Published July 16, 2018. Updated December 7, 2023. Open access.

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Touzet’s Dwarf-Iguana (Enyalioides touzeti)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Sauria | Hoplocercidae | Enyalioides touzeti

English common names: Touzet’s Dwarf-Iguana, Touzet’s Woodlizard.

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

Recognition: ♂♂ 28.2 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=12.7 cm. ♀♀ 27.7 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=11.8 cm..1,2 Enyalioides touzeti can be distinguished from other lizards in its area of distribution by having granular dorsal scales, a strongly projected spiny vertebral crest, a skull roof (casque head flattened at the top), and a unique coloration.1,2 Juveniles are green with irregular dark blotches on the dorsum; adult males are orangish brown with a contrasting black throat patch and a broad white lip stripe; and females are essentially uniformly brownish with a faint blackish throat patch (Fig. 1).1,2 The most similar species is E. oshaughnessyi, but this other dwarf iguana has red eyes and occurs north of the known range of E. touzeti.13

Figure showing variation among individuals of Enyalioides touzeti

Figure 1: Individuals of Enyalioides touzeti from Ecuador: Buenaventura Reserve, El Oro province (); Cerro Cimalón, Guayas province (); Cerro Pancho Diablo, Guayas province (). j=juvenile.

Natural history: Enyalioides touzeti is a locally frequent lizard that is difficult to observe during the daytime due to its intricate camouflage. This species occurs in pristine lowland rainforests as well as in gallery forests and cacao plantations.2,4 Touzet’s Dwarf-Iguanas are active during the daytime on shaded areas of the forest understory, staying immobile for prolonged periods of time on the leaf-litter or on stems and leaves up to 50 cm above the ground.25 They are occasionally spotted crossing roads and open areas near the forest border.4 At night, they roost on stems, twigs, and ferns 0.3–1.6 m above the ground.2,4 Individuals of E. touzeti avoid predators by staying still and blending against the vegetation or running into cover.2,4

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Conservation: Vulnerable Considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the mid-term future..6 Enyalioides touzeti is listed in this category primarily because the species’ extent of occurrence is estimated to be less than 10,000 km2 and its habitat is severely fragmented and declining in extent and quality due to deforestation.6 Although E. touzeti occurs in four protected areas (Bosque Petrificado de Puyango, Buenaventura Biological Reserve, Reserva Ecológica Manglares Churute, and Parque Nacional Cerros de Amotape), most of the remaining localities (Appendix 1) are under intese pressure from deforestation. Based on the species distribution model presented in Fig. 2 in combination with maps of Ecuador’ vegetation cover,7 it is estimated that approximately 69% of the forest cover throughout the species’ potential distribution area has been destroyed, mostly due to the expansion of the agricultural frontier.

Distribution: Enyalioides touzeti is native to an area of approximately 9,860 km2 in the transition area between the humid Chocó rainforests and the Tumbesian dry forests in southwestern Ecuador and northwestern Peru (Fig. 2).

Distribution of Enyalioides touzeti in Ecuador

Figure 2: Distribution of Enyalioides touzeti in Ecuador. The star corresponds to the type locality: Finca La Envidia, Azuay 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 touzeti honors Jean-Marc Touzet, a prolific herpetologist who has contributed immensely to the study and conservation of the herpetofauna of Ecuador.2

See it in the wild: Touzet’s Dwarf-Iguanas are usually found in closed-canopy situations rather than in open or semi-open areas. These cryptic reptiles are easier to detect 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 1–5 per week, particularly at Buenaventura Reserve and Reserva Ecológica Manglares Churute.

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. Alejandro Arteaga,aAffiliation: Khamai Foundation, Quito, Ecuador. and and Matthijs HollanderseAffiliation: Southern Cross University, East Lismore, Australia.

How to cite? Arteaga A, Aguiar G (2023) Touzet’s Dwarf-Iguana (Enyalioides touzeti). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/HKCY1394

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, Almenáriz A, Valencia J, Yúnez-Muñoz M, Reyes JP (2008) A new species of Enyalioides (Iguanidae: Hoplocercinae) from southwestern Ecuador. Papéis Avulsos de Zoologia 48: 227–235. DOI: 10.1590/S0031-10492008002000001
  3. Torres-Carvajal O, Venegas PJ, de Queiroz K (2015) Three new species of woodlizards (Hoplocercinae, Enyalioides) from northwestern South America. ZooKeys 494: 107–132. DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.494.8903
  4. Field notes, Reptiles of Ecuador book project.
  5. Amador L, Gómez C, Londoño-Guarnizo CA, López-Caro J, Arteaga A (2017) Northernmost new records of Enyalioides touzeti Torres-Carvajal, Almendáriz, Valencia, Yánez-Muñoz & Reyes, 2008 (Sauria: Hoplocercidae) from Ecuador: altitudinal and latitudinal distribution extension, new provincial and biogeographical record. Check List 13: 1–4. DOI: 10.15560/13.1.2032
  6. Cisneros-Heredia DF, Yánez-Muñoz M, Venegas P, Brito J (2019) Enyalioides touzeti. The IUCN Red List of threatened species. Available from: DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-3.RLTS.T44579029A44579042.en
  7. MAE (2012) Línea base de deforestación del Ecuador continental. Ministerio del Ambiente del Ecuador, Quito, 30 pp.

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

EcuadorAzuayFinca la Envidia*Torres-Carvajal et al. 2008
EcuadorAzuayFlor y SelvaAmador et al. 2017
EcuadorAzuayLa Trinchera del agricultoriNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorAzuayPonce EnríquezTorres-Carvajal et al. 2008
EcuadorAzuayTamarindoTorres-Carvajal et al. 2008
EcuadorCañarEl ChorroReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorCañarFinca HuatacónAmador et al. 2017
EcuadorCañarHidroeléctrica OcañaAmador et al. 2017
EcuadorCañarManta RealTorres-Carvajal et al. 2008
EcuadorChimborazoCascajaliNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorChimborazoSantValReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEl OroBella MaríaTorres-Carvajal et al. 2011
EcuadorEl OroBosque Petrificado PuyangoGarzón-Santomaro et al. 2019
EcuadorEl OroBuenaventura Biological ReserveTorres-Carvajal et al. 2008
EcuadorEl OroCascadas de Manuel Garzón-Santomaro et al. 2019
EcuadorEl OroChillaYánez-Muñoz 2004
EcuadorEl OroFinca San AndrésiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEl OroHualtacoTorres-Carvajal et al. 2015
EcuadorEl OroPiñas, 4 km NW ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEl OroRemolinos Garzón-Santomaro et al. 2019
EcuadorEl OroRepresa TahuinGarzón-Santomaro et al. 2019
EcuadorEl OroSanta RosaOnline multimedia
EcuadorEl OroVía La LibertadTorres-Carvajal et al. 2023
EcuadorGuayasCerro CimalónAmador et al. 2017
EcuadorGuayasCerro MasvaleAmador et al. 2017
EcuadorGuayasCerro Pancho DiabloThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorGuayasNaranjalPhoto by Eduardo Toral
EcuadorGuayasReserva Ecológica Manglares ChuruteiNaturalist; photo examined
PeruTumbesCampo VerdeVenegas et al. 2010
PeruTumbesCerros de AmotapeAmador et al. 2017
PeruTumbesQuebrada Los NaranjosTello 1998
PeruTumbesSargento FigueroaiNaturalist; photo examined