Monday, September 12, 2011

Anoles - The Chameleons that Aren't

The anole is a lizard that can climb walls like a gecko and change colors like a chameleon, but it isn’t closely related to either.
Green anole with dewlap extended.
Found throughout the southeastern United States and the Caribbean, anoles represent a family of lizards in the Iguana suborder. There are over 300 known species of these lizards, several of which have been introduced to non-native areas. The most well-known species, the Carolina anole, has been driven out of much of its native range due to competition from the introduced brown anole.
Brown anole
Anoles can be found living in trees and shrubs from ground level up to twenty feet high in warm climates. Their diet of insects makes them ideal natural pest controllers, and at less than seven inches long, anoles are not dangerous or aggressive towards humans.

Most anoles are green or brown in color and can change their pigmentation based upon mood. For example, the Carolina anole, usually bright green, can change to a dark brown color if distressed. Males have large dewlaps on their throats which they can inflate for courtship purposes.  Most anoles live 4-8 years in the wild and up to 14 years if raised in captivity.

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