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Four-Legged Snake

Four-Legged Snake
Photo Information
Copyright: Loot Eksteen (loot) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2006-05-06
Categories: Reptiles
Camera: Canon EOS 350D, Sigma 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 HZ DG Macro, Digital ISO 100, UV 62mm Kenko
Exposure: f/8, 1/200 seconds
Details: Tripod: Yes (Fill) Flash: Yes
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Theme(s): Zoo animals, Animal Portraits II, Pretoria Zoo 1, Reptiles - Monitors, monsters, & dragons 1, A study in Herpetology (reptiles) 1 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2006-05-27 14:27
Viewed: 22022
Points: 48
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Asian water monitor - Varanus salvator

This lizard was photographed through glass at the Reptile Park in the Pretoria Zoo. This recently completed state-of-the-art facility is the house of more than 300 specimens of 72 reptile species.


With the alias of four-legged snake or round-nosed monitor it is one of the largest lizards in China. Its tail occupies three fifths of the entire length. There are small scales all over the body. It has a long head, strong limbs, and a long snout with nostrils near the end. Its tail is as flat as a ribbon and its four limbs are stout. It has a rather long tongue with a deep fork at the tip. The scales on the tail form two rows of protuberances. Its back is black mixed with yellow stripes. Its belly is light yellow or grey, decorated with a few black strips. Its tail has horizontal lines alternating in black and yellow.

Widespread throughout most of Southern Asia. It is distributed in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guangdong, Yunnan and Hainan provinces.

This semi-aquatic lizard is usually seen on river banks and in swamps. It is a water-dependent species and has been known to cross large stretches of water, explaining its wide distribution.

It settles down on riverbanks in mountainous areas, good at swimming and climbing bushy trees.

Water monitors are carnivores that eat anything they can catch and consume. Typical prey includes insects, crabs, mollusks, snakes, eggs (of birds and amphibians), fish, birds, rodents, frogs, small mammals and other monitor lizards. They also scavenge rotting carcasses.

Males are normally larger than the females, usually twice as large in mass and can reach nearly 3m in length.

Sexual maturity of the male occurs when the individual is about 1m in size and the female at about 50cm. The breeding season begins in April and lasts until October when it deposits 15-30 eggs, with each brood, in caves, rotting logs, stumps or tree holes.

Interesting Facts
- Water monitors utilize "open pursuit" hunting rather than stalking techniques.
- They are very fast for their size, both on land and in water, due to powerful leg muscles.
- When hunting under water, they can remain submerged for up to 30 minutes.
- The name "monitor" probably originated from the superstitious belief that these lizards warned of the presence of crocodiles in the water.
- Monitors will often eat crocodile eggs, thus are often seen near crocodile nesting sites.
- Like snakes, water monitors posses a Jacobsen's organ, a special organ located on the roof of their mouth that "smells" scents collected with their forked tongue.

Sources: Eat and be eaten & ChinaCulture.

Post Processing was done with Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0.

viv, thor68, scottevers7, Dando, manyee, ddg, Zeno, Janice, marhowie, elefantino, jeanpaul, firelord, valy67, SunToucher, mogens-j, RII, Dyker, Miss_Piggy, Rehanna, betsie has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To marhowie: < Highlightsloot 2 05-28 11:32
To manyee: Excellent critiqueloot 1 05-28 06:39
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • viv Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 292 W: 3 N: 653] (3317)
  • [2006-05-27 14:42]

Hello Loot,
Great portrait of this varaan, you had to be full off attention to them, because they can move so fast. The details are very sharp and I can see that the varaan is very alert. Great POV
Thanks and have a nice weekend.

  • Great 
  • wuta Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 855 W: 2 N: 617] (2142)
  • [2006-05-27 14:43]

Hello Loot , it's a Beautifull shot from the beast , beauty colours ,light,super pov ar great and the details of the eye super , Nice Weekend , Teunie .

Hi Loot,
Excellent portrait, good details and BG. Flash well managed.
Have a nice day

Hi Loot,
An excellent portrait shot on this Asian Water Monitor. Very nicely composed and framed. Your flash exposure is very good here. The colors, textures and detail, look great. Great informative notes.

  • Great 
  • Dando Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor [C: 637 W: 32 N: 792] (3084)
  • [2006-05-27 18:18]

Hi Loot, nice portrait, I have learned from your notes that they are truly amazing creatures and very adaptable. You have shown him well here with good details and lighting and good eye contact. Well done and TFS.

  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2006-05-27 21:56]
  • [+]

Hello Loot,
Now that's an interesting fellow!
Your excellent notes gave a very informative background on this rather unusual reptile. I don't think I have ever seen one in the flesh, though I am not sure I am that keen on that encounter after all. : P
Your flash threw some great light on his head, highlighting the fine details and subtle colors on it. I can see every scale distinctly. A fetching POV with the turn of the head, and the arc of the neck coming out of a corner makes for a good composition. The close crop gives a sense of the great size of this animal. Also a vivacious catchlight in the eye.
Can't wait to see what other exotic creatures you captured at the Pretoria Zoo.
TFS. : )

  • Great 
  • TAZ Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2241 W: 47 N: 3167] (10926)
  • [2006-05-28 5:01]

What an interesting portrait of reptile that you have well done ! Colors, exposure and sharpness are very good ! I like its glance. I also appreciate the complementary note... Congratulations Loot and thanks for sharing.

