Conservation status

The Teiidae, for the most part, are common lizards that do well in a variety of habitats and in most circumstances ap pear to endure human influences. The Ameiva and Cnemi-dophorus endemic to Caribbean islands and the tupinambines subject to the pet trade and exotic leather trade are two major exceptions. Two species of Ameiva are categorized as Extinct by the IUCN, and another, the St. Croix ground lizard (Ameivapolops), is Critically Endangered. The St. Lucia whiptail (Cnemidophorus vanzoi) is listed as Vulnerable. There are not enough data to determine the conservation status of Cal-lopistes and other macroteiids that have been exploited for the pet trade. Island-dwelling lizards are clearly sensitive to human impact, and conservationists need to be aware of threats to teiids on islands or in otherwise restricted geographic ranges.

Several species of tegu are commercially exploited in very large numbers as pets or for skins. There is a long history of commercial trade in two species of tegu lizards (Tupinambis merianae and T. rufescens) from Argentina and Paraguay. In the 1980s, an average of 1.9 million tegus were traded yearly for the exotic skin trade, making tegus among the most exploited reptiles in the world. Tegu skins are prized for the pattern of tile-like belly scales, and they are used for cowboy boots, shoes, belts, and other exotic leather accessories in North America, Europe, and southeast Asia. Tegu lizards are listed in CITES Appendix II, and the trade is legal and monitored internationally. Harvest quotas are 1,000,000 for Argentina and 300,000 for Paraguay, and both countries have established management programs for the lizards that depend on trade controls and harvest monitoring. The caiman lizards (Dracaena spp.) have been exploited for their skins but not as extensively as the tegus. Tegus, Callopistes, and several species of Ameiva have appeared in the pet trade in large numbers. Mainland macroteiids appear to have a life history that enables their populations to withstand harvest by humans, but prudent conservation will require careful monitoring and management programs to ensure the take is sustainable over the long term.

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