Category Archives: Ask the Experts

Stowaway – Can You Identify This Unfortunate Traveller?

Anolis sagrei (male) 266

An Anolis sagrei male from my study area in southwestern Taiwan.

Working with the brown anole (Anolis sagrei) is an eye-opener to the ability of some species to disperse far beyond the barriers that limit their natural dispersal potential. Anolis sagrei from Florida managed to reach Taiwan, most likely along with some nursery or agricultural products. They have also managed to reach Singapore, also I suspect along with some nursery products.

unknown snake

Can you identify this snake for us please?

Recently, an instance of a non-anole long-distance traveler came to my attention, and I would like to ask if anyone can help us identify the species involved. A friend told me about a snake that he obtained from someone, who got it from a person who imported wood from South America. Apparently, as the importer was about to start processing the wood he received, the snake slithered out of it. To me, the snake looks like a neotropical whipsnake (Masticophis mentovarius). However, it traveled by ship, meaning it could have gotten onboard at any port where the ship might have stopped. Thanks.

Help Needed Identifying This Equestris Clade Anole

K. Rs, after correctly identifying the eye in this morning’s post as belonging to A. fraseri, posed a question of his own: “Could someone please tell me what the anole in the picture is. The photo is from Cuatrok 77′s flickr page but there is no species identification.It looks to be from the equestris group and is probably a subspecies of Anolis noblei, equestris or luteogularis. I am seeking to upload the photo to Wikimedia Commons and any help in it’s identification would be greatly appreciated.

Fill In The Blank: Obscure Anole Life History Traits

In collaboration with the Conservation Biology course taught by Dr. Karen Beard here at Utah State University, where I am a Ph.D. student, I have been involved in gathering life history data on ~400 species of reptiles that have been introduced outside of their native ranges for an analysis of how life history traits (e.g., diet, fecundity, longevity) interact with other factors to influence the likelihood of successful establishment. Appendix A of Fred Kraus’ 2009 book Alien Reptiles and Amphibians is the source of the species list we are using, and included in this analysis are 26 species of Anolis. This is where you come in.

First, we coded all anoles as (i) sexually-dichromatic, (ii) diurnal, (iii) non-venomous, (iv) oviparous, (v) omnivores that lack (vi) temperature-dependent sex determination and (vii) parthenogenesis. Is anyone aware of any exceptions to these seven generalizations?

Second, we searched for data on clutch size, clutch frequency, incubation time, and longevity. The Anole Classics section of this site and the Biodiversity Heritage Library were particularly useful. After conducting what I feel to be a pretty thorough literature scavenger hunt, I am forced to conclude that some of these data simply do not exist at the species level for all of the species we’re interested in, or are not explicitly stated in a way that is obvious to a non-anole-expert. Of course, there is a lot of literature, including many books that I don’t have access to, and there are also lots of credible observations that don’t get published. I’m hoping that some of the readership here can help fill in at least some of the blanks in the table below. As one member of the team, I did not collect all of the data that are filled in myself, nor have I personally vetted every value, so if you spot an error please do point it out.

Two important points:

  1. Many environmental factors obviously influence the life history parameters of our beloved and wonderfully plastic reptiles, so we appreciate that many of these values would be better represented by ranges and are dependent on latitude, altitude, climate, and many other factors. Where a range is published, we are using its median value.
  2. I should also emphasize that, because of the large size of this study and the diversity of taxa included (ranging in size from giants like Burmese Pythons, Nile Crocodiles, and Aldabra Tortoises to, well, anoles and blindsnakes), it is more important for the data to reflect the relative values of these life history parameters across all anoles (and all reptiles) than it is to specifically and precisely represent all known variation within a given species of anole.

