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.
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 — 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.
Upon further investigation, I now realize he’s a Knight anole, a non-native critter and the largest species of anole — 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.
- 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