Saturday, August 6, 2011

Face to Face with a Green Anole in Paynes Prairie

Anyone who sees me get out of my car with all the gear I take with me to paint might chuckle because I like to anticipate all the things I might need while I'm out there.  I've pared it down quite a bit over the years, but I always have certain essentials with me such as my camera, my binoculars and my Audubon Field Guide.  These days my smartphone serves as a camera and has field guides!  While I paint I sometimes see something I will down my painting tools to photograph.  One day in Paynes Prairie I observed this little lizard.  I didn't see her at first because she was lying straight in the middle of one of the palm fronds, green as could be.  We eyed each other for awhile, then she slowly turned to the side and cautiously started stepping across the fronds, changing colors as she moved.  I read that she is a Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis), a member of the Iguanid family. The Smithsonian's National Zoological Park online guide gives some fascinating facts: "Green anoles have adhesive lamellae on their foot-pads for crawling along walls, much like geckos. Able to change color, the green anole can be anywhere from bright green to browns and grays. One thought is that the green coloration is related to dominance. Their color varies depending on their mood, temperature, humidity and health. They are often referred to as the American chameleon, although they are unrelated to chameleons. ...Males are distinguishable from females because males have a pink dewlap, a flap of skin that hangs in an arc below their neck. This dewlap is used for attracting females and in territorial displays...Green anoles have a stereotyped set of behaviors. Male anoles perform rituals of dominance and territoriality. They show their dominance by bobbing their heads, usually through pushup-like movements. They also flare their dewlap. When threatened by another male, the opponents begin with head bobbing and flaring. Then they extend their throat (different than dewlap) to enlarge their body profile, they turn lateral to their opponent, showing the side profile of their body. They also erect crests along the back, and form an eyespot. These performances are intended to intimidate the other anole. The loser of the confrontation performs submissive head bobbing and retreats to a different territory."  Oh, and they eat spiders, too.  I wish she'd stay next to me and feast on the insects that like to feast on me....

Mary Jane Volkmann


  1. It would be great to have friendly anoles to eat the pesky critters that love us. ;)

    Cute friend during your adventure!

  2. Oh yes, I agree! I wish I could entice them to stay around for awhile! Nothing more frustrating when I'm painting than putting down a fine stroke of paint while feeling one of those critters bite...:>)