Category Archives: Anole Annals Trivia

Five years of Anole Annals

Wooden anole tarot card from

Wooden anole tile from

Last week marked the fifth anniversary of the first Anole Annals post.  Back on November 21, 2009 Jonathan Losos shared three anole haikus by Yoel Stuart. Since then there have been over 1,500 posts and 37,000 comments, both truly remarkable achievements for the anole community. Contributors, commenters and readers alike are all responsible for the success of Anole Annals. Here’s to many more years for the online home of all things Anolis. Finally, if you happen to be looking for the appropriate anniversary gift for your local anole blogger the traditional gift is wood (example above), and the modern is silver [1] [2].



And So the Carnage Is Resumed …

A brown anole (Anolis sagrei) male from Santzepu, Chiayi County, southwestern Taiwan.

A brown anole (Anolis sagrei) male from Santzepu, Chiayi County, southwestern Taiwan.

The Taiwanese authorities will once again launch a campaign to try to eradicate the brown anole in southwestern Taiwan. By paying a bounty of N.T.D 3 per collected lizard, they hope to encourage residents to help remove these lizards. They have funds for about 100 000 lizards, but I am afraid that is most likely not enough! The known distribution of this species in southwestern Taiwan is ca. 237 hectares. In my opinion the distribution most likely exceeds that. Those in the know are aware that these lizards can attain great densities. In one study, we found that they can attain densities of about 2900 lizards / ha. So, even if the average density is just 1/10 of that they do not have enough funds.
In addition to that, some religious groups are against the killing of animals and I have found that they do not permit the capture of these lizards on their properties. Even in areas where the capturing of the lizards is permitted, it is difficult to collect all the individuals present. Anolis sagrei that have escaped after being captured tend to flee from a perceived threat at greater distances, which means that such individuals could persist in an area without the collectors being aware of them. These lizards are also opportunistic and can utilize a variety of natural and man-made structures as shelters, many of which would hinder the capture of lizards. In addition to that, some agricultural practices such as the use of greenhouses can act as reservoirs for these lizards. It is thus not surprising that in spite of the large numbers of lizards removed to date, A. sagrei still exists in the southwestern and eastern study site and seems to be expanding its distribution range in Taiwan.

An Anolis sagrei male sheltering in an electrical control unit in an agricultural area in the southwestern Santzepu, Chiayi County, southwestern Taiwan (note the sympatric Hemidactylus frenatus on one of the electrical wires).

An Anolis sagrei male sheltering in an electrical control unit in an agricultural area in the southwestern Santzepu, Chiayi County, southwestern Taiwan (note the sympatric Hemidactylus frenatus on one of the electrical wires).

An Anolis sagrei sheltering in a drainage pipe (right) of a concrete roadside embankment in Santzepu, Chiayi County, southwestern Taiwan.

An Anolis sagrei sheltering in a drainage pipe (right) of a concrete roadside embankment in Santzepu, Chiayi County, southwestern Taiwan.

So my money is on the lizards! Because the distribution of A. sagrei in Taiwan is fairly extensive and the species disperses very easily, the eradication of A. sagrei in Taiwan is impractical. Efforts should rather focus on managing this species.

My opinion is that one of the best ways to do so is by manipulating habitats and making them unsuitable for A. sagrei to inhabit, and so hinder the spread of this species in Taiwan and limit its population growth. The cultivation of crops such as rice (Oryza sativa) and taro (Colocasia esculenta), which are unsuitable habitats for these lizards, should be encouraged in agricultural areas where these lizards are known to occur. Also, since broadleaf forests in Taiwan are likely unsuitable habitats for A. sagrei, greater efforts should be made to re-establish and conserve large areas of broadleaf forests in disturbed lowland areas of Taiwan. This would not only contribute to the conservation of native forest species, but such areas will also function as reservoirs for species like Japalura swinhonis that can compete with A. sagrei, as well as being barriers for its spread.

