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

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Red-throated Dwarf-Iguana (Enyalioides rubrigularis)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Sauria | Hoplocercidae | Enyalioides rubrigularis

English common names: Red-throated Dwarf-Iguana, Red-throated Woodlizard.

Spanish common names: Iguana enana gargantirroja, lagartija de palo gargantirroja.

Recognition: ♂♂ 32.5 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=13.0 cm. ♀♀ 29.8 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=11.9 cm..1 Enyalioides rubrigularis 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 (olive or brownish in females and juvenile) with scattered black 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, no projecting scales on dorsum and limbs, and a bright red throat coloration in adult males.1,2 Enyalioides rubrigularis is often confused with E. praestabilis, but the latter species occurs north of the known range of E. rubrigularis.

Figure showing variation among individuals of Enyalioides rubrigularis

Figure 1: Individuals of Enyalioides rubrigularis from Ecuador: Romerillos Alto, Zamora Chinchipe province (); Bosque Medicinal, Morona Santiago province (); Copalinga Loge, Zamora Chinchipe province (). j=juvenile.

Natural history: Enyalioides rubrigularis 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 Red-throated Dwarf-Iguanas are active during the daytime in 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 ferns 0.1–2.5 m above the ground.1,3 They tend to sleep beside their den, a hole in the ground to which they retreat upon the slightest disturbance.1,3 Their preferred predator avoidance strategy is staying still and blending against the leaf-litter or running into cover.3 There is a record of a snake (Imantodes cenchoa) preying upon a juvenile of E. rubrigularis.4 Gravid females containing 3–4 eggs have been found in Ecuador,1 but the real clutch size is not known.

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Conservation: Near Threatened Not currently at risk of extinction, but requires some level of management to maintain healthy populations.. Enyalioides rubrigularis is listed in this category, instead of Vulnerable,5 because current information suggests that the species’ extent of ocurrence is greater than the 20,000 km2 threshold needed for the original category (Fig. 2). Furthermore, the species occurs in the Cordillera del Cóndor, an area that still retains the majority of its vegetation cover,6 and is present in protected areas, including Parque Nacional Podocarpus, Refugio de Vida Silvestre El Zarza, Reserva Biológica Cerro Plateado, and Bosque Protector Alto Nangaritza.1,7 However, populations outside protected areas are under threat from large-scale gold mining operations.8

Distribution: Enyalioides rubrigularis is native to an area of approximately 23,604 km2 in the Cordillera del Cóndor, southeastern Ecuador (Fig. 2) and northern Peru.

Distribution of Enyalioides rubrigularis in Ecuador

Figure 2: Distribution of Enyalioides rubrigularis in Ecuador. The star corresponds to the type locality: Finca de Mesías San Martín, Zamora Chinchipe 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 rubrigularis comes from the Latin ruber (=red) and gula (=throat), and refers to the characteristic reddish throat of adult males.9

See it in the wild: Red-throated 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 1–2 per night, particularly at Copalinga Lodge and Romerillos Alto.

Special thanks to Ishita Das for symbolically adopting the Red-throated Dwarf-Iguana and helping bring the Reptiles of Ecuador book project to life.

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

Photographers: Jose Vieira,cAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.,dAffiliation: ExSitu, Quito, Ecuador. and Sebastián Di Doménico,eAffiliation: Keeping Nature, Bogotá, Colombia. and Amanda QuezadafAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.,gAffiliation: Laboratorio de Herpetología, Universidad del Azuay, Cuenca, Ecuador.

How to cite? Arteaga A, Aguiar G (2023) Red-throated Dwarf-Iguana (Enyalioides rubrigularis). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/WZAM3599

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. Cruz García K, Chauca N, Zapata N (2023) Predation of Enyalioides praestabilis (Hoplocercidae) by Imantodes cenchoa (Colubridae) in San Miguel de Conchay, Morona Santiago province, Ecuador. Revista Latinoamericana de Herpetología 6: 180–183. DOI: 10.22201/fc.25942158e.2023.2.587
  5. Cisneros-Heredia DF, Valencia J, Almendáriz A, Brito J, Muñoz G (2019) Enyalioides rubrigularis. The IUCN Red List of threatened species. Available from: DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-2.RLTS.T44579003A44579015.en
  6. MAE (2012) Línea base de deforestación del Ecuador continental. Ministerio del Ambiente del Ecuador, Quito, 30 pp.
  7. Almendáriz A, Simmons JE, Brito J, Vaca-Guerrero J (2014) Overview of the herpetofauna of the unexplored Cordillera del Cóndor of Ecuador. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 8: 45–64.
  8. Chicaiza G (2010) El enclave minero de la Cordillera del Cóndor. Acción Ecológica, Quito, 39 pp.
  9. 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 rubrigularis in Ecuador (Fig. 2). Go to the section on symbols and abbreviations for a list of acronyms used. Asterisk (*) indicates type locality.

EcuadorMorona SantiagoBomboizaTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorMorona SantiagoBosque MedicinalThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorMorona SantiagoLimón, 6 km N ofTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorMorona SantiagoNueva PrincipalPhoto by Marlene Castro
EcuadorMorona SantiagoPananza, 5 km W ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorMorona SantiagoReserva SuritiakReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorMorona SantiagoVivero El ParaísoiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorMorona SantiagoWarintz, 4 km NW ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeAlto MachinazaAlmendariz et al. 2014
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeAlto MiaziTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeÁrea de amortiguación de Reserva El ZarzaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeConcesión CuyTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeConcesión ECSABetancourt et al. 2018
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeCopalinga LodgeThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeCuenca del Río BombuscaroiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeCuenca del Río JambuéTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeEl GenairoReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeEl ZarzaTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeFinca de Mesías San Martín*Torres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeFinca YantzaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeLa PitucaTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorZamora ChinchipePiuntzaTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeReserva Forestal El ZarzaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeRío NangaritzaTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeRomerillos AltoThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeSan Luis, 8 km W ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeSantiagoPazmiño Otamendi 2018
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeTepuy Las OrquídeasAlmendariz et al. 2014
PeruAmazonasAlfonso UgarteTorres-Carvajal et al. 2009
PeruAmazonasQuebrada ShinganatzaAlmendáriz et al. 2014
PeruLoretoBetween Moyobamba–CahuapanasTorres-Carvajal et al. 2009
PeruLoretoCerro de KampankisCatenazzi & Venegas 2016