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Environment News, Articles and Reports

Bloodsuckers Common in Maldives

Bluepeace, 2007

Scientific Name:
Calotes versicolor

Local Name:
(Male is referred as Rakis Bondu)

Bloodsuckers in fighting colours


Bloodsuckers are agamid lizards widely distributed in the Maldives and in tropical Asian gardens. Bloodsuckers get their incorrect name from the tendency of males in breeding season developing blood red throats. They don't really suck anyone's blood but may change colour to reflect their moods. These bloodsuckers like the distantly related chameleons are actually shy and harmless. They mainly swallow insects and small vertebrates not tearing it up. Bloodsuckers are capable of seeing in two places at once by independent rotation of the eyes. These bloodsuckers are also known as crested tree lizards as both males and females have crest from neck to tail. Like chameleons, bloodsuckers shed their skin and unlike other lizards do not drop their tails.

Bloodsucker in normal colours Bloodsucker trying to Camouflage

Breeding: During the breeding season, males become quite territorial and chase other males intruding into the territory by developing their blood red heads. Male bloodsucker tries to attract a female handsomely brightening their head with red colours. They normally dig and barrow holes in moist soil and small, white, awl-shaped 10-20 are laid. Eggs are hatched in about 6-7 weeks and start breeding at about year old. Role in the habitat: Bloodsuckers control insects, their main prey. In turn, they are food for predators in the food chain.

Status and threats: Bloodsucker common and found throughout the archipelago in different habitats including wetland to city habitat. They seem to adapt quite well to humans and thus not threaten or endangered in the Maldives.

Harmless Wolf Snake trying to gulp a Bloodsucker. Photo: Ali Rilwan
Dr. Harold G Cogger (et. al), "Encyclopedia of Animals"; Lizards by Aaron M. Bauer, 1993
Maldives: State of the Environment 2002 ; 3.5 BIODIVERSITY. CONSERVATION