Green Anole

Here at the zoo, we have one Green Anole. We received him from the local pet store in the fall of 2020.

AnoleCommon names include the Carolina anole, green anole, American green anole, American anole, and red-throated anole. It is also sometimes referred to as the American chameleon (typically in the pet trade) due to its ability to change color from several brown hues to bright green, however it is not a true chameleon.

The Carolina anole is a small to medium-sized lizard, with a slender body. The head is long and pointed with ridges between the eyes and nostrils, and smaller ones on the top of the head. The toes have adhesive pads to facilitate climbing. They exhibit sexual dimorphism, the males being fifteen percent larger. The male dewlap (throat fan) is three times the size of the female's and bright red, whereas that of the female is lighter in color, ranging from white to pale pink. Males can extend a pronounced dorsal ridge behind the head when displaying or when under stress. Females have a prominent white stripe running along their spine, a feature most males lack.

This species is native to North America, where it is found mainly in the subtropical southeastern parts of the continent. Anoles are the most abundant on the Atlantic Coastal Plains in North Carolina, South Anole Home RangeCarolina, Georgia and Florida, and on the Gulf Coast in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. In the Carolinas they are found on the coastal plains as far north as False Cape in Virginia, and in the southern piedmont of North Carolina, but throughout South Carolina, while in Georgia they are widespread except in the Blue Ridge region.

The species has been introduced into Hawaii and the Ogasawara Islands. They have been sighted in Orange County and San Diego County of southern California, with sightings in San Diego going at least as far back as 1993.

Green anoles are arboreal in nature but may be seen on the ground and frequently seen on shrubs in the low country of the Carolinas but is also a common sight in urban areas on steps and railings, adjacent to foliage. It is common on roadsides, the edges of forests where there are shrubs and vines, but also building sites having abundant foliage and sunlight. Their preferred habitat is moist forests and brushy clearings.

The typical breeding season for Carolina anoles starts as early as April and ends in late September.  Males defend their territory and females from rivals, while courting the females with elaborate displays of extending their brightly colored dewlaps while bobbing up and down, almost doing a dance. The male courts and pursues a female until the two successfully mate. About two to four weeks following mating, the female lays her first clutch of eggs, usually one or two in the first clutch. She can produce an egg every two weeks during the breeding season, until about 10 eggs have been produced. She then buries the soft-shelled eggs in a shallow depression in soft soil, leaf litter, compost, rotting wood, or even a hole in a nearby tree. Eggs average 0.49 inches by 0.37 inches in size.

Anole EggsThe eggs are left to incubate by the heat of the sun, and if successful, will hatch in about five to seven weeks (30–45 days) from late May to early October. The incubate temperature must be 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The hatchlings must fend for themselves, as they are not cared for by either parent. Younger anoles differ from adults in having less obvious head ridges, a wider head and shorter tail. They mature in about eight months.

Life Expectancy
In the wild:  3-4 years
In human care:  4-7 years

Natural Diet
An anole's diet consists primarily of small insects such as crickets, grasshoppers, flies, butterflies, moths, cockroaches, small beetles, and other arthropods, including spiders. They also occasionally feed on various grains and seeds. Although anoles have been observed preying upon smaller reptiles such as juvenile skinks, this is not thought to be typical behavior.