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Calotes versicolor care articles : 

1- Tree Dragon Factoids : 

courtesy to :,%20Calotes.htm

Origin  : Viet Nam, S.W. Asia, China

Maximum Size  : 16 to 20 inches

Sexual Differences  :Males more colorful with head crests

Temperature  : 85o

Tree Dweller  :Needs climbing areas

Attitude  :Alert, observant, territorial as they mature

Substrate  :Artificial turf works great

Humidity  :Provide waterfall or mist daily

Foods  :Insects, pinkies, ants

Supplements  :Calcium and Vitamins

Lighting  :Full-Spectrum or Sunlight

When we first wrote this info, calotes versicolor were more available (and cheap).  We haven't 
had the little varmints lately, so we'll show different calotes.  Top ones called Japalura or sometimes tree dragons. Bottom one called mountain horned lizard. 

Quite a bit of variety in mountain horned lizards.

Origins:  We get our calotes from Viet Nam and China.  Due to their low price, we figure most are wild caught.  As a result, we occasionally get other than the versicolor species mixed in.  Usually, we receive small ones with little color.  On the plus side, young Calotes versicolor adapt to captivity more readily than the larger adults. 

Not exactly a large lizard.

Name Note:  You’ll see these lizards under a variety of names.  One place calls calotes bloodsuckers.  You’ll also see other lizards sold as tree dragons.  Since they run wild where they come from, various suppliers like to give lizards different names.  (That was the calotes running wild, not the suppliers.  Although ...)

Calotes like to climb.  Nice tail.

Arboreal:  As their name implies, these guys live in trees.  They need limbs to climb on and plenty of room.  

Different colors even within the same species.

Appeal:  Low price and bright colors (blues, bright greens, reds, purples on the versicolors) combine to make these an appealing lizard.  The dragon-like crests on the males add to their appeal.



Japaluras appear to be one of the smaller Calotes.

Mountain horned lizards look to be among the larger Calotes.

Maximum Size:  Most of these guys top out under a foot in length.  It will take a few years before yours reaches its theoretical maximum size.


Housing:  Give your calotes plenty of room.  They need elbow room.  Wood branches with hanging vines will make them feel at home.

Calotes like their crickets.

And they eat wax worms from your fingers.

Foods:  In the wild, this species eats lots of ants.  (They’re one of the few lizards that will eat ants.  The horned lizard eats harvester ants.)  In captivity calotes adapt easily to crickets.  An occasional pinkie will provide the calcium they need.

Warm calotes move very rapidly.

Temperature:  Provide a tropical temperature for them – at least 80o. Higher works even better.  Tropical lizards fare very poorly at cooler temperatures.  Low temps slow their digestion and metabolism.  This makes them susceptible to disease.  Healthy lizards usually fight off the effects of internal parasites and invading bacteria.

Cool calotes like to nap.  Others run like a scalded dog until they get used to you.

Though larger, this Calotes tamed instantly

Temperament:  Not exactly as “handleable” as water dragons, you’ll need to move slowly around these guys – particularly at first.  Don’t expect them to sit calmly on your shoulder (except in cold weather).

Calotes (like most lizards) like to plonk their hindquarters in the local swimming pool.

High Humidity:  Calotes need a great deal of humidity.  Mist them daily at a minimum.  A water bowl with a bubbling airstone works better as does a burbling waterfall.  Some fairly economical waterfalls now exist on the market.  You no longer need to build your own.


Plants:  Feel free to add live plants to their tank.  Calotes do not destroy vegetation.

These ramped water bowls work great for lizards and turtles.

Water:  Provide plenty of clean water.  Dirty, unchanged water causes stress and eventual death


Lighting:  You’ll need a full-spectrum fluorescent bulb.  Diurnal lizards (those that work the day shift) need UVA and UVB light to make the vitamin D3 they use to build their bones.


Supplements:  You increase your chances of success when you dust their crickets with a calcium and vitamin supplement on a weekly or twice a week basis.

Obviously ready for the upcoming rock concert, Cal bids you adieu.

Last Word:  You can mix calotes with similar-sized, non-aggressive lizards, IF you give them plenty of room and keep them well fed.  Hungry lizards often eat other lizards.  LA.

2- Oriental Garden Lizard - Calotes versicolor

courtesy to :

By James Hicks

Distribution  :


C.versicolor occurs from Iran, eastwards to Indonesia. It has been introduced to many locations including Florida, the Maldives and Borneo where it can be a potentially invasive species as in Singapore where it is out-competing the native Green crested lizard Bronchocela cristatella. It is highly adaptable, occupying dry rocky habitats through to disturbed areas of secondary forest. It is usually found in highly disturbed areas including in and around human dwellings.


Vivarium :


A vivarium for C.versicolor can be horizontally or vertically orientated. It should offer plenty of climbing branches, a sand/soil mixture as substrate and plenty of rocks for perching on. Dimensions of 60cm X 90cm X 45cm (Width X Height X Depth) are suitable for an adult trio (1.2). A water bowl is not necessary as these lizards obtain their large water requirement through drinking droplets. 


