Lately, we are hiking a lot, discovering more and more flora and fauna on Statia. One of the biggest wildlife moments of the last year happened on our veranda though. Take a minute in Statia to watch green tree lizards (Anolis bimaculatus) mating.

Take a minute in Statia: Green tree lizards (Anolis bimaculatus)


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It was a hot summer day in September when I spotted our biggest green tree lizard holding on to a smaller female under a piece of wood. As they were busy and I kept quiet, I could come really close to take pictures. “Why didn‘t you film them?” asked Yoeri. Good question.

Luckily, just a couple of days later our male Anolis bimaculatus invited another female to visit his porch. This time they didn‘t even bother to hide behind a piece of wood or a flower pot. It was a long affair. After filming, I took more pictures and then went back to filming.

However, they have long phases of inactivity, just hanging in there together. In this minute, I was extremely lucky as our male starts moving not only to mate but also to show off his dewlap. Maybe, I was coming a little too close for comfort.

More than just a show

Interesting fact, like all tree lizards lay these anoles only one egg at a time, possibly two relatively shortly after one another. Females hide the egg(s), but don‘t stay with them. Depending on the temperature, the little lizards hatch after four weeks or more.

All facts regarding these beautiful creatures are out of the book “The reptiles and amphibians of the Dutch Caribbean. Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Maarten”, Second edition, revised and expanded, Robert Powell, Robert W. Henderson, and John S. Parmerlee, Jr. You can buy your very own edition in the shop of St. Eustatius National Parks (STENAPA) at Gallows Bay, Oranjestad, St. Eustatius.

Not so shy after all: Green tree lizard (Anolis bimaculatus) mating on our veranda in Statia (Caribbean Netherlands)

While males can grow up to 12.3 cm, females only reach up to 7 cm (head-body lengths). Males have a large crest on the back of their necks. They can change colour depending on the habitat and possibly their personal „mood“, too. Active males look bright grey-green, yellow-green or blue-green. Sometimes they even have shades of orange or pink. Usually, one or two dark spots are visible on the sides behind the forelimbs which gave them their scientific name (bimaculatus = having two spots). Dewlaps are relatively small and vary from yellow to orange. Females and juveniles lack the outstanding hues and prominent markings of adult males.

Hunters and prey

Green tree lizards are only found on the St. Kitts Bank. On St. Kitts, Nevis and Statia they are abundant. You can find them from sea level up to the Quill. However, they prefer open areas or canopies to catch some sunlight. Anolis bimaculatus adapts easily to conditions altered by humans and occasionally enters homes and other human-made structures. We can confirm! They love our veranda.

At night they make use of the lights to catch insects. Anoles, like other tree lizards, consume a wide range of insects. Given the chance, they also eat smaller lizards, including juveniles of their own species. From time to time, they eat flowers and fruits and lap nectar.

Birds and snakes are the main predators of this species. American kestrels (killy-killy) and pearly-eyed thrashers often focus on hunting anoles. Also, the red-bellied racer snake feeds primarily on lizards. However, they rarely climb trees where Anolis bimaculatus is spending most of its life. When they venture to the ground smaller individuals might get eaten by the red-faced ground lizard.

Our veranda, their territory

Green tree lizards are very territorial. Establishing and defending their territory costs the males lots of time and energy which varies in size. Outside of territorial behaviour and courtship, these lizards are shy. They can jump to nearby rocks or branches and usually flee upwards to escape any threat.

They sleep on leaves or twigs up in the bush or tree. Some individuals also sleep in between rocks or crevices. Smokey, our beautiful shelter dog, leaves them alone. She is a gentle soul as Smokey in Wonderland shows.

Watch and learn more about Statia in our playlist “St Eustatius underwater and on land”:


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