Ben here with the Thursday edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & ...

Ben here with the Thursday edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & ...

Ben here with the Thursday edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

We're continuing our countdown of the top five rarest lizards in Virginia with our number two entry, the green anole (Anolis carolinensis)!

If you've ever had pet lizards, you might be familiar with the green anole; I got one at a pet shop when I was a little kid. They're often called "American chameleons" in the pet trade due to their ability to change colors between green and brown. However, these lizards are not chameleons; they're actually more closely related to iguanas.

It's not entirely clear why these lizards change colors. In many cases, they seem to change colors depending on their stress levels or to assert dominance, and some studies suggest it may have something to do with thermoregulation. They do not, however, change colors to better blend in with their backgrounds (and neither do chameleons, believe it or not).

The green anole is pretty common throughout the Atlantic coastal plain in the southeastern states of the U.S. I remember being really excited to see one when I took a trip to Lexington, South Carolina several years ago, because that is the sort of thing I get excited about. Virginia seems to represent the northernmost reaches of their distribution, however. These lizards have been recorded in the Virginia Beach area, but even then, they're apparently quite hard to find!

Be sure to check back tomorrow to see the number one pick for the rarest lizard in Virginia!

Thank you to the Virginia Herpetological Society ( for the use of this photo, which was taken by Jeff Beane.

ABOUT #BenInNature
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends. This series of posts is made possible thanks to the support of VMNH Corporate Partner Carter Bank & Trust.

If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!

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