Neusticurus ecpleopus Cope, 1876, Peru.
OTHER COMMON NAMES None known.
The body is cylindrical and the limbs are fully formed with five fingers and five toes. The maximum snout-vent length in males is 3.3 in (8.4 cm) and the tail is 1.4-1.8 times snout-vent length. There are six longitudinal rows of tubercles along the back and tubercles along the flanks. The tail is moderately compressed with a double crest formed by tubercles. The snout is blunt and the gular region is enlarged in adult males. These lizards are brown with black and lighter spots on the dorsum and flanks. The belly is orangish to reddish. Avila-Pires (1995) reported a relatively high degree of geographical variation.
Western Amazon along the slopes of the Andes from southern Colombia south to Bolivia.
Neusticurus ecpleopus is found along the banks of forest streams living in leaf litter and using muddy stream banks.
In their study of the ecology of Neusticurus ecpleopus, Vitt and Avila-Pires in 1998 found that the species was active throughout the day and inactive at night. They do not bask in the sun. These lizards frequently enter water and swim to the bottom to escape predators. The flattened tail is thought to facilitate swimming.
Although a variety of small insect prey are consumed, the diet information provided by Vitt and Avila-Pires (1998) showed the lizards mostly consumed fly larvae, crickets, and ants. It is likely the diet reflects the availability of small insect prey where the lizards happen to be living.
Like other gymnophthalmids, Neusticurus ecpleopus lays multiple clutches in a reproductive season, most likely in clutches of two, but the exact number and frequency is unknown.
Not listed by the IUCN. The species is not uncommon along primary forest streams within its range. Threats include habitat destruction, particularly since Neusticurus ecpleopus lives in primary forest.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦
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