Published March 23, 2022. Updated November 10, 2023. Open access.

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Speckled Anole (Anolis ventrimaculatus)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Sauria | Anolidae | Anolis ventrimaculatus

English common name: Speckled Anole.

Spanish common names: Anolis ventrimanchado, anolis de vientre moteado.

Recognition: ♂♂ 25.2 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=8.0 cm. ♀♀ 21.3 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=6.9 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 Speckled Anole (Anolis ventrimaculatus) can be identified from other co-occurring anoles based on coloration. In males, the head and body are yellowish green to bright emerald green with pale brown reticulations and yellowish spots.1 In females, it is bright emerald green or greenish-brown with or without a tan longitudinal stripe (Fig. 1).1 The dewlap of males is brown with rows of yellow scales; in females, it is rudimentary.4 The iris is dark brown with a yellowish-brown inner ring.1 Anolis ventrimaculatus co-occurs and can be confused with A. aequatorialis and A. gemmosus, from which it differs by having a mottled belly and a different dewlap coloration.

Figure showing variation among individuals of Anolis ventrimaculatus

Figure 1: Individuals of Anolis ventrimaculatus from Manizales, Caldas department, Colombia.

Natural history: Anolis ventrimaculatus is a diurnal and arboreal anole that occurs in moderately high densities in the understory of evergreen montane forests.1,2 At night, Speckled Anoles can be found sleeping on leaves, ferns, and twigs 50–280 cm above ground, with their body along the plant’s longitudinal axis, with the head pointed towards the base of the perch and with the tail hanging.5 Some individuals use the same perch repeatedly.5,6 Speckled Anoles are insectivores and can be considered generalist-opportunistic predators that forage mainly on arboreal perches (particularly plants of the genera Heliconia and Pteridium) and on the ground.5,7 Their diet is based primarily on hemipterans, beetles, and ants, but also includes insects of the orders Orthoptera (like crickets), Lepidoptera (like moths), Diptera (like fruit flies), arachnids, pseudoscorpions, opilionids, centipedes, isopods, and shed skin.5,7 Anoles of this species change their dorsal coloration when disturbed, going from bright emerald green, or greenish-brown, to yellowish brown.1 Anolis ventrimaculatus is an oviparous reptile. One adult female in Ecuador laid a clutch of one white egg that measured 17.1 x 6.4 mm.1 Males defend territories and court females using visual signals such as head bobs and dewlap displays.8

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Conservation: Least Concern Believed to be safe from extinction given current circumstances..9 Anolis ventrimaculatus is listed in this category given its wide distribution, presence in protected areas, and lack of major widespread threats.9 This species is common in some areas and does not appear to be declining.9 In Ecuador, A. ventrimaculatus has been recorded in Dracula Reserve.

Distribution: Anolis ventrimaculatus is distributed along the western and central cordilleras of Colombia to the northwestern slopes of the Andes in Ecuador (Fig. 2).

Distribution of Anolis ventrimaculatus in Ecuador

Figure 2: Distribution of Anolis ventrimaculatus 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.10 The specific epithet ventrimaculatus, which comes from the Latin words venter (=belly) and macula (=blotch),11 refers to the speckled ventral pattern.

See it in the wild: In Ecuador, Speckled Anoles are easy to find at El Cristal, Esmeraldas province, and San Pablo River, near Chical, Carchi province. Although these lizards are active during the day, they are more easily located at night, as they will be roosting on small leaves and twigs where their bright whitish bellies stand out when lit with a flashlight.

Author: Laura Gómez-MesaaAffiliation: Escuela de Ciencias Aplicadas e Ingeniería, Universidad EAFIT, Medellín, Colombia.

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

Photographer: Jose VieiracAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.,dAffiliation: ExSitu, Quito, Ecuador.

How to cite? Gómez-Mesa L (2022) Speckled Anole (Anolis ventrimaculatus). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/EHWQ5445

Literature cited:

  1. Ayala-Varela F, Velasco JA, Calderón-Espinosa M, Arteaga AF, Sagredo Y, Valverde S (2015) First records of Anolis ventrimaculatus Boulenger, 1911 (Squamata: Iguanidae) in Ecuador. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 8: 136–140.
  2. Calderón-Espinosa M, Ortega-León ÁM, Zamora-Abrego JG (2013) Intraspecific variation in body size and shape in an Andean highland anole species, Anolis ventrimaculatus (Squamata: Dactyloidae). Revista de Biología Tropical 61: 255–262.
  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. Ayala-Varela F, Torres-Carvajal O (2010) A new species of dactyloid anole (Iguanidae, Polychrotinae, Anolis) from the southeastern slopes of the Andes of Ecuador. ZooKeys 53: 59–73. DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.53.456
  5. García González MX (2011) Estructura poblacional, uso nocturno de hábitat y dieta de Anolis ventrimaculatus (Squamata: Polychrotidae) en un bosque de niebla sobre la Cordillera Occidental del Colombia. BSc thesis, Universidad del Valle, 87 pp.
  6. Kattan GH (1984) Sleeping perch selection in the lizard Anolis ventrimaculatus. Biotropica 16: 328–329.
  7. Barragán-Contreras LA, Calderón-Espinosa M (2013) What do Anolis eat? Evaluation of sexual dimorphism and geographic variation in the diet of Anolis ventrimaculatus (Squamata: Dactyloidae) in Colombia. Actualidades Biológicas 35: 199–208.
  8. Field notes, Reptiles of Ecuador book project.
  9. Bolívar W, Castañeda MR, Velasco J (2020) Anolis ventrimaculatus. The IUCN Red List of threatened species. DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-3.RLTS.T178679A18976833.en
  10. Allsopp R (1996) Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 776 pp.
  11. 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 ventrimaculatus in Ecuador (Fig. 2). Go to the section on symbols and abbreviations for a list of acronyms used.

ColombiaNariñoAtaquer, 3 km W ofiNaturalist
ColombiaNariñoÑambiAyala-Varela et al. 2015
ColombiaNariñoOspina PéreziNaturalist
ColombiaNariñoReserva La PlanadaAyala-Varela et al. 2015
ColombiaNariñoReserva Natural La NutriaiNaturalist
ColombiaNariñoReserva Natural Río ÑambiAyala-Varela et al. 2015
ColombiaNariñoTejada, 12 km NE ofiNaturalist
EcuadorCarchiDracula ReservePhoto by EcoMinga
EcuadorCarchiRío San Pablo, cerca de ChicalAyala-Varela et al. 2015
EcuadorCarchiVía Chical a GuanchalThis work
EcuadorEsmeraldasEl CristalAyala-Varela et al. 2015
EcuadorImbaburaLitaAyala-Varela et al. 2015