Monday, April 12, 2010

Our friend, the anole

This totally cute little guy turned up in our yard today while the kids were playing. He quickly became our nature study. The kids came rushing in screaming that they found a chameleon. I sent them back outside with my camera to capture some pixs.

Here is some info about our friend.

Meet the Carolina Anole
Found naturally throughout the southeastern United States, anoles are often referred to as the "American chameleon" because of their ability to change the color of their skin from green to brown (and vice versa). Anoles are typically found in bushes or trees, but because they are excellent climbers, they can also be seen on walls and fences. A distinguishing characteristic of the anole is the bright red dewlap present in all males and some females. Anoles can inflate this vividly colored piece of cartilage located under their chins to make themselves look larger and more dominant. This behavior is most often seen in males intimidating rivals or courting females. Females also have dewlaps, but they are less colorful than those of males and seldom displayed.

Like other reptiles, anoles are ectothermic (cold-blooded) animals that regulate their body temperature using the environment. When an anole needs to raise its temperature for activities like hunting or eating, it basks on a tree branch or a rock, absorbing heat from the sunlight. To warm up quicker, some anoles change color, from green to brown, because dark colors absorb more sunlight than light colors do. To cool down, anoles seek shade and shelter beneath a rock or log. They can also change color, from brown to green, to absorb less sunlight.

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