Published June 27, 2023. Open access.

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Blotchbelly Anole (Anolis maculiventris)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Sauria | Anolidae | Anolis maculiventris

English common name: Blotchbelly Anole.

Spanish common name: Anolis ventripunteado, anolis de vientre blanco.

Recognition: ♂♂ 12.9 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=4.6 cm. ♀♀ 13.1 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=4.9 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 Blotchbelly Anole (Anolis maculiventris) can be identified from other co-occurring anoles based on its small size, uniformly brownish dorsal coloration, and its red dewlap with rows of white scales.3 Under stress, the dorsal coloration can turn much darker, especially on the back and head.1 Females usually have a pale cream vertebral stripe (Fig. 1) and no dewlap.1 In western Ecuador, the only other brown anole having a red dewlap is A. sagrei, but this introduced species has so far been recorded only in the vicinity of Guayaquil.

Figure showing variation among individuals of Anolis maculiventris

Figure 1: Individuals of Anolis maculiventris: Tundaloma Lodge, Esmeraldas province, Ecuador (); Morromico Lodge, Chocó department, Colombia (); Canandé Reserve, Esmeraldas province, Ecuador (). j=juvenile.

Natural history: Anolis maculiventris is usually the most common anole in the areas where it occurs. Although it inhabits old-growth rainforests,3 it is more abundant in semi-open human-modified habitats such as regrowth forests, planted forests, crops, roadside vegetation, and border of pastures.2,4 Blotchbelly Anoles are included in the “grass-bush” anole ecomorph5 because they primarily use the undergrowth and herbaceous forest strata. During cloudy and sunny days, they perch, bask, and forage primarily on the base of tree trunks or on low branches,6 but also dwell on stems, twigs, leaves, and palm fronds.2,7 The average perch diameter is around 6 mm, much thinner than that used by other co-ocurring anoles.4 At night, they roost on flimsy branches, leaves, ferns, and twigs at 0.7–3 m above the ground.2 Anolis maculiventris is an insectivorous species. In Ecuador, the diet of a sampled population consisted primarily of crickets, grasshoppers, and spiders, but also included beetles, caterpillars, and centipedes.4 In Colombia, a studied population consumed mostly ants and beetles.6 When grabbed by a predator, these lizards can shed the tail, which remains wiggling on the ground.2 The snake Imantodes cenchoa is often found feeding on A. maculiventris.2 This species is oviparous,8 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..9 Anolis maculiventris is listed in this category because it is widely distributed, especially over areas that have not been heavily affected by deforestation, like the Colombian Pacific coast.10 The species appears to have stable populations, occurs in protected areas, and thrives in some human-modified environments. Therefore, A. maculiventris is considered to be facing no major immediate extinction threats.

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

Distribution of Anolis maculiventris in Ecuador

Figure 2: Distribution of Anolis maculiventris in Ecuador. The star corresponds to the type locality: Paramba, Imbabura 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.11 The specific epithet maculiventris comes from the Latin macula (=spot) and venter (=belly),12 and refers to the spotted abdomen.

See it in the wild: Blotchbelly 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 maculiventris is particularly common in Canandé Reserve and Hostería Tinalandia.

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) Blotchbelly Anole (Anolis maculiventris). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/CDOF9590

Literature cited:

  1. Ayala SC, Williams EE (1988) New or problematic Anolis from Colombia. 6. Two fuscoauratoid anoles from the Pacific lowlands, A. maculiventris Boulenger, 1898 and A. medemi, a new species from Gorgona Island. Breviora 490: 1–16.
  2. Field notes, Reptiles of Ecuador book project.
  3. Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Guayasamin JM (2013) The amphibians and reptiles of Mindo. Universidad Tecnológica Indoamérica, Quito, 257 pp.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Pinilla-Renteria E, Rengifo-Mosquera JT, Salas Londoño J (2015) Dimorphism, habitat use and diet for Anolis maculiventris (Lacertilia: Dactyloidae), in tropical rainforest in Chocó, Colombia. Acta Biológica Colombiana 20: 89–100. DOI: 10.15446/abc
  7. Fitch HS, Echelle AF, Echelle AA (1976) Field observations on rare or little known mainland anoles. The University of Kansas Science Bulletin 5: 91–128. DOI: 10.5962/bhl.part.24957
  8. Uetz P, Freed P, Hošek J (2021) The reptile database. Available from:
  9. Velasco J, Castañeda MR, Bolívar W (2020) Anolis maculiventris. The IUCN Red List of threatened species. Available from: DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-3.RLTS.T44577194A44577197.en
  10. Hansen MC, Potapov PV, Moore R, Hancher M, Turubanova SA, Tyukavina A, Thau D, Stehman SV, Goetz SJ, Loveland TR, Kommareddy A, Egorov A, Chini L, Justice CO, Townshend JRG (2013) High-resolution global maps of 21st-century forest cover change. Science 342: 850–853. DOI: 10.1126/science.1244693
  11. Allsopp R (1996) Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 776 pp.
  12. Brown RW (1956) Composition of scientific words. Smithsonian Books, Washington D.C., 882 pp.

