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Herping at Home

You don’t always need to go out to find herps. Sometimes they meet you right at home.

Of course, everyone in Bangkok knows that geckos love to come indoors, where they eat the mosquitos, flies, baby cockroaches, and other pest that annoy us and spread disease. On my very first day in Bangkok, I found this Flat-tailed House Gecko sitting on a windowsill.

Flattail House Gecko Hemidactylus platyurus

Though the Flat-tailed House Geckos are the most common species to be found inside, the closely related Spiny-tailed House Geckos could occasionally be found in homes as well:

Spiny-tailed House Gecko Hemidactylus frenatus

And once I found this Stump-toed Gecko under a board right in front of our house:

Stub-toed Gecko Gehyra mutilata

A few months into my time in Bangkok, the Oriental Garden Lizard hatching season began. This tiny little juvenile showed up on one of the potted plants on our doorstep:

Oriental Garden Lizard

juvenile Oriental Garden Lizard Calotes versicolor

And when the rains came, of course, the frogs started moving. Common Indian Toads were the most frequent visitors to our Oh Nut home. This one didn’t make it in the house, but was found in a neighbor’s fish pond.

IMG_9985

On occasion Asian Painted Frogs came right inside:

IMG_0450

I was worried the frogs might lose their way inside and fail to find their water puddles again, so I gently caught them and released them outside. The lizards were let be – they’re perfectly harmless and do a great job of making themselves at home. All of these frogs and lizards, of course, are great for the pests. I hope you have similar helpful visitors in your abode.

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2014 in Herping adventures

 

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Agamids outside of Bangkok

Several other Agamid species can be found in Thailand outside of Bangkok. They include:

Rough-bellied Mountain Dragon

Rough-bellied Mountain Dragon Acanthosaura lepidogaster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indo-Chinese Water Dragon
Indo-Chinese Water Dragon Physignathus cocincinus

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2013 in Agamas, Lizards

 

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Monitors outside of Bangkok

Several other Monitor species can be found in Thailand outside of Bangkok. They include:

Bengal Monitor
Common Indian Monitor Varanus bengalensis India juvenile

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2013 in Lizards, Monitors

 

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Skinks outside of Bangkok

Several other Skink species can be found in Thailand outside of Bangkok. They include:

Reeve’s Smooth Skink
Reeves's Smooth Skink Scincella reevesii

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Streamside Skink
Streamside Skink 8-18-2011 Khao Yai

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Berdmore’s Water Skink
Berdmore's Water Skink Tropidophorus berdmore

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2013 in Lizards, Skinks

 

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Geckos outside of Bangkok

Several other Gecko species can be found in Thailand outside of Bangkok. They include:

Cardamon Slender-toed Gecko
Cardamon Slender-toed Gecko Cyrtodactylus intermedius

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flying Gecko
Flying Gecko Ptychozoon lionotum

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2013 in Geckos, Lizards

 

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Water Monitor

Varanus salvator

Water Monitor Varanus salvator

Water Monitor in Lumpani

Water Monitor Varanus salvator

Water Monitor exiting water in Chatuchak

Water Monitor Varanus salvator

Extremely heavy monitor over 2.3 meters long in Phra Phadaeng

Water Monitor Varanus salvator

Water Monitor in water in Lumpani

Water Monitor Varanus salvator swimming

Water Monitor swimming in Lumpani

Water Monitor Varanus salvator

Water Monitor approximately 8 meters high in tree in Phra Khanong

Water Monitor Varanus salvator head shot

Head shot of Water Monitor in Lumpani

Water Monitor Varanus salvator eating fish

Same Water Monitor eating fish in Lumpani

Water Monitor Varanus salvator hunting

Water Monitor hunting snails in Lumpani

Water Monitor Varanus salvator

Water Monitor hunting along shoreline in Lumpani

Water Monitor Varanus salvator juvenile

Juvenile Water Monitor in Suan Luang

Water Monitor Varanus salvator juvenile

Juvenile Water Monitor in Phra Phadaeng

Water Monitor Varanus salvator mating

Water Monitors mating in Lumpani

English name: Water Monitor
Scientific name: Varanus salvator
Thai name: Hea

Description: To 3.21 meters long. Snout to base of tail is up to 1.1 meters. A massive, intimidating lizard, one of the largest in the world. The heaviest individuals can weigh over 50 kilograms. Body is grey to black, often with varying spots and chain patterns of yellow-to-tan that fade with age. Neck is long and head is long and somewhat flattened. Has a notably large forked tongue that it often extends to sense its environment. Tail is higher than it is wide and very strong. Underbelly is somewhat lighter than rest of body.

