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Brown Anole is common critter on Sanibel

By Staff | Nov 19, 2009

Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei) Other names: Cuban anole, Key West anole / Status: FL-Invasive, still expanding its range, IUCN=LC / Life span: to five years / Length: Length: 6-8 in. (15-20 cm) / Weight: 0.05-1.5 oz (1.5-4 g) / Nests: on island / Found: IW (Interior Wetlands), MZ (Mangrove Zone), UA (Urban Areas), GB (Gulf Beaches, …………CW (Causeway).

Although no one is certain when the brown anole arrived on Sanibel and Captiva, the consensus is that it was shortly after the completion of the original causeway. It probably hitchhiked over in the root balls and canopies of the many ornamental palms imported from the Miami area when the island was experiencing the rapid growth of the early 1970s. Once here, it quickly became the most prolific lizard on the islands. An invasive species, its sheer numbers now prohibit any viable attempts to contain its spread or effectively remove the species. Its range continues to expand across the Southeastern U.S.

The brown anole has a number of subtle color and pattern variations, but its dewlap, the throat fan you can often see the male extending when announcing its territory to other males, is always yellow or reddish-orange. It is one of the easiest reptiles to find on Sanibel and Captiva, occurring around condominiums, homes, pools, screen enclosures, and the bike path-virtually every island habitat harbors at least a few, if not scores of brown anoles.

It feeds mostly in the daytime and prefers foraging on the ground where it eats beetles, grasshoppers, spiders, and roaches.The brown anole is a favorite food for white and cattle egrets, as well as great blue herons. An injured lizard often succumbs to overwhelming attacks of fire ants, and it is also favored by many of the islands’ indigenous snakes.

To learn more about “Living Sanibel” go to www.indigopress.net.