Why is My Green Anole Not Eating?

Green anoles are some of the cutest and most affordable lizards you can buy today. They need basic care to thrive and have an insectivore diet. They can consume a variety of insects like slugs, worms, spiders, flies, butterflies, and anything that packs a good nutrient punch.

Generally speaking, adult green anoles eat once every 2 days, but this can differ based on the lizard’s size and appetite. Younger anoles need to eat one meal daily for proper nutrient intake. But what if your lizard showcases low-to-no appetite?

Today, we’ll discuss the green anole’s feeding behavior and what the lack of appetite tells you about the reptile’s health status.

8 Reasons Green Anole is Not Eating

If your green anole refuses food, something is not right. The following are the 8 most relevant reasons why some green anoles showcase low food appetite. These include:


As lizards, green anoles are subjected to the same health problems that every reptile is. These include parasites, bacterial infections, respiratory infections, skin conditions, shedding-related difficulties, and even injuries due to aggressive tankmates. All these problems start off as mild but will progress fast with time.

Some of the most common triggers are improper environmental parameters and poor husbandry. Drastic fluctuations in temperature can cause your reptile to experience visible distress that will weaken its immune system.

Low humidity promotes dehydration, while excessive humidity can cause pneumonia and bacterial infections. A dirty enclosure also contributes to the problem, leading to mold and bacterial accumulation that could turn deadly.

Depending on the condition, the lizard will display several symptoms, with the lack of appetite and hiding behavior being the most noticeable ones. You should always verify your anole’s general health in these cases if only to rule out the possibility of a hidden health problem.


The green anole doesn’t need too much space. You can house 1 or 2 specimens in a 10-gallon setup, along with the necessary decorations and plants. But you need more space if you want to set up an anole group to prevent territorial tensions and provide the lizards with the proper space.

It’s important to note that the green anole is a vegetation-loving animal. You need to have a lot of plants around to create a natural-looking ecosystem and provide your lizard with peace of mind and comfort. Not to mention, green anoles only drink water from the leaves of the plants around them. They will most likely dehydrate without plants, which comes with a new array of health problems.

But it’s also comfort that makes the difference. Green anoles are shy lizards, shier than your more popular lizard pets like crested and leopard geckos. They can be easily rattled and require a variety of hiding areas to catch their breath.

A lush ecosystem is necessary for that reason with everything that that entails. This includes leafy plants, branches for climbing, open areas for feeding and exercising, and an overall natural-looking ecosystem perfect for exploration and resting.

As an additional note, changing the enclosure’s layout is bound to stress out the reptile because it adds a sense of unfamiliarity and insecurity.


This is a delicate topic because green anoles can experience stress for a variety of reasons. Everything off the charts in terms of environmental conditions, enclosure hygiene, noises and lights around them, dietary profile, etc., can stress the lizards out. If your anole appears fidgety, aggressive, extra shy, and avoids open areas, consider the possibility of it being stressed.

The first thing to assess is the lizard’s physical health. Reptiles have no way of informing you of their health problems other than via their behavior. Check for discoloration, visible injuries, mouth, nasal, or eye discharges, anything that could inform you of the animal’s state. If nothing is out of the ordinary, assess environmental conditions like temperature, humidity, and lighting.

Make sure that the reptile is well-fed and well-hydrated, and assess the social interactions between your green anoles if you keep them in a group. In short, you need to eliminate any source of stress that could cause your green anole to become uncomfortable and stop eating.

Eliminating the source of stress allows the green anole to return to its normal behavior.


Impaction is a common health problem among reptiles in general. The condition refers to the lizard’s digestive tract getting blocked due to ingesting a large and hard object. The object in question could be anything, from a rock or pebble to a piece of wood or even a larger insect with a hard and undigestible shell. Dehydration is also known to lead to constipation and even compaction due to the fecal matter becoming rock solid.

The lizard will display several signs of distress when experiencing compaction. These include bloating, inflamed cloaca, straining when pooping, lack of appetite, lack of mobility, lethargy, and even runny poop. The latter is the result of the lizard being unable to pass on solid matter, so only some urine will get through.

Make sure you assess and diagnose the condition accurately. You don’t want to treat your anole of impaction when that’s not the problem, to begin with. If the condition is mild or in its incipient phases, the treatment should be fairly simple. Provide the lizard with sufficient water to soften the fecal matter and ease defecation.

You can massage your anole’s belly gently to activate the digestive system and hopefully ease the clog. If nothing works, you can contact the vet for professional intervention. Severe compaction cases demand surgical interventions.

Mating Season

Green anoles refrain from eating during the mating season. That’s when hormones are raging, and the reptile’s physiology changes during the breeding process. The reptile may even lose weight during that time which shouldn’t be a reason for concern. Its appetite should pick back up as soon as the mating season is over.


The green anole sheds every 1-6 weeks, depending on the reptile’s age. Juveniles shed more frequently because they have more active metabolic rates and grow faster. Adults past the 1-year mark only shed once every 4, 5, and even 6 weeks as they grow older. The reptile is particularly sensitive and vulnerable during the shedding process, so it requires peace and quiet throughout.