Similar Species: No other lizard in our area has the enormous size or distinct appearance of the Water Monitor.

Habitat: As their name implies, Water Monitors are almost always found near water, including rivers, lakes, swamps, canals, and beaches. As long as water is available they can be seen in a wide variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, mangrove swamps, islands, and agricultural areas. They are most common in coastal regions and become increasingly rare the further inland you go. They are very good swimmers and are known to swim long distances in the ocean, which can lead to the colonization of new islands. They are also good climbers and are often seen resting in trees at heights up to 10 meters. The Water Monitor has adapted well to urban environments and can often be seen in Bangkok’s parks, canals, and garbage dumps.

Contribution to the ecosystem: Are an adaptable and prolific predator, helping to control insect, snail, shellfish, crab, fish, frog, snake, turtle, bird, and rodent populations. They are well-known for eating eggs, hunting for the nests of birds, turtles, and crocodiles. Monitors help keep the city clean by feeding on trash and dead meat, especially dead fish and other water animals that wash ashore. Young monitors can provide food for large snakes.

Danger to humans: Water Monitors do not prey upon humans, preferring to eat much smaller animals. However, a Water Monitor that is grabbed or threatened by a human may use its teeth, claws, or tail to defend itself, and all three could inflict significant injury. If you are bitten by a water monitor, it is important to clean the wound and apply antibiotic ointment immediately, as rotting flesh in the monitor’s mouth may lead to inflection. You should seek medical attention in the case of any serious bite in order to prevent infection. It is possible that very serious bites from the largest monitors may lead to fatalities.

Conservation status and threats: Is a widespread and common species in Thailand. Though they are sometimes killed for sport or out of fear, they adapt surprisingly well to urban environments for such a large lizard. They are a protected species in Thailand.

In other countries, Water Monitors face heavy hunting pressure for their meat and skins, and the combination of overhunting and habitat destruction has led to their extermination in some places. They are considered to be nearly extinct in China, and their populations have seen serious declines in India, Bangladesh, and parts of Indonesia.

Interesting facts: The Water Monitor is an inauspicious lizard in Thailand. Its Thai name is an insult referring to an evil thing. Superstitions state that it indicates bad luck, and some Thais will even avoid saying its name. The negative connotations associated with monitors may have to do with their eating of dead animals, their feeding upon household chickens and eggs, or their frightening appearance.

References:
Wikipedia: Water Monitor
Ecology Asia: Malayan Water Monitor
Mampam Conservation: Water Monitor
Animal Diversity Web: Varanus salvator
Nam Kading Research & Training Center: Water Monitor
Hong Kong University: Varanus salvator
IUCN Red List: Varanus salvator
Thailand Office of Environmental Planning and Policy: A Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles in Thailand
Michael Cota, personal communication.
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia
The Lizards of Thailand

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Lizards, Monitors

 

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Oriental Garden Lizard

Calotes versicolor

Oriental Garden Lizard Calotes versicolor

Oriental Garden Lizard found in Phra Khanong

Changeable Lizard Calotes versicolor

Oriental Garden Lizard in Suan Luang showing especially gray coloration

Oriental Garden Lizard Calotes versicolor

Oriental Garden Lizard in Chiang Rai Province showing black throat patch

Changeable Lizard Calotes versicolor

Oriental Garden Lizard in Ko Samet

Oriental Garden Lizard Calotes versicolor

Male Oriental Garden Lizard in Phra Khanong showing breeding colors

Changeable Lizard Calotes versicolor

Male Oriental Garden Lizard in Rangsit showing breeding colors

Oriental Garden Lizard Calotes versicolor

Close-up of male Oriental Garden Lizard in Ramkhamhaeng biting finger

Changeable Lizard Calotes versicolor head shot

Head shot of Oriental Garden Lizard in Rangsit

Oriental Garden Lizard Calotes versicolor head shot

Head shot of very large adult male Oriental Garden Lizard in Payao Province

Changeable Lizard Calotes versicolor

Male Oriental Garden Lizard in Prawet showing aggressive behavior in breeding season

