Home | Lizards | The Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis carolinensis) in the Wild and Captivity – Care in Captivity Part 2

The Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis carolinensis) in the Wild and Captivity – Care in Captivity Part 2

Click: The Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis carolinensis) in the Wild and Captivity – Care in Captivity Part I, to read the first part of this article.

Light, Heat and Humidity
Green AnoleGreen anoles rarely live for long if maintained without full spectrum lighting. If a florescent bulb is used, be sure that all animals can bask within 12 inches of it (within 20 inches of the Zoo Med 10.0 UVB Bulb). These lizards are completely diurnal and most active in bright sun, and UVA and UVB are essential if they are to thrive and reproduce. Horizontal and diagonal branches are preferred over vertical perches as basking sites.

Zoo Med’s High Output 10.0 Florescent Bulb is a fine source of UVB light for green anoles. The Zoo Med Reptile Halogen Bulb is ideal for providing UVA, along with heat for the basking site. For larger cages, a Mercury Vapor Bulb will supply UVB over a greater distance than will a florescent bulb.

The ambient air temperature should be 84-87 F, with a basking spot of
92-95 F. Over-night temperatures can dip to the low-mid 70’s, assuming the animals are in good health (use a ceramic heater or Reptile Nightlight Bulb if supplementary nighttime heating is required).

Green anoles prefer moderate to high humidity levels, but need to bask and dry out as well. The terrarium should be misted twice daily, more often if needed to combat the drying influence of incandescent bulbs. A screen top should be used to ensure adequate air circulation.

Crickets and Commercially Available Insects
A “cricket only” diet, while convenient, should be avoided. I have found that a varied diet is vital for long-term maintenance of green anoles. When using crickets, be sure to select only half-grown or smaller animals for adult anoles, as they are prone to blockages when fed adult crickets. The crickets should themselves be well fed before being offered to your pets.

Small roaches, waxworms, butterworms and mealworm beetles should also be provided. Anoles are often reluctant to come to the ground to feed, so provide these insects in a cup suspended among the branches. Pinch off several legs of the roaches in order to keep them confined – being nocturnal, they will likely escape notice if released into the terrarium. Only small, newly molted (white in color) mealworms should be fed to green anoles, and these not more than once monthly.

Wild Caught Insects – the most important part of the diet
Wild caught insects (i.e. collected via Zoo Med’s Bug Napper) should be provided often. Anoles under my care have been particularly fond of moths, flies, tree crickets, hairless caterpillars, harvestmen (“daddy longlegs”) and small spiders. During the warmer months of the year, I collect nearly all of the invertebrates that I give to insectivorous reptiles, but even an occasional wild-caught insect will be of great value to your pet. The Bug Napper is indispensible in this regard. Small silkworms and house flies should be ordered from insect suppliers periodically.

Canned Insects
In order to increase dietary variety, anoles should be acclimated to tong feeding and offered canned grasshoppers, silkworms and other commercially-available insects.

Nectar and Water
Wild anoles of various species have been observed lapping at sap and nectar, although in my experience not all green anoles do so in captivity. The following mixture, suspended in cups set among the branches, should be offered weekly:
1/3 jar papaya, apricot or mixed fruit baby food
1 teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon liquid bird vitamins or powdered reptile vitamins
Water sufficient to achieve syrupy a consistency

Anoles will not drink water from bowls (some will if the water is kept in motion by an air stone); their enclosure should be misted twice daily.

Frequency of Feeding
Green anoles have fairly high metabolisms and do best on small frequent feedings – meals should be provided daily or every other day. This is especially important in group situations, where competition may limit feeding opportunities for some animals. The food of adults should be sprinkled with a reptile vitamin/mineral supplement twice weekly.

Green anoles are taken for granted – while not “easy”, they are manageable with a bit of effort, and may well turn out to be one of your most interesting lizard-keeping endeavors. I’ll continue with their captive care next time.


  1. avatar

    I am house sitting for a green anole and it has turned brown – green last night brown today with a white spot on it’s hind legs. In addition, there is no light above the cage and the owners turned their heat to 55 – I think it is dying?? Any thoughts, I hate to see the lizard suffer – I did turn the heat up to try to keep him warm. Thanks!

  2. avatar

    Hello Bree,

    Frank Indiviglio here. Very nice of you to take the time to inquire about the anole.

    Anoles do indeed turn brown when they are cool or stressed, and it was a good idea to turn up the heat. A temperature of 55 will cause it to become lethargic. Technically, a short period at that temperature would be fine, but only if food had been withheld prior to the temperature drop (undigested food in the gut at 55 will spoil and likely kill the lizard) and the animal is otherwise in very good health.

    If possible, place a 40-60 watt light incandescent bulb in a fixture on the terrarium’s screen to, over a branch or plant that the lizard can climb onto. This will allow him to warm up…it might then be OK to lower the house heat again. You can leave the bulb on all night – a short period without darkness will do no harm…he’ll sleep normally. Keep the bulb 6 inches or so any sort of flammable objects, i.e. a paper-backed terrarium background or plant.

    Mist the terrarium lightly once daily with water from a spray bottle, so the anole can drink. Feeding will depend upon over-all temperature and the amount of time involved – 5-7 days without food should be fine, but please write in with details if you need further information.

    From what you’ve written, I’m guessing that the anole’s owner is not well-versed in lizard care. Please inform her/him that a source of UVB light is essential…without such, the lizard may look fine for awhile but will languish and die rather quickly. Please also direct the owner to my article for advice on feeding and other husbandry aspects, and for links to lights, vitamins and other necessary items. The owner can also contact me through this blog.

    I hope this was of some help…please write back if you need any more information and, on behalf of myself and your now chilled charge, thanks!

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio

  3. avatar

    Thank you! I am going to let him know about your site. He is young and this is his first anole, but he has had a gecko for over a year and he is healthy and happy so he is learning. I thank you again for all your help and I will be in touch if anything happens. Take Care.

