Reptiles are cold-blooded vertebrates whose bodies are covered in scales. Sudan is rich in diverse and endemic species of reptiles. The country has rainforests, swamp, savanna, and mountain ecosystems which provide a home for various species of reptiles found in Sudan. The reptiles in Sudan are facing a significant threat and their numbers has dropped due to the increasing human encroachment of their habitats, hunting and trading in some of these animals for pets. Some of these native reptiles of Sudan are looked at below.
Native Reptiles Of Sudan
Savannah Monitor (Varanus exanthematicus)
The Savanna monitor is a ground dwelling species with short limbs and short toes. The reptile has a dentition adapted for hard-shelled prey. The monitor preys on arthropods and mollusks. The Savanna monitor is a docile reptile that rarely bites and is usually kept as a pet. The monitor is mainly found in the sub-Saharan Africa in bushes, low trees, and burrows. The Savanna monitor faces threats from hunting for leather, meat and pet trade.
Black-Necked Agama (Acanthocercus atricollis)
The Black-Necked agama is a species of the group known as tree agamas. The agama has similar features for both males and females, with the heads of the males appearing larger than those of the females. The agama is predominantly diurnal though it displays nocturnal activities. The reptile mainly lives on trees and hardly lives on the ground. Orthopterans, ants, and beetles make up the lion's share of agamas' diets. Reproduction is seasonal, with females laying around eleven eggs per clutch.
Side-Striped Chameleon (Trioceros bitaeniatus)
The side-striped chameleon has two stripes which run from the head to the cloacae, and whose coloration may change depending on the animal's mood and stress. The male has hemi-penal bulges, while the females lack them. The chameleon is found mainly in areas of mountain ranges of East and Central Africa with dense forage, cold temperature, and high humidity. The chameleon is relatively sedentary especially the male which can stay at the same place for three or more days. The life span of these species in the wild is not known, but they can live for up to several years in captivity. The young ones reach sexual maturity at six months. The chameleon is also kept as a pet.
Gabon Viper (Bitis gabonica)
The Gabon Viper has a wide triangular head with a rounded snout covered with small keeled scales. The eyes are relatively small with the nostrils turned upwards and outwards and a short tail. The Viper inflates and deflates its body while hissing if it is threatened and is highly poisonous. However, the Viper is relatively docile and attacks when severely provoked. Though it appears sluggish, the viper strikes at an amazingly high speed. The adults can reach a length of 5 feet. The Viper mainly occupies woodlands and rainforests. They feed on prey such as doves, rabbits, hares and rodents. The gestation period is seven months, resulting in anywhere from 8 to 43 young ones.
Leopard Tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis)
The leopard tortoise is a large tortoise with attractive markings that resemble leopards' spots. The leopard tortoise is mainly found in grassland to thorny habitats and can sometimes shelter in abandoned burrows during extreme weather. The tortoise retracts into its shell when threatened and produces a hissing sound. The tortoise feeds mainly on dry grasses. Reproduction begins at 12 to 15 years, and these tortoises are known to live for as long as 80 to 100 years.
Protecting Sudan's Reptiles
In addition to the above-mentioned reptiles, in Sudan there is also to be found the rhombic forest adder (Causus maculates), the rufous beaked snake (Rhamphiophis oxyrhynchus), the common egg eater (Dasypeltis scabra), the fan-footed viper gecko (Ptyodactylus hasselquistii), and the northeast African carpet viper (Echis pyramidum). Several measures have been adopted towards conservation of reptiles including designation of protected areas and rearing the animals in captivity. However, there is still unregulated hunting and trade of these animals which should be checked by the Sudanese government to preserve their existence and biodiversity.