The Green Crested Lizard (Bronchocela cristatella) is a lizard native to Singapore. In fact, it was formerly our country’s common garden lizard until the Changeable Lizard (Calotes versicolor) was introduced, likely from neighbouring countries like Malaysia and Thailand in the 1980s. The more aggressive Changeable Lizard was able to out-compete and displace the Green Crested Lizard and has since taken over the title of Singapore’s common garden lizard.
Green Crested Lizards (let’s call them cresties!) live mainly in primary and secondary forests, but can sometimes also be found in disturbed areas and parklands. Primary forests refer to native forest which is largely undisturbed by human activity (eg. Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Central Catchment Nature Reserve). I’ve managed to catch a glimpse of these beautiful reptiles myself before in the Singapore Zoo (the included picture was taken by me in the back-of-house area of the Fragile Forest trail), which appears to be a safe haven for them, according to Jagan, one of the zookeepers.
Cresties are carnivorous, meaning they eat meat. Like many small lizards, they feed mainly on a wide variety of insects. They have, however, also occasionally been observed eating skinks. It is rare to see one eating as they usually swallow their prey within seconds.
Cresties are a territorial species, and defend their territories aggressively. When fighting over territory, they undergo a drastic colour change from the typical resplendent green to a dark brown. They also undergo this colour change when being preyed upon.
I was unable to find information regarding the social behaviour of cresties, but based on my personal sightings, they seem to be solitary creatures. A video taken from Wiki.nus (https://j.gifs.com/y8JJ6w.gif) shows a male crestie attacking a female, presumably over territory. This leads me to believe that they are so solitary that they gather only to mate.
Cresties are a diurnal species (active during the day) that can actually be found all over Singapore, if you just look hard enough. As mentioned earlier, the Changeable Lizard has taken over the crestie’s spot as common garden lizard in Singapore; however, cresties can still sometimes be found even in urban areas such as gardens and parks, with hard work and a little luck! The easiest place to spot a crestie is in forested areas, such as Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve or Central Catchment Nature Reserve.
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Engaging write-up, with clear explanations of different terminology. And a stunning photo too!