Carolinensis – Sagrei Hanky Panky

Photos by Mark Lucas from his Facebook page

Those rascals! I’ve heard reports of this before, but never seen a photo. I wonder if it’s always a male green anole, or whether both ways occur. In any case, it would be shocking if such liaisons led to the production of hybrid offspring, given that the two species belong to evolutionary lineages that separated many many millions of years ago.

About Jonathan Losos

Professor and Curator of Herpetology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. I've spent my entire professional career studying anoles and have discovered that the more I learn about anoles, the more I realize I don't know.

26 thoughts on “Carolinensis – Sagrei Hanky Panky

  1. I wouldn’t be totally shocked – there are hybrids between snakes of genera Elaphe, Lampropeltis and Pituophis all available in the commercial reptile trade, and apparently the hybrids are fertile (as evidenced by F2 offspring). Of course, that’s all in the environment of captivity, where you can manipulate just about any variable to induce breeding and the offspring don’t have to compete with others nor face environmental hardships. I’m even familiar with an accidental Crotalus x Sistrurus hybrid. Hybrid lizards aren’t as common in the pet trade, though I’m unsure whether this is due to breeding difficulties / viability or just purchasing preferences of lizard-keepers.

  2. I have seen this same coupling (male carolinensis/female sagrei), in Tampa as a teenager in my backyard. Could have been that so few carolinesis females where available that he just got lonely. I never came across any odd looking anolis after that though?

  3. If someone else witnesses this PLEASE capture the female A. sagrei. It would be great to analyze the eggs and offspring to see if there are, in fact, viable hybrids being produced. And even if the eggs don’t hatch it will be interesting to examine when during embryogenesis development crashes and for what reasons.

  4. I agree 120% with thsanger. And whatever the result, please try to get it published, even if it is just a short note!

  5. On Yucatán I once saw a male Anolis rodriguezi raping a female Hemidactylus frenatus.
    While I was lying in the hammock – early afternoon, Siesta time – I watched a female Asian House Gecko coming out of the palm-thatched roof, obviously being attracted by some insects congregating on the upper part of of one of the Palapa-poles.
    Suddenly another lizard darted from the upper side of the palm-leaves onto her, bit her in the neck and started copulating. I almost fell out of the hammock when I realized that one being an anole….

  6. Jonathan,

    I have a picture the other way arround. Found it on the web once and it’s undeer captive conditions. Don’t know who made the picture but if you E-mail me I will send you the photo of a male sagrei mating a female carolinensis

    Editor’s note: here it is!
    carolinensis-sagrei mating

  7. my roommate had a female sagrei and a male carolinensis. We just found two hatchlings in the terrarium… She’s had the anoles for about 2 months, so it’s possible the female mated with a male sagrei at the pet store, and just laid eggs after we brought her home, but there’s always the chance the little guys are hybrids. They look very much segrei-ish, though – not sure which phenotype would be dominant in such a hybrid, or if they’d look intermediate. Is it possible to have them analyzed without sacrificing them?

    1. Heidi, Anolis sagrei are known to store sperm for many months, so it seems much more likely to me that the offspring were fathered by a male with whom the female consorted prior to your roommate getting it, especially if the baby’s look like sagreis. Testing would require a tissue sample: a bit of the tail would suffice. And, since no hybrids have been documented, we don’t know about dominance, etc. Would certainly be interesting to find one!

  8. It has been cited that the green Anolis now found in South Florida is A. porcatus and not carolinensis, but based on personal observations (just phenotype) of pure porcatus from Cuba and pure carolinensis from further north in the state; it seems to me that the local population is actually a hybrid. This population is robust and growing in number. Not only does it hold it’s own with sagrei but seems to heavily predate on its young. It’s truly a hodge-podge of anolis species down here. Fortunately, I doubt most of these species can survive winters north of the lake (at least not for a few thousand years…. :)

  9. I currently have 2 brown anoles and 1 green anole in the same tank. The brown anoles are male and female, and i added a green male anole native to georgia and they all get along just fine. But, this evening i caught my green anole straddling the female brown anole for about a half an hour, i took pictures on my phone for my boyfriend to see because we were curious as to whether or not that would ever happen….and it did. Afterwords, he released her, and they both casually went their seperate ways. Were not sure if they can even have babies or not, but i think were gonna see how it goes between them. We went online to see if its happened in captivity and my current progress leads to zero sources, i cant find anything on hybrid anoles. If anyone has any information, tips, anything that can help me out i would appreciate it.

      1. Here they are, they may be blurry. They splash in the water and it gets it dirty fast. The only odd thing I noticed was the green anole had changed to that dark maroon color which ive NEVER seen him change to before. Normally when I turn all my babies lights on, he turns green. When all the lights go out, he turns grey. But never this color. Id like to see what anyone else has to say.

          1. This picture, with the male sagrei looking on, is definitely my favorite.

            I agree with Jonathan that a fertile hybrid is highly improbable – if not impossible. Further, even if the female lays and egg and a baby emerges, there is no guarantee that the male carolinensis was the father. Female anoles can store sperm from multiple males for months at a time.

    1. Thanks for the photos! The two species are evolutionarily quite distant, far enough so that we would not expect them to be interfertile. As far as I’m aware, no one has ever reported finding a hybrid individual.

  10. Just stumbled upon the chain of comments on A. carolinensis/A.sagrei matings.
    While it is conceivable that a hybrid might be produced, it’s extremely likely that the hybrid would be sterile. The karyotypes of the two species are so different that its hard to imagine normal meiosis and viable gamete production in a hybrid. But that’s simply a logical deduction in the absence of data. Have there been any follow-up observations that might indicate that hybrids have been produced?

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