Wednesday, August 14, 2013


The first time I saw one of these I stared in disbelief. It was a strange new anole in a warmed greenhouse here in my part of town.
Now 10 years later, I've seen two of them out and about scampering along the sidewalks in my neighborhood.
At first I thought it was one of our native green anoles in one of its brown moods. But take a look:

Once you can compare, you readily see the differences. So I started a little research to see what I could find.

Here's some great information from a Texas reptile website created by one of our universities:

The first Texas sightings of this Cuban lizard were here in the green county (Harris County). It traveled here via greenhouse plants grown in southern Florida. The brown anoles don't like the cold weather, but seem to be adapting to our environment by hanging out near warm buildings, warm walls, warm sidewalks, and storm sewers that have warm water flowing through them. Milder southern winters are also contributing to their expansion efforts.
As you can see, this one has found a wonderful home in this storm grate in metro Houston.

If you are wondering how far they will make it before a colder climate stops their wonderings, here's the range map for our native green anole. I had no idea they were found so far north! This page is from the Chattanooga, Tennessee Nature Center.

The brown anole is tremendously faster than our green variety.  I can easily catch a green anole in my garden. But this brown species starts to get jumpy when you're still five feet away! In fact, I'm still amazed I  got this photo before it darted off.
Now for the bad news. A number of biologists have studied their interactions with our slower green anoles and found that when together the brown anoles can capture and eat the baby green anoles.
I'm sure they also pick off our despised fire ants. So the news isn't all bad.
So there you have it. If you see a flash of brown look twice and see if the rascal has tiny white spots.
You've just spotted your first Anolis sagrei!
For a complete list of Texas lizards, check out this wonderful website:
All for now.
Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Interesting post, David! As you mentioned, it's wird to find the green one in your area. It's because some kind of global warming effects? Anyway, I admire that once you have a question, you started a reserch soon. It's fun to know the new information, isn't it? When I have a question, I'll do what you did:) Thank you for inspiring me!

  2. I wish we had little critters like that here in Iowa. We get toads, and I've seen a frog or two, but never anything like that.

  3. I haven't seen this one in San Antonio yet and will keep a look out for them.

    We enjoy the antics of our green anoles. Just last week I watched one climb about six feet up a screen to catch a moth. It took a while so that was our evening entertainment. We are easily entertained apparently.

  4. I haven't seen any here, either.

    We do have a lot of the green anoles, and the larger Spiny lizards, too.

    I'll keep an eye out. Sounds like a good news/bad news thing.

  5. A friend at TAMU tells me these brown anoles are actually a real threat to our native greenies. He called them Mexican anoles, but the genus name is the same. Our green anoles don't have any protection against them, and are markedly slower moving, thus easy for the browns to catch and eat.

    1. Thanks for the additional information. So far, the brown anoles are still very dependent on warm sidewalks to survive and don't do well during colder winters. I'm hoping this will keep their populations low and survival rates high for our native greens. Watching them move in alarms me since metro Houston was a zone 10 climate region these past two winters with temps never reaching freezing each season. If this stays the trend, then these brown anoles will continue to advance their territories.

  6. Ooooh, I live in the South, but I don't think there is much risk of one of these popping up to visit my garden - as I live in South England! We have our fair share of wild life here, the urban foxes are the most troublesome right now, they are huge and make a lot of mess and destruction - I take a pretty lizard any day before a fox family digging around in my flower beds!
    Thanks for the info, really interesting.

  7. I'd heard that there was some question about whether the brown anoles were displacing the green ones. I haven't looked closely to differentiate between the two in my own garden. It's too hot to go out looking for them right now!

  8. A friend in The Woodlands discovered one in his garden a few years ago, but so far I haven't seen any here, although I, too, am on the northwest side of town. I'd just as soon NOT find this invasive species here. My garden is overrun with green anoles and that's just fine with me.

  9. I have the brown kind in my back garden and green anoles in my front garden. So far, both kinds are flourishing. I think my front yard is too cold for them. The brown ones stay close to the back of my house in the Elephant Ears and rock crannies.

  10. We're in New Orleans. Prior to this year no one in our subdivision had ever seen a brown anole. Since this past Spring, they've completely taken over. There are no green anoles left in our subdivision whatsoever.
    They're definitely more plentiful than the green anoles. Hopefully they'll help with our mosquito problem.

  11. I have both in my backyard right now in Metaire, La. The first time a saw a brown anola was last summer

  12. should i catch the brown anolas?

    1. I had one show up this summer in my tropical garden, then it vanished. I have found that they need an open area like a large sunny drive way to stay warm enough in the winter. So far, the green anoles are doing fine and not having to fight off the newbies from Cuba. David/
      Oh, and they are lightning fast. Good luck catching one!!! :0)

  13. I just saw two of the brown Cuban lizards in my garden in League City TX.
    The are very aggressive and the two wee fighting each other. I also noticed that they did not change color as the green ones do.

  14. I have one of these near my office here in Saint Augustine, Florida. I had to look twice to really pay attention to it but it took me away from my work for several hours as I was watching it try and fight with his reflection on our windows and how fast he moves. This guy lives in a small crack that goes under the sidewalk under a window I am amazed at this guy and he comes around everyday at the same time but then disappears again until the next day.

  15. I live in Sugar Land Texas and just spotted one, maybe 2. Horrible looking things. Started to research what it could be because I hadn’t seen this kind before.


I always appreciate your comments & questions! Happy Gardening from David/ Tropical Texana

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