Meet Anolis equestris, or the Cuban Knight Anole!
Not native to Florida, it is an introduced species from Cuba. Much larger than our native anole’s it can grow to 20 inches long, although it can change colors, just like our anole’s can.
This is a highly arboreal, diurnal species that feeds mainly on insects, but also smaller lizards, birds, and mammals when fully grown.
My sister spotted this one on a tree trunk near a canal, and then caught it rather easily. I really wanted to see one of these ever since she told me about them and was glad I got to see one in person. I let him bite me to see how much it would hurt, probably not the best idea, but it wasn’t so bad. It had incredibly strong jaws, and it kind of felt like my finger was being gripped by a clamp wrapped in sandpaper, because they do have lots of tiny teeth.
There was some talk of me bringing him home to raise him, but we decided it probably wasn’t a good idea because it was too old and I don’t have a proper tank for it. Younger ones would adapt better to being held in captivation, and would be way less aggressive than this one would be. So we released him back into the wild.
Like most non-native, introduced species, this one has the potential to disrupt our native species:
- Competition for food and shelter
- Knight Anoles eat smaller lizards, including our native anoles
- South Florida is a perfect environment for them to reproduce