Summer time is when the reptiles of Londolozi are out and about. Their poikilothermic lifestyles mean they are dependant on ambient temperatures to regulate their body heat, and the warm summer sun (it’s been upwards of 40 degrees Celcius on a number of occasions over the last few weeks) means that they are at liberty to be venturing out looking for food.
Most of them remain well hidden, and a quick flurry of movement as a Sand Lizard scuttles for cover or the tell-tale tracks of a snake crossing the road are usually the only signs we have unless we actively go on the search, but occasionally a fascinating sighting unfolds before our very eyes.
Recently in the staff village, there was a lucky discovery of a western stripe-bellied sand snake devouring a not-so-lucky tree agama.
The sand snake is one of the fastest moving that we find at Londolozi, and although completely harmless to man, its clearly not harmless to a member of the lizard family that doesn’t get out of the way in time.
The snake had already caught the agama when it was found, and had it by the head, as head-first would be the easiest (that term is used loosely) way to devour it.
So big was the agama as a food item, many of us were doubtful that the snake was even going to be able to swallow it. A similar sighting in which a tiger snake caught a tree agama ended in the tiger snake dropping it after close to 6 hours; the agama was simply too large to fit down the snake’s throat.
In this case, persistence paid, and the sand snake eventually fitted the entire agama down its gullet. A meal like that will last a snake a long time, and chances are pretty high that the local agama population won’t have to worry about this particular snake or a few weeks to come…