Thursday, December 27, 2012

Singapore Lizards

Suborder Lacertilia


Fox-faced Gecko (Aeluroscalabotes felinus) Peninsular Rock Gecko (Cnemaspis peninsularis) Frilly Gecko (Cosymbotes craspedotus) Flat-tailed Gecko (Cosymbotes platyurus)
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Peter's Bent-toed Gecko (Cyrtodactylus consobrinus) Singapore Bent-toed Gecko (Cyrtodactylus majulah) Peninsular Bent-toed Gecko (Cyrtodactylus semenanjungensis) Four-clawed Gecko (Gehyra mutilata)
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Tokay Gecko (Gekko gecko) Spotted House Gecko (Gekko monarchus) Large Forest Gecko (Gekko smithii) Brooke's House Gecko (Hemidactylus brookii)
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Common House Gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus) Indo-Pacific Gecko (Hemidactylus garnotii) Dwarf Gecko (Hemiphyllodactylus typus) Mourning Gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris)
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Brown's Flap-legged Gecko (Luperosaurus browni) Horsfield's Flying Gecko (Ptychozoon horsfieldii) Kuhl's Flying Gecko (Ptychozoon kuhli)
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Earless Agamid (Aphaniotis fusca) Green Crested Lizard (Bronchocela cristatella) Changeable Lizard (Calotes versicolor) - Introduced
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Black-bearded Flying Lizard (Draco melanopogon) Five-banded Flying Lizard (Draco quinquefasciatus) Common Flying Lizard (Draco sumatranus)


Brown Tree Skink (Dasia grisea) Olive Tree Skink (Dasia olivacea) Striped Tree Skink (Lipinia vittigera) Mangrove Skink (Emoia atrocostata)
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Common Sun Skink (Eutropis multifasciata) Striped Sun Skink (Eutropis rugifera) Garden Supple Skink (Lygosoma bowringii)
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Clouded Monitor (Varanus nebulosus) Dumeril's Monitor (Varanus dumerili) Water Monitor (Varanus salvator)
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Geckos (Family Gekkonidae)

Geckos are well known for their ability to hang upside down on ceilings. The "House Lizards" that one typically encounters at home are really geckos. There are 18 species of geckos that can be found in Singapore. At least 4 of them can be found in houses. The rest are forest geckos.

Sometimes foreign geckos followed shipments into Singapore. Here are two that might have done so.

Unid geckos: Botanic Gardens ©Tan KH. Mandai Orchid Garden ©Lau SY.

Used to be grouped with Kendall's Rock Gecko, the Peninsular Rock Gecko (Cnemaspis peninsularis) is now treated as a separate species1.

Peninsular Rock Gecko (Cnemaspis peninsularis) in Malaysia ©Tan KH

The Flat-tailed Gecko (Cosymbotes platyurus) is another urban gecko. It can be told apart by the flat edges of the tail.

Flat-tailed Gecko: Pasir Ris Park. Circuit Road ©Lau SY

The Singapore Bent-toed Gecko (Cyrtodactylus majulah) has previously been mistaken as Marbled Bent-toed Gecko (Cyrtodactylus quadrivirgatus)2. It has black spots on its back. In some, the black spots merged to form alternative black and pale bands on the back.

Singapore Bent-toed Gecko at Central Catchment ©Ben Lee

The Four-clawed Gecko (Gehyra mutilata) is another urban gecko. It does not have the spiny tail of the above species and only four of the five toes on each hind foot have claws.

Four-clawed Gecko, left focusing on the face and right on the tail, at Sungei Buloh ©Tan KH

The Tokay Gecko (Gekko gecko) is a distinctive lizard - it has blue spots all over the orange body.

Tokay Gecko in Singapore Zoo ©Tan KH

The Spotted House Gecko (Gekko monarchus) has distinctive spot patterns on the back.

Spotted House Gecko (Gekko monarchus) at Hindhede ©Tan KH

The Common House Gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus) is also called the Spiny-tailed House Gecko. It can be told apart by the spiny edges of the tail.