Heating and Lighting :


C.versicolor need a warm vivarium with background temperatures of 27-32C elevated to near 40C directly below a basking light by day and a drop to around 24C is beneficial at night. Full spectrum, high output UV lighting should be used with 12% T5 tubes or floodlights being my preferred sources. A common misconception with these lizards is that just because they are an Asian species; they occur in rainforests. I believe this to be a large part of the reason that this species hasn’t been established in hobby yet with most literature claiming them to be a very difficult species to accommodate. C.versicolor actually actively avoids rainforests in its native range.


Humidity and Water :


C.versicolor will eventually learn to drink from standing water if it is disturbed by droplets. A far easier way to supply their water needs is to simply spray once daily, heavily when the lizards will lick up the resulting droplets and will allow the humidity levels of 50-70% to be maintained. If the relative humidity is too low the lizards will not shed their skin and with time it will become constricted around the attractive crest scales and cause them to lose blood supply and fall off. Grey, flaky scales are also a sign of inadequate humidity. Equally important, however, is the fact that humidity should not be any higher than this for long periods, as would be the case in many other Asian agamids, as C.versicolor may succumb to respiratory and fungal issues. Humidity should be slightly higher during the night.  


Feeding :


C.versicolor is notorious for eating smaller lizards, part of the reason it is an invasive species where it has been introduced. Adults should therefore definitely not be housed with juveniles and eggs should be removed for artificial incubation! They will feed on any appropriately sized insect and adults may take pinky mice occasionally. This species should be fed every second day, with every second feed being dusted with calcium and multivitamins dusted weekly. Flying insects are a favourite. Overly fatty foods such as waxmoth larvae should only be fed on occasion. Do not allow livefood to escape and hide in the vivarium- agamids are diurnal and easily disturbed at night by nocturnal insects such as crickets and may even be bitten while sleeping. In small species such as Calotes insect bites can be especially harmful. Hatchlings will take small soldier fly larvae (calci/phoenix worms), fruit flies, bean weevils and very small crickets and hatchling locusts. Young Calotes should be fed daily with every feed lightly dusted with calcium. Once they reach around 6 months of age I reduce feeding regularity to every other day and calcium supplementation to every second feed.



Calotes versicolor (family Agamidae) is a very widely distributed semi arboreal lizard found across most of Asia. Vietnamese specimens are fairly regularly available from imports however they arrive in poor condition. While the crests and the bright colours of the males may look attractive, these wildcaught (WC) individuals invariably harbour internal and external parasites, either of which can quickly prove fatal if they get out of hand. Once acclimatised however they are usually problem free, their enormous distribution hinting at the natural adaptability of this species. Captive bred specimens are starting to gain some popularity and are being produced in greater numbers, now that better knowledge has been gained on their husbandry and the initial captive populations have been established in the UK. While unsuitable for beginners to the hobby these make an extremely active, interesting and unusual display species and some even become fairly tolerant of handling too. Their small size allows for attractively designed naturalistic vivaria to be used without worrying about the lizards destroying the décor.

Breeding :


C.versicolor are prolific breeders, having been able to colonise so many places. Clutch sizes vary by locality and female size; Vietnamese C.versicolor (the most commonly seen locality in the hobby) tend to lay around 7 eggs per clutch. The small (~1.5cm long) eggs are laid over the course of a few hours around 4cm deep in the more humid lower layers of substrate. Males should not be housed together once they reach sexual adolescence at the very early age of only around 6 months. C.versicolor can breed at well under 1 year of age. Breeding is triggered by spraying more heavily for a round a week,


probably simulating the onset of monsoonal rains. Females will lay 2-3 clutches per year however should be housed at ratios of 1 male to 2 females. In a simple pair (1.1) the male may stress the female by repeatedly mating with and chasing her. Eggs hatch in as little as ~50 days or as many as over 90, dependant on incubation temperatures. Around 27C during the day and 24C at night at 88% humidity usually results in hatching times between these two figures. Hatchlings are very small but will feed almost immediately and grow extremely quickly. Care should be similar to adults but smaller enclosures should be used to keep track of feeding progress more easily and around 32C as a basking temperature and 25C as a background temperature is adequate. 

Conclusion :


In my opinion, the future of the hobby lies in breeding and establishing unusual species, rather than compromising the genetic integrity of existing species with morph breeding, which encourages greed at the expense of animal welfare and involves no learning of new husbandry skills. Over time these skills will be lost from the hobby and the more unusual species with them. Calotes have gained a terrible reputation for being delicate and this is still passed on as valid by supposedly experienced keepers. Wild-caught individuals are indeed delicate and shouldn’t be attempted, despite their often depressingly low price, unless you already have experience with other WC tropical species. It is far more worthwhile paying extra for established or captive bred specimens which are extremely hardy, which are now becoming available. This species is an underrated gem that doesn’t require enormous vivaria or difficult conditions and should be far more popular than it currently is, something I along with a handful of other keepers are working hard to change!

Videos : 

Garden Lizard (Calotes versicolor)

calotes versicolor 640

Calotes versicolor or the Indian Garden Lizard basking in the sun

calotes versicolor

Kŕmenie samčeka Calotes versicolor.​

Calotes Versicolor Lizard Laying Eggs

calotes versicolor

Calotes versicolor male displays

Agamidae :  Introduction 

Agamidae Species : Africa  -  Asia  -  Australia & Papua new guinea

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