Without further ado (for your enjoyment, and because I know from my own blog that nobody reads posts lacking pictures, I’ve embedded an image of each species):

Species Median clutch size Median clutches per year Incubation time (days) Maximum longevity (months)
A aeneus
A. aeneus
A baleatus
A. baleatus
A bimaculatus
2 43 84
A carolinensis
A. carolinensis
1.15 6  41.5 65
A chlorocyanus
1 18
A conspersus
A. conspersus
A cristatellus
A. cristatellus
2.5 18 83
A cybotes
A. cybotes
1 18 45
A distichus
A. distichus
1 16 45.5
A equestris
A. equestris
1 1 48 149
A extremus
A. extremus
A ferreus
A. ferreus
1 18
A garmani
A. garmani
1.5 18 67
A grahami
A. grahami
A leachii
A. leachii
A lineatus
A. lineatus
A lucius
A. lucius
1 3.5 60
A marmoratus
A. marmoratus
2  50
A maynardi
A. maynardi
A porcatus
A. porcatus
1 18 63.5
A pulchellus
A. pulchellus
A richardii
A. richardii
A sagrei
A. sagrei
2 20  32 22
A stratulus
A. stratulus
A trinitatis
A. trinitatis
2  50
A wattsi
A. wattsi

Thanks in advance. I think this is a great blog and I hope to post something more interesting on here soon.

Anoles Feeding On Liquids – Please Help

Anole feeding on nectar. What about sap? Photo by Sparky Leigh.

Good day everyone. I am currently working on a short manuscript about a brown anole that I observed feeding on sap. I am aware that some anoles will feed on nectar (see list below), but I would like to know if anyone has ever observed anoles feeding on sap? If you have any references pertaining to anoles feeding on nectar or sap, and it is not listed below, would you please e-mail it to me at, or at least provide me with the reference so that I can try to obtain it myself. Thank you very much.


P.S. Lizards rule!

References I am aware of:

Campbell, T. and C. Bleazy. 2000. Natural history notes:  Anolis carolinensis (green anole). Nectivory and flower pollination. Herpetological Review 31: 239.

Colón Archilla A.D. 2010. Nectivory in Puerto Rican emerald anoles (Anolis evermanni). IRCF Reptiles and Amphibians 17: 144–145

Echternacht, A.C. and G.P. Gerber. 2000. Anolis conspersus (Grand Cayman Blue throated Anole). Nectivory. Herpetological Review 31:173.

Liner, E.A. 1996. Natural history notes: Anolis carolinensis carolinensis (green anole). Nectar feeding. Herpetological Review 27: 78.

Okochi, I., M. Yoshimura, T. Abe, and H. Suzuki. 2006. High population densities of an exotic lizard, Anolis carolinensis and its possible role as a pollinator in the Ogasawara Islands. Bulletin of the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute 5: 265–269.

Perry, G. and J. Lazell. 1997. Anolis stratulus (Saddled Anole). Nectivory. Herpetological Review 28:150–151.

Perry, G. and J. Lazell. 2006. Anolis pulchellus (Grass Anole). Nectivory. Herpetological Review 37:218–219.

Rios-Lopez, N. 2004. Anolis stratulus (Saddled Anole). Extrafloral herbivory. Herpetological Review 35:386.

Timmermann, A., B. Dalsgaard, J.M. Olesen, L.H. Andersen, and A.M. Martin Gonzalez. 2008. Anolis aeneus (Grenadian Bush Anole). Anolis richardii (Grenadian Tree Anole). Nectivory/pollination. Herpetological Review 39:84–85.

Valido, A.M. 2006. Anolis allisoni (Allison’s Anole/Cameleon Azul). Nectar feeding. Herpetological Review 37:461.

Help Identify Anole Seen in Barichara, Colombia

photo 1During a recent trip to the interior of Colombia (March 2013), we spotted this large striking anole. It was located just outside the town of Barichara, on the ancient Camino Real trail to Guane. Average elevation of this area is approximately 4,200 feet. Can anyone help identify this species and gender?

photo 2As it was early in morning, the anole had just begun to bask in the morning sun. It had probably not thoroughly warmed its body yet, and made for an easy capture! We examined, photographed, and released unharmed. -Marc Kramer, DVM (Miami, FL)


Anolis cybotes or Anolis cristatellus?

