to that.

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Mantis

Mantises are distributed worldwide (and can be found on Sibuya Game Reserve in Eastern Cape, South Africa) in temperate and tropical habitats. They have triangular heads with bulging eyes supported on flexible necks. Their elongated bodies may or may not have wings, but all Mantodea have forelegs that are greatly enlarged and adapted for catching and gripping prey; their upright posture, while remaining stationary with forearms folded, has led to the common name praying mantis.

(Baby Praying Mantis – Photo taken by Ranger Drikus on Sibuya Game Reserve)

Mantises are mostly ambush predators, but a few ground-dwelling species are found actively pursuing their prey. hey normally live for about a year. In cooler climates, the adults lay eggs in autumn, then die. The eggs are protected by their hard capsules and hatch in the spring. Females sometimes practice sexual cannibalism, eating their mates after copulation.

Mantises are among the insects most widely kept as pets.  Because the lifespan of a mantis is only about a year, people who want to keep mantises often breed them.