Bromeliad arboreal alligator lizard (Abronia taeniata)

GenusAbronia (1)
SizeMaximum snout-vent length: 14 cm (2)

The bromeliad arboreal alligator lizard is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

The bromeliad arboreal alligator lizard (Abronia taeniata) is a relatively widespread species found in Mexico (3). Little is known about this lizard, but like all other members of the genus Abronia it is perfectly adapted for life in the tree tops, with a stout body, well-developed limbs and a prehensile tail, which is generally shorter than the body (4).

Alligator lizards are named after their wide, powerful jaws,and the thick scales on the body, head and tail (4). The adult bromeliad arboreal alligator lizard is greenish-yellow with between six and eight black bands running horizontally across its body. These stripes are more prominent in the juvenile (2).

Found in the mountains of the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range in Mexico (3), the bromeliad arboreal alligator lizard ranges from south Hidalgo, northeast Veracruz and Puebla, northwards to Queretaro and southern Tamaulipas (1).

The typical habitat of the bromeliad arboreal alligator lizard is pine-oak forest, cloud forest and montane forest, at elevations of between 1,000 and 3,000 metres. Specimens have generally been found on tree trunks and in epiphytic bromeliads and mosses (3).

Like other species in its genus, the bromeliad arboreal alligator lizard is largely arboreal (2) (4). It is thought to be carnivorous, feeding mainly on arthropods, and occasionally small vertebrates (4).

Breeding is believed to occur from May to June (2). The femalebromeliad arboreal alligator lizard gives birth to between 2 and 15 live young following a gestation period of 8 to 12 weeks (4).

Abronia lizards are among the most endangered found in Central and South America, and several species are known from just one or a few specimens. As a result, sightings of Abronia are limited and few reports give detailed information (3).

The main threat to the bromeliad arboreal alligator lizard is the destruction of its habitat due to deforestation and conversion of land for agriculture. This lizard is also illegally collected for the international pet trade (1).

Lizards in the genus Abronia are very secretive and probably occur in naturally low densities. However, information on population size and density is difficult to obtain due to the arboreal nature of these lizards (3).

The bromeliad arboreal alligator lizard is protected by Mexican law and is present in the Parque Nacional El Chico in Hildalgo, and in the biosphere reserves of Sierra Gorda in Queretaro and Rancho El Cielo in Tamaulipas. Further studies on the bromeliad arboreal alligator lizard are required to understand the ecology, natural history and taxonomy of this species (1).

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  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2012)  
  2. Viva Natura (November 2011)
  3. Stephenson, B.P., Salinas, U.H., Sturemark, I.E.C., Varela, E.L.M., Ihasz, N. and Bautista, A.R. (2008) Abronia taeniata microhabitat. Herpetological Review, 39(2): 219.
  4. Zug, G.R., Vitt, L.J. and Caldwell, J.P. (2001) Herpetology: An Introductory Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles. Academic Press, USA.