Anolis sagrei sagrei Cuban Brown Anole Like all lizards, anoles are equipped with moveable eyelids and external ear holes. Adults molt about every month, casting off skin in bits and pieces. Their feet differ from most lizards in that each toe has adhesive pads (lamellae) on its central portion, enabling the anole to climb and cling to vertical surfaces such as walls, fence posts, trees and leaves, on which they spend much of their time.
Green and Cuban Brown anoles are generally about 5 to 8 inches long. Females are usually smaller and can be under 5 inches long. The long, slender tail of the anole (which makes up about half of its length) may break off at the slightest pressure and continue to wiggle on the ground, distracting would-be predators. But, no fear, the lizard’s tail grows back over several weeks to once again serve as a quick get-a-way aid.
Another striking feature of the anole is its dew lap, or throat fan. It is attached to the throat and displayed by means of a flexible rod of cartilage which can be swung downward and forward, thereby revealing a brightly colored patch of skin. Males display their dew lap during courtship and when defending territory. This display is often accompanied by a series of head-bobs and push-ups.
Anoles eat small insects and bugs. They stalk them in shrubs, in vines, on walls and even window screens. It is not unusual to see them gobbling-up wood roaches or other bugs and insects that have been disturbed when we work in the garden. It is amazing to see these little lizards grabbing and swallowing prey almost as big as they are. Anoles only eat live prey as the prey must move to be detected by the lizard.
Green anoles breed anywhere from late March to early October. Females can lay single eggs every two weeks. These eggs, which look like smaller, leathery versions of a chicken egg (1/4-3/8") are buried in the soil and are often found while digging in the garden. If disturbed, please cover them back-up lightly with garden soil. The eggs hatch after anywhere from 5-7 weeks.
Cats, children, snakes and birds are the biggest threats in the life of an anole. While you may be tempted, taking them as pets is not recommended. Please leave them to their lives as one of Florida’s Natural Pest Control Technicians. They do much better outside in the “wild” than they would do caged in the house.
By the way, if one of these little guys finds his or her way into your house, cornering them and gently capturing them in your hands to release them outside is highly recommended. They can live in the house for a short time, but will probably not find enough food, moisture or warmth to live very happily. The next time you see the little lizard it may be as a dried-up little skeleton next to the window. Also, when you do capture them, they will attempt two defensive moves, first they will open their little mouths to bite you, don’t fear, if they do bite you you will hardly notice it, their teeth are too tiny to do any damage. In fact, when we were kids growing up in Florida we used to capture these little guys and latch them onto our earlobes as living-lizard-earrings. The anole’s second defensive move will be to poop in your hand when captured. Don’t worry, the poop is pretty tiny too, nothing too terribly disgusting, but be sure to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with these lizards (or any reptile for that matter) as they may possibly harbor salmonella.
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