Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Anolis sagrei
(brown anole)



Anolis sagrei (brown anole)


  • Last modified
  • 19 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Anolis sagrei
  • Preferred Common Name
  • brown anole
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Reptilia
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Norops sagrei (brown anole) can be identified by its extensible throat fan that is often coloured yellow or reddish-orange and has a white line down the centre...

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Anolis sagrei (brown anole); adult, habit, showing retractable dewlap. Paia, Maui, Hawaii, USA. July 2012.
CaptionAnolis sagrei (brown anole); adult, habit, showing retractable dewlap. Paia, Maui, Hawaii, USA. July 2012.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Anolis sagrei (brown anole); adult, habit, showing retractable dewlap. Paia, Maui, Hawaii, USA. July 2012.
AdultAnolis sagrei (brown anole); adult, habit, showing retractable dewlap. Paia, Maui, Hawaii, USA. July 2012.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Anolis sagrei (Cocteau in Duméril and Bibron, 1837)

Preferred Common Name

  • brown anole

Other Scientific Names

  • Norops sagrei (Cocteau in Duméril and Bibron, 1837)

International Common Names

  • English: Bahamian brown anole; Cuban brown anole

Summary of Invasiveness

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Norops sagrei (brown anole) can be identified by its extensible throat fan that is often coloured yellow or reddish-orange and has a white line down the centre of its back. It is a habitat generalist that prefers the open vegetation of disturbed sites. It is a ground dweller but will venture several feet up into trees and shrubs. N. sagrei competes with Anolis carolinensis and other introduced congeners and also preys on the hatchlings of A. carolinensis.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Chordata
  •             Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •                 Class: Reptilia
  •                     Order: Sauria
  •                         Family: Iguanidae
  •                             Genus: Norops
  •                                 Species: Anolis sagrei


Top of page Norops sagrei (brown anole) is a “trunk ground ecomorph” sensu (Williams, 1983). It is described as having an extensible throat fan that can be yellow to red-orange. This species can be between 13 and 21.3cm. It also has enlarged toe pads and a short snout (Campbell, 2002). Brown anoles can erect a dorsonuchal crest when exposed to certain stimuli. The tail may have a crest-like ridge, but this is highly variable between individuals and should not be confused with the dorsonuchal crest. Also, the tail is laterally compressed. Females have a light line down the middle of their backs, but males do not. They tend to have a lighter mid-dorsal stripe that is distinct and often boldly patterned in females and often indistinct in males. Individuals change their colours and patterns throughout this range (Ann Paterson., pers. comm., 2005). Male colour is highly variable, ranging from light grey to nearly jet-black and plain coloured - to covered dorsally with irregular dark patches or chevrons and a network of light lines. Females exhibit a large range of colour, but nearly always have some type of obvious wavy dorsal pattern along the midline of their back ( Field Guide, undated).


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Native range: Norops sagrei (brown anole) is native to Cuba, the Bahamas, and their satellite islands (Campbell, 2002).
Known introduced range: North America, Hawaii, Jamaica (Campbell, 2002). It has also been introduced into Grenada (Kolbe et al. 2004) and Saint Lucia (Morton and Cox, 2011) and parts of east coast Central America.


Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes


TaiwanPresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)

North America

BahamasPresentNativeInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
BelizePresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
Cayman IslandsPresentIntroduced1940InvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)First reported: 1940
CubaPresentNativeInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
GrenadaPresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
JamaicaPresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
MexicoPresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
Saint LuciaPresent, LocalizedIntroducedInvasiveMorton and Cox (2011)First sighted in 2002; established in La Tox and Dennery
United StatesPresentCABI (Undated)Present based on regional distribution.
-FloridaPresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)First reported: 1940-50
-GeorgiaPresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
-LouisianaPresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
-TexasPresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)


GuamAbsent, Intercepted onlyInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)


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Norops sagrei (brown anole) is a ground dweller but will venture up several feet into trees and shrubs and prefers drier areas. Individuals occur primarily on the trunks of trees and on the ground (Rand and Williams, 1969). Campbell (2002) reports that the brown anole is a habitat generalist that generally prefers fairly open vegetation of disturbed sites.

