I’ve talked about green anoles (Anolis carolinensis) before. They’re quite common here in Texas and certainly where I live. They are a fascinating lizard in that, like chameleons, they have the ability to change colors. This trait is described as being limited in scope. From the texts I’ve seen on the subject, their coloration varies from green to yellow to brown to gray, or a mixture of those colors.
You may remember I even posted photographs of some of this color diversity. For example, this post showed a male who started at the top of a bush and worked his way down to the ground. I was able to capture to some degree the color changes as he climbed down (starting with bright green at the top and ending with dark brown at the bottom). Another male hiding in the leaves of a bush was sporting the bright green color that matched his surroundings. Finally, a female playing peekaboo from the patio wall was in a relaxed shade of dark brown.
Having seen them perfectly match ground cover, leaves, and bark, not to mention demonstrating a myriad of other color combinations, I’ve been impressed with this ability. It’s quite expressive and, more importantly, they appear to have tremendous control of the gift.
Based on the photos below, I think you’ll see on a limited basis the level of control I’m talking about, especially when it comes to camouflage. This is a female green anole who was hanging on the outside of my patio fence one day and wasn’t entirely threatened by my presence (as long as I didn’t get too close, of course). Her feeling of security undoubtedly came from her having matched the color of the fence. In this first picture, you can see in a small way some of that color along the top of her head and back.
When I got into a better position to see her (without leaning over the fence and scaring her away), I was able to capture a slightly better view of her mastery of disguise.
Look at the top of her head compared to the fence. I’d say she did a pretty damn good job matching the color. Here’s one more view.
Pretty cool, huh? I think their ability to change color is a bit less limited than I at first believed based on what I read about them.