Native to Cuba and the Bahamas, brown anoles (Squamata: Polychrotidae: Anolis sagrei) were introduced to Florida in the 1970s. Since then they have proven to be highly invasive, quickly becoming one of the most common lizards in the state. Living close to the ground in a rapidly expanding range throughout the southeast, these prolific small lizards are capable of reaching high population densities. They can outcompete native lizards for habitat and food, feeding on much of the same arthropod prey. Brown anoles can also displace native green anoles (A. carolinensis), relegating them to treetops in areas where they manage to survive. Sometimes brown anoles will eat young green anole hatchlings if they wander close to the ground.
It was hard to miss several of these brown anoles at Biscayne National Park south of Miami last spring. They moved quickly through the brush, pausing at times to bask in the sun. The particular individual shown above and below was a mature male, as evidenced by the crest along its back.
Brown anoles are distinguished in part thanks to the characteristic coloration of their dewlaps. Males flash these fleshy features to attract mates, and in the case of brown anoles they’re conspicuously red-orange with a ring of white-yellow at the margin.