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. Until then, please write in with your own thoughts and questions. Thanks, Frank

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

Hi, Frank Indiviglio here. Please see Green Anole Natural History for information concerning the natural history of the green anole and its relatives.

Green AnolesGreen anoles became a US pet trade staple in the 1960’s and early 70’s. Labeled “chameleons” due to their color-changing abilities, millions were collected in Florida and Louisiana and sold at circuses, fairs, pet stores and through the mail. In time, they became the “first lizard” for a generation of budding herpetologists. A host of grossly inappropriate supplies (including lapel chains!) and husbandry techniques assured most of the unfortunate creatures a short and unhappy captive existence.

My Less-Than-Promising Start
I remember well purchasing a green anole (packaged, oddly enough, in a small pie box) at the famous Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus at Madison Square Garden in the early 60’s. I knew enough to bypass the recommended diet of “sugar water and dried ant eggs” but was ignorant of the beast’s UVB requirements. I did, however, gather that it craved sunlight, and during one basking trip the lizard escaped up a caterpillar- laden apple tree where, I hope, it at least enjoyed the NYC spring and summer.

A Bit Delicate, but Well-Worth the Effort
Green anoles do reasonably well in captivity but are not the hardy, “starter lizards” they are often proclaimed to be. They are prone to stress-related ailments, require careful attention to the diet, and are quite sensitive to light, temperature and humidity levels.

That being said, I feel that their potential is largely ignored – a properly maintained group will readily display numerous social interactions, and makes as active and interesting a lizard exhibit as can be imagined. What’s more, establishing a colony of green anoles in such a situation is well within the financial and space constraints of many pet keepers, which cannot be said of most lizard species.

My co-workers at the Bronx Zoo frowned when I began adding green anoles to several large exhibits, but they (the lizards, not co-workers!) quickly became crowd pleasers. Even in an exhibit housing 2 huge water moccasins, it was the leaping, displaying anoles that drew most of the public’s attention.

Enclosure and Physical Environment
Green anoles are highly arboreal and will prefer the upper reaches of their enclosure. Branches of various thicknesses and orientations should be provided, along with plentiful sight barriers in the form of suspended live or artificial plants.

Despite their small size, green anoles require a good deal of room, as they are very active and are easily stressed by tight quarters or if confined too closely to one another. Ideally, a trio should be provided with a well-planted, 20 gallon aquarium.

Males are intolerant of each other. If several females are kept, horizontal and diagonally oriented basking sites (these are preferred over vertical branches) should be plentiful, as dominant animals will exclude others from these important areas.

Anoles do best in complex exhibits, especially those with live plants. They are quite easy on live plants, and really do look at their best when among them. Snake plants, pothos, Philodendron, peace lilies and many others will be well-used by these little gymnasts, and the areas between large leaves make naturalistic nocturnal retreats.

Arboreal shelters, in the form of cork bark and hanging plants, should be provided. These and similar sight barriers are important, as females will establish a dominance hierarchy, and subordinate animals may be inhibited from feeding or basking, even absent outright aggression.

The substrate should hold a bit of moisture but not be soggy. I recently used Exo-Terra Jungle Earth with a covering of Compressed Frog Moss and dead leaves in a public exhibit, and am pleased with the results. You can also use Keeper’s Choice Red CypressExo-terra Forest Bark or Coconut Husk, with any type of moss mixed in.

Click here: The Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis carolinensis) in the Wild and Captivity – Care in Captivity Part 2, to read the rest of this article.

Until than,


Product Review: The Zoo Med Reptisun 10.0 High Output UVB Lamp and 5.0 UVB Lamp – Part I

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.We have learned a great deal about the Ultraviolet B (UVB) light requirements of reptiles in recent years. However, the actual process of providing our pets with UVB of the correct wavelength (290-315 nanometers) remains fraught with confusion.

While helping to set up the new reptile house at New York City’s Staten Island Zoo (former stomping grounds of famed herpetologist Carl Kauffeld), I spoke with several pioneering researchers in the field of reptile UVB requirements, and have since monitored the building’s exhibits.

Recent Tests at the Staten Island Zoo
Recently, the zoo’s reptile keepers ran some tests in order to measure the UVB output of fluorescent lamps (bulbs) used in some of the exhibits and holding cages. While mercury vapor lamps often provide more UVB over a greater range, they are sometimes unsuitable for small cages, or for use with certain species. This study focused on fluorescent lamps, which are commonly used by pet keepers as well.

Using a UVB meter, the staff found that the Zoo Med Reptisun 10.0 High Output UVB Lamp provided high levels of UVB, with the Zoo Med Reptisun 5.0 UVB Lamp being valuable in some situations as well.

Earlier Research on Zoo Med Lamps
Can o Shrimp I did a bit of research, and learned that a group known as UV Guide UK (please see below) had earlier cited research showing that the Reptisun 5.0 (the 10.0 was not tested) scored highest of all fluorescent tubes in what is known as the D3 Index (the projected ability of lamp to foster Vitamin D synthesis). UV Guide UK also found that the Zoo Med 10.0 and 5.0 lamps lead other fluorescents in UVB output.