Please Help Us Make the Sungazer the National Lizard of South Africa

Cordylus giganteus

South Africa has various national wildlife symbols:

National animal – the springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis)

National bird – the blue crane (Anthropoides paradisia)

National fish – the galjoen (Dichistius capensis)

National flower – the king protea (Protea cynaroides)

National tree – real yellowwood (Podocarpus latifolius)

Now, I would like to appeal to Anole Annals readers to help get the sungazer, Smaug giganteus (formerly Cordylus giganteus), formally recognized as South Africa’s national lizard by the Department of Arts and Culture. This would promote the conservation of this species, but by using it as an umbrella species, the conservation of their grassland habitats would also benefit various other organisms. It will only take a few minutes of your time. Just visit and sign the petition at:

The Swinhoe’s tree lizard (Japalura swinhonis) is a common endemic lizard species in Taiwan.

The Swinhoe’s tree lizard (Japalura swinhonis) is a common endemic lizard species in Taiwan.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could get a national lizard nominated for every country?

I nominate the Swinhoe’s tree lizard (Japalura swinhonis) for Taiwan.

Which anoles would you nominate for which countries?

Proud of My “Browns”

Me in uniform – many years, kilograms and grey hair ago.

Me in uniform – many years, kilograms and grey hair ago.

For many years, most units in the South African Defense Force used a plain medium brown uniform, called nutria. Soldiers commonly referred to it as “browns.” A few years before my national service, the defense force started phasing it out, replacing it with the “Soldier 2000” camouflage design. When I was conscripted to serve in the South African Medical Services (SAMS) in 1993, SAMS was the only unit that completely still used the nutria uniforms, and although not as “modern-looking” as the other uniforms, we developed a sense of pride in our “browns.”

I believe the brown anole (Anolis sagrei) needs little introduction to Anole Annals readers. I am very fortunate to have been able to do my research on the invasive population of these lizards in southwestern Taiwan. I have been a naturalist at heart since a very young age, but these lizards were my introduction to the academic side of natural history, and because of my work on them I have made numerous friends and acquaintances. So, naturally they hold a special place in my heart and mind.

A female brown anole (Anolis sagrei) from my study area in Santzepu, Sheishan District, Chiayi County, southwestern Taiwan.

A female brown anole (Anolis sagrei) from my study area in Santzepu, Sheishan District, Chiayi County, southwestern Taiwan.

Unfortunately these feelings brought a sense of guilt within me. I know all too well that they are an invasive species, which has certain impacts on native species. And yet, it is hard not to marvel at them and their ability to overcome the numerous obstacles they face in this foreign habitat.

The other day, while reading the obituary of Henry S. Fitch (1909-2009) in the 2009 issue of Herpetological Review (40[4]: 393-400), the words of Raymond B. Huey suddenly made it all so clear to me. He described an instance in which he left a meeting at which Henry Fitch was a speaker, with a haunting lesson, “We should do science because we love the process, not because we need to love the results.” I believe that for us who work with invasive species, this is also a message. So now, when I see brown anoles, I no longer have to feel guilty when I do not wish they were rather tree lizards (Japalura spp.) or grass lizards (Takydromus spp.). I admire the “browns” and I find the process of learning about their natural history truly fascinating – I love it! I wonder how many other researchers working on invasive anoles share this sentiment?

Ecuadorian Anoles on BBC News


During the last five years, herpetologists at the Museo de Zoología QCAZ, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE), have discovered and described 35 new species of amphibians and reptiles, some of which are anoles. BBC news recently posted a photographic article on this work, which was funded by the Ecuadorian government and PUCE. Anolis otongae and A. podocarpus are some of the recently discovered species featured in that article.

The Museo de Zoología QCAZ also maintains ReptiliaWebEcuador, a website on Ecuadorian reptiles with tons of information in Spanish, including pictures, maps, free downloads, and more. Visit us if you want to know more about Ecuadorian anoles.

Is There An Alien Invasion In Taiwan?

