This gaping-mouthed creature is an import to Hawaii from Florida,
but originally these lizards, known as Knight Anoles, escaped to Florida
from the island of Cuba.
There are three species of anoles in Hawaii. The Knight Anole is
probably the most recent introduction, having been first reported in 1981.
It is has been reported on Oahu from Käneohe, Lanikai,
Kahaluu, Kailua, and even Waipahu; it may spread to other areas
if not controlled.
They are common in the pet trade in Florida, where they have been since
the 1960s. However, it is illegal to keep them as pets here in Hawaii.
These lizards are totally arboreal [meaning they live in trees] where
they eat medium and large sized insects, spiders, and sometimes small
lizards. Males, such as the one pictured above, have large territories
and often make big body by opening their mouth and displaying
the pale pink flap underneath their mouth, called a dewlap. They maintain
this posture and bob up and down at other males until one or the other
They can reach sizes of between 1 and 1 1/2 feet in length (mostly tail)
and have small teeth, which can produce a painful bite if handled carelessly.
They may seem like the perfect pet, but are actually a pest
in Hawaii because of their threat to our native small animals. If
not controlled, they could threaten the existence of some of our fragile
native insects such as damselflies and colorful beetles and butterflies,
as well as small nestling birds.