Your green anole won’t eat during this time and will remain in hiding until the shedding is over. Fortunately, the shedding process shouldn’t last too long. In most cases, the green anole won’t take more than a couple of hours to remove its old skin. Some cases may be trickier, causing the anole to struggle for 24 hours or more.

It’s important to note that the lizard will stop eating 1-3 days before the shedding actually begins. You can tell that the reptile is getting ready to shed by its change in color. The lizard’s color gets duller as the shedding gets closer.


Dehydration is a particular reason for concern. Green anoles get hydrated via drinking water and absorbing air humidity through their skin. If environmental humidity is insufficient, there won’t be enough water accumulating on the plants for the lizards to drink.

These animals can quickly become dehydrated and experience intense physiological problems. The lack of appetite is most likely the mildest consequence, but it’s telling of the anole’s current status.

If untreated, dehydration leads to skin infections, respiratory infections, and death, often sooner than you would expect. A green anole can’t survive past few days without water, but the health problems begin sooner than that, typically after the first 24 hours.

Always monitor your anole’s humidity parameters to prevent this scenario. Have a hygrometer in place and keep the enclosure’s humidity between 60 and 70%, depending on your lizard’s preferences and the time of day. You can preserve the air humidity by adding lots of live plants, spraying the enclosure several times per day, and using a moisture-retaining substrate.

The Food is Not Right

If the food is too large, the anole won’t be able to eat it. The problem is that most people think, ‘Okay, I’ll feed this insect to my anole, and if it tries to eat it and fails, I’ll give it a smaller one.’ The problem is that that’s not how it works. Your anole can notice that the insect is too large and simply avoid eating it. That’s because the insect is too large for the lizard to see it as prey.

You should always feed your green anole appropriately-sized meals. The feeder insect shouldnot exceed the distance between the anole’s eyes, and this metric system works great with almost all lizards.

How Long Can Anole Survive Without Eating?

The answer to this question is all over the place, depending where you look. For the most part, the green anole can go without food between 1-4 weeks, but this timeframe varies greatly. Several factors influence the lizard’s resilience in this sense. These include the lizard’s age, health, genetic makeup, other environmental conditions, etc.

You should never test your green anole’s resilience this way. Always feed it regularly and adjust its diet according to its nutritional needs. That’s because, even if your green anole can undergo a week or more without food, there may still be hidden consequences to that. The lizard may experience mild nutritional deficiencies because of the forced fasting, soon resulting into full-fledged health issues.

It’s not uncommon for many green anoles to experience significant health problems when fasting, even if they looked healthy and strong beforehand.

Will Green Anole Starve Itself?

Yes, it will. There are several scenarios in which a green anole will choose to no longer eat. These include shedding, mating, and when under stress which, as we’ve seen, can result from a variety of scenarios. If your anole doesn’t eat, assess its health status, environmental parameters, and mental state to figure out the case.

In most cases, it’s something mild at play which you can tackle with relative ease. Either way, early detection, and treatment is preferable, no matter the nature of the trigger.

What to do if Anole Won’t Eat?

If your anole won’t eat and the cause isn’t immediately evident, consider the following:

  • Assess the reptile’s health status to rule out physical injuries, infections, parasites, and so on
  • Assess the environment’s structure to make sure that the layout meets the reptile’s needs
  • Assess the social interactions between your green anoles to rule out territorial aggression
  • Check the food’s quality and size
  • Make sure that your anole isn’t close or in the process of shedding
  • Check environmental parameters to keep temperature, humidity, and lighting at the ideal levels

These strategies should allow you to determine your reptile’s status fairly and address the problem properly.

Can You Force-Feed a Green Anole?

You sure can. Not only that, but you should force-feed it too. However, whether you should or not depends on why your anole isn’t eating, to begin with. You want to avoid force-feeding the anole if it’s shedding, is in mating season, or is experiencing compaction.

Always assess the reptile’s condition and circumstances before deciding one way or the other.

When it comes to the force-feeding process itself, it should be fairly easy. You can either pick your reptile up and place the insect-to-feed near or in its mouth. The anole will swallow it by virtue of mere instinct. If the anole isn’t fond of handling, which most of them are not, you can feed it in its enclosure. Simply drive the insect to the reptile’s mouth with your hand, and Mother Nature will do the rest.

You can even use the live insect to poke the lizard gently across the mouth so that it would open it. The lizard will grab and swallow the prey once it feels its movement on its tongue.

The hand-feeding will also strengthen the bond between you and your anole, helping the lizard become more comfortable in your presence.


Green anoles are easy-going animals, but they’re not impervious to all the problems plaguing other reptiles and lizards in captivity. These include stress, sickness, rough social interactions, etc. Fasting is the reptile’s way of expressing its discontent or stress, and it’s up to you to determine the cause.

With that out of the way, the anole should return to its normal eating habits soon. If nothing works, contact your vet for some professional insight into the matter.

Robert from ReptileJam

Hey, I'm Robert, and I have a true passion for reptiles that began when I was just 10 years old. My parents bought me my first pet snake as a birthday present, which sparked my interest in learning more about them. read more...