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Indo-Chinese Forest Lizard

Calotes mystaceus

Male Indo-Chinese Forest Lizard basking in Lumpani

Male Blue Crested Lizard Calotes mystaceus in breeding coloration

Male Indo-Chinese Forest Lizard on fence in Chatuchak, showing breeding colors

Female Indo-Chinese Forest Lizard on Ko Samet

IndoChinese Tree Agama Calotes mystaceus reddish spots

Male Indo-Chinese Forest Lizard in Ratchaburi Province, showing reddish body spots

female Blue Crested Lizard Calotes mystaceus on tree

Female Indo-Chinese Forest Lizard on tree in Chatuchak

Blue Crested Lizard Calotes mystaceus on ground

Indo-Chinese Forest Lizard found on ground during driving rainstorm

Indo-Chinese Forest Lizard Calotes mystaceus head shot

Head shot of Indo-Chinese Forest Lizard

English name: Indo-Chinese Forest Lizard (aka “Blue-crested Lizard” or “IndoChinese Tree Agama”)
Scientific name: Calotes mystaceus
Thai name: Ging-ga Hua Si Fa, Ging-ga Suan

Description: Up to 14cm long from nosetip to vent, with a tail that is twice as long as the body.  Body is robust and higher than it is wide. Has rough body scales and a back crest that runs from near the back of its head down to the middle of its back. Males have a much more prominent crest than females. Background color is grey to olive with a series of 4-5 reddish spots often running down the side. The upper lip is white. During breeding season the forebody of both males and females will turn a light electric blue.

Similar Species: Oriental Garden Lizards are typically (though not always) tan rather than olive or grey and lack the white lip marking. The males turn red and the females turn yellow, rather than blue, during the breeding season.

Habitat: Naturally found in forest, but appears to be able to adapt to encroachment by humans and can be found in treed neighborhoods and city parks. Is almost always found on tree trunks and branches well above the ground.

Contribution to the ecosystem: Helps control insect populations. Provides a food source for diurnal snakes and birds of prey.

Danger to humans: The Indo-Chinese Forest Lizard can give a painful bite if handled, but is not dangerous.

Conservation status and threats: No known conservation issues.

Interesting facts: The blue coloration isn’t the only extravagant aspect of mating for the Indo-Chinese Forest Lizard. During breeding season the male lizard will approach a female face-to-face with its back arched and throat puffed out. It will make strong bowing motions and noddings of the head which appear almost comical. Eventually the female will respond with the same posture and jerky bowings and noddings, and breeding will commence.

 

References:
Wikipedia: Calotes mystaceus
Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles in Thailand
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
The Lizards of Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia

 

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