Anolis distichus, 08 July 2011

Anolis distichus, the Bark anole;
Monroe county, Florida (08 July 2011).

This is the sixth of eight anole species I’ve photographed and will eventually represent on Floridensis. It’s also yet another non-native species living in Florida. In fact, of the anoles only the Carolina anole (Anolis carolinensis) is considered to be native to Florida. The other seven species (possibly more) are all non-native. The Bark anole, Anolis distichus, originally hails from the Bahamas, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and other regional isles. In Florida, they’re fairly well established in parts of Monroe, Miami-Dade, and Broward counties. Slowly but surely, Bark anoles do seem to be expanding their range. Though not as successful or widespread as the Cuban brown anole (Anolis sagrei), this species certainly seems to do fairly well in certain pockets of south Florida. The Bark anole primarily spends its time clinging to mid-range limbs and tree trunks — hence the excellent camouflage. It’s also particularly sensitive to potential threats and is quick to retreat around the perimeter of its habitat to avoid direct eye-line contact. Being somewhat small and super skittish, Bark anoles can be tough lizards to get close to at times. This is understandable from the lizard’s point of view. From below and from above, the Bark anole has to compete with an array of significantly larger anole species adapted to life closer to the ground or life higher in the foliage. The Bark anole literally lives in the transitional habitat between those two groups of anoles. It’s a tough place to scratch out a living when you’re a fairly small species!

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