Ameiva wetmorei

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Ameiva wetmorei
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Teiidae
Genus: Ameiva
Species: A. wetmorei
Binomial name
Ameiva wetmorei
Stejneger, 1913

Pholidoscelis wetmorei (blue-tailed ground lizard) is a species of lizard in the family Teiidae (whiptails).[1] The species is endemic to Puerto Rico.


The specific name, wetmorei, is in honor of American ornithologist Alexander Wetmore.[2]

Geographic range and habitat[edit]

In Puerto Rico Pholidoscelis wetmorei occurs in the southwestern dry coastal forests and adjacent islets including Caja de Muertos and Isla Magueyes.[3]

Similar species[edit]

P. wetmorei can be distinguished from P. exsul (Puerto Rican ground lizard) found throughout the Puerto Rican Bank by its much smaller size. It is more abundant and outcompetes Pholidoscelis exsul in the dry forest where their ranges overlap. Juvenile Puerto Rican ground lizards have a similar bright blue tail that is lost with age; the blue tail remains in both adult and juvenile blue-tailed ground lizards.


The blue-tailed ground lizard is a moderately sized lizard, with a maximum snout to vent length (SVL) of 52.4 mm (2.06 in) for males and 49.9 mm (1.96 in) SVL for females.[4] It is black overall with a creamy white to coppery red stomach. There are 7–9 tan or brown stripes extending from the head to the tail. The tail is one of the most distinctive traits of P. wetmorei. It is a bright turquoise blue or green, the color fully encircling the tail.


The blue-tailed ground lizard is xerophilic and diurnal. It is commonly found under rocks and logs, being most active during the heat of the day. The female can carry up to three eggs, and lay at least two clutches of one egg each per year.[5] Ground lizards forage for insects and small fruits.


The principal threats to the blue-tailed ground lizard are predation and habitat loss. The species only occurs across the dry forests of southwestern Puerto Rico; accordingly, this habitat specialist requires very hot and dry climates to metabolize food and remain active throughout the day. Introduced mammals including small cats and mongooses affect this animal's populations.


  1. ^ a b "Pholidoscelis wetmorei ". The Reptile Database.
  2. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Ameiva wetmorei, p. 283).
  3. ^
  4. ^ Heatwole H, Torres F (1967). "Herpetogeography of Puerto Rico III. Distribution and Geographic Variation of the Ameivas of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands". Studies Fauna Curacao and other Caribbean Islands 24: 63–111.
  5. ^ Henderson RW, Powell R (2009). Natural History of West Indian Reptiles and Amphibians. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

Further reading[edit]

  • Schwartz A, Thomas R (1975). A Check-list of West Indian Amphibians and Reptiles. Carnegie Museum of Natural History Special Publication No. 1. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Carnegie Museum of Natural History. 216 pp. (Ameiva wetmorei, p. 64).
  • Stejneger L (1913). "A New Lizard from Porto Rico". Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 26: 69-71. (Ameiva wetmorei, new species).