Brown Anoles

by Green Deane

in Critter Cuisine


“Did you clean them” I asked a friend who might want to remain anonymous.

“No” he said.

“You cooked them whole?”


“You ate them head, tail and all?” I asked.


“What did they taste like?”


Wow, I thought. That might be the to solution to the Cuban anole invasion: Eat them.

Deep Fried Brown Anoles

The Cuban Anole or Brown Anole, came to the United States via Key West around 1900. Now they are all over the place, in some locales up to 2,000 per acre. They are little bullies driving out the native Green Anole. To add to the confusion the Green Anole prefers to be green but can turn brown on occasion whereas the Cuban/Brown Anole is always brown, never green. The Cubans (Anolis sagrei) are slightly more dragonesque in appearance. Mature males usually sport a crest-like ridge running down the back whereas the natives greenies are slim and fine bone especially in the head. Further, the Brown Anole can voluntarily drop off its tail as a defense mechanism. It will partially grow back.

While the Brown Anole is crowding out the Green Anole some think the Green Anole is responding to the pressure by moving higher up in plants and trees leaving the Brown Anole to inhabit lower plant areas and the ground. Green Anoles like foliage where as the Brown likes to run along the ground.

Most of us have seen the Cuban Anole strutting his stuff, doing pushup and waving his throat dewlap, a bright pink to orange fold of skin. It’s to tell other fellows to stay away, this rake handle is my territory. And, if a lizard lass is looking for a mate he is saying, “I’m king on rake mountain.”

Actually lizards are the intellectuals of the reptile world, and anoles have different things to say. Their push ups and dewlap waves are not random. Among their messages are: Three head bobs, two dewlap waves, head up, then a series of small bobs. Another is one large bob, done slowly, a pause, two dewlap waves, then raise the head and do a series of small head bobs. Anole Morse Code. We may not know what it means, but they seem to understand quite well, and have for about 100 million years.

Green Anoles are becoming rare, don’t eat them

Anoles usually eat insects, and only live insects. The insect has to move for the anole to be interested in it… kind of like a dog chasing a car… Their native diet consists mainly of small arthropods, annelids, and mollusks. Cannibalistic, they are also short lived, 18 months on average, 36 occasionally. They are sexually active their second year. If you see a male displaying he will probably be dead that following winter season. Usually a male will keep two lady lizards happy and each will lay one or two egg a week, alternating ovaries.

Anoles can grow to eight inches though five is about as big as they get locally (one advantage of occasional frost perhaps.) They are found in warm areas of North America up to about the latitude of central Georgia, Central America, South America, and in Hawaii. Whether they are in Taiwan and Guam is a bit of a debate. Usual weight is six to eight grams (males) or four to an ounce. Females half that. They do not make good pets and when capturing them they will bite but they can only hang on and it does not hurt.  In fact, kids in Florida often catch them and let them latch onto their earlobes and wear them as living earrings. However, as all reptiles can carry salmonella, wash your hands and ear lobs after handling.  Clearly they are not to be eaten raw.

You can capture them by hand (particularly after dark) or take them from your cat.  As for cooking, you can freeze them first or drop them in hot oil, and or both. Add a little pepper and bon appetit.

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{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }

Vince June 26, 2017 at 17:10

The brown anoles did not swim from Cuba to Key West to invade. Thank careless humans for the brown anole being in Florida. The green anoles thrive in any habitat that has dense foliage so plant away and they will come back. Humans are responsible for more Green anole deaths than brown anoles are. Urban sprawl is the real culprit. Also green anoles are adapting an just live high up on trees and are doing fine.


