A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California

Green Anole - Anolis carolinensis

(Voigt, 1832)
Click on a picture for a larger view

Green Anole California Range MapClick the map for a larger view

This alien lizard appears to be expanding its range in California.  Black dots on the map indicate some of the areas where it has been found and could be established.
These are just the locations that I know about. There are probably more. If you see a lizard that looks like this living in the wild anywhere in California - one that is not shown on the map above or the county list below - please contact me and send a picture if you can for verification.
List of Alien Herps in California

More Pictures:

observation link

This is an alien species that has been introduced into California. It is not a native species.

Green Anole
Adult in green phase
Green Anole
Adult in brown phase
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Adult male displaying his dewlap, San Diego County © Tom Day Adult, Redhawk area of Temecula, Western Riverside County, 2010,
from a population of anoles observed since 1993. © Curtis Croulet
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Adult, Chino Hills, San Bernardino County © Nate Loftin Adult found in a Newport Beach, Orange County, backyard. The photographer discovered that this lizard was one of three released in her neighbor's yard. If these lizards survive and breed, they could become established in the neighborhood. That's why it is a bad idea (and against the law) to release non-native reptiles.
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Adults from San Diego a few miles northeast of Balboa Park. © Robert Farwell
Adult, San Diego Zoo
© Walter Ray-Dulany
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Adult, Carlsbad, San Diego County
© Samantha Blattler
Adults, Huntington Beach, Orange County © Carol Robertson
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Adults from Tustin, Orange County
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Adult, San Diego Zoo, San Diego County © Caroline Roberti Adult from Tustin, Orange County © Kevin Strong
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Adult male showing the dorsal crest, Laguna Hills, Orange County
© Andrew Hausheer
Adult, Fountain Valley, Orange County
© Eric Lessenger
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Adult, Balboa Park, San Diego County
© Brian Flaigmore
Tiny juvenile, Chula Vista, San Diego County © Stan Budz This picture shows how well this lizard can blend in with its surroundings. Often they turn brown when they're on a brown surface, but this one remains green which makes it look like one of the leaves and vines. © Stan Budz
Green Anole Green Anole Great Basin Collared Lizard
Adult, San Diego County
© Chris DeGroof
Brown phase adult, San Diego County
© Chris DeGroof
Green Anoles, genus Anolis,
have small granular scales.
  Green Anole Habitat  
  Balboa Park, San Diego County  
Green Anoles From Outside California
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Adult, Jasper County, Texas Adult, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana Adult, Miami-Dade County, Florida
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Adult male displaying distended pink dewlap, Galveston County, Texas Adult male displaying distended pink dewlap (left) in green phase, and
moments later, in brown phase (right) Galveston County, Texas
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Adult male displaying distended pink dewlap, Galveston County, Texas Adult, Miami-Dade County, Florida Adult, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana
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A light-phase green anole tried to catch a fly, but failed, Volusia County, Florida Adult male, Liberty County, Florida Adult jumping, Broward County, Florida
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Adult, Travis County, Texas  
Short Videos
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A male green anole in Chambers County Texas displays his pink dewlap. A male green anole in Chambers County Texas quickly changes his color from green to brown. A light-phase green anole in Florida tries to catch a fly, but fails.
Adults are usually 3 inches long from snout to vent, and about 5-8 inches including the tail.

A small thin lizard with a long head and snout and a long thin tail.
Color and Pattern
Skin color varies: at times it's plain green, plain brown, or mottled green and brown.
Dark streaks or spots may occur, often giving the appearance of a light stripe on the back.
Male/Female Differences
Males can extend a pink dewlap (a pouch on the throat) when trying to attract a female and when displaying their territory. Sometimes the dewlap appears to be orange or red.

Life History and Behavior

Diet and Feeding
Small invertebrates and grasses.
Breeds from  April to August or September.
Males pursue females, bobbing up and down and displaying their colorful dewlap.
Females lay several clutches of eggs during the season, totalling about 10.
Eggs are buried in soft soil or compost.
Eggs hatch in 30 - 45 days.

This lizard is known from parks and residential yards and gardens, where it adapts well to non-native vegetation.

Geographical Range
Native to southern and southeastern North America, from South and Central Texas to the Florida Keys and north to North Carolina, and the southern parts of Tennessee, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.

Introduced into the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California and probably elsewhere.

Origin of Green Anoles Found In California

Most likely, Green Anoles found in the wild in California were captive lizards that either escaped or were released. Green Anoles are common in pet stores, sold as pets or as food for lizard-eating reptiles. It is also possible that anoles or anole eggs could have been transported in shipments from their native range in Southeast North America. Eggs buried in the soil of potted plants is one possible method of transport. In areas where they have been established for a number of years, the anoles represent offspring of escaped adults. As Green Anoles spread around California, they could be transported from one California location to another.