  • Great 
  • ddg Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 867 W: 24 N: 1008] (5507)
  • [2006-05-28 6:09]

Bonjour Loot, bien capté ce Varan qui retourne la tête pour vous regarder et vous surveiller. Cela donne de la dynamique à la photo.Le cadrage est juste ainsi que la dominante des teintes dorées (il fait chaud!!)Mes félicitations, Didier.

  • Great 
  • Zeno Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 483 W: 0 N: 1345] (10867)
  • [2006-05-28 6:18]

Hi Loot,

The turning of the head is wonderful and your timing was just right. The colours are so natural and well balanced. My compliments.


  • Great 
  • Janice Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3277 W: 148 N: 6163] (18832)
  • [2006-05-28 6:54]

Hi Loot, what, a snake with legs?? I have been confused before with lizards on TN, as well as the rugby scores too. What a shambles that last game was! Pea-soup fog!!

But getting back to business: Your lizard looks big - 3 metres, yes, that is big. They can be quite dangerous too I believe, and can move faster than you can run. Great sharp details, showing off all his tiny scales. And a cold looking eye too.
Well done,

Hi Loot,
Nice shot with excellent sharp detail and composed well..An interesting POV and pose in your head-shot as well. I did a quick WS to try and reduce the flash effect a bit.
Well done and TFS!

Very nice details in this capture, the POV is well chosen allowing one to view the incredible details of the scales on this cool creature.

This dinosaur of a beast looks just like the one in the movie 'The Freshman" with Matthew Broderick and Marlon Brando.

Hi Loot, good portrait of this giant lizard.
Nice colors and use of the fill-flash.

Bonjour Loot!

Félicitations pour cette présentation,le sujet est superbe et les détails sont très clairs. Bravo pour la belle composition et les couleurs.

Merci pour l'envoie amitié ....JP

  • Great 
  • pilonm Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 588 W: 90 N: 975] (3321)
  • [2006-05-29 12:33]

What a look coming from that varan, Loot. If it was a basilic, you were turned to stone instantly ;-) The composition and pov cannot be better! The caramel bg enhance the varan colours. Details are awesome and I like the star in his eyes a lot :-)

Very well done, Loot! TFS,

PS. (excellent notes too!)

  • Great 
  • valy67 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1727 W: 59 N: 3060] (9219)
  • [2006-05-29 13:42]

Reptiles are fascinating creatures, and this is a great shot of this varan, I love the way he is looking directly at you. Excellent sharpness and details, and you made wonderful use of your flash. Good colors, POV and compossition. Very well done !

  • Great 
  • SkyF Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2234 W: 188 N: 1912] (8073)
  • [2006-05-30 8:07]

Hi Loot,
excellent portrait. Great details and excellent eye contact. Sharpness, POV and colors are very good.

Hi Loot,
What a beautiful portrait. It is so wonderfull to see that he turned his head as if he was saying goodbye to and thanked you for the pleasant conversation. I really like the details in this photo and the sharpness throughout the photo. I agree with Howard on the flash. But you probably had to deal with harsh lighting conditions.

An interesting species Loot. How can one top Manyee's comment... ? :) When I shoot animals in confined spaces such as zoo's a small piec of white paper or even a tissue in from of the flash will diffuse it so that it does not show up on the subject. Well done.

Great portrait of this creature Loot. Wonderful skin colours and the brown blurred background really sets him/her off in a very nice way. Excellent sharpness with spot on dof. I really like the pose with the creature looking back at you - like watching your movements. Very informative note too.


  • Great 
  • RII Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 481 W: 0 N: 895] (2862)
  • [2006-07-05 21:54]

Hi Loot.
Excellent close-up, very nice colors details and point of view,great sharpness,good and complet note.


Hello Loot

Dit is nou nie juis asof krokodille en likewane my aandag vasgryp nie, maar 'n goeie foto bly 'n goeie foto al is dit nou ookal van 'n lelike ongedierte. Nogeens goeie werk wat jy hier gelewer het met 'n puik foto van hierdie skrikaanjaende gedrog. Dit lyk nie veel kleiner of minder bang maakend as sy ander boetie, die "kommodo dragon" nie. Gelukkig sê jy daar was darem 'n glas tussen jou en die gedierte.

Ek hou van die manier wat dit oor sy skouer loer na jou. Dit het jou 'n goeie geleentheid gebied om 'n mooi profiel skoot van die kop te kry. Nogmaals het jy pragtige fokus en kleure verkry van die "viervoetige slang".


Hi Loot
Lyk vir my baie soos Likiwaan familie. Het nooit geweet jy kry so groot lizard nie. Baie interesante notas Loot

Hallo Loot
Portrait of a fine specimen with beautiful scales, skin textures and colours. The thickish neck and loose skin in the neckline is nicely emphasized here, against the natural background. It looks as if this guy looked back as if he was called to pose for a minute. I like the way its head is turned sideways catching that special light in the eye. Very special moment captured, with great details displayed. Thanks for interesting subject and notes.

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