Striped Forest Whiptail lizard

When most people think of the rainforest, they picture large spotted cats like the jaguar, massive snakes like the anaconda, huge spiders like the goliath bird-eater and toothy predators like the black caiman. And while Guyana certainly has a reputation for hosting healthy populations of these large-bodied species as the ‘Land of Giants,’ today’s instalment of In the Rainforest is going to focus on a species that is much smaller in stature.

The Striped Forest Whiptail lizard (Kentropyx calcarata) is commonly encountered in the Kanuku Mountains of Region 9. Whether basking in a sunny spot on the forest floor near Mapari Creek (Katoka village) or scurrying to catch insects that get caught in the moist updrafts around Jordan Falls (Nappi village), this lizard is a staple of the forest floor. Low to the ground with stout legs, a compressed body and a flat, blunt head; this species was built for life on the forest floor. It uses its short legs, long toes and sharp claws to produce short, very quick bursts in pursuit of insect prey. Its head serves almost like a shovel, allowing this lizard to dive to safety beneath the leaf litter. Its mostly brown flanks with black striped, checkered or diamond shaped pattern allows it to blend in brilliantly with the leaves and woody debris.

But the brilliant red and green colouration that shows on the back of this lizard is clearly what sets it apart. Generally, colour change in lizards is …..To continue reading, login or subscribe now.

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