COSTA RICAN LIZARD HIGHLIGHTS CONTINUED…
We encountered many species of anole (or anolis) lizards during the trip and my favourite was undoubtedly this one, which also just happened to be the largest of them. This species is known as the pug-nosed anole, not exactly the most flattering name for such a beautiful animal!
As you can see from the below this species of anole does demonstrate fairly good camouflage against the moss-covered tree bark. Unfortunately this isn’t as clear in the picture as it was in real life because I had to use my camera flash due to the area it was in being quite dark, this means that the anole stands out from the tree in the picture more than it really did!
Most of the other anoles we saw were much smaller than this one and unfortunately they are difficult to identify to species level because many of them look very similar to each other. The only way to reliably identify them is to witness the males displaying, which they do by extending a large flap of skin on their throat (called a dewlap) which is usually very brightly coloured and a different colour than that of the lizard itself. When I first got started with keeping lizards in my childhood I kept green anole lizards from the south-eastern USA, these have a bright pink dewlap on a green or brown body. Sadly during the entire trip to Costa Rica I didn’t see a single anole displaying!! Here are some of the other lovely individuals we saw anyway:
One other group of lizards of which we encountered a few different kinds were the ameivas, also sometimes known as jungle-runners, whiptails or (as Nick told us when we found the first one) bush motorbikes because of their incredible speed!! This first one is known as the four-lined ameiva and was one which I found basking in shafts of sunlight on the rainforest floor in the grounds of Maquenque Eco-Lodge:
This next one is a male Central American ameiva basking in the grounds of Luna Lodge on the Osa Peninsula, quite a different colour and pattern from the one above as you can see:
Sometimes the male Central American ameiva’s tail is bright turquoise and whilst this one wasn’t, we did find one that was. The problem was that their speed (when they weren’t basking like the ones above) made photographing them very tricky! This is the best photograph I got of a blue tailed male, just the tail and none of the body at all!
The final species of ameiva we found was the lovely reticulated ameiva, this species was only seen once on our final day in Costa Rica but it was worth the wait because it was spectacularly beautiful – once again the photograph just doesn’t do it any justice at all!
The final lizard I’m going to show here was a reticulated night lizard, a very different species indeed to all of the above! Despite its common name it is a species usually active at dawn and dusk and we saw two of them at dusk at La Selva Bi0logical Station. This species is a small cave or burrow-dweller and will only ever bask really close to its burrow, as seen in the picture below. They are very secretive and will usually disappear into their burrow if disturbed, so we took great care to keep our distance in order to get a couple of pictures of them! They lack eyelids and have a very granular scale structure, quite different from all of the lizards above. It was a pleasure to see these lizards in the wild as I had never seen one before, not even in captivity!
The lizards on this page do not by any means represent all of the lizards I encountered on my trip to Costa Rica but they are certainly my favourite species of the ones we saw! I will very much hope to visit Costa Rica again one day to see if I can find some of the many many species I didn’t see this time around!