Mesaspis monticola Cope, 1878, summit of Pico Blanco, Costa Rica
OTHER COMMON NAMES Spanish: Dragón, lagartija de altura.
These moderately sized lizards (9.3 in [236 mm] in total length) have four rather short limbs and a long tail. A ventro-lateral fold is present. Males are bright green or yellowish green with extensive black flecking. Females and juveniles are brownish with black flecking.
The species occurs in the highlands of Costa Rica and western Panama from 5,900 to 12,470 ft (1,800 to 3,800 m).
The montane alligator lizard inhabits open areas within or at the edges of wet montane forests; it also is found in paramo.
The species is terrestrial and diurnal. It thermoregulates by basking on sunny mornings and may be forced to remain dormant on days without sunshine.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
It actively forages for arthropods and juvenile salamanders.
Females give live birth to two to 10 young and may stay with their offspring for a period after birth. It has been suggested that females reproduce only every other year.
CONSERVATION STATUS Not threatened.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
In parts of its range people incorrectly consider this harmless lizard to be capable of delivering potent venom by stinging with its tail. ♦
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