Calotes is a genus of lizards in the draconine clade of the family Agamidae. The genus contains 25 species. Some species are known as forest lizards, others as "bloodsuckers" due to their red heads, and yet others (namely C. versicolor) as garden lizards.

Chameleon Large Image.jpg
Calotes versicolor, male,
Oriental garden lizard
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Iguania
Family: Agamidae
Subfamily: Draconinae
Genus: Calotes
Cuvier, 1817[1]

25 species, see here

Geographic rangeEdit

Species in the genus Calotes are native to South Asia, southern China, mainland Southeast Asia and Ambon. Additionally, C. versicolor has been introduced to Florida (USA), Borneo, Sulawesi, the Seychelles, Mauritius and Oman.[2] The greatest species richness of the genus is from the Western Ghats, northeast India, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.


Calotes is distinguished from related genera in having uniform-sized dorsal scales, and lacking a fold of skin extending between the cheek and shoulder, and in having proportionately stronger limbs than Pseudocalotes. Compared to Bronchocela, Calotes have a proportionately shorter tail and limbs. Calotes as we know it today was classified by Moody (1980) prior to which all of the above-mentioned genera were included in this genus.


The genus Calotes is still a heterogeneous group that may be divided into the C. versicolor and C. liocephalus groups.[3] The former occurs through most of South Asia and further east. All species in this group have their dorsal and lateral scales directed upward. The latter is restricted to the southern Western Ghats and Sri Lanka. All species in this group have their scales directed back, or up and down, or down only. Whether further splitting is necessary or whether the groups constitute subgenera of a monophyletic Calotes remains to be studied.


Listed alphabetically.[4]

Two species formerly treated as members of the genus were separated into a new genus in 2018 - Monilesaurus:[6]

Nota bene: A binomial authority in parentheses or a trinomial authority in parentheses indicates that the species or the subspecies was originally described in a genus other than Calotes.


Further readingEdit

  • HALLERMANN J, BÖHME W. 2000. A review of the genus Pseudocalotes (Squamata: Agamidae), with description of a new species from West Malaysia. Amphibia-Reptilia 21: 193–210.
  • HALLERMANN J. 2005. A taxonomic review of the genus Bronchocela (Squamata: Agamidae), with description of a new species from Vietnam. Russian Journal of Herpetology 12 (3): 167–182.
  • MOODY SM. 1980. Phylogenetic relationships and historical biogeographical relationships of the genera in the family Agamidae (Reptilia: Lacertilia). PhD dissertation. University of Michigan.
  • ZUG GR, BROWN HHK, SCHULTE JA II, VINDUM JV. 2006. Systematics of the garden lizards, Calotes versicolor Group (Reptilia, Squamata, Agamidae), in Myanmar: Central Dry Zone populations. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, Series 4, 57 (2): 35–68.


  1. ^ "Calotes ". ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System).
  2. ^ Calotes versicolor. The Reptile Database. Retrieved 17 January 2013
  3. ^ Smith MA. 1935. The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Reptilia and Amphibia. Vol II—Sauria. London: Secretary of State for India in Council. (Taylor and Francis, printers). xiii + 440 pp. + Plate I + 2 maps. (Calotes groups, pp. 182-183)
  4. ^ Calotes. The Reptile Database.
  5. ^ Hartmann T, Geissler P, Poyarkov NAJ, Ihlow F, Galoyan EA, Rödder D, Böhme W. (2013). A new species of the genus Calotes Cuvier, 1817 (Squamata: Agamidae) from southern Vietnam. Zootaxa 3599 (3): 246–260.
  6. ^ Pal, Saunak; Vijayakumar, S.P.; Shanker, Kartik; Jayarajan, Aditi; Deepak, V. (2018). "A systematic revision of Calotes Cuvier, 1817 (Squamata: Agamidae) from the Western Ghats adds two genera and reveals two new species". Zootaxa. 4482 (3): 401–450. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4482.3.1. PMID 30313808.