  4. avatar

    Hello Bree,

    Thanks for your note, and thank you for referring the anole owner to our blog.

    Please point out to him that the anole’s needs are very different from those most geckos, in terms of diet, UVB, humidity etc., lest he be mislead into caring for the anole in the manner that has worked well for his gecko. I’ll be happy to help if he writes in.

    Best Regards, Frank Indiviglio

  5. avatar

    How should I feed my lizard? I have small, live crickets that are dusted with calcium.

    • avatar

      Hello Steve, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog.

      The crickets can just be released into the terrarium…observe your lizard and try to feed only as many as it will eat right away. Crickets that wander about too long will lose most of their supplement coating, and large ones (which should not be used anyway) may attack anoles at night, if the temperatures drop and the lizard becomes inactive.

      Be sure also to follow the guidelines in the article concerning dietary variety; avoid using crickets only.

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  6. avatar

    Again hello frank-

    Thanks for the input.. I’m about to move about 4 hours away coming up pretty soon, and I was wondering the best way to transport my lizard.

    • avatar

      Hello Steve, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Best to put the lizard into a pillow case with some crumpled up newspapers to grip onto; place the pillowcase into a dark container, such as a box. This is preferable to a clear tank, as the lizard will try to escape if it gets stressed by the move. It will sleep in the dark, and will be unable to injure itself within the pillowcase. Make sure there are no loose threads in the lining of the pillowcase, so that the lizard will not tangle a leg.

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  7. avatar

    My lizard does not seem to be eating the live crickets I put into his tank. How can I fix this? Should I feed him only the other insects you suggested?

    • avatar

      Hello Bobby, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog.

      Variety is important, but anoles usually accept crickets right away. Often the root of the problem is in the animal’s environment. Please send in some information on the terrarium set up (size, plants, branches etc.), temperature, UVB light source and basking spot so that I can make a more accurate recommendation. Also, please bear in mind that anoles do not endure handling or disturbance well; the stress of such will put them off feed for sure.

      I look forward to hearing from you,

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  8. avatar

    We have two anoles. One we have had for 18 months the other for a year. The older one looks to have a sunken eyeball that I think went blind. I did not see an infection just the eye got smaller and she does not seem to use it. Now the other one is keeping his eyes shut but when he opened one it looked milky white. Can you give me some pointers on what may be going on. They do not seem to be eating well either. I have found several meal worm beetles in the cage and have removed the ones I could find. Thanks for your input.

    • avatar

      Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog and sorry to hear about your lizards’ condition.

      An eye infection may be involved, as both animals seem affected. Unfortunately, we still have a great deal to learn about this; an experienced reptile veterinarian may be able to prescribe a medication; please let me know if you need a reference and I’ll try to provide a name.

      Turtle Eye Drops may be of some use in reducing inflammation, or if a Vitamin A deficiency is involved, but will not cure an infection. Diet and environmental conditions may leave the lizards with a weak immune system, allowing bacterial infections to take hold. Please write back with some information concerning average and basking site temperature, diet, lighting (UVB?) when you have a moment, and I’ll send along some thoughts.

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  9. avatar

    We have a red basking bulb. We have a UVA/UVB bulb that we bought last year. They have a heating pad on one wall. We use coconut husk substrate in the bottom. The temperature is about 75. The lights come on in the morning at 6am and go off around 9:30 pm. The heating pad stays on all the time.

    • avatar

      Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for the feedback.

      If the UVB bulb is florescent, the lizards should be able to bask within 6-12 inches of it (to 20 inches in the case of a Zoo Med 10.0); Mercury vapor bulbs (incandescent) vary, but usually project UVB further than florescent bulbs. The basking bulb should be near the UVB, to attract the lizards…the temperature at the basing site should be 92 F or so. A dip in temperature to 75 is fine at
      Night, but your average daytime temperature is best kept at approximately 60-82 F.

      Heat pads do not usually heat the air very well, and so might not be useful in your terrarium (check the air temperature a few inches from the pad to determine its effectiveness.

      The diet should be varied and supplemented with vitamins/minerals, as mentioned in the article.

      While these changes will be good for your anoles in general, their eye problem should be checked by a veterinarian, in case an infection has taken hold.

      Please be back in touch if you need further information,

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  10. avatar

    Well they both are still alive after a very long week for both of us.

    I cleaned and disinfected the whole set up. Changed both of their bulbs and set up a basking area with a hammock close to the bulbs. I bought some tetracycline and applied neosporin to their crusty mouths. I think it was mouth rot. I also bought reptile relief and have been hand feeding the male. He has since opened his eyes but does not respond to any movement near him. The female seems to be blind in one eye. She shed yesterday and the male is beginning to shed today. The female has been drinking water and I think ate a cricket today. So hopefully the male will regain his sight or keep cooperating with the hand feeding of the reptile relief. Thanks for the help.

    • avatar

      Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for the feedback. I commend your efforts.

      I think you are doing all that is possible; I’d suggest being careful with force feeding – while nutrition is important, the male will not be using up many calories, and the process is stressful. Allow several; days between feedings, and try to note if he is defecating.

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  11. avatar

    I have a green anole and use a heating lamp during the day and type of night light at night its been working fine i got him a week ago. This morning I woke up and turned on his day lamp and he was a dark brown and his face has turned like a chalky white and has 2 deep cracks in it extending near his nose to his eyes is he drying out? and what can i do to help him? I don’t want him to die! please help!

    • avatar

      Hello Karissa, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog.

      The white area is likely just old skin that is being shed; anoles eat most of the skin they shed so you may not have seen the rest. They do need a bit of humidity, but the cage should dry out each day as well. Spray the terrarium with warm water in the morning and evening, covering the glass and plants, you can spray the lizard as well. Use enough so that the water dries out within an hour or so.

