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  Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2018


Blue Crested Lizard

Family : Agamidae
Species : Calotes mystaceus
Size (snout to vent) : up to 14 cm
Size (total length) : up to ~ 40 cm

The Blue Crested Lizard (or Indochinese Forest Lizard) is an adaptable agamid which inhabits  lowland and lower montane forests up to 1500 metres elevation. It can survive in forest edge settings, and parks and gardens. It is diurnal and fully arboreal.

Its most striking feature is the bright blue to turquoise colour of the head, throat and parts of the body: this develops during the breeding season in both males and females. Outside of the breeding season it is mainly greyish brown to reddish brown. Typically there are 3 large, reddish brown blotches on the upper flanks.

Another identifying feature is the broad, pale stripe which extends from near the snout to the shoulder, passing beneath the eye.

Its body shape is typical of the genus Calotes, being laterally compressed. The head is large, with swollen cheeks, and males have a well-developed throat pouch. The nuchal (= neck) and dorsal crests are low and continuous.

Like some other types of agamid, for example gliding lizards, males of this species extend their throat pouch and perform a rapid series of push-ups when trying to attract a female, or when in conflict with another male.

This striking looking lizard occurs in Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. Outside the Southeast Asia region it occurs in parts of north-eastern India and southern China. The species clearly does not occur in Peninsular Malaysia (or the extreme south of Thailand), despite being erroneously reported from there.

Fig 1 : Male with bright blue throat pouch extended and performing push-ups: this behaviour is an attempt to attract a nearby female and to out-compete another male in the vicinity.

Fig 2 : Another example in bright turquoise breeding colours, with more extensive brown on the back.

Fig 3 : Example in non-breeding colours.

All images from Kaeng Krachan, Thailand.  Photos thanks to Charles Currin.

References : H12


Fig 1
ゥ Charles Currin
Fig 2  
ゥ Charles Currin
Fig 3
ゥ Charles Currin