Home | Lizards | The Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis carolinensis) in the Wild and Captivity – Care in Captivity – Part 4

The Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis carolinensis) in the Wild and Captivity – Care in Captivity – Part 4

Click here to view Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this article. If you’re looking for information on Green Anole Natural History, click here.

Candidates for the Mixed-Species Terrarium

I have kept green anoles with 5 lined skinks, house geckos, brown anoles, green, gray and squirrel treefrogs, southern and spadefoot toads, DeKay’s (brown) snakes, various millipedes and land snails (…and water moccasins, but that was at the Bronx Zoo.  As they say “don’t try this at home“!).

I once established a group of green anoles in the upper half of a 300 gallon aquarium housing tropical fish – they take readily to such situations if provided ample branches and live plants upon which to climb.

Captive Longevity

Captive longevity approaches 10 years, but averages 5-7.


Green anoles are high strung and do not take well to handling.  They are fast moving and make long, seemingly reckless leaps, so be careful when opening their terrarium.  Let them see you open the enclosure, and do so slowly – in time, the anoles will move to safe, elevated locations as opposed to coming towards you.  They will, however, watch you closely and may take an opportunity to flee if you turn your back, so close the lid or door when reaching for tools, etc.  A small net might be useful to have on hand.  Green anoles shed their tails readily when grabbed forcibly.


Please see also “Reproduction”, in Part I of this article, for notes on distinguishing the sexes.  Captive breeding has occurred spontaneously, but is most consistently achieved when the animals are exposed to cyclic changes in temperature, light and humidity levels.  Watch for young animals, as undetected eggs may hatch within the terrarium.

Green anoles originating from the northern portions of the range require longer and cooler “winters” than do those from the south.  In fact, southern-range animals are different, physiologically, from those in the north.  Experiments have shown that anoles living in south Florida are killed by the winter-time temperatures routinely tolerated by those native to northern Florida.  You can assume that pet trade animals are from the more southerly portions of the range (usually central/south Florida and Louisiana).

Cooling off periods of 60 days or so may stimulate reproduction.  Nighttime temperatures should be allowed to dip to 60-65 F for animals originating in the northern sections of the range, and 62-68 F for those from the south.  Daytime temperatures can rise to 81-83 F.  The daytime light cycle should gradually be reduced to 9-10 hours from the usual 12-14 (cover the cage during the day if it is located in a well-lit room).  Misting should be reduced to once daily.

Potted plants make ideal egg deposition sites.  Eggs incubated in vermiculite (1:1 vermiculite:water by weight) at 82-86 F will hatch in 32-46 days.

An interesting article on anole reproductive and social behavior, as well as a review of this species’ 100-year history as a laboratory animal, is posted at:



  1. avatar

    I have a heated sunporch in central ny that because of it’s location never gets below 70 degrees. I use it just like a green house. Amongst the many potted plants I have loos in the room 7 green anoles 2 green tree frogs and a tokay gecko. Just saw that u were interested in mixed-species exhibits and thought it might interest you.

    • avatar

      Hello Garett, Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for your interesting note.

      A greenhouse is the perfect situation in which to keep the animals you mention – it must bring you a great deal of pleasure; a wonderful way to see natural behaviors as well. Some of my most memorable observations came while watching anoles, marine toads and other animals in a greenhouse used to grow plants for Bronx Zoo exhibits.

      The anoles will likely be stimulated to breed by the changes in day length and temperature…their eggs are tiny and hard to find, but usually hatch if the plants are misted every few days. Green treefrogs may also breed if provided a water source. Tokay geckos glue their eggs (2 at a time) to walls and bark.

      One thing to watch is predation – the tokay will definitely eat any anoles or tree frogs that it comes across during its nightly wanderings.

      Thanks so much, very glad to hear your news and would be pleased if you would send along observations from time to time. I always encourage readers to provide their animals with as much room as possible – hearing how such works out for you would be very interesting. Please let me know if you need any breeding or other info as time goes on.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  2. avatar

    Frank I teach biology at a local school and we have an Anole tank. It is thirty gallons and houses 3 Green Anoles, 2 Bahama Anoles and a Greeb Tree Frog. We have had found two babies so far,(Bahamas)unfortunately one escaped its new home and died,the other juvenile is doing well. A student recently found an egg and we have it separated. It is easy to tell that it is the female Bahama that is pregnant. The school gets quite cool in the winter and we think this has stimulated their reproductive cycle. I am not sure, but I feel some babies may have fallen prey to either a large green anole or the tree frog in the terrarium. The students are making weekly scans of the bottom looking for eggs. The students also as part of the class raise crickets, mealworms and wingless fruit flies for the reptiles (5 types), amphibians (7) and arachnids (3) that are maintained in the class

    • avatar

      Hello Scott, Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for writing in.

      I’m so glad to hear that you take the time and effort to provide such an experience for your students…I’ve been a teacher myself, and can attest to the benefits of well-maintained collections in the classroom. Sadly, such are falling out of favor lately, at least here in NYC.

      Large anoles and, if size permits, green treefrogs will take hatchlings.

