Green Anole vs Brown Anole: How Are They Similar & Different

You’re trying to choose between a brown anole and a green anole as your next household pet. But they are both fascinating and beautiful reptiles that you can learn so much from.

In this article, we have compiled a green anole vs brown anole comparison so you compare them and choose the right pet for you.

Key Takeaway:

Green and brown anoles are both from the Dactyloidae family and mate between April and September. Green anoles live in trees and have bright pink to orange dewlaps. Brown anoles live on the ground and have red to yellow dewlaps. Brown anoles eat green anoles.

Are you ready to find out some of the similarities and differences between these exotic lizards and see which one will be best for you?

Then make sure you check out our complete comparison coming up next in this article.

green anole attacks brown anole

Green Anole vs Brown Anole

Now, you know you want an anole lizard to be your next household pet.

But which one will be the best for you?

Before we jump into the comparison, let’s get to know the two species.

Green anoles (Anolis carolinensis) are tree-dwelling lizards. They are native to the Southeastern United States and can change color from green to brown.

Brown anoles (Anolis sagrei) dwell on the ground. They are native to Cuba and the Bahamas and can change from their original color to shades of gray and black.

Coming up next in this article, we’ll be taking a look at the similarities and differences between the two anole species in the following categories:

  • Origin
  • Invasive species
  • Habitat
  • Lifespan
  • Male appearance
  • Female appearance
  • Male length
  • Female length
  • Male dewlap
  • Female dewlap
  • Diet
  • Reproductive season
  • Egg laying

Let’s get comparing!


Green and brown anoles are native to different parts of the world.

The Southeastern United States is home to native green anoles (Anolis carolinensis). You will find the biggest population of native green anoles in the following states:
  • North and South Carolina
  • Georgia
  • Florida
  • Alabama
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Texas

Brown anoles (Anolis sagrei) are native to Cuba, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands.

Green anoles are native species of North America, whereas brown anoles are native to Cuba and the Bahamas.

Invasive Species

hand holding a brown anole

Green and brown anoles have become invasive species in many countries around the world.

Green anoleshave been introduced to parts of the Pacific and the Caribbean. You will also find them in the Canary Islands and in Japan.

The Cuban brown anole (Anolis sagrei) has also been introduced to different countries it is not native to. These include parts of the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, Taiwan, and Panama.

Invasive brown anoles are able to expand their range very quickly.

Brown anoles invade new environments with ease and quickly become the most dominant reptile species in their habitat. Because of this, many lands are trying to control their spread and view them as pests.


Green and brown anoles have different habitats.

The Southeastern United States native green anole (Anolis carolinensis) is mainly arboreal, although it does also spend time in shrubs and on the ground. You will also find them on the edges of forests and in vines.

Brown anole lizards (Anolis sagrei) are ground-dwellers and like to live in small plants and shrubs. You are more likely to find them in urban areas.

These animals hide their eggs in the soil of plant pots, and thus they spread quickly to many parts of the world.

Green anoles live in trees, whereas brown anoles live on the ground.


These two lizards have similar average lifespans.

Both Anolis carolinensis and Anolis sagrei have lifespans that average 5 years.

However, in captivity, the green anole has the potential to live for up to 8 years.

Both of these reptiles have an average lifespan of 5 years.

Male Appearance

Male green anoles and male brown anoles are distinct in appearance.

The male green anolecan change its color to any shade from brown to green. It has a long and pointed head and is 15% heavier than the female.

It has sticky adhesive pads on its feet that help it stick to even vertical surfaces.

The male brown anole is light brown and has dark brown or black markings on its back. The male's head is smaller than that of a male green anole's head.

They have strong gripping toepads, which help them adhere to challenging surfaces. They also have a dorsal crest.

Brown male anoles have smaller heads than green anoles, and their body colors are different.

Female Appearance

Female green anoles and female brown anoles are also distinct in appearance.

The female green anole (Anolis carolinensis) can, like the male, change its color from green to brown. It has a long and pointed head and body and is 15% lighter than the male.

A female green anole has a white stripe running down its back.

Female brown anoles (Anolis sagrei) are the same color as the males. They are light brown and have dark brown or black markings on their backs.

Female green anoles and brown anoles have different body colors and markings. It is quite easy to tell the difference between the two.

Male Length

The male green anole lizard and the male brown anole lizard vary in length.

Green anole males (Anolis carolinensis) usually measure between 5 and 8 inches in length. They are always bigger than the females.

Brown anole males usually measure 7 to 8 inches in length, but some can even grow up to 9 inches long. They are also always bigger than the females.

Brown anole males are slightly bigger than green anole males.

Female Length

Green female anoles and brown female anoles are usually the same lengths.

Like female green anoles, female brown anoles measure 3 to 6 inches in length.

Female green anoles are the same size as female brown anoles.

Male Dewlap

The male brown anole’s dewlap and the male green anole’s dewlap are different in color.

The male green anole has a bright pink to orange color throat fan (dewlap) that is 3 times bigger than the females’. He displays it often and especially when trying to attract females and in an attempt to ward off other males.

Male brown anoles (Anolis sagrei) have dark red to yellow throat fans (dewlaps), which they display during courtship. It is bigger than the females’ and more often on display.

Male brown and green lizards have different color dewlaps.

Female Dewlap

The female anole lizard species do not display their dewlaps as often as the males do.

The female green anole has a lighter colored dewlap than the male. It is also 3 times smaller than the male’s dewlap.

The female brown anole has a red to yellow dewlap, but it is smaller than the males’.

Female anole lizards have different color dewlaps.


The brown and the green anole lizard have different diets.

The green southeastern US native lizard will eat the following:

  • Insects. These include small crickets, mealworms, small roaches, and other invertebrates.
  • Mollusks
  • Grains and seeds

The brown Cuban lizard will eat the following:

  • Insects. These include crickets, butterflies, ants, and other species of insects.
  • Other small lizards. These include eggs, hatchlings, green anoles, smaller anoles, skinks, and geckos.
  • Their own species, their own shed skin, and their own tails
  • Small fish

Brown lizards have a wider diet which includes eating green anoles. Because of this, the introduced brown anole quickly becomes the most dominant or the only species of small reptile in the habitat.

Reproductive Season

Green and brown anoles have the same mating seasons.

Mating season for these lizards begins in early April. It finishes in late September.

Brown and green lizards have the same mating season from April to September.

Egg Laying

Green and brown anoles have the same different timespans for egg laying.

Both green and brown females will produce one egg every two weeks during mating season. She abandons the eggs after laying them, and they hatch within 5 to 7 weeks.

The eggs hatch between late May to early October.

Brown and green lizards have the same egg-laying habits.

The Similarities Between Green Anoles and Brown Anoles

So, you’re trying to choose a lizard as your next family pet.

But how can you be sure which will be best for you?

Although these two lizards look very different, many things about them make them similar. Up next, you’ll see a list of similarities between the species.

Analyzing the things they have in common will ease the pressure of choosing one over another.

  • Both of the anoles are from the Dactyloidae family and the Anolis genus
  • They live for an average of 5 years
  • The males are bigger than the females
  • The males display their dewlaps more often than the females do
  • They have strong-gripping toepads
  • The females measure between 3 and 6 inches
  • They eat insects
  • They mate between April and September
  • They lay one to two eggs a week during mating season and abandon the eggs after laying them
  • They have very similar housing needs in captivity
green anole on a branch

The Differences Between Green Anoles and Brown Anoles

Picking a favorite out of these two lizards is a little tricky. If you are struggling to choose which one you should take home, take a look at the following list of differences.

FactorGreen AnolesBrown Anoles
OriginSoutheastern USCuba and the Bahamas
Countries IntroducedPacific, Caribbean, Canary Islands, JapanUS, Mexico, Caribbean, Taiwan, Panama
HabitatArboreal Ground-dwelling
Male head sizeBigger Smaller
Body colorGreen to brownLight brown
Male average length5 to 8 inches7 to 8 inches
Male dewlap colorBright pink to orangeYellow to red
Female dewlap colorLighter pink to orangeYellow to red
DietMollusks, grains, and seedsOther anoles, other lizards, small fish
brown anole

Green vs Brown Anole FAQs

Have you still got lots of unanswered questions you want answered?

