Meet Anolis sagrei, the brown, or Cuban anole. Also known as the Bahaman anole or De la Sangra’s anole, this invasive species originated in Cuba and has wandered north into Florida and much of the southeastern United States, brought by the pet trade and by hiding away with landscaping plants. An opportunistic and fecund species, it is quietly outcompeting our native green anoles (Anolis carolinensis).
Green and brown anoles can be somewhat hard to tell apart, primarily because most species can change color. The green anole can turn brown, for example, and both can turn almost black. Adult male brown anoles can reach about 7-8 inches long, with females being somewhat smaller. The brown anole is never green; and it has a ridge which runs from its tail to all the way up behind the head, which is not found in green anoles.
Brown anoles molt in pieces, rather than shedding their skin in one go like a snake. If calcium is scarce, they may eat these pieces of shed skin to retain the mineral. They eat pretty much anything that can fit in their mouths, including insects, worms, fish, eggs, and other lizards.
The brown anole breeds in the summer months, with the female laying one or two eggs at a time on a weekly basis for the entire season. The female can store sperm from a male and continue to lay fertile eggs without mating again. Eggs hatch in about 6-8 weeks, and no parental care is given. Average lifespan of the brown anole is 2-4 years, although they can live up to 8 years in captivity.
If chased, the brown anole can detach most of its tail to distract a predator. The tail can partially regrow from its stump.