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  12. avatar

    Yeah i do that with the spraying but i don’t spray him usually he seems to be fine now it was him just sheding i kind of over reacted i never had a lizard just a salamander for about 4 years i got my anole at a county fair but why is it that at night when i put his night light on hes green and in the morning a dark brown? Is there something stressing him out?

    • avatar

      Hello Karissa, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Glad to hear all is well.

      Brown doesn’t always indicate stress – when temperatures are cool, anoles darken to help absorb heat; when warm they become greener. Please send me some info on your day/nite temperatures. They will be stressed if kept in a bare terrarium – best to provide hanging plants as cover, as much room as possible, and lots of UVB light. Please write back with some details and I’ll send along some ideas.

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  13. avatar


    Please can someone give me some advice?

    I am in the process of setting up a large naturalistic display terrarium 110/50/90cm for a colony of green anole lizards.
    I have used x9 large xaxim tree fern fibre panels for the background, however I have realised I have mistakenly (stupidly) used a silicone sealant to attach it to the background containing an anti mould agent which I have read may be harmful, ingredients as follows-

    (UniBond anti mould shower & bathroom sealant)

    The sealant is placed underneath the background and is not in contact with any open areas where it could come into direct contact with the animals.

    Is this still going to put the inhabitants at risk?

    Do I need to rip out the entire background?

    Any advice most welcome

    King Regards

    • avatar

      Hi Lynne, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Toxicity, if a risk at all, usuallly occurs during curing, when fumes are released. Once the sealant hardens, all should be fine, I’ve used sealants with anti-mold action on monitor exhibits in zoos without incident.

      Sounds like a great project..I’ve always enjoyed keeping groups of anoles – please let me know if you need any info, and please post your observations as time goes on,

      Best Regards, Frank

  14. avatar

    Help! I have two green anoles, they were both doing fine up until a two days ago! The one is still fine but the other one lloks very skinny! his eyes are sunken in, and the rest of his body looks boney as well! “He” eats very well, i give them a dozen or so calcium dusted crickets twice a week, he eats very well! I spray them atleast twice a day, they have a light on 12 hours a day, i have the reptile turf as substrate! Hes lethargic, easy to catch’ eyes are closed most of the time. I separated him from the other anole, and put 3 crickets in the tank thinking he might be starving?? I watch him eat tons of crickets every week! He is the larger of the two, and they get along well! Please help!

    • avatar

      Hello Katy, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog and sorry for your troubles.

      There are several possibilities. Losing weight despite eating well is usually a sign of parasitic infection (in most animals, people also), and very common in captive lizards. You’ll need to bring the anole to a vet for a diagnosis and treatment – please let me know if you need help in locating one. For now, remove the crickets, as they commonly attack lethargic anoles and are able to do severe damage. Continue to mist with warm water and keep warm (leave light on at night if necessary).

      A vet visit should be you immediate step. Here are some other things to consider – please write back with details as to supplement, day/night temperatures, etc. (some anoles are more resilient that others, so the fact that 1 is healthy is not necessarily a sign that all is well)

      Without sufficient UVB, the anole cannot utilize the Calcium in it’s diet..type of bulb and distance from anole is critical, please write back with info.

      If the basking site is not warm enough, the anole cannot digest its food.

      Crickets alone, even if powdered with Calcium, are not an adequate diet; the size of the insects is important also – if too large, blockages can occur and digestion/excretion will cease.

      Good luck, please keep me posted, and let me know if you need help in finding a vet.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  15. avatar

    hi there, help! An anole got into our house here in Jackson MS about a month ago. The temps outside have gotten pretty cold here (20’s some nights, 50’s some days…but 65 some others, just MS…). I tried putting the lizard out when I first noticed (him/her) but he did not move on the ivy leaf for 10 minutes where I left him, so I brought him back into my art studio. We have not kept him in a cage or anything, he has seemed content to just come and go, and sleep in a paper towel in a tin I have some tubes of paint in. I have a spider plant in there with a tray for water, and I know some bugs are around and about; but I don’t know if the little guy is getting all he needs. The room does get heated, but remains coolish, but it’s still warmer than the outdoors. What do they do during the winters here, and should I put him outdoors (on a south wall for instance) on a sunny day, will he survive? PS. We have 3 cats which don’t bother with him (thank heavens) so we don’t wish to keep him as a long-term pet, we just want to keep him safe (if needed) until the cold temps outside pass and we can return him outside. We are just looking for a short-term solution for the little guy! thanks, sam

    • avatar

      Hello Sam, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog. Your ideas are right on target; keeping the Anole indoors would be difficult, unnatural temps, no UVB light, etc. Anoles in MS are well adapted to cool winters (those in S. Florida cannot take a MS winter) and become dormant when necessary, but will bask and even eat on warm days. They have a natural antifreeze that prevents cell damage (I’ve found gray treefrogs frozen solid in NY winters, seemingly dead but fine in spring).

      Putting it on a south facing wall on a warm morning would be ideal. They usually shelter below something (but above ground) when very cold; a friend in N. Fla finds them in a rolled-up porch umbrella during cold spells)…so it would be good if there were a tree with dense foliage or something similar nearby – can be just in general area, no need for it to be at hand.

      Well, I envy you your winters…frigid here in s. NY, should hit 5 F tonight.

      Good luck and thanks for your concern over the lizard… please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  16. avatar

    so…Last week I noticed a small lizard on a basket by my fireplace. In a home with three cats I was a little nervous for it. That was a week ago. Although it moves a little bit, it is still in the same basket and obviously not doing well. Yesterday, was the first time I saw green on it, but it is, for the lack of a better word, shriveling up. What would you suggest I do to help it? Reading your Blog, I know that light is important. This basket is about five feet from three large windows.

    • avatar

      Hello Terri, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog and your concern for the Anole.

      Please write back to let me know in what state you are located, just in case it’s an escaped pet and cannot be released.

