Little Green Lizards - The Carolina anole
Anolis carolinensis the Carolina anole
When I was a kid my favorite animal was the common green lizards, Anoles. We called them Chameleons because they could change their color depending on the background. I kept some in aquariums on and off for most of my childhood. The highlight was to see one of your pet lizards do the red throat balloon display. That was where the male would inflate a bright red throat sack in an attempt to show off for the females.
Sometimes in my lizard hunts the lizard would lose it's tail during the capture. The tail would keep moving on it's own. This is a defensive adaptation. A cat, snake or other predator would be distracted by the moving tail while the rest of the lizard would scamper away. Their tails would slowly grow back, but never to the same length as before. I apologize for that now, sorry Lizardo, Big Boy and Scoot.
I always eventually released them back into the wilds of my back yard where they could continue eating flies, spiders and other insects, doing their part in the scheme of things. I'm sure they were tired of eating my staple supply of rollie pollies.
"What you lookin at?"
A recent visitor to my man cave and the inspiration for this article.
In honor of my wonderful childhood experiences with my little green lizards here is a treatise all about Anolis carolinensis the Carolina anole.
The anole is native to the southeastern United States. Adult males get up to 8 inches long, but half of that is the length of its tail. Even at that size they only weigh in at about a quarter of an ounce.
Their natural lifespan in the wild is usually about 3 years, but some anoles kept in captivity have lived up to 6 years.
The mating season lasts as long as the weather is warm. Females will lay about 10 or 12 eggs individually throughout the Summer. The eggs are buried in soil or hidden beneath leaves or gravel. They will hatch out about a month or so later, depending on the average temperature.
Anoles live a solitary life and so the hatchlings are totally on their own from day one. They have to look out for their natural predators which include snakes, cats, dogs and other mammals, and bigger lizards. Even their own parents will eat them.
The young lizards will mature in time to participate in the next years mating season and so it begins again.
If you happen to want to keep some Anoles as pets here are a few pointers.
- A 10 gallon aquarium will be ok for about 3 or 4 lizards but keep only one male. They fight.
- The aquarium needs a cover. A fitted glass cover will work fine because it will keep a higher humidity which is good for the lizards and they won't be able to escape.
- They prefer some live plants and plenty of hiding places. I always tried to have some different colored items in the tank so they could display their color changing tricks.
- They don't need a water dish, just use a mister bottle to create some drops of water on the plants or driftwood for them to lap up.
- When I was a kid I fed mostly rollie pollies because they were easy to find and catch. But Anoles need a varied diet which could include flies, spiders, worms, maggots and maybe a few rollie pollies. Avoid meal worms because they are too hard for the lizards to digest.
- Do an internet search on keeping anoles in captivity and you'll find a lot more in depth info.
Since I was young a new look alike alien lizard has been introduced into the green Anole Carolinensis territory. It is very hard to distinguish between them so I have included a picture. The Brown Anole, Anolis sagrei, is a native to Cuba, and neighboring islands including the Bahamas.
The Brown Anole - Anolis sagrei an invasive species
By Mgoodyear (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
The Brown anole never gets the bright green color of our native anole and they have a ridge on their backs which the greens do not have. The ridge is easily seen in the picture above.
Please be nice to the little green lizards. They help control the insect population and they are completely harmless to humans and pets, as long as you don't pet bugs.
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