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The green anole, also known as a red-throated anole, is a type of lizard commonly found throughout the Southeast United States, from the areas of Eastern Texas to Southern Virginia. The green anole is normally about 5 to 8 inches (12 to 20 cm) long, with the female usually being smaller. Their bodies are long and slender with a narrow head and pointed snout. The tail can be up to twice as long as the main portion of the body.
The male green anole possesses a pink “dewlap,” or a flap of skin that hangs down from its throat. The dewlap is displayed by the male to attract females and in territorial displays to other males. These territorial displays are usually accompanied by bobbing head movements as well.
Green anoles have the ability to change their color from green to brown to gray. The colors vary depending on a bird's mood, environment, and health. This characteristic resulted the popular nickname “American Chameleon,” although they are not true chameleons and their color changing ability is limited.
These lizards can usually be found in bushes, trees, and on walls and fences. They require greenery, shady areas, and a moist environment. Their diet consists mainly of small insects and spiders, which they find and stalk by detecting movement. When trying to escape a predator, the green anole will often “drop” its tail in an action known as autonomy. The tail will remain twitching for the purpose of distracting the predator and allowing the anole time to get away.
Green anoles mate between late March and early October. Females lay single eggs in moist soil, shrubbery, and rotten wood. During the mating cycle, the female typically can lay one egg every two weeks. Eggs are small with a leathery appearance and hatch in about five to seven weeks.
Green anoles are common pets in the areas in which they are located, and they are generally considered a good first reptile pet for a beginner. They are inexpensive, easy to care for and feed, and are not as intolerant to minor temperature changes as some other reptiles can be. They are usually kept as purely visual pets, as they do not like being handled with regularity.
As pets, males can be housed with as many females as healthy space permits, but males should not be housed together. Males are very territorial — if housed together, the dominant male will continually attack and harass the smaller male until it dies. A single male can even be provoked into territorial displays by using a mirror to allow the lizard to see itself.