Also known as:
Carolina Anole, American Chameleon
Coral Gables, Miami-Dade County, Florida—December 26, 1998
Green Anoles are the only anole species native to Florida, but they're getting harder and harder to find what with all the competition from the hardy and prolific little brown anoles
. This one was in a Coral Gables backyard.
Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, Monroe County, Florida—December 30, 1998
Here's another green anole in the Everglades. Green anoles are such elegant creatures.
Bill Sadowski Park, Perrine, Miami-Dade County, Florida—January 3, 1999
This one is right in the middle of shedding its skin. Green anoles can turn brown, an ability that earned them the confusing misnomer "American chameleon" (they aren't chameleons
; they're anoles!). Brown anoles
cannot, however, turn green.
Anole expert Dr. Ann Paterson told me that a lookalike (and closely related) Cuban anole species, Anolis porcatus, has been found in south Florida and is possibly spreading. So, the pictures I have here of A. carolinensis in south Florida may really be A. porcatus instead.
Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory garden, Hilo, Hawaii County, Hawaii—November 25, 2000
Not only does the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory have yummy chocolate-covered Macadamia nuts, but its garden area provides home for a thriving population of introduced green anoles. What more could you ask for? The one in the first picture was drinking water from the leaf's surface. The one in the second picture seems to be pondering how to snatch the tasty snack on its back.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo, Monroe County, Florida—February 7, 2004
Back in Florida, here's a photogenic juvenile green anole posing on a sea grape leaf.
Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve, Collier County, Florida—April 4, 2004
Most green anoles have strawberry-red dewlaps, but some populations in southwest Florida have gray or greenish dewlaps. These populations were formerly considered a separate subspecies, Anolis carolinensis seminolus
, but recent genetic studies have not shown a clear relationship between these unusual dewlap colors and genetic differences. Unfortunately these anoles are just as hard to find amidst the far more plentiful Brown Anoles
as their northern cousins. Here's a pretty individual from Fakahatchee Strand that had a faint row of light blue dots down its side.
Oscar Scherer State Park, Sarasota County, Florida—April 8, 2004
Here's one of the anoles from the populations with different dewlap colors proudly showing off his mark of distinction just for me.
Willow Pond Nature Trail, Fort Clinch State Park, Nassau County, Florida—April 19, 2004
You just gotta love that green-on-green camouflage.
Coral Gables, Miami-Dade County, Florida—December 25, 2006
Corkscrew Swamp Wildlife Sanctuary, Collier County, Florida—April 5, 2008
This anole had some particularly nice blue speckles on its neck and shoulders.
Nags Head Woods Preserve, Dare County, North Carolina—April 11, 2008
Anolis carolinensis is named after the Carolinas, so I was happy to get a chance to see a few in the Carolinas. This one might look like it lost a fight with an angry cat, but in reality it was just shedding its skin. I was interested to see that it evaded me by hopping away on the ground, rather than by running up the nearest tree as I would have expected from my experience with Floridian green anoles.
Palmetto State Park, Gonzales County, Texas—April 9, 2010
Since my wife's family lives in Florida and we live in California, we have driven through Texas several times on our way across the country. However, we have typically taken this route in the late winter, when temperatures are too low for reptiles, and even at other times we've never stopped to see the sights. That is my excuse for why this humble green anole is my first ever herp photo from Texas.
Mahogany Hammock Boardwalk, Everglades National Park, Miami-Dade County, Florida—March 19, 2011
This green anole kept a careful watch on me. It joined only a handful of visible lizards on this cool day in the Everglades.
near Everglades National Park, Miami-Dade County, Florida—March 23, 2013
Jake Scott and I pondered this lizard for awhile, wondering whether it was A. carolinensis or the introduced lookalike A. porcatus. Some references suggest that the well-defined ocella (eye-like spot) above the front leg suggests A. porcatus, whereas others suggest that there is no way to tell the two apart short of DNA analysis, whereas others suggest that the two species should really be lumped into one. Needless to say, I did not arrive at a clear answer.
South Miami, Miami-Dade County, Florida—March 1, 2021
The lizard at the top is a non-native Brown Anole
. Typically in South Florida the Brown Anoles have pushed the Green Anoles up higher in the vegetation, where the greenies have the advantage of being more graceful and agile. One or both of these lizards are rebels.
Fairchild Tropical Garden, Coral Gables, Miami-Dade County, Florida—March 3, 2021
These were the two most interesting small green anoles I saw on this Florida trip. Both seemed different enough from your average Anolis carolinensis that I thought they might perhaps be one of the small green non-native Anolis species found in south Florida. But lizard experts chiming in on iNaturalist told me that these colors/patterns are within the normal variation for A. carolinensis, so that's the most likely ID.
- Ashton, R. E. Jr., Ashton, P. S. 1991. Handbook of Reptiles and Amphibians of Florida, Part Two: Lizards, Turtles, & Crocodilians, Revised Second Edition
- Bartlett, R. D., Bartlett, P. B. 1999. A Field Guide to Florida Reptiles and Amphibians
- Behler, J. L., King, F. W. 1979. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles & Amphibians
- Carmichael, P., Williams, W. 1991. Florida's Fabulous Reptiles & Amphibians
- Conant, R., Collins, J. T. 1998. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Third Edition, expanded
- Crother, B. I. (ed.) 2017. Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with Comments Regarding Confidence in Our Understanding, Eighth Edition
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- Rogner, M. 1997. Lizards
- Smith, H. M. 1995. Handbook of Lizards: Lizards of the United States and Canada
- Smith, H. M., Brodie, E. D. Jr. 1982. Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification