Photograph by Joe Smereczansky

Stigmochelys pardalis

Common Name: Leopard or Mountain Tortoise
Family: Testudinidae
Description: Not indigenous to the reserve but have become a common sight in picnic areas. Maximum adult size of these tortoises varies, generally reaching a size of 30 – 40 cm, weighing about 13kg. This tortoise has a moderately large head with a hooked upper jaw. The legs are well developed with five claws on each of the front feet and four on each hind foot.
Distribution: They are widespread throughout the savannahs of Africa, from southern Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia southward through East Africa to the Eastern Cape and Karoo, westward to southern Angola and Namibia.
Diet: Wide variety of plants including succulents, grass shoots and fallen fruits.
Behaviour: Breeding season occurs from September to April, males are combative, as with many tortoises and have a direct approach to courtship. Large females lay several clutches, and depending on the temperature, incubation may take 8–15 months. Females are formed at high temperatures (31– 34°C), whereas males hatch from eggs incubated at lower temperatures.
Conservation status: Least Concern
Interesting facts: Leopard tortoises and their eggs are still eaten by people in some areas. Tortoises are important seed dispersers as they eat large quantities of plants and their faeces are full of undamaged seeds.

bradypodion pumilum

Common Name: Cape Dwarf Chameleon
Family: Chamaeleonidae 
Description: Grows to 15 cm in length (including the tail) with a significant colour variety, saturation and pattern, males tend to be brighter than females. The tail is prehensile (the ability to grasp) and the feet are well evolved to grasping twigs with minute claws to improve grip.
Distribution: Native to the Western Cape where it is restricted to the region around Cape Town.  
Diet: Variety of insects. 
Behaviour: These chameleons are oviparous (eggs are hatched inside the adults’ body), the young resembling miniature versions of adults, and are no more that 2 cm at birth.
Conservation status: Near threatened 
Interesting facts: The tongue is twice the length of the body and is shot out of its mouth using a special muscle in its jaw.  Habitat loss and fragmentation are two serious threats to its continued survival. Within an urban area, domestic cats, insecticides and trimming of garden vegetation are the biggest contributors to decline in numbers.

cordylus cordylus

Common Name: Cape Girdled Lizard
Family: Cordylidae 
Description: A medium-sized lizard indigenous to the southern Cape region of South Africa, where it inhabits crags, rocky outcrops and mountain summits.  They grow to about 15 cm in length and vary in colour and males tend to be brighter in colour than females. Their tales have the ability to grasp and their feet are well evolved to grasping twigs with minute claws which improve their grip.Distribution: They are found in the Western and Eastern Cape from Saldanha Bay and Cape Town all the way to Lesotho living in large colonies on crags, rocky outcrops and mountain summits. They can often be seen sunbathing on top of prominent rocks. The tend to hide in rocky cracks, but come out in the morning and evening to forage.  
Diet: They pounce on a variety of insects.
Behaviour: They live in large colonies and can often be seen sunbathing on top of rocks. The hide in rocky cracks, but come out in the morning and evening to forage. In the autumn, the females give birth to one or two young, which stay with their mother for a year. 
Conservation status: Least Concern.
Interesting facts: When they are threatened, they retreat into their holes in the rocks and lock their bodies by inflating their lungs and they use their throny tail to protect themselves from predators etc.

Bitis arietans

Common Name: Puff Adder
Family: Viperidae
Description: Heavy-bodied snake with triangular shaped head, growing to about one metre in length with a girth pf about 40 cm. It has chevron shaped patterns breaking the bland tanned background. Males are larger than females with longer tails.
Distribution: Widespread over much of South Africa, very common in the Reserve.
Diet: Small mammals, birds, amphibians and lizards.
Behaviour: An ambush hunter, which relies on its camouflage to keep hidden. This snake will lay in a coiled up “S” position waiting for prey. Females produce a pheromone to attract males, which engage in neck-wrestling combat dances. Females give birth to large numbers of offspring: litters of 50–60, new-borns are 12.5–17.5 cm in length.
Conservation Status: Least Concern.
Interesting Fact: Until recently, research has shown that when hiding, the puff adder will not hiss or strike when approached, as it will give away its position to potential prey.