Nonnatives - Oriental Garden Lizard

Oriental Garden Lizard - Calotes versicolor


Florida's Exotic Wildlife. Species detail.

First year: 1978

Extirpated year:

Established status: Populations are confirmed breeding and apparently self-sustaining for 10 or more consecutive years.

Estimated Florida range: 1 county  At least 10 years

Statewide trend: Unknown status

Oriental Garden Lizard
Photograph by Kevin M. Enge © 2003

Threats to natives: Preys on frogs, lizards, and small snakes.

Species Account: The oriental garden lizard is the most widespread species of this genus of Asian agamid, ranging from southeastern Iran to Indo-China, and as far south as Sri Lanka, Sumatra, and the northern states of West Malaysia. It is often found in human-altered habitats, even gardens in urban areas of Asia. Males may measure 140 mm (5.5 in) snout-vent length and 435 mm (17.1 in) total length (Radder et al. 2001). Adults have long slender tails, large heads, massive shoulders, expandable dewlaps, and laterally flattened bodies with a crest extending from the neck almost to the tail. The ground color is typically dull brown, gray, or olive with irregular dark brown spots or bars, but breeding males have pale yellow bodies with a large black patch on each side of the throat. Breeding males also develop bright orange or crimson areas around the head and shoulders, but this brilliant coloration can disappear rapidly. This red coloration accounts for these lizards commonly being called bloodsuckers. Two collectors have captured ca. 100 specimens in the past 10 years in an area of citrus groves, Brazilian pepper, mesic flatwoods, and canals west of Port St. Lucie, St. Lucie County (Enge et al. 2004). All specimens have been collected while sleeping at night in trees, bushes, vines, or weeds 1-9 m (3-30 ft) above the ground (Enge et al. 2004). This arboreal species is seldom observed during the daytime. In August 2003, a gravid female with 19 eggs and 10 hatchlings were deposited in the Florida Museum of Natural History as voucher specimens (Enge et al. 2004).

Habitats: Exotic plant community, Agricultural habitat, Flatwoods

County First Year Extirpated Year Breeding status   Notes


At least 10 years Occupies agricultural land N of Glades Cutoff Road, west of Port St. Lucie (Enge et al. 2004c)


Enge, K. M., and K. L. Krysko. 2004c. A new exotic species in Florida, the bloodsucker lizard, Calotes versicolor (Daudin 1802) (Sauria: Agamidae). Florida Scientist 67:226-230.

Radder, R. S., B. A. Shanbhag, and S. K. Saidapur. 2001. Ontogeny of sexual dimorphism in the tropical garden lizard, Calotes versicolor (Daud.). Journal of Herpetology 35:156-160.

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