Did You Know? 21 Incredible Green Ameiva Facts

Amazing green ameiva facts to share with your kids to know more about this species.

This streamlined-shaped species of Ameiva, scattered all over the South American continent in myriad habitats including the tropical rainforests, are extraordinary looking lizards with an unusual green color. The genus Ameiva is widely called jungle runners and belongs to the family of Autarchoglossan lizards. There are over 14 Ameiva species, and the Ameiva ameiva can also be dubbed as the giant Ameiva, green ameiva, Amazon racerunner, and South American ground lizard. These lizards are diurnal and play an integral role in the ecosystem as these lizards are a host for numerous microorganisms. Even though the giant ameiva is not a territorial lizard,  it has a home range and is primarily a solitary lizard. The status of these lizards is Not Evaluated, however it is considered as an invasive species in the United States. This particular green ameiva lizard is thought to be a carrier of Salmonella which can be harmful to humans.

Already intrigued? Keep reading this article for more interesting facts about the green ameiva. We have more even more articles with fascinating facts about other animals like the garden lizard or monkey-tailed skink.

Green Ameiva

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Larvae, crickets, frogs, grasshoppers, beetles, termites, mealworms, and spiders

What do they eat?

Carnivore and Insectivore

Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

0.1 lb (68 g)

How long are they?

45–50 cm (18–20 in)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Brown and green

Skin Type

Dry scales

What are their main threats?

Snakes, roadside hawks, and parasites

What is their conservation status?

Not Evaluated

Where you'll find them

Tropical rainforest


Central and South America





Scientific Name

Ameiva ameiva





Green Ameiva Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a green ameiva?

This remarkable species with its greenish body found all over the South American continent is a type of lizard.

What class of animal does a green ameiva belong to?

The South American ground lizard belongs to the class of Reptilia, the family Teiidae, and the genus Ameiva.

How many green ameivas are there in the world?

The population of green ameivas was limited within the territory of South America, however, recently this lizard was introduced to the United States. It was predominately introduced to Florida where this species is thriving. Even though the status of giant ameivas is unknown, it is not a threatened species. However, the total number of these reptiles is not reported.

Where does a green ameiva live?

The geographic range of the South American ground lizard covers the countries of the South American continent and in Central America. This lizard is predominantly found in Brazil, Surinam, Colombo, French Guiana, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Venezuela, Guyana, and Paraguay. Giant ameivas also inhabit the Caribbean Islands of Tobago and Trinidad, the Grenadines, Barbados, Margarita, Grenada, Isla de la Providencia, and Swan Island. After its introduction to the United States, this green lizard is mainly found in south Florida.

What is a green ameiva's habitat?

The forests and savannah of the Amazon and Brazil are where these lizards thrive. Rainforest that has been newly harvested is their most desirable habitat. Their rate of reproduction also depends on their habitat and the amount of rainfall. Lizards that inhabit areas which receive incessant rainfall throughout the year yield more eggs than those lizards who exist in places where rainfall is seasonal. This means that breeding is also seasonal.

The South American ground lizard is also kept as a pet and when in captivity, they make tunnels under rock or logs if provided with adequate soil. In the wild, they dwell under leaf litter, logs, and often seek shelter on the forest floor. They are non-territorial but have a home range.

Who do green ameivas live with?

These South American ground lizards are solitary reptiles and not much has been documented about their nature and behavior. When they mate, they may communicate with their partner with the help of femoral glands.

How long does a green ameiva live?

The lifespan of a South American ground lizard may vary according to its surroundings whether it is in the wild or captivity. However, in confinement, this reptile may survive to around three years of age. The accurate lifespan is unknown but based on a small specimen quantity, in the wild, they can survive up to five years. The major predators of these green ameivas include green snakes, Guira cuckoos, roadside hawks, and coral snakes.

Their lifespan is also affected by protist parasites that are generally present in their gut and invade the epithelial cell and damage their organs such as the kidneys, lungs, gallbladder, and spleen. Some of the parasites may include Plasmodium telfordi, Acroeimeria pintoi, Plasmodium carmelinoi, and Plasmodium attenuatum.

How do they reproduce?

The reproduction status of these green reptiles that live in areas that receive downpours throughout the year differs from the reptiles in other areas. The method of reproduction of this species is based on the observation of the reproduction process of the Caribbean Ameiva because of inadequate data. When lizards attain sexual maturity at eight months of age for both males and females, the males exhibit the disposition of safeguarding the females during copulation.

The gestation period is five months and the eggs are laid in clutches. The size of eggs varies according to the region. The female lays approximately six to 11 eggs, and females who are typically larger have a bigger clutch size than smaller females. Females can lay up to three clutches every cycle.

What is their conservation status?

