Logo1    www.bushtrucker.ch      click to get to frontpage





Despite there are believes about poisonous or venomous lizards in Africa – there are none.
East Africa is rich of many species, some only in small areas (endemic), some widespread.

Classe Reptiles (Reptilia), Order Scaled reptiles (Squamata), Suborder Lizards (Sauria)





55 species of GECKOES (Family Gekkonidae) are recorded in East Africa. You recognize them by their slightly triangular head, the soft mat skin and the enlarged pad at the end of toes and fingers. Tiny hair-like structures in these pads enable them to go up walls, even to our eyes smooth surfaces and ceilings. Most of the geckoes are nocturnal, some diurnal.




Lygodactylus mombasicus

Kenya Dwarf Gecko (Lygodactylus keniensis) is widespread in dry savanna
and semi desert of Northern and central Kenya from 200 to 1.600 m. Diurnal.


White-headed dwarf gecko (Lygodactylus picturatus).
Coast, Tana River and Tsavo

Lygodactylus mombasicus








Tropical house geckos (Hemidactylus mabouia) are wide spread and the most often seen geckos. They hunt insects
attracted by artificial lights. Like many geckos they are capable of producing clicking or chirping sounds for communication.






Dull-green Day Gecko (Phelsuma dubia). Local along coast in Kenya and Tanzania. It is arboreal and diurnal. Day Geckos are very popular among reptile keepers and because of concern of the possible effect of this international trade, are placed on Appendix II of CITES.













SKINKS (Family Scincidae) are shiny-bodied with no obvious neck. Males and females often have different colours.



Speckle lipped skink





Speckled-lipped Skink (Trachylepis (previous Mabuya) maculilabris) occurs in coastal regions in Kenya and Tanzania, Lake Tanganyika as well as in part of Uganda. The one in the picture is from Zanzibar. The typical yellow eyelid is clearly visible.






Female of a Rainbow skink left, male right,
(Trachylepis (Mabuya) margaritifer). Tsavo East.




Five-lined skink (Trachylepis (Mabuya) quinquetaeniata).
Only the female has the 5 lines and a blue tail.

Below male in breeding colours, both from Bogoria.








PetersWrithing Skink





Striped skink (Trachylepis (Mabuya) striata). Widespread.

Peters’ Writhing Skink (Lygosoma afrum). With up to 20 cm quite a large skink. The legs are very small. It occurs from mid Kenya further South to Eastern Tanzania and Southern Africa. Different colour variations can be found. Some are lacking the black spots and the yellow belly.










Hackars' Five-toed Skink (Leptosiaphos hackarsi ) photo by Fabian Krokan in Uganda










Rwanda Five-toed Skink (Leptosiaphos graueri) occurs in forests of the Albertine Rift. Photo by Fabian Krokan in Uganda







Coral Rag Skink

Coral Rag Skink (Cryptoblepharus boutonii) grows up to 15 cm. It lives on old coral formations in the intertidal zone on East African coast and islands. It moves fast during daytime to catch its prey. Watamu






PLATED  LIZARDS (Family Gerrhosauridae) are between 20
and 50 cm long. You see a dark coloured ear opening and
rough scales. The head is in a line with the body.

Great plated lizard, red throated phase (Gerrhosaurus major). Zanzibar.









Jacksons Forest Lizard







OLD WORLD LIZARDS (Family Lacertidae)

Alpine-Meadow lizard (Adolfus alleni) occurs on Mt. Elgon and
the Aberdares between 2700 and 4500 m. We found this individual
in the Aberdares at an altitude of about 2.900 m.

Jackson’s forest lizard (Adolfus jacksoni) is a up to 25 cm long lizard.
It is diurnal and arboreal. 2 eggs are layed under bark or leave litter.
Local in East Africa in forested areas. Photo Marina Meger, Uganda







Green keel bellied lizard

Green keel-bellied lizard (Gastropholis prasina) occurs very locally at the coast in Kenya and Usambara Mountains in Tanzania. Picture taken at Bio-Ken Snake farm, Watamu









Southern Long-tailed Lizard (Latastia longicaudata) is the largest East African lacertid, reaching from head to tail tip up to 40 cm. It can be found in many
parts of Kenya and Northern Tanzania. Its prefered habitats are commiphora-acacia bushland and Somali-Maasai semi-desert. The diet consist of insects.







Spekes sand lizard Heliobolus spekii







Speke’s Sand Lizard (Heliobolus spekii) grows up to 18 cm and is distributed in coastal woodland and dry savannas in East Africa.





AGAMAS (Family Agamidae) are small to medium sized diurnal lizards. The head is visibly triangular. Males have colorful heads which serves marking the territory by moving it up and down. Females are quite well camouflaged. The females are very similar in the different species and best to identify is having a good look at the males.

The classification of the agamas in East Africa is undergoing new researches.







Red-headed rock agama (Agama lionotus).



Below Mwanza Agama (Agama Mwanzae) Males. They occur in the Western part of the Masai Mara and Westen Tanzania up to Uganda. Their distribution area overlaps with the one for the Red-headed rock agama in Serengeti.









