Near springs in healthy forests

(No.8, Vol.2, August 2012 Vietnam Heritage Magazine)

Among the lizards, the Agamidae family include species with long legs and long toes, which it possible for them _to move fast on the ground; some species have skin that connects their front legs to the hind ones so they can glide. Most of the species in this family have rough skin and a strong, horny. They have a variety of ways to camouflage themselves by changing the colour of their skin, making it easy for them to avoid enemies and hunt. The following are some of the 25 species that have been found and announced in Vietnam.
1. Physignathus cocincinus is the biggest Agamidae species found in Vietnam. It is half-a-metre long and weighs nearly two kilograms. It lives and hunts in trees near big springs in forests that are still in good condition. Though they are listed in the Vietnam Red Data Book and are protected by law, they are still hunted. Though it has rough skin and looks fierce, it is timid. It can go deep and stay for a long time under water while hunting.
2. Acanthosaura capra is just behind Physignathus cocincinus in size and weight. Acanthosaura capra is a fierce hunter on the ground. When attacked, it raises its needles to frighten even very hungry weasels.
3. Acanthosaura nataliae changes its colours very quickly when the weather changes. It usually stays in large leaves in rainforests at an altitude of more than 1,000 metres. It changes colours to make it easy to see in the mating season.
4. Calotes emma has long legs and runs very fast; and its long tail helps it keep balance. It can give you a big surprise when you see it move on water e at such a high speed that only specialized cameras can register it.
5. The most effective hunting tool of the grey lizard Calotes mystaceus is its long tongue. It sticks out its tongue at lightning speed, making it impossible for insects to escape. When its stomach is full, the pregnant female Calotes mystaceus gets under dead leaves and digs a hole in the ground to lay its eggs and leaves the spot. Its eggs hatch and the little lizards have to manage to survive by themselves. That is a characteristic of most Agamidae.
6. Acanthosaura lepidogaster usually lies in the sun on a rotten tree to control its body temperature. Its eyes roll fast with caution and the softest sound can make it run into a bush nearby.
7. By an old wall of rock, a Calotes versicolor may be change its colour from yellow to bright-red to show off its beauty to a female. Changing colour is also used to threatening enemies. This species is found in large numbers in Vietnam. It can be seen in backyards, along roads or in parks in the city.

Physignathus cocincinus, Calotes mystaceus, Calotes emma and Acanthosaura capra.

Text and Photos By Phung My Trung
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