Added 30 December 2012. Last updated 10 June 2022: added A. aurantiacrista, A. liui, A. meridiona, A. murphyi, A. phongdiensis, A. phuketensis and A. tongbiguanensis.

A look at the Family Agamidae


Pricklenapes, Mountain Horned Dragons


Medium-sized arboreal agamids characterised by laterally flattened bodies, tallish spines on the curve of the eyebrow and small granulated dorsal scales interspersed with larger tubercular ones. Nape- and dorsal crests are present, as are visible tympani. The lizards can vary their coloration, a feature often found in agamids. Males are distinguished from females by long hemipenal pouches.

Boulenger gives the following characteristics for the genus: tympanum distinct; body generally compressed; limbs more or less elongate; dorsal scales heterogeneous, small or moderate; a dorsal crest; no gular fold, but a more or less distinct oblique fold in front of the shoulder; no gular sac; no preanal or femoral pores.

All the species hail from SE Asia. The usual habitat for this genus is thick forest, usually near flowing water. See Manthey and Schuster for captive requirements, which would appear to be somewhat vigorous and make these agamids a choice for the dedicated specialist rather than the casual keeper or generalist.

Within the years 2006-2022 more than half the species listed here were described as new species, the genus formerly numbering five species. According to Luan et all, there are three species complex within the genus:



A. capra complex

A. capra, A. nataliae

A. crucigera complex

A. bintangensis, A. cardamomensis, A. crucigera, A. phuketensis, A. titiwangsaensis

A. lepidogaster complex

A. brachypoda, A. lepidogaster, A. coronata

Not assigned to any complex: A. armata. [NB this study does not include those species described after A. murphyi: however, it seems likely from the paper by




A. armata, Armoured Pricklenape

A. auriantacrista

A. bintangensis, Bukit Larut Mountain Horned Agamid, Bintang Horned Tree Lizard

A. brachypoda

A. capra, Green Pricklenape

A. cardamomensis

A. coronata

A. crucigera, Boulenger's Pricklenape

A. lepidogaster, Brown Pricklenape

A. liui

A. meridiona

A. murphyi

A. nataliae

A. phongdienensis

A. phuketensis

A. prasina

A. titiwangsaensis

A. tongbiguanensis

Species Name

Common Name





A. armata 

Armoured Pricklenape 

China (Hainan), Myanmar, S Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia (inc. Sumatra)

SVL  (m) 11½-14cm, (f) 11-12cm: TL (m) 16-16½cm, (f) 14-15cm

Found mainly in primary but also in secondary rainforest at altitudes from sea level to 750m. Scalation: long spines on curve of eyebrow and occiput almost reach the height of the nape crest; nape crest composed of several closely spaced spines; dorsal crest may merge with nape crest or be separated from it by a distance of 1-2 crest scales. Other: both sexes possess small throat pouch. Coloration: dorsally green to brown, with lighter spots with dark margins; ventrally lighter greenish, brownish or reddish. Reproduction: 9-15 eggs laid 4 months after mating, the female taking several days to find the best site. Incubation 191-193 days. Sexual maturity in females is reached in 18 months.

A. aurantiacrista


Described in 2020: see Reptile Database entry.

A. bintangensis

Bukit Larut Mountain Horned Agamid, Bintang Horned Tree Lizard

W Malaysia (Perak)

This species was described in 2009. See Reptile Database entry for information.

A. brachypoda

NW Vietnam

Described in 2011: see Reptile Database entry for information.

A. capra

Green Pricklenape

Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam

SVL 13cm, TL 17½ cm

Manthey and Schuster give the known habitat of this species to be the tops of large rainforest trees. It is known to sometimes eat smaller lizards. Scalation: lacks spines on the occiput; nape crest separated from dorsal crest; bases of crest scales wider than in other species of the genus. Other: males have very large throat pouch, yellowish overall with green streaking. Coloration: dorsally olive with brown reticulation; males have yellowish head with a broad green band running from the light green ring round the eye to the shoulder and another on the nape alongside the crest; the light green ring around the eye encloses a wider dark green. Reproduction: no details available.

A. cardamomensis

Cambodia, Thailand

Described in 2010: see Reptile Database entry for information.

