The brown anole, Anolis sagrei, is an invasive species in the United States, originating from the West Indies. They have become established all throughout Florida and in neighboring states – even in Texas and Hawaii.
When I was in Florida, I saw A. sagrei absolutely everywhere. The first picture at the bottom of this article is one of many brown anoles along City Walk in Orlando. I saw them with at least one green anole at Osceola Schools Environmental Study Center and I managed to catch one at a putt-putt course.
Most populations of brown anoles are observed in heavily populated areas and around road sides, leading some to think they are spread by traveling vehicles. Other causes of the distribution of this species are thought to be shipments of lumber, plants, and building products.
Brown anoles occupy the same niche as our native anole, the green anole, and are therefore competing for food and habitat. It has been observed that green anoles retreat to habitat with more vegetation while A. sagrei stick to densely populated areas. Research done by Todd Campbell, a biology professor at University of Tampa, said that brown anoles can displace green anoles by preying on their young and out-competing them for food sources.
An anole behavior I’ve really wanted to see was performed for me by a brown anole at Ready Creek Swamp. It had zoomed out of reach when it looked me in the eye and displayed its dewlap. The dewlap display can be to attract mates and to declare territory. When this was preformed to me, I took it to be the anole saying, “Come at me bro,” but I couldn’t scale a tree to come at my anole bro, as it well knew!
Thank you for reading! I used “Lizards and Crocodilians of the Southeast” by Whitt Gibbons, Judy Greene, and Tony Mills and “Endangered and Threatened Animals of Florida and Their Habitats” by Chris Scott for this article. Edited by Matthew Anthony.