Genus/species: Anolis equestris
Knight anoles grow to a length of 13 to 20 inches (33 to
51 cm). They are the largest of the Genus Anolis
The snout is long and wedge-shaped. The tail is slightly
compressed with a serrated upper edge. Each toe is expanded
to form an adhesive pad. The adhesive pad occupies
the central portion of the toe and has an elongated form.
The adhesive toe pads allow the anoles to easily run up
smooth, vertical surfaces, or run body downward on a horizontal
The body is covered with small granular scales with a yellow
or white stripe under the eye and over the shoulder. They
are bright green in color, which can change to a dull grayish-brown.
There is sexual dimorphism. Males have a pale pink dewlap
that distends when they are excited.
They are diurnal and fiercely defensive and territorial.
If a snake or anything like a snake (sticks, garden hose)
approaches too closely they put on a defensive display. They
turn sideways, extend the dewlap, raise the back crest, and
gape menacingly at the snake.
A male fighting with other males extends the dewlap and
then retracts it, repeating this behavior several times.
He rises on all four legs, stiffly nods his head, and turns
sideways towards the rival. The male then turns bright green.
Frequently the fight will end with the display, and the male
most impressed by the other's display will drop his crest
and slink away. If fighting continues, males rush at each
other with mouths open. Sometimes jaws will lock if they
continue, otherwise they try to go for the limb of their
Distribution and Habitat:
Knight anoles are native to Cuba and have been introduced
into Dade and Broward counties in Florida.
Knight anoles are arboreal. They live in the shady canopy
of large trees.
Diet in the Wild:
Knight anoles eat insects and small lizards, especially other
The knight anoles are feed cockroaches at the Zoo.
Summer is the breeding season for knight anoles. Courting
resembles fighting. The male nods his head one or more times
and frequently expands his dewlap and then seizes the female
by the nape of the neck. The male forces his tail under the
female to bring their cloacas into contact. The male inserts
his hemipenes into the cloaca of the female. Females usually
lay up to four clutches of one to two eggs. Hatchlings are
bright green with white bars on the sides.
They may live about 15 to 16 years in both captivity and
They are neither threatened nor endangered. Many anole species
are sold in pet stores.
They are easy to distinguish from other anoles by their size
and the large, pink throat fan. They are usually bright green
but can change to brown. Florida residents sometimes mistakenly
refer to it as an iguana.
Knight anoles are relatively slow and can be caught by hand,
but they do have strong jaws and sharp teeth. In Florida,
most do not survive cold winters.
Source of Information:
All or part of this information was provided by the Animal Diversity Web and Museum of Zoology of the University of Michigan
It appears here with their permission. The original author of this information was Jennifer Niederlander.
For more information, including references, see the Animal Diversity Web account for this species, here:
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/ site/ accounts/ information/ Anolis_equestris.html.