So, you’re trying to figure out if your anole is a male or female.
A newbie to green anole ownership will think they’re very similar and may struggle trying to tell the difference between the sexes.
However, once you get a keen eye on what to look for, it’s very easy to differentiate between the two.
Let’s take a look at the differences between males and females.
Differences in physical structure
Here are some noticeable differences in their sexual dimorphism.
Body size (SVL)
The male anoles are slightly longer with a lengthier snout to vent measurement (SVL).
If you’re using SVL, the measurements are a lot more narrow. SVL is measured from the tip of their snout to their vent. Males are slightly lengthier than female by a few centimeters.
Since the differences in anole SVL are small, an easier way would be to look for the large pink dewlap under their neck.
Note that anoles should be measured only when they reach a good size.
When they’re hatchling or juvenile, they all look the same, and sexing them can be difficult. Trying to figure out a boy from a girl anole before they reach about 1 year isn’t as clear as when they’re full-grown adults.
Even if you use the size as a way to tell the differences between males or females, some anoles will be small while others are big.
There can be large females. There can be small males. Don’t rely on size only.
Male green anoles will often present their dewlap when venturing into new territory or when trying to defend their own from other males.
The dewlap is tucked under the “chin” and is nearly invisible when he doesn’t “flex” it.
It’s pink or red and he inflates when he courts a female or fights a male.
However, be patient and watch for him to move.
When he sees another anole, whether male or female, he’ll likely present the dewlap. It’ll be dropping out of his neck.
Do female green anoles have dewlaps?
Females rarely will exhibit this behavior. So if you see a dewlap, it’s likely a male.
This thin “flap” of skin is reddish to pink when fully extended. It’s used when defending territory, fighting, or mating.
It’s very bright in the sun and brightly colored for male lizards, while females have a bland one that lacks any color. Females also have smaller ones.
The dewlap is most prominent in males, but this doesn’t mean that it’s a male. There are males with bland dewlaps and there are females with colored dewlaps. Use other cues to help determine the sex.
Ridge crest on back
Some males will also have a crest on their backs. It gives them the appearance of being larger than they are. They use this to fight other males and defend their territory. Females don’t have this crest on their backs.
And not all males do either. If you see a crest, which looks like a small ridge on their back, it’s a male anole.
A word of caution: Green anoles and brown anoles are different species. Brown anoles will develop a longitudinal, lengthwise ridge running down their tail to their neck if it’s a male. Green anoles don’t.
Females have a smaller head compared to males. Although both sexes are very similar in head size, if you have a male and female next to each other (at adult size), the male’s head will be slightly bigger if it’s a normally developed pair.
Remember that males and females both will grow to different sizes. Not all anoles will reach their full-size.
Males have longer snouts than females. The face itself is more narrow and lighter compared to female snouts. This also adds a few millimeters to the SVL which makes male anoles a bit longer than females.
If you’re able to hold your anole and carefully look at the underside (belly up), you’ll be able to see their postanal scales if they’re fully developed.
These look like two ridges near the vent where the tail meets the body.
Only males have postanal scales. If none are present, it could be a female OR it can be not yet developed. If your anole is still a baby or adolescent, the scales may not be present yet.
Look at the very end of the vent, where the tail base is. Females will never have these scales.
Thus, you can be sure that you have a male anole if you see the postanal scales on your lizard.
Just like using their size to determine their sex, the postanal scales are best used when the lizard is at least 1 year old. Younger males won’t have them present or fully developed before then.
Stripe on back
Look at the back of your anole. Females may grow a stripe going down from the back of the neck down to the tail. It’s very obvious and looks like a white spine.
Not all females will have this, and adolescent/juvenile anoles will have this whether male or female.
Females will retain it and keep it. But males will fade this white stripe as it grows.
If you have an adult green anole that has this stripe, it’s likely a female. This is a simple way to tell males vs. female anoles from a distance. You don’t even have to touch it!
Differences in behavior
If you can’t tell the difference because your anoles are too small, young, or you’re just new to this, try looking at their behavior.
A male lizard will exhibit a different set of behavioral traits compared to a female.
Although this can be highly subjective, especially if you’re new, you’ll learn to spot the differences over time.
A male anole will be territorial. It defends its territory from other males (and sometimes females). When two males are within distance, they may fight each other.
But usually, one male will run off the other. They’ll do push-ups, bob their heads, show off their dewlaps, and sometimes show black spots around their eyes.
These are signs of extreme stress and if two males are exhibiting these, they’re likely to fight each other. Do not let your anoles fight. Separate them with protective gloves immediately.
Female anoles may also show the same behaviors to other female lizards, but this is not as frequent as males.
They may do this if other females are invading her space, if she’s pregnant, or if there’s not enough space in the terrarium to sustain their requirements.
Two or more females can live together, but there needs to be enough space to let them be comfortable.
Pregnant females should be isolated and provided requirements for proper care.
How to tell if a green anole is pregnant
The easiest way to tell if your female is pregnant is by simply looking at her abdomen.
Over time, as the eggs build, they’ll get larger and larger. She may also exhibit some behaviors like digging in the substrate inside your setup.
She also might stop eating and spend time hiding or being sedentary.
Nonetheless, if you have a pregnancy anole, it’s a female for sure. No question about it.
Mating and courtship
When females are around, males will court and mate them. They’ll bob their head, flare their dewlap, and do the famous “pushups” in front of them. This is courtship.
Females may also bob their heads in response, but it could be not as noticeable. and flare their dewlaps. If your green anole does this, it’s likely a male.
But females have been shown to exhibit this behavior as well to a lesser degree. Look for other common elements and physical characteristics to confirm the lizard’s sex.
Head bobbing and dewlap flaring behavior is also common during mating season, which is between April to September.
If they mate, the male will likely chase the female and catch her.
If you see two lizards, one on top of the other entwined, they could be fighting or mating.
If they’re mating, the anole on top is the male and the bottom is the female. This is another sure way to tell. But don’t get mating confused with territorial behaviors.
Two ways to tell if your anole is boy or girl guaranteed
Only the female is capable of giving birth by laying eggs. Females will mate with an alpha male and deposit eggs 2-4 weeks later. If you see your anole laying eggs, it’s a sure sign that it’s a female.
Postanal scales are only found on males. If you see ridges at the tail base, it’s a male guaranteed.
Male or female? Now you know
Telling the difference is something that you’ll become experienced with over time.
You’ll need to flex those eye muscles to discern the minute physical and behavior differences between male and female anoles.
But with practice, you’ll be one of those pros that can spot boy or girl from across the room.
Remember, just because you see ONE distinguishing feature doesn’t always confirm the sex of your lizard. Look for multiple features like size, dewlap, back stripe, etc.
Also, sexing them when they’re at least 1 year old provides to be a lot easier and accurate over the juvenile lizards. You can also look for the postanal ridges, pregnancy, or egg deposition to fully confirm if it’s male vs. female.
Do you have any questions or need help determining the sex of your green anole? Post a comment and let us know!