Green anole

Anolis carolinensis

SUBFAMILY

Polychrotinae

TAXONOMY

Anolis carolinensis Voigt, 1832, Carolina. Two subspecies are recognized.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: American chameleon, Carolina anole; French: Anolis de Caroline; German: Rotkehlanolis; Spanish: Anolis verde.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Slim lizards, green anoles have pointed heads and long tails that can be more than twice the length of the body. They have the ability to switch from their usual green coloration to brown or gray. Males display a conspicuous usually reddish-pink throat fan, known as a dewlap. Adults typically range from 5 to 8 in (12.7 to 20.3 cm) in total length, and about 2.5 in (6.3 cm) from snout to vent. Males are usually longer than females of similar age.

DISTRIBUTION

Green anoles occur in the southeastern United States as far west as Texas and north to Virginia. They are also found in Cuba and on islands in the Caribbean.

HABITAT

Green anoles prefer moist, vegetated habitats with climbing surfaces, including trees, vines, and bushes, as well as fences and house walls. They are commonly found near the ground, but climb higher to bask.

BEHAVIOR

Green anoles are territorial, and males exert their dominance by flaring their dewlaps, bobbing their heads, erecting the dorsal skin into a crest, and engaging in stereotypical posturing to enlarge their body image. During the breeding season, males also use their dewlaps to entice females, which appear to choose a mate based on the coloration and possibly the ultraviolet reflectance of the dewlap.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

The diet of the green anole includes small insects and spiders. Diurnal feeders, these lizards typically stalk their prey.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Breeding occurs from spring to fall. Females typically lay a single egg, and bury it in leaf litter and loose soil. The young hatch five to seven weeks later. Females can continue to lay eggs throughout the long reproductive season, as often as once every two weeks.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

These lizards are common in the pet trade. ♦

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