Nonnatives - Knight Anole

Knight Anole - Anolis equestris equestris


Florida's Exotic Wildlife. Species detail.

First year: 1952

Extirpated year:

Established status: Populations are confirmed breeding and apparently self-sustaining for 10 or more consecutive years.

Estimated Florida range: 3 counties  At least 10 years, 4 counties  Less than 10 years, 4 counties  Not reported breeding

Statewide trend: Expanding

Knight Anole
Photograph by kevin M. Enge © 2003

Threats to natives: Sometimes preys upon smaller anoles, frogs, and nestling birds (Collette 1961, Ruibal 1964, Brach 1976, Nicholson and Richards 1999).

Species Account: The knight anole, which is native to Cuba, has become established over much of the heavily planted suburbs of South Miami, where it is often called "iguana" or "iguanito" (Bartlett and Bartlett 1999). It is readily observed in summer hanging head down on large tree trunks within a few meters of the ground, supporting the front of its body away from the tree with its legs. Both sexes engage in these displays, at which time they are brilliant green in color. From October through April, it is relatively inconspicuous while hiding in bushes or high in trees, especially the crowns of dying coconut palm trees (Brach 1976). In St. Lucie Co., juveniles and adults were observed at night perched in Brazilian pepper along canals and in tall slash pines in pine flatwoods (Krysko et al., in press). Knight anoles feed on large insects, smaller anoles, nestling birds, and fruits, such as those of the Bo tree (Ficus religiosa) (Brach 1976). Males may exceed 46 cm (18 in) in length) and have huge pink dewlaps. The typical body coloration is bright green with yellow flash marks below each eye and on each shoulder, but cold or frightened individuals can be chocolate brown or almost black. The head is large and bony, and a low vertebral crest and larger nuchal crest can be erected. Although alert, knight anoles are slower than many other anoles and are more prone to stand their ground and even become aggressive when disturbed, often biting their attacker (Bartlett 1995a, Bartlett and Bartlett 1999).

Habitats: Low density suburban development, areas peripheral to core urban areas, and small towns, Rockland Hammock

County First Year Extirpated Year Breeding status  Notes


Less than 10 years FLMNH specimen; 3 individuals seen in 2002 at 1 site (L. J. Hord, FFWCC, Okeechobee, personal communication)


Less than 10 years Naples (Noonan 1995)
DADE 1952


At least 10 years Coral Gables (King and Krakauer 1966)


At least 10 years Introduced on a reptile dealer's property at Port Mayaca on the eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee in 1986 (J. Watt, personal communication), and still present here and in surrounding area in 2002 (Krysko et al., in press), despite commercial collecting pressure


At least 10 years Plantation Key (Achor and Moler 1982); abundant on Key Largo (J. Duquesnel, FDEP, Key Largo, FL, personal communication)


Less than 10 years Boca Raton (Krykso et al., in press)
POLK 2000


Not reported breeding Four specimens found in Bartow (C. Trumbower, Lakeland, personal communication)


Less than 10 years SW of Port St. Lucie (Krysko et al., in press)


Not reported breeding Several specimens brought in from a subdivision in Orlando (F. Morrissey, Gatorland, Orlando, personal communication)
LEE 2004


Not reported breeding Several specimens observed (B. Love, Alva, personal communication) and 1 collected (K. Enge, FFWCC, Quincy)


Not reported breeding 1 specimen from Lake Placid in agricultural shipment (Meshaka et al. 2004)


Achor, K. L., and P. E. Moler. 1982. Anolis equestris (knight anole). Herpetological Review 13:131.

Bartlett, D. 1995a. The anoles of the United States. Reptiles 2(5):48-62, 64-65.

Bartlett, R. D., and P. P. Bartlett. 1999. A field guide to Florida reptiles and amphibians. Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, Texas. 278pp.

Brach, V. 1976. Habits and food of Anolis equestris in Florida. Copeia 1976:187-189.

Collette, B. B. 1961. Correlations between ecology and morphology in anoline lizards from Havana, Cuba and southern Florida. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 125:135-162.

King, F. W., and T. Krakauer. 1966. The exotic herpetofauna of southeast Florida. Quarterly Journal of the Florida Academy of Sciences 29:144-154.

Krysko, K. L., K. M. Enge, J. H. Townsend, E. M. Langan, S. A. Johnson, and T. S. Campell. In Press. New county records of amphibians and reptiles from Florida. Herpetological Review.

Meshaka, W. E., Jr., B. P. Butterfield, and J. B. Hauge. 2004. The exotic amphibians and reptiles of Florida. Krieger, Melbourne, Florida. 166pp.

Nicholson, K. E., and P. M. Richards. 1999. Observations of a population of Cuban knight anoles, Anolis equestris. Anolis Newsletter V:95-98.

Ruibal, R. 1964. An annotated checklist and key to the anoline lizards of Cuba. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 130:473-520.

Links to more information

University of Michigan Information

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