Nonnatives - Giant Ameiva

Giant Ameiva - Ameiva ameiva


Florida's Nonnative Wildlife. Species detail.

First year: 1954

Extirpated year:

Established status: Populations are confirmed breeding and apparently self-sustaining for 10 or more consecutive years.

Estimated Florida range: 1 county  At least 10 years, 2 counties  Less than 10 years

Statewide trend: Expanding

Giant Ameiva
Photograph by Kevin M. Enge © 2003

Threats to natives: Large lizards that can potentially prey upon a variety of vertebrates, including lizards and snakes.

Species Account: This neotropical species is common in several sections of Dade County and in Deerfield Beach, Broward County. They frequent open areas, including fields, parklands, weedy canal banks, and warehouse and office complexes. Its presence in Florida is presumably due to escapees from the pet trade. Two different-looking populations are present in Florida. Adult males in the dusky population may reach 61 cm (2 ft) in length and have charcoal to bluish-gray backs with crossrows of pale blue, yellowish, or whitish spots, which also appear on the limbs. Adult males in the green-rumped population seldom exceed 46 cm (18 in) in length and have backs that are entirely green or are brownish anteriorly and green posteriorly. The upper sides are darker and speckled with prominent, dark-edged, white spots that shade to blue towards the belly. These alert lizards have high preferred body temperature and bask between bouts of foraging, when they nervously move between patches of cover. They are very fast and can run on their hind legs. They dig burrows that they use as escape shelters and at night (Bartlett and Bartlett 1999).

Habitats: Exotic plant community, Barren land, Low density suburban development, areas peripheral to core urban areas, and small towns, Recently disturbed, early successional community

County First Year Extirpated Year Breeding status
BROWARD 1998 Less than 10 years Deerfield Beach (Krysko et al., in press)
DADE 1954 At least 10 years Miami (Duellman and Schwartz 1958); west edge of Miami and east edge of Hialeah (Truitt and Ober 1973)
PALM BEACH 2003 Less than 10 years Loxahatchee (R. St. Pierre, Loxahatchee, personal communication)


Bartlett, R. D., and P. P. Bartlett. 1999. A field guide to Florida reptiles and amphibians. Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, Texas. 278pp.

Duellman, W. E., and A. Schwartz. 1958. Amphibians and reptiles of southern Florida. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum, Biological Sciences 3:181-324.

Truitt, J. O., and L. D. Ober. 1971. A guide to the lizards of south Florida (Lake Okeechobee to the Florida Keys). Hurricane House, Miami, Florida, USA. 37pp.


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