How to Determine the Sex of a Green Anole

Two Parts:Looking for Physical CluesLooking for Behavioral Clues

It feeds on insects and spiders, it wiggles, it's about 5 to 8 inches (12.7 to 20.3 cm) long, and it changes color! It is a green anole, a common pet lizard native that is native to the southern United States. But is it a boy or is it a girl? It can be pretty hard to tell, especially with young anoles. However, you can figure it out by learning about the sexual dimorphisms specific to the Anolis carolinensis, and observing your lizard's appearance and behavior closely.

Part 1
Looking for Physical Clues

  1. Image titled Determine the Sex of a Green Anole Step 1
    Determine the length of your anole. Female anoles are generally smaller than males. Adult females (12 months old and up) usually measure around five inches long, while males can grow to be up to eight inches long. Both larger females and smaller males are possible, however, so you will need more information to you’re your determination.[1]
  2. Image titled Determine the Sex of a Green Anole Step 2
    Look for a stripe. Adult female anoles often have a white stripe running down the middle of the back. Not all females have the stripe, and juveniles of both sexes can have a stripe that eventually fades, so you will need to look for other signs to be certain of the sex of your lizard.[2]
  3. Image titled Determine the Sex of a Green Anole Step 3
    Check the throat. Male anoles have a pink or red dewlap, or flap of skin hanging in an arc from the neck region, which they can inflate during courtship and aggression displays. Of course, some female anoles also have this dewlap, although it is often lighter in color.[3] While most anoles with a prominent dewlap are males, remember that this is still not a 100% guarantee that your anole is male.
    • Many people find it surprising that female anoles can also use their dewlaps in displays of aggression or during mating, just as males do.[4]
  4. Image titled Determine the Sex of a Green Anole Step 4
    Check the tail. Carefully pick up your anole and look underneath its tale. Male anoles develop 2 larger scales, called postanal scales, at the base of the tail. This is one trait that female anoles never mimic, so if you spot these scales, you can be certain that your anole is a male.
    • Spotting the postanal scales on a young lizard can be difficult. You may need to wait until the anole is fully mature at around 12 months to know for sure.

Part 2
Looking for Behavioral Clues

  1. Image titled Determine the Sex of a Green Anole Step 5
    Look for aggressive behavior. Male anoles will often fight each other, especially if there is a female around to fight over. When male anoles fight, they display their dewlaps and open their mouths, bob their heads, and eventually lunge at one another. If they are extremely agitated, black spots will form behind their eyes.[5] The anoles will then bite and wrestle, and can fight until one submits.
    • If your anoles begin fighting like this, you will likely need to separate them to prevent serious injury.[6]
    • Female anoles will occasionally fight one another, especially if they are overcrowded, but it is less common and generally less intense.[7]
  2. Image titled Determine the Sex of a Green Anole Step 6
    Watch for courtship behavior. If conditions are right in the anoles' habitat, they will breed in captivity between April and September. If a female is present, male anoles will often make courtship displays that include bobbing their heads rapidly up and down and flaring their dewlaps. Males will also aggressively charge females and try to catch them by the scruff of the neck. [8]
    • Courtship and aggression displays begin in a similar fashion, but usually end very differently. If you see this kind of behavior in your anoles, observe them closely to see which is happening. If they are fighting, you will likely need to separate them.
  3. Image titled Determine the Sex of a Green Anole Step 7
    Catch them in the act. Catching your anoles in the act of mating is a pretty decisive way to determine the sex of your lizards. Should you spot them twined together mating, the one on top is the male, and the one on the bottom is the female.[9]
    • Observing an anole lay an egg is also a clear sign that your lizard is a female!

Article Info

Categories: Lizards