The Anolis carolinensis observed in Chiayi County, Taiwan, on the trunk of an Areca catechu.

Currently, the list of exotic invasive herpetofauna in Taiwan is fairly short:

brown anole (Anolis sagrei)

sun skink (Eutropis multifasciata)

common slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)

American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana)

Asiatic painted frog (Kaloula pulchra pulchra)

Hong Kong whipping frog (Polypedates megacephalus)

But if the list of species permitted in the pet trade in Taiwan is not revised, and drastic steps are not taken to prevent future accidental and/or intentional introductions of exotic invasive amphibians and reptiles, that is sure to change.

There are already anecdotal accounts of green iguanas (Iguana iguana) and water dragons (Physignathus lesueurii) in the wild, and in 2011 we reported on some tokay geckoes (Gekko gecko) that we found in the wild in central western Taiwan. Earlier this year when we reported on a green anole (Anolis carolinensis) that we found in 2002 in a rural area of Chiayi County, southwestern Taiwan, we added another species to the list of species that have been recorded in the wild.

The discovery of these lizards in the wild in Taiwan is alarming. If suitable numbers of these animals are released into the wild, they very likely will establish viable populations in Taiwan.

Which Species Are The Most Common In Museum Collections?

The relatively sparse anole holdings of the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates.

I recently asked which museums have the largest holdings of anoles. I’ll now ask the obvious next question: which species are most represented in these museum holdings? Shouldn’t be much of a surprise: the first five species I checked were, indeed, the top five. But I’ll give one hint: the top five in Al Schwartz’s collection at the University of Kansas are not the top five overall.

So, who can name the top five, and in the correct order? And a bonus question: which species is number six?

Which Museum Has The Most Anoles?

Rich Glor recently put up a fascinating post on the enormous number of Anolis specimens deposited in the natural history museum at the University of Kansas, which got me thinking: which natural history museums house the most anole specimens? I’ve got the answer (you can, too, if you go to Herpnet, but what fun is that?): Who can name the top five? One caveat: apparently the holdings from the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology are not available. I supplemented my studies by going to the British Museum’s website, and I think all the other major players are on Herpnet, though would welcome news to the contrary.

So, here’s a bit of information, a hint of sorts: the leading institution has nearly twice as many specimens as the second place depository, which in turn has more than half again as many as the third, which is barely ahead of the fourth and the fifth.

And here’s something else: very few museums have any specimens registered under the generic name Norops. I’m not saying that the proposal to split Anolis into multiple genera is dead (see here), but clearly it didn’t get a lot of traction in the museum world. Oddly, though, one of the bastion’s of anti-Norops sentiment, the Museum of Comparative Zoology, has 75 Norops. We’ll have to see how long that stands.

Any way, have at it. Top 5: Which are they?

Mystery Lizard: It’s Sitana!


No flies on you guys. I put up a mystery “lizard”—note: not “anole”—with a beautiful white dewlap and the trademark diamondback pattern of a female anole, but few were fooled and it was quickly identified as the southeast Asian agamid lizard, Sitana ponticeriana. The dead giveaway—if you want to be technical—is the presence of only four toes on the hindfoot.

This species—or very possibly a complex of species—shows remarkable geographic variability in dewlap color. See the gorgeous red, black and blue one here. They’re even said to change color seasonally, from blue to white, but I’m not sure how well-established that is.

This photograph comes from J.N. Trivedi’s fascinating 2010 Master’s Dissertation entitled “Study of courtship behaviour of Fan – throated lizard Sitana ponticeriana in scrublands of Vadodara city Gujarat.”

Do Anoles Produce Ultrasonic Hissing Noises?

It has recently come to my attention that several websites (e.g. wikipedia) report that male anoles produce ultrasonic hisses while fighting. I’ve been trying to track down the source of this information, but I can’t find any reference to ultrasonic sound production in anoles in the scientific literature. Does anyone know the source of this information? Can anyone confirm that anoles are capable of producing ultrasonic sounds? I’d be grateful to anyone who can shed any light on this rumor.

