Reptiles & Amphibians

Our primary research focus in recent years has been the islands reptiles and amphibians, many of which are threatened and little studied. A total of 46 species have been recorded, four of which are endemic to Utila and occur nowhere else in the world. This species list has the potential to grow as large portions of the island have not been previously surveyed, plus both natural and human-mediated pathways for species introduction or invasion are ongoing. We have published various aspects of species natural history, ecology, diet and behaviour.

 

What makes Utila so exciting is that most species have received little or no previous research. Consequently, not much is known about the behaviour, ecology, habitat preferences, population size or island distribution of Utila's herpetofauna. This is especially the case in regards to the endemic lizard species e.g. Gecko (P. palmeus, , S. poindexteri) and Anoles (Anolis bicaorum, A. utilensis).

​Research on the herps of Utila is particularly important, as preliminary observations suggest that many species are threatened by habitat loss (mangroves and hardwood forests), pollution, domestic pets and native/non-native invasive species. These threats appear to be increasing exponentially with increasing development of Utila's tourism industry.  

Here at Kanahau, we recognise the need for active research into all of the island's biodiversity, including these data deficient Herpetofauna populations to form a foundation for active and effective species conservation.

Our aim for this projects is to identify key areas of habitat by plotting the distribution of herpetofaunal diversity across the island, identifying niche preference, species interactions, ecology, and previously un-recorded behaviors through visual encounter surveying. The ultimate goal being to focus our research efforts in the areas and species of greatest conservation priorities.

This project offers valuable field research experience and thesis data to students, graduates and passionate wildlife enthusiasts alike! We are especially keen to support and accommodate independent research in regards to the islands herpetofauna; welcoming the generation of new projects and university collaborations!

Species list on Utila

Currently, the recorded herpetofauna diversity is comprised of 27 families and 47 species, though not all species are well-established on the island.  In summary, the species list totals 2-3 freshwater turtle, 3 sea turtle, 1 crocodile, 18 lizard, 14 snake and 6 frog species. Please find a species list below. Taxonomic nomenclature updated as of July 2021, with published examples of our work on each species.

Amphibians

Smilisca baudinii
Scinax staufferi
Dendropsophus microcephalus
Lithobates berlandeiri
Leptodactylus melanolomus
Greenhouse Frog (Eleutherodactylus planirostris)
Smilisca baudinii
Scinax staufferi
Dendropsophus microcephalus
Scinax staufferi
Smilisca baudinii
Dendropsophus microcephalus
Leptodactylus melanolomus
Smilisca baudinii
Smilisca baudinii
Dendropsophus microcephalus
Smilisca baudinii

Lizards

Sphaerodactylus poindexteri
Golden Spectacled Tegu
Sphearodactylus rosaurae
Anolis utilensis
Rainbow Whiptail Lizard
Phyllodactylus palmeus - Bay Island endemic
Marisora roatanae
Rainbow Whiptail Lizard
Anolis utilensis - Utila endemic
Basciliscus vittaus - Male
Ctenosaura bakeri
Ctenosaura bakeri
Sphaerodactylus rosaurae - Bay Island endemic
Green Iguana iguana
Anolis sagrei - Male
Ctenosaura similis - Juvenile
Anolis allisoni
Anolis utilensis
Anolis sagrei - Female
Green Iguana iguana
Anolis bicaorum
Leptodactylus lugubris
Anolis unibolatus

Snakes

Brown Vinesnake (Oxybelis kohleri)
Oxybelis fulgidus
Orange-bellied Swamp Snake
Oxybelis kohleri
Green Vinesnake (Oxybelis fulgidus)
Pacific Long-tailed Snake (Enulius flavitorques)
Blunt-headed Tree Snake (Imatodes cenchoa)
Snake Shed Skin
Mastigodryas melanonotus
Boa imperator
Coniophanes imperialis
Psuedoelaphe flavirufa
Psuedoelaphe flavirufa
Oxybelis fulgidus eating Hemidactylus
Leptophis mexicanus
Imatodes cenchoa