Sunday, August 21, 2011

Costa Rica – Lizards around the house

We are fortunate to have numerous species of lizards all around us, so do not have to go far to see them. Most of the lizards in this post can be observed from our front veranda.

The Basilisk (Basiliscus basiliscus) is a species renowned for its ability to run on water. Juveniles are very common in this area, but the adults tend to spend most of their time near the river and are harder to get close to. During the day these lizards are active hunters, and move extremely rapidly to capture prey such as invertebrates and smaller lizards. At night however, they perch on foliage to sleep and we have found many of them hanging quite oblivious to approach on foliage around the yard and in the forest areas.

A young Basilisk, perched upon  a flower.

Another juvenile Basilisk

An adult male Basilisk

Common Anoles (Norops polylepis), true to their name are very abundant here. We were very excited to find a less common Green Tree Anole (Norops biporcatus) on the property. Anoles are well known for the territorial displays performed by males. They flash a colourful flap of skin beneath their throat known as a dewlap to warn off rival males.

A Common Anole with its dewlap exposed

The Green Tree Anole

Green Tree Anole

A close-up of the Green Tree Anole

We also have found Green Iguanas (Iguana iguana) right here on the property. The juveniles are a brilliant green, but lose the colour as they mature. The larger adults are grey-brown in colour and truly prehistoric in appearance. Green Iguanas are vegetarians and feed on the foliage of a variety of trees and shrubs, and will also feed on fruit. We spotted nine juveniles sleeping on one bush recently while were looking for invertebrates at night.

A juvenile Green Iguana

The head of a juvenile Green Iguana

One species which is found deeper in the rainforest is the Helmeted Iguana (Corytophanes cristatus), a species which can change its colour rapidly. I have been lucky enough to find two of these lizards while on our invertebrate collecting walks. These secretive lizards are ambush hunters and feed on a wide range of invertebrates. They apparently will also feed on Anole lizards.

A Helmeted Iguana

Helmeted Iguana

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