Salea horsfieldii

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Horsfield's Spiny Lizard
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Iguania
Family: Agamidae
Genus: Salea
Species: S. horsfieldii
Binomial name
Salea horsfieldii
Gray, 1845
Salea horsfieldii distribution.png

Horsfield's Spiny Lizard (Salea horsfieldii) is a species of agama endemic to the Nilgiri Hills. It is found mainly in the high altitude grassy hills. A related species, Salea anamallayana, is found in the grassy hills of the Anamallais.


Side view of the head

This olive brown lizard with a white banded appearance has a snout that is about 1.5 times as long as the eye diameter which is about twice the diameter of the ear opening. The scales on the head are large and rough. Some scales around the brow above the eye are curved. A row of three or four large scales are found between the eye and the ear opening. The scales on the throat are lanceolate, keeled and sharp tipped. The male has crest on the back of the neck made up of a few lanceolate spines facing backwards. The dorsal crest continues after a break behind the nuchal crest. The scales on the upper surface are large, rhomboidal, strongly keeled, pointing straight backwards; these are nearly always of unequal size, larger ones being scattered on the sides; ventral scales very strongly imbricate, strongly keeled and ending in a spine, nearly as large as the dorsals. Limbs are somewhat long and when the hind limb is held along the body, the toes reach between the shoulder and ear opening. The tails is compressed and in the male has a small crest and is crestless in the female. The caudal scales are sub-equal and strongly keeled.

The colour is pale olive above, with irregular dark-brown cross bands, often broken up by a band of the light-brown colour running along the sides of the back. The larger scales on the sides are frequently white and a blackish band edged below in white extends from the eye, through the tympanum, to the foreleg. The tail is banded with regular dark brown and creamy bands. The length from snout to vent is about 3.75 inches and the tail measures 9.75.[1]

The Salea horsfieldii is a higher altitude species of agama found in southern India an endemic lizard of Nilgiris. This was first reported by Grey 1845. The S.horsfieldii is Confined to higher attitude of Nilgiris. Above 1500fts MSL. It differs from Callotes versicolor by the presents of large tymphanic sales between the tymphanic and the orbit. The snout is pointed and the tail is laterally compressed. The body coloration of S.horsfieldii has an irregular black band edged below with white, is most distinct between the orbit and the tympanum, it is interrupted behind the ear and reappears before the shoulders-joint. The back is ornamented with irregular white and black cross bands-many white scales having dark margin, and the black once a red longitudinal streak. The isolated large scales are white. Head with red and white dots above, spines of the dorsal crest partly black and partly red, legs with bands similar to those of the black, tail with broad brown rings. The female have less bright colors, and the young once broad brown rings. The females have less bright colors, and the young once broad brown bands across the back, between a pair of indiscnict light longitudinal banal running along the sides of the back.

The coloration, however, appears to be very variable; Jordon describes it as a bright gross green marbled with brown, with some red marks on the head and nape and with a few white scales on the sides the colours become darker at a low temperature, as in the case with many tropical lizards.

Snout not more than once and a half as long as diameter of orbit, which equals about twice that of tympanum; upper head, scales large, rough, with a more or less marketed cured series of regular ones bordering the supra-orbital.

Region internally, a row of 3(or) 4 enlarged scales from the eye to above the tympanum.

A series of scales between orbit and tympanum rather larger than the others on the side of the neck.

Gular scales lanceolate, keeled, ending in a spine, as large as or a little larger than the ventrals no fold in front of the shoulder nuchal crest in the male composed of a few lanceolate spines directed backwards, the longest measuring nearly the length of the snout, with smaller spines at the base, in the female this crest is reduced to a double row of alternate oblique short spines; dorsal crest not continuous with nucal, composed of similar slightly shorter lanceolate spines in the male, absent in the female Dorsal scales large, rhomboidal, strongly keeled pointing straight backwards, they are nearly always of unequal size, larger ones being scattered on the sides, ventral scales very strongly imbricate, strongly keeled and ending in a spine, nearly as large as the dorsals.

The middle of the trunk is surrounded by about thirty-eight series of scales Dorsal high in the adult male, composed of long, closely set, lanceolate spines, a nucal portion being separated from the dorsal portion by a very short interspaced, it extends on the tail, it is much less developed in immature males in its altitudinal and longitudinal extent, and remains rudimentary in the females sex. The hind leg extends to, or nearly to, the angle of the mouth, if laid forwards. Limbs moderately elongate, the adpressed hind limb reaching between the shoulder and the tympanum. Tail compressed and with a small upper crest in the male, scarcely compressed and without a crest the female, caudal scales sub equal, strongly keeled. Pale olive above, with irregular dark .brown cross bands, which may be broken up a band of the light-brown colour running along each side of the back, the enlarged scales on the sides frequently white, a blackish band, edged below with white, extend from the eye to the fore limb, passing through the tympanum, tail usually with regular-dark-brown annuli (Gunther 1864, Smith. 1935, Bolenger 1912, Danil 2002, Magesh 2009)


  1. ^ Boulenger, G. A. 1890


  • Boulenger, G.A. 1885 Catalogue of the Lizards in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) I. Geckonidae, Eublepharidae, Uroplatidae, Pygopodidae, Agamidae. London: 450 pp.
  • Gray, J. E. 1845 Catalogue of the specimens of lizards in the collection of the British Museum. Trustees of die British Museum/Edward Newman, London: xxvii + 289 pp.

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