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

ColombiaNariñoAltaquerICN 8397; Calderon, Lynch, Raz, Agudelo 2023
ColombiaNariñoEl PalmichalPinto-Erazo et al. 2020
ColombiaNariñoEstación Mar AgrícolaPinto-Erazo et al. 2020
ColombiaNariñoLa EspriellaMLS 1755; Cárdenas Hincapié & Lozano Bernal 2022
ColombiaNariñoLa GuayacanaAyala & Williams 1988
ColombiaNariñoReserva Natural La Planada, environs ofOnline multimedia
ColombiaNariñoTangareal del MiraAyala & Williams 1988
ColombiaNariñoTumacoiNaturalist; photo examined
ColombiaNariñoUniversidad Nacional de Colombia, Sede NariñoPinto-Erazo et al. 2020
EcuadorCarchiCabaña en Río BlancoiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorCarchiChicalAyala-Varela et al. 2015
EcuadorCarchiChinambíReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorCarchiMaldonado, 1 km N ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorCarchiPeñas BlancasReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorCarchiSan Pablo riverReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorCarchiSendero AwaYanez-Muñoz 2009
EcuadorCarchiTobar DonosoYanez-Muñoz 2009
EcuadorCotopaxiChorrera SapanalArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorCotopaxiEl Jardín de los SueñosPellet 2017
EcuadorCotopaxiFinca de la familia TapiaArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorCotopaxiFinca YakusinchiPhoto by Jane Sloan
EcuadorEsmeraldasAlto TamboArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasBilsa Biological ReserveOrtega-Andrade et al. 2010
EcuadorEsmeraldasBloque SirúaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasBosque Protector La ChiquitaAyala & Williams 1988
EcuadorEsmeraldasBosque Protector La PerlaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasCachabiAyala & Williams 1988
EcuadorEsmeraldasCanandé Biological ReserveNarváez et al. 2019
EcuadorEsmeraldasDurangoArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasFinca de Carlos VásquezPhoto by Carlos Vásquez
EcuadorEsmeraldasGualpiReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasLa ConcordiaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasLa TolaArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasLagartoArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasLote QuijanoYanez-Muñoz 2005
EcuadorEsmeraldasLote RoseroReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasLote VentanasYánez-Muñoz 2005
EcuadorEsmeraldasMaldonadoArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasMonte SaínoArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasPichiyacuArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasRío CachabiAyala & Williams 1988
EcuadorEsmeraldasRío OnzoleArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasSalto del BravoArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasSan LorenzoAyala & Williams 1988
EcuadorEsmeraldasTundaloma LodgeReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorImbaburaLitaAyala & Williams 1988
EcuadorImbaburaParamba*Boulenger 1898
EcuadorImbaburaSiete CascadasReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorManabíCerro Pata de PájaroReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorPichinchaEl Abrazo del ÁrbolReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorPichinchaEscaleraiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorPichinchaHacienda La HesperiaBrouwer 2018
EcuadorPichinchaLas TolasCarrera et al. 2009
EcuadorPichinchaMaquipucuna ReservePhoto by Arthur Moris
EcuadorPichinchaMashpi ReserveReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorPichinchaMilpe Bird SanctuaryReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorPichinchaNanegal, 2 km N ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorPichinchaNanegalitoiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorPichinchaPedro Vicente Maldonado, 10 km W ofQCAZ 9751; Ayala-Varela & Carvajal-Campos 2022.
EcuadorPichinchaRío SaloyaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasBosque Integral OtongachiBoada Viteri 2015
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasEl EsfuerzoUIMNH 65969; not examined
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasHostería TinalandiaReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasSanto Domingo de los ColoradosArteaga et al. 2013