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It’s St David’s Day here in Wales so I thought to feature something Welsh, but I’ve already covered the Daffy and the Taffy, and leeks aren’t exactly inspiring. Then I thought ‘Dragon’! Though I have photos of Welsh dragon sculptures and carvings, this is as close as I can get to the real thing, the lizards I encountered almost daily while living in Cambodia.

160301 oriental garden lizard (1)

Though these critters all look quite different, they are the same species, Calotes versicolour, also known as the Oriental garden lizard, the Eastern garden lizard and – no surprise – the Changeable lizard. As well as having naturally variable colouration, the males also take on red and black hues during the breeding season.

160301 oriental garden lizard (3)

Interesting facts? They have incredibly long stiff tails which, unlike other lizards, they do not drop. However, like other lizards, they do shed their skin, they do lay eggs – between five and fifteen, usually in a hole in the ground or a hollow in a tree, and, like chameleons, they can move each eye independently of the other. They mostly eat insects and small rodents but they don’t have teeth for chewing so gobble them down whole, after a little pre-dinner food-bashing. Sounds remarkably dragon-like to me, though I’m not sure of their attitude to gold!

160301 oriental garden lizard (4)160301 oriental garden lizard (2)