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Whatís Green, Slender, and Has Keeled Belly Scales? by Richard Bartlett on 2024-04-15 13:40:00


All 3 photos are of this beautiful East African taxon.
Why, a lizard of course. In fact, the lizard taxon of which Iím thinking has derived its common name from these features. Now identified scientifically as Gastropholis prasina, it is commonly referred to as the Green Keel-bellied Lizard.

The genus name, Gastropholis, refers to the belly and prasina, the species name refers to the green coloration.

Family: Lacertidae; Wall and Jewel Lizards.

Color: Basically a vibrant green except for rear of legs that is blue-gray. Often has a bluish tinge on lips and throat. If frightened/insecure the overall color may fade to a duller green. Females may be a bit paler than the males.

Lizard Size: A relatively slender 12 to 16+ inches of which 70% is the weakly, but effectively, prehensile tail. The digits are long, slender, visibly jointed, and ideal for an arboreal existence.

Scalation: Scales keeled and finely granular dorsally. Lateral scales are smallest in the upper rows but increase in size as they descend and meet the 6 longitudinal rows of visibly keeled belly (ventral) larger and visibly keeled.ventral ing-Disposition: Males (and occasional females) are agonistic to others of the same sex.

Preferred Temperatures and activity period:Diurnal; 75-85F (24-30C)

Terrarium Size/Type suggested: Upright format at least 30 and preferably 40 gallon size, planted, humid forest with sturdy climbing limbs.

Natural History: Coastal area of Tanzania and Kenya. An arboreal lizard of variable forested conditions, trees and shrubs.

Comments: Of the 4 species in this genus, three, G. tropidopholis, G. vittata, and G. prasina, are green in color and arboreal. The 4th taxon G. vittata,is basically terrestrial and buff-striped brown in color..Ventral scales are strongly keeled. Only one, G. prasina, is currently (Feb. 2024) available in the American pet industry.

Much has been learned about the natural history of this lizard from both captive breeders and field observers. Notes from the field observers, published in ďA Field Guide to the Reptiles of East Africa (written by Stephen Spawls Robert Drewer, Kim Howell and James Ashe) informs us of the arboreal tendencies of prasina in the coastal woodlands, but mentions also that examples have been found in terrestrial locations. Eggs have been found both in damp tree hollows and in terraria. One clutch numbered 5 eggs and incubation duration was 61 days at 79F.
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