<< Previous Next >>

Unexpected Buddies

Unexpected Buddies
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: 2010-10-05
Categories: Mammals, Reptiles
Camera: Canon EOS 550D, Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM, Digital ISO 400, UV 86mm Kenko
Exposure: f/8, 1/200 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Theme(s): Reptiles of Africa, Mammals of Southern Africa II, A study in Mammalogy (mammals) 1, A study in Herpetology (reptiles) 1, Milestones, Reptiles - Lizards, Chuckwallas, Agamas & Tegus 3, Mammals of Africa I, Kruger National Park 3, Animals' Behavior, part one [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2011-01-29 3:06
Viewed: 9577
Points: 56
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Tawny Plated Lizard - Gerrhosaurus major major and
Dwarf Mongoose - Helogale parvula

Regrettably I missed my 5 years birthday on TrekNature on the 23rd of January, but I hope this image can make up for it in some small way. As some of you might know, I am not much active on the site at present, due to extended work demands. Fortunately there is light at the end of the tunnel as we should be completing the project during April month and hopefully I'll once again have more time to spend on this beloved site.

These "Unexpected Buddies" were captured on the S65 near the N'waswitshaka Waterhole. We stopped at a termite mount, right next to the road, after we spotted some Dwarf Mongoose basking in the sun on the top of the termite mount. Next moment, to our utter delight, we became aware of another inhabitant of the mount when the Tawny Plated Lizard suddenly made its appearance. We could hardly believe what we saw, but we immediately noticed that the two unlikely friends were quite comfortable with each other and no animosity existed on this mount.

From what we could count there were eight Dwarf Mongooses living in the termite mount and while they had their own separate homes (holes) where they lived so did the Lizard. We didn't see any other lizards though, but I do suspect there might have been some others as well, they obviously just didn't show themselves.

Unfortunately I couldn't get any clearer or more open shot of these beautiful little neighbours. Wherever they moved about there were always some grass or other obstacles in the way which prevented me from getting any better capture.

Taxonomic Classification
(Tawny Plated Lizard)
KINGDOM: Animalia (animals)
PHYLUM: Chordata (vertebrates, tunicates, & lancelets)
SUBPHYLUM: Vertebrata (fishes, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals, all share a vertebral column, or a chain of bony elements (vertebrae) that run along the dorsal surface from head to tail and form the main skeletal axis of the body)
CLASS: Reptilia (crocodilia, lizards, snakes, and turtles)
ORDER: Squamata (scaled reptiles; lizards and snakes)
SUBORDER : Lacertilia (true lizards; including chameleons and geckos)
FAMILY: Gerrhosauridae (oviparous plated lizards having four fully developed limbs, but some with vestigial hind limbs only)

Also known as the Rough-scaled Plated Lizard, the Sudan Plated Lizard or the Great Plated Lizard. They are fairly large lizards; adult size is 45-70cm, whereof the tail is less than half the length. They are somewhat squat with moderately broad tails. Being the most heavily plated of the Gerrhosaururidae, the species is easily recognised on the armour. The body and tail is covered in transverse bands of more or less square plate like scales, and head shields are fused to the skull. The armour makes the animals look a bit like the common perception of Mesozoic reptiles. Coloration is greyish brown, males being larger than females with bright-coloured throat.

Limited to the northern and eastern parts of Southern Africa. Widely distributed throughout Africa south of the Sahara.

Their natural habitat range from mountain and highveld grasslands to savanna, bushveld and coastal forest where they inhabit rocky outcrops, holes or termitaria.

They are diurnal reptiles. This means they are active mostly during the day and sleep at night. They can be seen basking on termite mounds in which they commonly live. When threatened, they will run for cover and wedge themselves in rocky crevices. Their heavy armour makes them almost invulnerable to predators. Recent research suggests that they have a complex social structure and they are able to recognize their kin and show a degree of parental care.

They are omnivores, living from a wide range of vegetable matter, insects and on occasion small vertebrates like other lizards and rodents.

They lay small clutches of 2-8 soft-shelled eggs, which are usually laid in a crevice and are then covered with soil. Newly hatched young are recorded throughout summer. They take 5 years to reach adult size.

