Other introduced lizards

There are two introduced lizards in Mauritius that are not geckos. Their local names are confusing, as the agamid is locally known as a chameleon and the other, which is a true chameleon is locally referred to as an iguana.

 Agamid lizard Calotes versicolor


















This large slender lizard naturally found in Asia was deliberately introduced to Mauritius in the early 1900s from an introduced population on the neighbouring island La Réunion. It is commonly seen in open areas, such as gardens and grassy areas often on walls, fences and tree trunks. Their colour varies particularly in the breeding season when males turn dark in colour with a bright red head and shoulders, but they are mostly brown to pale olive-green. Because of its ability to rapidly change colour it is known as a chameleon in Mauritius. They have relatively long, slender legs and tails and are covered in rough scales with a dorsal crest. This lizard competes for food with the endemic day geckos and also predates upon them.

Panther chameleon Furcifer pardalis

This medium to large sized chameleon was deliberately introduced to Mauritius from Madagascar in the 1800s, but died out and was introduced again in the 1980s. For unknown reasons it is known locally as an iguana. They are mostly found in the southwest of Mauritius. They have a prehensile tail that acts as a fifth limb to grip vegetation. The tail is coiled when they are sleeping. Their colour varies from bright green with bands or stripes on the body, which are usually darker green or red. They often have a lighter coloured line which is white or pale blue that runs along each side or its body. The feet are distinguishable by their pincer type appearance with small claws. This diurnal chameleon can change its colour depending on its mood. Their eyes can move independently of one another so they can look in different directions at the same time. They feed by rapidly extending their long tongue to grasp invertebrates and small reptiles, such as the endemic day geckos; the tongue can be up to 1.5 times the length of the body.