Coban alligator lizard

Abronia aurita

SUBFAMILY

Gerrhonotinae

TAXONOMY

Abronia aurita Cope, 1869, Vera Paz, Guatemala, near Peten and Cobán.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Golden arboreal alligator lizard; Spanish: Escorpión.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

This lizard is of moderate size, with snout-vent lengths of adults approximately 3.9-4.9 in (100-125 mm) and total lengths of adults approximately 9.8-12.2 in (250-310 mm). It has well-developed limbs and a prehensile tail. The head is broad posteriorly, narrowing toward the snout. Distinctive spinelike scales are present above the ear opening. The dorsal coloration is pale green or yellowish green with orange or yellow markings or both. The area around the eye is yellow.

DISTRIBUTION

The golden arboreal alligator lizard is endemic to the highlands of Guatemala. It is known from 6,560 to 8,730 ft (2,000-2,660 m) but may have occurred at lower elevations in the past.

HABITAT

The species inhabits pine-oak forest.

BEHAVIOR

This species is diurnal and arboreal, often associated with large bromeliads or Spanish moss growing on oak trees. Males may behave aggressively toward each other.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

This species readily takes arthropods in captivity, but little information is available about its feeding habits in the wild.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

A captive female gave birth to 12 young on January 26-28, 1992.

CONSERVATION STATUS

The range of this species has been reduced drastically by habitat destruction.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Owing to its spectacular appearance and docile nature, this species is favored by herpetoculturists. ♦

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