GMoney June 3, 2017 at 17:08

When I bought my house in Houston in 2000, there were a lot of Green Anoles and I enjoyed their presence. In the past couple of years, I’v noticed these Cuban Anoles and now I hardly see a Green. After reading the article, it makes sense that they are now dominant in my neighborhood. My neighborhood, originally from the 50’s, is now being revitalized. Thus, all the new homes with foliage and tons of mulch. I’m going to bust out my bb gun and hunt for bacon!


sooz April 19, 2017 at 12:15

I have brown lizards and they are eating everything!!! They went for a hemp rug (it is unusable now), cloth chair cover, an avocado pit (chewed little chunks off), pistachio shells which they relocated from orchid pots to the ground, young lettuce leaves, green onions (chewed 4 of them right off) and porch-screen material. They poop EVERYWHERE.
Big poops. I vaccummed up a female today. Going for male asap.


cynlis November 2, 2016 at 08:59

definitely make sure they are cooked well as you wouldn’t want liver flukes.


Cat June 20, 2016 at 21:50

Not true that they don’t make good pets. But don’t wild catch them, buy a captive born one from an exotic pet shop. Wild caught lizards fail to thrive and can also harbor parasites. Captive born anoles who are used to human contact are quite tame and can enjoy gentle handling. I used to have one that loved to ride on the back of my hand – he’d jump right up on me when I’d put my hand in his terrarium and we’d go for a walk.


betonyaddict November 30, 2015 at 18:07

They taste like bacon? It is my destiny to eat one, then probably another, and so on. Thanks for the info.


K Dawson September 19, 2015 at 19:33

Thanks for the article. Hopefully something for Cuban tree frogs in future?


Dominick Porretto January 31, 2015 at 22:10

I tried baking them with some eggs thrown in. Was not a good idea the sulfur trapped in with the tinfoil and the egg and brown anole combo was not good. Next time I am going to fry and roast them and make sure I get all the lizard oil out and just get the protein next time. I recommend not sauteing or baking definitely better idea to roast or bake. If you fry them and eat them whole I would imagine it should be a decent source of B vitamins, protein, and vitamin D and Calcium if you eat all skin and bones. In a survival situation this would be my route for an easy protein source. Also they are excellent for using as fishing bait! Caught a 10LB bass with one before. I would imagine gar and any big fresh water fish will go after them!


Green Deane January 31, 2015 at 22:16

I cooked them just by themselves.


Hue Jacobs January 20, 2015 at 18:04

Actually, this doesn’t strike me as a bad idea. The brown anoles are invasive, and I see hundreds of them for every green anole I see. But, I’m not a mongoose, so catching anoles is probably a caloric negative. Anyone have an idea on how one can catch lots of anoles with the least expenditure of energy?


Green Deane January 20, 2015 at 22:20

I have seen them caught with a small noose made out of a stalk of grass.


Scuba April 8, 2016 at 07:37

I have an accurate airsoft gun and I hunt them. You can get around 50 in an hour.


K Sullivan September 23, 2014 at 15:05

I was scrolling through the archives just for fun. Prior to reading this article, I was not familiar with the name of these reptiles and so, initially thought the brown anole was a plant.
I have to admit while I am usually eager to try many wild edibles…
I don’t think I’m quite hungry enough to try fried brown anoles even if they do taste like bacon.
Might I suggest a better presentation, possibly 2 fried brown anoles side-by-side atop a steaming hot buttermilk biscuit with eggs and melting cheese??? Don’t forget the steaming cuppa of pine needle tea!
Seriously though, thanks so very much for your videos and articles. My husband and I and 4 of our 5 children have enjoyed foraging and eating the weeds. We have tried the following: dead purple nettle, which we pan fry in a bit of butter; violets which we use in salds-both flowers and leaves; dandylion flowers which we dip in egg, dredge in spicy fish breading and fry in the cast iron skillet; black cherries which we used to flavor our homemade apple sauce; crabapples made into jelly and apple butter; pine needle tea and hemlock needle tea; and just this past weekend paw paws foraged from a paw paw patch just off the Apalachian Trail near our home.
The one reluctant child will often look at his plate and then ask, “Is this from the store or the yard?” We don’t lie to him and though he is reluctant he does try everything we serve.
Thanks again for helping to educate us and the next generation!


