Keeping Several Males Together
Male anoles usually establish territories of at least 4 ft x 4 ft x 4 ft in captivity, so “one male only” is the rule in most home situations. However, establishing 2 males in a suitably large enclosure is a worthwhile undertaking if at all possible. If enough space is provided so that each can establish a territory, the males will display vigorously but will largely avoid physical contact (if crowded, the dominant animal will attack the other). The presence of a competitor for female attentions may spur the males to breed as well.
Be sure to keep at least 3-4 females per male when attempting multi-male exhibits, as their presence may divert attention from aggressive displays and combat. Another key to success lies in providing a complex environment filled with escape routes and sight barriers. Vines, hanging plants and inter-twined branches will go a long way in increasing the effective size of your enclosure.
The Value of Smaller Pets and Zoo Animals
Observing anoles in colony-type situations will provide you with insights not possible in single-animal terrariums. I have always preferred to keep smaller animals that could be well-provided for in captivity, as it is from these that we can truly get a feel for how life is conducted in the wild.
In a zoo or at home, one can more easily provide a “complete environment” for an anole than for an alligator. Surrounded by creatures from all over the world during my years working for the Bronx Zoo, it was to those creatures most able to carry out a full range of behaviors that I was drawn. I learned far more sitting in a greenhouse watching a colony of nearly “free-living” green anoles than I did in front of multi-million dollar exhibits that, for all their good qualities, provided rhinos, bears, gorillas and other large mammals only a minimal replication of their wild habitats.
Female green anoles will also establish a dominance hierarchy, based largely upon size. Those at the top may inhibit others from feeding and basking, so be sure to offer numerous basking and feeding opportunities and sight barriers.
Immature males are difficult to distinguish from females. Watch smaller animals as they mature and remove any males, as these will be attacked by the adult male (please see Part I of this article for tips on distinguishing the sexes).
Anoles, if given enough room, are ideally suited for community terrariums. In the wild, they dwell in “edge habitats” (areas where 2 distinct habitat types meet) such as meadow-forest borders, and in the ecologically similar overgrown fields and gardens. Habitat borders and edges usually support a greater variety of animals than do the interiors of either associated habitat.
The moderate temperatures and humidity levels favored by green anoles are suitable for a wide range of other interesting creatures. It is often difficult to house amphibians and reptiles in the same enclosure, due to the great differences in their requirements, but green anoles uniquely span this gap.
When maintaining a mixed group of animal species, always provide more space than would be required for the same number of individuals in a single-species terrarium. Be sure also to keep in mind the different feeding strategies of each. For example, American toads will likely gobble up all non-climbing insects before anoles even begin to feed. On the other hand, anoles will leave no food for nocturnal hunters, such as green treefrogs, if all feeding is done during the day (the solution is to add a portion of the diet after the lights have gone out).
Check back on Friday for the conclusion of this article.
Happy New Year to you and yours!