Which Puerto Rican Anoles Are These?

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit Puerto Rico for the first time, albeit briefly. Fortunately, a lot of anoles can be found even on a brief visit. With the help of caribherp.org and other references, I could identify most of them. I was hoping to get some help from the knowledgable readers of Anole Annals on the rest. I suspect they are mostly all juvenile Anolis cristatellus cristatellus, but the appearances are varied enough that I couldn’t be sure. Any ID help is greatly appreciated!

Small brown anole at Cueva Maria de la Cruz, Puerto Rico

Unidentified Anole #1:  Cueva María de la Cruz

This small brown anole and a couple of similar-looking buddies were dashing about on a large tree trunk at the edge of a grassy clearing at Cueva María de la Cruz. This small cave is in northeast Puerto Rico, near the coast, north of the western edge of El Yunque National Forest. I saw adult Anolis cristatellus cristatellus in smaller trees nearby, so it seems likely that this is a juvenile, though its pattern looked non-standard to me.

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Unidentified Anole #2: El Portal Visitor Center, El Yunque National Forest

While my traveling companions checked out the gift shop and bathrooms at El Portal visitor center, I naturally looked for lizards to photograph. This attractive fellow once again seemed to sport a pattern different from any I was used to seeing on young Anolis cristatellus cristatellus, though that’s still my best guess.

Small brown anole by roadside snack stand, El Yunque National Forest

Unidentified Anole #3: Near Roadside Snack Stand, El Yunque National Forest

Another El Yunque anole, this one on a tree alongside PR-191 not far from El Portal Visitor Center, sporting yet another distinctive pattern.

Small brown anole at Parque de las Cavernas del Rio Camuy

Unidentified Anole #4: Parque de las Cavernas del Rio Camuy

I photographed this anole and the next one on the grounds of Parque de las Cavernas del Rio Camuy in northwestern Puerto Rico. The body pattern here reminds me of Anole #3 above, and the tail pattern reminds me of Anole #2. So once again I suspect these are all Anolis cristatellus cristatellus so far, but I’m not at all confident.

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Unidentified Anole #5: Parque de las Cavernas del Rio Camuy

This one was only a few dozen feet from Anole #4, but looks significantly different, with its paired dorsal spots and white upper lip and other light markings. Still, same habitat, same size, essentially the same shape… yet another Anolis cristatellus cristatellus? Is there no end to their variation?

small brown anole at Arecibo Radio Telescope

Unidentified Anole #6: Arecibo Radio Telescope Visitor Center

Finally, here’s one that I suspect is something other than Anolis cristatellus cristatellus. This strapping young anole eyed me warily from a metal pole on the patio of the Arecibo Radio Telescope Visitor Center (as featured in the James Bond film “Goldeneye”, I am contractually obligated to mention). Nearby was a larger long-snouted, yellow-sided anole that I identified reasonably confidently as Anolis pulchellus. Maybe this is a youngster of that species, without the pretty colors and with a shorter snout? I also saw Anolis stratulus in front of the visitor center, but this one seems too spot-free to be that distinctive species.

About John Sullivan

I'm a herp fan who has spent my spare time in the past couple of decades traveling and photographing herps in the wild. My photographs end up on my website wildherps.com and iNaturalist.org, among other places.

4 thoughts on “Which Puerto Rican Anoles Are These?

  1. I agree with Skip and Liam – all cristatellus. #5 looks like a female. #6 is definitely cristatellus, juvenile pulchellus look just like miniature versions of the adults. There is a ton of variation in coloration and pattern in this species. Nice photos!

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