Which Anole Species are in Albert Schwartz’s Top Five?

Breakdown of anoles in the Schwartz collection housed at KU, highlighting proportional representation of the five most frequently sampled species.

Albert Schwartz was a prolific describer of new anole species and author of peerless contributions to our understanding of geographic variation within and among widespread anole species (see 1 and 2).  In addition to his published contributions, Schwartz and his colleagues accumulated a massive collection of preserved specimens that continues to serve as a foundation for research on anoles.  Although these specimens are now housed at a number of institutions, the bulk of his anole material – 15,511 specimens to be precise – can now be found at the University of Kansas.  This collection includes representatives of 93 anole species, but the sampling among species is highly uneven and the five most frequently sampled species account for more than 35% of the total collection.  Sampling of these top five species ranges from 552 to 1838 individuals.  My trivia question to you, my fellow anole enthusiasts, is “What are the top five species in Schwartz’s KU collection?”  As a hint, I’ll remind you that Schwartz’s efforts were focused primarily on the northern Caribbean and that he spent the last few decades of his career working extensively on Hispaniola.

Isla Bastimentos Anole

Panama Anole ID

A holiday quiz- can anyone ID this species? Found in the twilight zone of a cave in a small stream (hint) entering the main cave stream. Isla Bastimentos, Bocas del Toro Province, Panama. Apologies for the picture, one needs a good reason before hand to bring a nice camera into wet and muddy caves.

Has this species been reported from the BDT Archipelago?

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

Anole Annals About to Hit 100,000

A glorious event–the 100,000th viewing of  an Anole Annals pageis about to occur. In fact, the very next page to be viewed, perhaps the first person to read these words. I should add that this is the result of 59,425 unique viewing sessions. And almost all of this viewage has occurred in the past year. Whomever’s next, let us know who you are so your name can be inscribed in the AA Hall of Fame.

Can You Spot the Sleeping Anole?

Somewhere in this photo is a sleeping anole. The species is one that has only been reported from the Dominican Republic a few times.

Somewhere in this photo is a sleeping anole. The species is one that has only been reported from the Dominican Republic a few times.

If you can find the sleeping anole in those photo, you will have contributed to cataloging the anole fauna of the Dominican Republic.  Points if you can identify the species.  Hint – the photo was taken on the northern slopes of the Sierra de Bahorucco approx. 12km east of the Haitian border.

Anoles Beaten at Their Own Game?

Both images from ganeshdhane's flickr page:

Even though anoles aren’t the only lizards to have evolved dewlaps, their spectacular diversity of dewlap shapes and sizes certainly makes them leaders in the global arms race for dewlap dominance.  Nevertheless, I recently came across some photos of the spectacularly dewlapped-agamid Sitana ponticeriana doing something I don’t think anoles are capable of – displaying while standing on two hind limbs.  I’ve seen Australian agamids stand up for extended periods of time to display, dissipate heat, or scan the horizon, but I’ve never seen an anole do this for more than a few seconds while reaching for a new perch.  Sure, anoles can do lots of other stuff to get the message across – push-ups, full-ups, elaborate tail-wags, tongue protrusions, nuchal crest extensions, gapping, etc. – but I’m just not sure they’re built to stand.   My question to all the anoles lovers out there: has anybody ever seen one of our beloved creatures displaying while standing on its hind-limbs?

PS – Lots of other amazing photos of the dewlapped agamids are on Flickr

An Anole Murder Mystery?

Looking through old image files I found the above picture. At first glance, this may look like an unearthed fossil. No way. Try to earn some points by answering the questions below:

  1. Which species is this?
  2. What happened to it (cause of death)?
  3. Where (within the DR) or in which type of habitat did this take place (this is linked to #1 and #2)?
  4. What is the dark patch in the background/horizon, located in the upper right of picture (linked to #2 and #3).