I photographed about 100 or so Curly Tails during my 3 day visit.

Within 5 minutes of getting out of my car, I hit paydirt unexpectedly when I looked down and there was a large one! How lucky was that? I didn't even have my camera on me at the time, just my iPhone. But within 10 minutes I'd spotted several more lizards and I realized that I wasn't so lucky - it's just that there were an assload of Curly Tail Lizards living in the area.

After a few hours of photographing, it went from exitement to "oh, another one".... I was even passing up lizards that weren't in the best light or were in similar places to ones I'd already photographed.

On Day 2, I ran into another critter:
Cuban Knight Anole - Much larger and slower than the Northern Curly Tail, Knight Anoles are mostly tree dwellers that blend in exceptionally well. This could be why I spotted only about 10 of them. Knight Anoles don't have to be fast, really, because they just bite the hell out of you if you grab one... ask me how I know. Actually I was smart enough to let go of the critter when I saw it's wide open mouth going straight for my hand. It was like a slow motion thing where I saw a gaping mouth, white teeth and my hand...EMERGENCY RELEASE!

People sometimes confuse Knight Anoles with Green Iguanas so when they say they saw an "Iguana" well, maybe it was and maybe it wasn't. Truth be told, I only saw a single Green Iguana and that was on a palm tree in Deerfield Beach. I was driving at the time and couldn't stop to take a picture.

Photographing Invasive Lizards

It's difficult to photograph wildlife because there's little you can control. You have to go with available light and wherever the animal is when you spot it. If you're lucky and don't spook the critter, you may be able to get a decent shot. Zoom lenses are essential, obviously.

My tactic was to first practice a lot. I used the 'common to my hometown of Tampa area' Brown Anole as subjects (I normally take lots of local reptile pix so this wasn't a stretch to take more). These lizards are also an introduced species and have made their way into just about every part of Florida. I've even seen Brown Anoles up into central Georgia. Brown Anoles are small compared to Curly Tails and Knight Anoles which made it easier to photograph the latter when the opportunity presented itself.

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Northern Curly Tail Lizards and Cuban Knight Anoles in Florida

Images and information on these introduced reptile species living and breeding in Florida
(all photographs on this page are copyright 2013 by Michael Oster, all rights reserved)
If you wish to use any of these photos please contact me: mike@f7sound.com

I posted more (and higher resolution versions) photos on my Flickr set.
I shot handheld the entire time. It was faster than setting up a tripod or monopod. This meant that I had to depend on my camera's image stabilization (which did a good job).

Also I shot sequentially, (or burst mode). Think of it as "full-auto" versus "semi-auto". This is a feature where the camera keeps shooting images as long as the shutter button is pressed (or until the buffer is full and it has to write to the card). This is 'obvious stuff' to experienced photographers I know, but there may be less experienced people who want to know how I got these shots.

I used the Olympus E-PL5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera Body (Black) with the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 R Lens (Black) and a Sandisk Extreme Pro 16GB SD card. (
Clicking on the preceeding links will go to sales pages and will help to fund this site but also you can get information and reviews on the products that I used)
Expanding Species

You may be wondering (just like I am)... since these invasive species are doing so well in Southeast Florida could their populations expand into West Central Florida too?

Well, my quick and uneducated guess would be "yes", especially the Curly Tail Lizards. Afterall, the Brown Anole is native to Cuba and the Bahamas and it's done an outstanding job of living in Florida. The occasional winter freezes haven't kept them from expanding throughout the state. So why not the Northern Curly Tail?

Now the Knight Anole is another story. I believe those lizards don't tolerate the cold too well, so I don't think they could survive up into Central Florida - but only time will tell.

So what? Right. I mean, Curly Tail Lizards don't really pose a threat to humans so what's the big deal? Well it would be interesting to see what kind of pressure they'd put on the non-native Brown Anole. I saw more Curly Tail Lizards in Boca than I did the Brown Anole and it wasn't even a close call. Both species however do pose a threat to our Florida native lizard species the Carolina Anole and Eastern Fence Lizard. A quick visit to this page will provide a ton more information on all kinds of invasive reptiles to the State of Florida.

For even more pictures of Invasive Lizards of South Florida and in much higher quality, visit my Flickr Set.

Invasive Lizards in Florida
Northern Curly Tail Lizard - (June 2013) I saw more of these critters running around Boca Raton and Deerfield Beach, Florida than I did the Brown Anole. Curly tail lizards are larger and fatter than brown anoles with the adults sized at about a foot long.

They were very "urbanized" for lack of a better term. By that I mean that they were living very well among us humans. They were all over parking lots, sidewalks, streets, grass, and nearby trees. Really just about everywhere.

Most of these lizards would let me approach pretty close. Some even let me get within "grabbing distance". But, they always seemed to have a quick escape plan ready. Which brings me to....

These are very smart lizards. How do I judge the intelligence of a lizard? Well in this case it was based on how the lizard escaped capture. And I compared that to the Brown Anole and Eastern Fence Lizard (both of which I have plenty of experience catching).
Fencies and Brown Anoles sort of "forget you" once you're out of their line of sight. This makes them easy to grab. But Curly Tails are different. They seemed to almost sense when I was just photographing versus when I was about to grab one. And they reacted accordingly. In my 3 days in the area and with hundreds of lizard sightings, I figured that the odds were in my favor for a capture and super close up photo-op. But it was not to be. Even when these lizards were in spots that would have been an easy catch of an Anole of Fencie - forget it, these Curly Tails were gone! I didn't capture a single one. But I got some nice photographs to document the Northern Curly Tail Lizards of Boca and Deerfield Beach.
Northern Curly Tail Lizard in Boca Raton Florida
Above: This Curly Tail Lizard is ready to quickly duck into a close-by hiding place.
Pythons, Boa Constrictors, Iguanas and Monitor Lizards may get all the press but there are other species of non-native reptiles that also call Florida their home.
Cuban Knight Anole at the Boca Resort in Boca Raton, Florida
Northern Curly Tail Lizard in Boca Raton, Florida
Knight Anole at Boca Raton Resort in Boca Raton, Florida
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Michael Oster
I became interested in the expansion of invasive reptile species in Florida beginning in 2006 when I saw a story on the iguana invasion of Gasparilla Island, Florida.

Invasive Lizards in Florida