Published July 16, 2018. Updated December 6, 2023. Open access.

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Blue-spotted Dwarf-Iguana (Enyalioides praestabilis)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Sauria | Hoplocercidae | Enyalioides praestabilis

English common names: Blue-spotted Dwarf-Iguana, Canelos Woodlizard.

Spanish common names: Iguana enana amazónica, lagartija de palo de Canelos.

Recognition: ♂♂ 33.7 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=12.8 cm. ♀♀ 30.8 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=11.7 cm..1 Enyalioides praestabilis differs from other medium-sized spiny lizards in the Amazon foothills of the Andes by its granular dorsal scales, strongly projected spiny vertebral crest, skull roof (casque head flattened at the top), and unique coloration.1,2 The dorsum is bright lime green (brownish in females) with scattered black and blue spots (Fig. 1).1,2 The species further differs from all other Enyalioides with which it co-occurs by having caudals increasing in size posteriorly on each autotomic segment and no projecting scales on dorsum and limbs.1,2 Enyalioides praestabilis is often confused with E. rubrigularis, but the latter is restricted to the Cordillera del Cóndor in southeastern Ecuador.

Figure showing variation among individuals of Enyalioides praestabilis

Figure 1: Individuals of Enyalioides praestabilis from Ecuador: Narupa Reserve, Napo province (); Tzarentza, Pastaza province (). j=juvenile.

Natural history: Enyalioides praestabilis is a diurnal and terrestrial to semi-arboreal lizard that inhabits pristine to moderately disturbed montane rainforests and cloud forests, particularly along streams and rivers.1,3 Blue-spotted Dwarf-Iguanas are active during the daytime on shaded areas of the forest floor, staying immobile for prolonged periods of time on leaf-litter or on logs. At night, they roost on stems, branches, and tree trunks 0.2–4.5 m above the ground.1,3,4 They tend to sleep beside their den, to which they retreat upon the slightest disturbance.1,3 The den is usually a hole in the ground, but can also be a hollow log or a tunnel or crevice in a mud wall.3 Their preferred predator avoidance strategy is staying still and blending against the leaf-litter or running into cover.3 Gravid females containing five eggs have been found in Ecuador,1 but the real clutch size is not known.

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Conservation: Least Concern Believed to be safe from extinction given current circumstances..5 Enyalioides praestabilis is listed in this category because the species is widely distributed, present in protected areas, has presumably large and stable populations, and occurs in areas having continuous unspoiled forest.6 The majority of the species’ forest habitat in Ecuador (~77%) is still standing.6 The most important threat to the long-term survival of the species is habitat destruction mostly due to mining and the expansion of the agricultural frontier.

Distribution: Enyalioides praestabilis is native to the Amazonian slopes of the Andes in Ecuador (Fig. 2) and Colombia.

Distribution of Enyalioides praestabilis in Ecuador

Figure 2: Distribution of Enyalioides praestabilis 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 Enyalioides, which comes from the Latin words Enyalius (a genus of neotropical lizards) and the suffix oides (=similar to), refers to the similarity between lizards of the two genera. The specific epithet praestabilis comes from the Latin words prae (=very) and stabilis (=firm),7 and refers to the spiny vertebral crest.

See it in the wild: Blue-spotted Dwarf-Iguanas are usually found in closed-canopy situations rather than in open or semi-open areas. These cryptic reptiles are easier to locate by sampling well-preserved forest trails at night with the aid of a flashlight. In this way, roosting individuals may be detected at a rate of 1–6 per night, particularly at Narupa Reserve and Wild Sumaco Wildlife Sanctuary.

Authors: Alejandro ArteagaaAffiliation: Khamai Foundation, Quito, Ecuador. and Gabriela AguiarbIndependent researcher, Quito, Ecuador.

