CaliforniaHerps.com

A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


Brown Anole - Anolis sagrei

Dumeril and Bibron, 1837
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Black dots on the map indicate some of the areas where this non-native species has been found and could be established. This anole appears to be expanding its range in California and is very likely to be found in other areas not shown here.


List of Non-Native Reptiles and Amphibians
Established in California








observation link






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

Adult male displaying his orange dewlap, Florida
Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard
Adult male displaying dewlap, Vista,
San Diego County © Len Geiger
Adult male displaying dewlap, Irvine,
Orange County © L. Thomas
Adult, Vista, San Diego County 
© Len Geiger
Adult, Vista, San Diego County 
© Len Geiger
Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard
Adult, Vista, San Diego County 
© Len Geiger
Adult male displaying dewlap, Vista,
San Diego County © Len Geiger
Adult, Huntington Beach, Orange County © Gordon Snelling Adult, Palm Springs, Riverside County
© Jeremiah Easter
Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard
Adult male, Palm Desert, Riverside County © Charlie Wheeler Adult male, Rancho Mirage, Riverside County © Valya
Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard
Adults, Santa Ana, Orange County © Larry Leon Adult, Santa Ana, Orange County
© Mark Garcia
Adult, Santa Ana, Orange County
© Mark Garcia
       
Juveniles
Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard    
Hatchling, Orange County
© James Chiate
Adult and Juvenile, Huntington Beach, Orange County © Gordon Snelling    
       
Brown Anoles from Outside California
Adult male, Miami-Dade County, Florida, displaying distended orange dewlap with yellow border. Adult male displaying dewlap, Monroe County, Florida Adult male, Monroe County, Florida
Adult female, Monroe County, Florida Adult male, Monroe County, Florida Adult female, Miami-Dade County, Florida Adult female, Miami-Dade County, Florida
Adult male, Miami-Dade County, Florida Adult female, Sarasota County, Florida Adult female, Miami-Dade County, Florida
 
Adult female, Sarasota County, Florida Adult female, Monroe County, Florida Adult male, Monroe County, Florida  
       
Habitat
Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard Habitat Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard Habitat Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard Habitat  
Some of the lush imported ornamental vegetation in developed desert areas of the
Coachella Valley in Riverside County, where brown anoles have been seen.
 
Short Videos
 
A male brown anole in Florida
displays his orange dewlap.
A male brown anole in Florida
displays his orange dewlap.
A male brown anole extends and retracts his orange dewlap several times to advertise his presence.
San Diego County © Joe Culligan
 
       
Description
 
Size
Adult males grow up to 2.5 inches in length (6.5 cm) from snout to vent.
They can grow as long as about 8 inches (20.3 cm) including a full tail.

Females are smaller, up to about 1.9 inches in length (4.8 cm) from snout to vent. (Meshaka Jr. et al 2004)

Appearance
A small thin lizard with a long head and snout and a long thin tail.
Male Color and Pattern
Males are brown or gray with a white streak down the center of the throat (which is the light bottom border of the dewlap.) This streak is not always very prominent.
The color of a lizard can change from light gray to dark brown.

The male dewlap is typically bright orange-red with a cream to yellow border, but sometimes varies to a pale yellow (due to extensive intergradation of two subspecies. (Bartlett, 1999)

Sometimes 6 or more vertical rows of spots are visible.

Some males have a pronounced crest on the top of the neck and back, and sometimes the tail.
Female Color and Pattern
Females are gray to brown with a narrow pale stripe on the center of the back with dark brown half circles on each side, creating the appearance of a scalloped pattern on the back.
The color of a lizard can change from light gray to dark brown.
Comparisons With Green Anole
Brown Anoles are less arboreal than Green Anoles, tending to stay closer to the ground.
Green Anoles tend to go higher up into trees, although they can also be found lower down.

Brown Anoles are always gray, light brown, or dark brown, never green.
Green Anoles can turn from dark brown to bright green.

Male Brown Anoles have a bright orange-red dewlap with a cream to yellow border.
Male Green Anoles have a pink dewlap.
(Be aware that dewlaps appear different colors when seen in different lights.)

Brown and Green Anoles are about the same size, but Green Anoles have a larger and longer head.

Life History and Behavior

Activity
Often seen basking in the sun on rocks, bushes, fences, walls, and tree tree trunks. 
Males bask on higher sites than females and juveniles. 
Adapt well to habitats modified by humans.
Sometimes seen foraging at night under lights.
(Meshaka Jr. et al 2004)
Predators
In Florida, predators include several other species of alien lizards, Cuban treefrog, American crow, corn snake, ring-necked snake, broad-winged hawk, and cattle egret. (Meshaka Jr. et al 2004)
Diet and Feeding
Eats mostly insects and other small invertebrates. Hatchling Green Anoles are also consumed and most likely other hatchling lizard species, including Brown Anoles.
Reproduction
A study in Miami (Lee et al., 1989) found reproduction to be seasonal, peaking from April through June, with the fewest reproductively active lizards found from November through January for males and November through February for females. (Meshaka Jr. et al 2004)

Females lay several eggs each summer roughly each 14 days, one egg at a time. Eggs hatch in about a month. (Bartlett, 1999)

Habitat
Habitat in California appears to be suburban ornamental landscaping.

Geographical Range
Anolis sagrei is native to Cuba, the Bahamas, and surrounding islands, and has been widely introduced to other areas, including other Caribbean islands, most of Florida, southern Georgia, Texas, Jamaica, Mexico, Central America, Oahu Hawaii, and Taiwan.

