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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Brown Pricklenape

Species : Acanthosaura lepidogaster
Size (snout to vent) : up to 13 cm (?)
Size (total length) : up to 29 cm (?)

Acanthosaura lepidogaster is known by a number of common names including Brown Pricklenape and Scale-bellied Spiny Lizard. The species complex inhabits a range of forest types and elevations up to at least 1400 metres.

This, and closely-related forms in the same species complex, are highly variable in terms of colour and patterning between different populations, however the basic patterning comprises a bright green or dark brown dorsum and a dark forehead. Barring may be present on the upper flanks, and ocelli (eye-shaped markings) on the mid-flanks.

Comparison of the images shown here with those in Manthey (2008) suggests this example is most likely to be Acanthosaura lepidogaster.

Acanthosaura lepidogaster has a nuchal crest above the nape, which comprises a small number of short, conical scales (typically six). There is a diastema (a gap) between the nuchal crest and the smaller spines of the dorsal crest (see Fig 2): in the closely related species, Acanthosaura coronata there is almost no gap (Boulenger, 1885).

This wide-ranging species complex occurs in Myanmar, northern and parts of central Thailand (including Khao Yai National Park), Cambodia, Laos and central and northern Vietnam.

Fig 1 : Example of Acanthosaura lepidogaster from near the town of Ban Na Hin, Khammouan province, central Laos, in an area of karst limestone.

Fig 2 : Close-up of the head and neck region. Note the diastema or gap (marked with an arrow) between the sharp, conical spines above the nape, and the smaller dorsal spines at the extreme left of the image.

Fig 3 : Karst limestone in Khammouan province, Laos.

All photos thanks to Yong Ding Li

References : H13

Boulenger, G.A. 1885. Catalogue of the lizards in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) I. Geckonidae, Eublepharidae, Uroplatidae, Pygopodidae, Agamidae. London: 450 pp

Manthey, U., 2008. Terralog Vol 7a, Agamid Lizards of Southern Asia -Draconinae 1. Edition Chimaira. 160 pp.

Links :

Reptile Database

Fig 1
ゥ  Yong Ding Li
Fig 2
ゥ  Yong Ding Li
Fig 3
ゥ  Yong Ding Li