Published May 14, 2022. Updated November 20, 2023. Open access. Peer-reviewed.

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Long-sleeved Eyed-Lizard (Cercosaura manicata)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Sauria | Gymnophthalmidae | Cercosaura manicata

English common names: Long-sleeved Eyed-Lizard, Slender Eyed Lizard.

Spanish common names: Lagartija colilarga de mangas, lagartija rayada de mangas.

Recognition: ♂♂ 15.8 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=6.5 cm. ♀♀ 16.9 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=7.3 cm..1,2 Species in the genus Cercosaura differ from other similar-sized leaf-litter lizards (particularly those in the genera Anadia, Alopoglossus, Arthrosaura, and Loxopholis) by having keeled and imbricate dorsal scales arranged in rows and scales on flanks smaller than dorsals.1,3 Cercosaura manicata differs from its co-occurring congeners, C. argulus and C. oshaughnessyi, by having a single frontonasal scale instead of a pair of frontonasal scales.2,4 Although C. manicata does not exhibit marked sexual dimorphism,4 males have a more intense orange-red coloration towards the rear of the body (Fig. 1).

Illustration of an adult male of Cercosaura manicata

Figure 1: Illustration of an adult male of Cercosaura manicata.

Natural history: Cercosaura manicata is a rarely seen lizard that inhabits well-preserved2 to moderately disturbed rainforests, which may be terra-firme or seasonally flooded,5 but it also occurs in fragmented and open areas.6 Long-sleeved Eyed-Lizards are active during the day at ambient temperatures around 27–29°C.7 These reptiles are primarily terrestrial and forage actively amidst the leaf-litter,2,7 but they also climb and bask on palm stilts, logs, stems, and shrubs up to 35 cm above the ground.2 In the presence of a disturbance, Long-sleeved Eyed-Lizards take refuge in leaf-litter or among roots.2 The diet of C. manicata is likely composed of a variety of ground-dwelling arthropods, but only spiders and orthopterans have been confirmed as prey items.2 The snake Oxyrhopus petolarius has been reported as a predator of this species.2 Cercosaura manicata an oviparous lizard. Gravid females containing two eggs have been found,2 but the real clutch size is not known. One egg was found under a log.2

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Conservation: Least Concern Believed to be safe from extinction given current circumstances..6 Cercosaura manicata is included in this category because it is widely distributed over areas that have not been heavily affected by deforestation. Thus, the species is believed to be facing no major immediate extinction threats.6 However, since C. manicata is a rare lizard associated with well-preserved forests, some populations are likely declining due to the continuous loss of forest habitat caused by the expansion of the agricultural frontier, mining, and oil development.6 It is necessary to know more about the ecology, distribution, and population trend of C. manicata in order to assess the true conservation needs of the species.6

Distribution: Cercosaura manicata is native to the upper Amazon basin in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador (Fig. 2), and Perú.

Distribution of Cercosaura manicata in Ecuador

Figure 2: Distribution of Cercosaura manicata in Ecuador. The star corresponds to the type locality: Canelos, Pastaza province. See Appendix 1 for a complete list of the presence localities included in the map.

Etymology: The generic name Cercosaura, which comes from the Greek words kerkos (=tail) and saura (=lizard),8 probably refers to the long tail.9 The specific epithet manicata, which comes from the Latin word manus (=hand) and from the Greek word kata (=underneath),8 probably refers to the projected scales under the fingers.10

See it in the wild: Long-sleeved Eyed-Lizards are unlikely to be seen more than once every few months at any given locality, even in protected areas such as Limoncocha Biological Reserve and Tamandúa Reserve. So far, it appears the best way to find lizards of this species is to remove leaf-litter along forest trails in well-preserved habitats.

Authors: Amanda QuezadaaAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.,bAffiliation: Laboratorio de Herpetología, Universidad del Azuay, Cuenca, Ecuador. and Alejandro ArteagacAffiliation: Khamai Foundation, Quito, Ecuador.

