Added 27 June 2022.

A look at the Family Agamidae


Salea Lizards


In India at least two of these are high-altitude lizards, being found at altitudes of 1,800m and above (Manthey refers to them as “hill-lizards”). However, Manthey and Schuster claim they are also followers of civilisation, being found in home gardens (noted also by Murthy). As Manthey and Schuster note, the fact is that very little information is yet available on these agamids.

Boulenger and Manthey and Schuster give details of the genus as follows: laterally compressed body covered with tile-like, regularly arranged but irregularly sized scales; visible tympana, spiny occiputal scales and nape crest all present in both sexes; dorsal crest more prominent in male but weak or entirely absent in female; gular sac present in male; no transverse gular fold; tail compressed; no femoral or preanal pores.

Care details for S. horsfieldi and S. kakhiensis can be found in Manthey and Schuster.




S. anamallayana, Anamalai Salea/Spiny Lizard

S. gularis

S. horsfieldi, Nilgiri Salea

Species Name

Common Name





S. anamallayana 

Anamalai Salea/ - Spiny Lizard 

India (Western Ghats in the Anamalai and Palni Hills)

12cm SVL, 31cm TL (m); 8.5cm SVL, 25cm TL (f)

Scalation details: upper head-scales rather large, feebly keeled, with a regular curved series of enlarged scales bordering the supraorbital region internally; an enlarged tubercle behind the supraciliary edge and a few others scattered on the back of the head; a row of 3-4 enlarged scales from the eye to above the tympanum; 7-10 supralabials and as many sublabials; gular scales a little larger than ventrals, smooth or keeled; a well-marked curved fold on each side of the neck, in front of the shoulder; dorso-nuchal crest continuous, composed of large lanceolate spines; dorsal scales of unequal size, their arrangement varying considerably, strongly keeled, the upper ones pointing upwards and backwards, the others straight backwards or backwards and downwards; ventral scales very strongly imbricate, strongly keeled, and ending in a spine. Tail: strongly compressed, in its anterior half with an upper crest nearly as much developed as the dorsal; caudal scales rather unequal in size, keeled. Other: snout long, measuring nearly twice the diameter of the orbit; tympanum once and two thirds or once and three fifths the diameter of the orbit; the adpressed hind limb reaches the neck. Coloration: pale olive above, with four broad angular dark-brown cross bands on the back, separated by narrow interspaces; head to the lip dark brown, with small light spots; limbs and tail with more or less regular dark-brown cross bars. [SOURCE: Boulenger, Murthy]

S. gularis


India or Sri Lanka (see text)


There is some uncertainty over the validity and identity of this species: see Reptile Database entry.

S. horsfieldi

Nilgiri Salea/-Spiny Lizard, Horsfield's Spiny Lizard

India (Western Ghats, in the Nilgiris and Palni Hills of Tamil Nadu)

9.5cm SVL, 34.5cm TL (m), 7.5cm SVL 22.5 cm TL (f)

Murthy observed that this species was found in the bushes, hedges and gardens even at higher elevations in the Nilgiris and Palnis of Western Ghats, and that he had seen it in good numbers and both areas. Scalation details: upper head-scales large, rugose, with a more or less marked curved series of regular ones bordering the supraorbital region internally; a row of 3-4 enlarged scales from the eye to above the tympanum; 7-9 supralabials and as many sublabials; 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 ones at the base; in the female this crest is reduced to a double row of alternate oblique short spines; dorsal crest not continuous with nuchal, 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. Tail: compressed, and with a small upper crest in the male, scarcely compressed, and without a crest in the female; caudal scales subequal, strongly keeled. Other: snout not more than once and a half as long as the diameter of the orbit, which equals about twice that of the tympanum; limbs moderately elongate, the adpressed hind limb reaching between the shoulder and the tympanum; Coloration: pale olive above, with irregular dark-brown cross bands, which may be broken up by 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, extends from the eye to the fore limb, passing through the tympanum; tail usually with regular dark-brown annuli. [SOURCE: Boulenger]



See also the index of agamid-related articles.