Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Calotes versicolor (Daudin, 1802)

Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum/Division:Chordata
Class:Reptilia
Order:Squamata
Family:Agamidae
Genus:Calotes
Species:C. versicolor
Common Names:Changeable lizard
Status:Exotic. Common

Description

They have a snout-vent length of about 95 mm, robust body and a large head especially in males. Males also have strongly swollen cheeks and base of tails. They have long legs, long tail, a spiny crest along the nape and back, and a spine on each side of the head above the ear drum. Colour in this species is variable and they are also able to change their colours rapidly depending on emotions. They can appear a uniform tan, marbled brown or clouded grey with reddish. The head of displaying males become orange or bright red with a black patch on the throat. At other times, it fades to a dull grey.  Females may become yellow and changing to a dull greyish-olive after mating.

Read more about the Squamata order.
Read more about the Agamidae family.

Distribution

Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, northern Peninsula Malaysia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Iran, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal. Introduced into Singapore, Borneo, Java and Florida, USA.

Localities

Found throughout Singapore and its offshore islands.

Locality Map

General Biology

This is an introduced species native to Peninsular Malaysia, Thailand and further north, but has been introduced to Singapore in the early 1980s. It is unsure how they were introduced. They inhabit open forests and disturbed habitats such as parks and gardens, living among leafy undergrowth and grass. Males will display from conspicuous places, and even on fences

Diet

Diet consists of insects and other invertebrates, although they do feed on some plant matter like unripe seeds.

Life Cycle

Females dig a hole in the ground where they lay 4–12 eggs before closing up the hole. The incubation takes 42–67 days and hatchlings measure about 70 mm inclusive of tail.

References

Chua, M.A.H. & K.K.P. Lim, 2011. Changeable lizard Calotes versicolor. Pp. 261. In: Ng, P. K. L., R. T. Corlett & H. T. W. Tan (editors), Singapore Biodiversity. An Encyclopedia of the Natural Environment and Sustainable Development. Editions Didier Millet, Singapore, 552 pp.

Cox, M. J., P.P. Van Dijk, J. Nabhitabhata & K. Thirakhupt, 2010. A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. New Holland (Publishers) Ltd. 144 pp.

Das, I., 2010. A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia. New Holland Publishers (UK) Ltd. 376 pp.

Lim, K.K.P. & F.L.K. Lim, 2002. A Guide to the Amphibians & Reptiles of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre. 160 pp.

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