Creature of the Month – Green Crested Lizard

Family : Agamidae
Species : Bronchocela cristatella

The Green Crested Lizard (GCL), in my opinion, is the most photogenic lizard in Singapore. The body colour is bright green, sometimes with a bluish tinge on the head. It has a jagged crest on its neck. The body length is about 13 cm but the total length (body + tail) can reach up to 55 cm ie. it has a long hanging tail that makes up 3/4 of its length!

(Venus Drive,

(Venus Drive, 15 May 2009)

This native species used to be the most common lizard found in parks, gardens and forests in Singapore. Unfortunately, its population is in decline possibly due to competition from the Changeable Lizard (Calcotes Versicolor) which was introduced in the 1980s into Singapore from Malaysia/Thailand. This is an example of how an introduced species could affect the fragile ecosystem of any country.

(Male & Female, Changeable Lizards)

(Male & Female, Changeable Lizards)

I was lucky to have seen them on a few occasions mostly at Venus Drive.

(Venus Drive – 14 Nov 2008)

They are usually skittish and sensitive to movement. Hence, to have a higher chance of photography this beautiful lizard, we would need to be very careful approaching them.

(Venus Drive – 25 Nov 2008)

When threatened, its body can turn into darker brown or grey in colour as seen in the image below:

(Pulau Ubin – 12 Sep 2009)

Sometimes, I prefer to shoot them using full flash as I find that the colours of the GCL often stands out very well against a dark background.

(GCL with dark background)

(GCL with dark background)

On a lucky day, the GCL may allow you to get very close to them. Don’t waste this excellent opportunity to take some close-up shots to show the nice texture of its body.

(Venus Drive – 3 Jan 2009)

GCL usually eats flies, grasshoppers, ants and other small insects. To catch its prey, it will generally wait patiently in silence in trees, branches or bushes. I had seen a GCL eating its breakfast only once. It was quick in attacking and equally fast in consuming its prey.

(Having breakfast – 14 Nov 2008)

I read that GCL could become prey of snakes and birds but I have never seen one. Here are two links where they were eaten by snakes:

GCL eaten by Big-eye Green Whip Snake
GCL eaten by Kopstein’s Bronzeback

With its declining population, it is not unusual that some people have never seen a GCL in Singapore. I am one of the fortunate ones who spotted them a few times in 2008 & 2009 but not a single sighting from 2010 to 2011. My photography friend had never seen one until a recent macro photography outing in Pulau Ubin! I can understand how happy he was! Here are my last few sightings of this georgous green lizard at Venus Drive, Chestnut Forest & Pulau Ubin!


One thought on “Creature of the Month – Green Crested Lizard

  1. I have one here. I desperately wanted a lizard, I payed someone to catch me one. I actually wanted a sail fin lizard, he got me one, Hayden the GCL was a free gift from that guy. I ended up to release the sail fin back to the wild, he really wouldn’t settle and eat at all. Hayden was much easier. He’s so beautiful and great to watch. I know it’s not right to keep him in captivettey, but I just can’t let him go.

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