Common Puerto Rican ameiva

Common Puerto Rican ameiva

Common Puerto Rican ameiva

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Pholidoscelis exsul

The common Puerto Rican ameiva or Puerto Rican ground lizard (Pholidoscelis exsul ) is a species of lizard in the whiptail family.


Pholidoscelis exsul is a relatively large lizard; males can grow up to 85 cm (33 in). The maximum recorded male snout-to-vent length (SVL) is 201 mm (7.9 in), and the maximum recorded female SVL is 99 mm (3.9 in).

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Color patterns vary widely among individuals, populations, and islands. Animals are predominantly colored gray, black, or brown, with large or small white dots along their backs. Dorsolateral stripes vary in number, length, and color. All individuals have a white or blue-white mottled stomach. The chin shield and throat patch are often light pink. Juveniles generally have a bright blue tail and more dots than stripes.

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Ameiva exsul is found in coastal habitats of Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, and Isla Culebra. The species is also found in the Toro Negro State Forest.

Habits and Lifestyle

Puerto Rican ground lizards occur in habitat with open canopy structure and loose sandy soil in elevations between sea-level and 150 m (490 ft) where the temperature is above 24 °C (75 °F) year-round. Ground lizards forage for insects and small fruits and scavenge for dead animals or trash scraps in urban areas.


Diet and Nutrition

Mating Habits

Sexually mature females of P. exsul bury 2-7 pink eggs approximately 100 mm (3.9 in) below ground in loose soil in June–August. Juveniles may have a bright blue tail, like the closely related Pholidoscelis wetmorei (blue-tailed ground lizard), but they will lose the bright blue color in their tail with age. Individuals can live more than six years.


Population threats

The principle threat to individuals of P. exsul is from other animals which eat ground lizards. Mammalian predators include feral cats, dogs, and mongooses. Avian predators include American kestrels, Greater Antillean grackles, and pearly-eyed thrashers.


1. Common Puerto Rican ameiva Wikipedia article -
2. Common Puerto Rican ameiva on The IUCN Red List site -

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