10 Reasons Why Exotic Animals Should Not Be Pets Green Anole Information & Care (Anolis carolinensis)

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Green Anole Information & Care (Anolis carolinensis)

General information

Green anoles are the most commonly seen of anole lizards in captivity. They are often exported from Florida and surrounding areas. They are cheap to buy, but contrary to popular belief they are not ideal for a beginner. Green anole lizards are temperate to their environment, and need the right temperature, humidity and environment to stay healthy. They are a short lizard, average around 4 years of age in captivity, however have been known to live for 10 years. Adult males are larger than females, close to 20cm, females only 15cm. Many people are called ‘Chameleon Lizards’, because of their ability to change color. However, unlike chameleons they cannot change their color to match their environment. They will however, turn a dark green/brown when either stressed or basking. Black skin will increase their body temperature faster when basking; once they reach the optimal temperature they will start to turn green again. Most anole lizards are territorial species, living in large colonies of perhaps hundreds of individuals. Males are very angry with each other when they are in a small terrarium with a number of females. However, a large terrarium with a ratio of 1 male to 5 females is ideal.


It has been published and stated many times that green anoles can live in a small terrarium with minimal requirements. I must emphasize that this is far from the truth, and will lead to a short life, unhappy and unhealthy pet lizard. Although this is a small species of lizard, they are incredibly active and curious creatures. They need to adjust their temperature and have access to the UVA and UVB rays that the sun is constantly removing. Humidity is another important factor, this will help in shedding their skin and generally help in the health of the lizard.

It is recommended to keep one male to at least three females. Alternatively, if you only want two or three animals, then just buy females. Green anoles are a local species and should be kept in groups. Keeping a single shape will deprive it of the much-needed boost that local lizards have to offer. A perfect team has one male to five females. This size group should be placed in a terrarium L90cm x H90cm x W45cm. The bigger the terrarium, the more you will increase the life of your lizards. A larger group of two males to 10 females should be kept in a terrarium L120cm x H90cm x W45cm.

Many keepers choose to house their green anoles with other species, such as brown anoles (Anolis sagrei) and many day gecko species (Phelsuma sp.). This is not recommended for several reasons. Brown anoles for example are more robust than green anoles and will dominate the terrarium. It may not be so obvious, but the brown anoles will dominate the higher parts of the terrarium, primarily under the basking area and may even push the green anoles aside when feeding. The day geckos can be rather aggressive and can attract the green anoles. A number of geckos are also nocturnal, meaning that during the night these geckos can literally walk all over the sleeping green anoles. This will add a lot of stress to the green anole and should be avoided at all costs. There is one animal however which I feel would add utility to a green anole tank; which is an American Green Tree Frog (Hyla cinerea). These are nocturnal frogs which will help get rid of any insects that don’t eat during the night, they coexist with green anoles in the wild and need the same temperature and humidity changes.

Green anoles, when kept in the best environment will grow readily; and therefore will need a deep substrate which is easy to dig in the potting soil is ideal and is completely natural. With this substrate, it is also possible to live plants directly in the substrate rather than placing them in pots within the terrarium. It is important to balance your planting and decoration with space. Green anoles will always like to go out into the open next to trees and branches and onto open leaves to bask and get a good look at their surroundings. However, being able to crawl into a forest to get cover is still useful. Make sure if you use live plants not to use anything that is either poisonous to eat, or emits poisonous fumes.

Heating & electricity

As we said before; green anoles are a diurnal species and will bask in the sun. So they need a warm place to reach an optimal temperature, and light that emits UVA and UVB rays. Ideally, 2 or 3 points should be arranged inside your enclosure. These should simply be 60W spot bulbs placed approximately 8” from where the lizard/s will build. By placing more than one spot in the enclosure you will allow the lizards to choose their favorite spot, and allow multiple lizards to bask at home. These basking spots should reach a temperature of 86-94ËF, allowing has a more general temperature of 80-84ËF and lower down in the enclosed, cooler zone of approximately 74-78ËF.

It is possible to replace the spot bulbs with UV spot bulbs. However, providing many of these is an ongoing cost that is not necessary. Instead, place a UV strip light across the top of the enclosure. This should be as long as your enclosure allows, with a reflector behind it so that UV rays are not aimed in the wrong direction. UV bulbs should be replaced every 6-8 months, regardless of whether or not they are still emitting light.

Do not use heat mats or heat shields with green anoles. They are completely un-natural and serve no purpose. If you need extra heat during the night hours, an infrared bulb will work perfectly.

Humidity & Water

Coming from Florida and surrounding states, high humidity is a must. The best range is 60-70%, although changes either way will rarely harm your lizard. This can be done in several ways.

First, a large bowl of water placed as close as possible to the heat source will help in overall humidity. A better step is to add air bubbles, often used in aquariums for fish. The effect of the bubble will constantly spread the water and pull the small particles into the air. Similarly, a small waterfall will give the same effect.

Feeding plants such as bromeliads is another way to increase humidity. These plants hold water between the pockets at the base of the leaves, allowing for more space for water to evaporate. They also make a great addition to a display terrarium.

Feeding the terrarium with cold water once a day, especially in the middle of the morning will certainly help the humidity, and at the same time allow the anole lizards to drink the drops of water that collect on any leaves or other surfaces. If you have a bigger budget, a seasonal misting system will be perfect for when you are not around and would like the terrarium to be sprayed at regular intervals. These are inexpensive and a perfect addition to a wonderful anole display tank. A word of advice though; direct the spray nozzles away from the front of the terrarium, as the spray will block your view into the terrarium and the glass will need to be cleaned regularly.

Food & Nutrition

Green anoles are mainly insects (eating insects). However, I say mainly because they are also known to eat pollen, nectar and other tasty fruits. They may not eat bananas for example, but they can lick the juices. Try giving your anole some of these delicious fruit options, if she eats them, great.

Offering a variety of insects will stimulate the natural feeding responses of anoles and aid in the overall health of your animal. Just as we humans need a balanced and varied diet, so do anole lizards. Don’t offer the same crickets every time. Although there is not the best selection of foods available within the UK, there is still enough to satisfy the needs of your anole. Provide a mix between crickets, small locusts, mealworms, wax worms, small insects, small cockroaches, flies and even moths, butterflies and spiders that you see in your own home. Not only will feeding in abundance provide a more balanced, nutritious diet, but it will also allow the anole to adjust its hunting methods for each food item. Anole lizard will not chase a waxworm, but will run like crazy to chase a fly or a spider. This will give your anole a chance to exercise and help in your overall health and longevity.

It is important to supplement food with calcium and mineral powder. This should not be done at every feeding, but at least once every two or three feedings. The best dusting powder is Repton, a powder specially formulated for insect lizards. As long as this is combined with the appropriate nutrients and UV rays your anole should be in perfect health.

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