Published July 18, 2023. Updated November 20, 2023. Open access. Peer-reviewed.

Gallery ❯

Striped Bachia (Bachia trisanale)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Sauria | Gymnophthalmidae | Bachia trisanale

English common names: Striped Bachia, Stacy’s Bachia.

Spanish common names: Lagartija amazónica de patas cortas.

Recognition: ♂♂ 18.0 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=7.2 cm. ♀♀ 19.9 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=7.9 cm..1,2 This wormlike microteiid is unmistakable among leaf-litter lizards in the Ecuadorian Amazon by lacking an external ear and by having rudimentary forelimbs and hind limbs reduced to extremely short stubs.14 Older individuals may have no hind limbs at all. The dorsal surfaces are light tan with a series of blackish longitudinal lines alternating with pale lines (Fig. 1).4 No other lizard in Ecuador fits this description.

Figure showing variation among individuals of Bachia trisanale

Figure 1: Individuals of Bachia trisanale from Canelos, Pastaza province, Ecuador.

Natural history: Bachia trisanale is a rarely encountered lizard that inhabits old growth terra-firme rainforests.2,3 The species also occurs in forest edges, clearings, and human residential areas.14 Striped Bachias are diurnal and primarily fossorial.5 Individuals have been dug out of sandy soil,1 taken from beneath or inside decaying logs, and found in leaf-litter.2,3 They are occasionally seen above the ground on leaf-litter, grass,2 in trenches,1 or collected in pitfall traps.5 The diet in this species includes beetles and their larvae, earthworms, termites, and centipedes.1,2 When startled, these reptiles move in an erratic way and quickly take refuge in the leaf-litter. They are also quick to shed their fragile tail as a distraction to predators.5 There are records of snakes (Micrurus helleri,6 Siphlophis cervinus,1 and Taeniophallus occipitalis2) preying upon individuals of B. trisanale.1 Gravid females containing two oviductal eggs have been found in Ecuador1,7 and Peru,2,3 but the real clutch size is not known.

Reader support helps us keep the Reptiles of Ecuador book 100% free.

Conservation: Least Concern Believed to be safe from extinction given current circumstances..8 Bachia trisanale is included in this category mainly on the basis of the species’ wide distribution throughout the Amazon basin, its presence in protected areas, and lack of major widespread threats. The comparatively low number of records of B. trisanale throughout its range seems to be due to the species’ fossorial habits rather than to actual low population densities.

Distribution: Bachia trisanale is native to the western Amazon basin in Brazil, Ecuador (Fig. 2), and Peru.9

Distribution of Bachia trisanale in Ecuador

Figure 2: Distribution of Bachia trisanale in Ecuador. See Appendix 1 for a complete list of the presence localities included in the map.

Etymology: The generic name Bachia does not appear to be a reference to any feature of this group of lizards, but a matter of personal taste. John Edward Gray usually selected girl’s names to use on reptiles.1013 The specific epithet trisanale comes from the Latin words tris (=three)14 and anus, and refers to the number of parallel anal plates in this species.15

See it in the wild: Due to their fossorial habits, Striped Bachias are unlikely to be seen by most visitors to the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. Although these shy reptiles may occasionally be seen crawling at surface level, they are most easily found by actively raking the leaf-litter or by turning over logs along primary rainforest trails. In Ecuador, the area having the greatest number of Bachia trisanale observations is the valley of the Río Upano, near the city Macas.

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

Academic reviewer: Jeffrey D CamperbAffiliation: Department of Biology, Francis Marion University, Florence, USA.

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

How to cite? Arteaga A (2023) Striped Bachia (Bachia trisanale). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/VIAH8106

Literature cited:

