Anoles are subtropical lizards that are found in the southeastern United States. Not native to the U.S., anoles are originally from Jamaica, the Bahamas and Cuba. Ranging in size from 5 inches to a foot in length, these lizards come in a variety of colors. Found mostly in southern Florida, anoles eat a diet rich in insects and prefer living in trees, shrubs or bushes. The lifespan of an anole varies upon species and whether it's wild or kept in captivity, though generally it is between two and 10 years. Females are smaller than males but all anoles are territorial.
The only anole native to the United States, the green anole is found in southeastern regions. They prefer the warmer climates of Florida and Louisiana. Approximately 9 inches long, the green anole lives on rocks, walls, bushes and trees. A diet rich in bugs is the favorite of a green anole. They prefer spiders, crickets, grubs and cockroaches. If kept as a pet, green anoles prefer to live alone. A 10-gallon aquarium with mesh lid and plenty of hiding spots is necessary for a green anole. Heating rocks are good additions to tanks as green anoles enjoy sunning themselves. In captivity, green anoles may live two to three years. Use caution when handling green anoles as they are able to release their tale to escape. When frightened, the green anole will puff out its neck to show bright red skin, or dewlap.
Native to the Bahamas and Cuba, brown anoles are plentiful in southern Florida. Similar in size to the green anole, the brown anole grows to approximately 9 inches from snout to tip of tail. Low brush, downed trees and bushes are home to the brown anole. Young anoles will be a reddish-brown tint and turn into a darker brown as they age. Crickets and small spiders are the staple diet. When threatened, the brown anole will puff his neck to show off an orange dewlap. Keeping brown anoles as pets is a challenge. They prefer the wild but if kept in captivity will need a 10 gallon aquarium, heating lamps and plenty of items to hide under. Brown anoles have a life span of two to three years in the wild.
The bark anoles, natives of the West Indies, are widely found throughout southern Florida. They get their name for their brownish color and tough skin which resembles tree bark. While sleeping, the anole will turn an off-white color. Of all anoles, the bark anole is the smallest at 5 inches. The bark anole prefers urban life and lives within exotic plants close to the ground. A diet rich in ants and aphids sustains the bark anole. In the wild, the bark anole can breed for up to 10 years and produce hundreds of offspring in a lifetime.
Jamaican Giant Anole
First seen in the United States in 1975, the Jamaican giant anole is found in southern Florida. Wildlife officials believe that the Jamaican giant escaped from pet dealers in the early 1970's and has bred in the wild. It is one of the largest of the anoles, reaching 12 inches long. For food, it must compete with the Green anole. However, the Jamaican Giant is not predatory. The dewlap on female Jamaican giants are smaller than that of the male but both are a light orange color. These anoles prefer the shade and can be found hanging upside down from tree branches. The Jamaican giant is one of the only anole species that will eat fruit from local trees. Both in captivity and in the wild, the Jamaican giant has a life span of less than 10 years.