The primary goal of many safari goers is to see the Big Five African game: leopards, African elephants, Cape buffalos, rhinos and lions.
As rewarding as it is to watch these animals in the wild, you’ll miss out if they’re the only things you look for. Previously on this blog, I’ve written about the rewards of exploring plants, birds, and small creatures such as the Little Five of sub-Saharan Africa.
Namibia’s Skeleton Coast has such a unique desert ecosystem that locals have developed a list of their own Little Five, beautifully photographed in a recent article for Africa Geographic. They include four reptiles and one arachnid: a snake called Peringuey’s adder, the dancing white lady spider, the Namaqua chameleon, the Palmato gecko, and the shovel-snouted lizard.
Read on to find out more about these marvelous creatures!
Palmato gecko have no eyelids, so they keep their eyes moist they lick their eyeballs. Their webbed feet help them scurry over the sand without sinking. During the day, they often hide in the sand to stay cool.
Peringuey’s adder travels over the sand in sideways, curving motions — hence it’s also known as the sidewinding adder. Although venomous, its bite is not fatal to humans. To hunt, it buries itself in the sand with only its eyes and the tip of its tail showing. It may use its tail to attract prey, who may confuse its wiggling form for an insect.
Dancing white lady spiders communicate with each other by tapping their feet, sending vibrations through the sand. The males can travel as much as one mile a night in search for a mate.
Although the Namaqua chameleon can change color, it is usually gray or brown with a pale belly to reflect heat from the hot sand (this helps the chameleon keep cool) and dark patches along the spine. If one side faces the sun and the other is in shade, the side facing the sun is light colored and the shadowed side darker. It shows the colorful inside of its mouth to scare off predators.
Shovel-snouted lizards can tolerate temperatures as high as 111°F. To keep cool as they run over hot sand, they lift their tail and feet in a way that makes it look like they are dancing.
Want to see Namibia’s incredible wildlife in person? Contact Ujuzi for more information.