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

How to cite? Arteaga A, Aguiar G (2023) Blue-spotted Dwarf-Iguana (Enyalioides praestabilis). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/KUIL6979

Literature cited:

  1. Torres-Carvajal O, Etheridge R, de Queiroz K (2011) A systematic revision of Neotropical lizards in the clade Hoplocercinae (Squamata: Iguania). Zootaxa 2752: 1–44. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.2752.1.1
  2. Torres-Carvajal O, de Queiroz K, Etheridge R (2009) A new species of iguanid lizard (Hoplocercinae, Enyalioides) from southern Ecuador with a key to eastern Ecuadorian Enyalioides. ZooKeys 27: 59–71. DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.27.273
  3. Field notes, Reptiles of Ecuador book.
  4. Camper JD, Torres-Carvajal O, Ron SR, Nilsson J, Arteaga A, Knowles TW, Arbogast BS (2021) Amphibians and reptiles of Wildsumaco Wildlife Sanctuary, Napo Province, Ecuador. Check List 17: 729–751.
  5. Cisneros-Heredia DF, Gagliardi G, Moravec J, Aparicio J, Perez J (2016) Enyalioides praestabilis. The IUCN Red List of threatened species. Available from: DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T44578980A44578997.en
  6. MAE (2012) Línea base de deforestación del Ecuador continental. Ministerio del Ambiente del Ecuador, Quito, 30 pp.
  7. 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 Enyalioides praestabilis in Ecuador (Fig. 2). Go to the section on symbols and abbreviations for a list of acronyms used. Asterisk (*) indicates type locality.

ColombiaCaquetáFlorencia, 4.5 km NW ofiNaturalist; photo examined
ColombiaPutumayoReserva La Isla EscondidaiNaturalist; photo examined
ColombiaPutumayoSantuario Orito Ingi-AndeQuintero 2020
ColombiaPutumayoVereda San MartíniNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorMorona Santiago9 de OctubreTipantiza-Tuguminago et al. 2021
EcuadorMorona SantiagoBosque Protector AbanicoLozano & Medranda 2008
EcuadorMorona SantiagoChiguazaBrito & Almendariz 2013
EcuadorMorona SantiagoFauna de la AmazoníaPhoto by Andreas Kay
EcuadorMorona SantiagoGuardianía Sangay BajoiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorMorona SantiagoLaguna el EnmascaradoPhoto by Darwin Núñez
EcuadorMorona SantiagoMacuma alto Torres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorMorona SantiagoMera, 4 km S ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorMorona SantiagoMiazalTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorMorona SantiagoPuchimiPazmiño Otamendi 2018
EcuadorMorona SantiagoRío LlushinTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorMorona SantiagoYaupi, 21 km NW ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorNapoCascada de San RafaelTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorNapoCordillera del DuéTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorNapoCotundoTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorNapoEl ChacoiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorNapoGuamaníTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorNapoNarupa ReserveThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorNapoPacto SumacoReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorNapoReserva Colonso-ChalupasiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorNapoReserva Privada AnkakuTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorNapoRío AzuelaLewis 2002
EcuadorNapoRío HollínTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorNapoRío PiatúaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorNapoTutacandoPazmiño Otamendi 2018
EcuadorNapoWild Sumaco Wildlife SanctuaryCamper et al. 2021
EcuadorOrellanaÁvila altoTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorOrellanaReserva Río BigalGarcía et al. 2021
EcuadorOrellanaRío SunoTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorOrellanaSan José de SumacoTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorPastazaCanelos, environs of*O’Shaughnessy 1881
EcuadorPastazaCentro FátimaTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorPastazaFinca de Peter ArcherPhoto by Yatin Kalki
EcuadorPastazaMangayacuReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorPastazaPalmiraTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorPastazaPindoTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorPastazaPindo MiradorTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorPastazaPuyoTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorPastazaPuyo, 5 km SSW ofTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorPastazaRío AnzuPhoto by Lou Jost
EcuadorPastazaSantanaTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorPastazaShell–MeraTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorPastazaTzarentzaThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorSucumbíosCampamento Río VerdeCampos et al. 2001
EcuadorSucumbíosEmbalse CompensadoriNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorSucumbíosSlopes of ReventadorReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorTungurahuaLa CandelariaMECN, JOCOTOCO, ECOMINGA 2013
EcuadorTungurahuaRío ZuñacMECN, JOCOTOCO, ECOMINGA 2013