When the Trauths spotted “weird” lizards sunning themselves on their stepping stones in their front yard in Boutte, it raised a few questions.
“My husband (Buddy) and I were driving into the driveway one day when he slammed on the brakes and said, ‘Did you see that?! It was as big as a dragon,’” said Abby Trauth. “Since that day, we’ve been amazed at how big these lizards are. They’re much bigger than our usual green lizards and wayyyy faster.”
Actually, the biggest one they’ve seen is 6-1/2 to 7 inches long.
Well, they aren’t big as dragons (they don’t exist), but if there was such a thing they might look like larger versions of these rugged lizards or anoles.
“I’ve grown up in St Charles Parish and this is the first year that I’ve seen such an exotic looking animal (aside from an alligator) in my yard,” Trauth added.
That’s because they’re the latest invasive species reported in St. Charles Parish. Earlier, residents began reporting the bright pink eggs from apple snails in area waterways.
Barry Guillot, Harry Hurst Middle Wetland Watchers teacher, said the lizards are likely from Cuba or Haiti.
This invasive species apparently came into the U.S. from plant nurseries more than 15 years ago. Guillot said he believes the brown anoles were here before Hurricane Katrina.
“There’s no environmental damage unless eating bugs and mosquitoes is bad,” Guillot said. “They look a lot like the green anoles except during breeding season when they get the crest. Green anoles also get the crest during breeding season. They are harmless to people and pets.”
“I’ve grown up in St Charles Parish and this is the first year that I’ve seen such an exotic looking animal (aside from an alligator) in my yard.” — Abby Trauth
It’s a matter of brown versus green lizards.
These brown lizards were reportedly first seen in Florida, but it wasn’t until 1988 when it started being seen in larger numbers, Guillot said. Green lizards are indigenous to Louisiana, but the brown ones are apparently gaining in number because they can tolerate more heat in a number of hotter-than-normal summers.
In Boutte, Trauth’s neighbor told her he’d noticed the brown lizards for at least a year, but that it appeared the brown and green lizards were co-existing.
The scientists noticed them, too.
The green lizards are evolving with bigger, stickier toes to evade the more aggressive Cuban invaders. They compete for food and will eat one another’s young, but the green lizards developed the ability to climb higher in just the last 15 years.
But Trauth isn’t concerned, adding, “They’re probably only good for mosquito killing, which is great.”
Will brown replace green?
- Anoles or brown lizards from Cuba and Haiti were reportedly first seen in Florida in 1887. By 1988, they are reported in larger numbers in the U.S.
- Green lizards are forced to evolve to evade these more aggressive brown lizards. They are documented developing larger, stickier toe pads to live in higher parts of trees.
- The brown lizards look tougher like they have body armor and are bigger. They bear impressive patterns for camouflage.