The Green Ameiva is a medium-sized hardy lizard native to Central and South America as well as many other tropical locations including the Caribbean Islands and the Grenadines.
Also called “jungle runners’ Green Ameivas are fast runners that can sprint up to 10 miles an hour. This lizard has a streamlined body with a pointed head. These lizards are undervalued animals that don’t receive a lot of attention. However, they are very interesting lizards that can make good pets.
Quick Facts about the Green Ameiva
|Common Name:||Giant Ameiva|
|Lifespan:||3 – 5 years|
|Adult Size:||18 – 20 inches|
|Diet:||Various insects including crickets, grasshoppers, roaches, mealworms|
|Minimum Tank Size:||40-gallon|
|Temperature & Humidity:||75 – 85°F Temperature
60 – 80% Humidity
Do Green Ameivas Make Good Pets?
Green Ameivas typically do well in captivity as these lizards are generally very healthy. However, a Green Ameiva does not make a good starter lizard because it’s a quick-moving lizard that could escape if an inexperienced person is caring for it. With that being said, these lizards can make great pets as long as they’re handled with care and kept close tabs on. A Green Ameiva can be skittish, nervous, and jumpy at first but will usually calm down and become more docile as it gets used to its owner and new habitat.
The Green Ameiva is a colorful lizard with a streamlined body, long tail, slightly forked tongue, and a pointed snout. This lizard has a mottled appearance to its color pattern with a dark green background color. The females have less green than males and a more dusty green color. The males are vibrant green with bolder mottling. The jaws on the male Green Ameiva are more expanded while both sexes have random dark spots along the sides of the body.
How to Take Care of a Green Ameiva
Like all lizards kept as pets, you have to provide your Green Ameiva with the right habitat that best mimics this lizard’s native tropical environment.
Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup
In the wild, Green Ameivas live on the forest floor, often seeking shelter in fallen leaves and under logs. This lizard likes having plenty of space so you must provide a pet Ameiva with a good-sized tank. Since this animal is terrestrial, it spends most of its time when awake on the floor of a tank so a longer tank is better than one that’s tall.
Plan on spending a couple of hundred dollars on the equipment you’ll need to provide your Green Ameiva with a proper habitat. Remember that your lizard can live for a few years, so it’s important to provide it with a great environment so it can live a happy and healthy life.
A Green Ameiva likes plenty of space which means you have to provide your lizard with a good-sized tank. A 40-gallon tank that’s longer than it is high is the ideal size for this terrestrial animal. The tank should be covered with a tight-fitting lid to prevent your Green Ameiva from escaping.
In the wild, the Green Ameiva burrows into the ground cover in search of food and to hide from predators. That’s why you should put 3 to 4 inches of bark bedding or coconut fiber on the tank floor. Add some tank decor like driftwood, rocks, and live or fake plants like ficus or philodendron for cover.
Plan on cleaning the tank out every two weeks to keep your lizard’s habitat clean and healthy. This involves replacing the bedding and cleaning the tank sides and bottom as well as the water dish with warm soapy water.
The Green Ameiva is a diurnal animal which means it is the most active during the day. You can provide your Green Ameiva with the proper light it needs by placing a heat-producing daytime reptile UVA light at the top of the tank. Keep the light on during the daytime hours and turn it off at night so your lizard can get the rest it needs.
Heating (Temperature & Humidity)
The daytime temperature of the Green Ameiva tank should be 75 – 85°F with the nighttime temp at around 72°F. This lizard is from a humid tropical environment. When kept in captivity, a Green Ameiva tank should have a 60 – 80% humidity level. This level can be achieved by keeping the lizard’s water bowl filled and by misting the tank 2 to 3 times daily.