Oriental Garden Lizard Calotes versicolor juvenile

Juvenile Oriental Garden Lizard in Phra Khanong

Changeable Lizard Calotes versicolor

Head shot of juvenile Oriental Garden Lizard in Suan Luang

Oriental Garden Lizard Calotes versicolor sleeping

Oriental Garden Lizard sleeping at night in Bangkapi

English name: Oriental Garden Lizard (aka “Changeable Lizard”)
Scientific name: Calotes versicolor
Thai name: Ging-ga Hua Daeng or Ging-ga Rua

Description: To 37 cm long. Snout to base of tail is up to 10 cm. This spiny lizard differs from most lizards in Bangkok in having a robust body that is higher than it is wide. Color is highly variable, ranging from yellow-tan to olive to brown to grey, sometimes with dark markings along the back. Occasional young individuals will also have light markings or a light line running down the back. In breeding season males can show deep red or rust coloration on the front of the body, while females may become yellow. Breeding males also develop a black blotch on the throat. Skin is rough and spiny, unlike the smooth skinks or the soft geckos. Head is large. Adults have a crest that rises up from behind the eyes to the back. Small spines can be seen just above the external ear. Dark lines radiate out from the eye. Has long legs and long toes. Tail is very slender and more than twice as long as the body. Underbelly is white.

Similar Species: Indo-Chinese Forest Lizard is usually larger, has a distinct white lip, is almost always greyish rather than tan, and has males that turn blue during the breeding season.
Long-tailed Grass Lizard is wider than it is high, has smooth scales, lacks the dorsal crest, and has green coloration on the sides of its body.

Habitat: Naturally found in open forest and shrubland, but has adapted tremendously well to urban environments and can be found in agricultural areas, parks, empty lots, gardens, and even decorative shrubs in front of businesses. Usually seen off the ground in low vegetation.

Contribution to the ecosystem: Helps control insect populations. Will occasionally eat small lizards, baby rodents, or seeds. Provides food for snakes and birds.

Danger to humans: Will often bite when handled but rarely is strong enough to even draw blood.

Conservation status and threats: Is a widespread and common species that has adapted well to humans and has no known conservation threats. It has been introduced to Singapore, where it is considered an invasive species that threatens local lizard populations.

Interesting facts: The general public often considers reptiles and amphibians to be more “mysterious” than other animals, and this can be reflected in their common names. The Oriental Garden Lizard is referred to as the “Bloodsucker” in many areas, a name that stirs up unnecessary fears. Obviously, the Oriental Garden Lizard is an insect-eater and does not suck blood from anything, especially not humans. It is thought that the name “Bloodsucker” may have originated from the red head and throat that male garden lizards often display during the breeding season. In talking to people about snakes, lizards, turtles, frogs, and caecilians you can come across many other inaccurate common names that have developed alongside urban legends involving the animals.

The Oriental Garden Lizard is also known as the “Changeable Lizard”, due to its wide variation in coloration and ability to change colors significantly during the breeding season.

During breeding season, the male Oriental Garden Lizard will approach the female while extending its “gular” (throat sac), raise the front of its body as high as possible while nodding its head, and open and close its mouth repeatedly. Males may also demonstrate this aggressive behavior when approached by people during the breeding season.

References:
Ecology Asia: Changeable Lizard
Wikipedia: Oriental Garden Lizard
Hong Kong University: Calotes versicolor
Thailand Office of Environmental Planning and Policy: A Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles in Thailand
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia
The Lizards of Thailand

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Agamas, Lizards

 

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Long-tailed Grass Lizard

Takydromus sexlineatus

Long-tailed Grass Lizard Takydromus sexlineatus

Long-tailed Grass Lizard found in grass in Khao Yai

Long-tailed Grass Lacerta Takydromus sexlineatus

Close-up of Long-tailed Grass Lizard showing green flank

Long-tailed Grass Lizard Takydromus sexlineatus

Dorsal view of Long-tailed Grass Lizard

Asian Grass Lizard Takydromus sexlineatus head shot

Head shot of Long-tailed Grass Lizard

Six-lined Grass Lizard Takydromus sexlineatus

Long-tailed Grass Lizard in Laos (photo courtesy of Thomas Calame)

Long-tailed Grass Lizard Takydromus sexlineatus

Long-tailed Grass Lizard caught in Vietnam (photo courtesy of Alex Krohn)

Oriental Long-tailed Grass Lizard Takydromus sexlineatus head shot

Head shot of Long-tailed Grass Lizard (photo courtesy of Alex Krohn)

Striped Grass Lizard Takydromus sexlineatus

Long-tailed Grass Lizard (photo courtesy of http://www.Hippocampus-Bildarchiv.de)

