Florida's Nonnative Wildlife. Species detail.
First year: 1992
Established status: Populations
are confirmed breeding and apparently self-sustaining for 10 or
more consecutive years.
Estimated Florida range: 10
counties At least 10 years
Statewide trend: Unknown
Photograph by Kevin M. Enge © 2003
Threats to natives: Probably
Species Account: The butterfly
lizard (Leiolepis belliana) is an agamid native to Thailand,
Myanmar, the Malay Peninsula, Pinang Island, Bangka, and Sumatra.
Adults are brownish with yellow dorsal ocelli, have bright orange
and black transverse bars on the flanks, and retain some of the
yellow dorsal striping of neonates (Rogner, 1997). The name,
butterfly lizard, is probably derived from its long free ribs that
enable it to flatten its body dorso-ventrally and display its
orange-and-black barred sides that somewhat resemble butterfly
wings. In its native range, butterfly lizards prefer open, dry
areas with loose sand, especially near the coast, where they dig
and live in burrows ca. 30 cm (12 in) deep and 70 cm (28 in) long
(Rogner 1997). In Florida, this species lives in burrows dug in
short, matted Manila templegrass in the yards of residences in at
least a 6 square city block area of Kendall. This species is
extremely alert and quick, and when approached too closely on foot
or in a vehicle, individuals quickly retreated into their burrows
but re-emerged within about 5 min (K. Enge, FFWCC, Quincy, personal
observation). Lizards feed on vegetation, crabs, grasshoppers,
beetle larvae, butterflies, and other insects (Rogner 1997). It is
monogamous, with a single adult pair inhabiting the same burrow
(Rogner 1997), where 3-8 eggs are laid during hot, dry weather (Cox
et al. 1999). This species is also colonial and exhibits parental
care of neonates, with neonates sharing their parents' burrow for a
few months before digging their own burrow nearby (Rogner 1997, Cox
et al. 1999). The Miami population originated from a nearby
tropical fish dealer and was already well established in 1992 (A.
Veloso, Xtreme Reptiles, Miami, personal communication).
Habitats: Low density suburban
development, areas peripheral to core urban areas, and small
|At least 10 years
|At least 10 years
||Kendall area of Miami (A. Veloso, Xtreme Reptiles, Miami,
personal communication; K. Enge, FFWCC, Quincy, personal
Cox, M. J., P. P. van Dijk, J. Jarujin, and K.
Thirakhupt. 1999. A photographic guide to snakes and other reptiles
of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. Ralph Curtis Books,
Sanibel Island, Florida. 144pp.
Rogner, M. 1997. Lizards. Vol. 2. Monitors, skinks,
and other lizards including tuataras and crocodilians. English
Editon. Krieger, Malabar, Florida. 308pp.