|Leaf anole (Anolis planiceps). Photo by Renoir Auguste|
Trinidad and Tobago has a spectacular diversity of lizards in the country. The field guide to the amphibians and reptiles of Trinidad and Tobago has much more information on them, but here are ten facts (at time of writing) about lizards in the country.
1. Two lizards can be legally hunted for human consumption during a stipulated time period: the green iguana (Iguana iguana) and the matte or crytpic tegu (Tupinambis cryptus).
2. The Family or group of closely related lizards with the most species on both islands is the Anoles, with at least 6 non-native introduced species, and at least one native species with a wide ranging distribution across Trinidad (Anolis planiceps). It is highly suspected that these are minimum estimates for this group, which is no surprise as Anoles are known to establish themselves across the Caribbean. In Tobago, the most widespread is the Guamangala or Richard's Anole (Anolis richardii) and on Trinidad the bronze anole (Anolis aeneus) is perhaps the most widespread of the non-native species.
3. The smallest type of lizard in the country is the Mole's dwarf gecko (Sphaerodactylus molei) which grows to less than 3 cm long fully grown.
4. The largest type of lizard in the country is the green iguana which grows to up to 2 m long.
5. There are two species of legless lizards on Trinidad: the double-headed worm lizard or white legless lizard (Amphisbaena alba) and the black and white worm lizard (Amphisbaena fuliginosa). Both are often confused for snakes or worms, but are in fact much more aligned with lizards.
|Green iguana (Iguana iguana). Photo by Renoir Auguste|
6. There is a shiny lizard that is all female and reproduces without the assistance of males (Gymnophthalmus underwoodi).
7. The luminous lizard (Oreosaurus shrevei) is known only from Trinidad.
8. The ocellated gecko (Gonatodes ocellatus) is known only from Tobago and its offshore islands.
|Ocellated gecko (Gonatodes ocellatus). Photo by Renoir Auguste|
10. Lizards comprise an important part of ecosystems and local human culture: they are predators to many insects we despise, and are known to be feared because of folklore tales, with one example being the "24 hour lizard, that if it falls on you, you have 24 hours left"!