Spiny-Headed Tree Lizard/Collared Tree Lizard/Collared Treerunner

Spiny-Headed Tree Lizard/Collared Tree Lizard/Collared Treerunner Plica plica

Type of Animal:

Primary & secondary forest

N & C South America as well as Trinidad

Flattened body, spiny neck/head, olive green to greenish coloration w/ dark brown mottling/banding, whitish chin, black throat, black collar, coloration almost resembles mint chocolate chip ice cream, males larger/more colorful than females

Ants, crickets, beetles, beetle larvae, moth larvae, cockroaches, weevils, fruit flies, cicadas

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos, herpetoculture, wildlife centers, & aquariums

Solitary or small harems of a male w/ 1-4 females

Additional Info:

Young: Hatchling
Group: Leap
Male: 3 lbs
Female: 2 lbs
Young: 0.09 oz

3.5 months 

Life Span:
8-10 years

Body Length:
Male: 8 in
Female: 5.9-6 in
Young: 2 in

Tail Length:
Male: 8 in
Female: 5 in

Main predators are birds, snakes, other lizards, & mammals.
Active during the day (diurnal).
These lizards highly arboreal (tree-dwelling), only leaving trees to lay eggs.
Females lay 2 clutches of eggs per breeding season, each clutch having around 3-4 eggs.
These lizards are very fast.
Often seen sticking to vertical surfaces.
Flat bodies help them lay flat against tree trunks.
These lizards are not common in captivity.
Males are highly territorial.
These lizards have excellent camouflage.
While common, these lizards not often seen in wild due to camouflage.

Fun Fact(s):
They’ll often run straight up trees to escape danger.
Known as Wakanama in Guyana. Also called Harlequin Racerunner.
Embryos highly sensitive to vibration-lightly rolling egg can cause it to hatch early.
Hatchlings explode from egg & immediately start running, sometimes reaching 1.64 ft in 1st sprint. This is where they get racerunner name from.
Tucano tribe of Colombia consider these lizards 1 of most important animals in mythology & call it Vaimahse meaning “lord of animals.” Also used as phallic symbol due to male’s hemipenis resembling small red stick. Tucano people under influence of hallucinogens have made artwork w/ various masculinity symbols w/ some representations resembling male lizard’s hemipenis.

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