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Namib Dune Gecko
(Pachydactylus rangei)

This endemic gecko is also known as the Palmato gecko or Web Footed gecko and can be found throughout the Namib Desert especially on the compacted wind side of the dunes. They are nocturnal and have large fixed lens eyes without eyelids, which they keep clean by licking with long tongues.

Web feet act as Sand shoes, the equivalent of snow shoes. They come in a variety of colors and patterns with an almost transparent skin which has visible blood vessels beneath the skin. They collect their water needs from what they eat, a diet consisting of various insects such as crickets, beetles, termites, beetle larvae and crickets. In times of need they can be seen allowing fog to condense on their large eyes and licking the drops of water off with their long tongues.

 

Sidewinder Snake (Bitis Perinqueyi)

This little endemic snake is one of the smallest adders in the world second after the namaqua dwarf adder. This adder reaches a length of 30cm and has eyes on top of the head, which allows the snake to burrow under the sand and still keep its eyes out surveying the surroundings for prey. They move in a lovely sidewinding fashion, which allows them to move along the slip face of dunes where the sand is loose. Sidewinding also keeps most of the body off the sand at any given moment and allows the snake to move over hot sand without overheating. They are front fanged and have a combination of Cytotoxic and Neurotoxic poison. They give live birth (viviparous) and have up to 10 young during the summer months. A little black point on the tail is used to attract lizards closer to the snake while it lies below the surface of the sand out of sight.

 
Geckos are mostly nocturnal
with 111 species found in Southern Africa
and 1130 species described worldwide.
The Namib dune gecko is unique due to the fact that it is the only fully web footed gecko
in Southern Africa
 

Caterpillar tracks or Side Winder Snakes?

Yes, both are common to the Perinqueys adder commonly known as a Sidewinder, which leaves caterpillar-like tracks on the slip face of dunes. When followed these tracks normally lead to the point where it buries itself under the sand waiting for a lizard to eat.

Shovel-Snouted Lizard
(Meroles anchietae)

This Lizard is endemic to the Namib and moves by day (diurnal). Can be found moving along the slip faces of the dune where the dune sand is very soft. Should this lizard feel threatened then it dives into the soft sand thus earning another common name the sand diving lizard. During the heat of the day the sand gets very hot and this lizard can be found dancing by holding 2 feet in the air at a time and then alternating its feet, and by doing this keeping its feet cool and minimizing the heat transferred from the sand to the body, therefore also known as the thermal dancing lizard. It’s a fast moving lizard that chases insects and even takes moths out of the air. It measures around 10cm including the tail and lays 1-2 eggs in a burrow.

Cartwheeling Spider
(Carparachne aureoflava
)

This spider also known as the dancing white Lady spider is endemic to the Namib dune belt.

Two dancing white lady spiders occur in the Namib, but only Carparachne is known for its cart wheeling escape tactics. This large desert spider makes a burrow out of silk in the slip face of a dune which it closes with a little silk trap door. This spider can be found moving by night, mostly on the slip face of the dune while hunting insects. If threatened by enemies such as geckos then it dives off the steep slip face and curls into a ball and rolls down the dune at 44 roles per second, this is faster than any of its predators can run. Once the rolling has ended at the bottom of the dune it stands with 4 legs in the air jumping around in defense should any other predators be present. Has large fangs and can inflict a painful bite with mild venom.


sun spider

 
   
Silverfish are a terrible pest in any
household which can be found in the cupboard eating holes in your favorite shirt or eating your lonely planet guide book in the bookshelf,
but in fact silverfish are of vital importance to the desert. They eat dry seeds and plant material (desert muesli) and in turn the reptiles eat the silverfish.

Namaqua Chameleon
(Chamaeleo namaquensis)

Found in the western parts of Namibia and the North West of South Africa. This is a large short tailed chameleon that spends most of its life on the ground hunting for insects. They reach a length of up to 30cm and are one of the fasted moving chameleons in the world relative to other chameleons. Their basic color is black but color can change according to mood and willful decisions. Normally dark colored in the morning to attract the sun, once warm the chameleon can move faster and hunt more efficiently. When it’s too hot it turns lighter to reflect the sun. When angry it is black and when nervous it is black. They can see in both directions at the same time, 180 degrees on each eye independently. They need both eyes on the prey when catching it with their long tongue, which can reach the entire length of the body including the tail.
They lay eggs about twice a year that take about 4 months to hatch.

Fitzsimon’s Burrowing Skink (Typlacontias brevipes)

This legless lizard, which resembles a small snake, is covered in a glossy layer of wax and can swim through the sand like a snake moves through the grass. It is blind and spends most of its life below the surface of the slip face of dunes where it burrows in search of food which comprises of small insects, which it detects mostly by feeling for vibrations which insects make when moving.

 
Skinks are lizards without a neck,
resulting in a snake faced lizard.
There are 1305 skinks described worldwide
while 74 species are found in Southern Africa.
Many skinks have no legs and are called burrowing skinks, while others have strong legs and others small vestigial legs.

Chameleons, of which 19 species occur in
Southern Africa and 162 species worldwide,
change colour by willful decision, it’s not only according to the natural background colour
but the mood the animal is in.
e.g. Chameleons turn black when it’s cold to absorb the sun and white when it’s hot to reflect the sun.

Tenebrionid Beetles (Tok Tokkies)

A large variety of Tok Tokkies inhabit Namibia numbering close onto 200 species.

They come in all shapes, sizes and guises. The most common Tok Tokkie found in the dunes is the Fog Basking beetle (Onymacris unguicularis). These beetles including many others have a peculiar way of collecting drinking water from the fog. They can be found doing a headstand in the early morning allowing the fog to condense on their backs and then run down towards the mouthparts where they can then drink up to 40% of their body mass on a given morning. Another strange Tokkie is the button beetle or trench-digging beetle (Lepidochora discoidalis), which digs a fog trench into the side of the dune. Micro droplets of water condense on the side of the trench, which then gets licked up by the beetle. The tenebrionid beetles live on wind blown plant material known as detritus or beetle muesli, which gets blown down the lee side of the dunes, by wind.

Dune Cricket (Comicus)

A small transparent nocturnal cricket that makes a burrow on the semi compacted windward side of the dune, has very long antennae which it uses as sense organs to navigate by night. It has interesting feet like a gecko used for jumping and making burrows.

Reticulated Desert Lizard
(Meroles reticulates)

Found foraging during the day for small insects. It has a long point nose and is most common on the gravel plains at the foot of the dunes, especially where little shrubs are present which make a suitable hideaway for them when threatened.

 

Black Scorpion (Parabuthus villosus)

This scorpion can often be seen roaming around on the gravel plains and dunes during the day where most scorpions move mostly by night.

It belongs to the family Buthidae that are very poisonous. Scorpions with thick tails and small pincers should be kept well clear of and rely on their poison to kill their prey. Prey consists of insects, spiders and even small reptiles.

 

Velvit Ant

Female scorpions give live birth and
look after their young by carrying them on her back for up to 1 year.
Pregnancy can last up to 18 months due to the fact that they can halt the development of the young in difficult times and continue the pregnancy when conditions improve.
 

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