Species of Thailand

Forest crested lizard

Calotes emma, John Edward Gray, 1845

(In Thai: กิ้งก่าแก้วใต้)

Emma Gray's forest lizard (Calotes emma) is an agamid lizard found in China, South Asia and Southeast Asia.


The specific name, emma, is in honor of English conchologist Maria Emma Gray, the wife of John Edward Gray, the describer of this species.


Physical Structure: Three small groups of spines, completely separate from each other, on each side of the head—one behind the superciliary margin and two above each tympanum. Dorsal crest well developed on the neck and on the anterior part of the trunk, gradually disappearing behind. A transverse fold in front of each shoulder; gular sac but little developed. Tail compressed. About fifty-one series of scales round the middle of the trunk.

Color Pattern: Brownish olive, with brown bands across the back, which arc lighter in the middle and interrupted by a white band running along each side of the back; eyelids with short, radiating brown streaks; a brown band from behind the eye to above the tympanum; fold before the shoulder black, with an irregular white margin; legs and tail with indistinct dark cross bands.

Length: Maximum: 40 cm., Common: 28 cm. (Snout to vent 7.5 cm.).

Maximum published weight: ? g.


Bangladesh (Satchari National Park), Cambodia, China (Guangdong, Yunnan), India (Assam), Laos, Malaysia (Peninsular), Myanmar, Thailand (including Phuket) & Vietnam (including Pulo Condore Islands) and Possibly in Bhutan.

An inhabitant of Mergui, whence have received it from Professor Oldham, ranging northwards perhaps to the Khasya Hills; extremely doubtful as an inhabitant of Afghanistan. Mr. Blyth mentions it amongst a collection made by Captain Bedmore at Schwe Gyen on the Sitang River in Pegu.

Vernacular names

Bengali: কেশর গিরিগিটি, ঝুঁটি গিরিগিটি, ঝুঁটি রক্তচোষা, যুথিয়াল গিরিগিটি (Juthial girigiti),

English: Crested forest lizard, Emma Gray’s crested forest lizard, Emma Gray's forest lizard and Spiny-headed forest lizard.


Terrestrial and arboreal; diurnal; inhabits various forest habitats including dry deciduous, coastal, and moist evergreen.


Feeds on cricktets, grasshoppers, moths, cockroaches etc.


Oviparous; lays 10-12 eggs in May-June; incubation period about 60-70 days.

Human uses

Used in pet trade. Play rolls in echo-system by eating various types of insects and otherwise.

Threat to humans

Non-venomous and completely harmless to humans.

IUCN threat status

Not evaluated (NE).

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Site notes

This species is easily mixed with Oriental garden lizard (Calotes versicolor). Key characterictics for this species is spines above the eyes and black stripes in front of the shoulders.

Scientific classification

Calotes emma

Common names

  • German:
    • Emmas Schönechse
    • Hinterindische schönechse
  • English:
    • Emma Gray's forest lizard
    • Crested forest lizard
    • Forest garden lizard
  • Thai:
    • กิ้งก่าแก้วใต้
    • กิ้งก่าแก้วเหนือ (C. e. alticristatus)


  • Calotes emma alticristatus, Karl Patterson Schmidt, 1925

    Range: North Thailand, South China (Yunnan)

  • Calotes emma emma, John Edward Gray, 1845

    Range: Peninsular Thailand South to Perak in Malaysia


  • Calotes emma, Larry Lee Grismer (2011)
  • Calotes emma alticristatus, Nguyen Van Sang et al. (2009)
  • Calotes emma emma, Nguyen Van Sang et al. (2009)
  • Calotes emma emma, Tanya Chan-Ard et al. (1999)
  • Calotes emma emma, Ulrich Manthey & Norbert Schuster (1999)
  • Calotes emma alticristatus, Merel J. Cox et al. (1998)
  • Calotes emma emma, Merel J. Cox et al. (1998)
  • Calotes emma, Ulrich Manthey & Wolfgang Grossmann (1997)
  • Colotes emma, J. Robert Macey et al. (1997)
  • Calotes emma alticristata, Edward Harrison Taylor (1963)


Calotes emma
Calotes emma
Calotes emma
Calotes emma (eating caterpillar)
Calotes emma
Calotes emma
Calotes emma alticristatus
Calotes emma alticristatus
Emma Gray's forest lizard
Calotes emma alticristatus (male, breeding colors)
Calotes emma

Range Map

Distribution map of Forest crested lizard, Calotes emma in Thailand
Range map of Calotes emma in Thailand