      But if you are within the Anole’s native range (SE USA) it would be best to release the animal on a warm sunny morning when cold weather is not expected for a day or so following. They become dormant in cool weather and it should do just fine. Until then, and on the day of release, you should spray it with warm water 2x daily so that t does not dehydrate. It won’t eat now, and is not getting UVB through the window (glass filters it out), so best to release.

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

  17. avatar

    Thanks for the advice…I live in Houston, TX and they are everywhere around our house so it unlikely she is a pet. I did what you said and took her out to our fountain in the sun. She seems very happy now.

    Thank you, I could not stand to see her wither away.

  18. avatar

    My daughter found a green anole in the tree in my front yard yesterday and begged her dad to get it and put it in the dry tank (even though i advised against this) He got it and looked up how to set up a tank. It has soft soil for now live tree limbs, a hiding place arch thing and some grass. He put just a flouresent 75watt long bult over the tank. It is a glass tank with screened lid. We are not able to go buy heat bulbs right now with our busy schudule. he is in front of the window, with day temps at 79-82 deg. and night temps about 60-65degr. I will be going some time soom to get more stuff for him. But right now he is very brown and will not eat the crickets i bought yesterday on my way home from work. WHat can we do? My little girl wants this lizard so badly she is ten and she knows she can hold it she doesnt want to she just looks at him.

    • avatar

      Hello Chelsea, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog. This is a difficult time of the year to collect anoles, as they are just becoming active in most parts of their range and have not had a chance to feed, put on weight and bask. Their metabolisms may be still depressed due to earlier cool weather, and the stress of being confined will cause additional problems. Also, wild-caught adults do not often adjust well to captivity; it would be better to wait awhile and try for a young one, or purchase one that has been habituated to captivity.

      It would be best to release the animal, especially as it has not fed…they do not have any fat reserves at this time of the year. A wild adult would need a tank of 15-20 gallon size with plenty of live plants or other cover, and will hide most of the time for the first few weeks at least. It should not be handled at all – even long term captives do not do well with handling. A high output UVB bulb is essential, as is a warm basking spot; please read the diet info as well – crickets alone are not an adequate diet.

      Be sure to spray the tank with water so that the lizard can drink..they dehydrate quickly.

      This really is not the best choice for a child or first-time lizard keeper. I suggest you consider a Leopard gecko; they are captive-bred in large numbers, slow moving, handleable, long-lived and do not need UVB radiation.

      Please let me know if you need any further information or want to look further into leopard gecko care. My best advice, however, is to release the anole.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  19. avatar

    Hi Frank

    I hope you can give me some advice.

    I wrote on this blog about 5 months ago (post num 21) asking a question about the large 110/ 50/ 90cm large planted tank I was setting up for a colony of green anole.

    I have since set up the tank and am letting it settle for a few months before I add any lizards. It is well planted with a range of tropical plants both terrestrial and epiphytic, and a mini waterfall system.

    At the moment I have two basking sites on either end inside of the tank (one ceramic heater for day/ night heat and one neodymium spot light for daytime) with a thermal gradient provided in the middle of such a large tank. Temp ranges between 31-35 C under basking spots and 23-27 C ambient temps, with a dimming thermostat controlling these.

    My problem is with the heat guards I am using getting too hot to touch. The tank is a ferplast Explora 110 H and the guards are the ferplast spot covers designed to go with it. (They can be seen on ferplasts website http://www.ferplast.com under lamps/ accessories and covers.)
    The ceramic in one is a 60w lucky reptile dark spot and the neodymium is a 100w exo terra sun glo. Both bulbs have about an inch clearance underneath them and the bottom of the guard but only about half in inch clearance round the bulbs themselves. The guards itself is 11cm L/ 11cm W/ 20cm H.
    The guard to the 100w spotlight gets hotter then guard to the ceramic and the bulb is slightly larger (I can only put my hand on the guard for 10 sec or so before it gets too hot.)
    Both bulbs are within the maximum wattage suggested by ferplast for the guards, however the guards are quite narrow. I am concerned there is a risk of the anole coming into contact with them and getting burnt.

    Do you have any suggestions as to what I should do? I do not wish to put the reptiles at risk, as you can see from ferplasts website the design of the guards seem to be different from others on the market with solid metal sides. The design of the tank also makes it difficult to use other types of guards.

    Thanks for your time/ help.

    I look forward to hearing form you

    Kind Regards


    • avatar

      Hello Lynn, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for the update; my compliments on your preparations and interest.

      Lizards are good at avoiding dangerously hot areas, and the 10 second delay you mentioned should be ample time for one to react. We do see problems with hot rocks and similar items, where an animal will remain on a heated surface too long, but this is usually in situations where the air above is very cold, the rock or surface is mildly hot, and mostly occurs with snakes. A super heated surface will likely be avoided.

      One concern might be aggressive encounters, where one animal might be driven to the area or held against it during a battle; anole colonies are very interesting to maintain, but be sure to monitor behavior carefully.

      I have installed guards around exposed lights on large zoo exhibits, but this would be difficult, I believe, in a terrarium. You can cut down on the wattage a bit, but over time the heat build-up would likely still be substantial.

      Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please be sure to keep me posted on your lizards once they are introduced.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  20. avatar

    Hi Frank

    Thanks for your help, which as always is very informative.

    I am hoping the tank being heavily planted and the use of two basking sites will help keep aggression to a minimum. Although with the plants the anole will be able to get very close to the guards.

    My only thought if I did experience problems would be to attach a second larger guard over the existing ones to create a barrier.

    I will keep you informed and write back in a few months when I have added the inhabitants to let you know how it goes.

    Thanks again for your time and help

    Kind Regards

    Lynne Waters

    • avatar

      Hello Lynn, Frank Indiviglio here.

      My pleasure, thanks for the kind words. Multiple basking sites and thick plantings are the best way to go in a colony situation…I think you have much of interest ahead of you (in fact, I’m now longing for an old exhibit I cared for that housed a group of anoles!).