      I apologize if this is well known to you, but, re raising young anoles, please bear in mind that their needs for UVB and vitamin/mineral supplementation, and possibly for UVA, will be greater than is typical for adults.

      Please be in touch if I can be of any assistance, and thanks for your interest in our blog.

      Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  3. avatar

    I would went one because I love green anoles

    • avatar

      Hello Dondi, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog…I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have,

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  4. avatar

    Thanks for your replys on the parrot forum I have just bookmarked this page so hopefully I can Find it again. Not too computer literate. also thanks for the reply about the turtles I guess I will put the softshells in my own part of the canal. I have to say they are awfully cute with their little snorkle faces.

    • avatar

      You’re no more of a computer dinosaur than I, trust me! thanks for taking the time to post; let me know if you need links to any articles in which you might be interested; I have many on Fla natural history. Softshells are great favorites of mine; I.’ve worked with several species, incl the huge narrow-headed softshell from SE Asia..amazing! here’s an article you might enjoy, (link to part II is just below article) best Frank

  5. avatar

    I have recently transplanted 3–2 small and one medium green anoles from my mother in law’s yard to my greenhouse in south/central Texas. It is a nice, but home-made greenhouse about 21×14. It is built with old alum. windows all the way around, so I can open windows to cool it off when it gets too warm. It is not quite as full of plants as I would like but there are quite a few plants and trees in there. Will my anoles find enough food on their own or should I supplement with something? Since I released them I only ever see the one larger anole. Did my others escape? there are places I am sure esp. the tiniest ones can get out. The larger one could get out but I think he likes living in my ficus tree. I mist everything and floor several times a day. I did see my larger one drinking off of a leaf after I misted. There are saucers with water all over to help keep the humidity up.

    • avatar

      Hi Lesli

      Greenhouses are among the best places to keep and breed anoles, but they will escape on occasion if there are openings; some become territorial and stay even if able to escape, as you note. If you have pairs, they will often lay eggs (tiny, 2 at a time, usually hard to find) which may hatch; youngsters may be harassed by larger animals but may stay if there is enough room/cover.

      They will find food if able…if you see flies, moths, crickets then they are probably fine; if not, let me know and we can go over some feeding ideas.

      They need UVB exposure…glass filters out UVB rays, but if there are screened windows then they will absorb UVB by basking on windowsills, assuming sun hits these areas.

      Were they collected in Texas?…if so, how common are they? In Fla and much of the SE, they are declining, possibly due to introduced anole species.

      Best, Frank

  6. avatar

    They are very common esp. in people who water their grass and gardens
    a lot. If someone has a beautiful flower garden with nice grass and
    trees also, you will find green anoles. We have been experiencing
    drouth so some decline in my own yard, as is why I transplanted some.
    I *love* watching them and hope they do help the bugs in the
    greenhouse. There are bugs that get in and I try to be very organic
    so I worry over using anything for insect control. I am hopeful that
    if they escape they also find their way back in ;). I do have screens
    on all the windows. I have a brick floor and mist it down frequently
    for humidity.

    My greenhouse does drop in temperature at night lately to the 50’s. I
    do close it up at night. I have not hung lights yet, do you recommend
    any particular kind? My greenhouse is new, my dh built it for me and I
    have yet to experience a winter in it. But I have heaters ready to go
    and lights to hang. For the most part I want to keep it above
    freezing for my plants, and now for my lizards/frogs. I also keep a
    tub full of African night crawler earth worms. I don’t suppose they
    would enjoy a worm?

    I think the larger one is a male. Will he call any that might already
    be living in my yard to my greenhouse? I am hopeful of tree frogs
    also. I had a Mexican Grey tree frog that lived in a bird house on my
    front porch for the the last two summers. I transplanted the bird
    house to my green house and either he moved out and hides well or he
    had already moved from the bird house because I have not seen him
    Yesterday I finally saw one of the smaller, but still mid sized and I think it is a female. She was a little smaller and all white under her neck. She was on the opposite side of the greenhouse. The larger one had a little pink/red showing under his neck *excited*

    • avatar

      Hi Lesli,

      Thanks very much for posting here…very interesting to read about anoles in Texas…many people associate them with he SE USA only.
      We kept them in greenhouses at the Bx Zoo with success; several treefrog species as well.
      Females outside may be attracted to the male if he is near a window; if all goes well you can add a few over time. 2 males might co-exist if there is enough room for 2 territories.

      They take mainly crawling and climbing/flying insects and small spiders. They and other arboreal lizards will not eat earthworms..too bad, as they are a good food source for other reptiles. Underfed animals will exhibit sharp, protruding hip bones (hard to see, but they are there!). You can always sweep a net through tall grass or throw in some leaf litter from time to time, if that will not set plants back.

      They usually do okay with temps in the 50’s if they are in good health and can warm up into the 80’s during the day. Along the northern limits of the range, they become semi-dormant during cold spells.

