The Knight anole (Anolis equestris) is a species of lizard in the Polychrotidae family, and the largest species within the anole (Anolis) genus. Other common names include Cuban knight anole. It grows to a length of 13 to 20 in (33 to 51 cm) including the tail. A few specimens have reached up to 24 in (61 cm).
Knight anoles are native to Cuba, but have been widely introduced into South Florida, where they reproduce and spread readily. They cannot withstand freezing temperatures; in winter freezes in South Florida, they drop semiconscious from tree canopies. In its native Cuba, this large anole is called chipojo.
Knight anoles are fiercely territorial, and will initially turn to face almost any perceived threat, if only from a distance. During its challenge display, a lizard will sit high on all fours, gape menacingly, turn green, and perhaps bob its head. The male will extend its dewlap (a reddish-white flap underneath the chin), and both females and males will "puff themselves up" with air.
In captivity, the anole's aggressiveness seems to lessen to a certain degree, if it is raised from the time of its birth and handled, it is common for it to become tame enough to be held. In communal terraria with other species of lizards, it rarely attacks smaller lizards unless the other reptile intrudes on its territory. It may be hand-fed with caution, since it has a strong bite and many small, sharp teeth.
Its diet as a young anole consists mainly of insects. As an adult, it eats larger prey, such as tarantulas, other anoles, geckos, and even adult birds and mammals. While in captivity, Knight Anoles seem to prefer caterpillar and other larvae such as the superworms that are a staple of the pet trade over the likes of crickets.
A. equestris at Museum of Science, Boston
- Kirsten E. Nicholson and Paul M. Richards (2011). Home-range size and overlap within an introduced population of the Cuban Knight Anole, Anolis equestris (Squamata: Iguanidae) Phyllomedusa, 10 (1), 65-73
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