Then check out the following list of brown vs green anole FAQs.

Do Brown Anoles Eat Green Anoles?

Yes, brown anoles do eat green anoles. When this species comes into a new environment, it quickly takes over and becomes the most dominant reptile

They will also eat a green anole’s eggs and their hatchlings, and will eat other brown anoles, their own shed skin, and their own tails. They are very territorial towards other native wildlife.

Can Brown and Green Anoles Mate?

No, brown and green anoles are different species, so they cannot mate. There are no hybrids between the two species.

Another reason they cannot mate is because the two do not get on together and cannot cohabit. When brown anoles come into a green anole’s territory, they become very aggressive toward them and quickly take over.

Never keep the two of them together in the same enclosure.

Can a Brown Anole Turn Green?

No, brown anoles cannot turn green. But they can quickly change color from brown to gray to black.

They often change color when they feel threatened.

Why Are Some Anoles Green and Some Brown?

Green anoles can change colors. They can vary from green to brown.

This anole species will change color depending on its mood, the temperature in its environment, and even its humidity. Your green anole may also change color to brown if it is not feeling well.

Brown anoles, on the other hand, are always a shade of brown, gray, or black. They change color according to their mood, but they cannot turn green.

Why Is My Green Anole Brown?

Your green anole will change color for a number of reasons. Here are some of them.

  • It is in an unnatural habitat
  • Its habitat is too cold
  • Its habitat is too dark
  • Territorial displays to ward off outsiders
  • Mood
  • It is thirsty
  • It is not well

Your green anole might change color because something is not right. Pay close attention to the color of your pet and adjust his environment as necessary.

If your pet looks unwell, take it to the vet immediately. Have it checked routinely by the vet, at least once a year.

Do Green and Brown Anoles Live Together?

No, brown and green anoles cannot live together in the same enclosure. Although they have almost the same habitat requirements, they do not get on well.

A Cuban anole will bully a green anole and will also eat it. It will also eat a green anole’s eggs and its hatchlings.

They will also bully them out of the best UVB light basking spots, and your green anoles will suffer.

In the wild, green anoles that used to live in tree trunks are forced to climb to higher branches where their enemies are reluctant to try to reach them.

Green Anole vs Brown Anole Which Is Invasive?

Both species of anoles are invasive to different parts of the world.

Anolis carolinensis is invasive to the following places:

  • Islands in the Pacific, such as Guam and Hawaii
  • Islands in the Caribbean
  • The Canary Islands, like Tenerife
  • Parts of Japan, including Okinawa Island

Anolis sagrei is invasive to the following places:

  • Parts of the United States, including Southern Florida (they were discovered in Palm Beach County as early as 1941) and Florida Keys (where they are commonly known as Florida yard lizards), Southern Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, and other places.
  • Mexico
  • Islands in the Caribbean
  • Taiwan (where they are damaging the country’s ecosystem)
  • Panama

Part of the natural animal behavior of this species is to hide eggs in the soil of potted plants. These eggs are extremely difficult to spot.

The plants are then taken to countries around the world. This results in this exotic lizard spreading far and wide from its native range.

Choosing Between Brown and Green Anoles

Brown and green anoles are species with a lot of similarities. Because of this, it is challenging to choose one over the other.

So, what’s the verdict?

Brown vs green anole, which is the best lizard for you?

Choose a green anole if you:

  • Want a pet that is native to North America
  • Want a pet that likes climbing
  • Would prefer a green color pet with a pink to orange color dewlap
  • Need a slightly smaller anole (choose a female or a small-size male)

Choose a brown anole if you:

  • Want a pet that is native to Cuba and the Bahamas
  • Want a pet that is more ground-dwelling
  • Would prefer a brown color pet with a red to yellow dewlap
  • Have room for a slightly larger anole

Did you find this article interesting?

At Oddly Cute Pets, we always strive to provide you with the best articles about many species of lizards, such as the brown anole and other reptiles. For more information about how to look after reptile pets and what to feed them, check out our website.

Thanks for reading!

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