Conservation status
IUCN Red List Status: Not Evaluated (Listed as Protected Game in the South African Red Data Book for Reptiles and Amphibians).

Information extracted from "A Guide to the Reptiles of Southern Africa" by Graham Alexander & Johan Marais, Struik Publishers and from a stub in Wikipedia.

Taxonomic Classification
(Dwarf Mongoose)
KINGDOM: Animalia (animals)
PHYLUM: Chordata (animals with a shared body plan having at some stage in their lives: a notochord, a dorsal neural cord, pharyngeal slits & a post anal tail)
SUBPHYLUM: Vertebrata (fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, & mammals)
CLASS: Mammalia (vertebrate animals with sweat glands, hair, 3 middle ear bones, and a neocortex region in the brain)
ORDER: Carnivora (placental, meat eating mammals)
FAMILY: Herpestidae (herpestid mongooses from southern Eurasia and mainland Africa)

I have provided some information on this species in a previous posting which, if you are interested, you can find at Suspicious Buddies.

Post Processing was done with Adobe Photoshop CS2.

Miss_Piggy, Alex99, anel, uleko, Ilducabianco, CeltickRanger, Mamagolo2, maurydv, soccer, PeterZ, flashpoint, Noisette, albert, pilonm, Ingrid1 has marked this note useful
Only registered TrekNature members may rate photo notes.
Add Critique [Critiquing Guidelines] 
Only registered TrekNature members may write critiques.
ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To mwmod99: Colour renditionloot 3 04-29 04:45
You must be logged in to start a discussion.

Critiques [Translate]

Dear Loot
This is a great image! It reminds me so much of some scene taken from a Walt Disney movie where all the animals are friends or as you will say "buddies". I remember this day we captured these critters so well. It was such a pleasant surprise when we saw them and to me it was as if we where watching a movie. Once again I must compliment you on some very educational reading material. Your camerawork is praiseworthy, as the image is sharp, the composition is great and the pose you captured of the two of them side by side exceptional. An image that deserves all the compliments it is about to receive. I very much like the variety of earthy tones in the image. Thanks for sharing, and I am so glad you posted this one. Love.

  • Great 
  • zetu Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 967 W: 26 N: 3888] (16941)
  • [2011-01-29 3:28]

Hello Loot
Excellent capture and composition
thanks for sharing

Hi Loot
Impressive scene and beautiful photo. The composition, the colours and the sharpness are excellent.

This is an amazing picture and worth millions, especially when you rarely post on TN these days, Loot. It is difficult to believe these two could be seen looking like bosom buddies together.
Nevertheless, it is a wonderful scene; the sense of comaraderie is more than manifest in their relaxed postures. We can only imagine what these two could be viewing together with such focused concentration.
I also like the almost sepia tone to this picture.
Thank you very much for the detailed note too.
Best regards.

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2011-01-29 5:20]

Hi Loot.
My warm congratulations on 5th anniversary of membership at TN. I wish you great health, more free time and shooting and many new pictures and posts here. Captured scene is unbelievable. I like unusual brick colours palette, superb diagonal composition of the shot, nice reflection of all features of a cute pair of animals. Bravo.

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2011-01-29 5:54]

Hello Loot,
Nice to see again one of your shots. A very vivid and original one, indeed. The termite mounts seem to have a lot of inhabitants and this double apparition made your and our delight. Very funny to see them look in the same direction..lovely and natural shot. Thanks also for the interesting note.
Have a nice weekend
Kind regards

What a beautiful capture with a strong composition. Detail note is also helpful.

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2011-01-29 7:15]

Hello Loot,
Good to see you here again and with a remarkable capture of these two unlikely friends! A great image to celebrate your 5th anniversary with! Congratulations! Fantastic timing here and I like the composition very much. Great sharpness too and beautiful colours.
Many thanks and all the best! Ulla

Hi Loot
very nice indeed, even if the lizard is looking a bit in the wrong direction

Hi loot,

Amazing shot!
Rare to see these two guys together, but you've captured it very well.
Good POV & great composition. Welldone & TFS.


Hi Loot,

wonderful image with a strong ethological taste obtained thanks to a remarkable lucky break.The focalization is excellent and enhances fully the protagonists.Excellent note and wonderful gallery.I must also say that the place where you live is undoubtedly one of the best in the world where to take great natural photos.Really very beautiful!



