Green anoles are generally easy-going reptiles that don’t need intensive care and maintenance. However, all reptiles, anoles included, are more feral than most of the other household pets that we are accustomed to. This means that they require specific accommodation elements, which we will discuss in detail today.
Today’s article is for you if you’ve never owned a green anole before but plan on getting one or several.
Pet Green Anole Care Sheet
The following are the standard accommodation requirements for green anoles and reptiles in general, to a point.
Housing and Tank Setup
There are several points worth mentioning here, such as:
- Tank size – The typical green anole can grow up to 8 inches, although most specimens revolve around 5-7 inches. One adult anole can do just fine in a 10-gallon setup, although you can go for a 15-gallon piece, just to be sure. The extra space is great for adding more decorative elements to vary the ecosystem a bit. You should increase the tank size accordingly with every new anole joining the group.
- Layout – Green anoles are reptiles, so they consistently climb and explore their habitat. Add branches and other elements for climbing, live plants, bark, and logs for hiding, and ensure sufficient open space for freedom of movement. The idea is to create a natural-looking layout that would mimic the reptile’s natural ecosystem. Green anoles are also shier by nature, so they could always use a handful of hiding and resting areas around their habitat.
- Temperature and humidity – The ideal temperature range is 65-90 F, spanning over a well-maintained gradient. The top areas of the tank should become the basking spot with the highest temperature, while the lower regions should be colder. This will allow the reptile to navigate between the different zones to balance out its body temperature accordingly. Humidity should stay between 60 and 80% for proper hydration and comfort.
- Live plants – Live plants are great for several reasons. These include oxygen production, creating a natural ecosystem, increasing environmental humidity, and hydrating the lizards. Green anoles only drink water off of the plants around them. You can try to teach them the art of bowl drinking, but be ready to fail.
- Lighting – Green anoles are diurnal animals, so they are only active during the daytime. Provide the lizards with UVB lighting for at least 8-10 hours per day and turn off the lights during the nighttime so that the reptile can rest properly.
- Substrate – The substrate should have moisture-retaining properties and be reptile-friendly. Avoid substrates that contain pebbles or rocks that your reptile can ingest by mistake or even willingly. Green anoles are curious animals that use their mouths to explore their environment. Coconut fiber is currently the most used reptile substrate thanks to its humidity-retaining properties, ease of maintenance, and overall pet-specific profile. When ingested, coconut fiber aids in digestion, so it’s a win-win scenario for your anole. You can also go for bark bedding or moss substrates. No matter the type of substrate, always clean it weekly and replace it completely every month.
When it comes to creating the overall setup, go for whatever your reptiles enjoy more. Some anoles like to climb more, while others prefer to navigate their ecosystem in the lower regions. Add a variety of elements for a varied layout so that your lizards may never get bored of exploring it.
More importantly, don’t change the tank’s layout too often or not at all, if possible. Anoles use their ecosystem’s layout to navigate around and learn their territory. Changing the layout will cause them to feel unsafe and experience stress as a result. And you don’t want your anoles to get stressed.
Diet and Feeding
Green anoles are exclusively insectivorous reptiles, unlike other species like geckos or bearded dragons, which are omnivorous. This makes it easier to feed them since you no longer need to worry about fruits and veggies. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care for their diet properly, though.
When it comes to feeding the green anole properly, you have several key points to consider:
- Food diversity – Green anoles require a varied diet consisting of several insect types. Test things out to see what your anoles prefer other than crickets. Crickets should be their main menu because it’s their favorite prey in the wild.
- Nutritional supplementation – Insects alone won’t cut it for green anoles because these animals are prone to calcium and D3 deficiency. This weakness is standard among reptiles, so you need to address it properly. You can do that via several methods, gut-loading the insects being the easiest and most obvious one. Get a feeder insect tank going and gut-load them with nutritious blends to increase their nutritional value for your anoles. You can also dust them with calcium for an extra nutritional punch.
- Meal and food item size – Learn your green anole’s feeding behavior to learn the proper meal size and frequency. Overfed anoles can experience constipation and obesity, which will lower the reptile’s quality of life and lifespan. The size of the food item also matters greatly. The feeder insects should be no larger than the separation between the lizard’s eyes. This will prevent the anole from choking on the prey and experiencing impaction as a result.
- Treats – Some insects are better off as treats. Mealworms, waxworms, and hornworms fall into this category. That’s because these contain too much fat and not enough protein and other nutrients to justify them becoming part of the reptile’s regular diet. But they’re tasty, so your anole will love them.
- Water – Adequate hydration is necessary to support a healthy digestive system. A dehydrated anole will experience constipation and impaction due to the digestive system’s inability to process the food anymore.
- The effect of temperature on digestion – If the environmental temperature is too low, the reptile’s digestive system may shut down completely. This shows the importance of having a good temperature gradient with an optimized basking area in your anole’s tank.
- The effect of light on nutrient absorption – UVB lighting is absolutely necessary for proper calcium intake. That’s because UVB lighting promotes D3 production, and vitamin D3 aids in calcium digestion. Without that, your anole won’t be able to synthesize the calcium in its food, no matter how nutritious the insects are otherwise.
