Orange Coloration in Anolis cristatellus

A couple of days ago as I was feeding my Anolis cristatellus hatchlings and I noticed something really strange – one of the hatchlings had a bright pink/orange tail!  I was really amazed at how bright and unusual it was so I immediately emailed Ambika Kamath who pointed out that this conversation is not a new one to Anole Annals and suggested I post on my anomalous pink lizard.

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The pink-orange color is only on the tail and hind limbs and when I picked the lizard up the color faded as the lizard turned darker brown. The mother was unremarkable (not pink!), but one of the siblings also has some reddish tint to its tail, although not as apparent. I have not noticed this in any of my other hatchlings.

I’m curious if this is the same sort of coloration that other people have observed in Anolis sagrei. Some of the pictures look very similar to what I observed. Has anyone else observed this in A. cristatellus or any other species? Or maybe this sometimes happens in hatchlings and fades with age? For reference, here are the previous posts on Anole Annals regarding this topic:

It might be noteworthy that the hatchling is the offspring of two urban lizards from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.  In the other posts, it seemed like many of the observations of the red-orange A. sagrei were in urban areas. One of the posts mentions an orange color of palm trees and other manmade substrates in the suburban area where they observed multiple orange lizards. I wonder if this is an adaptation to something in the urban environment? Now that I think of it, I recall catching some lizards at my urban sites that had striking orange coloration on them, but none were completely orange and none looked pink. Also, I don’t recall my study site having a large amount of orange substrates, although many of the houses are painted bright orange, yellow, pink, etc. Any thoughts on this?  I’ll keep an eye on this lizard and let you know how the color develops as it gets older.

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About Kristin Winchell

I'm a Ph.D. candidate at UMass Boston in the Revell lab. I am interested in how animals respond to urbanization from an ecological and evolutionary perspective. My dissertation research has focused on adaptive shifts in the Puerto Rican crested anole, Anolis cristatellus, in response to urbanization. Website: http://kmwinchell.wordpress.com

2 thoughts on “Orange Coloration in Anolis cristatellus

  1. My daughter and I were discussing Anole lizards the other day and she asked why you see so many more of what we refer to as the Cuban variety here in Florida and so few of the Green. Did both groups always exist together or is the Cuban Anole an introduced species? How many different times of Anole live in Florida?

    1. There have actually been a bunch of posts on this in the past. If you look on the right hand side of the blog and scroll down to “categories,” and then enter “invasive species,” and then scroll down a while, you’ll find there’s been quite a lot written on this topic. Bottom line: greens and browns evolved together in Cuba. When greens naturally arrived in Florida, they expanded their habitat use, but now that Cubans (browns) are here, too, the greens have retreated back up into the trees, just like in Cuba. I’ve lost count of how many anoles have been introduced to southern Florida. Probably about 8 now.

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