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 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.
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: