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Knight of the Anoles

Living in South Florida, there’s never a dearth of interesting critters. One never knows what shall be encountered while gardening, even.

Peek-a-boo!

While getting some heavy pruning and weeding done before our approaching tropical storm, I was greeted by a bright green face amid one of our tree’s branches. Not a small guy, either β€” easily a foot-plus in length! At first, I thought he was a green anole…or a chameleon? I dropped everything, and ran with muddy shoes to fetch my camera to stalk him as he traveled through our trees.

She won’t leave me alone…

I’ll eat one of her songbirds if she doesn’t stop with the paparazzi…

Upon further investigation, I now realize he’s a Knight anole, a non-native critter and the largest species of anole β€” growing up to 13-20 inches in length. Knight anoles are usually bright green, as seen here, but can change to brown colorations. They sport yellow or white stripes under the eyes and over the shoulder, and the tail is slightly serrated. Introduced from Cuba, they’re becoming increasingly common in South Florida, but will be unable to survive north Florida’s freezes. Most research shows proof of introduction in Dade and Broward, but they’ve obviously made it north, to Palm Beach county…. As further evidenced by our guy, these Knight anoles are at home in the higher shady canopies of trees, where they eat insects, other lizards, and even small birds and mammals. Sadly, many of the introduced non-native lizards are eating our native (and smaller) lizards.

Give up the ghost. Blend with tree in a failed attempt to hide from camera.

Fun Facts:

  • Knight anoles can live up to 15-16 years of age in both captivity and in the wild
  • Each toe expands to form an adhesive pad, allowing the anoles to easily maneuver smooth, vertical surfaces and horizontal planes
75 Comments Post a comment
  1. jimbey23 #

    Ma’am, you TRULY have “the gift”! And knock off that pruning – we have a named tropical system bearing down upon us! πŸ™‚

    October 25, 2012
    • Aw, THANKS so very much!! I was thrilled to catch him β€” I’ve actually seen him on-and-off around the house for several years, now. He’s obviously quite comfy here!

      I tried to get some pruning in yesterday, in the hopes that any high winds wouldn’t otherwise snap the bushes & trees. Stay safe out there! (Although, you well know, this is always a great time to hike….!)

      October 25, 2012
      • jimbey23 #

        Stay safe? Heh Heh … I’m about to head out for a quick six. The windy conditions should ground a number of our high flyers today.

        October 25, 2012
      • Quick six? I don’t know what that is… But in combination with “high flyers” I’m assuming FLYING? Oh no. No way.

        October 25, 2012
      • jimbey23 #

        Quick 6 MILES – a hiking loop around here that I do for excercise. High flyers are the buzzards, Ibis and hawks. While I was out (getting drenched), I saw a family of wood storks feeding like crazy in one of the canals that they lowered for the storm. Also saw an Anhinga with his wings spread – in the driving rain. If the wind had blown him off his perch, he would’ve sunk like a rock! πŸ™‚

        October 25, 2012
      • AH! Now that makes sense! You must be very lucky and live a tad north, where we constantly drive for hiking…? That’s a good exercise-hike, too!

        I was *so* tempted to bail on my work (from home) and escape for a hike β€” this is perfect weather, rain and all! I love seeing the raptors flying on this wind. Poor anhingas though! No drying for them. πŸ™‚

        October 25, 2012
      • jimbey23 #

        Nah … East central county, so my “quick six” is on regular ole suburban sprawl streets. But thanks to our canal system, you can observe our elegant waders pretty much anywhere. Just like you found the Anole in your garden. My development has two nesting pairs of red tailed hawks. A nearby cemetery is chock-full of white and glossy ibis – and a row of trees along the edge that is home for a flock of vultures. For my photo shoots, I drive to the various wetland preserves (north county and south); but there is plenty to see on local walks for those willing to look.

        BTW, the last time I saw a knight anole it was in Dreher park up by the zoo. He was camera shy and kept the branch between his mug and my camera. Congrats on getting your innocent but unwelcome subject to stay still.

        October 25, 2012
      • Heh, thanks! He’s been a resident here for some time, now (years!)… So I was just thrilled he didn’t bolt while I fetched my camera!

        Your area sounds lovely, with lots of opportunity for some nice walking β€” it’s good that some of these waders adapted easily to human development. We’re in close proximity to Wako + Green Cay (which are starting to get busy with THE SEASON), as well as Loxahatchee (Arthur Marshall). I usually prefer the latter for my walking. πŸ™‚

        Do you have a place for your images? As you can see, many of mine aren’t really shoots per se, but hiking (etc) opportunities…

        October 26, 2012
      • jimbey23 #

        My shots are embarrassingly amateurish, taken with a cheap camera. I do not have a blog or a website – but I am starting to upload some to Flickr. Here is my link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/us-jimbey/

        October 26, 2012
      • Oh these are wonderful! With as much hiking as you seem to do, a camera is a MUST! Where’s the eagle, though? πŸ™‚

        We did a 5-hr hike yesterday of the FLA Trail across from Riverbend (I love the trails there), made it into JD by going under 95 (have you taken that route?) into the cypress swamp… Very lovely, but very wet!

        October 29, 2012
      • jimbey23 #

        Jupiter is a bit out of my normal range – but Riverbend and JD are on my bucket list. The eagle was spotted in the east side of Apoxee, but is probably the one whose nest is in GWP.

        October 29, 2012
      • Yes… But where’s the picture you took? πŸ™‚

        There are so many areas in Jupiter, it would take weeks. Riverbend, JD, Cypress Creek (across Indiantown Rd)… And like what we did yesterday, the FLA Trail in b/w the two. Cypress Creek is new, and just wonderful. Eventually that will connect as well. We spied lots of wild turkey, and a coyote! Very fleeting, sadly.

        October 29, 2012
      • jimbey23 #

        FeyGirl

        Β  Β  Are you saying the picture is NOT of a bald eagle? Β I would beΒ devastatedΒ – but I know no other raptor that large with a white head, white tail feathers and the large size – easily twice the size of an Osprey.

        >________________________________ > From: Serenity Spell >To: j_collinge@yahoo.com >Sent: Monday, October 29, 2012 11:10 AM >Subject: [New comment] Knight of the Anoles > > > WordPress.com >FeyGirl commented: “Yes… But where’s the picture you took? πŸ™‚ There are so many areas in Jupiter, it would take weeks. Riverbend, JD, Cypress Creek (across Indiantown Rd)… And like what we did yesterday, the FLA Trail in b/w the two. Cypress Creek is new, and just wonde” >

        October 29, 2012
      • Omigosh I can’t believe I missed him on your Flickr page! MOST definitely a bald eagle!! No denying that shot. We thought we saw one the other day, but couldn’t get another view to confirm the osprey v. eagle sighting (too far, no binoculars, but huge size!).

        October 29, 2012
  2. Oh No ! Another wildlife stalker !! Love it, these photos are amazing, and such bright color ! He sounds like a cute little pest though. I would have never heard of the Anole if it wasn’t for you. Beautiful photos.

    October 25, 2012
    • Heeee!!! I didn’t feel badly stalking this guy, since I had seen him for the past few years in the front and back of the house. He’s obviously comfy here!

      Such amazing color, huh? I was cutting these crazily huge branches, and all of a sudden, I only saw a black-circled eye β€” he blended perfectly with the leaves. Lovely, but sad that he eats our own Natives. Blech!

      October 25, 2012
  3. Pam #

    Wow, he is big! Quite different from the green anole. Nice pics!

    October 25, 2012
    • Thanks so much! Most definitely… I’ve been seeing him around our place for several years now, and I honestly thought he was some kind of chameleon, because of his SIZE. But he looked like a strange anole…! So pretty, but sad that he’s after all our Natives.

      October 25, 2012
      • Pam #

        You are right. I was concerned to read about a new huge lizard that is a threat – the tegu.

        October 25, 2012
      • UGH….! He looks like a monitor, too. They can be fairly territorial and mean.

        October 25, 2012
  4. Utterly Adorable! I love lizards!

    October 25, 2012
    • He’s a beauty, isn’t he? And the coloring is just brilliant… Too bad he’s a BIG BABY, bully to our Natives!

      October 25, 2012
  5. Great pictures β€” it was a neat find! The only wildlife I usually find are insects, birds and cats. πŸ™‚

    October 25, 2012
    • Thanks so much!! I was thrilled to nab him β€” he’s actually been a resident around the pad for a few years now… Once we had an actual chameleon. THAT guy was HUGE! Even my Brazilian friend was stunned!

      October 25, 2012
  6. Your home place in the world has lots of critters which I have never seen. Much appreciation your information and photos of what’s going on your neighborhood.

    October 25, 2012
    • You’re very welcome β€” I’m so happy to share this new information with you! This guy, while he’s been living in our space for a few years, is a new critter to me, too. πŸ™‚ And while he’s very lovely (and BIG!), he’s not very nice to our Natives….

      October 25, 2012
  7. What a Stunning Creature – thanks for sharing! Happy Thursday:)

    October 25, 2012
    • Truly amazing guy β€” not so small, though, heh! I’m glad you enjoyed him; happy Thursday to you as well! πŸ™‚

      October 25, 2012
  8. I should keep a sharp eye out for that anole! I’m not so far from you!!!

    October 25, 2012
    • Most definitely! I was so confused when I first saw him (albeit a few years ago, since he’s made himself comfortable here, heh). Chameleon? Nope. Anole? Odd one, at that…

      I hope you stay dry and safe during our TS! The winds have really picked up since yesterday in the south….

      October 25, 2012
  9. I would catch him next time, as he doesn’t quite belong. Then again, I useta catch just about any critter I could πŸ™‚

    October 25, 2012
    • It actually went through my head… “Who would want this lovely guy?” Unfortunately I don’t know anyone (any longer, at least) who can sufficiently care for reptiles. Otherwise β€” believe me, I totally would!!

      October 25, 2012
  10. At first I was going to say “What a beauty you’ve got there.” but I guess it’s not good that he doesn’t belong here. I hope they don’t start eating all of the lizards.

    October 25, 2012
    • Ah, I agree… He IS a real beauty, and it certainly isn’t his fault he doesn’t belong! It’s sad though that all these non-indigenous guys are eating our smaller native lizards.

      October 25, 2012
  11. I love the sharpness and colors… the first image could easily go into National Geographic πŸ™‚

    October 25, 2012
    • Aw, you’re so incredibly kind! πŸ™‚ That means a lot.

      The color of this guy was BRILLIANT. If it weren’t for the black ring around his eyes, I honestly wouldn’t have seen him, for the leaves! He blended perfectly.

      October 26, 2012
  12. Couldn’t get much more green. Beautiful photos as usual. Do you jump when you suddenly see an eye staring at you out of the leaves?

    October 25, 2012
    • Honestly, if it weren’t for that black ring around his eyes… I wouldn’t have seen him! I was inches away for several minutes before actually seeing him, hahah! Such wonderful camouflage.

      I’m so accustomed to lizards down here, I just squealed with glee and ran to fetch my camera. πŸ™‚

      October 26, 2012
      • Love your enthusiasm… Can see you squealing with glee and running for your camera.

        October 27, 2012
      • Oh, muddy shoes and all! Tripping over cats both ways… No shame!

        October 29, 2012
  13. Looks like Sandy is headed your way — be safe. These pictures are breath-taking and I agree with Bashar’s comment that they could go in a magazine like Nat Geo. So crisp! It is a shame about the non-natives destroying the natives..sadly that behavior goes all the way of the food chain doesn’t it? Great post! BTW, this off the wall, but have to ever seen the dolphin Winter from the movie A Dolphins Tale? We saw that movie the other night — now I have her website bookmarked so I can watch the webcam lol. I bet you could take fantastic pictures of her.

    October 26, 2012
    • Thanks so much β€”Β you guys are incredibly kind. πŸ™‚

      It really is a shame such a lovely, but non-indigenous critter is a danger to our smaller Natives. It’s a real problem in our area (with many introduced species), especially.

      I can’t believe I HAVEN’T seen this movie, yet! I fear much bawling will be done β€” which is why I haven’t seen it. But I know the sanctuary where she lives is on the other coast of FLA! What a story. What wonderful people to help this amazing girl.

      October 26, 2012
      • You will want to cry but it’s because of good feelings! I like crying for any reason (I’m the “who dropped the hat lady”) but crying for joy and good things feels the best I think! πŸ™‚

        October 26, 2012
  14. Your photographs are just amazing. Brilliant!

    October 26, 2012
    • Aw, thanks so very much! Lucky shots, wonderful models, and great timing. πŸ™‚ And loads of patience….

      October 26, 2012
  15. What? What!?! A tropical system? I’ve been traveling for a few days and am up in Kansas City – I’ve not been keeping up with the weather. Maybe I should go look!

    These photos are stunning. I’m becoming more and more sensitized to the chaos brought to our world by invasive species of any sort. On my way up here, I saw beautiful yellow acquatic flowers lining the banks of the Arkansas River in Oklahoma. I did a bit of research and discovered they’re non-native. And the best autumn color in Texas often comes compliments of our Chinese Tallow trees – invasive.

    In any event, your anole is wonderful. We have small ones that are delightful. And this surely has been our Summer of the Lizard. I don’t always know what species I’m seeing, but I’m clearly seeing baby lizards. Some are only two inches long – awwwwwww!

    October 26, 2012
    • Hahah! Well, it was Sandy β€” she swooped up the coast (we’re in SE Fla), and it was HIGH winds and LOTS of rain for our area, obviously… Whooo boy! A solid 2 days of it. Debris city, still!