      An additional screen barrier is what I had in mind…if there is room, you can try if needed. Watch also that plants/branches do not present a fire hazard – I’ve never actually run into this, but good to keep in mind.

      Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, and I look forward to hearing more…..

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio

  21. avatar

    Will it be ok for a week or so for my anoles to have only uva light? And is an under tank heater ok to use? If so can I get rid of the uva light and replace it with a uvb light?

    • avatar

      Hello Ariana, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog. Yes, fine to go a week or so w/o UVB. While both are beneficial, UVB is by far the more important type of light, so yes, you can replace UVA with UVB. Choose a high-output bulb, such as the Zoo Med 10.0.

      Unde-tank heaters are not suitable for anoles. You’ll need to add an incandescent bulb in a separate fixture and create a basking spot on a branch below the bulb (90F or so). The heat produced by the florescent UVB bulb will not be enough, unfortunately.

      Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  22. avatar

    can i just get another fixture and keep both the uvb and uva?

    I have no idea what to feed them for this week, i don’t have crickets, i live in upstate new york, are there any wild bug that they will eat?

    • avatar

      Hello Ariana, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks, my pleasure. Yes, having both UVA and UVB, along with a warm basking light, is best. You can use certain insects if collected from an area where pesticides are not used…moths, small “non-hairy” caterpillars, sow bugs, earwigs…please see the section in this article “wild caught insects” and also please read the notes concerning crickers and click on the link there to learn about their use.

      Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  23. avatar

    i planted lots of plants today and put them in there, and they LOVE them! im going to go to the store soon to get another bulb:)

    • avatar

      Hello Ariana, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Great idea..live plants provide the best environment for anoles; they are most secure when they have plenty of cover and laces to climb.

      Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  24. avatar

    First time feeding the Anoles live crickets, went well only one cricket escaped, but it was re caught:) they are happy now with 2 basking lights. 🙂 They are much much much more active! The male even showed his dewlap which he hasn’t in a while! The female watched the cricket go under the pot with the plant in it and waited till it came out and got it, the other dug down in the reptile bedding to get a smaller one who jumped out of his mouth! haha! what is a good thing to gut load the crickets on?

    • avatar

      Hello Ariana, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for the feedback; I’m glad to hear that the lights are working and the anoles are adjusting and feeding. You can feed the crickets for 2-3 days on a high quality fish flake, such as Tetramin Basic Flakes; also provide a slice of orange or apple for moisture; any additional fruit/greens are good as well; Or you can use commercial cricket food and water supplements… please see this article for further info. Please also be sure to provide them with other types of insects, as mentioned in this article.

      Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  25. avatar

    Hi, I am concerned as I have been reading terrible things about Exo terra’s curly 10.0 bulbs, causing eye damage to anoles. I have not noticed any issues with mine but I want to switch them out for zoo med’s reptisun 10.0. I have screen topped glass enclosures One is nearly 100 gallons, the other is 34 gallons. I just want to do whatever is best for my lizards. Thankyou

    • avatar

      Hello Nicole, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog. I have had very good results with the Zoomed 10.0, and favor it above other fluorescent bulbs for anoles and most other lizards; please see this article for more info. I have not run across the problems you mention concerning the Exoterra bulb but would like to learn more…if you have a chance please forward some info.

      One important caution when using any bulb is to be sure that the animals can move away from it, and have access to shaded spots as well. Several basking sites are ideal – 1 within 6-12 inches and others further away. Studies have shown that chameleons (and possibly others) actively regulate their exposure to UVB, depending upon their needs, diet etc…please see this article for details, very interesting.

      I have noted eye problems (corneal lesions) in amphibians (gray treefrogs, wood frogs) that were kept under high-output UVB bulbs. The evidence is circumstantial, but does make sense given their natural history. A ZooMed 2.0 works well for those kept in planted terrariums, where some light is needed.

      Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  26. avatar

    My parents just don’t seem to be warming up to me getting a green anole. Do you have any suggestions? and also, if and when I got one, are you supposed to turn of the UVA and UVB lights at night?

    • avatar

      Hello Rachel

      Thanks for your interest. Perhaps best to find out what it is that your parents object to…general idea of a reptile pet, cost of bulbs, electricity, etc. If I have that info, I might be able to make some suggestions.

      UVA/UVB should be turned off at night, as should the basking (heat) bulb. If the house gets too cold at night, then you will need to use a red/black reptile night bulb or a small ceramic heater to warm the terrarium at night.

      Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  27. avatar

    Hi Frank

    I have posted on your blog a couple of times over the past few years about a green anole naturally planted vivarium- 110x 50x 90cm I was setting up.
    It has been set up with x8 green anole (7 females/ 1 male) for about 10 months now.
    I am concerned about my male and one of the females, both of whom are looking thin and not eating properly.

    When I originally bought the male he was very eager for food and ate anything, however over time he started to refuse brown crickets and would only eat shed mini mealworms and wax worms/ wax moths. He then showed no interest in mealworms and finally would only eat fruit flies.

    This developed slowly since I bought him, however he continued to appear healthy/ displaying to the females, though in the end I did not see him eating at all. I assumed he must be eating when I wasn’t looking be due to his apparent health.

    Over the last 14 days however I could see him becoming thin with an incomplete shed and old skin still left on him. At one point I thought I was going to lose him.

    Since then I have been able to feed him using tongs every few days when he will take 1 or 2 wax moths and his condition/weight has improved slightly. He does still appear a faded green, and is generally listless.

    I have been spraying the tank every couple of days with repiboost around him, encouraging him to drink it, and dusting all food with a combination of calcium +D3, Nutrobol, and Avipro to try to help.

    Since I first become concerned about him I have replaced the UV tubes to make sure he gets the full effect. Leaving food (shed mini mealworms/ wax worms/ brown crickets) in there available at all times, dusted as stated above, within suctioned cup window feeders you use for wild birds in various different places. I have on order some zoo- med repti shed to try to try to help his left over shed and have bought some ter flies for him as well.