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

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Campbell (2002) states that, "Their native diet consists mainly of small arthropods, annelids, and molluscs."

Adult Norops sagrei (brown anoles) breed during the summer months (Lee et al. 1989; Tokarz et al. 1998). It is not clear when they establish territories. Although they become more conspicuous during the breeding season, there have been no empirical tests to determine their degree of territoriality during the non-breeding season. It is not clear whether they cease to defend territories at the end of the breeding season (Ann Paterson., pers. comm., 2005).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Introduction pathways to new locations
Ship:Campbell (2002) states that, "N. sagrei arrived in the Florida Keys in the late 1800s and was inoculated to at least six separate ports in Florida in the 1940s."

Local dispersal methods
Boat:Parmley (2002) states that, "Campbell suggested vehicular rafting as the transport mode for northward dispersal of N. sagrei. He offers convincing evidence that Georgia brown anoles were transported along major interstates by northbound vehicles, probably "rafting" on recreational vehicles and boats, and/or in vehicles transporting landscaping plants."
Escape from confinement: Goldberg et al. (2002) states that, "The origin of the Hawaiian (Oahu) population is unknown, but it is believed that these anoles are descendents of released pets."

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Escape from confinement or garden escape Yes

Impact Summary

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Native fauna Negative


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The successful occupation of different types of habitats by Norops sagrei (brown anole) is attributed partly to its use of thermo-regulatory behaviours such as basking in solar radiation to select acceptable microclimates at different latitudes and altitudes (Rogowitz,1996). It is reported that brown anole when present, reduce the density and diversity of spiders upon which they feed (Wardle, 2002). Greene et al. (2002) state that, brown anole competes successfully with native green anole (see Anolis carolinensis in IUCN Red List of Threatened Species) and other introduced congeners. Campbell (2002) observes that without the brown anole, the native green anole occupies perches from ground to crown, but the presence of the brown anole causes the green anole to move higher, occupying trunks and crowns of trees. Brown anole demonstrate intra-guild predation (IGP), which is defined as killing and eating among potential competitors and have been reported to prey on the hatchlings of green anole. N. sagrei have also been observed consuming hatchling brown anoles, although this behaviour is not well understood and it is not known whether this behaviour is common (Nicholson et al. 2000).

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Hemiargus thomasi bethunebakeri (Miami blue butterfly)USA ESA listing as endangered speciesFloridaPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2012
Anolis carolinensisLC (IUCN red list: Least concern)FloridaPredationFrost and Hammerson, 2007

Risk and Impact Factors

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  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Predation


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Wardle (2002) reports findings which show that on islands without Norops spp. there is a great magnitude of leaf damage to sea grape (Coccoloba uvifera L.) which is indicative of a lizard-induced trophic cascade.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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The green anole Anolis carolinensis is found throughout the southeastern United States and is the sole Anolis lizard native to North America north of Mexico. It belongs to a group of medium sized, slender, greenish trunk-crown anoles with long, wedge-shaped heads. This native lizard is capable of changing color to dark brown or even nearly black (often in early morning or near dusk), so it is often confused for the brown anole N. sagrei by laypersons. However, the brwon anole, with its short, wide head and robust body, looks a bit more "dinosaurian" than its green counterpart." The author also states that there is a discernable difference between the eggs of both species. Brown anole eggs have a more distinctly bumpier shell casing whereas, green anole shells have visible striations on it and have an all around darker appearance (Campbell, 2002).

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Campbell (2002) observes that, no control or eradication measures have been implemented for Norops sagrei (brown anole), in Florida (North America) where it has established. He further adds that this species would be very difficult if not impossible to completely eradicate due to its high density, high reproductive potential, and habitat generality. 


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Bomford, M., 2003. Risk Assessment for the Import and Keeping of Exotic Vertebrates in Australia. Bureau of Rural Sciences, Canberra.

Campbell, T. 2002. The Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei Dumeril and Bibron 1837). The Institute for Biological Invasions: The Invader of the Month, February 2001.

