Saban Anole

Aniolis sabanus on Saba. Photo credit Christian König: SHAPE/DCNASaba is home to a very special species of lizard, the Saban Anole (Anolis sabanus). This very small anole is the island’s only true endemic species, meaning that it is found nowhere else in the world but Saba. The Saban Anole may be considered rare because of its very limited geographical distribution, but within Saba it is very common and is found in all terrestrial habitats and at all altitudes. In towns, it usually rests on warm rocks and on walls of houses, while in forest areas it is typically found perched on trees and leaves. The Saban Anole eats mostly small insects. It is easy to distinguish between male and female. Both have a pale grey to tan coloring, but the male has an unmistakable pattern of dark spots on its body and head.

The female lacks these spots and therefore looks much more drab. The male is also slightly larger than the female. A study by Staats and Schall (1996) found that males measure from 29 to 72 mm (~1.14 to 2.83″) (snout-to-vent length), while females measure from 23 to 25 mm (~0.91 to 0.98″). Biologists who have studied anoles in the Caribbean believe that the ancestor of the Saban Anole came from the St. Croix island region in the Virgin Islands. However, the Saban Anole is quite distinct from all other anoles; this suggests that it is a very, very old species and arrived on Saba before the present-day anoles of St. Eustatius, St. Maarten and St. Kitts travelled to those islands.

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