Published April 4, 2022. Updated December 22, 2023. Open access.

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Two-marked Anole (Anolis binotatus)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Sauria | Anolidae | Anolis binotatus

English common names: Two-marked Anole, Roof Anole, West Ecuadorian Anole, White-Ribbon Anole.

Spanish common names: Anolis de dos marcas, anolis de dorso cubierto, anolis de cinta blanca.

Recognition: ♂♂ 17.9 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=5.8 cm. ♀♀ 14.6 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=4.7 cm..1,2 Anoles are easily distinguishable from other lizards by their diurnal habits, extensible dewlap in males, expanded digital pads, and granular scales on the dorsum and belly.3 The Two-marked Anole (Anolis binotatus) is a small brown lizard that can be differentiated from other co-occurring anoles by having a white ventrolateral stripe,4 inverted chevrons on the back, brown iris, and an orange dewlap in males.1,5 Anolis binotatus can be confused with A. gracilipes, a species lacking white ventrolateral stripes and in which males have a saffron yellow dewlap (instead of orange-red).6,7 Males of A. binotatus differ from females by having a dewlap and a thickening at the base of the tail due to the presence of the hemipenes.

Figure showing variation among individuals of Anolis binotatus

Figure 1: Individuals of Anolis binotatus from Ecuador: Hacienda Cerro Chico, Los Ríos province (); Cerro de Hayas, Guayas province (); Buenaventura Reserve, El Oro province (). j=juvenile.

Natural history: Anolis binotatus is a common diurnal lizard that inhabits old-growth to heavily disturbed evergreen lowland forests and seasonally dry forests. This species also occurs in semi-open human-modified habitats such as plantations, roadside vegetation, border of pastures, and planted forests.2,8 During the day, Two-marked Anoles dwell on soil and leaf-litter or on shrubs usually no more than 2 meters above the ground.2,8 At night, these anoles sleep perched on thin branches, leaves, grass blades, twigs of bushes, and wire fences at 3–150 cm above the ground.2 Anolis binotatus is an insectivorous species,2 but the specific prey items consumed have not been reported. There are records of snakes (Bothrops asper and Imantodes cenchoa) preying upon individuals of this species.2 Two-marked Anoles rely primarily on their “dry leaf” camouflage to go unnoticed, but they can also jump to the ground and swiftly run away.2 When grabbed by a predator, Two-marked Anoles can shed the tail, which remains wiggling on the ground while the lizard escapes.2 Anolis binotatus is an oviparous species,9 but the clutch size and nesting sites are not known.

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Conservation: Near Threatened Not currently at risk of extinction, but requires some level of management to maintain healthy populations.. Anolis binotatus is proposed to be listed in this category, instead of Least Concern,10,11 because the species is much less widely-distributed and more affected by deforestation that previously thought. In this work, A. binotatus is considered to be restricted to an area smaller than 30,000 km2 (Fig. 2) where more than 81% of the forest has been converted to pastures, agricultural fields, and human settlements.12 Furthermore, the use of agrochemicals and predation by chickens and cats could affect some populations. Although it could qualify for a threatened category, the species appears well adapted to human-modified environments.

Distribution: Anolis binotatus is endemic to an estimated 27,241 km2 area on the Chocoan–Tumbesian transition area as well as adjacent foothills of the Andes in western Ecuador (Fig. 2).

Distribution of Anolis binotatus in Ecuador

Figure 2: Distribution of Anolis binotatus in Ecuador. The star corresponds to the type locality: Guayaquil, Guayas province. See Appendix 1 for a complete list of the presence localities included in the map.

Etymology: The generic name Anolis is thought to have originated from Cariban languages, specifically from the word anoli, which is the name Arawak peoples may have used to refer to this group of lizards.13 The specific epithet binotatus, which is the combination of the Latin words bi (=two) and notatus (=mark),14 probably refers to the longitudinal marks on the flanks of this species.15

See it in the wild: Two-marked Anoles are easily located in forested areas throughout the species’ area of distribution. The best way to find these lizards is to search for them at night along forest borders or trails while they sleep on thin branches or wire fences. Anolis binotatus appears particularly common in Buenaventura Reserve, Lalo Loor Reserve, and Cerro de Hayas Protected Area.

Notes: In this account, we consider Anolis bitectus16 and A. lemniscatus17 to be junior synonyms of A. binotatus.15 This decision is based on the lack of diagnosable morphological differences between the three forms as well as the close geographical proximity between the type localities (Fig. 2).

Acknowledgments: Special thanks to Lina Parra for helping compile information used in this account.

Authors: Jose VieiraaAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.,bAffiliation: ExSitu, Quito, Ecuador. and Alejandro ArteagacAffiliation: Khamai Foundation, Quito, Ecuador.

Photographer: Jose VieiraaAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.,bAffiliation: ExSitu, Quito, Ecuador.

