Thursday, November 14, 2013
Anolis cristatellus, the camouflage fail of rorschach patterned headed lizard
Generally the local immature Anolis cristatellus are quite a wary bunch. Given that pretty much every predator around would love to snack on them, including the adult A. cristatellus, their alert demeanor is understandable. The color of these immature lizards resembles quite closely the leaf litter. When standing on the forest floor these small lizards are well camouflaged and virtually invisible. But when these lizards step away from their normal background the color pattern makes them quite conspicuous. Normally it is not easy to get close to these lizards because they are prone to run away quickly if they become even slightly alarmed. But this lizard seemed to feel so comfortable perching on the flowers of this Renanthera orchid that it showed an unexpected reluctance to move away. This allowed me to get close enough to it to take several photos against a background that highlights its camouflage pattern. The fact that the lizard lacks the tip of its tail means that even a good camouflage is no guarantee of survival in an environment full of hungry and sharp eyed predators.