Herping in Roatan Island, Honduras

Dedicated exclusively to field herping.

Moderator: Scott Waters

Post Reply
User avatar
mothman
Posts: 62
Joined: June 25th, 2014, 10:34 am
Location: Huntington, West Virginia

Herping in Roatan Island, Honduras

Post by mothman » April 14th, 2015, 1:43 pm

I spent 3.5 days on Roatan Island at the end of February, 2015 to find and photograph some of its many reptiles. This island is about 40 miles long with a central spine of low hills.ImageCaribbean islands are fantastic places to see lizards because of the sheer numbers present and the ability of lizards to adapt to human habitation. Both of these factors make lizard watching relatively easy. Roatan lived up to and surpassed my expectations. I was just putting my rental car into a parking space at the Mariposa Lodge when I saw my first lizard, which was Anolis allisoni. The male Anolis allisoni has a very pronounced, elongated snout with bluish head coloration.Image The female does not have the elongated snout nor the bluish head and is much smaller. This photo of a copulating pair demonstrates this sexual dimorphism. Image This pair was coupled for several minutes. Was he annoyed at me for photographing him in the "act" since after they uncoupled, the male presented his dewlap to me. Image I got pictures of the same male Anolis allisoni copulating and with the dewlap displayed. Thank you lizard for the cooperation!! One male Anolis allisoni who apparently had not warmed up for the day presented with an overall dark brown body coloration. His snout looked extremely comical in this pose on the fence wall.Image
The southwest shore of Roatan is lined in some areas by fossilized reef that was thrust up from the sea floor by tectonic activity. This fossilized reef is called ironshore, which acquires interesting shapes when exposed to the elements.Image An iguanid endemic to Roatan, Ctenosaura oedirhina can be found amongst the rocks and nearby vegetated areas. The first one I saw was a female or subadult on a rock that was also occupied by a male Basiliscus vittatus. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! Image
Subadults or female Ctenosaura oedirhina were much more common than adult males. [URL=http://s300.photobucket.com/user/MLB65/ ... n.jpg.html]ImageImage[/url] I did not see an adult male until my third day on the island. It was very early in the morning with the sun near the horizon shining its light into my eyes. I looked towards the ironshore formation into the glaring sunlight and did not see any Ctenosaura. I was about to turn away when my eyes detected the alternating dark and light vertical banding pattern I had seen in photos of adult male Ctenosaura oedirhina. I really did not see the lizard per se in the glaring sunlight until after I spotted the color bands.Image

A pair of Gymnophthalmus speciosus were having a fierce battle several hundred feet away at the leaf litter/sandy beach interface. [url=http://s300.photobucket.com/user/MLB65/ ... o.jpg.html]Image

There were a group of about a dozen Gymnophthalmus speciosus in the leaf litter adjacent to a sandy beach on the north shore of Roatan. These were moving through the leaf litter to briefly appear and stop at the surface for a few seconds. I did manage to get one decent photo of these guys before they dove back underneath the leaf litter. Where they following a pheromone trail?Image
Basiliscus vittatus were seen along the beach vegetation, in the vegetation at the Mariposa Lodge, as well as the vegetation amongst the ironshore formations. Here is a juvenile Basiliscus vittatus atop beach debris. Image
This male had a striking pose on the stump of a palm tree, which was in the yard of a vacation rental. Image The endemic dwarf gecko, Sphaerodactylus rosaurae was seen at the base of a palm tree trunk and quickly scampered up the trunk. I did manage to get this one shot before it dove into the palm fronds.Image The teiids are represented by the brilliantly colored Cnemidophorus ruatanus, which inhabit sandy beach/vegetation habitat. The males have brilliant, luminescent green background coloration with tiny yellow spots. The head and forefeet are a brilliant blue.Image Sexual dimorphism is present in Cnemidophorus ruatanus. Females have alternating horizontal narrow yellow and wide black stripes with green coloration only present on the ventral scales. This species was recently classified as a separate species from the rainbow lizard, Cnemidophorus lemniscatus. Image What would a trip to a tropical location be without spotting exotic geckos at the hotel. Several dozen Hemidactylus frenatus could be seen every night at the veranda of the lodge.Image On the north shore of Roatan at the interface between leaf litter and sandy beach, I spotted this pair of Gymnophthalmus speciosus engaged in fierce combat. This combat lasted for several minutes.Image
This site was several hundred feet away from the dozen or so Gymnophthalmus speciosus that were engaged in presumably more amorous activities as mentioned above. Unfortunately, I did not observe the endemic Norops roatanensis but I did see and photograph a Norps sagrei. I only saw one snake which could have been Drymarchon melanurus based on its large size and coloration but alas it slipped into the undergrowth before I could get a better view. I did not go looking for snakes at night since I was traveling solo.

