The thorntail lizard's most notable feature is, not surprisingly, its tail. From this, it has inherited
numerous variations on its name: thorny-tail, beaver-tail or shovel-tail lizard. So the advantages of the
scientific name become apparent; it is Tropidurus flaviceps (Scientists have recently revised the taxonomy of these lizards, splitting the genus into several genera,
reassigning this species to Uracentron.
It is a medium sized lizard; males measure about 8 inches from head to tail, females are a bit shorter.
The tail is large and flat, perhaps to store fat, rather like a gecko. It is covered with scales that end in a
point, forming spines from the tip to the base. The function of the spines is unclear. The brown body is
speckled with yellow or gold spots, while the males tend to have orange heads, whereas the females have yellow
HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION
Among with many other species, the thorntail lizard is a canopy specialistit spends its entire life high
in the tree tops and is well-adapted for its niche. The species is found throughout much of the lowland neotropics.
FEEDING AND DIET
The thorntail iguana feeds on small insects that inhabit the branches and twigs high in the canopy. It seems
particularly fond of guzzling ants which wander within range. This is the "sit and wait" foraging mode.
It is diurnal, active during the day.
During breeding season, males become more territorial and display with bobbing head and body movements to
advertise their presence. This motion, found among many similar species of Tropidurus serves to inform
prospective mates and rivals of the lizard's condition. Like most reptiles, parental care among this
species is probably minimal. Once the eggs are laid (see oviparous), the young are left to fend for themselves.
The conservation picture of this species is muddied by its uncertain taxonomic status. The main threat to the
thornytail lizard is most likely loss of its preferred rainforest trees due to deforestation.