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The Green Anole – Important Supplies for Anoles and other Lizard Pets

The Green or Carolina Anole, Anolis carolinensis, has introduced generations of herp enthusiasts to reptile-keepingSmall, active, and willing to breed in captivity, this handsome arboreal lizard makes a wonderful pet.  Although associated with “beginners”, Green Anoles are complex creatures, well able to hold the interest of lifelong herpetologists and pet keepers, myself included. A huge array of relatives (there are over 370 anole species!), many available in the pet trade, can be kept in a similar manner.  Today I’ll review supplies for Anoles and similar lizards to get you started off right.  Please see the linked articles, and post questions below, for detailed information on care and breeding.

Male's dewlap

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by R. Colin Blenis

The Terrarium

Although small, Green Anoles active and require spacious terrariums; they become stressed in tight quarters.  A single animal can be housed in a 15 gallon tank; pair or trio should be provided with a 20 gallon aquarium.

The Zoo Med Repti-Breeze Aluminum/Screen Cage is perhaps the best option. It provides critical air circulation and, when placed outdoors, also allows for UVB exposure (glass and plastic filter-out UVB rays).

The extra-tall Exo Terra Terrarium can also be fashioned into an excellent anole habitat.

Terrarium Furnishings

Numerous branches should be provided, along with plants and vines.  Anoles will be stressed in a bare terrarium – plants provide “sight barriers” that offer security and ease aggression among tank-mates. Read More »

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.

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