Agama finchi leucerythrolaema



Agama finchi leucerythrolaema. Picture taken by Marina Meger, Murchison Falls, Uganda






Blue-headed tree agama (Acanthocerus atricollis) occurs from Central- to Westkenya and up to Rwanda as well as in small areas all over.
Are mostly to be found on trees, but also as this one here on a termite mound where it finds good shelter. When displaying colours males are blue.
Foto below by Marina Meger.








Acanthocercus atricollis gregorii

Blue-Headed Tree Agama (Acanthocercus atricollis gregorii), Ngorongoro/Ndutu, Tanzania.






CHAMELEONS (Family Chamaeleonidae) are peculiar reptiles. They can move their eyes independently and only focus with both in the same direction when the are in the process of catching an insect with their long, fast moving tongue. They are changing colour according to temperature and their mood.





Chamaeleo gracilis



Slender Chameleon (Chamaeleo gracilis) are hard to differentiate from the Flap-necked chameleon. In parts of their distribution area especially South-Eastern Kenya both coexist. These were found in Amboseli NP. When chameleons are stressed the full bounty of their colours show.







Chameleo dilepis roperi
Usambara Three horned chameleon







Flap-necked chameleon (Chamaeleo (dilepis) roperi) reach 15-25 cm in
lenght. The female digs a long tunnel and lays 20 - 40 small eggs, which
may take 9 months to hatch. They can be found in various areas in Kenya and Tanzania with several subspecies; some considered as own species.


Usambara Three-horned chameleon (Trioceros deremensis) is endemic in the Usambara and Nguru mountains. It is common in Usambara East. Male. Picture taken at Bio-Ken Snake farm, Watamu








Von Hoehnel Chameleon (Trioceros (Chameleo) hoehnelii) are restricted to Narobi region, Aberdares - Mt. Elgon highlands, 1.500 - 4.000 m. Gives live birth to 7 to 18 young. A study in the Aberdares has shown that they can survive at a temperature of minus 2 degrees C.


Jackson’s Chameleon (Trioceros (Chameleo) jacksoni) is often seen in Nairobi areas, and up to the Nyambeni hills which is its main distribution area. The female only has tiny horn and is darker. Males reach up to 38 cm, females around 20 cm. They give life birth between 7 and 28 young, which means the female carries the eggs in her body until the young hedge. 





Ruwenzori ThreeHorned Chamaeleon





Ruwenzori three-horned chameleon (Trioceros johnstoni) occurs in the Albertine Rift. It grows to about 18 cm and lives in forests from 1.800 to 2.500 m. Photo Marina Meger, Uganda


Side-striped chameleon (Trioceros bitaeniatus) can be met from Central- to Westkenya. It only reaches about 16 cm in lenght. 6 – 15 young are born.





Usambara pitted pygmy chameleon

Usambara pitted pygmy chameleon (Thampholeon temporalis). Sadly they are endangered due to habitat loss. But efforts are taken to protect them. Endemic to East Usambara mountain. Photo Axel Koehler







MONITOR LIZARDS (Family Varanidae) are quite large reptiles feeding on other animals or their eggs. 2 species occur in Kenya/Tanzania.

We were driving along an idyllic side river of the Galana River in Tsavo East. Suddenly I saw something falling down the embankment on the other side of the river. Than the head of a rock monitor was seen in the middle of the small river. It took us some time to realise that the White-throated rock monitor (Varanus albigularis) was in the firm grip of a slightly larger crocodile. The scratches of the crocodile's claws were clearly visible on the vertical 1.2 m tall wall from were it pulled the rock monitor into the water. The rock monitor was probably foraging and not aware of the danger coming from its relative in the river. Through struggling it managed to free itself, climbed a rock on our side of the river. Swiftly the crocodile followed grabbed its tail and hind leg. Again the rock monitor pulled and run for 2 m, just to be taken by the croc again. This time the croc pulled it back into the water were it just managed to keep its head on the surface. They remained almost at the same spot and after 45 minutes when we left, it was only to be assumed that the crocodile won.










Nile monitors (Varanus niloticus) reach about 2.5 m. The long tail can be used as a pain inflicting weapon. Their habitat is through out Africa near water. They are excellent swimmers. Equipped with conical teeth they crush anything edible like crustacean, mussels, insects, eggs (of birds and crocodiles), amphibians and reptiles. They lay their eggs in still active termite mounds where they are incubated in an ideal climate. They have a purple forked purple tongue.











Feared, killed for their skins but still fascinating are the Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus, Ordnung crocodiles/Crocodylia, Familie true crocodiles/Crocodylidae) ). In East Africa these archetypical lizard can get up to 5 m and 1 t. They are the carnivore with the highest mortality of their offspring. Out of 20 – 95 lied eggs only 1 % reaches adulthood. Even the mother guards the nest and the hatchlings, the enemies are too many. Nile monitor, birds of prey, big fishes, large snakes, adult crocodiles and mungoose are among them.