Introduced into Florida in the mid 20th century. Earliest records are from 1950 and early colonies were associated with sea ports. Has spread to most of peninsular Florida, most likely dispersed by human agency - as abandoned or escaped pets or feeder animals and as stowaways in landscaping plants and in other cargo on boats and other vehicles. (from: Meshaka Jr. et al, 2004)

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This species was first documented in California on this web site.


The first published documentation was in Herpetological Review 45(4), 2014, an edited version of which you can read below:

ANOLIS SAGREI (Cuban Brown Anole). USA: CALIFORNIA: San Diego Co.: Vista, elev. 158 m) 19 July 2014.
C. Mahrdt, E. Ervin, and L. Geiger. Verified by Bradford D. Hollingsworth. San Diego Natural History Museum (SDSNH 76128–76133).

New county and state record (Granatosky and Krysko 2013. IRCF Rept. Amphib. 20[4]:190–191)

Four adult males and two hatchling specimens were collected on a one-acre parcel landscaped with palms, cycads, and several species of tropical plants and ground cover. Several boulders scattered throughout the parcel were used as perch sites for male lizards. An additional 16 adults and six hatchlings were observed in the two-hour site visit (1030–1230 h). Adults were also observed beyond the property indicating that this population is established and likely expanding through the contiguous tropical landscaping of neighboring properties. According to the property owner, he first observed the species in August 2012 shortly after receiving shipments of palm trees in May–August originating from suppliers located in the Hawaiian Islands.

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INaturalist includes a large list of observations of this species around the world with a map that will let you zoom in to see locations in California.
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Some Locations Where Wild Brown Anoles Have Been Seen in California


Brown Anoles may not be established in all of these areas. Some of thse sightings might be lizards that stowed away in shipments from areas where the species has become established, such as Florida. These are only areas I have heard about so far from museum records, email, or iNaturalist records. I can't know about every sighting, so they are very likely to be found and are likely to be established in other areas not included on this list. Eventually Brown Anoles will probably range throughout much of coastal Southern California along with the Green Anole. I will continue to add locations here and on the map as I learn of them. If you see any wild Brown Anoles in California or know about any locations that are not on this list, please email me.


Butte County
Paradise

Kern County

Near Arvin

Los Angeles County
Arcadia
Culver City
Long Beach
Rosemead
Whittier

Orange County
Costa Mesa
Fullerton
Huntington Beach
Irvine
La Habra
Mission Viejo
Placentia
Santa Ana
Yorba Linda

Riverside County
Palm Desert
Palm Springs
Rancho Mirage
Riverside

Sacramento County
Near Rancho Cordova

San Diego County
Bay Park
Cardiff
Chula Vista
El Cajon
Encinitas
Ocean Beach
San Diego
-College Area
-Del Mar
San Marcos
Vista

Ventura County
Ventura



Full Species Range Maph
Notes on Taxonomy
"According to Conant and Collins (1991, Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Houghton Mifflin Co.), two subspecies, A. s. sagrei and A. s. ordinatus were introduced to southern Florida, but they can no longer be distinguished from one another and differ from both original races. Lee (1992, Copeia 1992: 942-954) presented evidence that the Florida populations bear a much stronger phenotypic resemblance to populations from Cuba (A. s. sagrei) than to those from the Bahamas (A. s. ordinatus). Kolbe et al. (2004, Nature 431:177-181) present evidence for multiple introductions of this species from Cuba to Florida, which suggests that A. s. greyi may also have been involved." 
(SSAR Herpetological Circular No. 39, 2012)

(The subspecies Anolis sagrei greyi  Barbour, 1914 is from Cuba.  Also (Anolis greyi - Grzimek et al. 2003 & Norops sagrei greyi - Nicholson et al. 2012)

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
This anole is thought to have contributed to the decline of native Green Anoles in Florida. (Meshaka Jr. et al 2004)

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.)
Taxonomy
Family Dactyloidae Anoles Fitzinger, 1843
Genus Anolis (Norops) Anoles Daudin, 1802
Species

sagrei Brown Anole Dumeril and Bibron, 1837
Original Description
Dumeril and Bibron, 1837

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Anolis - West Indian anoli lizard — Native Antillean name
OD Anolis Daudin, 1803 - Hist. Nat. Rept., Vol. 4, p. 50

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

sagrei ?

Alternate Names
None

Related or Similar California Herps
Green Anole - Anolis carolinensis (Alien Species)

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.

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

Walter E. Meshaka, Jr., Brian P. Butterfield, and J. Brian Hauge. The Exotic Aphibians and Reptiles of Florida. Krieger Publishing Copany 2004.

SSAR Herpetological Circular No. 39, 2012.
SCIENTIFIC AND STANDARD ENGLISH NAMES OF AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES OF NORTH AMERICA NORTH OF MEXICO, WITH COMMENTS REGARDING CONFIDENCE IN OUR UNDERSTANDING. SEVENTH EDITION
COMMITTEE ON STANDARD ENGLISH AND SCIENTIFIC NAMES BRIAN I. CROTHER (Committee Chair)

Conservation Status

The following conservation status listings for this animal are taken from the July 2022 State of California "Special Animals List" and the July 2022 "State and Federally Listed Endangered and Threatened Animals of California" list, both of which are produced by multiple agencies and can be downloaded here: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Data/CNDDB/Plants-and-Animals.
You can check this link to see if there are more current lists.

A detailed explanation of the meaning of the status listing symbols can be found on the
Special Animals List. For quick reference, I have copied some of them on my Special Status Information page.

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.

This species is not yet listed as a California alien by the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife


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
IUCN


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