Green Anole Care

Anolis carolinensis

Green anole

Image by 'e_monk' (flickr)


Green anole information

Green anoles are a relatively small lizard at 5-8inch, a good deal of which is made up of tail. They are  a very popular reptile pet choice for a number of reasons we will come to. They are native to the US, this lizard has a range over the Southeast from North Carolina, Florida and stretching to Texas.

These brightly coloured, active lizards can be kept communally and make great display reptiles. They have some colour changing ability, ranging from vivid greens to browns, with the male green anoles possessing a striking red to pink to white throat (dewlap) which they fan out during mating displays. Keeping this lizard communally provides opportunity to witness many interesting behaviours associated with popular lizard.

Green anole

Green anole by 'Vickis nature'(flickr)


Green anole housing

There are a number of housing options for green anoles, however for display purposes glass aquaria are best used. A 24x12x12inch vivarium is suitable for up to two specimens - a male and a female is ideal, it is recommended you do not keep males together, females can however be housed together. A 30x12x18inch tank would be suitable for up to 4 specimens (one male, three females). Please note as these are arboreal lizards so ideally you want to maximize the height within your vivarium. Ventilation is of great importance so a completely ventilated lid is a requirement (ie all mesh lids available from pet stores, or easy to build yourself).

As with housing there are a few substrate options, with hobbyists favouring coco fibre, dead leaves collected (and microwaved to kill off any parasites) and sphagnum or peat moss. Personally I’ve found a mix produces a nice looking finish. Bark chips are generally avoided just because there is a slight risk of them being swallowed by overzealous gecko whilst feeding.

As these lizards are arboreal then lots of things to climb on are essential. Logs, branches and even well secured rocks can offer retreat within a vivarium. Artificial plants can be used effectively to provide climbs and hides, as well as being aesthetically pleasing. I like to use real plants too as they are an ideal source of humidity within the vivarium, as well as providing retreats and looking attractive when well placed. Dragon plants, Ficus benjamina, and hibiscus are all good choices, to name a couple. When choosing plants obviously ensure they are none toxic.

Temperature and humidity

Green anoles are no different from other reptiles in that they need access to both warm and cool temperatures to thermoregulate. With this in mind you should provide a temperature gradient in the vivarium, ie a warm end and a cool end. An ambient temperature of 85f in the warm end is ideal, with a basking spot at 90f and a cool end of approximately 75f. There are a number of ways to achieve this, it is important to remember that all heat sources should be used in conjunction with a thermostat, and that you should have a thermometer in both the warm and the cool end of the vivarium (ie two thermometers are required).

Ceramic heaters (guarded) can be used to provide day time temperatures for your green anole, as can ordinary light bulbs (bear in mind that a dimming thermostat must be used on the latter, whereas a cheaper on/off thermostat will suffice for ceramics). The primary heat source should be turned off during the evening to allow night time temps to drop, however they should not fall below 65f. If you have opted for a heat source which doesn’t give off light (ie heat mats or ceramic bulbs) then you can simply use the thermostat to drop the temperature at night. If you have to turn the heat sources off during the evening, you may require secondary heat sources (ie heat mats) to ensure the temperatures do not drop below 65f.

My personal preference tends to lead toward having a visible light source in the day (ie a 40-60watt bulb) which is turned off overnight, with the secondary heating system (in  my case this is usually a heat mat or two depending upon enclosure size) then taking over. This is simply because a well lit vivarium is a more attractive one.

Green anoles require a source of UV light, so lighting tubes or bulbs which emit this must be provided. Over recent years there has been a range of basking bulbs which give off light released, whilst I have no personal experience with these they have proved to be quite popular so are certainly worth looking in to, as they offer both a basking spot and UV light, so potentially mean there is one less piece of equipment to buy. For optimal use the anole should be able to bask approximately 8-12inches from the source of the UV light, and the bulb should be in use for 12-14 hours daily.

Anoles require a humidity of approximately 60%, this is easily achieved by a light misting once a day, ensuring that moisture is able to clear relatively quickly (ie good ventilation is essential). Green anoles should also be provided with a water bowl, however they prefer to drink droplets from the surface of leaves and will use that as their primary source of drinking water.

Green anole handling

A well planted vivarium makes for a happy anole.

Image by 'Vickis nature'(flickr)

Feeding green anoles

Variety is the spice of live and essential for maintaining healthy green anoles. Crickets, locusts, waxmoths/worms and even wild moths caught in traps (providing they are parasite free) are all ideal sources of food. You can also supplement your green anoles diet occasionally with the odd house spider and anything else you find and can ensure is safe and pesticide free. If in doubt, don’t use it.

Food should be dusted regularly with calcium powder, and about once a week with a more all round nutrient powder (ie nutrobal or similar).


Breeding green anoles

Coming soon...


Handling green anoles

Generally speaking you should not handle your green anoles, for the most part they do not become accustomed to it in the same way that say, a leopard gecko does. For green anoles handling is a very stressful experience; these are definitely look but do not touch pets.


Green anole handling

Image by 'txbowen' (flickr)

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