Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis)

Male green anole displaying dewlap | Photo credit: Ken Slade

Often mistaken for chameleons, the green anole is a tree-dwelling lizard that is native to the southeastern United States and Caribbean islands. Green anoles are also found in warm climates throughout North and South America.

Often seen in parks and residential areas on walls, fences, trees, and low bushes, green anoles reach a maximum length of six to eight inches. Their bodies are slender, with a long, thin tail. Like true chameleons, green anoles have the ability to change color; this ability is limited in anoles, however–coloration is usually green, yellow, brown, gray, or a mixture. Most healthy, non-threatened anoles are bright green in appearance. The male anole has a large pink fan of skin on its neck, called a dewlap, which can be extended for courtship or territorial display.

Active and agile creatures, anoles have specially adapted pads on their feet which permit them to climb, cling, and run on virtually any surface. Another adaptation of the anole is its extremely fragile tail which drops off its body when grabbed, allowing the anole to escape from predators; in time, the anole will regrow a new (although generally shorter) tail. Anoles feed on small insects such as crickets, cockroaches, spiders, moths, and grubs.

Your backyard is perhaps the best place to view wild green anoles. Active during daylight hours, green anoles often sun themselves on walls and branches. Green anoles can also be observed in pet stores where they are sold. Like all lizards, green anoles require special care and a controlled environment if they are to survive in captivity. To see more anoles, view our anole slideshow.

Can You Find the Anole?

Green anole in green grass | Photo credit: Shannon Blackburn

Try to find the green anole in this photo!

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  1. I have usually 2 on my porch this time of year in Austin Tx. I just saw them mate yesterday. I have been laid off work due to the virus so I spend way more time on my porch. I would like to more about them. Do they lay eggs? I saw the smaller (female) actually catch bugs after the fact yesterday. Today I saw her jumping in my plants on my rail witch is unusual behavior from what I’ve seen. I saw the male today and he was show boating again but didn’t see another female. Thanks yall!!

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