Reptiles in the KNP are represented by three Groups (Orders), namely Tortoises and Terrapins (Chelonia), Lizards, Snakes and Chameleons (Squamata) and Crocodiles (Crocodylia).
Reptiles are ectothermic which means that they rely on the external environment to regulate their body temperature. They cannot control their body temperature internally via metabolism like mammals and they are sometime referred to as “cold blooded” because of this. Reptiles employ a number of warming up and cooling down techniques, the simplest being “basking in the sun” to gain heat and retreating into the shade to cool down. They alternate these behaviours to regulate their body temperature. During cold conditions, reptiles become sluggish. Interestingly reptiles in South Africa do not hibernate in the true sense of the word because of our warmer temperatures. They will still emerge from their burrows and shelters to sun themselves if the opportunity arises.
Characteristics that make a reptile:
Horny Scales – cover the body and prevent water loss
Ecothermy – the need to regulate body temperature
Ovipary – reptiles are egg laying. Reptiles exhibit little or no parental care of their progeny.
Chameleons, Lizards and Snakes.
Sometimes you don’t notice the little things…
So many people just walked past at the picnic spot. There was a Flapped-necked Chameleon walking along the ground.
Then up a tree stump he went
… until he got to the top .He had a good look around and rolled his eyes up, down, left and right. Check his eye looking down
… and then suddenly he spotted something to munch on. Out came his tongue, which then suddenly darted out … … he got his prey.
… and back into his mouth to munch.
Suddenly a Yellow-billed Hornbill arrived and landed on top of the stump. For a moment I thought the Chameleon was going to become dinner as well, but luckily the Hornbill just had a good look at him and left him alone.
Different camouflages and note that they are not easy to spot when they are in the bush. You have to look carefully.
Also note the fascinating way the Chameleon walks and rolls his eyes around all the time.
Lizards, Skinks and Geckos.
These Tree Agamas are magnificent in colour. Their camouflage is also excellent. Look at photos 010 & 012 and you will see a female Tree Agama busy burying her eggs in the sand.
I can’t believe no-one else saw him and they just drove past.
Lying ever so still on top of the stone sign by Sunset Dam at Lower Sabie KNP lay a beautiful Water Monitor. You need to look around carefully to spot the small things and he wasn’t even small!!!. I guess most people only want to see the big things like lions and elephants.
Magnificent colours and patterns. He was chilling in the sun and then decided to go for a walk down to the dam to drink.
We came along some very fat Puffadders in the road. Watch out for snakes when you go into bird hides as they can often be found snuggled up warm somewhere inside. Don’t forget to look up at the ceiling to see if you can see any.
Be careful when you visit the beautiful flowers in the Western Cape too, as there are plenty of fat Puffadders amongst the flowers. So make sure there aren’t any around when you lie down in the flowers for photos.
Crocodile at Sunset Dam Pump, Lower Sabie, KNP.
The Crocodiles take turns to sit and wait at the pumphouse as Sunset Dam is replenished by a pump and water from the river close by. Fish are also transferred into the dam through this method. Their patience is rewarded as they catch the fish as they enter the dam. Crocs are fascinating creatures.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Their lifespan is from 35 to 75 years.
- A crocodile’s jaws can apply 5,000 pounds of pressure per square inch – the strongest bite of any animal in the world. More powerful than a Great White Shark.
- Crocodiles don’t sweat. To keep cool, they open their mouths which is known as “mouth gaping,” very similar to panting.
- Crocodiles are extremely fast in the water, swimming up to speeds of 35 kilometers per hour (22 mph).
- They can ‘belly run’ up to 17 kilometers per hour (11 mph) for short distances.
- Crocs tire easily on land and prefer to stay in water, coming ashore only to bask in the sun, or to lay eggs.
- Crocs can hold their breath underwater for more than an hour.Crocodiles swallow small stones to improve digestion. These stones help grind up the food in their stomachs.
Larger crocodiles can go for over a year without eating a meal.
- A croc’s metabolism is super efficient, using and storing nearly the entirety of the food it consumes. In extreme circumstances, they are able to shut down and live off their own tissue for a long period of time.
Don’t ever underestimate the power of these huge creatures which weigh from 220kg up to 550kg.
In Sunset Dam in Lower Sabie, KNP there are many very old crocodiles which are HUGE. These enormous creatures can rise up out of the deep dam within seconds and pounce on their prey. Many have seen them cut an Impala in half in one bite. Unless you have seen it in action, you just can’t fathom the speed at which these enormous monsters react. From lying quietly floating around in the dam to becoming ferocious predators in a split second.
Cruising along quietly and then suddenly launching into the air and diving and … SNAP, it has it’s prey in it’s jaws.
Huge crocodile catching fish at Sunset Dam, Lower Sabie, KNP.
We were sitting in the car near the pumphouse at Sunset Dam watching some beautiful Malachite Kingfishers landing on the pumphouse. Suddenly, I noticed some movement in the water and a mean-looking face coming towards me … and the next second there was this enormous THUD in front of us.
In those few split seconds, a HUGE Croc had jumped right up out of the water and then landed with a huge thud on the bank in front of us with seven fish in its jaws. You can imagine the sound of a 500KG Crocodile hitting the bank!!!
Just a few seconds had passed and that is when I had recovered enough from the shock of everything happening to start taking photos of what I was witnessing with my machine-gun like camera enthusiasm. The Croc was trying to hold onto all of the fish … Then, the Croc’s jaws opened and some of the fish jumped out of it’s mouth and then the frenzy to recapture the fish started. Thank goodness my camera was set on multi-shot at the time.
Wow! What a sight with fish flying all over the place around him. A poor Green-backed Heron happened to scurry past and try to steal a fish and the Croc lunged at him, almost taking him out by the anger of his sheer audacity of trying to steal his fish. The Croc then lunged to grab one of the fish he had dropped. Success, he had the fish in his jaws. The Croc soon gobbled up all the fish that it had dropped. Tossing the final fish in the air with satisfaction … and swallowed.
This whole action probably took only a few minutes, but I had captured it. I was so happy that I had reacted quickly and got the shots.
The Croc finished eating and then … went back into the water.
Another crocodile catching fish.
Another opportunity of watching a Crocodile capturing a fish and swimming towards the bank to eat it. It is at times like these that I love having my camera with me and the opportunities to visit the KNP and do photography.
A Feeding Frenzy at Sabie River Bridge, Lower Sabie, KNP.
There was chaos in the water when a dead buffalo went floating past the Sabie River bridge in Lower Sabie, KNP and was attacked by all the crocodiles in the area.Talk about a feeding frenzy. We have never seen so many Crocs feeding in one place like this before. What a sight it was!