From its Andes Mountains area to its tropical rainforests to the coastal regions of the country, Ecuador is well known for it's biodiversity, and among it its unique native reptiles. The latter will be explored in this article.
Blue Spotted Wood Lizard
This lizard was discovered in 1881 and is also native to Columbia and Peru. Reaching just over 5 inches (12.8 centimeters) in length, this lizard sleeps in trees at night to avoid nocturnal predators. The blue spotted wood lizard can be found at 200 to 2,000 meters above sea level in the Andes mountain region of South America. Adult males of this species often have dark brown or black scales upon their body. On their head it is usually a combination of black, blue-green and sometimes even red scales, also these lizards sometimes display yellow scales under their chins.
Neotropical Green Anole
These lizards are native to the tropical and subtropical forests of Central and South America. A fully grown male neotropical green anole will be approximately 1.5 to 4 inches fully grown, with females of the species reaching smaller lengths. These reptiles come from the same family as Iguanas. On average, neotropical green anoles will live 4 to 6 years in the wild. They eat a wide variety of insects, including beetles,flies, and even spiders. Predators that hunt upon the neotropical green anole include birds and snakes as well as other, larger reptiles. If threatened, this lizard drops it's tail as a decoy when threatened by the predators mentioned previously. these reptiles are completely harmless to humans and not vulnerable to any threat as of this writing.
Tschudi's False Coral Snake
This snake was named after Johann Jakob von Tschudi, a Swiss naturalist and diplomat who traveled throughout South America during the 1850s and 1860s, famed for collecting plants and observing new species of reptiles and other animals along the way. Native to the northern parts of South America which includes countries such as Bolivia, Brazil, Columbia, Guyana, Peru, and Venezuela respectively. There are no immediate threats to their species as they live in diverse environments and have a large population throughout South America. These snakes are non venomous and harmless to humans but due to it's appearance it is often confused with the Annellated Coral Snake. Adults of this species can grow up to 27 inches in length (68 centimeters).
Annellated Coral Snake
The Annellated Coral Snake can grow to as long as 28 inches in length (70 centimeters), although most are within the range of 7 to 12 inches in length (20 to 30 centimeters). This snake usually resides in mountainous and wet forests located in the southeastern area of Ecuador. This snake is venomous and while hunting will use it's hollow fangs to inject venom into prey. The Annellated Coral Snake feeds on other snakes as well as lizards. This snake is also known for having an extremely small head.
The Western Basilisk is a large species of lizard, with males growing up to 30 inches (77 centimeters) and females growing up to 25 inches in length (63 centimeters). A distinguishing feature of male Basilisks is that they have a round crest surrounding their heads. Most male Basilisk will live 4 to 6 years in the wild and females live shorter lives than males in this species. The Western Basilisk also has long digits and claws that aide with climbing trees. This lizard inhabits forests up to 1600 m above sea level and eats plants, fruit, and flowers as well as other animals such as birds, snakes, fish, and even other lizards. This type of diet classifies this reptile as an omnivore. Interestingly known as the "Jesus lizard" due to the ability to walk on water using it's webbed feet. There is no real threat to their population from humans or predators and these lizards are also popular pets.
Blunthead Tree Snake
Living up to their names, Blunthead tree snakes are known for their large heads and slender bodies. As well as Ecuador, the Blunthead tree snake is also native to Brazil, Columbia, Honduras, and Peru to name a few. On average, the Blunthead tree snake grows to around 31 inches (80 centimeters) and have been known to grow as large as 4 feet 11 inches long (150 centimeters). This snake is nocturnal, hunting for food at night (such as small lizards, eggs, and frogs) and resting in shaded areas during the day. Blunthead tree snakes are also known for their movement through trees instead of using the floor of the forest.
This species of reptile is sometimes known as a dwarf gecko due to it`s tiny size of 1.9 inches in length. Found in wet tropical forests and lives exclusively within Ecuador. Buchwald`s Gecko was discovered in 1910 and named after Otto von Buchwald who worked as a civil engineer and also as an anthropologist and naturalist in Ecuador during the 19th Century. This reptile is also part of the scaly-eyed gecko family.
Ecuadorian Milk Snake
The Ecuadorian Milk Snake is known for having striped skin of alternating red, white, and black colors. These snakes are native in the northwestern area of South America. The average diet of an Ecuadorian milk snake is that of rodents, birds, lizards, and even other snakes, some of which are venomous. The average nest size of a milk snake is 10 to 14 eggs. Usually found in rotting logs and in woodland areas. The scientific name of the Ecuadorian Milk Snake is Lampropeltis triangulum micropholis, which is quite a mouthful!
Amazon Basin Emerald Tree Boa
These snakes take on their signature emerald green color at around 9 to 12 months of age. They are non-poisonous snakes, suffocating their prey. The amazon basin emerald tree boa is native to the rainforests and Amazon basin area of South America. This snake is considered large at approximately 6 feet in length (1.8 Meters) at it's fully grown size. The emerald tree boa is a nocturnal predator that feeds on bats, small monkeys, and frogs (especially the glass frog). This snake is also known for a very slow metabolism and can sometimes go months without any food. The nest size of these reptiles is usually between 6 and 14 young. One of the most easily recognizable native animals of Ecuador due to the striking white pattern contrasting with the bright green of this unique creature.
White-lipped Mud Turtle
The white-lipped mud turtle was discovered in 1851, and is somewhat of an endangered species in Ecuador today. This turtle is also found in Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, and Peru to name a few. The white-lipped mud turtle inhabits quiet waters with ample quantities of vegetation, and usually can be found nesting 50 to 200 meters away from a water source. Most have a dark brown or black shell as well as a protruding snout with a hooked upper jaw. Males of this species can grow up to 6.8 inches (17.4 centimeters) and females can grow up to 6.2 inches (15.8 centimeters). Males also have a broader head as well as long tails, while the females' tails are significantly shorter. Eggs are usually laid in shallow nesting holes, covered in leaves and debris. This turtle is an omnivore and gets energy from a variety of insects, fish, and snails as well as plants. This species is surprisingly not confined to water, sometimes found up to 600 meters away from a water source.