Changeable Garden Lizard (Calotes versicolor)

PHOTO BY LESLEY CHNG

It is also known as the oriental garden lizard / eastern garden lizard / bloodsucker

Native or Introduced?
Introduced, possibly in the 1980s. It has displaced the native green crested lizard in Singapore.

Habitat
It can be found in wild places including near mangroves and coastal vegetation.

Natural diet
Insectivore. Also seen eating rodents and other small lizards and occasionally vegetable matter.

They have teeth, but the teeth are used to grip prey, not tear it apart. Prey is swallowed whole and stunned by shaking it about. Sometimes, young inexperienced lizards can choke on prey that are too large.

Territoriality
Males are highly territorial during breeding season. They discourage intruding males by brightening their red heads (thus getting the nickname “bloodsucker”) and doing “push-ups”.

Sociality
Solitary

Activity Pattern
Active during the day and is arboreal

Where can you find it in Singapore?
Since its introduction in 1980s, it has spread almost everywhere, including in parks and urban areas, usually found in bushes and on trees. Areas include Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and Pulau Ubin.

One thought on “Changeable Garden Lizard (Calotes versicolor)

  1. Good summary of this species’ characteristics. How it earned its nickname as a bloodsucking lizard is also interesting (though they don’t actually suck blood at all!).

    Do you know how the Changeable Lizard managed to displace the Green Crested Lizard? It’s said that the Changeable Lizard’s more aggressive behaviour has allowed it to spread to a wider range, thereby restricting Green Crested Lizards to forest habitats.

    Like

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