15 Popular Types of Reptiles in India

Types of reptiles in India
Photo by Godwin Angeline Benjo

India’s biodiversity supports a wide range of reptiles, birds, and wild animals, including four very venomous snakes, three huge crocodiles, one of the largest monitor lizards, and many kinds of turtles, terrapins, tortoises, and various lizards.

Meanwhile, let us look into 15 interesting types of reptiles in India.

Table of Contents

1. Bengal Monitor 

Bengal monitors, also known as common Indian monitors (Varanus bengalensis), are found throughout much of southern Asia. They reside in southeastern regions near rivers that drain into marshes or shallow lakes.

Bengal monitors can survive in a wide variety of conditions, including deserts, rain forests, and ecosystems with snowy winters. However, they thrive in locations with consistently warm weather.

Adult Bengal monitors are grey to greenish-grey in hue, with grey to black crossbars running from the chin to the tail. However, These marks are often darker in the western regions of the geographic range and lighter in the eastern parts.

 With age, the ventral patterns usually lighten, and the ground color darkens. As a result, adults have a less prominent and contrasted pattern than younger Bengal monitors.

2. Indian Cobra

The Indian Cobra (Naja naja), also known as the Asian Cobra, or binocellate Cobra, is a type of snake in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bhutan.

It is one of India’s “big four” snakebite species. It is not to be confused with the king cobra, which belongs to the monotypic genus Ophiophagus. In addition, It is also one of the venomous types of reptiles in India.

The Indian Cobra thrives in various habitats, in dense or open forests, plains, agricultural lands (rice paddy fields, wheat crops), rocky terrains, marshes, and even intensely populated metropolitan areas such as villages and cities. 

The wide black ring on the underside of the neck and the hood marking design with half-rings on either side of the hood is the most recognizable elements of the Indian Cobra, coupled with smooth scales, dark eyes, a broad neck, and head, and a medium-sized body. 

3. Mugger Crocodile 

Except for a small portion of northern India, the mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris) inhabits most of India.

 It reaches east of Myanmar (particularly Tinsukia) and west of Iran (town of Iranshahr). This crocodile may live in Kibar, India.

The mugger crocodile prefers freshwater like rivers, lakes, hill streams, and town ponds. It may dwell in both freshwater and saltwater lagoons along the coast. It can also live in artificial reservoirs. 

The Mugger crocodile is one of the largest types of reptiles in India as it can grow to be 4-5 meters long and 700 kilograms in weight. It has tough, thick scales that cover its entire body and are dirty brown in hue.

 It has the most snout width of any crocodile species. Except for the female being smaller, there appears to be no discernible difference between the sexes.

4. Indian Star Tortoise

Geochelone elegans are in three distinct areas of the Indian subcontinent: western India and extreme southeastern Pakistan, southeastern India, and the island of Sri Lanka.

Indian star tortoises live in a variety of environments, including moist forest areas and semi-arid lowland forests.

Indian star tortoises have yellow to brown heads, limbs, and tails, with black spots or blotches on their skin. The tails of adult males are more significant and thicker.

5. Spiny Tailed Lizard

 Spiny Tailed Lizard lives in the desert areas of northern India’s plains into Pakistan. This species thrives in the hot desert and stays in large numbers in the Rajasthan regions of Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Barmer, and Churu. one can also find it in portions in Madhya Pradesh.

Saara hardwickii lives in arid settings but prefers stony regions where it may dig tunnels. Its most prevalent habitats in the desert are rocky or semi-rocky sandy terrain and open sandy desert. 

The rounded head of the spiny-tailed lizard comes with a flat snout. Its color is typically yellowish brown, sandy, or olive. There may be black spots, vermiculations, and a noticeable black area on the front of the leg. Finally, It has a flattened dorsoventral body and leathery skin.

6. Oriental Garden Lizard

Calotes Versicolor, often known as the oriental garden lizard, Indian garden lizard, or changeable lizard, is an agamid lizard prevalent in Indo-Malaya. It has spread to many other places, making it one of the most seen types of reptiles in India and other sub-continent.

The Changeable Lizard is relatively abundant and resides in a variety of settings. They appear to adapt well to people and hence are not a threat. However, because people often kill them, they are becoming increasingly scarce.

It is an insectivore with a brilliant crimson neck during the breeding season. The coloring varies greatly, sometimes being consistent brownish, greyish-olive, or yellow.

7. Nilgiri Forest Lizard

The Nilgiri Forest lizard is an agamid lizard native to India’s Western Ghats. It is a diurnal, semi-arboreal insectivore that loves moist, evergreen wooded tracts and scrubland habitats.

There is little information about this species’ ecology and natural history. Though the lizards are known to breed in June, however, the breeding or ovipositional activity has not been thoroughly described.

The Nilgiri Forest lizard is Green or brownish on top, with vague darker markings. It also has a black streak from the eye to above the tympanum.

8. Indian Flying Lizard

This is one of the different types of reptiles in India is Draco dussumieri, a species of agamid lizard that can glide from tree to tree. 

It is sometimes known as the Western Ghats flying lizard or the southern flying lizard, found in the Western Ghats and adjacent hill forests in Southern India.

They are nearly entirely arboreal, living on trees in woods and adjacent palm plantations, climbing trees to forage for insects, and gliding to other trees.

The southern flying lizard is brown with grey spots that resemble tree bark. They have a limited ability to modify their color.

They become hyperactive during the day after warming up in the early morning sun. Males have a long yellow dewlap, while females have a short one. 

