Published June 23, 2023. Open access.

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Lyre Anole (Anolis lyra)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Sauria | Anolidae | Anolis lyra

English common name: Lyre Anole.

Spanish common name: Anolis cabeza de lira.

Recognition: ♂♂ 20.5 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=7.7 cm. ♀♀ 17.8 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=7.3 cm..13 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. The Lyre Anole (Anolis lyra) can be differentiated from all other co-occurring anoles by having a small dewlap with a dark central spot, and a lyre-shaped symbol in the occipital region.1,4 In males, the dewlap is orange-red. In females, it is dingy white (Fig. 1). During the daytime, Lyre Anoles have a variegated brownish coloration that resembles tree bark; at night, sleeping individuals assume a whitish coloration.

Figure showing variation among individuals of Anolis lyra

Figure 1: Individuals of Anolis lyra from Ecuador: Cerro de Hayas, Guayas province (); Kapari Lodge, Pichincha province ().

Natural history: Anolis lyra is a frequently encountered diurnal lizard that inhabits old-growth to moderately disturbed rainforests.2,5 This species also occurs in semi-open human-modified habitats such as plantations,4 roadside vegetation and border of pastures.2 During the day, Lyre Anoles dwell on leaf-litter or on shrubs,6 but generally prefer tree trunks up to 10 m above the ground.17 Thus, they are aptly included in the “floor-trunk” anole ecomorph.8 The average perch diameter is around 19 cm.7 Individuals have been seen active during the early afternoon, perched on shrubs lit by filtered sun.7 At night, they roost on flimsy branches, leaves, and twigs at 0.8–15 m above the ground.2 Anolis lyra is an insectivorous species. Its diet includes primarily caterpillars, crickets, and grasshoppers, but also butterflies, moths,9 dragonflies, centipedes, and plant matter.7 When grabbed by a predator, these lizards can shed the tail, which remains wiggling on the ground.2 Anolis lyra is an oviparous species,10 but the clutch size and nesting sites are not known.

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Conservation: Least Concern Believed to be safe from extinction given current circumstances..11 Anolis lyra is listed in this category given its wide distribution over areas that have not been heavily affected by deforestation and its presence in several protected areas in Colombia and Ecuador.11 Therefore, the species is considered to be facing no major immediate extinction threats. The most important threat for the long-term survival of some populations is large-scale deforestation caused by the expansion of the agricultural frontier.

Distribution: Anolis lyra is distributed throughout the Chocoan lowlands of western Colombia and northwestern Ecuador (Fig. 2).

Distribution of Anolis lyra in Ecuador

Figure 2: Distribution of Anolis lyra in Ecuador. The star corresponds to the type locality: Finca Victoria, Pichincha 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.12 The specific epithet lyra is a Greek word and refers to the lyre-shaped marking on the back of the head.1

See it in the wild: Lyre Anoles are easily located in forested areas throughout the species’ area of distribution. They can be spotted at night along forest borders or trails while they sleep on leaves and twigs. Anolis lyra is particularly common in Canandé Reserve and Río Silanche Wildlife Sanctuary.

Author: Alejandro ArteagaaAffiliation: Khamai Foundation, Quito, Ecuador.

Photographer: Jose VieirabAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.,cAffiliation: ExSitu, Quito, Ecuador.

How to cite? Arteaga A (2023) Lyre Anole (Anolis lyra). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/CLWX8078

Literature cited:

  1. Poe S, Velasco J, Miyata K, Williams EE (2009) Descriptions of two nomen nudum species of Anolis lizard from Northwestern South America. Breviora 516: 1–16.
  2. Field notes, Reptiles of Ecuador book project.
  3. Ayala-Varela F, Carvajal-Campos A (2022) Anolis lyra. In: Torres-Carvajal O, Pazmiño-Otamendi G, Ayala-Varela F, Salazar-Valenzuela D (Eds) Reptiles del Ecuador. Museo de Zoología, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador. Available from:
  4. Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Guayasamin JM (2013) The amphibians and reptiles of Mindo. Universidad Tecnológica Indoamérica, Quito, 257 pp.
  5. Cruz-García K, Cisneros-Heredia DF, Sánchez-Nivicela JC, Amador L (2020) New records of four reptile species (Lepidosauria, Squamata) from the province of Guayas, southwestern Ecuador. Check List 16: 765–772. DOI: 10.15560/16.3.1765
  6. Rengifo-Palacios MY, Rengifo JT, Serna JE (2021) Diversidad de Anolis (Lacertilia: Dactyloidae) en bosque pluvial tropical, del Chocó-Colombia. Revista Colombiana de Ciencia Animal-RECIA 13: e729. DOI: 10.24188/recia.v13.n1.2021.729
  7. Boada Viteri EA (2015) Ecología de una comunidad de lagartijas del género Anolis (Iguanidae: Dactyloinae) de un bosque pie-montano del Ecuador occidental. BSc thesis, Quito, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, 111 pp.
  8. Moreno-Arias R, Velasco JA, Urbina Cardona J, Cárdenas-Arévalo G, Medina Rangel G, Gutiérrez Cárdenas P, Olaya-Rodriguez M, Noguera-Urbano E (2021) Atlas de la biodiversidad de Colombia. Anolis. Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt, Bogotá, 72 pp.
  9. Photo by Felipe Campos.
  10. Uetz P, Freed P, Hošek J (2021) The reptile database. Available from:
  11. Velasco J, Castañeda MR, Bolívar W (2020) Anolis lyra. The IUCN Red List of threatened species. Available from: DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-3.RLTS.T44577452A44577457.en.
  12. Allsopp R (1996) Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 776 pp.