Documented Populations in California

A population of Green Anoles has been established at the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park which surrounds the zoo.

In a blog post on October 18th, 2013, the Los Angeles Natural History Museum reported a population of Green anoles in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. They added four specimens from Hancock Park to the museum on October first.

Locations Where Wild Green Anoles Have Been Seen in California

Green Anoles also appear to be established now in other locations and are spreading, mostly around the coastal region of Southern California. Most of the locations on this list have been reported to me since I put up this page in 2013. This species may or may not be established in all of these areas as it was not determined in every case if there was more than one anole in the area.

There are probably lots more locations I don't know about. I will continue to add locations here and on the map as I hear of them. If you see or hear of any Anoles in a location not on this list, please email me about them.

Kern County

Los Angeles County
Beverly Hills
Hollywood Hills
Long Beach
Los Angeles - Hancock Park, Palms
Palos Verdes Estates

Orange County
Aliso Viejo
Costa Mesa
Dana Point
El Camino Real
Fountain Valley
Huntington Beach
Huntington Harbor
Laguna Beach
Laguna Hills
Laguna Niguel
Lower Peters Canyon
Mission Viejo
Newport Beach
Santa Ana Heights
Seal Beach
Yorba Linda

Riverside County

San Bernardino County
Chino Hills

San Diego County
Carmel Valley
Chula Vista
El Cajon
Otay Mesa West
Rancho San Diego
San Diego Zoo Safari Park near Escondido
San Diego:
- Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo, and in the surrounding neighborhood
- Mission Hills
- Mission Valley
- City Heights neighborhood
San Marcos
Torrey Pines

Santa Clara County
San Jose

Ventura County
åThousand Oaks

Full Species Range Map
Notes on Taxonomy
Two subspecies have been recognized:
Anolis carolinensis carolinensis
Anolis carolinensis seminolus

SSAR Herpetological Circular No. 43, 2017 reports that these subspecies don't follow recent genetics studies and should no longer be recognized. However, it also reports that there is a possibility that A. carolinensis consists of more than one subspecies.

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
The impact of this invasive species on native California lizards and other wildlife is not well known, however native lizards observed living in proximity with this species might suffer from the extra competition.

"Repeated surveys at other Southern California localities where nonnative Anolis carolinensis, Anolis sagrei, and Podarcis siculus occur have shown displacement of S. occidentalis as nonnative populations expand (Pauly, unpubl. data)."

(Gregory B. Pauly and Patrick D. Gavid. Geographical Distribution Note for Trachylepis quinquetaeniata in Los Angeles County. Herpetological Review 50(1), 2019.)
Family Dactyloidae Anoles Fitzinger, 1843
Genus Anolis (Norops) Anoles Daudin, 1802

Anolis carolinensis (Voigt, 1832)
Original Description

Anolis Daudin, 1803 - Hist. Nat. Rept., Vol. 4, p. 50
Anolis carolinensis (Voigt, 1832) - in Cuvier's Thierreich, Vol. 2, p. 71

from Original Description Citations for the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America © Ellin Beltz

Meaning of the Scientific Name
West Indian anoli lizard — Native Antillean name

carolinensis - belonging to the Carolinas - refers to the area where it was originally discovered.

from Scientific and Common Names of the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America - Explained © Ellin Beltz

Alternate Names
Carolina Anole
American Chameleon
Red-throated Anole
American Anole

Related or Similar California Herps
No native lizards are related, or green in color, but the brown phase is somewhat similar in shape and size and color to
Urosaurus graciosus
- Long-tailed Brush Lizard
Urosaurus ornatus
- Tree Lizard

More Information and References
Robert Powell, Roger Conant, and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.

Conant, Roger, and Joseph T. Collins. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians Eastern and Central North America. Third Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998.

Smith, Hobart M. Handbook of Lizards, Lizards of the United States and of Canada. Cornell University Press, 1946.

R. D. Bartlett, Patricia P. Bartlett. A Field Guide to Florida Reptiles and Amphibians. Gulf Publishing Company. 1999.
Conservation Status

The following conservation status listings for this animal are taken from the November 2020 California "Special Animals List" and the November 2020 "State and Federally Listed Endangered and Threatened Animals of California" list, both of which are produced by multiple agencies and available here: You can check the link to see if there are more recent lists.

If no status is listed here, the animal is not included on either list. This most likely indicates that there are no serious conservation concerns for the animal. To find out more about an animal's status you can go to the NatureServe and IUCN websites to check their rankings.

Organization Status Listing  Notes
NatureServe Global Ranking
NatureServe State Ranking
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) none
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) none
California Department of Fish and Wildlife none
Bureau of Land Management none
USDA Forest Service none

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