  1. Duellman WE (1978) The biology of an equatorial herpetofauna in Amazonian Ecuador. Publications of the Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas 65: 1–352.
  2. Duellman WE (2005) Cusco amazónico: the lives of amphibians and reptiles in an Amazonian rainforest. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 433 pp.
  3. Dixon JR, Soini P (1986) The reptiles of the upper Amazon Basin, Iquitos region, Peru. Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee, 154 pp.
  4. Dixon JR (1973) A systematic review of the teiid lizards, genus Bachia, with remarks on Heterodactylus and Anotosaura. Miscellaneous Publications of the Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas 57: 1–47.
  5. Field notes, Reptiles of Ecuador book project.
  6. Roze JA (1996) Coral snakes of the Americas: biology, indentification, and venoms. Krieger Publishing Company, Malabar, 328 pp.
  7. Almendáriz A (1987) Contribución al conocimiento de la herpetofauna centroriental Ecuatoriana. Revista Politécnica 12: 77–133.
  8. Aparicio J, Avila-Pires TCS, Moravec J, Perez P (2019) Bachia trisanale. The IUCN Red List of threatened species. Available from: DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-2.RLTS.T178683A44956726.en
  9. Ribeiro-Junior MA, Amaral S (2017) Catalogue of distribution of lizards (Reptilia: Squamata) from the Brazilian Amazonia. IV. Alopoglossidae, Gymnophthalmidae. Zootaxa 4269: 151–196. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4269.2.1
  10. Gray JE (1831) Description of a new genus of ophisaurean animal, discovered by the late James Hunter in New Holland. Treuttel, Würtz & Co., London, 40 pp.
  11. Gray JE (1831) A synopsis of the species of the class Reptilia. In: Griffith E, Pidgeon E (Eds) The animal kingdom arranged in conformity with its organization. Whittaker, Treacher, & Co., London, 1–110.
  12. Gray JE (1838) Catalogue of the slender-tongued saurians, with descriptions of many new genera and species. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 1: 274–283.
  13. Gray JE (1945) Catalogue of the specimens of lizards in the collection of the British Museum. Trustees of the British Museum, London, 289 pp.
  14. Brown RW (1956) Composition of scientific words. Smithsonian Books, Washington D.C., 882 pp.
  15. Cope ED (1868) An examination of the Reptilia and Batrachia obtained by the Orton Expedition to Equador and the Upper Amazon, with notes on other species. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 20: 96–140.

Appendix 1: Locality data used to create the distribution map of Bachia trisanale in Ecuador (Fig. 2). Go to the section on symbols and abbreviations for a list of acronyms used.

EcuadorMorona SantiagoChiguazaUSNM 163449; VertNet
EcuadorMorona SantiagoComunidad Shuar KunkukQCAZ 16101; Carvajal-Campos 2020
EcuadorMorona SantiagoFinca El PiuraiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorMorona SantiagoLimónKU 154665; VertNet
EcuadorMorona SantiagoMacasDixon 1973
EcuadorMorona SantiagoMacumaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorMorona SantiagoRío CusuimeOrtega-Andrade 2010
EcuadorMorona SantiagoRío GuachirpasaOrtega-Andrade 2010
EcuadorMorona SantiagoShuin MamusiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorMorona SantiagoSucúaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorMorona SantiagoSucúa, 3.2 km E ofDixon 1973
EcuadorMorona SantiagoTurulaAMNH 14574; VertNet
EcuadorNapoEstación Biológica Jatun SachaVigle 2008
EcuadorNapoHacienda George KiederleUSNM 196073; VertNet
EcuadorNapoHuella Verde LodgeReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorNapoRío PucunoUSNM 196074; VertNet
EcuadorNapoSan José Viejo de SumacoUSNM 524104; VertNet
EcuadorNapoTenaDixon 1973
EcuadorNapoUniversidad IkiamiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorNapoYachana ReserveBeirne et al. 2013
EcuadorOrellanaEl CocaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorOrellanaReserva Río BigalGarcía et al. 2021
EcuadorOrellanaRío CononacoPeracca 1897
EcuadorOrellanaRío NashiñoQCAZ 5491; Carvajal-Campos 2020
EcuadorOrellanaSector San CarlosQCAZ 14616; Carvajal-Campos 2020
EcuadorOrellanaTiputini Biodiversity Station Cisneros-Heredia 2003
EcuadorPastazaChontoaOrtega-Andrade 2010
EcuadorPastazaPaloraiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorPastazaPozo Petrolero MisiónAlmendáriz 1987
EcuadorPastazaRío VillanoOrtega-Andrade 2010
EcuadorPastazaSarayacuReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorPastazaTeresa MamaUSNM 196077; VertNet
EcuadorSucumbíosBlancaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorSucumbíosLago AgrioDuellman 1973
EcuadorSucumbíosLimoncocha Biological ReserveUIMNH 54381; collection database
EcuadorSucumbíosPuerto LibreKU 122194; VertNet
EcuadorSucumbíosSanta Cecilia Duellman 1978
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeYantzazaUMMZ 82875; VertNet
PeruAmazonasAintamiMVZ 163080; VertNet
PeruAmazonasAramango, 5 km NE ofLSUMZ 19631; VertNet
PeruAmazonasChiriaco, 13 km SW ofLSUMZ 19633; VertNet
PeruAmazonasHuambisa VillageMVZ 174853; VertNet
PeruAmazonasHuampamiMCZ 182068; VertNet
PeruAmazonasKayamasUSNM 316773; VertNet
PeruAmazonasLa PozaMVZ 174851; VertNet
PeruAmazonasPaagatUSNM 316777; VertNet
PeruAmazonasPaisLee et al. 2018
PeruAmazonasShiringaUSNM 568722; VertNet
PeruAmazonasSua, on the Río CenepaUSNM 316775; VertNet
PeruLoretoCerro de KampankisCatenazzi & Venegas 2016
PeruLoretoSanta MaríaTCWC 43343; VertNet