If this is your first time going for a green anole or even a reptile pet, for that matter, you’ve arrived at the perfect place. Today’s article will discuss everything there is to know about green anoles and their ideal habitat and housing conditions.
So, let’s skip any introduction and jump straight into it! The following are the top aspects and parameters to consider when creating the ideal green anole enclosure:
Tank Size and Type
The ideal tank size revolves around 10 gallons. This is enough space for an adult green anole, given that these reptiles aren’t particularly keen to explore their environment.
The 10-gallon space provides you with sufficient room for plants, various decorations, branches, logs, and the reptile itself. The anole won’t move much except when eating, drinking water, and changing areas to regulate its internal temperature.
If you plan on keeping several anoles, consider increasing the tank’s size accordingly. 20 gallons is enough space for a duo, a trio, and so on.
With the necessary space figured out, you then have to consider the following aspects as well:
- The tank type – You can choose from glass, plastic, mesh enclosure, screen cage, wood enclosure, etc. The one you settle for depends on your goals. For instance, glass is more aesthetically pleasing, allowing for a clearer view of the reptile’s ecosystem. It’s also easy to clean, as glass doesn’t absorb moisture. Screen cages are great for aeration but aren’t great insulators, so it will be more difficult to maintain proper temperature. The wood enclosure looks more natural but may absorb moisture and lead to mold and fungi growth. Overall, I would say glass wins, but don’t let my preference stop you from choosing something else.
- Ventilation – Proper ventilation is necessary for 2 reasons: oxygen circulation and humidity control. If the humidity is too high, your lizard can experience respiratory and skin infections. Pneumonia is also a deadly risk. You can prevent this problem by ensuring proper ventilation, allowing the air to circulate more freely through the ecosystem.
- Ease of cleaning – You want your anole’s enclosure to be easy to clean, so you should also choose the tank with that in mind. Green anoles, and reptiles in general, require weekly and monthly cleaning to prevent bacterial and fungal growth.
- Overall safety – You want a sturdy tank that prevents the reptile from getting out and doesn’t accumulate mold, fungi, or bacterial formations. You also want an aesthetically-pleasing piece because you want to be able to see your reptile; otherwise, it defeats the purpose. This brings us to glass as being the best choice available.
With the tank’s type and size out of the way, let’s move on to the next sections.
The substrate’s role goes beyond mere aesthetics. The ideal substrate should be safe, soft, retain moisture, be easy to clean, and look natural at the same time. The latter isn’t as important as the former points, though.
An interesting point to mention here is that green anoles require different substrate types depending on age. Or not required, but some substrates work better with some anoles, depending on their maturity level.
To exemplify, baby and juvenile anoles work great with something simple like newspapers or regular paper towels. These retain humidity quite well and are easy to replace, which you will have to do frequently.
This is because the younger anoles eat more frequently and produce more poop due to more accelerated metabolism.
Adult anoles can make use of different other substrates like coconut coir, sphagnum moss, etc. These are preferable if you have multiple anoles and plan on breeding them. The soft substrate will allow the females to dig to lay their eggs.
When it comes to overall cleaning, the process is rather simple. You only need to remove food leftovers and lizard poop whenever necessary to prevent bacterial formation.
You should also replace the substrate completely every 2-4 weeks, depending on how many lizards you have and how fast the substrate degrades.
Lighting, Heating, and Humidity
Lighting, heating, and humidity are the 3 most important environmental parameters for reptiles.
So, let’s break them down, shall we?
Green anoles demand around 8-10 hours of UVB lighting per day. This is necessary to regulate their biorhythm and provide the lizards with proper heat and nutritional optimization.
The latter may sound weird, but it’s not. Reptiles require UVB lighting to synthesize vitamin D3, which is necessary for better calcium absorption.
This isn’t even a reptile-specific feature but an animal-specific one. Humans function the same way.
We also need sunlight to produce D3 and improve our calcium absorption. However, UVB exposure is more important in reptiles due to their being more prone to calcium deficiency and their increased risk of weak bone density.
All reptiles require a specific temperature gradient; the same goes for green anoles. You can use UVB bulbs, a basking lamp, or even a heat mat to achieve the desired values.
Whatever your preferred method may be, it should allow you to create a temperature gradient throughout the tank, preferably on a top-down ladder.
Here’s what I mean by that more specifically:
- Basking area – This area has the highest temperatures, between 80 and 90 F, and occupies around 30% of the tank space. I recommend setting up the basking area in the top area of the tank to force your green anoles to climb there. It’s great for their physical prowess.
- Main dwelling zone – The middle area should have temperatures around 72-78 F, give or take. This is the area where the lizard will spend most of its time.
- Substrate level – The substrate level should deliver temperatures around 65-72 F. This is the colder region where lizards go to cool off.
The temperature should also vary between day and night to mimic the reptile’s natural living conditions.
Keep in mind that the temperature gradient is important for the lizard’s physiology. For instance, green anoles rely on their environmental temperature to digest their food.
If the temperature is too low, they can experience digestive problems, and that’s just one of the issues relating to improper or unstable temperatures.
