Published February 17, 2022. Updated October 28, 2023. Open access.

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Chocoan Green Anole (Anolis parvauritus)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Sauria | Anolidae | Anolis parvauritus

English common name: Chocoan Green Anole.

Spanish common names: Anolis verde del Chocó (Ecuador), abaniquillo Verde (Colombia).

Recognition: ♂♂ 26.4 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=8.8 cm. ♀♀ 30.9 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=9.5 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 Chocoan Green Anole (Anolis parvauritus) stands out as the sole green anole in western Ecuador that possesses a tricolored dewlap: orange or yellow towards the external base, yellowish cream on the inner base, and red towards the edge, with rows of black scales.4 The dorsal coloration is vibrant green, although it may shift to brown or blackish under stress, with hints of olive green or bluish-gray shades. The iris is a yellowish-brown, and there are yellow scales encircling the eye.4 Females also possess a dewlap, albeit smaller and of a lighter green shade. Anolis parvauritus may sometimes be confused with other anoles found in the Chocó rainforest, including A. fraseri, A. fasciatus, A. princeps, and A. purpurescens. These other anoles share the green coloration but typically exhibit a transverse banding pattern, which is absent in A. parvauritus. The dewlap in males is also proportionally much larger in these other species and is not tricolored.5

Figure showing variation among individuals of Anolis parvauritus

Figure 1: Individuals of Anolis parvauritus from Esmeraldas province, Ecuador: Tundaloma Lodge (); Canandé Reserve (); Itapoa Reserve (). j=juvenile.

Natural history: Anolis parvauritus, while locally abundant, often escapes notice due to its arboreal habits. This species can be found in a range of habitats, from old-growth to heavily disturbed evergreen lowland forests, pastures with scattered trees, forest edges, and plantations.2,6 Chocoan Greens are diurnal and utilize the middle and upper forest strata, though occasional ground-level encounters are not uncommon.7 They are active on sunny days, especially in the morning,7 on tree trunks and vegetation 2–7 meters above the ground.2,4 At night, they roost on twigs, branches, stems, palm fronds, and leaves, typically at heights ranging from 1.4 to 6 meters above the ground, with their heads oriented upward.1,2,8 Individuals are usually spotted sleeping on branches hanging over rivers and marshes.5 A notable trait of these lizards is their ability to change dorsal coloration when disturbed, transitioning from green to dark brown.2 This cryptic coloration serves as their primary defense mechanism, allowing them to blend into their environment. If captured, they can readily shed the tail as well as portions of their skin. Their diet includes dragonflies, small lizards, and caterpillars.2 Females lay clutches of one egg at a time.9 In some areas of Ecuador, individuals are parasitized by blow fly larvae.8

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Conservation: Least Concern Believed to be safe from extinction given current circumstances..10 Anolis parvauritus is listed in this category primarily on the basis of the species’ wide distribution. The main threat to the long-term survival of some populations is the continuing decline in the extent and quality of the Chocó rainforest, mostly due to encroaching human activities such as agriculture and cattle grazing. In Ecuador, it is estimated that approximately 62% of the species’ habitat has been destroyed (Fig. 2).11 Consequently, A. parvauritus may qualify for a threatened category in the near future if this threat is not addressed.

Distribution: Anolis parvauritus is distributed throughout the Chocoan lowlands and adjacent Andean foothills from western Colombia, including Gorgona Island, to Los Ríos province in Ecuador (Fig. 2).

Distribution of Anolis parvauritus in Ecuador

Figure 2: Distribution of Anolis parvauritus in Ecuador. 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 parvauritus comes from the Latin parvus (=small) and auritus (=tympanum),13 and refers to the small eardrum.

See it in the wild: Chocoan Green Anoles often elude the notice of most rainforest visitors due to their arboreal habits and their leaf-like green coloration. While these lizards are diurnal, they become easier to discover at night. They sleep on twigs and leaves, and their bright whitish bellies become conspicuous when illuminated with a flashlight. Prime locations to encounter Anolis parvauritus are Canandé Reserve, Itapoa Reserve, and Kapari Lodge.

Special thanks to Roy and Laurie Averill-Murray for symbolically adopting the Chocoan Green Anole and helping bring the Reptiles of Ecuador book project to life.

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Author: Lizbeth CorreaaAffiliation: Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Quito, Ecuador.

Editor: Alejandro ArteagabAffiliation: Khamai Foundation, Quito, Ecuador.

Photographers: Jose Vieira,cAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.,dAffiliation: ExSitu, Quito, Ecuador. Sebastián Di Doménico,eAffiliation: Keeping Nature, Bogotá, Colombia. and Alejandro ArteagabAffiliation: Khamai Foundation, Quito, Ecuador.

