Mystery Growth on Anolis smaragdinus

In the course of our research on  small-island populations of A. smaragdinus (A. carolinensis series) in the Bahamas, we’ve encountered a number of animals with mysterious lumps. These are sometimes quite conspicuous, as in the photo below. The question is, what are they? Tumors? Parasites? Has anyone encountered something similar?

Photo by Rowan Barrett.

Photo by Rowan Barrett.

The growths do not appear to be restricted to any particular part of the body — we’ve also observed them on the base of tails and on limbs. The lizards in question are currently distributed across several islands, but all are descendants of small founding populations (10 individuals) originating on Staniel Cay. Eager for any insights from the anole community! (Rank speculation is also welcome.)

14 thoughts on “Mystery Growth on Anolis smaragdinus

  1. I’ve seen a similar growth on an A. cristatellus in Miami. If it is the same condition, then it doesn’t seem to be species- or site-specific.

    1. Interesting . And after your comments, the same in other species of the same genus, it could be a parasite associated to some closely related species. I hope some histological annalysis are going on. It´s the first step.

  2. Interesting, thanks! We have yet to observe anything similar on the sympatric sagrei at our sites, which led us to wonder whether it was (a) species-specific or (b) a consequence of the bottleneck that we put smaragdinus through when we transplanted them onto the small islands.

  3. From time to time we see bulges like that on Mexican anoles. The ones I paid close attention to turned out to have parasites–some kind of worm. The bulges usually aren’t quite as big as the one presented in the above photo, however.

      1. The best thing you can do for the poor creature is kill it. Allowing the anole to suffer in the wild and the larvae to grow up and infect more lizards will only cause more pain. The only foolproof way to stop a plague is to quarantine or kill the infected.

  4. I saw similar growth in Anolis marmoratus ssp at the base of the tail, the members or the jaw throughout the Guadeloupe. Thus, no site-dependent. One possibility would be an infection by the bacteria Devriesea agamarum which was found on similar growths in iguanas.

    1. Just a guess from a non-expert, but perhaps the group of organisms responsible for causing these growths is naturally symbiotic or associated with all anoles but the effects of a genetic bottleneck in some populations make some individuals more susceptible and therefore show signs of infection. Perhaps this is why the growths show up more on the introduced cristatellus than carolinensis?

  5. This may be a botfly larva. Look for a small hole in the anole’s skin through which the larva carries out gas exchange. In Hubbard Creek, Leon County, Florida I found a large male A. carolinensis dead with an enormous (proportionately) botfly larvae exiting it. Rather horrific.

  6. I came across an Anolis cristatellus today with similar growths here in Miami. He was oozing a little from the mouth and seemed to be in poor overall health. I wanted to get a picture, but put on some gloves just in case.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Optionally add an image (JPEG only)