Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday Animal Blogging

It's been light blogging for me lately, but there's no way I could skip FAB. Today's edition: Anoles. Anoles are smallish lizards that are very common in South Carolina, and especially in the Charleston area. Their Latin name is Anolis carolinensis, even though they range over a much broader area than the Carolinas. Unlike most of our other lizards, such as the broad head skink, whose juveniles look a lot like an anole, the anoles aren't shy. The skinks run off before I can get my camera, but the anoles practically challenge me to territorial dominance over my own yard.

I suppose there are lots of anoles in the world, but the ones I'm talking about are commonly known as either the "green anole" or the "brown anole", because -- and this is wild -- they can be either green or brown. Actually, a single animal can change colors depending on its surroundings and its mood.

Did I mention that these guys are adorable? When you get near one, if it doesn't run away, it'll give you a side-long glance like a puppy dog. They like to bob their heads and stick out their dewlaps as a display of dominance. They run up and down bushes and walls, and occasionally lunge and bite at insects. If only they were 10 feet long and had saddles on their backs, they'd be perfect.

Here are a bunch of pictures. A couple of these are from the same animal, but most are of different animals at different times (and even different years).

Below is a good example of that side-long puppy dog glance. It makes you just want to hug and squeeze them.

Okay, enough of the greens. Here are some browns:

And finally, I managed to snap the shutter right when one had his reddish dewlap out:

This kind of head-bobbing and dewlap-extending behavior is exactly what my iguana used to do, especially if he saw an image of himself (thus thinking it was a rival iguana). In fact, I'm amazed at how similar the anoles are to iguanas. Having viewed some of these images close-up, they even have all the same scales in all the same places. They are basically minature iguanas without the spikes and the attitude.

Last but not least, one with a white stripe down his back: