Iguanids (family Iguanidae
) are distinguised by their teeth that fit into a groove beside the jawbone rather than directly on it. Most are active during the day and are egg layers. Most iguanids engage in head bobbing, nodding, and push ups.
The lizards we often call "chameleons", the ones that scurry across our walkways, bob their heads and extend their dewlaps, and change color to blend in with their surroundings are actually anoles, belonging to the family Iguanidae
, genus Anolis
. True chameleons, natives of Africa and Madagascar, have eyeballs that move independently of each other and tails that curl into spirals.
Anoles have excellent vision. They have adhesive toe pads that enable them to easily climb any surface. They shed skin, but the old skin comes off in pieces. They exist on a diet of insects.
The dewlap, the crescent of skin that can be extended under the throat, is not inflated. A small bone bows out to extend the dewlap during times of threat, courtship, or while defending territory.
The Green Anole
, Anolis carolinensis
, is found in almost all habitats throughout the state. It the only anole native to Florida. It has a slender body and long, pointed snout. Males have a slight ridge down the center of the back. It may reach a length of 8".
A Green Anole can change color from green to brown, tan, or gray. The Green Anole changes color to camouflage itself but also in reaction to temperature. When the temps are above 70°F, anoles tend to be green. Cooler weather and they turn brown. Following a territorial dispute, the winner turns bright green while the loser turns brown.
The Green Bark Anole
, Anolis distichus dominicensis
, is found in the Miami and Tamiami Trail areas. It changes color from brown to green and has a pale orange dewlap.
The Florida Bark Anole
, Anolis distichus floridanus
, is a smaller (5") anole that is found in Dade County. It is gray or brown with dark bands on its tail. It spends most of its time on tree trunks and limbs.
The Cuban Knight Anole
, Anolis equestris
, found in Dade and Broward Counties, reaches a whopping 19". It is green (may change to brown) with a white strip under the eye and another from the shoulder to midback. Its dewlap is pinkish white. It spends most of its time on tree trunks and limbs.
The Bahamian Brown Anole
, Anolis sagrei ordinalis
, is found in south Miami and Collier County. It is similar to the Cuban Brown Anole but has a tail ridge.
The Cuban Brown Anole
, Anolis sagrei sagrei
, is found mostly in peninsular Florida and the Keys.
|Cuban Brown Anole||Green Anole|
|brown to dark brown or black||green to brown|
|patterns & markings||none|
|yellow border on dewlap||no border|
|mature males have back crests||none|
|stays on or near ground||stays higher above ground|
|higher reproductive rate||lower reproductive rate|
|max length: 8.5"||max length: 8"|
The Spiny-tailed Iguana
, Ctenosaur pectinata
, an introduced species, is found in south Miami. It is gray brown to black with a round spiny tail. It lives underground, coming to the surface to feed and bask.
The Green Iguana
, Iguana iguana
, an introduced species, is found in the Miami area. It is greenish tan to bright green with brown saddles on the back and brown bands on the tail. A row of blue gray spines runs down its back. It may grow to 6.5 feet. It eats leaves and fruit.
The Northern Curly-tailed or Lion Lizard
, Leiocephalus carinatus
, a native of the Bahamas, is found in gardens and on dunes in Miami and West Palm Beach. It is gray with a slightly crested tail. When it feels threatened, it curls its tail over its back and rushes for cover. It reaches a length of 10.5".
The Texas Horned Lizard
or Horned Toad
, Phrynosoma cornutum
, a native of the Midwest, is found in dry habitats. It has a round, flat, spiny body, 4" long. It is light brown with dark brown blotches. It burrows into the sand, leaving its head exposed.
The Southern Fence Lizard
, Sceloporus undulatus
, is found from north to mid-central Florida. Females and young males are gray with black with white zigzagging patterns on their backs. Adult males are gray to black with have dark blue on the throat and on the sides of the belly. Maximum length is 7". It is active during the day and stays primarily on tree trunks, fences, and other wooden structures.
The Florida Scrub Lizard
, Sceloporus woodi
, is found in dry scrub habitats in central Florida, particularly in the Ocala National Forest. It is brown with a brown stripe down the side. Males have pale blue under the chin and on the sides of the belly. Females have zigzag bars across the back. Maximum length is 5". It stays on the ground or low on the trunks of trees.
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