Three additional lizard (Squamata: Sauria) records for Mizoram, India
H.T.Lalremsanga 1, Lalmalsawma Khawlhring 2 & Lalrotluanga 3
1,3Department of Zoology, 2 Department of Forestry,
Mizoram University,Aizawl, Mizoram 796012, India
Few herpetofaunal inventories have been conducted in Mizoram. Pawar & Birand (2001) documented 22 species of lizards from Dampa Tiger Reserve, NgengpuiWildlife Sanctuary and Palak Lake, in the state. Ramanujam & Harit (2002) recorded eight species of lizards from Mizoram. Recently, the State Fauna Series by Zoological Survey of India, by Mathew (2007) enumerated 22 species of lizards from Mizoram. The species reported by earlier workers represented only five families, Agamidae, Gekkonidae, Lacertidae, Scincidae and Varanidae (Table 1). We collected three additional species - Calotes maria, Calotes mystaceus and Ophisaurus gracilis which were not recorded previously from Mizoram (Image 1). Ophisaurus gracilis (Family Anguidae) represents a new family for the state.
For each specimen, selected morphometric measurements were made to the nearest 0.01mm with dial calipers (MitutoyoTM series No. 505-671). Morphometricand meristic characters (Table 2) largely follow those of Zug et al. (2006). The specimens were preserved in 8% buffered formalin and catalogued as voucher specimens in the museum of Zoology Department, Mizoram University.
1. Calotes maria Gray, 1845 (Image 2)
The individual was sighted and collected at 1250hr on 27 March 2008, in the outskirt of Selam Village at a geographical location of 23048’21.9”N & 93017’42.3”E, 1,583m, inside the area of LengtengWildlife Sanctuary (80km2), Champhai District, about 150km to the northeast of Aizawl. While surveying the floral diversity of Lengteng Wildlife Sanctuary, the specimen was found on the roadside resting on the branch of Glochidion khasicum (Euphorbiaceae), at a height of 2m from the ground. Photograph of this individual at the microhabitat is presented (Image 2). The forest type is sub-tropical semi-evergreen, corresponding to the sub-tropical hill forest (Champion & Seth 1968) of Mizoram. The floral community of the collection site is dominated by the herb Ageratum adenophorum and patches of Maesa indica, and Eurya cerasifoliaare also found. Trees of Quercus leucotrichophora,Lithocarpus dealbata, Schima wallichii, Lyonia ovalifolia and Vaccinium sprengelii also occur.
The specimen was kept in captivity alive for four days for behaviouralstudies. In the absence of sunlight, ventral side and flanks became light brown with the green colourpersisting on the dorsum. In sunlight the whole body colour restored to bright green. In captivity, the individual preferred crickets though offered house-flies, moths and grasshoppers. The specimen was euthanized, preserved and catalogued as MZU/ZOO/R-034 in the Museum of the Zoology Department, Mizoram University.
This record extends the range by ca. 240km, southeast from the KhasiHills in Meghalaya, with the possibility of occurrence in the contiguous hill ranges.
2. Calotes mystaceus Duméril & Bibron, 1837 (Image 3)
An individual Calotes mystaceus was observed perching on the branch of Pinus kesiya, about 3m above the ground at the secondary forest area of Zotlang (23028’23.5’’N & 93019’59.2”E, 1,500m), Champhai Town, ChamphaiDistrict on 26 May 2008 around 1600hr. It was collected and kept for observation in captivity for two weeks in the departmental terrarium. The lizard remained greyish-brown colourinside the shaded terrarium, the head and anterior portion of the trunk turned to bright blue colour within five minutes after exposure to the sun. The animal was later preserved and catalogued as MZU/ZOO/R-038. Three more specimens, MZU/ZOO/R-039, MZU/ZOO/R-040 and MZU/ZOO/R-041 were collected from the same area during the month of February in 2009. Other agamids found in sympatry are Calotes jerdoni andCalotes versicolor.
3. Ophisaurus gracilisGray, 1845 (Image 4)
While surveying the herpetofauna of AizawlCity, around 0730hr on 19 May 2008, a limbless lizard (MZU/ZOO/R-035) was seen basking in the sun inside the mixed plantation area of Brassica campestris, Acacia pennata,Trevesia palmata andCurcuma longa at Mualpui(23043.081’N & 92043.668’E; 802m), Aizawl where the atmospheric air temperature and relative humidity were 250C and 74%, respectively. We were informed that another specimen was killed the previous day by the local people the remains were salvaged from the leaf litter 10m away from the spot of occurrence of the first sample. It was preserved and catalogued as MZU/ZOO/R-036. On 22 May 2008 another specimen (MZU/ZOO/R-037) was collected from the same locality. All of them were identified asOphisaurus gracilis. The dorsal and ventral scale rows for each specimen were 16 and 10, respectively. The specimen MZU/ZOO/R-035 was kept in captivity for 64 days (19 May to 22 July 2008) to study behaviour and feeding habits. The saurian fauna of this area include Calotes versicolor,Cosymbotus platyurus, Eutropis macularia, Eutropis multifasciata, Gekko gecko, Hemidactylus frenatus, Hemidactylus garnoti, Ptyctolaemus gularis and Sphenomorphus maculatus.
These records are of interest for extending their distribution southwards in northeastern India. It is noteworthy that none of these species are common lizards. Local sources informed that Calotes mystaceus is common in ChamphaiTown area, while Ophisaurus gracilis was seen occasionally and Calotes maria was rare.
Champion, H.G. & S.K. Seth (1968). A Revised Survey of the Forest Types of India. Published by Govt. of India, New Delhi. xxvii+404pp.
Harit, D.N. & S.N. Ramanujam (2002). Reptilian fauna of Mizoram, India. Cobra 47:5-7.
Matthew, R. (2007). Reptilia, pp. 545-577. In: the Director (eds.).Fauna of Mizoram, State Fauna Series, 14. Published by Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata, v+691pp.
Pawar, S. & A. Birand (2001). A survey of amphibians, reptiles, and birds in Northeast India. CERC Technical Report #6, Centre for Ecological Research and Conservation, Mysore, 118pp.
Zug, G.R., H.H.K. Brown, J.A. Schulte II & J.V. Vindum(2006).A systematic of the garden lizards, Calotes versicolor group (Reptilia,Squamata, Agamidae), in Myanmar: Central dry zone populations. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 4th series 57(2): 35-68.