NamingThis species has been chosen as a model reptile for genomics by the National Human Genome Research Institute genome sequencing program. It was selected because of the ease and low cost of laboratory breeding and evolutionary value of the diversity of the genus. In 2011 the complete genome of this lizard was sequenced and published in the scientific journal ''Nature''. Before its genome was published, only mammals and three bird species had been sequenced among amniotes. The draft genome sequence is 1.78 Gb , of which 27% are mobile elements such as LINEs. A total of 17,472 protein-coding genes and 2,924 RNA genes were predicted from the ''A. carolinensis'' genome assembly.
DistributionThis species is native to North America, where it is found mainly in the southeastern parts of the continent. Anoles are most abundant on the Atlantic Coastal Plains in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia, and the Gulf Coast in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas and have been found as far north as southern Tennessee and southeastern Virginia. The species has been introduced into Hawaii and the Ogasawara Islands. In 2012, there were sightings of the green anole in the San Diego region of southern California.
BehaviorAnoles are territorial creatures. Some have even been witnessed fighting their own reflections in mirrored glass. Stress in an anole can be identified by several symptoms, to include chronic lethargy and persistent black semicircles behind its eyes. Like many lizards, anoles display autotomic tails, which when broken off continue to move. This hopefully distracts the predator and helps the anole to escape.
Anoles also display curiosity. A healthy lizard usually has a good awareness of its surroundings. The male is very territorial and will fight other males to defend its territory. The other male is frequently an introduced and invasive brown anole . When browns first immigrated to the United States in the early 1970s, the Carolinas ceded their ground-level territories and were relegated to a very different ecosystem high in the treetops. On occasion a more aggressive Carolina may be seen closer to the ground and in competition with the browns.
ReproductionThe typical breeding season for green anoles starts as early as April and ends as late as August or occasionally into September. During this time, the most brilliant displays of these creatures can be seen, as the males must court the females with their elaborate displays of extending their brightly colored dewlaps while bobbing up and down, almost doing a dance. The male will court and pursue a female until the two successfully mate. Usually, when the female is ready to mate, she may let the male simply "catch" her and he will thus grasp a fold of her skin above her neck area, or she will bow her head before him and simply "let" him take his grasp. At this point, the male will position his tail underneath the female's near her vent and mating will take place.
About two to four weeks following mating, the female will lay her first clutch of eggs, usually ranging from 1–2 in the first clutch. She will continue to lay eggs during the season until about 10 eggs have been produced; she will bury them in the soft soils or compost nearby. The eggs are left to incubate by the light of the sun, and if successful, will hatch in 30–45 days.
The hatchlings must fend for themselves; anoles are by nature solitary animals since birth, and are not cared for by either parent. The young hatchlings must be wary of other adult anoles in the area, as well as larger reptiles and mammals, which could eat them.
FoodThe anole's diet consists of small insects such as crickets and grasshoppers; it also eats grasses. Many people who keep these lizards as pets feed them mealworms, grubs, and maggots.
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