    I have also bought beaphur parasite spray in case of worms however this is only suitable for animals over 80g so I was not sure if this was safe to use? He is pooing though it appears runny, creamy in coloration with him looking dirty underneath.

    The tank has two 50W basking spots at either end of the tank in covered guards at approx 35- 36C at basking spots. This keeps ambient temps in the tanks at 29- 27- 25 C in various different areas. Humidity is generally never below 50%, usually 60-70% with an automatic mister spraying the tank twice a day and me also going round with a hand sprayer for the plants every couple of days as well. Lighting is x2 specialist plant fluorescent lights and x2 12% UV T5 fluorescent lights placed above the back half of the screen top. The tank is heavily planted with a mini waterfall.

    Before I started having concerns I was feeding them every couple of days on a variety of live food dusted, alternating between calcium with D3 and Nutrobol.

    As I mention above one of the female has also more recently lost a lot of weight and now appears thinner then the male, less active, not eating. I have managed to tong feed her x3 heavily dusted ter files after which she did seem to improve slightly, however she does not seem to be able to manage wax worm moths and has similar symptoms to the male. I have bought some peach and mango baby food which I will try giving to them as well.

    I was worried that the stress of catching them and taking them to the vets would hinder any recovery or even prove fatal at this time and hoped someone who had more experience with lizards could give me some advice. The rest of the 6 females sharing the same tank are very healthy, green and active, only these two seem unwell.

    As mentioned above I thought the problem could be one of parasites, though they are all captive bread, or perhaps fungal?

    I did consider dominance issues, but that would not explain the condition of the male.

    I have been looking at all aspects of my care but I cannot work out what the problem could be.

    After spending 2 years researching their needs before I got them it is upsetting to me that I am doing something wrong.

    Can you give me any advice/ suggestions as to how to proceed both with the sick ones and how to work out what the problem may be.

    Many thanks

    • avatar

      Hi Lynne,

      I recall your posts very well, and applaud the effort you’ve spent in research and care.

      One thing to keep in mind is that longevity tops out at 7-8 years in captivity (rare) and is far shorter in the wild. The symptoms you describe could be attributed to aging…captives live longer than they are “programmed to”, and systems begin to slow down and malfunction; esp. common re digestion, shedding and other complicated processes. Proceeding as you are, taking extra time/care, is the best course if aging is involved.

      A vet visit, or just submitting a fecal, could be useful as well, but stress and ability to treat, especially if age is involved, are considerations. Parasites that have been there throughout life w/o causing trouble can become worse if the immune system is stressed by sickness, age, etc. I would not use a spray; parasites can only be treated by ID and then specific medications…skin absorption is mainly effective for amphibians, if at all.

      Waxworms are not ideal as a staple, esp. if there are problems. High in chitin, hard to digest, may lead to blockages; same re mealworms, altho newly molted are less of a concern (if a severe blockage is present, you would not see feces; however, straining, poor digestion is a concern). Wax moths better than grubs. Most of the field research/observations done indicate that spiders, smooth caterpillars, flies and other soft bodied inverts comprise much of the diet. You may be able to order small silkworm and house fly cultures. You can trap flies – I worry about human health issues, however, but most lizards seem fine with them, and they usually spark lots of interest. Please see the article for some other food ideas (there are 4 parts – sorry, a bit confusing I know, let me know if you need direct links). Try the baby food as you mentioned, or the nectar recipe in the article. may need to offer via dropper, to spark interest. Odd as it sounds, “boredom” is a factor (actually, animals likely reject usual foods instinctuively, in order to assure a balanced diet); novel foods often elicit strong feeding responses (all herps…and me!).

      Pl send more info on the UV if available; not sure which model you referenced. Florescent UVB should be positioned within 6-12 inches of a basking site; output falls off dramatically after that. If animal will not bask, may be useful to put into a separate, shallow basking enclosure on ocassion – may be stressful, must weigh tradeoff, etc.

      Sounds as though you are doing all everything right, and far more than most people. Please let me know if you need more ifo, and how all goes, Best, Frank

  28. avatar

    Hi Frank

    Thanks for your speedy response. I really appreciate your help.

    I had not considered ageing as a possible cause. When I bought the anole from the pet shop they were ‘ordered in’ especially for me described as young captive bread anole, though I have no real idea as to their age.

    I will look into submitting a fecal sample to a vet as I really don’t think they are up to a vet visit right now, especially with the slight improvement of the male, I would be worried the stress involved might cause him to go backwards.

    It is mostly wax worm moths I have been able to get the male to eat and ter-flies (commercially bread curly winged house flies) to the female. I am trying to culture some more of the ter- flies at the moment.

    Were you concerned with human health issues regarding commercially raised flies, or just wild?

    I will look at your food articles and also see if I can order some caterpillars/ silk worms from somewhere.

    I generally only give wax worms as treats usually as they seem to be relished and allow me to leave food in the tank in various places within small holders. This helped me to ensure all the animals got a chance to eat including the less dominant. Whereas crickets typically jump out and had to be left in a larger holder in one place within the tank.

    However since the problems I mention I have been unable to tempt the unwell animals with any of these.

    I had wondered about boredom since the only way I can feed them is within suctioned cups, otherwise with the size of the tank the food disappears.

    Hopefully if I can culture more ter- flies this will interest them more, though I worry if I dont use the cups to feed them the flies may escape into the tank and breed?

    The male did seem to enjoy hunting fruit flies when he was well and the thrashing of the wax moths interests him.

    The UV is an arcadia 12% T5 fluorescent light with reflectors, now very popular in the reptile market in the UK and better than T8 lights. I will provide a link.


    I have two of these lights. Placed above the second half of the tank above the screen top so the anole can sit on plants and UV bask where they wish.

