Saturday, September 11, 2010

Wearing of the Green

Lizards of all sizes are very common in My Florida Backyard. With the exception of the very occasional skink, these lizards are all anoles (pronounced ah-no-lee). Generally, as in most of Florida, our yard is overrun by the exotic Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei sagrei), a species accidentally introduced from Cuba and now much more successful than its arguably more beautiful cousin, the native Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis). But today, a Green Anole was showing off in the late morning sun.

Note that his tail is slightly duller than his body - anoles shed their skin in pieces... and then often eat it for the minerals it provides. Actually, there are quite a lot of interesting facts about the Green Anole. For instance, they're not always green. They can turn brown if they need to blend in. They also tend to be green if the temperature is above 70, and brown when it's cooler, so in winter it can be more difficult to tell them from the Brown Anole. Additionally, when two males fight for a female, the winner takes on an even brighter shade of green, while the loser turns brown. (Is brown the color of shame or sadness in the anole world?)

Lizard eggs are a common sight to most Florida gardeners, as you come across them buried a few inches down in sandy soil. If you do find them, it's best to just recover them and let them hatch (it takes about 60 - 90 days). You'll be rewarded by teeny little baby lizards that generally seem to be all eyes and tail in the beginning. This little fellow is a male, because he's lacking a white stripe down the back, but he's probably still young, because he hasn't yet developed a crest on his head and back.

The native Green Anole is cold-tolerant and can be found as far north as Tennessee. The Brown Anole, also called the Cuban Anole, is not cold-tolerant and lives mainly in peninsular Florida. Some said this past harsh winter would take a large toll on the Brown Anole population, giving the Green Anole a chance to make a bit of a comeback, but we haven't seen any numbers or studies yet to support that assertion. At any rate, Green Anoles are still relatively rare in My Florida Backyard, and we always enjoy the chance to see one up close!


  1. I have noticed a lot more of these greenies in my garden. There are still plenty of the Cuban anoles though. But, there have been less Cuban tree frogs. I've just seen two all summer. YAY! I was being overrun by them. I have only seen one green native treefrog this spring and none this summer. Thanks for all the info on the native anoles. I've learned a few things!

  2. I grew up here and really love our native greenies. Every now then I go to a reptile store, they buy anoles from itinerant folks who catch them, then sell them to feed to snakes. I will buy as many green anoles as I can, and release them in various places in my yard. I now see more of the green guys- but they do tend to stake out higher ground than the brown anoles, who spend most of their time on the ground. I also catch the green anoles and common toads at the community colleges I work at and take them home- the schools use lots' of chemicals, so I know they will do better in our pocket swamp.