All posts by Joe Burgess

Jamaican Twig Anole Observations

Earlier this year ,while conducting crocodile (C. acutus) research in Jamaica, I observed some interesting behavior with the Jamaican Twig Anole (A. valencienni). The croc research is conducted at dusk and into the night, which leaves ample time to watch the anoles (during the day) that share our campsite. All of the Jamaican anole species are present at our camp in the Hellshire Hills except A. garmani. The camp is located just off the beach in a sea grape and buttonwood dominated coastal forest.

While lying in a hammock, I watched a female A. valencienni descend a branch toward a tree hollow. As she approached the hollow, I noticed several other females near the entrance hole. I know that it is documented that this species is a communal nester, but to see it was a real treat. During a quick survey of the immediate area (about 20 meter radius), I observed this same activity at two other tree cavities simultaneously. Up to five females were perched outside the cavities, while one or two inspected the entrance. At one of the tree cavities, the females were very wary and during several hours of observation, I noticed that the gravid females entered and exited (after deposition) freely.

At two other cavities, there seemed to be a backup. Females would enter or partially enter, then quickly exit the hole. It wasn’t hard to deduce that something else was occupying the cavity. Even more interesting was that the females at these cavities were not wary, actually completely aloof to my presence. I was curious as to what was preventing their access, so I peered and blew air into one of the holes. As I did this, the females at the entrance which were looking at my face only inches away shifted their attention into the hole. I still couldn’t see anything, so I utilized a flashlight and after doing so, saw that a Croaking Gecko (Aristelligar praesignis) was “blocking” entry and appeared to defend the cavity from intruders. Additionally, I noticed the walls of the cavity encrusted with eggs. Considering the size and shape of eggs, all appeared to be freshly laid or previously hatched Anolis eggs.

I cannot explain the female anoles’ behavior and complete disregard of my presence; even allowing me to touch them (see video).

I had several hypotheses about this behavior; one is that perhaps females worked cooperatively to intimidate the cavity occupier (gecko) at entrance… even enlisting the observer as an ally?

After egg depsition

After egg depsition

Before egg deposition

Before egg deposition

Gecko in cavity (blurry), eye and eyestripe can be seen.

Gecko in cavity (blurry); eye and eyestripe can be seen.

Anolis Pogus Observations

Anolis pogus male on pandanus root in hotel garden surveying his territory (J.Burgess)

It has been widely published that Anolis pogus is only found in high elevation on the island of St Martin. While it is true, it is very common and in high densities at these higher elevations and more mesic environments, however I observed this species at lower elevations and even only meters from the beach. I came across this species several times (by accident) while making my way around the island, even in downtown Phillipsburg. Mongoose certainly take their toll on this ground, bush, and trunk “generalist” and there were many areas on the island where neither A. pogus nor A. gingivinus are easily observed. I do not agree with the assumption that this species is excluded by competition by the larger species as both species were observed in great numbers in these areas where both are present. This species certainly deserves another look at its ecology.

Anole Lodging?

As I am preparing for travel to the Lesser Antilles and looking at accommodations, I got to wondering. With all the anole research being conducted in all parts of their range I was curious about “Anole accommodations?” I have only come across two anole friendly places to stay, but there have to be more.
In Dominica there is the Zandoli Inn, which is the local name for anoles. But aside from the name and logo, that’s about it. The Ecolodge in Saba goes a bit further with their Anole cottage, which is completely decked out with Anolis sabanus décor. Of course I had to stay there.
Here is a wall in the room. How many sabanus can you count? Hint, there are more than 20.

If staying here, be careful of your privacy… there were several instances of peeping Tom’s outside my window. I caught this one in the act.

Dactyloa ID

I received this image from a friend of mine living in Panama. He asked me to identify the anole pictured for him. My immediate response back to him was Anolis insignis. However after looking at the animal I started to doubt my identification… the gular color seems to have too much yellow. I know that several of the Dactyloa group have been recently described, so this is possibly something new?

The photo is from Altos del Maria, cloud forest, a little east of El Valle, Panama.

Anyone dispute my ID? If so, what do you think?


Name the Species

The following West Indian species are common in their appropriate island habitats, but these here may not look typical for their species. Either the form is a geographic color morph or just kind of non representive of the species.

For some of you sage anolologists this may be somewhat easy, however I’d be curious to know how good some of you are…

I will provide answers in a few days. Have fun.



















3. Continue reading Name the Species

Unique dewlap?

I recently returned from a trip to eastern Cuba and as expected, made some interesting observations and gathered some new natural history information.
While poking around one evening with a flashlight (mainly looking for Eluth’s) I saw this “orange” sagrei sleeping on some veg. I photographed it to share here since there was some discussion on and off blog about this color phase. After I got it in hand to determine species (since homolechis and jubar were also very common in the area), I was surprised at the dewlap appearance. At first I thought it had a red mite infection because of the color and texture; but after scrutiny, just accepted that it had a bright red pigment that was scattered about the entire ventral anterior. Any ideas or similar observation?

Another Anole That Sees With Its Eyes Closed

Anolis argenteolus is not the only (Cuban) species that has this “window” on the lower eyelid. Anolis lucius also has transparent scales, but if I recall there are 3 in this species. Interestingly, both of these species are to some extent saxicolous or cliff dwelling. So perhaps the sunglasses theory is correct. Protects the eyes from reflection off the white limestone rocks? Attached is an image of this species from the Matanzas Province.

Strange perch mate

Anoles in Florida really have to deal with some strange neighbors. You just never know who is going to move in next door. Giant day geckos are rapidly expanding their range in the Fla Keys and use a variety of perch sites and heights including manmade structures. This of course brings them in contact with all species of Anolis occurring there.  I enjoyed watching this interaction… The A.carolinensis/porcatus was really troubled with the invader, using the entire repertoire of his display skills. The gecko (Phelsuma grandis) which was at least three times the mass of the anole, only seemed slightly hesitant to continue to the crown of the tree. Once there the anole displayed for several minutes trying to influence the gecko out of his small palm. Perhaps one day they will learn each others language.

More Introductions…

With the number of Florida’s exotics herp species already exceeding the number of native species, a couple more may be finding a new home in the Sunshine State.
Back in 2004 I was alerted to the existence of Anolis trinitatis at a Miami Beach hotel. I investigated the claim and sure enough they were there. I collected/removed 11 individuals (including juveniles) in 3 separate visits over a 6 month period. When I returned to the site in late 2006 they had begun renovation to the hotel and pool/garden area; the later being completely stripped of vegetation including the large Ficus trees and Pandanus in which the Anolis had been occupying. Subsequent visits to the site and surrounding area have not yielded any other animals and we think these have been extirpated.

More recently, 3 Anolis coelestinus have been captured in the vicinity of a reptile importer in Broward Co. I captured a large male 3 weeks ago, but did not see any other individuals in or around the area. We are uncertain if this species was released (or escaped) in large enough numbers to become established.

These and 75 other documented species will be discussed in a soon to be submitted paper, “A complete list of verified non-indigenous amphibians and reptiles in Florida through 2010: Outlining the invasion process and identifying invasion pathways and stages.”

Attached images are of anoles I collected in Florida.