Erica Mede, CVT
Also known at the
anole, the American anole, the Red Throated anole, and the
American Chameleon, this lizard has become popular pet in the
. Native to the south
east United States , this diurnal lizard is commonly found
scurrying across the ground and climbing garden walls, plants, and
lattice work (no higher than 15 inches high typically).
Most of the anoles found in the pet trade are still wild
caught but captive breeding has been done successfully.
Although Green anoles are not chameleons, they are
frequently called chameleons due to their ability to change from
green to brown rapidly especially under stress.
These 8 inch lizards are more of a visual pet rather than a
handle-able one. Their
small stature, visually appealing green coloration, and relatively
short life span of 2-4 years makes anoles an ideal pet for many
apartment residents. Male
anoles are generally a bit larger and display their characteristic
ruby red dewlap (a flap of skin that extends primarily during
mating season under the throat).
This species is capable of autonomy (“tail dropping”)
when frightened to distract potential predators.
Green anoles are easily maintained in 10-gallon glass
aquariums or other enclosures of a similar size.
Screen tops are a must for this species to ensure adequate
anoles can be kept in a 10-gallon enclosure so long as both anoles
are female or one is male. Two
males will fight and stress each other out. A
20-gallon tank can comfortably house 3-4 anoles.
Full screen enclosures created for chameleons
is an excellent option for this species.
The larger the enclosure the better with a
2’x2’x2’ screen enclosure being ideal for companion Green
anoles. Other options
for enclosures include sweater box style containers that can be
modified for ventilation, heating, and lighting.
These reptiles are not truly arboreal.
Anoles are predominantly terrestrial with an excellent
climbing ability which should be taken into consideration during
A naturalistic terrarium can be created for the Green anole
using live potted plants such as Sansevierias, orchids, and
bromeliads which stay relatively small.
Fake plants can be used safely and give the same effect as
natural plants but do not create humid environment.
Potted plants should always be herbicide and insecticide
free in case of accidental ingestion of the plant or soil by the
reptile. Plants are
not only aesthetically pleasing to owners but offers enrichment
and security for the anoles in the enclosure.
It is ideal to supply as much shrubbery and foliage as
Hides in the forms of rocks caves (not heat caves), small
cork logs, and other creative locations should be placed in at
least two locations in the enclosure.
Preferably, one hide area should be provided on the warm
end and one on the cooler end to promote thermoregulation with
minimal stress on the animal.
Branches, bark, and some small rocks can be should be added
to the enclosure for climbing and basking purposes.
Anoles are naturally found running along stone fences and
climbing small wooden branches of bushes in the garden.
Green anoles enjoy basking in the sun making it a necessity
for there to be a branch closer to the basking light for normal
A water dish is invaluable to increasing the
humidity in the Green anoles enclosure.
Ideally, the water dish should be shallow enough for the
lizard to walk in without submerging itself but deep enough that
the water comes up to their shoulders for soaking.
It is recommended to remove the water dish if live crickets
are being fed as they tend to gravitate towards the water and
drown. Most anoles
will not eat deceased prey.
Day time temperatures are typically maintained at 77-86
degree Fahrenheit with a basking spot of 90-95 degrees.
The basking spot should be situated ideally with a rock
over the under tank heater or heat cable and directly underneath
the basking light. A
branch high enough to rest under the basking spot is appropriate
too as long as the reptile has no contact with the lamp itself.
Care must be taken to prevent burns from basking lights by
elevating the lamp itself off the cage screen.
If necessary, a fine wire mesh cage can be created around
the lamp area to prevent accidental burns.
When using under tank heaters or heat cable to increase the
ambient temperature of the enclosure care must be that the animal
never contacts the heating element itself or the
glass/wire/plastic directly over it.
controlled device should always be used. A layer of
substrate must be provided over the enclosure floor to prevent
At night, the temperatures can drop as low as 70 degrees
Fahrenheit but are best maintained between 70 and 75 degrees.
If the ambient temperature in the room the reptile is in
drops below 70 degrees it is recommended to utilize the under tank
heaters, heat cable, or a ceramic heat emitter (does not give off
Two thermometers should be utilized to ensure that the
proper temperatures are being maintained.
The cool end of the enclosure should have the thermometer
an inch above the substrate. The
thermometer on the warmer end of the enclosure should be at the
level of the basking site.
The humidity in the Green anole enclosure should be kept at
60-70%. A water dish
is an excellent way to keep the humidity up especially when it is
placed over an under tank heater.
Misting 2-3 times a day can keep the humidity up as well
but saran wrap may be needed on a quarter to half the screen lid
(if used) to maintain the humidity.
Like wise, a full screen enclosure may require saran wrap
on one or two sides to prevent excessive drying of the enclosure.
A drip system or misting system is excellent for
maintaining humidity and allow the anole to drink droplets.
Some may learn to use a water dish but offering water
droplets on leaves is a great choice.
All reptiles benefit from some level of UVB lighting.
The best is natural sunlight but most captive reptiles rely
on specialized UVB emitting bulbs.
Green anoles benefit from a 5.0 UVB bulb that can be found
at most local pet stores selling reptile supplies.
The UVB light should be on 12 hours a day during the day
light portion of the light cycle.
Green anoles are primarily terrestrial but they do not
burrow or dig. An
excellent substrate to use for an anole enclosure would be
indoor/outdoor or reptile carpet which is more aesthetically
pleasing than newspaper and easier to clean than paper towel.
All are excellent choices are although for a hygienic cage
set-up. Plants can be
potted in top soil only to avoid accidental ingestion of toxic
The Green anole is a true insectivore enjoying small
roaches (such as Dubias), small silk worms, small meal worms,
small crickets, and small red worms (“red wrigglers”).
A rule of thumb for feeding anoles is the food item offered
should always be live and only half the size of the anoles head.
Hatchling and young anoles should be offered 2-3 food items
once a day and adults should be offered 2-3 food items every other
insects should be appropriately gut loaded by offering them dark
leafy greens such as kale or endive and carrots (for added vitamin
A) 24-48 hours before feeding to the anole.
This method of gut loading helps keep the prey items alive
longer. Always remove
uneaten food after an hour. A powdered vitamin supplement
containing calcium should be used to powder the insects 3 times
weekly. A multivitamin powder should be used once weekly in
the same fashion.
Feel free to call us if you have any questions.
Sources and Suggested
The Guide to Owning a Green Anole,
(Barron's Complete Pet Owner's Manual,
Lizard Care from A to Z,
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