9 Common LIZARDS found in Rwanda! (ID GUIDE)

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

Types of lizards in Rwanda

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!

9 Lizards That Live IN Rwanda:

#1. Nile Monitor

  • Varanus niloticus

Types of lizards in Rwanda

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 Rwanda.

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.

#2. Antillean House Gecko

  • Hemidactylus angulatus

Types of lizards in Rwanda

  • Length: 2.2 inches (5.6 cm).
  • Lifespan: Up to 7 years.

The Antillean House Gecko is no stranger to humans in Rwanda!

This lizard prefers the safety and shelter of urban settings like towns, cities, and airports. They are great climbers and love roaming walls and stones where they hunt at night, where they sit close to the light and wait for their next meal. Naturally, they are mostly found in trees, where they rest beneath the bark of trees during the day.

The Antillean House Gecko is nocturnal and feeds on cockroaches, arthropods, larvae, and insects.

#3. Speckle-lipped Mabuya

  • Trachylepis maculilabris

Types of lizards in Rwanda

How to identify:

  • They have a brown back and a thin yellow rim surrounding their ear opening.
  • Both sexes look similar.

The Speckle-lipped Mabuya, often called the Speckle-lipped Skink, is diurnal, meaning it is mostly active during the day. These lizards enjoy hot areas in Rwanda and often bask on a rock or log under the intense sun.

The Speckle-lipped Mabuya prefer areas that are well protected from the elements and are often seen in buildings like houses, garages, and floor apartments. In nature, they find safety in thick foliage but often climb rocks to sun themselves or find a female or food.

#4. Flap-necked Chameleon

  • Chamaeleo dilepis

Types of lizards in Rwanda

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 Rwanda. 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.

#5. African Striped Skink

  • Trachylepis striata

african striped skink

How to identify:

  • Length: Up to 9.8 inches (24.9 cm).
  • Lifespan: 18 years.
  • Bronze-brownish with two full-length yellow stripes along the spine.

The African Striped Skink is easily identified by the two yellowish stripes along its spine, which is why it’s called a “Striped Skink.”

Grasslands and forests are home to this shy lizard that prefers to burrow underground to avoid predators. Sometimes, hiding from predators isn’t enough, and the Striped Skink will shed its tail to escape, but it grows back within a few months.

It doesn’t take long for baby Striped Skinks to grow up. After the youngsters take their first breath, it only takes 15 to 18 months to mature and reproduce.

#6. Uganda Blue-headed Tree Agama

  • Acanthocercus ugandaensis

ugandan blue headed tree agama

How to identify:

  • Brown-grey with a green-yellow vertebral stripe and a large head.
  • The male is slightly bigger than the female and has a blue head when feeding, breeding, and when it is hot.
  • The female is olive green, with a distinctive black pattern on her back.

The Uganda Blue-Headed Tree Agama is a lizard in Rwanda with a large head that loves to scurry in trees and gardens. It is arboreal, meaning it seldom visits the ground and feels at home in trees.

The Uganda Blue-Headed Tree Agama has a healthy appetite. Although they are mostly insectivorous, they feed on seeds, berries, grass, and the eggs of other lizards if there aren’t enough insects around.

Males will mate with up to six females during the breeding season. Once the male has a female in sight, he will bob his head to get her attention. Then she will offer him her hindquarters and then run away. The female runs until the male catches her, then copulation ensues.

#7. Johnston’s Chameleon

  • Trioceros johnstoni

They are also known as Ruwenzori Three-Horned Chameleon or Johnston’s Three-Horned Chameleon.

johnstons tree chameleon

How to identify:

  • It is light green with three to five yellow/turquoise vertical bands. When threatened, it turns dark brown, and its bands lighten.
  • The female is smaller than the male and lacks horns and yellow markings on her head.
  • Their eyes are large and can move independently so that they can look in different directions at the same time.

Johnston’s Chameleon is found in Rwanda in high-altitude habitats.

Being omnivores, they mostly feed on insects and arthropods. But because of their large size, they sometimes prey on birds!

Like other chameleons, they can change color to match their surroundings to avoid being detected by predators. Changing color is more than a defensive tactic. They also use the changing of color to communicate and express their mood. For example, males will change color when they fight another male but also to indicate to a female that they want to mate.

#8. Mwanza Flat-headed Rock Agama

  • Agama mwanzae

mwanza flat headed agama

How to identify:

  • Males have a violet or bright red head, shoulders, and neck with a dark blue body.
  • The females are mostly brown.

This species is one of the most colorful lizards found in Rwanda!

In fact, the Mwanza Flat-headed Rock Agama is also called the “Spider-Man Agama” because of the male’s bright red head, neck, shoulders, and blue body. These lizards inhabit semi-deserts and prefer areas with short and tall grass and savannas.

The male is no stranger to fighting and fiercely protects his territory and females. When the male confronts another male, his color changes to brown, and his body is covered with white spots.

The male breeds with up to five females during the breeding season, and he performs an exotic dance that includes head swinging and bobbing to get her attention. Once the female accepts the male’s dancing routine, the two copulate, whereafter, the male sets off to find the next female to mate with.

#9. 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 Rwanda, 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.

Do you want to learn MORE about animals in Rwanda?

Check out these ID Guides!

Which of these lizards in Rwanda is your favorite?

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