The knight anole Anolis equestris, also called the Cuban knight anole, is a type of anole lizard native to Cuba but naturalized in Jamaica, the Caribbean islands and Florida. These lizards are often sold in pet stores. Although they are slow-moving, they will aggressively defend their territory against perceived intruders.
Out of all the different species of anoles, the knight anole is the largest. It averages 13-20 inches long (33-51 cm) when fully grown. It usually is vivid green in color, with yellow markings below the eyes and along the shoulders. Knight anoles change colors from green to light brown or nearly black in cold weather or when disturbed.
Both male and female knight anoles have large heads; small, sharp teeth; and long tails. The males can be identified by their large pink dewlaps. Male knight anoles usually are larger than females, and some dominant males have black spots on their heads. Both males and females are generally calm and slow-moving.
The males use their dewlaps to attract mates. The male nods his head up and down to display his throat fan to a prospective partner, and he initiates mating by seizing her by the neck and forcing his tail below hers. These lizards usually breed between March and October.
The female knight anole produces small, leathery eggs approximately every two weeks during the breeding season. The baby lizards emerge five to seven weeks later. Young knight anoles usually are brilliant green with white markings.
Adults and juvenile knight anoles are diurnal, meaning that they stay awake during the daytime and sleep at night. They feed on tree frogs, smaller anole species, baby birds and a variety of insects. Pet knight anoles enjoy a diet of mice, lizards and crickets.
In the wild, these lizards usually make their homes in trees. They thrive in high humidity and consistently warm weather. Wild knight anoles can live as long as 16 years. Male knight anoles will aggressively defend their territory, and they often fight with other males of the species.
Cuban knight anoles should be housed separately from one another in captivity. They need an earthy substrate such as sand or potting soil, as well as branches for climbing and hiding. These lizards can drink from a water bowl. They require full-spectrum lighting.
As pets, they do not especially enjoy being held. They defend themselves by biting, but they rarely cause serious damage because their teeth are relatively small. A knight anole might also defecate in a human's hand if it is startled or disturbed.