Crested Tree Lizard
Garden Fence Lizard
Oriental Garden Lizard
Indian Tree Lizard
Crested Tree Lizards, like chameleons, can change their colors (though not as quickly as chameleons), giving them one of their common names, “Changeable Lizard”. Also like chameleons (and anoles), Crested Tree Lizards can pivot each of their eyes independently. Their bodies are laterally flattened and they are generally a muted brown, olive, cream or grey often with speckles or bands of dark brown or black. Their common name, Bloodsucker Lizard, comes from the fact that during courtship or in a display of aggression, the male’s head, throat and shoulders turn a fiery orange or red. Adults can attain lengths of up to 16 inches (40 centimeters) and have been known to live up to 5 years in captivity.
Crested Tree Lizards are widely distributed throughout Asia and the Middle East, with their native range extending from Southeast Iran eastward to China and south into Indonesia. They have been introduced to Oman and Singapore. Although they are usually classified as arboreal, within their range, Crested Tree Lizards tend to prefer shrubs, bushes and associated undergrowth. They are very good climbers and will retreat up trees if threatened. Adults spend much of their time several feet off the ground on tree trunks in a head-down posture, searching for prey. They are extraordinarily adaptable and have been found in disturbed and urban habitats.
They are diurnal and spend much of the warmer hours of the day foraging for insects and other small prey items. Their primary food source is arthropods, but adults also prey on frogs, geckos, small snakes and birds, and are occasionally infanticidal. Because of their adaptability, Crested Tree Lizards are widely distributed and common within their range.
Crested Tree Lizards benefit from a heavily foliated, well-branched, enclosure with lots of vertical surface area and good ventilation. An aquarium with a screen top or a partial screen enclosure can be used, and should be at least twice as long as the lizard and vertically oriented. Since adults tend to spend a lot of time suspended vertically, they are most comfortable with furnishings that allow this kind of behavior. Small logs (like those bundled for firewood) placed vertically throughout the enclosure and interspersed with narrower horizontal branching plants or sticks provide ample climbing and foraging area. Substrate can be clean soil, peat moss, bed-a-best, leaf litter or a blend of these. Like most lizards, Crested Tree Lizards require a good temperature gradient complete with a basking spot that offers a hot spot of 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit. The opposite end of the enclosure should have a 15-20 degree drop in temperature, allowing the lizard(s) to properly thermoregulate. Proper UV lighting helps to ensure robust color, as well a healthy appetite and proper digestion. Water can be provided by regular misting and/or a shallow water bowl. Ideal humidity levels are between 60-70 percent.
Crested Tree Lizards are opportunistic feeders and have been known to cannibalize smaller members of their genus. In captivity they feed readily on arthropods (crickets, roaches, spiders, small crustaceans, etc.), superworms, wax worms, phoenix worms, flies, moths, and annelids. As with all herps, Crested Tree Lizards benefit from a varied diet that is dusted with a vitamin and mineral supplement.
Crested Tree Lizards can be very fast, they are good climbers and they do not like to be handled frequently, all of which suggests proper care should be taken to prevent escape. They are highly adaptable and have become established in some parts of Florida and have the potential to become established in many other areas. Be responsible and be sure to contain your pet.