Leaping Lizards, while being an excellent and often heard alliteration does not always apply to all things Florida. Yes, we have the largest cockroaches in the U.S. probably. But we politely refer to them as Palmetto bugs. You see they don't sound so awful when it's said like that. We enjoy Panthers, Bear, Alligator, Crocodile, Rattlesnake, Coyote, Fox, Deer and just about the most species of fish you can find anywhere. Eagles, Falcons, Hawks, Pelican, Osprey, Egret, Heron & Ibis, we're a veritable cornucopia of feathered friends. My focus here is on the prolific and abundant anole. They are seen scurrying almost every which way you turn while you're out walking here. This tropical American lizard of the genus Anolis has the ability to change color from dark brown to green and are almost always mistakenly called chameleons. The "chameleons" sold in pet shops and at fairs belong to this genus. One species is native to states along the Gulf of Mexico and to parts of the West Indies. Another species is found in the West Indies and the southern tip of Florida. There are more than 100 related species throughout the West Indies, Central and South America.
Chameleons on the other hand are not native to Florida, they do of course have the ability to change color and to move each eye independently. Their color change is involuntary brought about by light, temperature, anger or fear and is not related to the color of whatever the chameleon happens to be perched on. Green, yellow, or white one minute then brown or black the next they may even take on a spotted appearance. Native to Madagascar, Spain, Sri Lanka, India and Africa about 90 species of chameleon are known. Unlike most lizards, a chameleon is not slender and swift.
If you grew up in Florida or spent any time here as a kid you know that anoles will bite and hang on to whatever they can. Catch them, get them to bite onto your earlobes and wear them like earrings until they get tired and jump off. Make sure that they match your wardrobe color before applying.
Now that you know how, go out and have some good old-fashioned Florida fun next time you're here!