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

ColombiaNariñoUniversidad Nacional de Colombia, Sede NariñoPinto-Erazo et al. 2020
ColombiaValle del CaucaTimbiquíiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorBolívarRío VerdeArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorCañarEl ChorroReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorCañarHidroeléctrica OcañaMZUA.RE.0195; examined
EcuadorCarchiChinambíPhoto by Andreas Kay
EcuadorCarchiComunidad El BabosoiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorCarchiDestacamento Militar Tobar DonosoYánez-Muñoz et al. 2009
EcuadorCarchiRío San JuánYánez-Muñoz et al. 2009
EcuadorChimborazoCumandáPhoto by Eduardo Zavala
EcuadorCotopaxiBosque Privado El Jardín de los SueñosPellet 2017
EcuadorEl OroCascadas de Manuel Yánez-Muñoz et al. 2014
EcuadorEl OroPlayas de DaucayiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEl OroReserva Biológica BuenaventuraReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEl OroYacuviñaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasAlto TamboArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasBilsaOrtega-Andrade et al. 2010
EcuadorEsmeraldasBosque Protector La PerlaPhoto by Paul Hamilton
EcuadorEsmeraldasCabeceras de BilsaAlmendariz & Carr 2007
EcuadorEsmeraldasCaimitoReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasCanandé Biological ReserveReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasCerro ZapayoiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasCresta San FranciscoArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasDurangoPhoto by Morley Read
EcuadorEsmeraldasEl RanchoiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasFinca de Carlos VásquezPhoto by Carlos Vásquez
EcuadorEsmeraldasGualpiReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasLa Concordia–Pedro Vicente MaldonadoReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasLa Concordia, CayapasiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasLaguna de CubeArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasLote SalvadoresReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasMayronga, LagartoArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasMompichePhoto by Alberto Edwin
EcuadorEsmeraldasPlaya de OroiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasQuinindé, 18 km E ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasRío AchioteReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasRío Hoja BlancaReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasSalto del BravoArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasSan Lorenzo, 5 km S ofOnline multimedia
EcuadorEsmeraldasSan Miguel de CayapasQCAZ 2224; Ayala-Varela & Carvajal-Campos 2022
EcuadorEsmeraldasTundaloma LodgeReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorGuayasCerro de HayasCruz-García et al. 2020
EcuadorGuayasRancho AlemánQCAZ 18218; Ayala-Varela & Carvajal-Campos 2022
EcuadorImbaburaLita, 5 km E ofArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorLos RíosBuena FéPoe et al. 2009
EcuadorLos RíosCentro Científico Río PalenquePoe et al. 2009
EcuadorLos RíosHacienda Cerro ChicoReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorManabíFinca El SilencioiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorManabíReserva Jama CoaqueLynch et al. 2016
EcuadorManabíThree Forests TrailPhoto by Paul Maier
EcuadorPichinchaCascadas de MindoReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorPichinchaCascadas El NaranjaliNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorPichinchaFinca Victoria*Poe et al. 2009
EcuadorPichinchaHostería Selva VirgenReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorPichinchaKapari LodgeReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorPichinchaLa Belle Vue LodgeiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorPichinchaPedro Vicente MaldonadoQCAZ 4088; Ayala-Varela & Carvajal-Campos 2022
EcuadorPichinchaPedro Vicente Maldonado, 10 km W ofQCAZ 9743; Ayala-Varela & Carvajal-Campos 2022
EcuadorPichinchaPuerto QuitoPoe et al. 2009
EcuadorPichinchaReserva Mashpi ShungoReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorPichinchaReserva Natural MangalomaPhoto by Andreas Kay
EcuadorPichinchaRío Silanche Bird SanctuaryReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasCentro de Interpretación OtongachiBoada Viteri 2015
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasFinca TinalandiaPoe et al. 2009
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasPuente del Río BabaQCAZ 14165; Ayala-Varela & Carvajal-Campos 2022
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasSanto Domingo de los ColoradosPoe et al. 2009