Thursday, August 17, 2017
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Lizards of the Dominican Republic

Lizard on a rockBeautiful Dominican Republic, with its widely different landscapes ranging from Caribbean beaches to foggy mountains, is the home to countless types of lizards. Found in all continents except Antarctica, the island of Hispaniola can lay claim to some of the most interesting lizards in the world.

 

 

World’s smallest lizard
The world’s smallest lizard lives on the remote island of Beata in the Dominican Republic. Only 16mm long this dark brown dwarf gecko is big enough to stretch out comfortably on a 5 peso coin. Discovered only in 2001 by researchers who set out to look for new species, this little fella was discovered along with a number of other species.
 
Sharing iguanas
This rock iguana likes to eat leaves, flowers, berries and fruits despite its size, making it an important means of distributing seeds to new areas. Between 40 and 50 centimeters in length the Hispaniolan ground iguana is the only rock iguana in the Caribbean that shares its territory with another iguana, the rhinoceros iguana.
 
Lizard on a rockrhinoceros iguana

Green invader
The Hispaniolan green anole is widely distributed all over the island and is very similar to its North American cousin, the green anole, except that Dominican males will have a light blue throat flap, instead of red. Males are often of a pure bright green color, whereas females and juveniles tend to have darker green stripes lining the sides of their bodies. The Dominican species was introduced into the Florida Everglades and is considered invasive.



Lizards in general
Lizards are one of the best neighbors you can wish for as they eat mosquitos and other insects as well as spiders. Big lizards sometimes also eat other lizards as well small birds and mice. No reports exist of lizards attacking humans or pets unless they feel threatened. The bite of some bigger lizards can be painful. To escape a predator many lizards can easily break off their tail, which later grows back.

lizard gekolizard geko

Dangers faced by lizards
Apart from predators lizards, like other reptiles, face the problem of habitat loss. A 2013 study which is the first global assessment of its kind of reptile species, which include crocodiles, lizards, snakes, tortoises and turtles, estimated that 19% of them are facing extinction due to man-made habitat loss.
 
Lizards also often end up as collateral damage as humans spray pesticides and insecticides. Unfortunately about half of all the lizards in the Caribbean are estimated to be endangered. A quick glance at any stony area or tree however will confirm that there are still many around, warming up in the sun or hunting for insects.

 

 

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