DixPix Photographs

     
TROPICAL CENTRAL AMERICA  
     
  Fauna-  LIZARDS  

 

There is a large number of Lizard species in this area, something like 150 in the Norops genus of anoles alone.  With the possible exception of the caimans and crocodiles, none are really dangerous, although the range does include the only genus of poisonous lizards, the Heloderma.  Just don't try to pick any of them up.  The larger species are still hunted for meat, and many are sought for the pet trade.  Most species are affected by the usual litany of problems, such as habitat loss, road traffic, etc.  The Spanish word for lizard is Lagarato, or Lagartija for smaller ones.

There is a relevant book by J.M. Savage titled The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica; A Herpetofauna Between the Continents, Between the Seas.  (University of Chicago Press, 2002.)  This was preceded in 2001 by Twan Leenders Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica (Zona Tropical Distributers).

 

A large male Green Iguana is an impressive site, especially in its mating colors.  It is an arboreal species, but usually close to water. Click to see big picture (614x480 pixels; 162 KB)
The latin name is Iguana iguana, and despite their ferocious appearance, they are herbivores.  That neck pouch is called a dewlap. Click to see big picture (552x480 pixels; 129 KB)
Some Green Iguanas are actually green, but they come in a considerable range of colors. Click to see big picture (640x449 pixels; 137 KB)
A closer look at a male when not in mating form. It is a very successful species, ranging from Mexico to southern Brazil. Click to see big picture (640x422 pixels; 94 KB)
Their habit of sitting on top of trees must make them vulnerable to certain birds of prey such as Harpy Eagles, not to mention human hunters. Click to see big picture (370x480 pixels; 96 KB)
Here a female Green Iguana has been captured by a campesino, and alas will soon be served for dinner. Click to see big picture (335x480 pixels; 78 KB)
Members of the Ctenosaura genus are often called Black Iguanas or Spiny-tailed Iguanas.  There are about 15 species in Mexico and Central America, but this one in Costa Rica is likely C. similis, the Black Spiny-tail. Click to see big picture (640x421 pixels; 103 KB)
Ctenosaura similis doesn't look much like a racer, but it has been clocked as the fastest lizard on record. Click to see big picture (606x480 pixels; 131 KB)
Ctenosaura pectinata is known as the Mexican Spinytail Iguana, although it ranges from the southern U.S. to at least Panama.
Here is a closer look at the Mexican Spinytail, casting an evil eye on anyone near its den.
Another Ctenosaura basks on the Caribbean coast of Mexico.  No guesses as to the species. Click to see big picture (640x419 pixels; 91 KB)
Sometimes called the Helmeted Iguana, Corytophanes cristatus does not look very iguana-like.  It ranges from Mexico to Bolivia, but here is displayed at the Vancouver Aquarium, of all places. Click to see big picture (309x480 pixels; 46 KB)
Just and eye showing.  It always pays to look around before entering neotropical waters. Click to see big picture (640x433 pixels; 134 KB)
The American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) is native from Mexico to Peru.  This one is beside the Rio San Juan in southeastern Nicaragua. Through most of its range it is simply known as Crocodilo. Click to see big picture (640x396 pixels; 141 KB)
The Spectacled Caiman (Caiman crocodilus) is also found through Central and South America.  The sex of this species is determined by the temperature at which the eggs hatch. Click to see big picture (640x341 pixels; 93 KB)
The Caiman takes maternal care of its young.  This scene, whatever it may represent, is from the Guatusos Reserve in southern Nicaragua. Click to see big picture (640x465 pixels; 142 KB)
On the Chucunaque River of Darien Panama, a Spectacled Caiman invites us ashore with a toothy grin.
Basiliscus plumifrons is one of the species referred to as the Jesus Christ Lizard, for its ability to run short distances over water.  More formal names are Plumed Basilisk or Green Basilisk. Click to see big picture (574x480 pixels; 87 KB)
The Lagarto de Jesus Cristo is also a strong swimmer and climber.  It may be encountered from southern Mexico to Ecuador. Click to see big picture (640x432 pixels; 142 KB)
For a really close view of Basiliscus plumifrons, we need look no farther than the London Zoo. Click to see big picture (556x480 pixels; 133 KB)
Another species that can run over water is the Common Basilisk.  It is also found in both Central and South America, in this case the San Blas Range of Panama.  In Latin it is simply Basiliscus basiliscus. Click to see big picture (411x480 pixels; 78 KB)
And from the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, this is likely the Striped Basilisk (B. vittatus), which ranges from here south to northwestern Colombia. Click to see big picture (640x387 pixels; 103 KB)
Returning to the London Zoo, this is a Beaded Lizard (Heloderma horridum), whose various subspecies are found in Mexico and Guatemala.  This is the only truly poisonous genus of lizards, and includes the Gila Monster of North America. Click to see big picture (640x289 pixels; 94 KB)
Turning now to the Anoles, filed in the Norops genus.  This would be a female N. biporcatus, officially the Neotropical Green Anole, but locally just Anolis Verde.  It can change its colors somewhat. Click to see big picture (640x462 pixels; 93 KB)
Norops oxylophus is known as the Stream Anole.  Most anoles have colorful, inflatable pouches below their necks, known as a dewlap. Click to see big picture (640x419 pixels; 67 KB)
Despite their name, Stream Anoles also climb trees.  The genus name 'norops' apparently has a technical glitch and may change in the future. Click to see big picture (234x480 pixels; 55 KB)
A Common Ground Anole, Norops humilis, running over more colorful litter in Costa Rica. Click to see big picture (640x339 pixels; 102 KB)
Norops woodi, the Blue Eyed Anole, in Monte Verde Park, Costa Rica.  The enlargement on the right shows that it does indeed have blue eyes. Click to see big picture (576x480 pixels; 92 KB)
This is the Central American Yellow-headed Gecko (Gonatodes albogularis) in the Darien Province of Panama.  Besides Central America, this species may be found in the Caribbean and in northern parts of South America.
A Green Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus malachiticus) caught by kids in the Jaguar Reserve, northern NIcaragua.  Known locally as a Lagartija Espinosa, the species ranges from Yucatan to Panama and is sought by the pet trade, where it is referred to as the Emerald Swift Click to see big picture (640x333 pixels; 71 KB)
A Central American Whiptail Lizard (Ameiva festiva) suns itself on a footbridge grating in the Sarapiqui Reserve, Costa Rica.  It also goes under the name of Tiger Ameiva in its range from southern Mexico to Colombia. Click to see big picture (640x426 pixels; 141 KB)
The Giant Ameiva (Ameiva ameiva) is found in both Central and South America.  This female is at Summit Park in the Panama Canal Zone.  They are also known as Green Ameiva, as the males have a green back.
Ameiva leptophrys ranges from Costa Rica to Colombia, and goes by names such as Jungle Runner and Borriguero.  It is a whiptail lizard, but this one in eastern Panama has lost its tail.  Several types of lizard can part from their tails as an escape mechanism when grabbed by a predator. 
Despite the long tail, this is an Anole lizard on a palm frond in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica.  It closely resembles Anolis gruuo, but that is usually considered a highland species. Click to see big picture (640x376 pixels; 81 KB)
This Short-tailed Horned Lizard Phrynosoma braconnieri looked so much like its background in Oaxaca State, Mexico, that a Chameleon ability was suspected. Click to see big picture (527x480 pixels; 147 KB)
But alas, when placed on something different, the lizard didn't change color. Then again, horned lizards aren't supposed to. Click to see big picture (640x468 pixels; 145 KB)