Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis) Information and Care

General information

Green anoles are the most commonly seen anole lizards in captivity. They are regularly exported from Florida and neighboring states. They’re cheap to buy, but contrary to popular belief, they’re not really ideal for a beginner. Green anole lizards are temperamental with their surroundings and require the correct temperature, humidity, and environment to stay healthy. They are a short-lived lizard, averaging around 4 years of age in captivity, however they have been known to live up to 10 years. Adult males are larger than females, reaching about 20 cm, females only 15 cm. Many people call them ‘chameleon lizards’, due to their ability to change color. However, unlike chameleons, they can’t actually change their color to match their surroundings. However, they will turn a darker green/brown when stressed or basking in the sun. The darker color will raise your body temperature faster when sunbathing; once they reach their optimum temperature they will start to turn green again. Most anole lizards are communal species that live in highly populated areas of perhaps hundreds of individuals. The males are very aggressive towards each other when they are confined in a small terrarium with several females. However, the ideal is a larger terrarium with a ratio of 1 male to 5 females.


It has been published and said 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-lived, unhappy, and unhealthy pet lizard. Although this is a small species of lizard, they are incredibly active and curious creatures. They need to regulate their temperature and have access to UVA and UVB rays normally missed by the sun. Humidity is another important factor, this will aid in the shedding of their skin and generally help the health of the gecko.

It is recommended that a male be kept with a minimum of three females. Alternatively, if he only wants two or three animals, buy females. Green anoles are a communal species and must be kept in groups. Keeping a single specimen will deprive it of much-needed stimulation offered by surrounding lizards. An ideal group consists of one male to five females. This size group should be housed in a terrarium 90cm long x 90cm high x 45cm wide. The larger the terrarium, the more you will enrich the lives of your lizards. A larger group of two males to 10 females should be kept in a 120 cm long x 90 cm high x 45 cm wide terrarium.

Many keepers choose to house their green anoles with other species, such as brown anoles (Anolis sagrei) and numerous species of day geckos (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 brown anoles will dominate the higher grounds of the terrarium, have first place under the basking site, and may even push green anoles aside when feeding. Day geckos can be quite aggressive and may bite green anoles. Several geckos are also nocturnal, meaning that at night these geckos can literally walk on sleeping green anoles. This will add a lot of stress to the green anole and should be avoided at all costs. However, there is one animal that I think will add use to a green anole tank; which is an American green tree frog (Hyla cinerea). These are nocturnal frogs that will help remove any insects not eaten during the night, they cohabit with green anoles in the wild and require the same fluctuations in temperature and humidity.

Green anoles, when kept in an optimal environment, will reproduce readily; and therefore will need a deep substrate that is easy to dig. Potting soil is ideal and is completely natural. With this substrate, it is also possible to place live plants directly on the substrate instead of placing them in pots inside the terrarium. It is important to balance the planting and decoration with the space. Green anoles often like to venture out into open space along sticks and branches and on open leaves to bask in the sun and take a good look at their surroundings. However, being able to hide in a bush for cover is also a must. If you use live plants, make sure you don’t use anything that is toxic to eat or releases toxic gases.

Heating and Lighting

As already mentioned; green anoles are a diurnal species and will bask in the sun. Therefore, they need a place to bask in order to reach their optimal temperature and a light that emits UVA and UVB rays. Ideally, 2 or 3 basking sites should be established in your enclosure. These should simply be 60 watt bulbs placed approximately 8″ away from where the lizard will bask. By placing more than one basking spot in the enclosure, you will allow the lizards to choose their favorite spot and allow multiple lizards to Sunbathe in the same place, same time, as you would in the wild.

It is possible to replace spotlight bulbs with UV spotlight bulbs. However, providing several of these is a very high ongoing cost that is not necessary. Instead, place a UV light strip on top of the enclosure. It should be as long as your cabinet will allow, with a reflector behind it so UV rays don’t go in the wrong direction. UV bulbs need to be replaced every 6 to 8 months, regardless of whether or not they are still emitting light.

Do not use heat mats or hot rocks with green anoles. They are completely unnatural and serve no purpose. If additional heat is needed during the evening hours, an infrared bulb will work just fine.

humidity and water

Coming from Florida and neighboring states, a high humidity range is a must. An ideal range is 60-70%, although fluctuations in both directions will rarely harm the gecko. This can be achieved in several ways.

First of all, a large bowl of water placed as close to a heat source as possible will help with overall humidity. A better step is to then add air bubbles, commonly used in fish tanks. The bubble effect will continuously circulate the water and burst small water vapors into the air. Similarly, a small waterfall will give the same effect.

Offering plants like bromeliads is another way to increase humidity. These plants retain water within pockets at the base of the leaves, allowing a greater surface area of ​​water to evaporate. They are also a great addition to a display terrarium.

Spraying the terrarium with cold water once a day, preferably mid-morning, will certainly help maintain humidity while allowing the anole lizards to drink any water droplets that collect on leaves or other surfaces. If you have a larger budget, a timed misting system will be perfect for when you are not around and would like to mist the terrarium at regular intervals. These are becoming quite inexpensive and are a perfect addition to a wonderful anole display tank. One tip though; Direct the spray nozzles away from the front of the terrarium as the spray will obstruct the view of the terrarium and the glass will need to be cleaned more often.

food and nutrition

Green anoles are predominantly insectivorous (insect eating). However, I say mainly because they are also known to eat pollen, nectar, and other tasty liquid-type fruits. They may not eat a banana, for example, but they can lick up the juices. Try offering your anole some of these tasty fruit options, if they eat them, great.

Offering a variety of insects will stimulate the anoles’ natural feeding responses and help your animal’s overall health. Just as humans need a balanced and varied diet, anole lizards need it too. Don’t just offer the same crickets every time. Although there is not the best selection of food available in the UK, there is still enough to meet the needs of your anole. Offer a mix between crickets, small locusts, mealworms, waxworms, small earthworms, small cockroaches, flies and even moths, butterflies and spiders that you find in your own home. Giving variety will not only provide a more balanced and nutritious diet, it will also cause the anole to adapt its hunting methods for each food. An anole lizard won’t have to chase a waxworm, but will run like crazy to chase a long-legged fly or spider. This will give your anole a chance to exercise and help its overall health and longevity.

It is important to supplement the diet with calcium and mineral powders. This should not be done every feed, but at least once every two or three feeds. An ideal dusting powder is Repton, a powder specially formulated for insectivorous lizards. As long as this is combined with the right foods and UV rays, your anoles should be perfectly healthy.

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