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

Illustrator: Valentina Nieto Fernández

How to cite? Quezada A, Arteaga A (2023) Long-sleeved Eyed-Lizard (Cercosaura manicata). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/RVQF3096

Literature cited:

  1. Doan TM (2003) A new phylogenetic classification for the gymnophthalmid genera Cercosaura, Pantodactylus, and Prionodactylus (Reptilia: Squamata). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 137: 101–115. DOI: 10.1046/j.1096-3642.2003.00043.x
  2. 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.
  3. Avila-Pires TCS (1995) Lizards of Brazilian Amazonia (Reptilia: Squamata). Zoologische Verhandelingen 299: 1–706.
  4. Uzzell T (1973) A revision of the genus Prionodactylus with a new genus for P. leucostictus and notes on the genus Euspondylus (Sauria, Teiidae). Postilla 159: 1–67.
  5. Catenazzi A, Lehr E, von May R (2013) The amphibians and reptiles of Manu National Park and its buffer zone, Amazon basin and eastern slopes of the Andes, Peru. Biota Neotropica 13: 269–283. DOI: 10.1590/S1676-06032013000400024
  6. Caicedo JR, Calderón M, Ines Hladki A, Ramírez Pinilla M, Renjifo J, Urbina N, Gonzales L, Aguayo R, Venegas P, Yánez-Muñoz M, Cisneros-Heredia DF, Muñoz A, Lehr E, Catenazzi A (2017) Cercosaura manicata. The IUCN Red List of threatened species. Available from: DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-2.RLTS.T44578511A44578516.en
  7. Fitch HS (1968) Temperature and behavior of some equatorial lizards. Herpetologica 24: 35–38.
  8. Brown RW (1956) Composition of scientific words. Smithsonian Books, Washington D.C., 882 pp.
  9. Wagler JG (1830) Natürliches System der Amphibien: mit vorangehender Classification der Säugetiere und Vögel: ein Beitrag zur vergleichenden Zoologie. J.G. Cotta'scchen, München, 354 pp. doi:10.5962/bhl.title.58730
  10. O’Shaughnessy AWE (1881) An account of the collection of lizards made by Mr. Buckley in Ecuador, and now in the British Museum, with descritions of the new species. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 49: 227–245.

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

EcuadorLoretoCampamento K10Echevarría et al. 2015
EcuadorMorona SantiagoLimón, 13 km NE ofDoan 2003
EcuadorMorona SantiagoMarantian Wildlife RefugeMamani et al. 2020
EcuadorMorona SantiagoPuerto Morona, 12 km N ofMamani et al. 2020
EcuadorMorona SantiagoSantiago de TiwintzaMCZ 45779
EcuadorMorona SantiagoWachirpas, 7 km E ofDoan 2003
EcuadorNapoManuel Galindo, 15 km SE ofUzzell 1973
EcuadorNapoPuerto Napo Uzzell 1973
EcuadorNapoPuyo, 11.7 km NE ofUSNM 196212
EcuadorOrellanaIndillama SurMamani et al. 2020
EcuadorOrellanaNueva Loja, 15 km S ofKU 148275
EcuadorPastazaArutam, 3 km E ofSMF 95946
EcuadorPastazaCabeceras del BobonazaMamani et al. 2020
EcuadorPastazaCampo OglánTorres-Carvajal et al. 2015
EcuadorPastazaCanelos*O’Shaughnessy 1881
EcuadorPastazaPablo Lopez de Oglán Alto Echevarría et al. 2015
EcuadorPastazaRío CapahuariMamani et al. 2020
EcuadorPastazaRío Conambo, near mouth of Río RomarizoUSNM 196213
EcuadorPastazaRío LliquinoUSNM 194066
EcuadorPastazaRío PindoUzzell 1973
EcuadorPastazaRío VillanoUSNM 157105
EcuadorPastazaTamandúa ReservePhoto by Jorge Flores
EcuadorSucumbíosLago AgrioKU 126845
EcuadorSucumbíosLimoncocha Biological ReserveKU 183509
EcuadorSucumbíosNueva Loja, 2 km S ofDuellman 1978
EcuadorSucumbíosPuerto LibreDuellman 1978
EcuadorSucumbíosSan Pedro de los CofanesDuellman 1978
EcuadorSucumbíosSanta CeciliaDuellman 1978
EcuadorSucumbíosSecoyaMamani et al. 2020
PerúAmazonasHuampamiUSNM 334921
PerúAmazonasKumpin EntseUSNM 316899
PerúAmazonasSua, vicinity of, on the Río CenepaUSNM 316900
PerúLoretoPongo ChinimEchevarría et al. 2015