    Basking lights come on at 9.30 in the morn, and sit in solid guards which sit quite low in the tank so that the lizards have to choose between basking under UV or heat; unfortunately this is the way the tank is set up

    it is a ferplast tank, here is the link


    though the lizards do appear to use basking bulbs and UV to bask. Here is a link to the guards.


    I wondered if temps in the basking areas were a bit too high, however the extra heat is needed to keep the rest of the tank warm.

    Then UV comes on at 10.30 and then the plant lights at 11, with the same procedure in the evening with all the lights being off at 12.

    I had wondered if this was a bit late for them to come on in the morn as I can see some of the lizards already awake, however I work long hours and feed them in the evening when I can spend time watching them.

    I can email you pictures of the tank if you wish

    Thanks again for you help

    • avatar

      Hi Lynne,

      Thanks for the feedback. Fecal a good idea; meds can be hard on lizards as well, always a judgement call. But considering that there are others in tank, best to look into it.

      I didn’t realize you were using houseflies; excellent food. They would be easy to lure into a jar and trap if too many seemed established in the tank. Good to use cups often also, so as to monitor intake. Hunting stimulates them, adds interest, so I always try to balance.

      There have been locust/grasshopper breeders in the UK in the past; nymphs, if you can find small enough ones, would be useful; I pull legs from “overly-spiny” species that I collect.

      The Zoo Med Bug Napper insect trap is useful, depending on area where employed (insect populations, pesticide use). Often yields small moths, midges, crane flies and other favorites. Perhaps available in UK (Petplace can ship, but would be expensive to do so).

      Thanks for the links. UVB Technology now well-established, so bulb likely fine. You may want to ask about effective distance, but I’m guessing will be ideal at 6-12 inches as with others. Mercury vapors emit over longer distances, but heat may be a concern.

      Ok to play with their light cycle a bit, they adjust. Probably good that room lightens naturally first, rather than lights coming on suddenly in a dark room.

      A temperature gradient is impt, but can be hard to arrange in smaller quarters as you mention. Temps can dp at night, which helps, although you don;t want to stress ill animals with that. Along northern edges of range, they experience freezing temps and hibernate for varying periods. Interestingly, those in s. Florida, lack the cold tolerance of populations in the northern parts of the state. Most in trade originate from stock collected in Louisiana, and would not be very tolerant of cold temps (they are in short supply over much of Florida, likely due to competition/predation from nearly a dozen introduced anoles, and other lizards!).

      Good luck and pl keep me posted, Frank

  29. avatar

    Hi Frank

    Thank you very much for all your advice.

    I will look into ordering a bug napper.

    Out of interest in your earlier post you mention parasite sprays being ineffective without knowing the specific parasite involved and a reptile’s ability to absorb. Is this true of sprays containing ivermectin as well as I read that this active ingredient is particularly useful in treating both external- mites/ tick and internal parasites such as worms, though this did refer to the treatment of small mammals?

    Thanks again for your time

    I will let you know what happens once the situation is resolved.


    • avatar

      Hi Lynne,

      My pleasure…

      Ivermectin is a useful broad spectrum medication; vets can calculate the amounts/dosages needed for reptiles, their systems work differently from mammals, so it’s not based solely on size. But I’ve never had a ve recommend treatment w/o first identifying, or trying to ID, the micro-organism involved. Some are best treated by other meds, or the mode/duration of treatment must be altered, etc. Broad spectrums are the best choice where an ID cannot be made. Spraying would be most effective, in reptiles, on external parasites. But in some cases it is still better to dose internally, so that the parasite takes in ivermectin while feeding on the host’s blood…this has proven best for snake mites, others. But best not to stress the animal with what may be un-needed or ineffective meds; most kill beneficial gut flora as well, and weakened animals do not always recover from this. Vets may take animal’s condition into consideration when deciding upon med/dosage.

      I hope all goes well, Best, Frank

  30. avatar

    Would it be better to use a single mercury vapor bulb or an incandescent for heat with a fluorescent for UVB/UVA? Thanks!

    Cheers, Alex

    • avatar

      Hi Alex,

      Choice will depend on terrarium size and arrangement of basking sites. The Zoo Med 10.0 (please see here for info, study) will provide sufficient UVB, but sites should be within 6-12 inches of bulb. benefit is that you’ll have more choice re the size of the heat/incandescent. Mercury vapors transmit UVB over a greater distance, but may raise temp too high in a small enclosure, and render it difficult to est a temp gradient (tank tends to remain at a single temperature.

      Please let me know if you need more info, Best, Frank

  31. avatar

    I have what seems to be a “older” male green anole. I have had him for a little over two years. He has never been very active, has always had a thin bony looking tail, but is gradually getting thinner and slower. When I first got him, he would only eat crickets, then he ate crickets and mealworms, and now for the past year, only mealworms. He is offered crickets, but he will not chase them. He will not eat any insect with calcium dust on it, and is not interested in wax worms, baby food or dried flies. He eats a lot of meal worms for several days in a row, and then sheds, which means he does a partial or full shed almost every week or 10 days. I alternate between UVA and UVB bulbs. He is in a 10 gallon tank with a heat pad on one side, a rock, logs, silk leaves, and a water bowl and a wire mesh top. I spray his tank once a day and he does actually drink out of the water bowl. The problem he has had now for several months is that he does not shed from his face very well at all. This means he spends two or three days blind and not eating or drinking. It stresses me out to see him apparently dying almost every time he sheds. He gets very thin and dried out looking. I have tried spraying him, soaking him, and gently rubbing the top of his head with a damp Q tip to get the skin to shed faster. It is like he is wearing a mask over his eyes and nose. The temperature is kept at around 82 during the day, a little higher than that on the top of the basking log, and 78 at night. Is retaining skin, or shedding so often a sign of some type of deficiency that I can correct? Is it just old age?

