In Puerto Rico, there are 12 native species of lizards of the genus Anolis. Anolis lizards are arboreal or of grasses, medium-sized, and sometimes of bright coloration. The giant anole (Anolis cuvieri) is the brightest and largest; it measures 5 inches long excluding its tail.
Males are larger than females. Males have larger heads and have a bright-colored dewlap that extends when they defend their territory, are intimidated, or during courtship. The release of the dewlap is accompanied by a “push-up” movement, shaking of the head, tongue exposure, and tail movements. Also, the animal presents itself on its side in order to appear larger and raises its dorsal crest. It is believed that these signals are used to distinguish individuals of the same species.
Most of the Anolis are able to change color. They show different shades of brown. When they are green, they change to brown almost black. Apparently, color changes are not for camouflage; they are related to their state of arousal or temperature changes. Lizards reproduce throughout the year. Their reproductive activity is highest during the rain season. Females usually lay one egg, sometimes two. They lay their eggs under rocks, tree trunks, and leaves.
Insects of all kinds are the lizard’s main diet but they also eat spiders, worms, small frogs, and young lizards. Several bird species such as the Puerto Rican Lizard-Cuckoo, Pearly-eyed Thrasher, and Red-legged Thrush feed on lizards. Lizards have toe-pads that ease climbing. Tree Anole usually limits their activity to a preferred place in tall tree branches. Grass Anole prefer places close to the ground.
Species are divided into four groups:
1. Giant species, represented by Anolis roosevelti from Culebra Island and Anolis cuvieri from Puerto Rico.
2. Grass species represented by Anolis pulchelhus, Anolis krugi and Anolis poncensis.
3. Tree species represented by Anolis cristatellus, Anolis gundlachi, Anolis stratulus, Anolisevermanni, Anolis cooki (southwest) and Anolis monensis.
4. Dwarf and primitive species represented by Anolis occultus.
Giant Anole – Anolis cuvieri
Culebra Giant Anole – Anolis roosevelti
Puerto Rican Twig Anole Emerald – Anonis occultus
Anole – Anolis evermanni
Puerto Rican Spotted Anole – Anolis stratulus
Cook’s Anole – Anolis cooki
Puerto Rican Crested Anole – Anolis cristatellus
Yellow-beard Anole – Anolis gundlachi
Mona Anole – Anolis monensis
Garden Lizard – Anolis pulchellus
Mountain Garden Lizard – Anolis krugi
Ponce small-fanned anole – Anolis poncensis
Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: August 27, 2014.
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