KNOW YOUR HONG KONG LIZARDS
Lizards encompass the largest group of reptiles in the world, with over 3,000 species, of which only two can really hurt you with their venom - and neither of them live in Hong Kong.....Yay! In Hong Kong we have six major families of lizards, which have different appearances and size, as well as behaviour: geckoes (Gekkonidae), skinks (Scincidae), agamids (Agamidae), lacertids (Lacertidae), dibamids (Dibamidae) and monitor lizards (Varanidae).
Geckoes are small lizards, often seen around houses and on walls. They have loose scaly skin and big eyes, and on their feet they have adhesive lamellae on their toes/digits. This allows them to move around on vertical surfaces. Even glass. Although sometimes found during the day, all gecko species in Hong Kong are nocturnal, as they come out at night to feed.
Skinks are quite different, as they are quite shiny, with glossy overlapping scales. They can be small and slender or a couple of species can reach a good size. They are also mainly active during the day, rustling in the leaf litter or basking on walls, like this one at Kadoorie Farm. They also tend to be terrestrial (live on the ground). Of course, as with most rules, there is an exception, and that this the Chinese Waterside Skink that likes to live in streams and water.
Agamids are represented by the Changeable Lizard, which is the only native agamid to Hong Kong. It is a lovely medium-sized lizard, often seen on low shrubs and bushes, where they cock an eye at anyone who approaches, before running nimbly away. The ubiquitous Changeable Lizard has a crest of enlarged scales down the dorsal (top) surface of the neck and fore part of the body. Males can have bright red throats and can be dark brown in colour. A non-native agamid is the Green Water Dragon....see the related post.
The only Lacertids in Hong Kong are the rare Grass Lizard (Takydromus sexlineatusocellatus). It is easily distinguished by its very, very long tale and very slim long body. Often found in in grassy areas. Picture credit Kevin Messenger.
There is only one species of dibamid in Hong Kong, the endemic Bogadek's Burrowing Lizard (Dibamus bogadeki), and this is an extremely rare lizard and i do not have any pictures. It is a small, worm-like lizard that appears to have no legs, as they spend their whole life burrowing.
Lastly, we have the Monitor lizards (Varanidae). Also very rare in Hong Kong, and you are more likely to see escaped pets or trade animals. Can be very large...see the separate post on this animal. Juveniles, as below, can be quite attractive. These lizards have sharp claws and can give a nasty bite.