Monday, June 19, 2006
Opposing Forces: A Tail Of Two Lizards
If you look at the butterfly house above, you'll notice two lizards. The upside down brown fellow in the shade is an exotic Brown Anole.
The cheeky lizard smiling from the opposite,, sunny side of the butterfly house is a native Green Anole. Our greens can change color to brown, but they do not have the tail markings and other features of the true brown anole.
The browns came in from the Caribbean on various shipments and have decided Florida is the place to be. Traveling on their own and in nursery plant shipments, they have colonized most of the state. Once they establish themselves in a new location, they quickly become the most common lizard, displacing our little green natives. Their sheer numbers in sunny landscaped settings boggles the mind. They're slow to move and easy to catch. It makes me wonder if they have not had lots of predator pressure as they developed on the nearby Caribbean islands.
Or are they just overconfident?
Like Tribbles, they seem to be everywhere. I dreaded their arrival here on my 10 acres because I really like my green anoles and envisioned my place as a refuge for them.
Well, the walls of the castle have been breached. I now have a small population of the browns. There's a good chance I brought them in aboard plants from my Dad's place or the Home Depot. Here, they don't seem to be present in large swarms and I wonder (and hope) that it's because my place is in a more natural state with lots of black racers and ratsnakes to prey on the newbies.
Instead of wiping out our green buddies, the browns seem to have driven them up into a higher zone. The browns don't seem to be much for tree climbing and the greens are comfortable there, so this new competitor may be just one more challenge to adapt to, like house cats and loss of habitat.
I do wonder what effect such huge numbers of brown anoles have on insect populations. When you walk a landscaped path and hundreds of brown anoles are scurrying about, think about the number of insects they ate that day, and yesterday, and will eat tomorrow. It must be having some effect.
Oh, so that's why Dad calls it a hot house...
These two green anoles were busy creating a new generation of their kind out in my Dad's greenhouse. More power to them, may they make lots and lots of little green babies.