Green Anoles of Hawaii

Green Anole Kailua-Kona

The Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis) is a tree-dwelling species of lizard native to the southeastern United States that was introduced to islands in the Pacific and Caribbean. Other names for this attractive and interesting lizard include the Carolina anole, Carolina green anole, American anole, American green anole, North American green anole and red-throated anole. In the pet trade they are sometimes referred to as American chameleons due to their color-changing ability.[1]

Do Green Anoles Change Color for Camouflage?

The Green Anole is known to change color depending on mood and activity-level, and when displaying dominance in territorial disputes. But so far, scientists have said there’s insufficient evidence to conclude these lizards change color to camouflage themselves. Observations in my own garden cause me to suspect that Green Anoles do in fact change color to blend in. 

On my green plants, anoles tend to be green.

Female Anole Wearing Green / Keauhou – Oct 2021

On my brown branches, anoles tend to be brown.

Male Anole Wearing Brown / Keauhou – Oct 2021

This charcoal-colored anole blended in perfectly with my lava rock wall before hopping onto my sidewalk to chase a bug.

Female Anole Wearing Charcoal / Keauhou – March 2022

This anole took on a rosy tone while looking for bugs on my red Ti plant. It has a patch of dry skin on its snout that it’s not yet shed.

Male Anole with Rosy Tone / Keauhou – March 2022

This anole was khaki-colored when I took the photo on the left, but after it leapt onto a nearby Manila Palm seedling, it turned bright green. You can tell she is female by the white stripe down her spine.

Female Anole Wearing Khaki / Keauhou – March 2022
Female Anole Wearing Spring Green / Keauhou – March 2022

The Green Anole Dewlap

Both male and female Green Anoles have dewlaps, but the size of the dewlap in males is positively correlated with bite force capacity.[2]

Male Anole Wearing Khaki flashing his Dewlap / Keauhou / April 2022

The Green Anole “Stink Eye”

I’m intrigued by the attitude displayed by the Green Anoles in my garden. Rather than scurrying off timidly when I approach, they stay put and observe me skeptically. I call this “the anole stink eye.”

Green Anole Stink Eye / Keauhou / June 2019

[1] Anolis carolinensis at Wikipedia

[2]Performance and Signaling in the Green Anole Lizard by Justin P. Henningsen

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Aloha! I’m a real estate agent on the wonderful and amazing Big Island of Hawaii. I live up the hill from Keauhou Bay, just south of downtown Kailua-Kona. I love to help people. If I can be of assistance, get in touch.

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