Sri Lanka has a very high biodiversity and is one of the 34 hot spots in the world. The island also possesses a large number of endemic and relict reptile fauna.

The Indian subcontinent and the Malayan region have been divided into zoogeographical regions or sub-regions based on criteria such as topography, climate and the vegetation formation. The central mountains of the island have unique rich reptile diversity representing the wet zone of the country; Tropical mountain forests are prominent in the higher elevations 1500m up to 2500m from the sea level.

Jetwing St. Andrew’s has rich reptile diversity with three lizards and one snake species being observed – all of which are endemic to Sri Lanka and exclusive to the hill country. In the same way, three of them are considered as relict species (an organism that at an earlier time was abundant in a large area but is now occurring at only one or a few small areas)

Visit Jetwing St. Andrew’s gardens and wetlands to observe these fascinating creatures.

Lizards

• Rhino-horned lizard (Ceratophora stoddartii)

• Pygmy lizard (Cophotis ceylanica)

• Black-lipped lizard (Calotes nigrilabris)

Snakes

• Common rough sided snake (Aspidura trachyprocta)


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Rhino-horned lizard (Ceratophora stoddartii)
Species Authority – Gray, 1834
Conservation Status – Endangered
Other Names – Kangamuwa ang katussa (Sinhalese)

Rhino-horned lizard is endemic and relict to Sri Lanka. Head is oval and longer than wide. Rostral appendage is long, horn-like, about two thirds the length of the snout in males.


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Pygmy lizard (Cophotis ceylanica)
Species Authority – Peters, 1861
Conservation Status – Endangered
Other Names – Kuru bodiliya (Sinhalese)

Pygmy lizard is endemic and relict to Sri Lanka. Cophotis genus is also endemic and contain two species. A slow-moving lizard found on moss-covered tree trunks in montane regions of the island. Body is compressed; head is narrow. Long dorso-nuchal crest developed.


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Black-lipped lizard (Calotes nigrilabris)
Species Authority – Peters, 1860
Conservation Status – Endangered
Other Names – Kalu kopul katussa (Sinhalese)

Black-lipped lizard is endemic to Sri Lanka. Green color body, head is one and a half times width. Has a row of spines above and at the back of tympanum. Adult male is with swollen cheeks. Gular sacs are not developed.


Common rough sided snake Common rough sided snake

Common rough sided snake (Aspidura trachyprocta)
Species Authority – Cope, 1860
Conservation Status – Endangered
Other Names – Dalawa medulla (Sinhalese)

Common rough sided snake is endemic to Sri Lanka. All six species of the earth- snake genus are endemic to the island. Though largely nocturnal is a  non-venomous, harmless snake. Head is indistinct from neck, body is cylindrical.
Common rough sided snake are found in a variety of colors – brown or grey green.

by Ishanda Senevirathna Resident Naturalist of Jetwing St. Andrew’s