7 Common LIZARDS found in Botswana! (ID GUIDE)

Do you want to learn about the different kinds of lizards in Botswana?

Types of lizards in Botswana

If so, you’ve come to the right place! In the article below, I have listed the lizards you can expect to see. For each species, you’ll find out how to identify that lizard correctly, along with pictures and interesting facts!

7 Lizards That Live IN Botswana:


#1. Tropical House Gecko

  • Hemidactylus mabouia

Types of lizards in Botswana

How to identify:

  • Length: 5 inches (12.7 cm).
  • Lifespan: Between 3 and 5 years.
  • Blackish-brown bands that can change color from grey to white and even dark brown.

The Tropical House Gecko is native to sub-Saharan Africa and prefers scrubby and sandy areas near the beach. But this small lizard feels at home in suburban areas in Botswana, where it is often found in homes. These geckos mainly feed on spiders, cockroaches, scorpions, moths, anoles, grasshoppers, and even other geckos.

Due to their adaptability, Tropical House Geckos are now found worldwide after being introduced by humans.


#2. Nile Monitor

  • Varanus niloticus

Types of lizards in Botswana

How to identify:

  • Length: Between 47 – 86 inches (119 to 218 cm).
  • Lifespan: Between 10 and 20 Years.
  • Nile Monitors have prominent skin patterns; both males and females are grey/brown on top and have green/yellow barring on their tails. Both sexes have large, greenish-yellow spots on their backs, and their underside and throats are creamy-yellow.

Nile Monitors are one of the largest and most spectacular lizards to observe in Botswana.

Look for them roaming near a permanent water source near woodlands, scrubs, evergreen thickets, mangroves, and swamps. Nile Monitors feed on frogs, toads, rodents, small turtles, birds, eggs, insects, and fish.

Luckily, the Nile Monitor is a lizard, not a human; otherwise, society would frown upon its polygamous behavior. Both males and females mate with several other partners.

After mating, the female takes a break from the males and makes a suitable nest in termite borrows or digs a hole near water where she lays up to 60 eggs. The female is patient during the incubation process, which lasts six to nine months. The baby monitors dig their way to freedom, or the female digs them out, and after three to four years, they are ready to mate themselves.


#3. Flap-necked Chameleon

  • Chamaeleo dilepis

Types of lizards in Botswana

How to identify:

  • Males and females have a coloring that ranges from brown to yellow to green. Both sexes have between 1 and 3 light patches on their upper flanks and a light stripe on their lower sides.
  • It is identified by its broad tail that starts at the base and a spur that grows behind each hind foot.

The Flap-necked Chameleon is a large lizard belonging to the Chamaeleonidae family, a common sight in Botswana. These unique lizards prefer moist or arid savannah, coastal forests, bushy grass, and woodlands, but it is known to venture into suburban and rural areas. They feed on various insects and invertebrates, like beetles and grasshoppers.

When it is time for breeding, the Flap-necked Chameleon male is no stranger to showing off his strength and masculinity by fighting other males to secure a suitable female. Winning the fight does not necessarily persuade the female, but it at least allows the male to approach her.

If the male is accepted, courtship with the female is brief and only lasts a few minutes. Mating lasts about an hour and is done in the trees’ safety.


#4. Wahlberg’s Striped Skink

  • Trachylepis wahlbergii

Types of lizards in Botswana

By Ryanvanhuyssteen – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

How to identify:

  • They are greyish/brown and have a white belly with a thin black band that runs from its shoulder to its eye.
  • The male and female look similar, but the male has a yellowish/orange throat during breeding.

The Wahlberg’s Striped Skink is a very active lizard in Botswana, inhabiting woodlands, savannas, suburbs, and semi-dry areas. These medium-sized reptiles are great climbers and prefer to scurry along trees, rocks, and buildings. They are “diurnal,” meaning they are mostly active during the daytime and often basking in the sun on a ledge, log, or rock.

With extraordinary climbing ability and astonishing hunting skills, the Wahlberg’s Striped Skink makes quick work when it attacks its prey. They mostly hunt crickets, flies, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and beetles, but they also feed on earthworms, centipedes, millipedes, slugs, snails, and woodlice. Larger individuals also eat small lizards, rodents, and geckos.


#5. Cape Dwarf Gecko

  • Lygodactylus capensis

Also called the Common Dwarf Gecko

common dwarf gecko

How to identify:

  • They have a brown or grey stippled throat, cream belly, and greyish/brown back.
  • Females are larger than the male.

One of the smallest lizards in Botswana (and the world) is the Cape Dwarf Gecko.

It only grows to a maximum length of 1.7 inches (4.3 cm), shorter than a matchbox.

Cape Dwarf Geckos prefer protective areas like woodlands, savannas, and forests, but they do not shy away from humans. They are often seen roaming the walls and gardens in towns and cities.

As expected, these small lizards mostly feed on small insects and invertebrates. They are extremely active and require a lot of feeding to support their energetic lifestyle, especially when breeding.


#6. Variable Skink

  • Trachylepis varia

variable skink

How to identify:

  • Blackish, pale brown, olive green, or red-brown back and sometimes has black spots. Look for a clear, white stripe down its backbone with a blueish-white belly.
  • There is little difference between males and females except that females live longer.

The Variable Skink prefers dry savanna areas and grassland as their habitat in Botswana, where they spend their days climbing trees and rocks. They are great hunters and use barks, leaves, and stones to hide under, from which they pounce on their prey.

They waste no time reproducing because their life expectancy is less than two years. Once an individual is eight months old, they are ready to breed, and males set out to find a female.


#7. Cape Skink

  • Trachylepis capensis

Also called the Cape Three-lined Skink.

cape skink

How to identify:

  • A rather fat grey or olive-brown lizard with three pale stripes that run down its back.
  • The male and female look similar and have no sexual size dimorphism.

These lizards adapt well to humans in Botswana!

In fact, Cape Skinks can become quite tame if they live near people. Some individuals have even been trained to eat out of one’s hand!

Unfortunately, domestic cats have wreaked havoc on many populations of Cape Skinks. These introduced predators will typically kill all the skinks in their immediate area, as they have no natural defenses for cats.

Look for Cape Skinks at the base of rocks or trees, where they typically dig a small tunnel to hide inside. They will use just about anything as a temporary shelter!


Do you want to learn MORE about animals in Botswana?

Check out these ID Guides!


Which of these lizards in Botswana is your favorite?

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