We’re talking about reptiles here, so it’s only natural that humidity is one of the main talking points. Environmental humidity keeps the green anoles hydrated and healthy over the years and helps them during shedding.
If the humidity is either too low or too high, the anole will suffer the consequences. These include respiratory and skin infections, dehydration leading to constipation, and even impaction, etc.
The ideal humidity range for green anoles sits between 60 and 80%, with higher values being needed during shedding.
To adjust your anoles’ environmental humidity properly, consider the following options:
- Spray the enclosure – You most likely need to spray the anoles’ enclosure at least 3-5 times per day, depending on the temperature and the overall setup. The spraying method is even more necessary when you consider that anoles only drink water from the live plants around them.
- Live plants – Live plants increase air humidity naturally, so they’re absolutely necessary for any reptile habitat.
- The substrate – No matter the substrate type you choose, you should ensure it has moisture-retaining properties.
- Automatic misters – Automatic misting systems are great when you need to leave home for a while and want to ensure that humidity levels remain stable.
- Using a water bowl – Place a bowl with a bit of water in your reptile’s enclosure. The water will evaporate gradually, increasing environmental humidity.
If the humidity gets too high, find a way to aerate the lizard’s ecosystem properly. A key note here – always have a reliable hygrometer to assess humidity levels accurately.
This piece monitors humidity with great precision, allowing you to detect any dangerous swings in time.
You should also learn your anole’s discomfort levels with regard to improper humidity. Green anoles showcase specific signs of discomfort when humidity is either too low or too elevated, like lethargy, dry tongue, dry skin, stress-based color change, etc.
Décor and Accessories
The anoles’ habitat should contain several decorative elements, such as:
- Climbing spots – These are great for workout and resting vantage points. Green anoles love to climb and rest at an elevation, as it allows them to feel more secure. It’s also a great way for them to regulate their body temperature based on changing their position in the tank. Branches, logs, and anything stable that the reptile can climb on fit the job description perfectly.
- Hiding spots – These are also necessary for when lizards feel unsafe, sick, get ready to shed, or need a nap. You can use empty logs, caves, tree bark, and any other decorative element that can fulfill the role.
- Live plants – Plants are necessary for several reasons. The first one is that they improve oxygenation and humidity, contributing to a healthier environment. Then you have the aesthetical aspect, as live plants always contribute to a more natural-looking ecosystem. Finally, live plants collect water which represents the anoles’ main hydration source. Based on these factors, you have no excuse for not adding live plants to your lizards’ habitat.
When it comes to creating the reptile’s layout, safety should be your primary concern. The decorations and accessories to use should be safe, without any pointy or rugged margins or tips that could hurt your lizards.
They should also be stable to prevent tipping and chemically safe. Avoid elements that contain artificial paints, which can degrade in a moist and warm environment.
Diet and Water
Unlike other captive-bred lizards, green anoles are strictly insectivorous reptiles. They only consume various types of insects and worms and require just as much food diversity.
Here are some basic facts about the eating and drinking habits of green anoles to remember:
- Food variety is essential – Green anoles don’t have any preferences, as they can eat anything that moves. This includes beetles, crickets, butterflies, spiders, flies, moths, larvae, etc. Always ensure your anole’s food diversity to provide it with optimal nutrient intake.
- Supplementation is necessary – Green anoles are just as prone to nutrient (calcium specifically) deficiency as any other reptile species. Consider gut-loading the insects and dusting them with calcium to prevent deficiencies. Vitamin D3 supplementation may also be necessary, given that D3 aids in calcium assimilation.
- Prioritize live insects – While not everybody can feed their reptiles live insects regularly, it’s good practice to do that as often as possible. Not to mention, most green anoles won’t eat dead insects anyway. These reptiles hunt via sight, detecting the insects’ movement and attacking mobile targets. If the insect doesn’t move, the anole won’t eat it. You can replace the insect’s natural movement by moving it yourself to spark the lizard’s interest, but that gets old fast after a while. Live insects are more fun to hunt and eat, keeping your anole in shape physically and mentally.
- Mind meal size and frequency – Adult green anoles require one meal per day consisting of several insects, depending on their size. For instance, 3-5 crickets should do for your average adult anole, but other specimens may eat more, depending on the crickets’ size and the reptile’s appetite. Also, make sure that the insect isn’t larger than the distance between the lizard’s eyes. This will prevent choking and impaction.
- Drinking – Green anoles only drink water from the live plants present in their habitat. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever be able to teach them the art of bowl drinking. So, you should always spray the lizard’s habitat several times daily to ensure enough drinking water.
You should also learn your anole’s eating habits and frequency. Too much food at once or a high feeding frequency can lead to overweight problems. Insufficient food can cause nutritional deficiencies.
Your green anole may also refuse food when stressed or sick or when getting ready to shed or lay eggs.
Knowing the small differences between these circumstances allows you to perfect your maintenance approach and care for the anole properly.
Green anoles are generally easy-going reptiles that even a complete rookie can handle.
Everything becomes easier once you become accustomed to the reptile’s needs and preferences in terms of parameters, food, and overall lifestyle.
If you still have questions about anoles in general or any particular feature, behavior, or requirement, check my other articles on the species.