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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

St.Lucia Anole (Anolis luciae)

Photos © Dr. Jenny Daltry /FCG International / Fauna & Flora International
Article / Jeannette Victor

Lizards, lizards everywhere; in our homes, work places and yards. Do we consider them as nuisances or treat them as another animal beautifully created by God?  Whilst going about our daily activities we do come into contact with lizards but can we tell the difference in the species?

Commonly known as zanndoli, the St.Lucia tree lizard is endemic to our island scientifically known as Anolis luciae. Although there are two species from the anole family their body markings differ which makes them easier to identify. The male anole may reach a length of 91mm from snout to the base of its tale. There are many colour variations from pale apple green to dark brown depending on if its habitat is wet or dry. The bark may or may not have dark markings but no ring is found round the eye however, the area around the eye may be white, blue, or green. The underside is usually white or yellowish. The dewlap or the bulge which forms in the throat often used to intimidate predators is sometimes grayish yellow or plain grey to brick red with green scales.

The females are shorter in length (63 mm) and duller in colour to their male counterparts. The iris is turquoise, blue or dark brown which brightens the female.

The St. Lucia Anole is not habitat specific and is widespread on St Lucia and the offshore islets. The females and juveniles tend to be found frequently on the ground, where females lay and bury one or two eggs in a shallow nest, whilst the males perch higher.

In this case we have good news. For once we have an endemic which is not threatened or vulnerable but it has been observed that the numbers are fewer on plantations or in areas which have been disturbed or degraded by human activity or natural disasters.

The zanndoli is deemed a predator to crawling creatures such as spiders, grasshoppers, cockroaches, ants and insect larvae off which it feeds. They wait patiently for their prey which could be caught on trees, walls and the ground.

The Anolis co-exists with two introduced anole species: A. extremus and A. wattsi  from Barbados and Antigua respectively, but it appears to be resisting competition, and the two invasive species are restricted mainly to areas around Castries.

Though this endemic species is not on the brink of extinction, we should not let our guard down when it comes to protecting and treasuring species found on our island, creatures which make our biodiversity rich and unique.