They glide by extending their patagia, which are flaps of skin on the side of the body supported by a muscle that allows them to expand outwards—surrounding the head. Their tails will enable them to adjust the direction of the glide.

9. Red-crowned Roofed Turtle

The red-crowned roofed turtle (Batagur kachuga) is a freshwater turtle found only in South Asia.

This turtle was once abundant in central Nepal, northeastern India, Bangladesh, and maybe Burma, but its population has declined due to being fished for meat and shells, drowned in fishing nets, water pollution, habitat loss, and hydroelectric schemes.

Fewer than 400 adult females remain in the wild. Males are much smaller than females, with shell lengths of 56 cm (22 in) and weights of 25 kilograms (55 lb).

Turtles enjoy sunbathing on land as well. Male turtles’ heads and necks turn bright red, yellow, and blue during the breeding season. Females excavate nests and lay clutches of up to thirty eggs.

10. Russell’s viper

 Russell’s viper (Daboia russelii) is a venomous snake in the Viperidae family native to the Indian subcontinent and one of India’s “big four” snakes. India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan are all home to Russell’s viper.

Russell’s viper does not prefer any particular habitat. However, it does avoid deep woodlands. The snake prefers open, grassy, or bushy settings, but it can also be found in second-growth forests (scrub jungles), wooded plantations, and farmland. 

It is widespread in suitable habitats such as plains, coastal lowlands, and hills. This species also reside in highly populated settings and rural villages, with the appeal being the rodents that coexist with humans.

As a result, persons who labor outside in these locations are most likely to be bitten, making it one of the most hazardous types of reptiles in India.

The head of Russell’s viper is flattened, triangular, and different from the neck. The nose is blunt, rounded, and elevated, with a deep yellow, tan, or brown ground color and three rows of dark brown markings down the length of the body. Each spot consists of circular black rings, and the outer border highlights a white or yellow rim.

11. Anaimalai Spiny Lizard

This is one of types of reptiles in India is the Anaimalai spiny lizard, also known as Anaimalais salea (Sale anamallayana), which is an agamid lizard native to India’s southern Western Ghats.

It can be found in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, mainly in the Anaimalai Hills and Meghamalai. Sale anamallayana thrives in bushes, hedges, and gardens, as well as in damp montane forests.

It is prevalent in montane shola forests and tea plantations in the Anaimalai Hills. It prefers to live at relatively high altitudes.

The tail of the Anaimalai spiny lizard is compressed, with a crest on the anterior section. The underside of the tail has uneven, keeled scales that are pale olive in color. Four broad angular, dark brown bands on the back usually have pale dots from the head to the lip.

12. Indian Chameleon

The Indian Chameleon (Chamaeleo zeylanicus) is one of the most versatile types of reptiles in India, native to Sri Lanka, South Asia, and other parts of India.

This species, like other chameleons, has a lengthy tongue, feet curved into bifid claspers, a prehensile tail, autonomous eye movement, and the ability to change skin color. They are usually arboreal and move slowly with a bobbing or swaying motion.

The Indian Chameleon stays in many environments, including forests and lowlands, deserts, semi-deserts, scrub savannas, and even mountains. Many reside in trees, but some live in grass, bushes, fallen leaves, or dry branches.

They are usually green or brown with bands and can change color quickly. The primary goal of color change is communicating with other chameleons and controlling body temperature by absorbing heat by shifting to dark colors.

13. Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

The olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), often known as the Pacific ridley sea turtle, is a turtle species in the Cheloniidae family. 

The species is the world’s second-smallest and most abundant sea turtle species. The olive ridley turtle lives in tropical and warm waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, including India, Arabia, Japan, and Micronesia.

The concave sides of the olive ridley sea turtle’s head are most visible on the upper half of the short snout. It possesses paddle-like forelimbs with two anterior claws apiece.

The upper sections are grayish-green to olive in color. However, due to algae forming on the carapace, they might seem reddish.

14. Gharial

The gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), commonly known as the gavial or fish-eating crocodile, is a member of the Gavialidae family and one of the longest-living crocodilians. Because of its long, thin snout and 110 strong, interlocking teeth, the gharial is well equipped to catch fish.

Gharials most likely arose on the northern Indian subcontinent. The gharial once thrived in all of the north Indian subcontinent’s major river systems, from the Indus River in Pakistan to the Ganges in India and the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar. Still, it now only inhabits rivers in the northern Indian subcontinent’s plains.

The gharial is olive in color, with adults being darker than juveniles, who have dark brown cross bands and speckles. At 20 years old, its back turns virtually black, while its tummy remains yellowish-white.

15. King Cobra

Lastly on our list of types of reptiles in India is the king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), a venomous elapid snake species indigenous to the jungles of Southern and Southeast Asia.

It is distinguished from other cobras by its size and neck patterns. It primarily preys on other snakes, including its kind. Unlike other snakes, it rarely hunts other vertebrates, such as rodents and lizards.

The skin of the king cobra is olive green, with black and white bands on the trunk that meets at the head. 15 drab-colored shields with black edges cover the head.

The muzzle has a round shape, and the tongue is dark in color. The upper jaw features two fangs and 3-5 maxillar teeth, and the lower jaw has two rows of teeth.

Despite its frightening reputation, the king cobra avoids human contact whenever possible. When provoked, it can attack a target from a considerable distance and above the ground.

Rather than biting and fleeing, it may hold its bite and inject a huge amount of venom, causing a medical problem.

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