CURLY TAILS – ENCHANTING LIZARDS
This is an expanded and rejigged post based on bits and pieces originally scattered around the MISC WILDLIFE page, written now partly because of various search queries recently – diet and so forth – which had not been covered.
First, the very dull scientific classification bit (wiki-debt): Kingdom – Animalia; Phylum – Chordata; Class – Sauropsida; Suborder – Iguania; Family – Leiocephalidae; Genus – Leiocephalus [Subspecies Carinatus?]
The ‘curly-tailed lizard’ family is widely found throughout the Caribbean but is apparently relatively unstudied (but why on earth not?). There are nearly 30 distinct varieties, many specific to individual islands. My completely uneducated guess is that the Abaco ones may be one of the several subspecies of ‘Cuban or Northern Curly-tailed Lizard’ carinatus, the ones found generally in the Bahamas. But who cares? By any standards they are totally cute! This photo was taken at the bottom of the steps down to the Delphi Club beach.
The CT is described as an active, robust lizard that is mostly terrestrial and will retreat into a burrow or cavity when frightened. It prefers sunny areas with loose rubble and rock. Bahamas curly tails were apparently released intentionally in Palm Beach, Florida, in the 1940s in an attempt to control sugar cane pests.
Jan 2012 update: Having had a number of hits over the last few months for ‘what do Curly Tails eat’ and other CT-related information, I checked out aqualandpetsplus.com of Des Moines, Iowa (the first Google hit, in fact). With kind permission (many thanks, Larry) here’s some more about these little lizards
THE CURLY TAIL DIET: “Considered insectivores, curly-tails scamper right after crickets. They’ll also learn to eat mealworms and superworms from your fingers. You can give them other insects like wax worms which they love but tend to over-eat. Roaches, houseflies, or any arthropods / bugs that accumulate around your porch light make a nice change of pace…OR…take a stroll down the baby food aisle. Think twice about the bananas. Bananas are not good for some lizards. Skip the bananas. Anyway, apple sauce works great. The best thing about baby food? You can add a Calcium/Vitamin D supplement to it. Much easier than dusting crickets (which start cleaning it off the second it gets on them). Curly-tails will also eat bits of leafy lettuce. Uneaten crickets in their cage will also eat the fruits and vegetables you offer your lizards” Larry Arnold
So I can’t answer someone’s specific query ‘do they eat tomatoes?’, save to say ‘why not try tomato sauce’ (and I don’t mean a well-known proprietary brand, one of 57 varieties). Maybe have a few crickets handy in case it is politely declined
For further info on curly tails from theBahamas National Trust website CLICK LINK ===>>> http://www.bnt.bs/curlytaillizardinfo.php?catid=&subid= where there is also a downloadable PDF version
BIBLIOGRAPHY: “101 Uses for a Curly Tail” Rolling Harbour Press (2011)
(1) The gate latch (2) The window latch
(NB No Curly Tails were harmed in the creation of these images)