6 Cool Facts about Green & Brown Anoles

Learn six cool facts about green anoles and brown anoles from reptile and amphibian expert Jungle Bob in this Howcast video.

For many people, a trip to Florida is often a chance to encounter one of Florida’s most populace lizards, and that is the green and brown anoles. Little tiny lizards with quite a temperament to them, they are a little bit on the tenacious side.

Predators for sure. They look like mini velociraptors to me sometimes, because of their tenacity when they hunt their favorite prey which, of course, is insects.

Two distinct different species, and sometimes I refer to as anolies, anoles. It’s almost like tomatoes, tomahtoes; you can say it a lot of different ways. But there’s two distinct ones, the first one here is biting my right finger, is the green anole, or the Carolina anole, which is native from the Carolinas all the way down to Florida. This is a native American species that was quite popular in the pet trade for many many years.

In my left hand is the brown anole, which lives in Florida but now more of them, most of them, come up from the Caribbean, and the Bahamas, they’re hitchhikers, and they’ve gotten into the United States. They’re somewhat an invasive species, and they’re so tenacious they’re kind of pushing our green anole friends up the border and out of competition for food. They’re very, very aggressive as well.

Green anoles are beautiful, little creatures, in that they have, particularly the males of the species, they throw out this gorgeous dewlap. It’s a flap of skin underneath the neck that is brightly colored, and that serves a dual purpose. It’s first function, certainly, is to attract a girlfriend. A male anole with a beautiful dewlap is most likely to mate with his female counterparts.

The other part of it is just to scare off another male. A male will puff up and show big he is, even though we’re looking at an animal that’s about 3 to 4 inches in total length, and maybe a couple of ounces in weight. He’s trying to show how big and bad he is by throwing out his dewlap, bobbing his head, and saying territorially, this is my area; I live here, you back off.

So, the green and brown anoles are something that I’m sure everybody who’s visited Disney World, or has seen grandma in Florida, you’re going to encounter these. They cohabitate beautifully with mankind. They are everywhere: crawling across houses, inside of houses, in porches; a daytime diurnal animal that you’ll see all day long.

At night they sleep on walls and tree-trunks and they’re extremely easy to catch when they’re sleeping. During the day, not so much. They are very, very quick, as we can see, our guys here in the branch, how fast they can scurry. This is an animal that suffers from the malady known as autotonomy, which is, if I grab it by the tail, he’ll detach that tail, and I’ll be left with a wiggling tail in my hand, and the lizard will actually escape.

It’s natures way for lizards to defend themselves from not being eaten by some of their favorite predators. Snakes birds of prey, etc, will grab him by the tail because they’re so fast and all they’ll get is that tail meal, and the lizard lives to see another day. Their tail regenerates, but it’s never quite as nice as the original.

This is the green and the brown anole, a treasure of the American southeast, and something you’ll see on any trip to the Florida area. They also make wonderful jewelry, should you be so inclined.