    • avatar

      Hi Lou,

      Heat is best supplied by a bulb, not a pad; your temps should also be higher, especially at the basking site…please see article for details. Higher temps may help the appetite, but mealworms alone are not adequate…try small wild caught moths etc as mentioned in article; or perhaps order live silkworms via internet dealers. keep him hungry for a few days…crickets alone are not ideal either, but preferable to mealworms.

      If the animal is feeding and yet getting thin, parasites may be the problem; wild caught anoles are always infected…may live for several years with low levels, but as they age, or another problem arises, effect of parasites can worsen,. A vet visit would be needed to diagnose…pl let me know if you need help in locating a vet.

      Covering 1/2 or so of the screening with plastic for a few days as he shed will help raise humidity. Shedding aids can be useful; also a bit of olive oil on a Q-tip will help to loosen the skin.

      UVB should always be provided. UVA useful, but not critical. However, Calcium intake needs to be increased as well. Warming tank as mentioned may encourage activity; try keeping him hungry once tank is warmer, then offer calcium powdered insects.

      Here is another related article.

      please keep me posted, best, Frank

  32. avatar

    I was not in the market for a lizard but my daughter captured a sweet little anole outside in the cold. Considering it has been near freezing here in Alabama-the lizard was probably slow on the escape. Now I am on a crash course on keeping this little guy alive. Since it is winter we have been unable to find crickets. I have thrown some insects in there and am keeping it warm. I appreciate all the valuable information I have found here on this site…thus moving our auquariam out of the garage into the kitchen. This little lizard LOVES my little girl. It has been crazy to watch how it just stays on her like an actual pet. My question is -how can I go about finding insects in the winter to feed this little guy? Would it be better to release it back into our yard?

    • avatar

      Hi Kerry,

      Thanks for the kind words…insects will be hard to come by unless you get a warm spell, but even then their preferred prey… crickets, caterpillars, flies, beetles may not be moving about yet. You can try calling local pet shops…many stock crickets if they also sell reptiles as pets. Anoles usually do well in Alabama’s winters.. further south, die-offs occur since the populations there are not as well adapted to cool periods. So it will do fine if released…do so on a warm (warmish!) day, near cover, so it can re-adjust before nightfall..perhaps your daughter can be made to understand that this is best if food cannot be found. let me know f you need anything, frank

  33. avatar

    Good afternoon,

    I love your site, and am so grateful for it!! I have a female anole in a plastic terrarium. She used to be green, but now is brown. She’s been brown for a few months. I feed her small crickets from petsmart, mist her tank daily, have about three inches of dirt on the bottom, a clear, plastic, round lid that is three inches high with a six inch diameter and a two inch by two inch hole along one side. There’s a heating pad adhered to the outside bottom of the terrarium under the plastic lid area (the lid helps keep that spot warm amd humid. I never put any grass in there for fear it would die and produce mildew, so it’s pretty brown in the tank (except for a green cardboard box she likes to perch on, in, and underneathe). I always thought she stayed brown because of her environment; but I just put the green box in yesterday, and by nighttime she was a pale green. Today, she is back to brown. I’m not sure if it’s a lack of heat (too much dirt for the pad to heat up? a petsmart employee said anoles prefer warmth from the ground than from a light bulb), stress, or not having a varied diet. As I type this I feel awful. I always thought she was fine. She eats well (sometimes four crickets at a time), has a nice fat tail, and the tail is longer now than ever (about five inches).

    Any suggestions of how to improve life for her?

    • avatar

      Hello Joseph,

      Thanks for the kind words, much appreciated.

      It’s not possible to keep them in good health in a plastic terrarium, long term (color can indicate that the animal is too cool, stressed, or sick). Ample UVB light is essential…this should be supplied via the bulbs mentioned in the article – generally the bulb is placed on the screen lid of an aquarium,. You’ll also need an incandescent bulb strong enough to raise the basking site temperature to the range described in the article…a tank of at least 10 gallon size is needed as cooler areas are also essential. The pet store employee has provided you with inaccurate information – anoles are classic heliothermic animals (raise body temps by basking in the sun). As mentioned in the article, crickets alone are not a sufficient diet, and small individuals should be used when they are offered. please check the details outlined in the article and let me know if you need more info, best, frank

  34. avatar

    Hi! I recently got a green anole. I’m not sure on how to keep the cage below 80 degrees F. I am gone most of the day, and I am worried that it will get too warm. What should I do?

    • avatar


      Other than moving tank away from sunny areas etc there’s not much to do, but they can take quite warm temps as long as they are well-fed and hydrated..spray heavily 2x daily and feed as described in article. large terrariums help also, as you can set up a corned with hanging, damp sphagnum moss and live plants for shade, which will help lower temps.

      Let me know if you need more info,. best, frank

  35. avatar

    I have 2 anoles that were found in my Phoenix warehouse (accidentally shipped in a box from Florida.) I have taken them home and have them in a 20 gallon tank together- they seem to like each other- they sleep next to one another.

    I have a heat lamp and heat mat in the tank, but usually only run it at night a bit and early morning since they have sunlight all day. The tank is pretty moist, and I spray it several times a day to keep it that way. There is some fake vining, a rock cave, some cardboard egg carton (which they love) and the green “lizard mat” that the tank came with. One of them drinks from a shallow lid periodically, and she will look at me often when I am around. The other always hides when we come around the tank.

    They are both very green in the morning but as soon as I come around the “friendly” one has been turning very dark brown the past few days when I turn on the heat lamp.

    We have a cool side and the then the lamp side, and they can climb on either side.. but is the brown color an issue?

    We feed about 36 tiny crickets a week, and have been adding fruits/veggies for the lizards to try (no success yet) and the crickets to eat.

    Love your site by the way- we ended up with these ladies by accident, but are really enjoying them… have gotten great info here!

    • avatar


      Often times anoles will darken their color in order to absorb more heat if they are a little too cool. As long as your basking area for them is staying between 88 and 90 degrees, I wouldn’t be concerned about the coloration change.


About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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