Hawaii Biological Survey's


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45. Knight Anole

This gaping-mouthed creature is an import to Hawai‘i 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 Hawai‘i. The Knight Anole is probably the most recent introduction, having been first reported in 1981. It is has been reported on O‘ahu from Käne‘ohe, Lanikai, Kahalu‘u, 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 Hawai‘i. 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 backs off.

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 Hawai‘i 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.

   Photo by Allen Allison