- Prioritize live food – Always feed your green anole live food if possible. That’s because these lizards are predators that enjoy stalking and hunting their prey. The hunting will keep them in top physical and mental shape, and who doesn’t want a healthy and happy anole?
Regarding feeding frequency, adapt the meal plant to your anole’s size and age. Baby and juvenile anoles may require 2-3 insect meals per day, thanks to their higher metabolic rates. Adult anoles will do just fine with one meal daily or even one every other day.
Handling and Socialization
This is a spicy topic, given that we all want to pet and play with our reptiles. As a reptile lover myself, I completely understand this drive. The problem is that anoles aren’t exactly too pet-compatible if you know what I mean. They are the shier type that prefer to be left alone if possible.
That being said, you can pet and hold them, provided you keep the following in mind:
- Give it time – You should avoid petting or holding your green anole if you just got it. Give the reptile some time to become accustomed to its new habitat and your presence. You might want to feed it by hand for a while until the anole learns that you’re friendly and come in peace. Often with food.
- Be gentle about it – Always handle your anole with care. Don’t hold it too tight, don’t grab its tail, and adjust your behavior to your reptile’s temperament.
- Don’t handle the reptile too often – Limit the handling sessions as much as possible. Green anoles don’t appreciate frequent petting. Once every couple of days should be fine, depending on your anole’s temperament and personality.
- Learn when not to handle the anole – If your green anole appears irritated or even aggressive, avoid holding it. Also, avoid petting and handling if the anole appears close to shedding, it’s digesting its food, or appears sick or stressed. You should address those problems first before considering any social interactions with your pet.
- How to tell when the anole has had enough – If the anole becomes fidgety and tries to flee your hold, place it back in its enclosure. You don’t want to stress it out or force it to shed its tail to escape you.
- All reptiles are pathogen carriers – ‘All’ is the correct word here. All reptiles can carry parasites and other dangerous pathogens that can transmit to humans. This includes salmonella, which is potentially deadly. Wash your hands immediately after handling your lizard, and even use gloves if your lizard appears sick.
- Always wash your hands before and after petting the reptile – Wash your hands before holding your anole. Reptiles are very sensitive to various contaminants and substances that you may transmit via touch. Even your regular soap can irritate and poison them.
As you can see, there’s an entire ritual to consider when it comes to handling your green anole properly. Fortunately, it only appears complicated because it becomes more manageable once you get the hang of it.
Health and Wellness
Green anoles can deal with a variety of health issues, like any other reptile. The good thing is that all of these health problems are preventable, as they are always the result of environmental influences. Some of the instances that can affect your anoles’ health include:
- Improper environmental parameters – Improper temperature and humidity are the leading cause of sickness among green anoles. Low temperatures cause digestive problems, high temperatures cause dehydration and overheating, low humidity causes respiratory infections, and high humidity causes skin infections and pneumonia. Figure out the right values and closely monitor your reptile’s habitat to prevent inadequate values.
- Feeding-related health problems – Nutritional deficiencies and impaction are the most common health issues to consider. We’ve already discussed calcium deficiency and how to prevent it. Fortunately, the situation is also preventable when it comes to constipation and impaction. Impaction is often the result of the reptile ingesting oversized prey or even small rocks or other foreign objects present in their enclosure.
- Shedding-related issues – All reptiles shed regularly, anoles included. The problem is that improper shedding can lead to stuck skin, which can develop into tissue necrosis and infections. To ensure that the shedding process completes without incident, keep humidity levels at around 80% and stabilize the temperature gradient to prevent sudden swings. Also, give your reptile the space and peace it needs to undergo the process safely.
- Improper husbandry – The lack of adequate tank maintenance and cleaning can lead to bacteria, parasitic, or fungal infections. These can turn deadly fast, especially if your lizard is old or already sick. Always keep your anole’s habitat clean, free of poop, food leftovers, or any other dead organic matter that could jeopardize the ecosystem’s balance and hygiene.
- Accidents and injuries – These can happen for a variety of reasons. The reptile may fall or hurt itself due to an improper and dangerous layout. Injuries may also occur due to aggressive tankmates and rough interactions during feeding or mating. You should always monitor your anoles’ activity and interactions if you have a group in the same enclosure.
Fortunately, most of these problems are easily preventable. Those that are not are easily manageable with early and targeted treatment. I always recommend contacting the vet if you have problems properly diagnosing or treating your sick anole.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Fortunately, this is the easiest part of caring for your anoles. That’s because these reptiles don’t need any extensive cleaning in the long run. The standard cleaning routine refers to removing fecal matter and food leftovers to prevent bacterial and fungal accumulation, and that’s about it. You should clean or remove some of the substrate if it becomes tainted with urine and remove it once a week.
You may need to remove the substrate sooner if you have a group of anoles since they will produce more waste overall. Other than that, anoles don’t need too much cleaning.
Green anoles rank as beginner-friendly reptiles for good reasons. They are easy to keep, easy to maintain, in good shape, and generally friendly. They’re also cute, which amounts to quite a lot.
Follow my recommendation list regarding keeping the lizards in good health, and they will reward you with a bubbly presence for years to come.