Ever heard of a Nene goose or an anole and his dewlap? I hadn’t until I traveled to Hawaii.
I love learning new things and animals never cease to amaze me. Each continent has amazing animals that are unique to that part of the world.
We’ve all heard of kangaroos and koalas in Australia. We know that North America has moose and bears and Canada geese.
Strange geeseBut have you ever heard of Nene geese?
I hadn’t until I spotted this sign along the road on Moloka’i, a small, sparsely populated island. Turns out that the Nene goose is only found on the Hawaiian islands and is quite rare.
Stranger lizardsIf you have been to tropical places, you may have spotted iguanas, geckos or other types of intriguing lizards.
I’m sitting in a garden in Hawaii and notice a little lizard running along the wall. I marvel at how their toe pads are equipped with tiny little hooks that allow them to run straight up the wall.
This little guy is about 12 cm long. It darts along a stone wall on little legs with a long tail and a flicking tongue. Then he stops so I can get a good look at him. But, what I think is just another little gecko, turns out to be quite something else.
Researching this cool little guy teaches me that this is a lizard, but not a gecko at all. It’s a brown, male anole.
I had never heard of anoles. While geckos and anoles are both lizards, they have evolved in different ways. Anoles didn’t appear on the scene until roughly 150 million years after the gecko. Both have adhesive toe pads that allow them to run straight up walls.
Geckos can live in dry, rocky areas while anoles prefer living among more trees. While they can live near each other, they are competitive. Anoles are active during the day, while geckos are more nocturnal.
Strangest...But the coolest thing I notice about my little anole friend, is his dewlap.
A dewlap is a flap of skin underneath the lizard’s chin, which he can extend and retract. It’s not an air sac, just a flag he waves when staking out his territory or when trying to attract a female. He also waves it to warn off an intruding gecko.
Watch him raise his warning flag in the sequence of photos below:
©Photos copyright: Margriet Ruurs
You can learn more about Nene geese here: http://www.ducks.org/hunting/waterfowl-id/hawaiian-nene-goose
For more details on anoles, click here: http://www.anoleannals.org/2018/03/26/anoles-versus-geckos-the-ultimate-showdown/
Margriet Ruurs is the author of Amazing Animals (Tundra Books). You can find out more about her work at her website, www.margrietruurs.com