|Lizard camouflages itself in the brown |
Now you see me, now you don't! This lizard is doing its best chipmunk imitation (brown with white stripes) and blends in with the leaf litter. This makes it hard for birds to see it – in fact, I would have walked past it, except it skittered into my path. Many amphibians and reptiles use camouflage to surprise their prey and hide from predators by blending into their environment.
Jumping pebbles! Wait a minute, those aren't pebbles, those are tiny lizards. It is amazing to think that a full skeleton can fit into something so small. The body of this lizard cannot be more than an inch long.
Bufo sp. toads are running all over the rainforest. We expect to see more tree toads and other herps (herpetofauna) as we push onward into the Kanukus. One of the most fascinating amphibians found in Central and South America is the poison arrow frog (also known as the poison dart frog) from the family Dendrobatidae. Poison arrow frogs are so named because they secrete toxins through glands in their skin; the secretions of some species have
|This lizard's body is only an inch long! |
been used by indigenous peoples to poison the tips of blow darts. Some experts believe that the toxins evolved as a defense against microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, fungi) which might attack the skin of these frogs in their humid environment. As a secondary benefit, the toxins deter large predators as well.
I had a close encounter with a herp – a little too close for comfort. On my way back to camp, I nearly tripped over a snake coiled in my path. Having no idea if it was poisonous, I edged around it as far as I could, then sprinted down the path. Not exactly a graceful exit, but in the wilderness it is definitely better to be safe than sorry. Guyana has several species of snakes in the viper family (Viperidae) and the cobra family (Elapidae) that are highly venomous and can cause humans excruciating pain, and even death, if bitten.
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