Habitat

As their continuous geographic range indicates, teiids are found in a variety of habitats, including wet and dry forests, primary and secondary forests, savannas, grasslands, deserts, and beaches. Regardless of habitat type, teiids need warm microhabitats where they can bask in direct sun to raise their body temperature for activity. For this reason, teiids usually are found using relatively open areas. In tropical forests, for example, they are frequently observed around treefall, along roads, and in clearings. The open habitats of deserts and beaches are well

A black and white tegu (Tupinambis teguixin) eating an egg in South America. (Photo by Animals Animals ┬ęZig Leszczynski. Reproduced by permission.)

suited to the teiid lifestyle, and teiids occupy almost all such areas in North and South America within their latitudinal range. Habitat use by teiids is clearly tied to their thermal biology. In Costa Rica, one researcher demonstrated the effect of body size on the ability of three species of Ameiva to use different habitats. The smallest species could heat and cool rapidly and used the hottest, most open habitat. The largest species used the most shaded forest, where it would not be susceptible to overheating, and the medium-sized species used forest that was intermediate in shadiness. Juveniles of the large species shared microhabitat with adults of the small species, a finding that added support to the idea that thermoregulatory needs are coupled to habitat use among the sun-loving teiids.

Two genera of teiids are semiaquatic, Crocodilurus and Dracaena.

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