Texas is a massive state, making it home to a wide variety of wildlife. It’s hardly surprising that so many kinds of lizards thrive in this great land, given the hot, humid climate. Lizards can sunbathe in the intense sunlight and take it all in, and they can be found in every part of Texas, from spiny lizards to skinks. A scurrying sound through fallen leaves or a flash of color on a branch or stone is just one of a few sneaky ways lizards announce their presence. Even so, finding these cunning creatures can still take some time. With all the trees and vines around, spotting them can be nearly impossible. So to help us prepare ourselves for what we might encounter, what are the green lizards in the Lone Star state?
In the United States, there are over 100 species of lizard, with over 40 of those found in Texas. Visitors to this state have the unique chance to see approximately half of the lizard species found in the US in one place! However, only one species of green lizard can be seen here. This article will uncover the one green lizard species in Texas and other fascinating facts.
Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis)
The green anole is the only true green lizard you’ll find in Texas. It is an arboreal species closely related to the iguana. It is the only anole endemic to the United States and one of the best reptiles for rookie reptile keepers.
The familiar green anole is a lizard that blends in with its surroundings, often with leaves and vines, due to its vivid green coloring. “Green” is rather misleading, as they can shift from a bright color to various degrees of brown, leading some people to mistakenly refer to them as “chameleons.” Although they are frequently referred to as American chameleons because of their ability to change color, they are not true chameleons.
A green anole’s length ranges from 5 to 8 inches, making it a small-to-medium-sized lizard. It may seem large, but its long, slender tail makes up most of its length. It features a long, pointed head with ridges between the eyes and nostrils, smaller ridges on top of its skull, and toe pads. Males are 15% larger than females in all body size metrics, indicating that the species exhibits sexual dimorphism.
Males who battle other males for dominance or during mating season may sustain scars on their heads and faces. Unlike most males, females have a white stripe running along their spine.
Green anoles are native to Georgia and South Carolina in the United States and can also be found in the Caribbean islands and the Southeastern United States from Florida to Texas. The damp forests and brushy clearings of the neotropical and Nearctic areas are the usual habitats of these small lizards. However, their range has now reached Hawaii, the Ogasawara Islands in Japan, Cuba, the Bahamas, and Guam, in addition to the foliage in urban areas and low-lying vegetation in the Carolinas.
Beetles, cockroaches, worms, ants, and flies are just a few of the numerous insects that the green anole consumes. It also gobbles up other arthropods like spiders, and they are largely insectivorous and carnivorous. Because they forage for moving prey, motionless insects may go completely ignored. Anoles spend hours in the sun, seldom moving except to catch unwary prey. They can monitor their surroundings without moving since their eyes move independently.
The food of green anoles kept as pets should be similar to that of their natural diet. It is advised to give them a variety of insects, including grasshoppers, cockroaches, and crickets. Given the lack of sunlight, pet green anoles should be loaded with a calcium supplement to compensate for their vitamin D and calcium deficiencies. Anoles can also be fed wax worms and mealworms; however, they are low in nutrition and high in fat. Hence, these should only be given as a special treat (or not at all).
Are Green Anoles Dangerous?
Green anoles are not dangerous to humans or pets and don’t have toxic properties, although they may bite if mistreated or mishandled. In fact, if you’ve noticed these lizards in your yard or house, it’s likely a sign that you don’t use pesticides that can endanger them. These lizards are helpful because they consume a variety of small insects, including grasshoppers, cockroaches, moths, grubs, beetles, and crickets.
On the other hand, they might be disease carriers, so you should always take precautions and wash your hands properly after any contact.
Why Do Green Anoles Expand Their Throats?
Although throat puffing may seem odd from a human perspective, it is completely normal behavior for anole lizards. Throat puffing is a behavior that only male anole lizards exhibit, and it is typically only done for sexual or territorial reasons.
Anole lizards often begin mating in the early spring and continue until the very end of the summer. Since throat puffing is a highly typical courtship action, it may be more common during those months. Male anoles frequently puff their necks out prominently while they perform mating dances to attract females for reproduction. The customary mating dance moves include push-ups, head bobbing, and agape mouths.
Anole lizards are very territorial reptiles. A male lizard’s throat puffing could simply be it demanding that an outsider leave his territory. A male anole will widen his throat to seem physically larger than usual—and therefore far more threatening to his bothersome rival.
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