Long-tailed Grass Lizard Takydromus sexlineatus

Long-tailed Grass Lizard (photo courtesy of http://www.Hippocampus-Bildarchiv.de)

Striped Grass Lizard Takydromus sexlineatus

Long-tailed Grass Lizard (photo courtesy of http://www.Hippocampus-Bildarchiv.de)

English name: Long-tailed Grass Lizard (aka “Asian Grass Lizard”)
Scientific name: Takydromus sexlineatus
Thai name: Ging-ga-noi Hang Yao or Ngu Ka

Description: To 36 cm long. Snout to base of tail is up to 8 cm. A small slender lizard with an extraordinarily long tail. Body is brown with cream line on each side. Sides are darker than the top of body and have scattered cream speckles. Front lower part of body is usually greenish, fading towards light brown by the back legs. Head is distinct but narrow and has the same color pattern as the body. The original tail can be incredibly long, more than three times as long as the body, and is light brown. Underbelly is pale.

Similar Species: Oriental Garden Lizard has a body that is higher than it is wide, very rough scales, often has a dorsal crest, and lacks the green coloration on the sides.

Habitat: This lizard normally lives in grasslands, but can sometimes also be found in forest clearings, forest edges, shrubland, and agricultural land. Usually found amongst tall grass, which it often climbs.

Contribution to the ecosystem: Helps control insect populations. Provides food for snakes and birds.

Danger to humans: Though it may attempt to bite when handled, this lizard is far too small to be dangerous to humans.

Conservation status and threats: Is a widespread species that can tolerate some human modifications of its environment. Though it is collected for the pet trade and as a food source for captive Chinese birds, the impacts on its populations are thought to be minimal. No known conservation issues.

Interesting facts: The long tail of the Long-tailed Grass Lizard is an adaptation to its grassland habitat. Being able to climb to the tops of grass stalks is an advantage in the grasslands because it allows a lizard to reach the full strength of the sun to bask, as well as putting it out of the reach of some predators and putting more insects within its reach. A long slender tail gives the Long-tailed Grass Lizard more points of contact as it climbs though the grass stalks without significantly adding to its weight, thereby improving its support and balance amongst these narrow, lightweight stalks. The skinks that share its grassland habitat do not have the same lightweight body and extremely long tail, and thus are restricted to finding sunlight in clearings and hunting insects on the ground. The long tail also distributes the lizard’s weight more effectively when it jumps from grass stalk to grass stalk, thereby enabling it to quickly and efficiently move through the grass and flee from predators.

I know of no records of Long-tailed Grass Lizards in the Bangkok area. However, they are found in adjacent parts of Thailand and it is possible that they could be found in Bangkok in the right habitat.

References:
Hong Kong University: Takydromus sexlineatus ocellatus
IUCN Red List: Takydromus sexlineatus
Wikipedia: Takydromus sexlineatus
Thailand Office of Environmental Planning and Policy: A Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles in Thailand
Michael Cota, personal communication.
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia
Hong Kong Amphibians and Reptiles (2nd Edition)
The Lizards of Thailand
Simon and Schuster’s Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of the World

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Lacertas, Lizards

 

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Bowring’s Supple Skink

Lygosoma bowringii

Bowring's Supple Skink Lygosoma bowringii

Bowring's Supple Skink found under board in Ramkhamhaeng

Bowring's Supple Skink Lygosoma bowringii breeding coloration

Close-up of Bowring's Supple Skink showing yellow breeding coloration

Bowring's Supple Skink Lygosoma bowringii

Dorsal view of Bowring's Supple Skink

Bowring's Supple Skink Lygosoma bowringii

Bowring's Supple Skink found under board in Uthai Thani Province

Bowring's Supple Skink Lygosoma bowringii

Bowring's Supple Skink found under rock in Lumpani

Bowring's Supple Skink Lygosoma bowringii

Bowring's Supple Skink found under log in Lumpani

Bowring's Supple Skink Lygosoma bowringii hiding

Bowring's Supple Skink as found in leaf litter at Lumpani

Bowring's Supple Skink Lygosoma bowringii head shot

Head shot of Bowring's Supple Skink from Uthai Thani Province

Bowring's Supple Skink Lygosoma bowringii head shot

Head shot of Bowring's Supple Skink found under log in Lumpani

Bowring's Supple Skink Lygosoma bowringii head shot

Dorsal view of head of Bowring's Supple Skink from Ramkhamhaeng

English name: Bowring’s Supple Skink
Scientific name: Lygosoma bowringii (Formerly Riopa bowringii)
Thai name: Ching-laen-reao Tong Loen

Description: To 12 cm long. Snout to base of tail is up to 5.8 cm. A small slender skink with small legs. Color on top of body is bronze to brown, often with indistinct dark lines. Sides are a mix of red-brown to dark-brown with white and black speckling, and often with a black line. Tail is about as long as body, brown on top and reddish-brown below. Underside is light, with large yellow section between the legs during the breeding season.

