Written by Monty Criswell

The Hispaniolan Giant Anole (Anolis ricordi) is a large anole that inhabits the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, which comprises the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  It is thought to be widespread throughout the island; however, the species has not yet been evaluated by the IUCN.  This anole is considered a “crown giant”, which means that it spends most of its time on the highest trunks and branches of trees.  Although not the largest anole species, the Hispaniolan Giant Anole can reach a size of 11-12 inches in total length and weigh 90 grams. Their diet mainly consists of a variety of insects and other invertebrates, but due to their large size, they can even prey on small vertebrates such as baby birds.  Another physical characteristic that sets crown giants apart from other anole species are the massive, casqued heads and spiky crests running down their backs.

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All anole species have dewlaps, a longitudinal flap of skin under the neck, which can be extended and retracted and are usually a different color than the rest of the body.  Anoles use their dewlaps to ward off predators by making themselves appear much larger than they actually are, as well as for male anoles to attract females.  The baby Hispaniolan Giant Anole born at The Houston Zoo, the first to be bred here, hatched on Saturday, June 14, 2014, weighing only 2.5 grams.  These anoles are a uniform green color as babies and change to a dark reddish brown upon maturing. adult-anole-resizw