During casual field observations at various parks in the eastern portions of south Miami, I have noticed the expansion of Anolis cybotes and Anolis cristatellus.  However, I am more adept at identifying the latter species because of the dorsal crest or sail that many of the larger males exhibit. This feature seems to be absent in cybotes, which also appears to be slightly larger and stockier than cristatellus. I believe the population in Key Biscayne (Crandon Park) is cristatellus. However, there are populations at Fairchild Botanical Gardens, Matheson Hammocks Park, Dante Fascell Park, Town of Pine Crest, and a number of the areas adjacent to the Red Road Canal (Linear Park) north of Old Cutler Road in which I have difficulties with making a positive identification. At one time, over two decades ago, the population along the Red Road canal appeared to me to be cybotes; since then there are definite pockets of cristatellus and perhaps intermingling in areas.  Both species appear to favor shaded, “woodsier” environments and seem to dominate this niche over the ever present sagrei which appears to be relegated to the sunnier perimeters of the parks or hardwood lots. I would be interested in knowing if anyone can identify the species simply from the photographs posted. Also, are these two species closely related enough to readily hybridize?  Both Anolis cybotes and Anolis cristatellus are collected locally for the pet trade which may have aided in their dispersal.POP2POP2FemBeigeBeige2

Anolis bombiceps And Others In Peru

Anolis bombiceps - Image from

Anolis bombiceps – Image from

It started with a google search for Clelia clelia, which is one of my favorite snakes. These large colubrids are commonly known as the mussurana and feed upon vipers. Mussuranas are resistant to viper venom, which also makes them very useful for developing antivenoms. They are impressive hunters that take down venomous snakes with the deftness and tenacity of a honey badger. I have always been impressed by their sheer pluckiness as well as their beauty, and have spent many an hour reading up on them. It comes as no surprise, however, that while I was looking up information on tropical snakes from the New World I inadvertently came across some cool images of anoles!

A very lucky group of arachnologists traveled to the Peruvian Amazon in 2009 and posted some of their pictures on this site. The herping gods were on their side and they found an abundance of beautiful amphibians and reptiles, including many poison frogs and Stenocercus fimbriatus. This species, also known as the Western leaf lizard, is also another personal favorite for its beautiful camouflage and a dorsal pattern that is strangely reminiscent of Anolis barbouri, a leaf-litter anole from Hispaniola.

These adventurers also got to see some fantastic anoles, including A. bombiceps, the blue-lipped anole. Like the western leaf lizards, these anoles do a fantastic job of blending in with the leaf litter and background vegetation, so kudos to the explorers for actually spotting them. They also have photos of some unidentified anoles that could use a trained eye or two. Specifically, they have a photo of a large adult that they have tentatively identified as Anolis chrysolepis, and a juvenile or female that they could not recognize. Anyone out there care to offer an opinion?

Let’s Improve A Wikipedia Article For Anoles

The Wikipedia page for Polychrotidae

The Wikipedia page for Polychrotidae

The great thing about Wikipedia is that we can rapidly access information about, well, pretty much anything. The bad thing is that the information available isn’t always accurate or professionally curated. As far as the natural world is concerned, folks are better served visiting more curated sites. For example, if you’re looking for information on anoles, my recommendations would be to visit the Encyclopedia of Life, Caribherp, or even the Anolis genome site if you are specifically interested in the genetics of anoles. But the truth is that people interested in anoles will often go straight to Wikipedia. As members of the Anolis research community, we have the opportunity to evaluate the pages and make suggestions for improvements. Follow this link to the Polychrotidae page. I pose the following challenge to you – Can you find the errors on this page? Can you find where this page could be improved? I will compile the appropriate suggestions and send them to Wikipedia so that they can curate this page. Ready, set, go!!

Blue Knight Anole: What Is It?