      If you want to add a UVB bulb, this florescent model works well if placed where they can bask within 6-12 inches of the bulb itself. Incandescent mercury vapor bulbs
      disperse UVB over a greater distance, and provide heat as well. Both also emit UVA, useful for plants. Fixtures are available here, or at stores carrying reptile products. Let me know if you need help in choosing the right fixture…a strip without full hood will work for the fluorescent, mercury vapor needs a ceramic socket.

      Enjoy and pl keep me posted, best, frank

  7. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    I keep a colony of 4 Green Anole, (1.3) which I also breed, and 4 Green tree frogs (3.1) in an naturally planted 85 gallon vivarium. I am looking to introduce a colony of five lined skinks in with them. Can you give me any advice/ tips as to five lined skinks care or behaviour in captivity? How many would you suggest for a tank my size as I do not wish to overstock?

    I look forward to you reply

    Kind regards

    • avatar

      Hello Lynne,

      Perfect choice for such a tank…I’ve done the same with the species you keep, very interesting. 1.3 should be fine; temps and conditions same as for anoles, dietary variety important. Most will climb thick sloping driftwood etc (they tend not to climb on branches like anoles) to bask, but others remain on the ground only (seems to be individual, but southern subspecies more likely to climb, in my experience); if they do not climb, you’ll need to assure adequate exposure to UVB and heat at a ground basking site. You’ll hopefully be able to breed them in that set-up. Please let me know if you need more info, and keep me posted, enjoy, Frank

  8. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Thank you for the advice, much appreciated. I will have to give some thought to ground UV/ heat sources as I’m not sure currently how I would do this in my tank, although, the tank is tiered at the back with a lot of thick sloping branches into the canopy, hopefully they would be able to get up there. I can also use thicker branches over the two basking sites to provide a flatter base.

    Here is a link to a forum where you can see pictures of my tank to give you some idea of what I mean. It is the 85 gallon one-


    Are there many differences (in size etc.) between the common five lined skink and the south-eastern? Is it possible to accurately sex these lizards when young?

    • avatar

      Hi Lynne,

      My pleasure..wonderful tank, thanks for the link! I think the skinks will get up high enough…there’s plenty of nearby cover, which will help (they tend to be shy when out in the open. Size about the same, and no way to sex youngsters, unfortunately. Multiple males sometimes do okay in tanks such as yours. I’m sure you’ll enjoy, please keep me posted, Frank

  9. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    I also read in your other blogs that you have kept Green and Brown Anole together, how did you find they got along? I have had mixed views from people about cohabiting them. Did you find the Brown Anole competed with, dominated the Greens as they are said to in the wild? What size enclosure did you keep them in?

    Thanks once again for all you help, sorry for the double post, I have many questions!

    • avatar

      Hi Lynne,

      Please post as often as you wish…great ideas, and great to have an anole enthusiast here, they deserve more interest. I’ve mainly kept them tgether in large zoo exhibits…plenty of room, cover etc so no real problems. Main difficulties are same as in single species terrariums..male-male, dominant females, basking site and food aggression, etc. From what I’ve read, and seen in Fla, browns seem better at utilizing more habitat types, more food items etc than are greens; reproduction high also; this may be the main reason they do so well, and may not be that impt in captivity. I haven’t checked lately, but several folks were looking at this topic in the field. Perhaps try searching The Southeastern Naturalist..abstracts are posted on line, very interesting journal. Enjoy and please post as often as you wish, frank

  10. avatar

    Hi! I own a DeKay’s brown snake and am wondering if there are any reptiles/amphibians I can put with him. He is currently housed in a 15 gallon tank. Because of his small size i worry he would get eaten, so I researched but found nothing saying anything about what animals they can live with.

    • avatar

      Hi Emily,

      They get along with American toads and other toads..assuming toad is not large enough to swallow snake – , various treefrogs – Gray, barking, Green, wood frogs. If you add a UVB light, you can also keep green anoles and similar lizards. However, a 15 gallon tank is a bit small for multiple species, as each has slightly different needs – frogs need moist areas, etc and the key to keeping mixed groups is providing enough space. You might also consider another DeKay’s…they have live young, so a breeding pair would be very interesting.

      Best to hold off until you can move the snake to a larger tank – i.e. a 20 gallon long style aquarium.

      Enjoy and let me know if you need anything. frank

  11. avatar

    I have a green anole that came to my greenhouse (in Winnipeg, Canada) in a box of plants from Florida. She is now living in our house in a terrarium and we would like to take her to the greenhouse at times during the day so she can enjoy the natural heat, light humidity in there. I don’t want to stress her, though, and am wondering if it is okay to move her from one location to another or if it is best to leave her be where she is. I would like to get a fresh-air screened house for her for her outings to the greenhouse.

    • avatar

      Hi Evelyn,

      Moving the animal carefully back and forth would be worthwhile…screening would be ideal, Glass filters-out UVB (unless your greenhouse is made with the type that allows UVB through?)..a screen cage placed outdoors, with shade areas and protected from predators, would allow the animal to absorb much greater amounts of UVB than available via bulb…even a short time in the sun would likely meet her needs. This would allow heat/humidity to circulate a s well, within greenhouse. Here are some examples of useful screen cages. Let me know if you need anything, frank

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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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