While green anoles are popular pet lizards, they’re not exactly your typical geckos. These reptiles have their own profile, behavior, and preferences, and just because you’re familiarized with geckos or other lizard species doesn’t mean you know much about anoles.
Today, we will discuss green anole stress, the underlying triggers, and how you can manage the situation effectively. It’s worth noting that green anoles are shier and more feral than other captive-bred reptiles. This means that they can get stressed more easily than other species, so they require a different approach in terms of care and socializing.
So, let’s get into it!
Causes of Stress in Green Anoles
If you’ve never had a green anole before, be ready for the lizard to get stressed because of:
Incorrect Housing Conditions
There are several factors to consider here:
- Enclosure size – An adult green anole requires at least 10 gallons of space. This is generally enough to house the reptile while allowing for sufficient room for the rest of the ecosystem. You must double the available space if you plan to get a duo.
- Temperature and humidity – Green anoles require a temperature gradient with temperatures varying across their enclosure between 65 and 90 F. The higher temperature values form the basking area, which should only occupy about 30% of the tank. Humidity levels need to remain stable between 60 and 80% to improve the lizard’s hydration and comfort.
- Layout – Green anoles are shy lizards, so they require a habitat layout with plenty of hiding and exploration areas. Logs, rocks, branches, and other decorative elements can create the ideal ecosystem for your anoles to enjoy. The lizard’s enclosure should mimic its natural environment as much as possible.
- Live plants – Live plants are useful and often necessary for any reptile enclosure. But they’re absolutely vital for green anoles. That’s because anoles only drink water off of the plants around them. You cannot train them to use a water bowl.
- Lighting – Green anoles require UVB lighting for about 8-10 hours per day to support their activity. These diurnal animals remain active until dusk, when lights should go off to allow for resting and sleeping. UVB lighting is also critical for proper nutrient absorption, preventing calcium deficiency and Metabolic Bone Disease.
Setting up the enclosure according to the reptile’s preferences will significantly lower the risk of stress.
Too Much Handling
Green anoles aren’t fond of handling. Reptiles generally aren’t that keen to bond with you, but green anoles have a particular aversion towards that. You can help them to become more accustomed to your presence and handling over time, but don’t expect too much from them.
They generally won’t appreciate being held and petted for too long. You can usually tell when your anole becomes uncomfortable with the whole process, at which point you should respect its wishes and place it back in its enclosure. This way, you prevent the lizard from getting stressed and teach it not to feel trapped when being held.
Also, prevent picking up and petting your green anole if it already looks stressed for whatever reason. Wait for it to calm down first.
Plus, always avoid petting or handling your lizard if:
- It’s in the middle of shedding
- It shows signs of shedding 2-3 days prior to the actual shedding process
- It has just eaten, and it’s digesting the food
- It’s sick and wants solitude
Green anoles always get stressed when moving into a new environment. This is because they require time to become accustomed to their surroundings. So, expect your green anoles to get shy and hidey when you first introduce them to their new home. To help them transition better, keep the lights dimmer and have a variety of hiding areas for your lizards to use.
They will remain in hiding for a while until they realize it’s safe for them to move around.
Pro tip: don’t change the enclosure’s layout, or you’ll start everything all over again. Your green anole will become accustomed to a specific layout, so take pictures before your monthly cleaning job. This helps you recreate the exact layout once the cleaning session has been completed.
Lack of Hiding Places
Green anoles require several hiding areas to retreat to when stressed or frightened. If there are none available, they will become even more stressed. Have several rocks nearby, an empty log, leafy plants, and even a tunnel or any other decorative piece that can play that role. Your anole will quickly figure out the layout and choose its favorite safe space immediately.
The anole will use its hiding place as a dwelling zone when resting, digesting its food, or as a retreat spot when frightened or stressed. Such a space will provide your lizard security and comfort, making it absolutely necessary.
Green anoles are very wary and observant animals. They have good sight and great hearing and can get rattled by any sudden noise or even movement outside of their enclosure. Repeated noises can stress them out, and they will attempt to flee and hide because of it.
