With plentiful monsoon and the news that Jog falls was cascading in all its glory, I decided to head to Sharavathi Adventure Camp, on the banks of the Sharavathi Wildlife Sanctuary, near Shimoga.
The most memorable sighting of the trip happened almost as soon as we checked in. When I looked down from the balcony, I saw a garden lizard sitting atop a freshly dug, perfectly circular hole in the ground. The hole was around 10 cm deep. I was curious about who had dug the hole and what the lizard was doing. As I watched, it slowly backed up into the hole and something white fell out of the lizard’s underside. It then became clear to me: the hole was a nest for laying its eggs.
Slowly, after laying about a dozen leathery, white eggs, she was done. It was now time to camouflage the nest.
After a lot of scraping with the front legs to fill the hole, and butting with the head to compact the loose soil, the nest was indistinguishable from its surroundings. It was amazing to watch how the lizard had dug and closed the hole so well using only its forelimbs and head.
The hole, which was in shade when the lizard was laying her eggs, was under full sun by the time she finished covering it up. The exhausted mother took quite some time to recover from her exertions and was sitting idly atop her nest for more than half an hour, before moving off to a shadier location. The eggs would stay in the nest, and provided all went well, hatchlings would emerge after 6 to 7 weeks.
The garden lizard is one of the most widely distributed lizards, commonly seen even in urban areas. They are normally spotted during the breeding season, when males sit in conspicuous places and bob their head to attract females and drive away rival males. During this time, the male’s head turns bright red, earning the garden lizard the nickname ‘bloodsucker’.