Yuck! Maggots in the Mouth

In the Dominican countryside, it is widely rumored that you can get worms from the bite of the salta cocote (a.k.a. a crown giant anole belonging to the ricordii group).  It’s easy to see how this rumor might have gotten started when you look in the mouth of a salta cocote!  The A. ricordii in the photo above had a large cluster of maggots in its mouth, as did other individuals from the same locality.  These maggots have some narly teeth that they seemingly use to dig into the flesh on the back of the lizards throat.  We’re taking measures to identify these larvae now, but perhaps somebody can save us the trouble of doing this work ourselves – have these buggers been described?

12 thoughts on “Yuck! Maggots in the Mouth

  1. Interesting! But what about the other half of the rumor? Locals warned me (unsuccessfully) to keep out of the trees because these anoles jump out of them and bite you on the neck.

  2. I think this is really interesting. I also observed maggot-mouth earlier this year, but in Anolis barahonae. It was only in a single individual, so I assumed it was anomalous at the time. This makes me wonder if this is yet another unique Anolis host/parasite relationship… keep us updated!

  3. Well I can add some more observations of this for Anolis cybotes, although I rarely saw more than 1 maggot per specimen.
    Kat

    1. I forgot to add, that the cybotes maggots were larger than the ones you show on the picture. Also, they weren’t rare at all at some sites (I have a pretty good idea of the inside of their mouths, as they usually hiss at me before they bite me).
      Now I wonder whether mom fly was suicidal or just has a long oviposition structure…

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  5. It is not an Anolis exclusive. I just discovered the same thing inside the mouth of Leiocephalus carinatus from Abaco (Bahamas).

  6. Cochliomyia
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    Cochliomyia
    Scientific classification
    Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
    Order: Diptera
    Family: Calliphoridae
    Subfamily: Chrysomyinae
    Genus: Cochliomyia

    Cochliomyia is a genus in the family Calliphoridae, known as blowflies, in the order Diptera. Cochliomyia are commonly referred to as the New World screwworm fly. There are four species in this genus: Cochliomyia macellaria, Cochliomyia hominivorax, Cochliomyia aldrichi, and Cochliomyia minima.[1][2] The two main species are Cochliomyia hominivorax and Cochliomyia macellaria.

    Cochliomyia hominivorax are known as the primary screwworm because their larvae produce myiasis and feed on living tissue. This feeding causes deep, pocket-like lesions in the skin, which can be very damaging to the animal host. Cochliomyia macellaria are known as the secondary screwworm because their larvae produce myiasis, but feed only on necrotic tissue. This species is forensically important because it is often associated with dead bodies and carcasses. Both C. hominivorax and C. macellaria thrive in warm, tropical areas.

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