Julia Knutson March 15, 2016 at 18:38

Hadn’t heard of eating dandelion flowers; however, early season dandelion greens were my father’s “spring tonic”. Pick “inner” rather than “outer” leaves, when first growing, before flowers occur. Some soak in milk to tame the bitter juice. Saute or steam as you would spinach; a little vinegar and sieved hard-cooked egg is nice on top.


Devon September 12, 2014 at 22:46

I have lived in St. Landry parish, Louisiana most of my life and I cannot recall ever seeing the brown anole, whereas the green anole is enormous in number. In fact, it’s September now and there are tons of juviniles about. Thanks for the article, though. I will watch out for Brown. Mmm


Randy December 15, 2014 at 15:45

I live in a suburb of New Orleans and have been all over Louisiana. The green ones are plentiful all over the state. However, I only recently noticed the brown ones here. Geckos are also common here. My dog, a Brittany, spends hours every day hunting lizards.


Duff Smith August 14, 2016 at 22:08

The brown ones are utterly prolific. If the actual cuban browns start showing up, hunt them without mercy or they will gobble up the eggs and young of the green anoles. I like a blowgun.


Alex Haug November 9, 2016 at 18:05

Blowguns are great. With a bit of practice you can pick em off from twenty feet away. I live in houston next to the bayou and i saw a ratio of about 1:50 (1 green:50 browns) But after my hunting campaign which is still in progress the numbers are evening up. And yes, they do taste quite nice


Don August 27, 2014 at 09:21

My cat loves to decapitate the brown anoles and discard the heads before eating the rest. No bad reactions. As for me, I have tried eating some things but the anole are back up food… a real famine food.
As for who came first, vegan or carnivore… well, I believe humans were vegetarians first. We developed into omnivores.


Green Deane August 27, 2014 at 14:14

Monkey eat meat regularly.


Anna May 24, 2014 at 03:04

THIS IS HORRIBLE! Sigh, us humans eating everything and killing all animals. It pains me to think of any animals going extinct. Why don’t we just leave the anoles alone? They were doing quite fine before we came and messed everything up.


Green Deane May 24, 2014 at 07:21

actually they are the invasive species that came along and is disrupting things like reducing the native green anoles. And I think mans record of extinctions pales compared to nature which has destroyed really all the species that have ever existed. The living creatures you see is an extreme minority of the survivors Mother Nature has not snuffed out, yet.


Duff Smith August 14, 2016 at 22:17

The distinction between invasive cuban brown anoles and native green anoles is very important here. The brown ones were carelessly introduced by humans, and so their undue predation upon the green anoles’ eggs and young is actually the human-caused force of extinction. This is a far more environmentally correct form of hunting than hunting an elephant with the biggest trophy tusks or a deer with the biggest antlers.


Ken May 17, 2017 at 19:25

These brown Lizards are an invasive species, getting rid of the green anoles. They just do not belong. That being said, let us all get gong on ridding these lizards. Do what ever needs to be done to accomplish this. Perhaps restaurants can make them a delicacy. That way folks would go lizard hunting and make a few bucks. I do not believe one would need a license such as in feral hog hunting, another invasive species that ranchers and farmers are clamoring to get rid of. Anything invasive disrupts the balance of nature of the area.


Wes March 11, 2014 at 00:36

I work outside in florida. I see them everywhere. I find them annoying being that they are rampant and not native. Also like someone said the green anoles are way cooler anyway. I catch brown ones frequently and i just pull off their heads and move on lol


Kevin Womac March 23, 2017 at 19:04

That’s the quick way…


Alana February 6, 2014 at 16:30

I personally have severe scoliodentodaurophobia, so just the sight of these little guys sends me into a panic. I won’t be eating them because of this, but if it means there will be less of these little pests around, I’d say more power to the people who choose to eat them…just so long as it’s not in my presence! XD


Demayr January 9, 2014 at 16:30

I am doing a project on brown anoles do you know anything else?
I love green anoles!


Green Deane January 9, 2014 at 16:33

No, the sum total of all I know about them is in the article. One caution: They can eat things that make us sick so it is not wise to just cook any brown anole. They should be feed good food first to clear out any toxins.


