Lizard Brain: Wildlife Wednesday, May 2019

I think we can all agree that recycling is a good thing, yes?  Reusing  materials, keeping waste out of landfills, and limiting extraction of and manufacture with raw materials are all laudable goals.   My Social Justice Warrior self experiences a nice infusion of warm fuzzies when I place my bin out for the bi-weekly pick-up of formerly used, then discarded paper, glass, and metal stuffs.  Additionally, one never knows what events will unfold while rolling the bin up the driveway, past gardens which are full of life.  Two weeks ago, I was glad that I was engaged in the recycling rumba as a kerfuffle in the garden caught my eye in the movements of these two guys:

The two are Green anoleAnolis carolinensis, lizards:  charmers in the garden, sometimes green, sometimes brown, sometimes fierce competitors for territory and lady anoles.   These two locked eyes for a brief minute, then a second bit of brawl ensued and this resulted:

Oh dear.

I don’t think they’re buddies.

Anoles are quirky critters and fun to watch as they sun themselves or lie in wait for passing insects.  They glare at me when I disturb their hunting or sunbathing, but are welcome partners in my gardening adventures. I enjoy their company and appreciate their place in the local environment.  But true to their nature and like most other wildlife, they scrabble for mates, territory, and food, and spring mating season brings out aggressive lizard brain behaviors.

What I typically observe are assertion displays, like dewlap extensions, which may or may not involve another lizard.

However, this acrobatic pose is bit beyond assertiveness and happens when there are two dudes involved and the assertion displays haven’t done the trick.

According to this article on anole aggression, this is a full-on challenge display,  complete with black spots which form near their eyes (eyespots), enlargement of the crests along their necks (under lizard), and the crests along their backs (upper lizard)

These fellas held the position for several minutes, even as I maneuvered around them, egging them on.

I didn’t really egg them on, but I was tickled to capture the lizard tussle.  Poor hapless, helpless Lower Lizard, he dangles, little claws akimbo.

Eventually, Lower Lizard fell–or was dropped–into a bed of Damianita, Chrysactinia mexicana.  According to those who study anoles, he’s the declared loser, as he was in the lower position from the get-go.  He looks a little sad and maybe embarrassed as he goggles at the victor. I don’t think he had a date that night!

Meanwhile, the winner is smug,

…as he leers at the loser.

Ah, spring:  flowers, butterflies, birds, fighting lizards.  So much drama in the garden.

Remember to recycle–you never know what you’ll see!

What critter capers do you enjoy watching in your garden?  Please share your wildlife stories and leave a link when you comment here. Happy wildlife gardening!

29 thoughts on “Lizard Brain: Wildlife Wednesday, May 2019

  1. I got bitten by an anole a few years ago when I saved one from my cat. They have sharp little teeth though really it just felt like a tickle to my well worn crafters hands. They are also very good listeners and will show all the right facial expressions if you talk to them. They are one of my garden favourites!

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    • Yes, they have tiny, sharp little teeth. I’ve never been bitten, though, like you, I’ve taken them from cats’ mouths, but I can imagine they bite. I think everyone who gardens alongside anoles has affection for them!

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  2. What a wonderful series. I had no idea anoles would get into it like that, although of course every species has competitions for mates, territories, and so on. Every time I see them, they’re just hanging out, looking peaceful.

    I happened to be in the right place at the right time to see a couple of white-faced ibis tangle. I’m not sure if I can get the photos processed into something worth posting, but I’m going to give it a try. The sight of one ibis forcing another down into the water and standing on its head was — remarkable!

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    • Thanks, Linda. For what it’s worth, the vanquished didn’t seem any the worse for wear, so, like many (males, mostly) who fight, it wasn’t for injury or death–just enought to prove a point.

      Wow–game of throne, ibis-style! It’s bird-drown-bird world out there!

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  3. Great post and photos!!! I love Green Anole and we used to have so many. Then we had two winters with really hard freezes and it hit them hard. Now the Cuban or Brown Anole’s are taking over. I am hoping the Green ones come back soon! I read that they prefer higher ground and so have taken to the tall shrubs and trees around here.

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  4. What an epic battle you witnessed!
    I do wish recycling and reusing were more commonplace. Perhaps I need to clear the throat of my more dormant social justice passions.

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  5. How entertaining! That is one (of many) things I miss as a northern gardener. I love anoles, and I always enjoy watching their antics when we visit the south. Thanks for the story and the information.

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  6. Oh my! That is . . . . weird, but very impressive that you got such pictures! Not only are they great pictures of the process, but they did not seem to mind that you were taking the pictures.
    Our wildlife in not nearly so entertaining; although I do find it amusing when a tiny hummingbird chases off a big burly and fearless arborist!

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    • I suppose it’s not really all that weird, this business of fighting for territory and/or mates–people do it all the time. 🙂 I did feel fortunate that I had time to run into the house, grab the camera, and get those shots.

      Just an fyi, I tried to comment on your last two posts and a window popped up indicating that I couldn’t place a comment at that time.

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      • Thank you for letting me know. I am sorry that you could not comment. This is the first time I heard about that. There should be no limits on commenting. Hopefully, it was just a glitch at that particular time.

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  7. Love viewing this epic battle! As you say, it’s all of a piece in the natural world and that includes humans. I just have a problem not interfering in someone is getting seriously hurt…

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    • It was something. I’ve seen two presumably males showing their dewlaps to one another, but never an actual fight. The one that dropped seemed okay. He sat still for a couple of minutes with no obvious injuries. His pride perhaps was hurt, but nothing more.

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