They might get accustomed to the noise over time, but never completely. You should always place your green anole’s enclosure in a well-aerated and peaceful room with little traffic and no sudden or loud noises. These lizards are sensitive and value peace and quiet above everything else.
A sick anole is a stressed anole. These lizards can struggle with several health problems like parasitic and bacterial infections, skin infections, nutrient deficiency, injuries, etc. Fortunately, most of these problems are preventable, as they are often the result of poor husbandry, improper feeding, rough handling, aggressive tankmates, etc.
You can tell that your anole is sick by assessing its physical or behavioral symptoms. A sick anole can appear lethargic, have low or no appetite, display a duller coloring, etc. In case of constipation or impaction, the lizard will also appear bloated and showcase difficulty moving and climbing.
The treatment depends on the disorder’s profile and severity. Always monitor your lizard to detect the early signs of sickness and, more importantly, provide it with impeccable care to prevent health issues altogether.
Aggressive Tank Mates
Green anoles are generally solitary animals, but they can also live in groups in the wild and captivity. This is one of the reasons why reptile lovers prefer green anoles over strictly solitary species like geckos or bearded dragons. That being said, green anoles have a specific hierarchical society that consists of one male and several females.
You can also have a female-only group since females aren’t as aggressive or dominant as males are. But you should never have more than one male per enclosure, no matter how many females there are or how vast the enclosure is. The males will most likely kill each other shortly.
But even female-only groups or those with only one male present can experience rough times occasionally. Green anoles may fight over space, favorite dwelling areas, and food or even play and accidentally hurt each other. These rough interactions can lead to stress.
The situation can get even spicier, depending on the lizard themselves. These reptiles have distinct personalities, so it’s common for them to showcase different temperaments and behaviors. Some may be more aggressive than others and bully their tankmates. You should always monitor your green anoles and supervise their interactions to prevent such events.
Having sufficient space and a natural-looking habitat with a variety of hiding spots are great strategies to prevent anole aggression and bullying.
Signs of Stress in Green Anoles
So, how exactly can you determine that your green anole is stressed? There are several signs to consider:
- Physical signs – Some typical physical signs associated with stress include color change, lack of appetite, and lethargy. These signs inform you that the lizard is stressed, but they don’t necessarily disclose the reason for that. That’s something you need to investigate yourself.
- Behavioral signs – The green anole may appear aggressive, avoid your touch, and remain in hiding for longer periods. It may also snap at its tankmates and avoid their company which often indicates high stress and irritability.
Interestingly enough, green anoles can display stress-like behavior even without being stressed. Pregnant anoles can become more aggressive and hide more, but that doesn’t mean that they’re stressed. They’re just more protective of their soon-to-come eggs.
How to Prevent and Reduce Stress in Green Anoles?
Naturally, the first step is identifying the potential stress triggers so you can prevent them over the years. Here are some good tips in this sense:
- Create a natural-looking habitat with hiding areas, plenty of vegetation, and sufficient space for exploration
- Keep temperature and humidity within the ideal values; a thermometer and a hygrometer will help you tremendously in this sense
- Manage the lizard’s diet properly to prevent nutritional deficiencies
- Make sure that your anoles aren’t aggressive towards each other
- Don’t handle or pet your green anole if it’s not in the mood
- Give the reptile space when shedding or digestive its food
- Keep an eye out for any health issues so you can treat them before they aggravate
Finally, you should manifest patience because green anoles can get stressed for a variety of reasons that you cannot control or prevent. One such reason is the new environment syndrome that we’ve already discussed. In this case, you must wait for your green anole to overcome the issue by itself, which it will eventually.
There’s no denying that green anoles are a bit more feral than other pet lizards. They get stressed more easily and aren’t too fond of bonding with their human handlers. Even so, these are adaptable and intelligent lizards that require minimal care over the years.
Learn how to keep your anoles comfy and safe, and they won’t have any reason to become stressed over time.