Lizards in Kerala
Among the reptiles, lizards and snakes (Squamates, belonging to Order Squamata) were the last to evolve, which was around 150 million years ago. Being one of the most diverse groups with over 7,000 living species and owing to their long evolutionary history, lizards got adapted and specialized to a variety of habits and habitats including gliding, swimming, deserts, forest canopies and even running over water surfaces. Geckos were the earliest lizards to evolve.
Kerala, the southern part of the biodiversity hotspot of Western Ghats is home to over 192 reptiles, of which there are 69 species of lizards. The 69 species belong to six families including Agamidae (lizards), Chamaeleonidae (chameleons), Gekkonidae (geckos), Lacertidae (lacertas), Scincidae (skinks), and Varanidae (monitor lizards). Till recent years, studies and checklists report a total of about 15 species of agamids, 31 species of geckos, two species of lacertids, 19 species of skinks, and one species each of chamaeleonid and varanid in Kerala.