Green anoles and leopard geckos rank among the most sought-after reptile pets on the market today and it’s not hard to see why.
They are both hardy, adaptable, cute, and beginner friendly, as you don’t need much to keep them in top shape.
Today, we will dissect the similarities and differences between the 2 species to determine which is better for you.
So, let’s start with the beginning.
What is a Green Anole?
Green anoles are fairly common green lizards present mainly throughout South Carolina and Georgia.
They are highly adaptable and resilient and can often be seen near human settlements in urban areas, which isn’t exactly their natural habitat. This explains the easy transition towards a captive lifestyle.
Interestingly enough, green anoles don’t rank as pests, but brown anoles do. The latter is far more invasive and voracious and can breed fast and eat more insects than their green counterparts.
That said, you can also find brown anoles for sale as pets. They are equally as peaceful and adaptable.
What is a Leopard Gecko?
Leopard geckos are the most popular reptile pets, alongside crested geckos. They come from warm areas in Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan and showcase a variety of morphs, many of which are the result of human-guided selective breeding.
These lizards rank as slow movers and are known as peaceful and affectionate; as affectionate as a reptile can be, of course. They don’t bite and are fine with handling and petting, so long as you don’t push the limits.
One of the core differences between leopard geckos and green anoles is that geckos are nocturnal, while anoles are diurnal.
But, as you will soon see, there are many other notable differences to mention. So, let’s get to that!
Comparison: Green Anole vs Leopard Gecko
While these are both reptiles, the 2 species showcase a variety of differences that will inform your approach in terms of overall care and maintenance.
Here are the main ones to consider:
Appearance only matters from an aesthetical perspective. Many people choose their reptile pets based on their physical appearance, so let’s check the major differences between the 2:
The green anole displays a green back and sides and a white belly. The reptile’s head is short but with a sharp snout and red/blue eyes. But the most distinct feature is the dewlap located under the chin.
This feature is specific to males, although some females can also have it, although not nearly as large and colorful.
The dewlap is essentially a piece of red skin that the male can flare out at will. The dewlap’s role is to impress the female during the mating season and warn other males of trespassing.
The green anole has long, agile legs, a slim body, and a thin tail. This body construction allows it to flee harm’s way fast whenever necessary.
Leopard geckos display a variety of morphs that vary in color and pattern. Typical leopard geckos are various shades of yellow with black spots and a clean white/light yellow underbelly.
They have shorter legs that aren’t made for running and a thick and long tail for support and fat storage.
The head is small, with huge wet eyes and the trademark smile, which contributes to the reptile’s popularity.
This species lacks the sticky toepads present in green anoles, crested geckos, and other species, so they don’t possess the same climbing abilities. This is a ground-dwelling reptile that requires a personalized habitat.
Size and Growth
Green anoles can reach 8 inches in length, while leopard geckos can go to 10 inches. Females remain smaller in both species. The growth rates are similar in both species, as the lizards can reach their full adult form within the first 1.5-2 years of age.
This depends on their diet, genetic background, environmental parameters, and other factors.
Green anoles require a tank size of approximately 10 gallons per specimen. Interestingly enough, these reptiles can live in groups in some scenarios.
You can’t have 2 males in the same enclosure, though, if you want to avoid tensions and constant fighting. Most anole keepers go for female-only groups or one male per group for breeding purposes.
The basic requirements in terms of temperature and humidity are standard for reptiles in general. You should aim for a temperature gradient between 65 and 90 F, depending on the time of day and habitat location.
Humidity is best between 60 and 80%, which can vary in specific situations. When shedding, green anoles require higher humidity levels, for instance.
When it comes to the overall layout, green anoles demand climbing areas and hiding spots to remain safe and comfy.
These reptiles are shier than your typical gecko and require more peace and quiet overall. Having a couple of hiding areas around their enclosure is perfect for their peace of mind.
You can house your leopard gecko in a 10-gallon enclosure, but I recommend a bit more space than that. 15-20 gallons for one specimen would be great, considering that these lizards can grow larger than a green anole.
You don’t need to worry about upgrading to a pair or a group at a later point because leopard geckos are not about that life.
This species is solitary and doesn’t appreciate the presence of other geckos around them. One leopard gecko per tank should do just fine.
The temperature gradient sits between 75 and 90 F, with the temperatures going as low as 70 F during nighttime. The gecko’s basking spot should take up around 30% of the total tank area.
Humidity isn’t as important for leopard geckos as it is for green anoles. Geckos will do just fine with a humidity level of 30-40%m given that they come from relatively dry environments.
Regarding the layout, you don’t need any climbing spots, given that leopard geckos are bottom-dwelling reptiles. Instead, opt for rocks, caves, logs, tree bark, and live plants to provide your gecko with terrain variety and several hiding spots.
While these requirements vary slightly between the 2 species, there are some elements that remain the same. Such is the presence of live plants for oxygenation, humidity, and shelter, and terrain variety for exploration, hiding zones, and a more natural look.
These reptiles feel most comfortable in a setting that mimics their natural habitat, so craft their environment with that in mind.
Green anoles are definitely the shier of the bunch. They can get stressed quite easily, require more time to adapt to their new home, and aren’t fond of frequent petting and handling.
They are not aggressive but tend to flee and avoid human contact for the most part. This means you must give your anoles the space they need to familiarize themselves with their new home and your presence.
Move their enclosure to a peaceful room with not too much traffic and hardscape their habitat so that it comes with several hiding spots. Green anoles will remain in hiding for the first several days upon arrival but should become more outgoing as time passes.
