The green anole has a long slim body that is tipped with a pointed nose on the head end and a long slender tail at the other. This body is coloured green as the name suggests though they will turn brown when in the shade. Their colour can also be affected by temperature or stress levels. It may make them appear almost black on occasion. This ability often leads to the species being confused with chameleons. Their underside is a pale colour.
They can extend a ‘throat fan’ from under the chin in both species. This is a roughly circular piece of skin coloured pink with rows of white spots that extends from under the chin. It is used for communication.
Their legs are long and end with long toes that sit flat on the ground.
Green anoles measure 12-20cm (4.75-8in) long and weigh 2-6g (0.07-0.21oz).
The green anole is an insectivore. They eat any insects which are able to fit in their mouth. On occasion they have also been known to eat grain or seeds if insects are scarce.
In most cases the green anole will wait in a spot for prey to come to them.
North America is the native home of the green anole. Here they live in the Southern United States from Florida across to Texas.
Green anoles are the only anole species found in North America out of the approximately 110 anole species found on Earth.
They have been introduced to a number of countries including Guam, Japan, Anguilla, Bahamas, Mexico and Spain.
Green anoles live in forests, scrub, rocky escarpments and fields. They may inhabit human settlements and be seen climbing up walls.
Breeding takes place from Spring to Autumn. At this time the males will display for a potential mate by extending their dewlap (the fold of skin under their chin). They may also bob their head as part of this. Females may repeat this display to indicate they are receptive to mating.
During mating the male will bite the back of the females neck to keep her in the correct position.
Following a successful mating the female will dig a small hole in leaf litter or soil in to which they deposit a single egg. This may take place every 2 weeks throughout the breeding season.
Females have the ability to store sperm and this may give them the opportunity to delay fertilization and give birth later.
These eggs will hatch in between 5 and 7 weeks. At hatching the young are 25-35mm (1-1.4in). They are independent from birth with no parental involvement in their care.
Sexually maturity occurs at 8-9 months old.
The green anole is primarily arboreal. Most of their time is spent climbing in the tree tops. They will also climb up walls and windows in human habitations which they frequent. They can move fast and are able to fall from great heights without injury.
For the majority of the green anoles day they are foraging.
Males maintain a large home range which they will defend against other males. This will overlap with a number of females.
Predators and Threats
Natural predators of the green anole include snakes, birds, larger reptiles, frogs and domestic pets such as dogs and cats.
To avoid predation they are able to camouflage with trees and leaves on which they rest. They are also able to drop their tail and this distracts predators as an easy meal while the lizard escapes unharmed.
Humans have not had a large effect on their population and the species is considered to not be at threat of extinction. They are often captured to be sold in to the pet trade.
Anoles are an extremely large group of lizards with over 110 species known.
The green anole is also known as the common anole or American chameleon.
Green anoles are commonly kept as pets or used in research.
DanielCD, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=117468
Ianare, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1507094
Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK
Crawford, C. 2011. "Anolis carolinensis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed June 05, 2020 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Anolis_carolinensis/
Frost, D.R. & Hammerson, G.A. 2007. Anolis carolinensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2007: e.T64188A12745542. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2007.RLTS.T64188A12745542.en. Downloaded on 09 June 2020.
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