Sheri August 26, 2014 at 12:07

Should average backyard brown anoles undergo this cleanse? If so, any tips on what to keep them in, what to feed them, and how long it takes to clear out toxins? Does cooking take care of all potential parasites or should they be frozen for a while?


Green Deane August 27, 2014 at 05:28

Our average backyard brown anoles are also the green ones. Go for the Cubans which are an invasive species. Cooking kills parasites. If you feed them a couple of days they clean out.


Sheri August 27, 2014 at 20:56

Ok, thanks! There are a lot in my yard that look exactly like the top photo on this page—Cuban?

Casey December 29, 2013 at 12:36

My family goes nuts whenever the cat has one because of an episode when a prior cat caught and ate the tail of one and then had seizure like eye activity for sometimes afterwards. Seems like if this was common we would have seizing cats all over FL!


Green Deane December 29, 2013 at 12:47

It could have been related to what the anole at,and, cats have responses to things that other animals don’t. For example, day lily pollen is deadly to cats.


Nermina November 3, 2013 at 21:46

Phenomenal article ! Thank you Green Deane !


Jacob morrow October 29, 2013 at 21:45

Thank you for this information; im a young survivalist in training and i have always wondered if these would be an option so thank you!


Mary Meyer October 9, 2013 at 22:46

This is kind of like culling deer herds. It sound horrible on the face of it but if we don’t cull the herds they eat everything in sight and then they starve to death and that is a horrible way to die. Best if we manage the wildlife. It is good for the wildlife and tasty for us.


Caitlin S September 4, 2014 at 18:10

Humans have done far worse than any animal in terms of overpopulating and destroying surroundings. I’m deeply saddened that most of you look at these magnificent creatures and your only thought is how nice it would be to fry them alive and eat them.


Green Deane September 5, 2014 at 04:18

You will note the articles does not encourage the consumption of the native Anoles but rather the invasive, displacing Cuban anoles.


Kim Northrop October 8, 2013 at 17:00

Bacon, huh. I just may have to try this.


Stephanie October 8, 2013 at 15:51

Do the anoles have to be gutted? Or just fry them up, innards and all?


Green Deane October 8, 2013 at 16:47

I do them whole. But you can removed the tummy parts after cooked if you like.


JAS July 28, 2013 at 21:24

Great information. I moved to Florida a couple of years ago and have been wondering ever since if they were edible. I’ve eaten about everything you care to name, but no lizards so far. Gotta try these real soon and see if I can come up with a couple of good recipes.


Gail July 20, 2013 at 12:34

humans started as carnivores…later they leaned how to be gatherers…and growers… we have evolved…somewhat.
I have vegans in my family but mostly we are carnivores…
When we have family get togethers, I always try to find fabulous vegan bring also.
and I really love when we can all get together ..and enjoy a lovely meal together despite our personal preferences. 🙂
But I must say…in general terms from what I have seen and experienced (and I am a mature lady) vegans have less tolerance for carnivores..than carnivores have for vegans… that just my imagination???


Dean June 14, 2013 at 19:16

Suddenly my modest post stamp lot has been transformed into a ranch. One interesting and surprising note on these browns is that on occasion I’ve seen them snatch Atala larva from coontie. Though I have no confirmation if the anoles survived the feast or not.


Steve Isham June 14, 2013 at 13:06

Bon appetit, but PLEASE DON’T EAT THE GREEN NATIVE ANOLES! Read my book, “Anoles: Those Florida Yard Lizards,” to learn why (


Jesse May 22, 2013 at 14:25

I’m a native to Florida so it isn’t a big surprise to see them EVERYWHERE. They are pretty aggressive and extremely fast. They also will definantly urinate and defecate on you once you catch them (I learned this the hard way as a kid)
I have heard of people eating them but I would rather not eat them seeing as though I’m already horrified seeing their squished bodies on the asphalt every once in a while. They are fun to play with and observe, though.
I don’t think I’ll take the pleasure of eating them away from someone but I won’t try it.


