4 February 2012 1 of 2


ATAÚRO IS., DILI DISTRICT, TIMOR-LESTE

 


TIMOR-LESTE REPTILE & AMPHIBIAN SURVEY
PHASE VI: BACK TO THE METROPOLIS

Catching the large Ataúro monitor lizard (Varanus sp.) was a high-point on the expedition, but it posed a small problem for us - where to house it until we could measure it, document it, take DNA samples (blood and tissue), and photograph it prior to release. Since we had already seen what these large lizards could do to chicken wire, our options were few, with stuffing it back into the trap was an absolute no-no. Barry solved the problem by offering us the use of one of his large rainwater containers with a shallow layer of water in the bottom. This was perfect, except it raised another small problem. While it was easy to get the lizard into the container, it was not quite so easy to get it out again, when we required it. Here is a sequence of photographs from the final extraction when the lizard was taken for release and the process goes like this. Lower yourself into the container and avoid the large mouth facing upwards (cricket box useful if you have one here), avoid the whipping tail, distract the lizard's attention, grab it by the back of the neck, then by the hips and raise it out of the entrance. Then extract yourself and avoid getting bitten or whipped, but on this occasion I forgot about kicked and the lizard used its large left hind foot to claw my lip and cheek resulting in a nice duelling scar!

Anybody in there Out you come
Avoiding the mouth Securing the tail

Both the large and small monitor lizards were then taken to the swamp by Scott, David, Laca, Zito and myself and posed on a branch for final photographs before they jumped into the water and sprinted or swam away noisily. The resultant photos are below.

Ataúro monitor lizard (large male)
Varanus sp.
Ataúro monitor lizard (juvenile)
Varanus sp.


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