Identification of the lizards was made possiblewith the use of the excellent book entitled " Amphibians and Reptiles of the Bay Islands and Cayos Cochinos, Honduras" by James R. McCranie, Larry David Wilson, and Gunther Kohler.

User avatar
Ribbit
Posts: 601
Joined: June 12th, 2010, 9:28 am
Location: Monterey Peninsula, CA
Contact:

Re: Herping in Roatan Island, Honduras

Post by Ribbit » April 15th, 2015, 12:32 pm

Lizard party! The color on that first Anolis allisoni is incredible. Those big male basilisks look soooo proud of themselves.

That ironshore reminds me of the limestone tsingy from Madagascar, though it's formed a very different way. Was it as sharp as it looks?

John

NACairns
Posts: 372
Joined: December 30th, 2013, 7:27 am

Re: Herping in Roatan Island, Honduras

Post by NACairns » April 15th, 2015, 2:05 pm

Great observations and photos. Those Anolis allisoni are stunning lizards. Thanks for posting.
Best,
Nick

User avatar
Mike VanValen
Posts: 2073
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:41 pm
Location: Connecticut
Contact:

Re: Herping in Roatan Island, Honduras

Post by Mike VanValen » April 15th, 2015, 7:24 pm

We don't see enough Caribbean reports around these parts. Thanks for sharing your adventure. Looks like that male Ctenosaur lost his spiny tail?

User avatar
mothman
Posts: 62
Joined: June 25th, 2014, 10:34 am
Location: Huntington, West Virginia

Re: Herping in Roatan Island, Honduras

Post by mothman » April 15th, 2015, 7:46 pm

Th
Ribbit wrote:Lizard party! The color on that first Anolis allisoni is incredible. Those big male basilisks look soooo proud of themselves.

That ironshore reminds me of the limestone tsingy from Madagascar, though it's formed a very different way. Was it as sharp as it looks?

John
The ironshore rock did have sharp edges. It is a shame that the ironshore formations are not conserved into a national park. The expensive homes are built just behind the formations. I had to walk on unsold vacant lots to access the formations. The government is more interested in tax dollars than national treasures.

Mitch

User avatar
mothman
Posts: 62
Joined: June 25th, 2014, 10:34 am
Location: Huntington, West Virginia

Re: Herping in Roatan Island, Honduras

Post by mothman » April 15th, 2015, 7:50 pm

Mike VanValen wrote:We don't see enough Caribbean reports around these parts. Thanks for sharing your adventure. Looks like that male Ctenosaur lost his spiny tail?
Mike,

The tail of the adult male Ctenosaura is not spiny. Most of the lizard's tail in the photo is behind a rock. It would have been great if the tail was exposed for the photo.

Mitch

daniel
Posts: 108
Joined: July 2nd, 2013, 9:29 am
Location: California

Re: Herping in Roatan Island, Honduras

Post by daniel » April 15th, 2015, 9:05 pm

Very cool, thank you for sharing!

This post brought back some very fond memories for me. I spent a few months on Roatan, in Pandy Town and Brick Bay, about 13 years ago. I was not as into herping then, but I do remember quite a few basilisks and Ctenosaura. I also saw a DOR Boa constrictor and a vine snake Oxybelis? that regurgitated a Ctenosaura.

User avatar
chrish
Posts: 3298
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
Location: San Antonio, TX
Contact:

Re: Herping in Roatan Island, Honduras

Post by chrish » April 16th, 2015, 6:43 am

Cool post. I've always wondered what that endemic Ctenosaura looked like. It's attractive for a Ctenosaur.

Daniel.Iversen
Posts: 36
Joined: August 19th, 2015, 1:04 am
Location: Riva del Garda, Italy

Re: Herping in Roatan Island, Honduras

Post by Daniel.Iversen » December 24th, 2015, 5:56 am

I like those pictures , very nice !
Im looking all the Honduras related posts in the forum , Im searchin if I can find some environment like pictures, or some milksnakes pictures in the wild..

User avatar
walk-about
Posts: 567
Joined: June 14th, 2010, 11:04 am
Location: 'God's Country' aka western KY
Contact:

Re: Herping in Roatan Island, Honduras

Post by walk-about » December 25th, 2015, 6:06 pm

That 'ruatanus' is amazing! Great series of lizard photos. I can never get enough of these and I would really love to see more from Honduras.

Dave

Post Reply