IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)


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Leiocephalus carinatus

Leiocephalus carinatus, commonly known as the northern curly-tailed lizard, is a species of lizard in the family Leiocephalidae (curly-tailed lizards).

Geographic range[edit]

It is native to the Bahama Islands, the Cayman Islands, and Cuba, but also was released intentionally in Palm Beach, Florida, in the 1940s in an attempt to control sugar cane pests.[1]


Adults may attain a snout to vent length (SVL) of 10.5 cm (4.1 in), or a total length, including the tail, of 26 cm (10 in). The dorsal scales are keeled and pointed. L. carinatus resembles lizards of the genus Sceloporus, but with the tail usually curled upward, especially when the lizard is in a horizontal position on rocks or on the ground.[2]


An active, robust lizard, it is mostly terrestrial and will retreat into a burrow or cavity when frightened. It prefers sunny areas with loose rubble and rock. In the Cayman Islands a large captured specimen was observed to consistently burrow completely under the sand in a holding tank, even though a rock retreat was provided. The lizard also "played dead" when handled and remained completely motionless for a short while after being put down.


13 subspecies are recognized, including the nominate race:

  • L. c. carinatus Gray, 1827
  • L. c. aquarius Schwartz & Ogren, 1956
  • L. c. armouri Barbour & Shreve, 1935
  • L. c. cayensis Schwartz, 1959
  • L. c. coryi K.P. Schmidt, 1936
  • L. c. granti Rabb, 1957
  • L. c. hodsdoni K.P. Schmidt, 1936
  • L. c. labrossytus Schwartz, 1959
  • L. c. microcyon Schwartz, 1959
  • L. c. mogotensis Schwartz, 1959
  • L. c. varius Garman, 1887
  • L. c. virescens Stejneger, 1901
  • L. c. zayasi Schwartz, 1959[3]


  1. ^ "Nonnatives - Northern Curlytail Lizard". Florida's Nonnative Species. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Retrieved 2011-11-15. 
  2. ^ Smith, H.M., and E.D. Brodie, Jr. 1982. Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. New York: Golden Press. 240 pp. ISBN 0-307-13666-3. (Leiocephalus carinatus, pp. 132-133.)
  3. ^ Schwartz, A., and R. Thomas. 1975. A Check-list of West Indian Amphibians and Reptiles. Special Publication No. 1. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Carnegie Museum of Natural History. 216 pp. (Leiocephalus carinatus, pp. 127-129.)

Further reading[edit]

  • Gray, J.E. 1827. A Description of a new Genus and some new species of Saurian Reptiles; with a Revision of the Species of Chameleons. Philosoph. Mag. Ann. Chem. Math. Astron. Nat. Hist. Gen. Sci. 2 (9): 297-214. (Leiocephalus carinatus, p. 208.)


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