Territorial Behavior for Green Anole Lizards

Green anoles' tails are sometimes considerably longer than their actual bodies.
Green anoles' tails are sometimes considerably longer than their actual bodies. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Green anoles (Anolis carolinensis) are mostly arboreal reptiles (family Iguanidae) that are commonly kept as exotic pets. In nature, these lizards are prevalent throughout the southeastern part of the United States, including in Arkansas, Texas, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida. "Carolina anole" is another oft-used moniker for these highly territorial creatures.

About Green Anoles

Green anoles usually are between 5 and 8 inches in length. The males are bigger than the females, and the females are sometimes even shorter than 5 inches. They have lithe physiques, extended tails, pointy noses and small heads. Although they are named "green," they also sometimes appear brown. Many factors determine their coloring at any given moment, including moisture in the air, how they feel and temperature. Green anoles dine on lots of flies, termites, crickets, beetles, spiders, seeds, grains and worms.


The males of the species are extremely territorial. One way in which they assert their social status and space is by repeatedly and quickly nodding their heads up and down. Many scuffles between green anoles begin in this fashion.


Another common territorial pattern of male green anoles involves their dewlaps, which are slack skin folds that sag from their necks. Their dewlaps are pink. Females, for the most part, lack dewlaps entirely. Males typically puff out their dewlaps when they're attempting to drive others away from their turf. They also show off their dewlaps when they're trying to appear more noticeable to females, for mating purposes. Green anoles often react to danger by simultaneously nodding and expanding their dewlaps.


Apart from making their dewlaps more prominent, green anole lizards also frequently respond to menacing situations by pushing out their throats, and then promptly moving so that their "enemies" can view them from the side. These territorial behaviors are often precursors to attacks and chases. The goal is to strike fear into the other party, and to make him back down.

Protective Behavior

Protective territorial behavior is extremely prevalent in male green anoles. They spend a lot of time guarding females during the reproductive season, and that often results in physical effects such as weight loss. The reproductive season lasts from April to July each year.

Physical Size

The turf of a male green anole corresponds to his bulk and size in general. Bigger green anoles literally cover more ground, and therefore boast more significant territories.

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