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Oriental Garden Lizard

His Fun & Fact

By Ramoon MalPublished 10 months ago 3 min read
Oriental Garden Lizard photo

The oriental garden lizard is a small, colorful lizard found throughout Southeast Asia. Its scientific name is Calotes versicolor, which means "changeable color" in Latin. This lizard lives up to its name, as it has the amazing ability to change the color of its skin.

The oriental garden lizard grows to be about 6-8 inches long from its nose to the tip of its tail. Males tend to be to some extent superior to females. Their bodies are slender with well-developed limbs. Their toes have sharp claws that help them climb trees and bushes with ease.

Their skin color can range from light green to brown depending on their surroundings. This amazing camouflage helps the lizard blend into the vegetation to avoid predators. When threatened, they can rapidly change color to match leaves, branches or bark. Scientists believe they do this through chromatophores in their skin containing different pigments. By expanding and contracting different chromatophores, they can alter their appearance in seconds.

Not only can they change the color of their skin, but oriental garden lizards also have colorful dewlaps or throat fans. Males have especially vibrant dewlaps that can be yellow, orange or red. They use these bright colors to attract females and warn off other males during breeding season. The dewlap also plays a role in thermoregulation, helping the lizard absorb and retain heat from the sun.

These lizards are very active during the day. They spend their mornings basking in the sun to warm their cold-blooded bodies. Then they explore trees and bushes, looking for insects, spiders and other small invertebrates to eat. Their sharp claws and powerful legs allow them to climb and even hang upside down in search of prey. At the first sign of danger, they will scurry up trees to safety.

Oriental garden lizards are mostly solitary, though they may gather in small groups for basking or feeding. The males establish and defend territories during the breeding season. Within their territory, they have prominent perches that they display to attract mates. Their vibrant dewlaps and pushup displays are used in elaborate courtship rituals.

The female lizard builds a nest by scraping together dead leaves and debris. She will lay 2-12 white eggs inside. The eggs take around 2 months to hatch depending on temperature. Baby lizards, called hatchlings, are only about 1-2 inches long when they emerge. They must grow and develop quickly to survive on their own.

Fun Facts:

• They can run up to 7 mph when pursuing prey or fleeing predators.

• Their long, prehensile tails can break off if grabbed by a predator. This allows the lizard to escape while the predator is distracted by the wriggling tail.

• These lizards communicate through pushup displays, dewlap color changes, and tail waving.

• Females store sperm from multiple males, which leads to offspring with mixed paternity.

• They are prey for birds, snakes, monitor lizards, small mammals and even large spiders.

• In some areas, they are considered an agricultural pest as they eat crop insects and fruit.

• Their camouflage ability has inspired research into "smart paint" that can change color like a lizard's skin.

The oriental garden lizard is a fascinating reptile found throughout Southeast Asia. With its ability to change colors and vibrant displays, it shows just how well lizards can thrive in tropical forests and gardens. Their camouflage and agility help them survive in trees and bushes full of predators and prey. With a little luck, you too may spot one of these colorful lizards basking in the sun or scurrying up a tree trunk.

fact or fiction

About the Creator

Ramoon Mal

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Comments (1)

  • Alex H Mittelman 10 months ago

    I love lizards!

Ramoon MalWritten by Ramoon Mal

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