Common House Gecko: Sungei Buloh. Kranji Resort ©Tan KH

The Dwarf Gecko (Hemiphyllodactylus typus) is one of the smallest geckos here.

Dwarf Gecko at Pulau Ubin ©Ben Lee

Agamids (Family Agamidae)

Green Crested Lizard (Bronchocela cristatella) used to be a common lizard in Singapore. However, since the introduction of the alien Changeable Lizard, this species has been pushed into more wooded areas. It looks similar to the Changeable Lizard but is bright green in colour.

Green Crested Lizard at Bt Batok Nature Park ©Eddy Lee

Changeable Lizard (Calotes versicolor) is the most common lizard one would encounter in parks and gardens. It is however not native. It has taken over the niche of the native Green Crested Lizard, forcing the latter into more wooded areas. They are greenish to brownish, but the head and upper body of the males would turn orange and the throat black during the breeding season.

Changeable Lizard at Botanic Garden ©Lau SY

Flying Lizards are more correctly known as Gliding Lizards because they do not really fly but they glide. They do so by opening the flaps of skin between the legs and jumping off a high vantage point. They also have a flap of throat skin, which is used for communication and courtship. There are 3 confirmed species in Singapore and 2 other species that need further verification. The existence of Fimbriate Flying Lizard (Draco fimbriatus) and Spotted Flying Lizard (Draco maculatus) in Singapore needs further verification.

The Black-bearded Flying Lizard (Draco melanopogon) is greenish in colour and has a black throat skin.

©Tan GC. Lower Peirce ©Lau SY

The Five-banded Flying Lizard (Draco quinquefasciatus) has five bands across the body.

Lower Peirce ©David Tan

The Common Flying Lizard (Draco sumatranus) has a yellow throat skin and a few rufous patterns on the back. It is also know as the Sumatran Gliding Lizard. It used to be called Draco volans.

Common Flying Lizard: Displaying. NTU ©Eddy Lee

Skinks (Family Scincidae)

There are 7 species of skinks in Singapore. They can be separated into three main groups: tree skinks (3), the mangrove skink (1) and ground skinks (3). The most common is the Common Sun Skink.

Common Sun Skink (Eutropis multifasciata) is the most common skink in Singapore. It can be found in gardens and parks. It is also called the Many-lined Sun Skink.

Telok Blangah ©Tan KH. Lower Peirce ©Melvin Dionio

Monitors (Family Varanidae)

Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) is one of the most familiar reptiles in Singapore. It is commonly found near rivers, mangroves and reservoirs. It can grow to 2 m long and is sometimes mistaken by visitors to Sungei Buloh as crocodiles. It is distinguished from the Clouded Monitor (Varanus nebulosus) by the position of the nostrils being near the tip of the snout, whereas the nostrils of the Clouded Monitor are midway between the snout and the eyes. It also lacks the yellow spots on the body of the Clouded Monitor. Habitat-wise, the Clouded Monitor prefers forests, whereas the Water Monitor prefers waterbodies. There is a third species of monitor in Singapore, the Dumeril's Monitor (Varanus dumerili), which is recently rediscovered in the Nee Soon Swamp Forest.

Clouded Monitor: ©Tan GC. Hindhede Nature Park ©Tan KH

Water Monitor: Jurong Lake ©Melvin Dionio. Feeding on frog at Bt Panjang ©Eddy Lee

Introduced Species

In addition to the Changeable Lizard, there are other introduced species, such as this Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei) at Satay by the Bay.

Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei) at Satay by the Bay ©Danny Lau


  1. Systematics and natural history of Southeast Asian Rock Geckos (genus Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887) with descriptions of eight new species from Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia
  2. New record of peninsular bent-toed gecko in Singapore


  1. Thank you for your informative blog about the wild animals of Singapore. I have some questions about Draco lizards and wanted to ask if I could email you privately to see if you can help? Many Thanks

    1. You can email me through my profile page.

  2. Was that tokay just running around the zoo or is that in an enclosure