Saint Croix ground lizard

Saint Croix ground lizard

Saint Croix ground lizard

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Pholidoscelis polops

The Saint Croix ground lizard (Pholidoscelis polops ) is a member of the Teiidae family of lizards. This animal is endemic on the St. Croix Island on the Virgin Islands.


Growing to a size of between 35 and 90 mm (excluding the tail), adults have a pattern of light brown, dark brown and white longitudinal stripes down their back. Below these are a series of narrow brown, black and white vertical stripes, which extend from the sides down to the stomach. The stomach is white with bright blue markings (males), and the rest of the underside is a deep pinkish-red hue. The tail changes from a brown color near the body with alternating rings of blue and black. The entire tail of juveniles and hatchlings is a bright blue color. It eats virtually any prey item, including berries, amphipods, moths, ants and small hermit crabs.



Biogeographical realms

The lizard is mainly found in beach areas and upland forest. Once indigenous to the island of St. Croix, the population was extirpated, likely due to habitat loss and the introduction of the Indian mongoose to the island in the 1880s. The lizard is found on four islands: Protestant Cay, Green Cay, Ruth Cay (a man-made island, constructed by dredging in the 1960s), and Buck Island. Eleven individuals were introduced to Ruth Island in 1990, and 57 individuals were introduced to Buck Island in 2008.

Habits and Lifestyle


Diet and Nutrition


Population number

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service listed the St. Croix ground lizard as endangered in 1977 (according to the Endangered Species Act of 1973), and Pholidoscelis polops is currently listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Efforts to save this species include two translocation projects to mongoose-free offshore islands around St. Croix. In 1990, ten lizards from the Protestant Cay population were placed onto Ruth Island. In 2008, fifty-seven lizards from the Green Cay population were placed onto Buck Island.


1. Saint Croix ground lizard Wikipedia article -
2. Saint Croix ground lizard on The IUCN Red List site -

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