Florida's Nonnative Wildlife. Species detail.
First year: 1995
Established status: Populations
are confirmed breeding and apparently self-sustaining for 10 or
more consecutive years.
Estimated Florida range: 1
county At least 10 years
Statewide trend: Expanding
Photograph by Kevin M. Enge © 2003
Threats to natives: None known,
but it presumably will prey on smaller lizards. The urbanized area
where it occurs probably does not support populations of our native
teiid, the six-lined racerunner (Cnemidophorus sexlineatus).
Species Account: The giant
whiptail is a large (males up to 33 cm) teiid lizard from northern
South America. At least 1 thriving population was established in
Miami by 1995 (Bartlett 1995), but its present status is unclear
because of continuing construction (Bartlett and Bartlett 1999).
This population probably resulted from the deliberate release of
animals, although no known reptile dealers are located nearby
(Bartlett 1995). Another population was discovered on the edge of
Everglades National Park near Chekika in 2004 (K. M. Enge, FFWCC,
Quincy, personal observation). Habitat includes canal banks,
nurseries, road sides, and office complexes. The back is golden
brown and shades into tan or deeper brown on the sides. The body
and base of the tail are liberally flecked with bright yellow
spots, and the lower sides are black with white or turquoise
flecks. The head and distal portion of the tail are russet colored.
This alert, active lizard frequents open fields, canal banks, edges
of grassy parking lots, and road shoulders (Bartlett and Bartlett
Habitats: Barren land, Low density
suburban development, areas peripheral to core urban areas, and
small towns, Agricultural habitat, Recently disturbed, early
||At least 10 years
||Kendall (Bartlett 1995); population also present for at least
20 years in the Opa-locka (Meshaka et al. 2004) and on abandoned
nursery land in the Chekika area (K. Enge, FFWCC, Quincy, personal
Bartlett, R. D. 1995. The teiids of the
southeastern U.S. Tropical Fish Hobbyist 43(7):112, 114-119,
Bartlett, R. D., and P. P. Bartlett. 1999. A field
guide to Florida reptiles and amphibians. Gulf Publishing Company,
Houston, Texas. 278pp.
Meshaka, W. E., Jr., B. P. Butterfield, and J. B.
Hauge. 2004. The exotic amphibians and reptiles of Florida.
Krieger, Melbourne, Florida. 166pp.