Species Profile: Green Anole

Green anole on a tree
Green anole on a tree.

NPS photo

Rustling leaves in the hardwood hammock sound more like a lion than a lizard. But the tiny green anole (Anolis carolinensis) is responsible. A brown blur, he darts up a strangler fig tree and out onto a big leaf. Within seconds, the lizard transforms into a sliver of green, barely recognizable against the foliage. He lifts and bobs his head, then repeatedly protrudes his bright red throat pouch. The reasons for this display are twofold: to attract a mate, and to advertise territorial ownership to other males.

The lizard's crimson beacon is easily visible from many trees away. As inconspicuous female anoles scurry for a closer view, another hammock resident approaches ...... moments later, the green anole, once a star performer in this tiny verdant arena, is caught and consumed by a corn snake.

A brown anole on the ground
Introduced from the Caribbean, brown anoles are not native to the United States.

NPS photo

One of North America's more successful lizards, the green anole is the only native anole in the United States. Active by day, this attractive lizard reaches a length of 8 inches and has the ability to change color, from bright green to brown, within a few seconds. Although only the male displays the red throat pouch, both sexes are equipped with oversized toes for better traction, and both maintain territories that they aggressively defend.

The green anole has a longer snout than its nonnative cousin, the brown anole, and can be distinguished by the green or lightly patterned brown coloration on its back and tail. In addition, although green anoles can be found almost anywhere, they generally live in trees, while brown anoles are generally found on the ground or in low vegetation. A common lizard of the southeastern United States, this creature can be found in all habitats of Everglades National Park.

Last updated: October 17, 2017

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