Lizards in Belmopan

20 08 2012

Let me introduce you to Newton, the (easily) over two foot long black iguana or ctenosaur –  Ctenosaura similis that lives outside of the BCA Physics room in the strangler fig

(Get it? The Big Fig Newton? Newtonian physics?)

(you can click on any of these photos to see them in a larger format)

A clan of juveniles lives nearby in a pile of rocks. Here is one cutie: They are also referred to as Wish Willies.

Another cute lizard around here is the Basiliscus vittatus – Striped or Brown Basilisk or “The Jesus Christ Lizard” nicknamed so because they can “walk on water” due to the unique fringe of scales on their hind toes which makes little webs that can trap bubbles of air and water beneath their feet. This keeps them from sinking into the water if they run quickly enough across. When they do stop running they don’t mind taking a little swim. The smaller lizards can run further than the bigger and heavier ones. Basilisks usually weigh between 0.44 – 1.3 lbs and may grow to be about 2 feet long although they average about 1 foot in length. We’ve seen one in our yard, several on our jungle hikes around our place, and several at Guanacaste (pronounced gwan–ah- kahst’-ay) National Park. Check out this video of one in action.

More on strangler figs:  These plants begin life as epiphytes, when their seed, often bird-dispersed, germinate in crevices atop other trees. These seedlings grow their roots downward and envelop the host tree while also growing upward to reach into the sunlight zone above the canopy. These are some pics of the one in which Newton lives:




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