Species group: Ameiva Lizards and Whiptails
Other common names: Green Ameiva; Amazon Whiptail; Green Garden Lizard; Giant Jungle Runner; Amazon Racerunner; Zandolie; Dwarf Tegu; South American Ground Lizard
Scientific name: Ameiva ameiva
The Giant Ameiva is a species of Whiptail lizard (Teiidae), which is native to a wide variety of habitats throughout Central and South America. They have also been introduced to Florida in the United States. The Giant Ameiva is a large lizard (2 ft. / 45–50 cm), and feeds on insects, spiders and small frogs.
The Giant Ameiva is an active lizard, and needs a relatively large 40-60 gallon terrarium. Also, as they burrow, they need a moist substrate which is 4-6 inches deep. Like Geckos, they can drop their tails as a defense mechanism if startled or threatened.
Appearance / health:
The Giant Ameiva matures to almost 2 feet in length, with the tail almost twice the length of the body. The head is angular, almost shaped like a pyramid. The body color is generally brown with irregular black markings or reticulations, although some color variations exist, dependent on geographic location.
The male, slightly larger and with a more dominant jaw than the female, has a bright green patch on the center of the back down to the base of the tail. Under the head, chest, and forelimbs, the plate-like scales are smooth and white in color. The belly and underside of the tail are bluish green. Like other Teiidae species, the Amazon Whiptail has a forked tongue and smooth lips.
Behavior / temperament:
Giant Ameivas are active in the daytime, spending most of their time digging. They are lively and agile and make good pets because they are attractive and energetic.
Giant Ameivas are best kept in rainforest type enclosures with plenty of hiding places like hollow logs, driftwood burrows, and cork tubes. The recommended substrate is moist and 4-6 inches deep to allow burrowing. Foliage helps simulate the rainforest environment, but potted plants are ideal because these Whiptails are relentless diggers that can uproot or undermine vegetation. Day temp: 77-90F; night temp: 68-71F; basking temp: 104-113F; humidity: 70-80%; lighting: 12-14 hours, UV radiation required.
Ameivas are best kept singly because males and females are aggressive towards each other. Humidity must be monitored closely for good health. Misting daily is recommended. So is keeping a fresh bowl of water.
The Ameiva ameiva is omnivorous. It enjoys all types of insects, spiders, and small animals, including frogs. It also eats fruits occasionally.
Giant Ameivas are egg-layers. They lay eggs in damp nesting areas like soft soil, rotting logs, or decaying leaf litter. Several clutches of eggs are laid from March to December.
best diurnal reptiles, experienced reptile keeper, excellent temperament, interesting behaviours
small crickets, Jungle Runner
From Kacie Bingham Sep 30 2017 3:19AM
Mini Tegus on a sugar high
I have owned two of these wonderful lizards, one definitely male, one likely female. I started with a captive bred green ameiva that I had from four days old. I had raised her for almost a year when she passed away for reasons unknown. The male I had was purchased as a long-term captive adult, very healthy and active as well. These lizards make great terrarium subjects as they are active, come in beautiful colours, and will learn to tong feed. Appearance: These ameivas start out as a dull brown and green as juveniles but can start to colour up as they become adults. They have many different browns, greens, and blues, however, the males of this species will be the more colourful sex. They are in the same family as tegus, so they have the same general body shape (some people even all these "dwarf tegus"). Temperament/handling: Ameivas in general are very active but also rather skittish. Most will not "tame" down and will not hold stilll for handling. You can gain their trust by offering food off of tongs, and once they are less hesitant around you, you should be able to observe them much more and see some interesting behaviours. Having a front-opening enclosure also helps a ton when building trust. Visibility/activity level: These lizards are visible and very active when they are out basking and foraging. Mine would be out from the morning to mid-day but then leave and go hide in their burrows for the rest of the day. Once they went in their burrows for the day, I didn't usually see much else from them. Habitat and maintenance: These guys do very well when you set up their habitat right. They require large areas to run, deep substrate to burrow, and high humidity for proper health. I would say the minimum size enclosure for one would be a 40 gallon breeder tank which has a floor space of about 36"x18". I had kept mine in a custom enclosure that I built measuring 4'x2'x3'. Provide at least 4", preferably 6"+ of substrate. I found that top soil (without any additives) works well at holding moisture and holding up their burrows. I kept the humidity between 50-75% and sprayed the enclosure every couple of days. If you use an enclosure with a screentop, cover most of the top with something like plexiglass or foil to prevent the humidity from escaping. I kept the ambient temperatures between the high-70s to low-90s. The basking surface temperature ranged between 100-125. I provided heating using an indoor floodlamp, and I also provided a UVB tube light. These guys will appreciate lots of bark and cork logs to hide in and navigate. As far as maintenance goes, my substrate was bioactive which means that I added a "clean-up crew" such as springtails, earthworms, isopods, mealworms, and others that would eat the feces and any fungus or mold that might try to grow. I also tossed in lots of leaves that the clean-up crew could hide under, and the ameivas would forage and dig in it, great mental stimulation and natural behaviours. Health: These lizards do fairly well in captivity. Most of them are wild caught, so be sure to get a fecal exam done to check for internal parasites. They can sometimes develop a nose-rub; you can reduce the chances of that developing by providing a spacious enclosure and only having one side of the enclosure transparent. Feeding: These guys will eat practically anything. I fed them crickets, superworms, pinkie mice, dubia, mealworms, earthworms, isopods, chicken, shrimp, and eggs. Variety is very important, but for the most part, stick to whole prey; things like chicken bits were fed more as a treat. I occasionally dusted the insects with calcium without D3. If you are not using UVB, or have a weak UVB bulb, you need to supplement with calcium with D3..
From Skinkerdoodles Feb 26 2017 7:09PM