Similar Species: Short-limbed Supple Skink is more slender, has much smaller limbs, and lacks the speckling and breeding coloration.

Habitat: Found in a wide variety of habitats, including forest, scrubland, plains, parks, empty lots, agricultural areas, and gardens. It is almost always under cover, such as rocks, logs, or leaf litter.

Contribution to the ecosystem: Helps control insect and spider populations. Provides food for snakes and larger lizards.

Danger to humans: This lizard is too small to bite humans and poses no danger at all.

Conservation status and threats: Is a widespread and common species has no known conservation threats. Adapts very well to human-altered environments.

Interesting facts: This skink is one of the most common lizards in our region, but most people rarely see it. Dozens of them probably live in every empty lot and city park in Bangkok, and even in many of the yards and gardens. However, these tiny lizards spend most of their lives out of sight, hunting small arthropods in dirt, leaf litter, and decaying vegetation. They can occasionally be found by flipping over boards, logs, and rocks – otherwise, you might never know they were there.

References:
Ecology Asia: Bowring’s Supple Skink
Thailand Office of Environmental Planning and Policy: A Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles in Thailand
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2011 in Lizards, Skinks

 

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Speckled Forest Skink

Eutropis macularia

Speckled Forest Skink Eutropis macularia

Speckled Forest Skink found in abandoned gas station in Nakhon Sawan Province

Bronze Mabuya Eutropis macularia

Another view of Speckled Forest Skink

Bronze Grass Skink Eutropis macularia

Speckled Forest Skink found under board in Payao Province

Speckled Forest Skink Eutropis macularia head shot

Head shot of Speckled Forest Skink

Speckled Forest Skink Eutropis macularia Chiang Mai

Head shot of Speckled Forest Skink found on trail in Chiang Mai

Speckled Forest Skink Mabuya macularia

Speckled Forest Skink found in undergrowth in Laos

Bronze Grass Skink Eutropis macularia

Speckled Forest Skink on forest floor in Cambodia

English name: Speckled Forest Skink (aka “Bronze Mabuya” or “Bronze Grass Skink”)
Scientific name: Eutropis macularia (Formerly Mabuya macularia)
Thai name: Ching-laen Lak La

Description: To 18 cm long. Snout to base of tail is up to 7.5 cm. A slender skink of average size. Base color is brown to grey with a dark stripe on each side bordered with white or cream. Dark stripe can be speckled with white in adults and usually fades out into background color before reaching the hind limbs. Body scales can be iridescent in younger individuals. Head is no wider than body and narrows to the nose. Dark body stripe continues on head up to eye. Adults can have orange throat. Tail is somewhat longer than body. Underbelly is dirty cream.

Similar Species: Common Sun Skink is larger, heavier, and usually lacks striping on the sides.
Long-tailed Sun Skink is larger, has a much longer tail when showing original tail, and has more distinct body striping.

Habitat: Found in forest, preferring open forest. Usually forages or basks among low vegetation. Can also be found in plantations and abandoned lots.

Contribution to the ecosystem: Helps control insect populations. Provides food for snakes and birds.

Danger to humans: May bite when handled, but is not dangerous.

Conservation status and threats: Is a widespread species and has no known conservation threats.

Interesting facts: Speckled Forest Skinks have a rough patch of scales on their ankles and a pocket of skin where the leg meets the body. The exact purpose of these scale features is unknown, but parasitic mites congregate in those areas. Some experts believe that these adaptations concentrate the mites in limited areas of the skinks’ bodies, minimizing their impact elsewhere on the skink.

I know of no records of Speckled Forest Skinks in the Bangkok area, but some local experts believe that it may be found here. They can be found in all other parts of Thailand.

References:
Ecology Asia: Speckled Forest Skink
Wikipedia: Eutropis macularia
Thailand Office of Environmental Planning and Policy: A Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles in Thailand
Michael Cota, personal communication.
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia
The Lizards of Thailand

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2011 in Lizards, Skinks

 

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