Zoo Med Lamps on Lizard Exhibits
The Staten Island Zoo currently uses the Zoo Med 10.0 High Output UVB Lamp with a number of lizards, including such sensitive species as the crevice spiny swift (Sceloporus poinsetti) and the Texas horned lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum).

Check out the specifics of the UVB output readings recorded at the zoo, and take a look at a simple method of increasing the output of any UVB lamp at part II of this article.  

Thanks, until next time, Frank Indiviglio.

You can read more about the work of UV Guide UK, including the tests mentioned, at the following site (Note: the original tests were in 2005…the Zoo Med Lamps have been upgraded in the interim).

“Begging Behavior” Among Tadpoles of the Strawberry Poison Frog, Oophaga (formerly Dendrobates) pumilio

Strawberry Poison FrogHi, Frank Indiviglio here.The success that hobbyists have had in establishing breeding populations of so many species of poison frogs is truly astonishing, and has served a greater purpose in removing the financial incentive to collect them from the wild.

Unfortunately, the extraordinary parental care supplied by many poison frogs is difficult to observe in captivity, and the most effective way of rearing the tadpoles is to remove them from their parents’ terrarium. I was most fortunate to have had the opportunity to observe the breeding behavior of wild strawberry poison frogs in Tortuguero, Costa Rica, and in a large zoo exhibit.

Finding and Feeding the Tadpoles
Strawberry poison frog tadpoles, which are moved by the female frog to individual water-filled bromeliad stems, exhibit what has been termed “begging behavior” when their mother visits their pools. When the female lowers her vent into the water, the tadpole moves against her, stiffens, and vibrates. This stimulates the female to release 1-5 unfertilized eggs, which comprise the tadpole’s sole diet.

She visits and feeds each of her offspring, every other day or so, for the 43-52 days that they remain in the tadpole stage…no wonder these tiny moms eat so much! When one considers the complexity of the frog’s rainforest environment, especially as compared to the size of the frog, the female’s ability to locate each tadpole borders on the unbelievable.

Additional Behaviors
Outstanding herpetologist Elke Zimmermann (in “Breeding Terrarium Animals, 1986. TFH: Neptune City, NJ) has even observed females to dip their heads into bromeliad pools before laying, and notes that disturbances from other than the mother frog sends the tadpole into retreat. Field research in Panama indicates that female strawberry poison frogs consistently avoid feeding other than their own progeny.

I was able to observe parental care only in huge exhibits and the wild, but please write in if you would like to try at home…it’s well worth the effort.

We now know that Chirixalus eiffingeri, a treefrog endemic to Taiwan, also communicates with and feeds its tadpoles. The abstract of an article documenting this behavior is posted at:

Making the Most of the Mealworm: some tips on enhancing the nutritional value of this pet trade staple

Hi, Frank Indiviglio here. Today I’d like to take a look at a much-maligned food insect that can, if used properly, be an important addition to your pets’ diets.

Mealworms (larvae)
MealwormsA steady diet of mealworms (I refer here to the small mealworm, Tenebrio molitor, not the giant mealworm, Zophobus mario) is not recommended for any reptile or amphibian. These beetle larvae lack essential nutrients, the calcium: phosphorus ratio is not ideal and the exoskeleton is high in chitin. Mealworms also have quite strong jaws, and may injure debilitated or small reptiles and amphibians.

However, newly molted mealworms, which are white in color, are soft, have weak mouthparts and lower chitin levels. I have found them to be an excellent supplementary food for amphibians, tarantulas, scorpions and reptiles and fish.

Mealworms will shed most frequently when fed heavily and kept at 76-80 F. I house my colony in a mix of wheat bran, corn meal and powdered multi-grain baby food, with a bit of Tetramin Flake Fish Food added in, and provide banana skins for moisture.

Mealworm Pupa
Mealworm pupae are a fine food for turtles, newts, aquatic frogs and those lizards that accept non-living food items. They are low in chitin and likely have a different nutrient profile than either the larvae or adults.

Mealworm (Darkling) Beetles
Beetles, comprising the world’s largest animal family, figure prominently in the diets of most insectivorous reptiles and amphibians (based upon stomach content studies). I have long used darkling beetles (adult stage of the mealworm) as a food item, and prefer them over the larvae in most situations.

Beetles newly emerged from the pupae are softer than later-stage animals, and brown in color. To ensure a steady supply, I remove pupae as they form and place them into a bare container. In this way the beetles cannot burrow into the substrate, and are thus easier to harvest. Warm temperatures and a good diet (see above) will ensure a steady supply. Be sure to leave some beetles in the colony for breeding purposes.

Please write in with your own tips and questions. Thanks, until next time, Frank.

You can learn more about the specifics of the mealworm’s life cycle at:

Image referenced from Wikipedia:

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