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The urban heat island effect, where urban areas exhibit higher temperatures than less‐developed suburban and natural habitats, occurs in cities across the globe and is well understood from a physical perspective and at broad spatial scales. However, very little is known about how thermal variation caused by urbanization influences the ability of organisms to live in cities. Ectotherms are sensitive to environmental changes that affect thermal conditions, and therefore, increased urban temperatures may pose significant challenges to thermoregulation and alter temperature‐dependent activity. To evaluate whether these changes to the thermal environment affect the persistence and dispersal of ectothermic species in urban areas, we studied two species of Anolis lizards (Anolis cristatellus and Anolis sagrei) introduced to Miami‐Dade County, FL, USA, where they occur in both urban and natural habitats. We calculated canopy openness and measured operative temperature (Te), which estimates the distribution of body temperatures in a non‐thermoregulating population, in four urban and four natural sites. We also captured lizards throughout the day and recorded their internal body temperature (Tb). We found that urban areas had more open canopies and higher Te compared to natural habitats. Laboratory trials showed that A. cristatellus preferred lower temperatures than A. sagrei. Urban sites currently occupied by each species appear to lower thermoregulatory costs for both species, but only A. sagreihad field Tb that were more often within their preferred temperature range in urban habitats compared to natural areas. Furthermore, based on available Te within each species' preferred temperature range, urban sites with only A. sagrei appear less suitable for A. cristatellus, whereas natural sites with only A. cristatellus are less suitable for A. sagrei. These results highlight how the thermal properties of urban areas contribute to patterns of persistence and dispersal, particularly relevant for studying species invasions worldwide.