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 know a location where this lizard has been found that is not shown on the map or if you see a lizard that looks like this one anywhere in California that is not shown on this map, please email me at and send a picture if you can for verification.
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
Green phase adult
Green Anole
Brown phase adult
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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
Green Anole Green Anole Green Anole
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
Green Anole Great Basin Collared Lizard  
Adult, Balboa Park, San Diego County
© Brian Flaigmore
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
Green Anole Green Anole Green Anole
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
Green Anole Green Anole Green Anole
Adult male displaying distended pink dewlap, Galveston County, Texas Adult, Miami-Dade County, Florida Adult, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana
Green Anole Green Anole Green Anole
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
Color varies: at times plain green, brown, or mottled green and brown. Dark streaks or spots may occur, often giving the appearance of a light stripe on the back.
Male dewlap is pink.
Male/Female Differences
Males distend a pink dewlap when trying to attract a female and when displaying their territory.

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.

So far, this lizard is known from a park in San Diego California near sea level with many non-native plants and trees, and residential areas with mostly 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.

Green Anoles Found In California

A population of Green Anoles is established at the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park which surrounds the zoo. They have persisted there and are obviously established.

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.

Some locations where this anole has been seen in California

Many of these locations are areas that 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. There are probably many 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 anoles in a location not on this list, please email me.

Los Angeles County

Long Beach
Los Angeles - Hancock Park

Orange County

Costa Mesa
Fountain Valley
Huntington Beach
Huntington Harbor
Laguna Hills
Laguna Niguel

Riverside County


San Bernardino County

Chino Hills

San Diego County

Chula Vista
San Diego Zoo Safari Park near Escondido

San Diego
- Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo
- Near the stadium
- City Heights neighborhood

San Marcos

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)
Any alien species may pose a threat to native wildlife.
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 status listings are copied from the April 2018 Special Animals List and the 2017 Endangered and Threatened Animals List, both of which are published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

If no status is listed here, the animal is not included on either CDFW 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.

Check here to see the most current complete lists.

Status Listing
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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