Introduction to Anoles
Estimated reading time: 14 minutes
The Lovable Little Garden Lizards
Below are frequently asked questions about green and brown anoles based on the book by Eugene L Brill: The Lovable Little Garden Lizards. In addition, these lizards have been studied extensively, and there is no shortage of scientific papers about these creatures. However, there are surprisingly few books for non-scientific wannabe naturalists like myself available in the market. I found that there is a lot of conflicting information in these higher-learning studies (i.e., Anolis sagrei vs. Norops sagrei.) Therefore, I did my best to use and cite sources that I believe to be trustworthy. Finally, the basis of my research is the book by Steven B. Isham, Anoles, Those Florida Yard Lizards. In addition, a great read and a very entertaining encounter with these neighborly reptiles.
Louisiana Master Naturalists
Initially introduced to these green and brown lizards through the Master Naturalist course with the Louisiana Master Naturalists of Greater New Orleans, a community of citizens who engage with the natural environment through education and stewardship. Above all, these small creatures piqued my interest.
And that was the start of a journey into the world of backyard lizards. Every night my wife, June, would ask: “Are the kids in bed?” Therefore, my response would be to grab my camera and flashlight and venture out to the cassia bush, Senna splendiola ‘Golden Wonder’, at the edge of our garden.
There I would scan the underbrush for our lizards. Amazed at just how many we found sleeping amongst the green leaves and yellow flowers. Above all, greens and browns, in perfect harmony, like ebony and ivory. Finally they became used to me, some even getting on my hand for a closer look. In conclusion, the experience was glorious. Finally, follow along with a subscription to The Wannabe Naturalist Magazine. In addition, show your commitment with The Wannabe Naturalist Official Sticker Pack.
Frequently Asked Anole Lizard Questions
The word used to refer to these lizards is anole (uh-NOHL), which as far as we know came from the French West Indian word anoli (uh-nohl-ee).
Anole is pronounced uh-NOHL and came from the French West Indian word anoli (uh-nohl-ee).
Yes, in this ‘wannabe naturalists’ opinion. In other words, I spent endless hours day and night, observing these little dinosaurs as they scuttled around chasing each other to establish dominance and strutting their stuff looking for partners. Similarly, to have survived this long, they must be smart.
Most definitely. Naturally, they are skittish of anyone and anything much, much bigger than them. Wouldn’t you be? However, as time goes by, they will grow accustomed to you, and then you will elicit only a sideways glance and they carry on with their daily routine.
In captivity, kept as pets, the average life span of an anoles is up to six years (with proper care), but wild specimens seldom live and thrive for more than three years.
No, they are not poisonous for dogs or cats to eat. Greens are not easily seen, unlike their brown counterparts who are frequently spotted underfoot on sidewalks. But just ask the family dog or cat who targets them frequently. In other words, no harm will come to your family pet, except embarrassment when the little lizard skillfully eludes them!
Yes, but rarely, and probably not humans. No matter what the color, green or brown, males must explore, find, claim, and defend their territory, especially during the mating season. If another male intrudes into their territory, anoles straighten their front legs (like doing pushups) and bob their heads up and down while simultaneously showing a big reddish orange flap from underneath the throat. This is called displaying. They even do this when humans approach and they feel threatened. It is one way that they try to frighten off and warn an aggressor. Finally, they use their legs to lift themselves up and down several times to look larger and more intimidating.
Yes, they do have teeth—not canines, incisors, or molars, — but little identical dagger-like teeth. They can wound other anoles during a fight, piercing the skin and even drawing blood. But not to worry, they won’t bite a human.
Nope. The anole on my hand seen in some of the images in the book are not tame pets, but curious lizards who have grown accustomed to having me in their environment. The photos were either taken as chance encounters or after waiting patiently for hours in areas where I know the lizards are active.
Yes and no. Pet stores will say yes. I am not in favor of keeping these little creatures as pets in an aquarium, and I prefer to go out and observe them in their natural habitat. I am not a supporter of keeping lizards in captivity. They are best left in the wild. They are not the type of animal that will turn into a pet and show affection toward you as their owner, and the average anole is not very trainable—they may eat a live cricket from your hand, but only because they are in a tiny glass box. In conclusion, grab your camera and binoculars, go outside, and enjoy them in the wild—it is very rewarding!
If you do decide to keep them as pets, these lizards are relatively low maintenance and are great beginner pet reptiles. They do not take up too much space. Additionally, see this PetSmart Care Guide for lizards.
In the United States, green anoles are most abundant in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana and but now are also found in every southeastern state, including portions of Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. They have also been spotted in Texas and Oklahoma. Cuban brown anoles have gone as far as Southern Georgia, Northern Texas, and Eastern Louisiana. Brown and greens have both made their way to California, and even Hawaii.
Let’s start with some good news: green anoles are not going extinct—they are not even endangered. They are, however, masters at adapting to new circumstances. As they start to feel threatened, these loveable little lizards move on to greener pastures. As us humans and other species encroach on their territory, they adapt by moving on.
The bad news is, the brown populations are expanding rapidly, and the greens are declining.
In trees, shrubs, and bushes. Generally greens prefer mid-level elevations, although some have been spotted climbing 50 feet and higher in trees. Before the Cuban browns arrived in Florida and greens didn’t have any competition, they lived mainly around the lower parts of trees and even on the ground. Similarly in areas where there are no or very few browns, you will still see greens in the lower parts of trees and occasionally on the ground.
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. See the gallery below. With a straight tail? Sleeping with a curled up tail? Sometimes with a friend? Like an acrobat? Just hanging on? Upside down? On a Jalapeno Pepper? Next to a Tabasco Pepper? Aren’t they cute?
How do green and brown anole lizards sleep?
Yes, they do. Numerous birds scour the bushes, backyards, and trees searching for defenseless anoles. Notorious lizard hunters include the blue jay, owl, crow, mockingbird, heron, egret, crane, ibis, kestrel, and small hawk. Snakes are also a problem. Black racers, corn snakes, king snakes, young rattlesnakes, pygmy rattlers, cottonmouths, and coral snakes are all considered dangerous enemies. There are also the hunting domestic cats and dogs. Cats are fascinated by lizards and often kill them more for fun than for food. Landscaping machinery, lawn mowers, and weed whackers can be treacherous to anoles searching for food or defending territories unaware of the oncoming mechanical dangers.
More Frequently Asked Questions
This 2023 calendar features 12 fine art photography images of the Lovable Little Garden Lizards. Printed on heavy card stock in rich color ink with a durable wire binding that allows the calendar to hang or lie flat. The 2023 calendar is here!