Giant Ameiva

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Species group:

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 basics:
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

Giant Ameiva Health Tip

Giant Ameiva

From Skinkerdoodles Feb 26 2017 7:09PM


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