Christy May 16, 2013 at 22:23

My son was dared by another boy to eat the tail ofthe lizard he was playing with after it fell off. He is 9 and of course he ate the tail raw. It won’t make him sick will it?


Green Deane May 17, 2013 at 06:58

Raw it might… there is a reason why creatures are cooked. It’s often not the creature itself but what’s on it, or in it that needs to be killed by cooking.


GlenB8man February 4, 2013 at 21:23

Eat ’em, they”re not an ez eradication besides the Fl Anole birth rate has to keep up with the brown anole”s death rate or things”ll get all caddywhompus in the communities’ population proportions.
gut’em I’ll try them well done to cook any extraneous spp from being consumed.


brianna jackson January 22, 2013 at 20:37

this was good advice it help me on my homework thank you


Alex January 10, 2013 at 11:43

Hello, I am setting up a vivarium and thinking of putting a couple of Green Anoles in it. Even though I am a animal lover (with the exception of spiders, eugh!) I think this is a wise idea, the poor greens are basically having their lives RULED by the browns, as I said,wise idea!



Krisz December 26, 2012 at 04:09

Honestly, I don’t know what to say…shall I cry or scream? Clearly, you don’t live in deepest Congo that you have nothing else to eat. Humans are just one greedy, ignorant species. Let’s eat up everything around us like locusts….and then what? Gosh, hope you’ll catch Salmonella


Green Deane December 26, 2012 at 06:25

Thanks for writing. One thing to consider is that the brown anole is an aggressive, invasive species the state of Florida would like to eliminate because it is killing off the smaller, kinder, cuter, green anole.


Mike Conroy December 26, 2012 at 22:45

And what do you eat Krisz?


Graham February 20, 2013 at 19:09



Kevin June 15, 2014 at 14:56

Store bought meat, so no animals are hurt, lol. Krisz, I don’t think that this post relates to whats for sunday dinner or snacks during the football game. I think its more related to an Andrew or Katrina scenario where it may be several days before help arrives except as neighbors banding together. I know they would like you to believe that assistance was there within hours but in Miami it was nearly 2 weeks due to debris and lack of areas to do air drops and nearly a month in some areas of devastated areas outside of the immediate New Orleans area. While your crying and screaming and hungry I will be chowing down on grilled Anoles and frog kabobs with a shepherds needle and dollar weed salad with pepper grass topping. Oh ya and some grilled or mashed cat tail tubers


Jesse July 23, 2014 at 15:00

I don’t mean to be one of those PETA activists but you do realize animals ARE tortured for your beloved store bought meat, right?


Chris James April 3, 2016 at 01:01

“tortured” you mean rallied up and jugular veins cut? If the animal is tortured its meat becomes bad. Lol “PETA activist” PETA kills more animals than you can count on 10,000 people’s fingers. The acronym PETA is a paradox.

Jose October 31, 2012 at 07:01

Hi and thanks for the info but i think ill pass on this one lol. These anoles also inhabit cuba and are everywhere in that island they are about 5 inches and their bite may cause a bit of fever because of the bacteria in their saliva that’s why people rather leave them alone over there.


Jose October 31, 2012 at 07:04

I mean the green anoles inhabit cuba ofcourse the brown ones do as well i mean that’s where they come from lol


Jonathan October 15, 2012 at 17:17

How long should they cook for


Jeannie September 22, 2012 at 22:54

So, can we eat the green ones, too, or not?


Green Deane September 23, 2012 at 21:19

yes, but they are growing rare whereas the brown ones are not.


Joyce April 12, 2012 at 21:43

Sounds delicious. Would you recommend cooking them alive, like crabs, or killing them first?


Green Deane April 13, 2012 at 14:42

Numb them in the frig then into deep fat they go.


A.Wilcox October 29, 2011 at 03:39

Oooh you rock. Relocating to Florida and couldn’t help but notice the ground always moving with them darting day in and day out. Being a protein fiend, the hunter gatherer nestled deep within my brain was driving my mouth to water as I watched them. Thought about stews but frying! Frying.


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