Species group: Anoles
Other common names: Carolina Anole; American Anole; Red-Throated Anole; American Chameleon
Scientific name: Anolis carolinensis
Small, active, and willing to breed in captivity, the Green Anole can make a wonderful pet, but its needs are not as simple as novice keepers are sometimes led to believe. Unfortunately, untold millions perished through lack of proper care in decades past. Today their husbandry is well-understood, and a pair or group in a well-planted terrarium makes about as interesting a display a reptile enthusiast can hope for.
Green anoles are found from southern North Carolina, eastern Texas and southeastern Oklahoma to the Florida Keys, and in the Bahamas, Grand Cayman Islands, Anguilla, and Cuba. There are isolated populations in Mexico, and they have been introduced to Belize, southern Japan and Hawaii. In Florida, the range is decreasing due to competition from and predation by 8 introduced Anole species.
Highly arboreal, Green Anoles may be found in open woodlands, pine-palmetto scrub, cypress swamps, brushy fields, farms and orchards, parks, backyards and suburban gardens.
Appearance / health:
Slender in build and with a long tail, the Green Anole reaches 6 -7 1/2 inches in length. Cool or stressed anoles are brown in color, warm, resting individuals are pale green, and warm, active animals are bright green. Anoles involved in aggressive displays develop a black patch behind the eyes. Males are larger than females and have a wider, more colorful dewlap (throat fan). The dewlap of the male is pink to red in color, and is vestigial or absent in females. Anoles clad in various shades of blue are sometimes available in the pet trade.
Longevity averages 5-7 years, but may approach a decade. Respiratory diseases can take hold if your pet is kept at sub-optimal temperatures, and intestinal blockages caused by ingested substrate or diets high in mealworms and adult crickets, are sometimes a concern. Metabolic bone disease is common in animals that are not provided with ample calcium and/or UVB exposure.
Green Anoles are high strung, ever alert to danger, and rarely take well to handling. They are best considered as pets to observe – and they will give you much to watch!
Despite their small size, these active lizards are stressed by tight quarters. A pair or trio should be provided with a 20 gallon “high style” aquarium socked with branches, plants and vines. Anoles will not thrive in a bare terrarium. Live plants provide sight-barriers that will ease aggression, and their leaf clusters make naturalistic retreats. Basking sites should be plentiful, as dominant individuals will exclude others from these areas. The substrate should be capable of holding moisture; a mix of cypress mulch and sphagnum moss works well.
Green Anoles need ample UVB exposure. Mercury vapor bulbs broadcast UVB over greater distances than do florescent models, and provide beneficial UVA radiation as well.
Green Anoles require a temperature gradient of 80-87 F and a basking temperature of 95 F. Large enclosures will allow your pet to thermo-regulate by moving from hot to cooler areas. This behavior is important to long-term health, and is usually not possible in small cages. Humidity should be kept at 65-75%, but there must be dry basking areas available as well. Other than in very large terrariums, males cannot be housed together. Females will establish a dominance hierarchy, so groups must be monitored carefully.
The natural diet includes caterpillars, tree crickets, grasshoppers, flies, beetles, moths, ants, roaches, spiders and a huge array other invertebrates. Anoles also occasionally lap over-ripe fruit, nectar and sap. Pets should be offered small-medium crickets, small roaches, sow bugs, lab-reared house flies, silk worms, calci-worms and other commercially-available species. Crickets alone, even if powdered with vitamin/mineral preparations, are not an adequate diet. Insects should themselves be provided with a nutritious diet for 1-3 days before being offered to your pets. Mealworms, implicated in intestinal blockages, should be avoided or used only when recently-molted (white in color). A mixture of papaya/apricot baby food, honey, liquid reptile vitamins and water should be offered weekly.
Green Anoles do best with small feedings on a daily or every-other-day basis. Most meals should be powdered with a calcium/VitaminD3 supplement; a vitamin/mineral powder should be used 2-3 times weekly.
Anoles generally refuse to drink water from bowls; their enclosure should be misted twice daily, whereupon upon they will lap up the droplets.
Green Anoles may breed without temperature manipulation, but more consistent results will be had by subjecting them to 6-8 week period of cooler temperatures (62-65 F by night, 82 F by day) and a reduced day length of 8-10 hours in late winter. Once temperatures are returned to normal (increased humidity may also be useful), males will display by vigorous head bobs and dewlap extensions. Pairs must be watched carefully, as females are bitten behind the neck during copulation. The first clutch (3-4 clutches of 1-2 eggs may be produced each year) is typically deposited 2-4 weeks after mating. The eggs are deposited on or just below the substrate, or within leaf whorls of live plants.
The eggs can be incubated in a mix of 1 part vermiculite to 1 part water (by weight) at 82-87 F for 30-50 days. The hatchlings need a varied diet of tiny invertebrates if they are to thrive. Useful foods include “meadow plankton” (tiny insects gathered by sweeping a net through tall grass), springtails, fruit flies, flour beetle larvae and newly-hatched crickets and roaches.
Written by Frank Indiviglio
low maintenence pets, inexpensive, bright green color, healthy, bright grass green
live crickets, handling, wild caught specimens, initial setup cost, EXTREMELY skittish lizard
quality calcium supplement, male displays, good light source, large neck flap, moist environment
Easy going guy
My Anole was a great addition to our home. He was interesting but easy to care for and low maintenance. That doesn't mean you can forget about them but they require less care than some reptiles. He was nice and small so you don't need a huge terrarium, and are good to handle. No worries about getting bit. These guys are great. .
From PetIQ Feb 23 2018 5:23AM
You need to know your stuff
I enjoyed keeping a reptile, but unfortunately she would often escape because I did not keep the proper living quarters for her. She was hard to catch because she was so thin bodied. I don't recommend purchasing from a pet store - get from an exotic expo or a place that can educate you on lizard care. I would also recommend doing your own research before getting any kind of reptile because their environment (temperature, humidity) has to be just right depending on what kind of lizard you get. Also, if I had to do again, I would get a lizard that is easier to physically handle like a gecko..
From mallerina87 Jul 13 2017 4:47PM
Do not overfeed!
My first experience with an anole was a bit frightening, which may seem odd given the small, unassuming nature of them. Gex was pretty laid back and adaptable, though a bit skittish, and didn't seem to mind being handled much by friends and family. I was often paranoid about it because I didn't want anything to happen to him and wasn't sure how often he should be handled. It turns out that not doing much research on an animal can be very dangerous indeed.
I often enjoyed watching him hunt down crickets and devour them. One day my brother came back from the store with a bag full of crickets and had purchased more than we typically had given him. Not knowing any better, they were released into his habitat. After some time I began to notice what seemed like little sores on his body, or odd coloration. I though that maybe he was shedding skin or something else I didn't know about, as I was very uninformed at the time and young. After several days the areas became more pronounced and I was very worried about him but my parents didn't think veterinarians in our area dealt with reptiles such as he. One day I checked on him and was horrified to find him covered with crickets. It turned out that by overfeeding him, he had been becoming the prey to the crickets rather than how it should have been. They were swarming and apparently eating him, though I had no idea this could happen. I was shocked and terrified at the tiny insects devouring my favorite pet at the time. As a result, he ended up dying.
I later got a different anole and learned from this mistake, only feeding it a small amount at a time and supervising often to make sure he was not harmed by his food source.
Anoles are a great starter lizard, but be wary of feeding time so this doesn't happen to you. Otherwise they are very agreeable, though at times can be a bit uninteresting compared to other sorts, but simple to care for predominantly..
From lucasesch Jul 17 2015 1:29PM