Red-Headed Brown Anole

Photo by Karen Cusick.

They say redheads have more fun, but is that true in the brown anole world? We’ve had a lot of discussion of A. sagrei that are overall orangey in color, but less about the coppertop look that seems to pop up in populations far and wide. We certainly see it on some of small Bahamian islands, but not others. The photo above is from Florida, courtesy of Karen Cusick’s Daffodil’s Photo BlogWho else has seen the redheads, and where? And any idea of their significance?

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 “Red-Headed Brown Anole

  1. We often see red-headed A. sagrei on Little Cayman. My impression is that redheads are especially common among youngsters (i.e. very small individuals).

  2. I have seen them the last two summers in St. Augustine, Florida when doing research. They are especially prevalent in a newly developed community called Nocatee. I’ve seen both males and females, some of which exhibit the red color along their whole body and tail. I also have a few in the lab that were collected.

  3. This photo of an anole hatchling was taken (via cell phone, hence the poor quality) by a member of the public in the departure lounge at the Bermuda international airport. Could it be a brown anole?

  4. We have noticed a small number of the “coppertops” here in Bradenton, FL. They tend to be paler and have much less obvious patterning. The red in this picture is not as pronounced as others we’ve seen.

  5. These redheads occur in A.lineatopus on Jamaica too.I don’t have a picture but they look exactly the anoles that Mindy posted above, and have all been juveniles..I suspect mostly male (all the ones I have managed to catch have been).I am beginning to wonder if this red head is just a means for adult males to distinguish between females and juvenile males and whether or not the red color in fact fades as the animal matures.But then again the first picture in the comments is the largest male I have ever seen with a red head, I have never seen anything like that in larges male in either sagrei or lineatopus on Jamaica and the anole dosen’t look like a juvenile to me.
    Maybe its just that a few sagrei keep the red cap into adulthood.

  6. Just saw one of these today on my patio in Homestead, FL, south of Miami. Didn’t have my phone to take a picture. It was the first one we’ve ever seen. So glad I found this site to tell me what it was.

  7. I live in Naples Fl. I must have 50 to 75 Anoles living on my “landscaped” lanai.
    I started feeding them about three years ago just a few meal worms at a time.
    Now I’m “attacted” when I go out there, they come out from everywhere looking for their daily feeding.
    Usually we go out for our adult beverage in the late afternoon and are “attacted” by starving lizards. Some of the brave ones will climb on your lap and eat out of your hand, but most stay their distance and wait for a handout.
    We are up to 500 meal worm every 10 days. I have had to go to the small meal worm for the babies.
    When feeding lizards in the highlight of your day you’re in trouble!
    The grand kids think it’s better than Disney.

    About the red heads…..I have several and don’t know why, none of the adults have red heads that I have noticed. I did notice one thing though. It seem when the males reach the end of their days they turn jet black, become docile, don’t eat and some shed their skin.
    Enjoy the little guys while you have them..

  8. Just saw one on our patio in Port St Lucie, Florida. Have seen occasionally before. Don’t know if it makes any difference, but we live near, not on, the St. Lucie River

  9. In Naples, FL here and there are two red-headed brown anoles living on my front patio. I just saw a large male brown anole near them and he did not have a red head, neither does the little brown anole (more tan than the others) who decided to move into my house and live between the plant in my window and the dog’s wicker toy box.

    We used to have more but the landscapers ripped out all our birds of paradise and other shrubbery (“to control bugs” they said. >.<) and many of the other anoles and frogs disappeared. Thankfully the cuban tree frogs seemed to have gone with them…

  10. I just spotted 3 of them on my patio in Corpus Christi, Texas. I’ve seen more green anoles and brown anoles than I could ever keep track of in my nearly 10 years here, but this is the first time I’ve noticed these red-headed guys. Two of them were male, but my dog chased away the other before I could see if that one was male or female. They just looked like the usual brown anoles, but with very noticeable bright orange heads and necks. Very interesting.

    1. On Little Cayman, we have both red-headed A. sagrei and brown-headed. As far as I can tell, there is no ecological or territorial distinction.

  11. I live in the Clermont, FL area near Disney World. We have a very healthy population of brown anoles. As well as green anoles. A lot of our brown anoles are red heads. ?? Very cool looking sub spices of all ages and both sexes.

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