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Florida Guide > Miscellaneous

THE GREEN ANOLE

Leapin’ Lizards!

Have you ever seen something scurry over your pool cage ? Well it could well be a Green Anole - a little lizard. (pronounced: uh’ no-lee) one of Florida’ s true native lizards. You have no doubt seen them clinging to your shrubbery, climbing your walls and wolfing down all sorts of bugs and insects around your house

Identification

Anoles are equipped with external ear holes and moveable eyelids. Adults molt and cast off skin in bits and pieces about every month. They climb and cling to vertical surfaces such as walls, fence posts, trees and leaves, on which they spend much of their time. These little lizards have different feet to most lizards - each toe has adhesive pads (lamellae) on its central portion so it has “stickability”.

Green Anole are generally about 5 to 8 inches long. Females are usually smaller and can be under 5 inches long. The slender, long tail of the anole makes up about half of its length. This tail can break off at the slightest pressure distracting would-be predators by continuing to wiggle on the ground. Over several weeks the lizard will grow another tail to serve as a quick get-a-way tool.

The most striking feature of the anole is it’s dew lap or throat fan. It is attached to the throat and displayed by means of a flexible rod of cartilage which can be swung downward and forward, thereby revealing a brightly colored patch of skin. Males display their dew lap during courtship and when defending territory. This display is often accompanied by a series of head-bobs and push-ups.

Due to the green anole’s ability to change its skin color, anoles are sometimes called chameleons While the green anole isn’t able to change colors as noticeably or rapidly as the chameleon, it is able to alter its color from green to gray to brown, depending on light, temperature and mood.

On the menu

Bugs, small insects and the like. Anoles only eat live prey as the prey must move to be detected. They stalk them in shrubs, in vines, on walls and even window screens. It is not unusual to see them gobbling-up wood roaches or other bugs and insects that have been disturbed when we work in the garden. It is amazing to see these little lizards grabbing and swallowing prey almost as big as they are.

Breeding takes place from late March to early October. The egg size is ¼ - 3/8 of an inch look like small leathery chickens eggs. Females can lay single eggs every two weeks and these are buried in soil and sometimes you find them when gardening and if found should be left covered in light soil. In about 5-7 weeks the eggs will hatch.

The biggest threat to the anole are snakes, birds, children and cats.

These Florida nature’s pest controllers do not make good pets – however “cute” they are best left wild and free. If these little guys are inside your house you can try and catch them and release them outside. There is usually not enough food, water or warmth inside the home for a long stay.

If you do catch one it will try to bite but the mouth is so small and teeth so tiny it will not hurt. The anole’ s second defensive move will be to poop in your hand when captured. Don’ t worry, the poop is pretty tiny too, nothing too terribly disgusting, but be sure to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with these lizards (or any reptile for that matter) as they may possibly harbor salmonella.

We aim to provide accurate and useful information, but if you feel anything provided here is not accurate or out of date, please email us with the address of the page concerned and any comments so we can amend as necessary.

Page added on: 26 November 2008
Viewed 5277 times since 26 November 2008.

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Green Anole Resting

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