The Striped Forest Whiptail lizard (Kentropyx calcarata) is common in the rain forests of Guyana. This lizard lives on the forest floor; low to the ground with stout legs, it has a compressed body and a flat, blunt head. 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 leaf litter. It’s mostly brown flanks with black striped, checkered or diamond shaped pattern allows it to blend in with the leaves and woody debris.
But it is the brilliant red and green colouration that clearly sets this lizard apart. The dark colour helps with the absorption of heat; all ectotherms (or reptiles such as lizards), depend on the warmth of the sun to maintain their internal body temperature and sun bathing is necessary for survival. Changing colours allows for more efficient absorption of warmth from the sun.
Another reason why lizards change colours is to show aggression, especially when establishing territories for mating. Bright colours indicate danger in the animal kingdom and putting on a show of brilliant colour like this may help this species avoid a direct fight which could result in injury or worse.
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