      You’re very kind β€” thanks so much!! It really is true. It’s true of all areas, but southern Florida has a ridiculous amount of invasive critters, due to former lax laws and importing of exotics. Just disgusting that so much could have been prevented.

      But this guy is truly a dangerous beauty! If I knew someone who was good with reptiles (sadly, I used to), I would have caught him. And, ooohhh… I wonder what kind of lizard you’re seeing! Do they have a stripe on them? I adore lizards, especially geckos. πŸ™‚

      October 29, 2012
  16. What a beautiful creature!

    October 26, 2012
    • A dangerous beauty!

      October 29, 2012
      • How dangerous are they? I guess a foot long lizard can deliver quite a bite! He’s a handsome beast, great shots.

        October 31, 2012
      • That’s what I was thinking! Well, they can eat small mammals and birds, and can grow up to just under 2 ft long… So I definitely didn’t get TOO close β€” although I was a few inches away from him. But he was in the sun, so I knew he was moving slow at that *exact* moment. But you’re right β€” he is a handsome beast!

        November 1, 2012
  17. Thank you. My favorite color and captured perfectly, as usual. πŸ™‚

    October 27, 2012
    • Aw, really? Such an intense green… I would never have even seen him against the leaves, if it weren’t for that ring around his eyes.

      Thanks so much! πŸ™‚

      October 29, 2012
  18. We love your photos. Excellent watermark! Birds & butterflies (great combo). Woof Woof πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    October 27, 2012
    • Aw, thanks so very much!! I worked on the watermark with a good friend, he was so kind to put it together for me. πŸ™‚

      October 29, 2012
  19. So many problems with non-native species..great detail on it..Michelle

    October 27, 2012
    • Thanks so much! This guy is quite the beauty, but being so large β€” and our Natives so small β€”Β he’s a dangerous beauty.

      October 29, 2012
  20. What brilliant crisp shots! I know feral species can wreak havoc with local ecosystems but he sure is beautiful.

    October 29, 2012
    • Thanks so much…. And, my thoughts exactly! If I knew someone who was good with reptiles (sadly, I used to) β€” I would’ve caught him!

      October 29, 2012
  21. Reblogged this on 2012 Spirit In Action and commented:
    In case we might forget, in all the day to day worries, and terrible stuff in the news that our Earth is a magical place filled with mystery, life and beauty-we can thank bloggers like feygirl for reminding us with posts like this.
    It’s easy to get distracted by all the bad news, work to be done etc but making sure to get out into nature and connect with what is REAL is essential.
    The storm has passed on northward, the first cool front arrived and it is utterly gorgeous here in FL today. I haven’t seen any of the smaller green anoles similar to this one in years, but the brown Cuban anoles defy the cats to rule the garden;-)

    October 29, 2012
    • Thanks so much for sharing our beautiful, albeit non-native anole!! πŸ™‚

      October 30, 2012
  22. Renard Moreau #

    [ Smiles ] You have a lovely blog here; I enjoyed visiting it!

    October 30, 2012
    • Thanks so very much β€” and for taking the time to drop by for a visit! πŸ™‚

      October 30, 2012
  23. I don’t know the anole, but a beauti he is. But at the same time, the chance to encounter all those critters that you might meet in your garden, might be too much for me… πŸ˜‰

    October 30, 2012
    • Heh heh!! This guy was definitely an interesting one, being over a foot long… But usually it’s not quite so bad. Well, the occasional gator may appear! But no bears. πŸ™‚

      October 31, 2012
  24. marialla #

    NOT A TREE CROCODILE????? THANK YOU FOR THE BEAUTIFUL PICTURES!!!

    October 30, 2012
    • Hahahha! I love that… Now that would have been a GREAT title! πŸ™‚ Thanks so much…

      October 31, 2012
  25. Ah, my knight in green armor. He’s so handsome too. What a find, FeyGirl.

    October 31, 2012
    • Hee, love it… He’s terribly handsome, too! I’m not sure who found who, though. πŸ™‚

      November 1, 2012
      • Hmmmm, hope your human partner isn’t jealous of the green knight…LOL

        November 1, 2012
      • Heh, good point! He has very good reason to be extremely jealous of all these guys, with as much attention as I give them… πŸ™‚

        November 1, 2012
      • That brings a smile to my face because I love all those creatures too, even the ones in spirit.

        November 1, 2012
      • So PERFECTLY said…. And ditto, ditto, DITTO!! πŸ™‚

        November 2, 2012
  26. Start out pruning and end up with a beautiful blog post. Nice.

    November 20, 2012
    • Thanks so much! One never knows what to encounter in this area, sometimes… Native or not!

      November 20, 2012

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