The immediate mental picture or phrase that springs to mind when people mention reptiles of Africa, or anywhere in the world for that matter, is that of vicious, man-eating animals. While reptiles such as the black mamba and Nile crocodile are extremely dangerous, there are many other reptiles to be found in Africa, many of which are even popular pets, such as certain geckos and chameleons.
1. Nile Crocodile
Where do they live? In rivers, freshwater marshes and mangrove swamps throughout sub-Saharan Africa, the Nile Basin and Madagascar.
What do they eat? Mostly fish, but they will attack almost anything that crosses their path including zebras, baby hippos, porcupines, birds, other crocodiles and people.
How long do they live? 70 to 100 years
2. Black Mamba
Where do they live? In the savannahs and rocky hills of southern and eastern Africa.
What do they eat? Usually small mammals and birds.
How long do they live? 11 years
3. Geometric Tortoise
Where do they live? South Africa
What do they eat? Mainly leaves, flowers and the shoots of a wide range of indigenous fynbos and renosterveld plants and grasses. Their specified diet means that they soon die when kept in captivity.
How long do they live? 30 years
4. Hawksbill Turtle
Where do they live? Found predominantly in tropical reefs of the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Examples of areas they are found: the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa; along the east coast of Africa, including the seas surrounding Madagascar and nearby island groups; and Cousine Island in the Seychelles.
What do they eat? Sponges make up a major part of their diet, but they also eat seagrasses, algae, soft corals and shellfish.
How long do they live? 30 to 50 years
5. Monitor Lizard
Where do they live? Throughout Africa and Asia.
What do they eat? Rodents, snakes and lizards.
How long do they live? 8 to 30 years
6. Parson’s Chameleon
Where do they live? Madagascar
What do they eat? Insects
How long do they live? About six years
7. African Fat-tailed Gecko
Where do they live? Found in West Africa, from Senegal to Cameroon.
What do they eat? Mealworms, crickets, locusts, cockroaches, butter worms, silkworms and cutworms.
How long do they live? 10 to 25 years
8. Variable Skink (Mabuya Varia)
Where do they live? Found from the south-eastern Cape in South Africa, through East Africa to the Sudan and west to Namibia, Angola and the Congo.
What do they eat? Grasshoppers, caterpillars, termites, spiders and, in exceptional cases, other lizards.
How long do they live? Two years
9. Madagascan Iguana
Where do they live? Madagascar
What do they eat? Crickets, grasshoppers and cockroaches.
How long do they live? About four years
10. Leatherback Sea Turtle
Where do they live? They have the widest global distribution of all reptile species and can be found in the tropic and temperate waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea. Adult leatherbacks travel as far north as Canada and Norway and as far south as the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, and New Zealand and South America.
What do they eat? Jellyfish, squid and tunicates.
How long do they live? About 50 years
Rating Reptiles in Africa
Biggest snake in Africa: African rock python
Fastest snake in Africa: Black mamba
Most venomous snake in Africa: Black mamba
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