Reader Thomas McLellan writes in: “I recently found this photo online (Editor’s note, April 20, 2013: the photo won’t reproduce here, but if you click on the link, you can see it) & was hoping someone might have info on what this is. Is it a color phase of Anolis equestris or something else? (This photo was apparently taken at the Detroit Zoo.) Any ID info about them? Can anyone help?”

And I’d be remiss not to mention our old post on blue knight anoles, which oddly enough, is one of our most frequently viewed posts. Lots of people get to it by searching for “blue beauty.” Am I missing something here? Are they looking for blue knight anoles, or something else?

p.s. Shortly after this post was written, I received the photos below from Amber Carney, a zookeeper in Miami, by way of Yoel Stuart, who asks if this pattern and coloration is unusual. Thoughts, anyone?

Getting Anoles To Lay Eggs – Please Help!

Denizens of the Anole Annals – I need help with my breeding experiment! This summer I am conducting a common garden experiment with Anolis armouri and A. cybotes, two trunk-ground anoles from the Dominican Republic. Things were going pretty well with A. cybotes, but as of late both species have stopped laying. Anolis armouri didn’t lay very much at all in the past month. I have already finessed the dirt moisture in the laying pot and the temperature/humidity conditions are fine. In the interest of getting data, I would like to induce them to lay, perhaps with oxytocin? Does anyone out there have suggestions on what can be used to induce laying? Dosage? Timing? All your advice would be much appreciated!

Help With Yellow Eggs

A 'slug' next to a healthy, freshly laid egg. The scale bars in millimeters.

In December, Rich posted on infertile eggs occasionally produced by anoles, also known as slugs.  These eggs are small, yellow, and uncalcified. We have found that females typically lay slugs in different locations than fertile eggs. In our breeding colony,  nearly every viable egg is deposited in egg laying substrate (moistened vermiculite in a plastic yogurt container), whereas slugs are found on nearly any surface but these cups, as described in a previous comment by William Baugher.

As our hybridization experiment in distichoids proceeds, it has become clear that these inviable eggs may be an important measure of the success of hybrid matings. There are some really great studies on viable anole eggs in the reproductive biology literature (12, and 3, to name a few), but I have had no luck in finding papers that discuss, or even mention the production of, these inviable eggs. Since the last post on this subject AA readership has gone up and I am hoping that someone out there has some additional information on the phenomenon.

Continue reading Help With Yellow Eggs

What is the Definition of a Native Species?

For years I’ve been perplexed by the definition of native because it seems to vary greatly (almost as confusing as the definition of species itself – there are “species” that vary only through geography). Is native a time dependant variable? Does it refer to a pre-Columbian period? (Of course even the term “Native American” is nebulous at best – Kennewick Man).
The reason I bring up this question is that it seems logical to me that Anolis carolinensis originated in the Caribbean, specifically in Cuba. Based on the present day currents through the Florida Straights my guess would be somewhere in western Cuba. If western Cuba is indeed the point of origin, the most likely seed species would be Anolis porcatus. Possibly over hundreds of thousands of years including an ice age, carolinensis adapted to cooler and cooler temperatures and eventually established itself throughout the southeastern United States. Continue reading What is the Definition of a Native Species?

Wanted: Anolis brevirostris Juvenile Photo

Thom, Sanger, Michele Johnson, and I have been working on a paper on juvenile morphology and behavior in an anole community in Barahona, Dominican Republic. Our only problem is that A. brevirostris juveniles move so fast, we didn’t get any photos while we observed them.

So…does anyone have a photo of an A. brevirostris juvenile? If so, you will of course receive credit for your photo in addition to truckloads of good karma!

Question about the Dewlap of Anolis insignis.

In 1923 Thomas Barbour described the species Diaphoranolis brooksi, a species that is currently considered conspecific with Anolis insignis. Apparently, his main reason for recognizing Diaphoranolis as a genus separate from Anolis was the structure of the gular appendage (dewlap), which he judged to be non-extensible. I’m wondering if any of you anolologists who have experience with Anolis insignis have examined the dewlap of that species and can refute or confirm Barbour’s conclusion (or otherwise comment on it). Thanks.