Since this tropical lizard likes to burrow, it’s important to put several inches of bedding at the bottom of the tank. A good choice of bedding for a Green Ameiva is natural bark bedding. This lizard also likes burrowing in coconut fiber bedding. Which type you use is up to you, although bark bedding is typically easier to find, and especially at local pet stores.
|Tank Type:||40-gallon glass terrarium|
|Lighting:||Daytime UVA reptile light|
|Heating:||Heat producing UVA light|
|Best Substrate:||Natural bark bedding|
Feeding Your Green Ameiva
Feeding your Green Ameiva is rather straightforward as this lizard eats primarily insects you can easily find at pet stores and outdoors. A Green Ameiva kept as a pet gets most of its nutritional needs met with crickets, grasshoppers, mealworms, and roaches. Like many other lizards kept in captivity, a Green Ameiva should be given supplemental calcium. The easiest way to provide your lizard with calcium is to buy calcium powder to coat the live insects you feed your pet. This is easy to do by simply placing calcium powder in a bag, dropping in a few crickets or mealworms, and giving them a gentle shake.
|Insects:||100% of diet|
Keeping Your Green Ameiva Healthy
It’s relatively easy to keep a Green Ameiva healthy and happy. This lizard needs a warm and humid environment and some deep bedding it can use for burrowing. Be sure to keep an eye on your tank temp and humidity levels to ensure your Green Ameiva is warm and cozy in its habitat.
You may find that your Green Ameiva snubs its nose at some insects you try to feed it. If you see that your lizard is ignoring a particular type of insect you drop in its tank but devouring another type, take the rejected insect off the menu. Just remember to dust your Green Ameiva’s food with calcium powder to keep this animal’s skin and bones healthy and strong.
Common Health Issues
While Green Ameivas are hardy lizards, they are prone to a few health issues like most lizards are. Things like stress due to environmental issues like tank size, heating, lighting, feeding, and humidity can cause a Green Ameiva to become weak and prone to sleep deprivation, hydration, infection, and parasite infestations like mites.
As reptiles, Green Ameivas take a long time to die. A Green Aneiva can conserve energy to maintain basic body functions for a long time, all while you may be unaware that your lizard is sick. Watch for signs of illness which include a lack of appetite or lethargy.
You can expect your Green Ameiva to live for 3-5 years. To help your lizard live as long as possible, provide it with a clean and roomy tank and a good diet consisting of this reptile’s favorite insects that are dusted in calcium. You have to keep tabs on the tank’s temperature and humanity and clean and sanitize the tank regularly to reduce the risk of your lizard getting sick. Be sure to place the tank in a quiet area of your home to prevent your lizard from feeling stress.
In the wild, Green Aveivas typically breed during the rainy season and have clutches of 3-10 eggs. The eggs hatch in about 180 days. If you put a female and male Green Ameiva together in a tank, they will likely breed with the male being protective of the male during the breeding process.
Very few people breed Green Ameivas simply because these lizards are readily available for sale as there are many of them living around the world. It’s not recommended that novices attempt to breed these lizards as breeding any reptile correctly isn’t the easiest thing to do.
Are Green Ameivas Friendly? Our Handling Advice
Green Ameivas are skittish, solitary creatures that prefer being left alone. These are also very fast-moving reptiles that can run at break-neck speeds! These lizards are hard to tame and they don’t like being handled. If you were to pick one up, it could get away from you and perhaps escape, if there’s an open door.
Catching a loose Green Ameiva indoors can be done but when one gets loose outside, the odds are against you catching it because these lizards are very very fast. If you’re looking for a lizard that loves being handled, the Green Ameiva is not the pet for you.
Shedding & Brumation: What to Expect
As a Green Ameiva grows, it sheds its skin to accommodate its new, larger size. During shedding, the Green Ameiva may appear duller as the old skin slowly sheds off in pieces or patches from the nose down to the tip of the tail. When you notice your Green Ameiva shedding which happens a couple of times a year, gently mist the lizard with room temperature water to help make shedding easier.
Since Green Ameivas come from a non-temperate environment, these lizards do not brumate or spend a long period of time being inactive due to low temperatures.
How Much Do Green Ameivas Cost?
You can find Green Ameivas for sale both online and off. These lizards are almost always field-collected because not many people breed them. While the price can vary from one seller to another, you can expect to pay around $50 for a Green Ameiva. If you decide to buy a Green Ameiva online, be sure you’re given a guarantee that the animal will arrive alive.
Care Guide Summary
The Green Ameiva is a beautiful lizard with a pointy snout, streamlined body, and long tail. This lizard does not enjoy being handled as it prefers being left alone. When a pet Green Ameiva gets loose, it can run very fast, making it difficult to capture and put back in its tank. If you’d be satisfied keeping a pet lizard without picking it up, you’d probably make a good Green Ameiva owner!
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Featured Image Credit: Fernando Calmon, Shutterstock
Oliver (Ollie) Jones – A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master’s degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.