CONABIO. 2008. Sistema de información sobre especies invasoras en México. Especies invasoras - Reptiles. Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad. Fecha de acceso.

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. UNDATED. Brown Anole (exotic) Anolis sagrei sagrei. Audubon Centers and Sanctuaries: Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary's Common Lizards., 2007. Brown Anole, Anolis sagrei. Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians [Online Database].

.php/64188/allGerrut, N., J. J. Mao, H. P. Chu, and L. C. Chen. 2002. A new record of an introduced species, the brown anole (Anolis sagrei) (Dumeril and Bibron, 1837), in Taiwan. Zoological Studies 41(3): 332-336.

Goldberg R. S., C. R. Bursey, and F. Kraus. 2002. Seasonal Variation in the Helminth Community of the Brown Anole, Anolis sagrei (Sauria: Polychrotidae), from Oahu, Hawaii. American Midland Naturalist 148:409-415.

Greene, B. T., D. T. Yorks, J. S. Parmerlee, R. Powell, and R. W. Henderson. 2002. Discovery of Anolis Sagrei in Grenada with Comments on Its Potential Impact on Native Anoles. Carribean Journal of Science 38(3-4): 270-272. College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Puerto Rico.

Kolbe, J.J., R.E. Glor, L.R. Schettino, A.C. Lara, A. Larson, and J.B. Losos. 2004. Genetic variation increases during biological invasion by a Cuban lizard. Nature 431:177-181

Lee, J. C., D. Clayton, S. Eisenstein, and I. Perez. 1989. The reproductive cycle of Anolis sagrei in southern Florida. Copeia 1989:930—937.

McMann S. 2000. Effects of residence time on displays during territory establishment in a lizard. Animal Behavior 59:513-522.

Nicholson, K.E., A.V. Paterson, and P.M. Richards., 2000. Anolis sagrei (brown anole) cannibalism. Herpetological Review 31(3):173-174.

Rogowitz, G. L. 1996. Evaluation of Thermal acclimation of Metabolism in Two Eurythermal Lozards, Anolis cristatellus and A. sagrei. Journal of Thermal Biology 21(1): 11-14.

The Reptile Database., 2007. Norpos sagrei

Tokarz, R. R. 1995. Importance of androgens in male territorial acquisition in the lizard Anolis sagrei: an experimental test. Animal Behavior 49: 661-669.

Tokarz, R. R., S. McMann, L. C. Smith, and H. J. Alder. 2002. Effects of Testosterone Treatment and Season on the Frequency of Dewlap Extensions during Male-Male Interactions in the Lizard Anolis sagrei. Hormones and Behavior 41: 70-79.

Tokarz, R. R., S. McMann, L. Seitz, and H. John-Alder. 1998. Plasma corticosterone and testosterone levels during the annual reproductive cycle of male brown anoles (Anolis sagrei). Physiological Zoology 71:139—146.

Varnham, K. 2006. Non-native species in UK Overseas Territories: a review. JNCC Report 372. Peterborough: United Kingdom.

Wardle, D. A. 2002. Islands as model system for understanding how species affect ecosystem properties. Journal of Biogeography 29:583-591.

Williams, E. E., 1983. Ecomorphs, faunas, island size, and diverse endpoints in island radiations of Anolis. In R. B. Huey, E. R. Pianka, and T. W. Schoener (eds.), Lizard Ecology: Studies of A Model Organism. pp. 326-370. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Distribution References

CABI, Undated. CABI Compendium: Status inferred from regional distribution. Wallingford, UK: CABI

Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG), 2011. Global Invasive Species Database (GISD). In: Global Invasive Species Database (GISD), Auckland, New Zealand: University of Auckland.

Morton MN, Cox CA, 2011. Cuban brown anoles (Anolis sagrei) in Saint Lucia. In: IRCF Reptiles & Amphibians, 18 (1) 52-53.


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    Reviewed by: Ann V. Paterson, Ph.D. Nell Mondy Chair, Department of Natural Sciences, Williams Baptist College USA
    Compiled by: National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) & IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
    Last Modified: Saturday, May 31, 2008

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