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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Cladus: Craniata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Lepidosauromorpha
Superordo: Lepidosauria
Ordo: Squamata
Cladus: Unidentata Episquamata Toxicofera
Subordo: Iguania
Infraordo: Acrodonta

Familia: Agamidae
Subfamilia: Draconinae
Genus: Calotes
Species (25): C. bachae – C. bhutanensis – C. calotes – C. ceylonensis – C. chincollium – C. desilvai – C. emma – C. grandisquamis – C. htunwini – C. irawadi – C. jerdoni – C. liocephalus – C. liolepis – C. manamendrai – C. maria – C. medogensis – C. minor – C. mystaceus – C. nemoricola – C. nigrilabris – C. nigriplicatus – C. paulus – C. pethiyagodai – C. versicolor – C. zolaiking

Calotes Cuvier, 1816: 35

Type species: Lacerta calotes Linnaeus, 1758, by monotypy.


Brachysaura Blyth, 1856: 449 [synonymised by Deepak et al. (2015: 379)]
Type species: Brachysaura ornata Blyth, 1856, by monotypy.

Oriocalotes Günther, 1864: 146 [synonymised by Giri et al. (2019: 458)]
Type species: Calotes minor Gray, 1845, by monotypy.

Primary references

Cuvier, G. 1816. Le règne animal distribué d’après son organisation, pour servir de base à l’histoire naturelle des animaux et d’introduction a l’anatomie comparée. Vol. 2. Les reptiles, les poissons, les mollusques et les annélides. Déterville: Paris. BHL
Blyth, E. 1856. [Proceedings of the Society. Report of the Curator]. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 25: 448–449. BHL
Deepak, V., Vyas, R., Giri, V.B. & Karanth, K.P. 2015. A taxonomic mystery for more than 180 years: the identity and systematic position of Brachysaura minor (Hardwicke & Gray, 1827). Vertebrate Zoology 65(3): 371–381. Full article (PDF). Open access Reference page.
Giri, V.B., Chaitanya, R., Mahony, S., Lalrounga, S., Lalrinchhana, C., Das, A., Sarkar, V., Karanth, P. & Deepak, V. 2019. On the systematic status of the genus Oriocalotes Günther, 1864 (Squamata: Agamidae: Draconinae) with the description of a new species from Mizoram state, Northeast India. Zootaxa 4638(4): 451–484. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4638.4.1. Paywall Reference page.

Additional references

Mahony, S. 2010. Systematic and taxomonic revaluation of four little known Asian agamid species, Calotes kingdonwardi Smith, 1935, Japalura kaulbacki Smith, 1937, Salea kakhienensis Anderson, 1879 and the monotypic genus Mictopholis Smith, 1935 (Reptilia: Agamidae). Zootaxa 2514(1): 1–23. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.2514.1.1 Paywall. ResearchGate Open access. Reference page.
Hartmann, T., Geissler, P., Poyarkov, Jr., N.A., Ihlow, F., Galoyan, E.A., Rödder, D. & Böhme, W. 2013. A new species of the genus Calotes Cuvier, 1817 (Squamata: Agamidae) from southern Vietnam. Zootaxa 3599(3): 246–260. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3599.3.3 Paywall Reference page.
Amarasinghe, A.A.T., Karunarathna, D.M.S.S. & Fujinuma, J. 2014. A New Calotes Species from Sri Lanka with a Redescription of Calotes liolepis Boulenger, 1885. Herpetologica 70(3): 323–338. DOI: 10.1655/HERPETOLOGICA-D-13-00087 Paywall Reference page.
Amarasinghe, A.A.T., Karunarathna, D.M.S.S., Hallermann, J., Fujinuma, J., Grillitsch, H. & Campbell, P.D. 2014. A new species of the genus Calotes (Squamata: Agamidae) from high elevations of the Knuckles Massif of Sri Lanka. Zootaxa 3785(1): 59–78. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3785.1.5 Paywall Reference page.


Uetz, P. & Hallermann, J. 2021. Calotes . The Reptile Database. Accessed on 6 November 2019.
Calotes – Taxon details on Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).

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.

Geographic range

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]

Calotes bachae Hartmann et al., 2013[5]
Calotes bhutanensis Biswas, 1975
Calotes calotes (Linnaeus, 1758) – common green forest lizard
Calotes ceylonensis (F. Müller, 1887) – painted-lip lizard, Ceylon bloodsucker
Calotes chincollium Vindum, 2003
Calotes desilvai Bahir & Maduwage, 2005 - Morningside lizard, Ceylon black-band whistling lizard
Calotes emma Gray, 1845 – Emma Gray's forest lizard, forest crested lizard
Calotes emma alticristatus K.P. Schmidt, 1925
Calotes emma emma Gray, 1845
Calotes grandisquamis Günther, 1864 – large-scaled forest lizard
Calotes htunwini Zug & Vindum, 2006
Calotes irawadi Zug, Brown, Schulte & Vindum, 2006
Calotes jerdoni Günther, 1870 – Jerdon's forest lizard
Calotes liocephalus Günther, 1872 – spineless forest lizard, crestless lizard, lionhead agama
Calotes liolepis (Boulenger, 1885) – whistling lizard, Sri Lanka agama
Calotes manamendrai (Amarasinghe & Karunarathna, 2014) – Manamendra-Arachchi's whistling lizard
Calotes maria Gray, 1845 – Khasi Hills forest lizard
Calotes medogensis (Zhao & Li, 1984) – Medog bloodsucker
Calotes minor (Hardwicke & Gray, 1827) – Hardwicke's bloodsucker
Calotes mystaceus (A.M.C. Duméril & Bibron, 1837) – Indo-Chinese forest lizard, blue-crested lizard
Calotes nemoricola Jerdon, 1853 – Nilgiri forest lizard
Calotes nigrilabris (W. Peters, 1860) – black-cheek lizard
Calotes nigriplicatus Hallermann, 2000
Calotes paulus (Smith, 1935) – small forest lizard
Calotes pethiyagodai (Amarasinghe, Karunarathna & Hallermann, 2014)
Calotes versicolor (Daudin, 1802) – Oriental garden lizard, changeable lizard, eastern garden lizard
Calotes versicolor farooqi Auffenberg & Rehman, 1993 – black-throated bloodsucker
Calotes versicolor versicolor (Daudin, 1802)
Calotes zolaiking Giri, Chaitanya, Mahony, Lalrounga, Lalrinchhana, Das, Sarkar, Karanth, & Deepak, 2019 – Mizoram montane forest lizard

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

Monilesaurus ellioti Günther, 1864 – Elliot's forest lizard
Monilesaurus rouxii Duméril & Bibron, 1837 – Roux's forest lizard, Roux's forest Calotes

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 reading

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.


"Calotes ". ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System).
Calotes versicolor. The Reptile Database. Retrieved 17 January 2013
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)
Calotes. The Reptile Database.
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.
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.

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