How to cite? Vieira J, Arteaga A (2022) Two-marked Anole (Anolis binotatus). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/SQSO7747

Literature cited:

  1. Williams EE, Rand H, Rand AS, O’Hara RJ (1995) A computer approach to the comparision and identification of species in difficult taxonomic groups. Breviora 502: 1–47.
  2. Field notes, Reptiles of Ecuador book project.
  3. Peters JA, Donoso-Barros R (1970) Catalogue of the Neotropical Squamata: part II, lizards and amphisbaenians. Bulletin of the United States National Museum, Washington, D.C., 293 pp.
  4. Poe S (2019) Identification key for Anolis: Anolekey 2019.1. Available from:
  5. Castro Herrera F, Ayala SC (1988) Saurios de Colombia. Unpublished, Bogotá, 692 pp.
  6. Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Guayasamin JM (2013) The amphibians and reptiles of Mindo. Universidad Tecnológica Indoamérica, Quito, 257 pp.
  7. MECN (2010) Serie herpetofauna del Ecuador: El Chocó esmeraldeño. Museo Ecuatoriano de Ciencias Naturales, Quito, 232 pp.
  8. Cruz García FK (2017) Diversidad y preferencia de microhábitats de la herpetofauna del Bosque Protector Pedro Franco Dávila (Jauneche) y del Área Provincial Natural de Recreación Cerro de Hayas (Naranjal). BSc thesis, Universidad de Guayaquil, 94 pp.
  9. Uetz P, Freed P, Hošek J (2021) The reptile database. Available from:
  10. Ayala F, Caicedo JR, Calderón M, Ines Hladki A, Ramírez Pinilla M, Renjifo J, Rivas G, Urbina N (2013) Anolis binotatus. The IUCN Red List of threatened species. Available from: DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-3.RLTS.T44577183A44577188.en
  11. Reyes-Puig C (2015) Un método integrativo para evaluar el estado de conservación de las especies y su aplicación a los reptiles del Ecuador. MSc thesis, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, 73 pp.
  12. MAE (2012) Línea base de deforestación del Ecuador continental. Ministerio del Ambiente del Ecuador, Quito, 30 pp.
  13. Allsopp R (1996) Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 776 pp.
  14. Brown RW (1956) Composition of scientific words. Smithsonian Books, Washington D.C., 882 pp.
  15. Peters WCH (1863) Über einige neue Arten der Saurier-Gattung Anolis. Monatsberichte der Königlichen Preussische Akademie des Wissenschaften zu Berlin 1863: 135–149.
  16. Cope ED (1864) Contributions to the herpetology of tropical America. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 16: 166–181.
  17. Boulenger GA (1898) An account of the reptiles and batrachians collected by Mr. Rosenberg in western Ecuador. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 9: 107–126.

Appendix 1: Locality data used to create the distribution map of Anolis binotatus in Ecuador (Fig. 2). Go to the section on symbols and abbreviations for a list of acronyms used. Asterisk (*) indicates type locality.

EcuadorAzuayCacaolomaPhoto by Diego Armijos
EcuadorAzuayCamilo Ponce EnriquezMZUA.Re.0112; examined
EcuadorAzuaySarayungaJosé Manuel Falcón, pers. comm.
EcuadorBolivarCascada MilagrosaReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorBolívarBalzapambaReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorBolívarCalumaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorBolívarMoraspungo, 5 km E ofUSNM 286070; VertNet
EcuadorBolívarPilahuíniNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorBolívarRío ChimboReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorBolívarTelimbelaAyala-Varela et al. 2014
EcuadorCañarRío PatulFelipe Campos, pers. comm.
EcuadorCañarVenturaAMNH 23033; VertNet
EcuadorChimborazoHostería SantValReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorChimborazoNaranjapataCAS 94237; VertNet
EcuadorChimborazoPallatangaCope 1864
EcuadorChimborazoRío ChanchánCAS 94762; VertNet
EcuadorEl OroBuenavista, 7 km SE ofUSNM 234592; VertNet
EcuadorEl OroCascadas de ManuelGarzón-Santomaro et al. 2019
EcuadorEl OroLote TituanaReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEl OroMachala, 7 km ESE ofUSNM 234593; VertNet
EcuadorEl OroÑalacapac Garzón-Santomaro et al. 2019
EcuadorEl OroPasaje, 3 km E ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEl OroRemolinosGarzón-Santomaro et al. 2019
EcuadorEl OroReserva Biológica BuenaventuraBetancourt et al. 2018
EcuadorEl OroReserva Militar ArenillasGarzón-Santomaro et al. 2019
EcuadorEsmeraldasCerro MutilesiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasHacienda CucarachaReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasHacienda de Germán CortezReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasHacienda GuincheleGBIF
EcuadorEsmeraldasPartidero-Poza HondaVázquez et al. 2005
EcuadorEsmeraldasTonchiguePhoto by Martín Carrera
EcuadorGuayasBosque Protector Cerro BlancoSalvatierra et al. 2014
EcuadorGuayasCerro de HayasThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorGuayasCerro El MateReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorGuayasChimboBoulenger 1898
EcuadorGuayasEl TriunfoTorres-Carvajal et al. 2019
EcuadorGuayasEmpalmeUF 83798; VertNet
EcuadorGuayasGuayaquil*Peters 1863
EcuadorGuayasNaranjalMCZ 176377; VertNet
EcuadorGuayasRío CongoUSNM 234590; VertNet
EcuadorGuayasRío de la EsperanzaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorLos RíosBosque Protector Pedro Franco DávilaCruz & Sánchez 2016
EcuadorLos RíosFinca María JoséiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorLos RíosHacienda Cerro ChicoThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorLos RíosLa PlanadaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorLos RíosMontalvoAyala-Varela et al. 2020
EcuadorLos RíosPacaloriMZUA.Re.0163; examined
EcuadorLos RíosQuevedo, 4 km N ofKU 132480; VertNet
EcuadorLos RíosVentanasMCZ 57449; VertNet
EcuadorLos Rios PichilingueMCZ 77377; VertNet
EcuadorManabíBosque Seco Lalo LoorReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorManabíEloy AlfaroPhoto by Regdy Vera
EcuadorManabíReserva Jama CoaqueLynch et al. 2016
EcuadorManabíRío CoaqueKU 218372; VertNet
EcuadorManabíThree Forests TrailPhoto by Paul Maier
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasCrest of Montañas de IláUSNM 285673; VertNet