Green anole unique to Cayman

When exploring nature look for the small details that make the world interesting.

No matter where you are, there are fascinating things to discover. If you can’t find anything you haven’t looked hard enough! Take the time to slow down, observe and appreciate the world around you. Thank you to Lois Blumenthal for compiling the following data as a quick reference for students of nature; the accompanying photographs were provided by Frank Roulstone. The invaluable herpetological section of The Cayman Islands Natural History and Biogeography edited by M.A Brunt and J.E. Davies was authored by Dr. M. E. Seidel and Dr. R. Franz. This important book compiles numerous bodies of research done about Cayman Islands fauna.

Blue-throated Anole (Anolis conspersus)

The length of this anole can be up to 68 mm, but the females are much smaller. Males vary from bright turquoise to green, (particularly in the breeding season), however they also are able to change colour to dark brown, beige or pale gray, (hence their local name ‘chameleon’).

If you look closely at the male you will see pale spotting over the entire animal. Males also have an erectable dorsal crest and a brilliant blue throat-fan.

Female colouring ranges from pale gray to tan with a significant white line above the insertion of the foreleg. Juveniles share common colouring and markings with females so that males will allow them within their territories.

There can be further confusion since the females and juveniles of this species can resemble the females and juveniles of the Brown Anole, Anolis sagrei.

With closer study, one can detect a difference in head profile since the conspersus has more prominent eye sockets and a somewhat concave area from eyes to nose.

These lizards live on both the ground and in trees, but are often found on the sides of buildings. Tails can be lost and regenerated. Males tend to escape by retreating upwards, while females, juveniles and non-dominant males go into the ground to hide.

Green Anole (Anolis maynardi)

The length of this anole is up to 76 mm and the males are much larger than females with this species as well.

This lizard has a long slender head that is more pronounced in males. As with most of Cayman’s lizards, little is known about its biology, but the unusually long pincer-shaped snout suggests a unique feeding adaptation.

The colour is capable of changing from bright yellowish-green to turquoise-blue, gray and occasionally tan and the throat fan is pale green. Along the jaw one can see a light stripe. This is an endemic species – found only on Little Cayman and nowhere else in the world.

When it is excited or stressed, it can develop pale blue longitudinal lines from head to tail. Rarely descending from the treetops, it escapes by climbing to the upper portions of trees and buildings. Closely related to and probably evolved from a Cuban species.

Grow Cayman Plants and encourage Cayman Wildlife! For more information, to share your knowledge or if you would like to get involved with the many activities in the National Trust’s Know Your Islands Program, please visit www.nationaltrust.org.ky, www.caymanwildlife.org or call 949-0121.

Last week’s answer: The Spotfin Butterflyfish has all-yellow fins.

Trivia question: What is the name of the resident Little Cayman bird that flies out to sea at dawn and spends the day diving for fish.

Look for the answer in next week’s feature!

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