Anoles Moving North, Way North

A recent paper by Matt Helmus, Luke Mahler, and Jonathan Losos highlighted the ways in which globalization has influenced the distribution of Caribbean Anolis lizards. At the heart of this research was the relationship between commercial shipping traffic and lizard biogeography. Two more recent observations can now extend these findings well beyond the Caribbean, much, much farther north.

First, Twitter user  recently posted a story about a stow away green anole that he found on pallet in Edmonton, Canada. This was a shipment of oil field supplies that originated in Houston, TX and that took ten days to reach its destination. This male green anole survived the trip all the way to Canada and is now housed in a new terrarium. The tweet originally posted October 16th and since then the anole has shed and appears to have adapted well to its new home.

An anole in the great white north.

The Canadien green anole.

Photo by Randi Duun

In separate case of stowaway lizards, another anole survived a transatlantic journey to Denmark in a shipment of bananas and was discovered incapacitated on the floor of the stockroom where incoming bananas are fumigated. The photo is too small for me to be certain, but this appears to be an Anolis cybotes female. According to the original post by Randi Duun in the “Anoles” Facebook group, the shipment originated in Colombia, Costa Rica, or the Dominican Republic so this would be consistent with an A. cybotes hitchhiker. It would be interesting to know how long a shipment like this takes, but I bet that it is longer than ten days port-to-port. Regardless, just like the globetrotting green anole, this anole is healthy following its journey, housed in a terrarium and enjoying Danish mealworms.

In contrast to the research described by Helmus et al, it is probably safe to assume that despite the perseverance of these anoles, and any others that make their way towards the arctic circle in subsequent shipments, escapees will not be establishing viable introduced populations.


About Thomas Sanger

Thom Sanger is an Assistant Professor at Loyola University in Chicago. His lab specializes on understanding the developmental bases of Anolis lizard diversity.

3 thoughts on “Anoles Moving North, Way North

  1. We got them at the greenhouse I worked at in Burlington, Ontario. They’d come in on the plants we ordered from Florida… I could easily go around and collect 5-10 of them when a shipment came in.

  2. A couple of months ago my family and I went on a weekend cruise with Royal Caribbean on the “Oasis”. It has a “central park” which was complete with one adult male cybotes, one female cybotes, one male sagrei and two female sagrei. I observed no offspring and saw no insects. I cannot imagine what these anolis are feeding on. I did notice blooming palms & other plants; perhaps nectar & pollen? Leftover food in the trash receptacles? Just an observation, I believe I may have some photographs. After our cruise the ship was to be repositioned in Italy where it would be refurbished.

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