How to cite? Correa L (2022) Chocoan Green Anole (Anolis parvauritus). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/MIHY1297

Literature cited:

  1. Armstead JV, Ayala-Varela F, Torres-Carvajal O, Ryan MJ, Poe S (2017) Systematics and ecology of Anolis biporcatus (Squamata: Iguanidae). Salamandra 53: 285–293.
  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. MECN (2010) Serie herpetofauna del Ecuador: El Chocó esmeraldeño. Museo Ecuatoriano de Ciencias Naturales, Quito, 232 pp.
  5. Torres-Carvajal O, Pazmiño-Otamendi G, Salazar-Valenzuela D (2019) Reptiles of Ecuador: a resource-rich online portal, with dynamic checklists and photographic guides. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 13: 209–229.
  6. 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.
  7. Williams EE (1966) South American anoles: Anolis biporcatus and Anolis fraseri (Sauria, Iguanidae) compared. Breviora 239: 1–14.
  8. Narváez A, Mármol A, Argoti A (2019) Blow fly infestation on Anolis parvauritus: notes of the effects of myasis on lizard’s behaviour. Herpetology Notes 12: 847–852.
  9. Field notes of Fernando Ayala.
  10. Carrillo E, Aldás A, Altamirano M, Ayala F, Cisneros-Heredia DF, Endara A, Márquez C, Morales M, Nogales F, Salvador P, Torres ML, Valencia J, Villamarín F, Yánez-Muñoz M, Zárate P (2005) Lista roja de los reptiles del Ecuador. Fundación Novum Millenium, Quito, 46 pp.
  11. MAE (2012) Línea base de deforestación del Ecuador continental. Ministerio del Ambiente del Ecuador, Quito, 30 pp.
  12. Allsopp R (1996) Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 776 pp.
  13. 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 parvauritus in Ecuador (Fig. 2). Go to the section on symbols and abbreviations for a list of acronyms used.

ColombiaCaucaGuapiMCZ 160210; VertNet
ColombiaCaucaIsla Gorgona Armstead et al. 2017
ColombiaNariñoBosque del AcueductoPinto-Erazo et al. 2020
ColombiaNariñoCORPOICAPinto-Erazo et al. 2020
ColombiaNariñoDesembocadura del Río CurayMCZ 92657; VertNet
ColombiaNariñoEl PalmichalPinto-Erazo et al. 2020
ColombiaNariñoEstación Mar AgrícolaPinto-Erazo et al. 2020
ColombiaNariñoLa Guayacana, 11 km W ofiNaturalist; photo examined
ColombiaNariñoRio MatajeArmstead et al. 2017
ColombiaNariñoUniversidad Nacional de Colombia, Sede NariñoPinto-Erazo et al. 2020
EcuadorCarchiTobar DonosoSamec & Samec 1988
EcuadorCotopaxiOtongachi ReserveReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasBarroArmstead et al. 2017
EcuadorEsmeraldasBosque Protector La PerlaPhoto by Plácido Palacios
EcuadorEsmeraldasBunche, 2 km E ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasCachabiUSNM 157105; VertNet
EcuadorEsmeraldasCaimitoArmstead et al. 2017
EcuadorEsmeraldasChucubiiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasComunidad Selva AlegreAyala-Varela et al. 2023
EcuadorEsmeraldasDurangoArmstead et al. 2017
EcuadorEsmeraldasFinca de Carlos VásquezPhoto by Carlos Vásquez
EcuadorEsmeraldasFinca del señor AntonioArmstead et al. 2017
EcuadorEsmeraldasGualpiReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasHoja Blanca, 6 km E ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasItapoa ReserveThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorEsmeraldasLa MayrongaField notes of Giovanni Onore
EcuadorEsmeraldasLa YecitaReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasLaguna de CubeArmstead et al. 2017
EcuadorEsmeraldasLitaArmstead et al. 2017
EcuadorEsmeraldasMaldonadoAyala-Varela et al. 2023
EcuadorEsmeraldasPlaya de OroUSNM 20610; VertNet
EcuadorEsmeraldasPlayón de San FranciscoArmstead et al. 2017
EcuadorEsmeraldasPulúnTorres-Carvajal et al. 2019
EcuadorEsmeraldasQuinindé, 3 km N ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasReserva Biológica CanandéArmstead et al. 2017
EcuadorEsmeraldasRío AchioteReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasSan GregorioiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasTesoro EscondidoPhoto by Simon Maddock
EcuadorEsmeraldasTundaloma LodgeThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorEsmeraldasVerdecanandéReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorLos RíosCentro Científico Río PalenqueArmstead et al. 2017
EcuadorLos RíosPatricia PilarMCZ 147197; VertNet
EcuadorManabíBilsa Biological ReserveReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorManabíBoca de PalmitoiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorManabíCojimíesReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorManabíEl CarmenTorres-Carvajal et al. 2019
EcuadorManabíJama Coaque ReservePhoto by Ryan Lynch
EcuadorManabíReserva Lalo LooriNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorManabíThree Forests TrailPhoto by Ryan Lynch
EcuadorPichinchaArashá ResortiNaturalist; photo examined