As a scene this image really deserve a special award Loot! A truly and honestly believe that special moment like this one can be seen and taken in photographs very rarely! Bravo! Your notes are pleasantly presented and it is a pleasure to read them. In the workshop I am presenting you an alternative image with some color corrections. In my opinion the colors in the original are a bit unbalanced for unknown reason. Thanks for sharing Loot and have a wonderful time completing your project!
George Veltchev

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2011-01-29 8:04]

Hello Loot,
A superb capture!
The DOF from a fine POV is just right to show both the Lizard and Dwarf Mongoose with fine sharpness. The BG and colours are great too.
Though both are neutral to each other I guess that they may compete a little when it comes to prey.
Thanks for sharing this great image and congratulations on having completed 5 years on TN. I hope you continue to post and keep an eye on us for a long time to come.
With kind regards,

hello Loot

first of all congratulations for your 5 years on TN

excellent timing to shoot these beautiful creatures
from the Nature, with fine POV and the way
they are framed, excellent focus sharpness and details,
i love the warmer light and color tones of the image,



  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2011-01-29 9:18]

Hello loot,
How nice to see a photo of you. And a very special one to celebrate your 5th anniversary here on TN. Wonderful to see these two animals in one shot. Fantastic sharpness, details and very beautiful warm colours. Splendid blurred BG too.

Hello Loot,
Welcome back, i missed you. What a fantastic sighting you and Anna had. At the right place at the right time. And the sharpness and color is fantastic. Very well done and thanks for sharing.

Hello Loot,
Fantastic combination of a reptile and mammal in one shot; excellent sharpness, wonderful colours and very attractive composition. Best wishes, Pambos

Hallo Loot,
what a fantastic double capture, superb sharpness and marvellous warm colours, excellent visual impact.
Best regards

  • Great 
  • soccer Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 587 W: 0 N: 655] (2557)
  • [2011-01-29 12:10]


Great to see you on TN again - it has been a while my friend.
I love the S65 and it has been productive for me over the years too.
I especially love the choice of subject and note - excellent work. The image has a great POV which is makes this image even more unique and deserving of such a rare opportunity to have these species together. The sharpness and detail of subjects is excellent. Your DOF, OOF BG and lighting are well done.

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2011-01-29 15:42]

Hi Loot,is very incredible this couple,one of most nice surprise never seen on TN...and a very good quality too,whit the best sharpness and colors in a difficult light.Thanks for share,have a nice Sunday,Luciano.

Hello Loot
wunderful image of this two different animals looking in the same direction, side by side, both lizard and mongoose are very well captured with fine details in a natural environment
very beautiful BG too
Have a good night

Wow, this is really special. Strange friends indeed! The lighting is perfect and the image sharp with nice detail.
Well done!

Hello Loot,
Really unexpected !!! great POV and compo
well done

Hello Loot,

WOW!!! What an incredible picture!!! I really thought that Mangoose cannot stand any type of reptiles... I'm really impressed by this picture showing us a so great example of tolerance. I like the warm color even if George's workshop works too. Excellent POV and good choice of aperture letting us see correctly both "friends" in focus. The bg is splendid too. More room on the left would have been interesting too I think...

Great pic and TFS!


  • Great 
  • foozi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2791 W: 0 N: 6696] (25839)
  • [2011-07-08 17:08]

Hello Loot,
this is simply amazing. Thinking of the movies of good friendship between animals, understandings each other and becoming good pals.
wow...what a shot here.


Amazing capture Loot! The realtion of the 2 living sympatrically together is really mind blowing especially knowing a mongoose's reputation for putting up a real good fight.

Dear friend, Loot,

Your "buddies" are a must for my theme "Animals' Behavior."

Apologies for the varied spelling of Behaviour. It depends on which computer I use, and if the automatic spell-correction kicks in or not :-)

Your photographic technic is perfect , and probably - you knowing so well the Behaviour of the animals - you know when to wait for the perfect shot (like a tennis champion)...
The natural colours are a bonus.
Thanks so much for sharing your love and knowledge of the bush

Best wishes

Hello Mr.Loot,
What an excellent view!I haven't think to see such beautiful one...
Thanks for sharing,

Calibration Check