Pushup Lizards and Harmattans

I woke up this morning to something I haven’t felt (outdoors) since I arrived in Cotonou, Benin.  Cool.

Okay it is Winter in the Northern Hemisphere, but we’re just a few degrees north of the Equator, so it hangs around the 80’s a lot.  It may have actually been in the high 60’s this morning.  Enough for the Beninese to put on jackets!  Okay, stop laughing, they’re my friends, and I remember the people in Houston when it hit 50 getting out the down.

The reason is that Harmattan, a dry and dusty (and cool!) trade wind that blows through Africa from November through mid-March.  The down side is the dust, which gets in and on everything and is so fine that it can really irritate the lungs.  But right now, I’m enjoying the break in the temperature.

Which brings us to push up lizards.  I love these guys, and they’re all over the place.  Here’s what they look like:

Pushup lizard

The "pushup lizard" is a colorful denizen of Benin.

I tend to refer to all the lizards around here as “geckos”, but I’m told push up lizards are not geckos.

Lizards use various displays, including “push-ups” head-bobs, dewlap displays, body inflation, and gaping, to signal dominance or courtship. Some signals are only for members of the same species, while the same or other signals are used on other species. Using these species-specific, ritualistic signals reduces the need for outright combat and helps individuals recognize other members of their own species for mating.

No need to have a pet lizard here, they’re everywhere, but I may need to get one when I return home.

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