A. crucigera

Boulenger's Pricklenape

Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, W Malaysia, C Vietnam

SVL (m) 9½-10cm (f) 9-9½cm; TL (m) 16cm (f) 12-14cm


A. lepidogaster

Brown Pricklenape

China (Yunnan E through Guangdong to Fujian inc. Hainan), Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and N Thailand

SVL (m) 7-11cm (f) 8½-10½cm: TL (m) 11½-16½cm, (f) 11-15½cm

Scalation details: 10 supralabials, 11 infralabials; spine on supraciliaries and on neck are both equal in length and very small. Dorsal scalation: dorsal scales very small, keeled and mixed with larger ones; gular scales also keeled, smaller than ventrals. Other: head 1½ times as long as wide; snout pointed; vertical diameter of tympanum half that of eye; nuchal crest clearly separated from dorsal crest, the latter being low and weakly dentine while the scales of the nuchal crest are higher and pointed on both sides; digits only slightly laterally compressed; 3rd and 4th fingers equal in length; tail 1½ times SVL.  [SOURCE: Vogt 1914, therein described as "Acanthosaura braueri"]

A. liui

China (Yunnan)

Described in 2020: see Reptile Database entry for information.

A. meridiona

Southern Short-Horned Lizard; Süd-Kurzhorn Nackenstachler [D], kingkakhaownaamsunn tai (Thai), Acanthosaurus à cornes courtes du sud [FR] [names proposed by Trivalairat et al]

S Thailand

Max SVL 115.1 mm (m), 118.1 (f)

Described in 2022. Formerly considered part of A. crucigera. Scalation details: single short conical spine above the posterior margin of the eye; small spine on the occiput between the tympanum and the nuchal crest; tympanum scaled, large, roundish; moderately developed gular pouch; small scales intermixed with medium keeled scales on the flanks with a random distribution; nuchal crest with slightly equal rows of 8-10 tiny semi-conical spines; large diastema of 10-16 scales between the nuchal and vertebral crests; vertebral crest composed of small equally sized saw – like scales beginning in the shoulder region and decreasing in size until the base of the tail. Coloration details: black collar and black eye patch present, extending posteriorly to reach the nuchal crest. [SOURCE: Trivalairat et al].

A. murphyi


SVL 10.3-12.7 cm (m), 12.3 cm (f)

Found in evergreen forest in two provinces of Vietnam between approximately 80-1000 m. Most closely resembles A. capra and A. nataliae. Scalation details: cylindrical spine above posterior margin of eye; no spine on occiput between tympanum and nuchal crest; 2 scale rows between rostral scute and nostril; small slightly keeled scales on flank randomly intermixed with keeled medium and large scales; nuchal crests strongly developed; dorsal crests developed and separated from nuchal crests by a diastema; gular pouches developed in both sexes. Coloration: (in life) body varies from grey in adult to brown or emerald green in subadult; ventrally brown to whitish grey; tail brown or greenish with indistinct light bands. [SOURCE: Luan et al]

A. nataliae


C Vietnam, S Laos


First described in 2006: see Reptile Database entry for distinctions between this and the congeneric species.

A. phongdienensis


Described in 2019: see Reptile Database entry.

A. phuketensis

SW Thailand

Described in 2015: see Reptile Database entry.

A. prasina


Described in 2020: see Reptile Database entry.

A. titiwangsaensis

Malayan Mountain Horned Agamid, Titiwangsa Horned Tree Lizard

W Malaysia (Pahang)

First described in 2009: see Reptile Database entry for information.

A. tongbiguanensis

China (Yunnan)

First described in 2019: see Reptile Database entry.


“A NEW SPECIES OF THE GENUS Acanthosaura GRAY, 1831 (REPTILIA: AGAMIDAE) FROM CENTRAL VIETNAM”, Luan Thanh Nguyen, Dang Trong Do, Ha Van Hoang, Thang Tai Nguyen, Timothy E. M. McCormack, Truong Quang Nguyen, Nikolai L. Orlov, Vu Dang Hoang Nguyen, and Sang Ngoc Nguyen, Russian Journal of Herpetology Vol. 25, No. 4, 2018.

Acanthosaura meridiona sp. nov. (Squamata: Agamidae), a new short-horned lizard from southern Thailand”, Poramad Trivalairat, Montri Sumontha, Kirati Kunya & Krittiya Chiangkul, Herpetological Journal, Volume 32, British Herpetological Society, January 2022.