The exact conservation status of this lizard is Not Evaluated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature but it is assumed that they are not threatened, so no extra measures are being taken for the conservation of this reptile. However in Saint Vincent, the South American ground lizard has undergone local extinction.

Green Ameiva Fun Facts

What do green ameivas look like?

The unusual color of this reptile is one of the explanations why these lizards are widely kept as pets. The giant ameiva is a moderately sized reptile that exhibits sexual dimorphism and the length of males is greater than the females. The average body length of adults is 18-20 in (45-50 cm) and weighs around 0.1 lb (68 g). Smooth scales cover their entire body and they have a mottled appearance. The ventral side is partially ivory and green but the range of color may vary from deep greenish to black while the dorsal side is primarily dark brown.

Another distinguish characteristics is the presence of femoral pores located on the ventral side of their back legs. The femoral pores are similar in both genders and have a diameter of 0.04 in (1 mm), however, the number of pores may vary. The males have 17-23 single rows of pores and the females have 16-22 single rows of pores. Like most lizards of the whiptail family, the South American ground lizard is characterized by its long tail and pointed snout. Like its fellow reptiles like the Texas horned lizard and caiman lizard, the tongue of green ameivas is forked. Their legs are strong and their claws are high to help them to climb and run.

The color of the juveniles is distinct from that of the adults as they have white lines instead of yellow on their bodies.

How cute are they?

Giant aveivas are reptiles of medium size and they are admired for their unique color and appearance by many people. Others may find them intimidating.

How do they communicate?

The South American ground lizard is solitary and commonly spotted unaccompanied in its territory. However, the presence of femoral glands produce certain chemical which enables these ameivas to communicate with each other particularly during the mating season.

How big is a green ameiva?

The average green ameiva size is approximately 18-20 in (45-50 cm). The adults are medium-sized and extremely active. This giant ameiva demonstrates sexual dimorphism as a male giant ameiva is bigger than the female. Giant ameivas are very small compared to other species of the Teiidae family such as caiman lizards that can grow up to 47 in (120 cm).

How fast can a green ameiva run?

The accurate speed of giant ameivas is not known. However, other species can move quickly.

How much does a green ameiva weigh?

The average weight of an adult green ameiva lizard is 0.1 lb (68 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no different names for a male and female lizard.

What would you call a baby green ameiva?

Giant ameivas are called juveniles until they grow into adults.

What do they eat?

The South American ground lizard diet consists of a variety of insects, grasshoppers, crickets, spiders, worms, and termites that can be found in their habitual place. When they are kept as a pet, their diet consists of mealworms and other insects. The size of the amount of food these lizards need grows along with the growth of giant ameivas.

Are they poisonous?

There is no such information whether giant ameivas are venomous. However, they are a probable carrier of Salmonella bacteria which can prove harmful to humans.

Would they make a good pet?

The South American ground lizard is a popular pet. The temperament of these ameivas can be aggressive at times and they may even bite if prompted. They can be extremely active and troublesome to handle. They require a special environment, adequate soil, and proper food like mealworms. Green ameiva care can be on the moderate to the higher side. Although they carry parasites and bacteria like Salmonella which can potentially infect humans, they are considered a pet.

Did you know...

The name of the genus is derived from the Tupí language and it was described by George Marcgrave in 1648.

Like other lizards, the tail of the South American ground lizard also detaches from its body.

Where are green ameivas from?

The South American ground lizard is an inhabitant of South America. These diurnal lizards are largely active during morning and afternoon. They are a common sight in the tropical rainforest, farming lands, and open terrains of Brazil, Argentina, Surinam, Colombo, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, French Guiana, Paraguay, Guyana, Barbados, the Grenadines, Tobago and Trinidad, Swan Island, Grenada, and also in south Florida of the USA.

What is the breeding pattern of green ameivas?

The breeding pattern of the South American ground lizard depends on their environment. These lizards are kept as a pet and bred, however, not much data is available about their breeding in captivity.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these long tail boa facts and monitor lizard facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable lizard mask coloring pages.



At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.

We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.

Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.

Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.

Sponsorship & Advertising Policy

Kidadl is independent and to make our service free to you the reader we are supported by advertising.

We hope you love our recommendations for products and services! What we suggest is selected independently by the Kidadl team. If you purchase using the buy now button we may earn a small commission. This does not influence our choices. Please note: prices are correct and items are available at the time the article was published.

Kidadl has a number of affiliate partners that we work with including Amazon. Please note that Kidadl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.

We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.

Read our Sponsorship & Advertising Policy
Get The Kidadl Newsletter

1,000 of inspirational ideas direct to your inbox for things to do with your kids.

Thank you! Your newsletter will be with you soon.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
No items found.
No items found.