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.

Handling

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.

Breeding

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.

I’m very interested in mixed-species exhibits and terrariums.  Please write in with your own experiences.  Thanks…until next time, Frank Indiviglio.

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:

http://dels.nas.edu/ilar_n/ilarjournal/45_1/pdfs/v4501lovern.pdf

The Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis carolinensis) in the Wild and Captivity – Care in Captivity – Part 3

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Please see Part I and Part II of this article for further information on Green Anole care. For Green Anole Natural History, Check out here

Social Grouping

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 Dominance

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).

Compatible Species

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.

Mixed-Species Considerations

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!

Frank Indiviglio

The Green Iguana (Iguana iguana) on the Venezuelan Llanos – Notes from the Field

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

green iguana on Venezuelan LlanosI grew up “knowing” green iguanas to be largely arboreal lizards of thickly-forested habitats.  In time, I was able to confirm that impression by observing them high in the canopy of a Costa Rican rainforest, and in the tall trees of Tortuguero Island, Costa Rica…where, in accordance with what I had read, they dove into the river when disturbed.

So I was quite surprised, upon arriving in Venezuela’s flat, largely treeless llanos, to find these flooded grasslands well-stocked with the huge lizards.  I was there to study green anacondas (also a surprising find, given my past impressions, but we eventually tagged over 500) but found it impossible to limit my attention to them, so overwhelming was the diversity of wildlife.

The green iguanas grazed on the flat, treeless terrain like so many cows…in fact, they were often among cows, as much of our work was on a cattle ranch.  When threatened (i.e. by me trying to catch one), they took off at incredible speeds and dove into the water. 

Anaconda surfacing on Venezuelan LlanosOne stout brute of 5’11” in length (please see photo showing side-view) absolutely refused to enter the water when he reached its edge.  He held his ground, thrashing his tail (please see photo showing cut left on my arm by a smaller animal’s tail) and lunging at me.  Once subdued, I was able to see that he had numerous old wounds that had likely been inflicted by piranhas, and was missing several toes.  Perhaps his stretch of the river had a particularly aggressive piranha population, and he preferred a battle on land to another swim!

Venezuelan LlanosI’ve included a photo of typical iguana habitat in Venezuela’s central llanos country, to perhaps show you why I was so surprised to find the lizards there (the creatures in the foreground are capybaras, world’s largest rodent).  Also included is a photo of another reason that an iguana might choose to run or fight rather than swim – a huge green anaconda basking at the surface.

Today we can see ample evidence of the green iguanas’ adaptability right here in the USA – feral animals live in areas ranging from beaches to suburban gardens throughout south Florida!

Please write in with your questions and comments.  Thanks, until next time, Frank Indiviglio.

Detailed information on green iguana behavior and typical habitats is posted by the Green Iguana Society at:

http://www.greenigsociety.org/inthewild.htm

UVB Bulb Update: Zoo Med now provides free email reminders when it is time to replace reptile or bird full spectrum bulbs

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

Zoo-medRecently I wrote about some exciting information that has recently come to light concerning the effectiveness of Zoo Med UVB lamps (please see my article Product Review: The Zoo Med Reptisun 10.0 High Output UVB Lamp and 5.0 UVB Lamp, Part I and Part II for further information). 

One drawback inherent in all UVB lamps (bulbs) is the fact that the lamp will continue to burn brightly long after its UVB output has declined or even ceased.  To further complicate matters, the effective life varies from model to model, and among different manufacturer’s lamps.

Zoo Med has recently introduced a service wherein customers are reminded of lamp replacement dates via email.  Lamp purchasers register the purchase date, model, terrarium type and species kept…based upon this information, the company determines the ideal time to replace the lamp and sends an email notice as that time approaches.  Advances in technology that affect lamp life will be incorporated into the system.

A tip: if you have a large collection, you may wish to invest in a small UVB meter.  UVB output and useful life can vary even among lamps manufactured by the same company.  Actually monitoring UVB production will allow you, in some cases, to leave a lamp in place after its usual expiration date.  Also, once UVB output has declined, you can move the lamp to a situation where it can be placed closer to a basking site or perhaps use it for a species that has lower UVB requirements. 

You can read about Zoo Med’s new program at:

http://zoomed.com/Join/UVBSignup.php

Thanks, until next time, Frank Indiviglio.

Happy Holidays from Frank and ThatPetPlace.com

Thanks for being a loyal That Reptile Blog reader in 2008! Have an excellent holiday and please accept this exclusive gift from ThatPetPlace.com. 10% off your order over $80. Use promo code “HOLIBLOG” at checkout. Offer valid until January 2nd, 2009. 

Santa Bearded Dragon

 

New articles start again Friday the 26th.

Until than,

Happy Holidays from Frank and the ThatPetPlace.com staff!

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