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.Posted by Picasa


OldHorsetailSnake said...

Leaping lizards! Nice little guys to keep you company.

Mrs. S said...

Personally, I prefer salamanders - they're not too bright and easy to catch... but I guess they need too much water to be able to be happy down in Florida?

These guys are cute, though! I can see why you like them. ;)

Floridacracker said...

Lusty leaping lizards!

Mrs. S,
I actually have a pet salamander in an aquarium. It's a siren.

Ava said...

Great post on the lizzards.

I've never heard of a butterfly house. How does it work? They go in a catepillar and come out a butterfly?


Juli said...

Here we go again with more nature porn! :) We had a similar photo a few years ago when we saw a couple coupling from a gutter. There they were, hanging from the gutter. We added LOVE IS IN THE AIR to the photo and sent it out to friends as a Happy Spring postcard.

Floridacracker said...

Looks like a bird house with narrow slots instead of an entrance hole. I believe the idea is it's an overwintering spot for butterflies. This one is at my folks house and it seems to be mainly a lizard lounge :)

I don't know what got into these two...maybe they were sipping the Peters liquid fertilizer Dad sprays on everything.

threecollie said...

Wow, if you are overburdened with those little brown lizards, just pack 'em up and send 'em north to eat the gypsy moth caterpillars! We could use a few billion, post haste. And it would be so fitting. Invasive eating invasive so to speak.
And thank you profusely for the link. I am very flattered to be included on your list.

Hurricane Teen said...

Good post! It's a shame you've got browns there now, but greens will probably still remain. Seems like we've got both here, probably a little more green than least by my observation. And for some reason they all take a liking to mating on my window in the spring. What a great thing to wake up to in the morning, eh? Anyway, all these posts are really informative. Thanks!

Floridacracker said...

I will start boxing them up now. The link was long overdue. I've been slowly updating the blog list, and still have a few to add.

Hope your trip went well. I think the greens will hold their own against the invaders.

Laura said...

Weird, the posts you put up! Hub went flying out of the house last week with my camera, and has since been bugging me to put up the photos of a lizard fight that he captured on the camera. I haven't got around to it so far and then I come across this post here! This past weekend, we got some good iquana shots as well, in Miami.
Life in Florida, huh? LOL

Deb said...

Ah, lizard love!

I remember the green anoles at my grandparents' house at Colee Cove. My grandma called them chameleons, and they were everywhere on the windows, and sometimes in the porch. To a Minnesota girl, going there was like visiting the tropical rainforest, with all the new an unusual creatures.

Floridacracker said...

Lizard fight? I'm in!

We grew up calling them that also, I still do half the time. If I did that here on the web, I'd get corrected by the taxonomy police :)

Wayne said...

FC - we've got green anoles here too and fortunately not the brown Cubans. However our green anoles do a pretty good job of turning brown on the right vegetation. Can you tell the difference? Hope those guys don't move north.

We've also got eastern fence lizards, which I really like - they remind me of tiny dinosaurs, more spiny and chunky than the anoles.

Speaking of niches, I've been watching our two resident species of flycatchers for a couple of years. The eastern phoebes tend to stick to 10-20 feet above the ground, while the great crested flycatchers seem to prefer to hunt far above that level. It's pretty amazing to watch, and I'm glad they can find a way to get along because I like both of them. A lot.

Floridacracker said...

I think the cold will keep the exotic browns at bay in GA. I don't know how the cold tolerance of the browns compares with our native greens.

I like the fence lizards too. Tried to photo one yesterday, but it was a game of "my side of the tree peek a boo"
I never could get on the same side of the trunk as the lizard.

Wayne said...

Spy vs spy. How that brings back memories.

Floridacracker said...

It's a mad, mad world.

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

WOW...what a GREAT last shot! May your green anoles over populate your forests and may your brown anoles be sterile.

Paige said...

I wondered how they did "it"
Nice Blog I'll be back