Lizards are as common in my Florida garden as ants. During my early days as a Floridian, I found their constant presence unnerving. In a reflex, I threw one across a room on an iron because it startled me. My how things change, now I find myself enjoying their company. This one especially caught my eye today. I held the camera on it so long my arms started to hurt, but my day could not go on without a picture of that dewlap!
It’s brilliant; this lizard definitely has game. The dewlap, what that bright orange flare is called, attracts female mates. Since I’m a female without scales, it’s more likely this stud was flexing his dewlap like muscles to deter me. The dewlap serves a dual-purpose to attract mates and ward off predators.
If I’m saying dewlap a lot, it’s because up until a few hours ago I was saying to John, “What’s that thing called?” He usually knows the answer to weird questions like that but not this time, and the Google gods were a little wishy-washy. There was frill, dewlap and the selections beginning with throat–throat fan, throat flap or throat sack–to choose from. With the throat options too obvious and frill pertaining mostly to appendages that come from the back of the neck instead of the throat, dewlap was my word. And it’s by far the most fun to say…doo-lap, dooo-lap, doooo-lap.
I always thought brown anoles were light brown with a Native American-looking patterned band running down their back, but the dark brown, speckled lizard I spotted today is also a brown anole. After looking at pictures of fence, scrub and all sorts of other lizards, every picture that matched was labeled brown anole. Then I found a research study done by Patrick Ellsworth, a PhD student at the University of Miami, that confirmed the variety amongst the family, “The only consistent characteristics is that they are some shade of brown and their dewlap is orange with a yellow border.” A tad disappointing as I thought it could’ve been a new visitor to the garden.