You can introduce yourself visually at first so that your reptile learns your appearance, voice, sound, and scent.
Then you can feed it by hand to reduce its discomfort and become even more familiar with one another.
Even so, green anoles will never be as fond of hand-holding as other species, so bear that in mind moving forward.
Leopard geckos aren’t as skittish, but they, too, need time to adapt to your presence. They are slow-moving reptiles that use their tails to communicate their state of mind and intentions, so keep an eye out for that. Tail raising and waiving are signs of aggression or irritability.
If your gecko waves or raises its tail at you when you attempt to make contact, don’t. Keep your distance for when the gecko is comfy enough with your presence to allow for more intimate interaction.
Also, the gecko’s tail is similar to that of a rattlesnake and the gecko can use it in the same manner. The difference is that while rattlesnakes shake their tails as a warning, geckos use it to express their excitement. This happens close to mealtime or during mating.
Leopard geckos are also notoriously vocal, using chirps and squeaks, especially when hungry, scared, excited, or even in an aggressive state. With time, you will learn their language to differentiate between positive and negative vocalizations.
It’s important to note that both species can show signs of stress in some cases and drop their tails when frightened or feeling trapped. You should always handle them with care to prevent that.
While the tail dropping isn’t fatal and the caudal appendix will regenerate with time, it will never grow to the same length or width. It will also not regain its full former functionality.
Furthermore, as the tail regrows, the lizard’s movement and climbing abilities will be impaired considerably.
Green anoles are less tolerant of human interactions than leopard geckos are. Both species will tolerate you handling and petting them to some degree, but anoles are less likely to indulge in that behavior.
However, even leopard geckos have their limits. Reptiles, in general, are not known as affectionate animals, even if they may transmit that impression at times.
The fact that your lizard rests on your hand peacefully doesn’t mean it loves you, but that it loves your hand’s warmth.
So, always be wary of this and adapt your behavior to that of your lizard(s). Don’t hold your pet reptile if it doesn’t seem in the mood for it and place it back in its enclosure if it becomes fidgety.
Green anoles can live up to 5-8 years, while leopard geckos can live close to 20 years or even more.
While the quality of care makes a substantial difference in terms of lifespan, so is the genetic background. You should go for a leopard gecko if you want a longer-living lizard.
Also, keep in mind that stress also plays a major role in your lizard’s well-being and maximum lifespan. Stressed lizards can die sooner, even if food and environmental conditions are optimal.
I’ve discussed the impact, causes, and solutions to lizard stress in several other articles, so be sure to check those as well.
Green anoles and leopard geckos have similar care requirements.
In essence, you have several metrics to consider in terms of overall maintenance and care:
- Ensure dietary variety and optimal nutrient intake
- Keep environmental parameters stable
- Clean the reptiles’ habitat regularly
- Prevent stress
- Monitor the lizard to detect and treat any health issues early on
Neither species is particularly needy when it comes to overall maintenance and cleaning.
That being said, here’s a good cleaning routine to consider whether you have green anoles, leopard geckos, or any other reptile species:
- Daily maintenance – Clean feces, remove food leftovers and spray the habitat several times per day to preserve humidity levels.
- Weekly maintenance – Clean the tank’s walls to prevent mold, remove dead vegetation, and trim the substrate if necessary.
- Monthly maintenance – A complete maintenance job is necessary every month. This includes removing the reptile from the enclosure, removing all of the decorations, replacing the substrate, and cleaning and disinfecting the area. This is necessary to remove parasites, bacteria, mold, fungi, and any other pathogens that may infect your pet.
Keep in mind to adjust the maintenance schedule according to your reptiles’ needs. A solo green anole may not require as frequent maintenance as a duo or a group of lizards.
Also, take pictures of the whole setup before dismantling it. You want to recreate the reptile’s layout precisely to avoid stress.
A new layout is essentially a new habitat, causing your lizard to become stressed as if it were in a new home.
There are no species-specific health problems to mention.
Both anoles and leopard geckos face similar health risks, such as:
- Respiratory infections – These are often the result of low humidity, combined with various bacteria and parasites.
- Skin infections – Common in environments with extremely high humidity and poor husbandry practices. Skin infections are more common in poorly maintained habitats and during shedding when the reptile is more prone to such problems.
- Digestive issues – Constipation is the result of low temperatures that affect the reptile’s digestive system. Impaction is a more severe problem caused by the reptile swallowing something it shouldn’t. This includes an oversized insect, a rock, or any other foreign object that can get stuck in the digestive tract.
- Injuries – These can result from falls and even rough interactions with other tankmates.
- Nutritional deficiencies (calcium deficiency) – Calcium deficiency is a notable problem in all reptiles, especially those with lacking diets. To prevent calcium deficiency, you should gut-load the insects, increase vitamin D3 supplementation, and have a good UVB light source present. Always keep track of your lizard’s nutrient intake to detect any nutritional deficiencies in time. Severe calcium deficiency can degenerate into Metabolic Bone Disease, which has no cure and is generally deadly.
Fortunately, most of these problems are preventable by adopting a rigorous care routine and meal plan.
Price & Cost
Green anoles typically cost approximately $10 per specimen. This price value can vary slightly, depending on the reptile’s age and size, but you shouldn’t expect anything too wild. Green anoles are simple reptiles with little pattern variation, so there’s no reason for steep prices.
Leopard geckos, on the other hand, are different. While standard morphs cost around $15 per specimen, some can reach sky-high prices.
Such is the case of the black night morph, which you can acquire for up to $3,000 per piece. The price range varies drastically, though, depending on the morph type and rarity.
Be prepared to pay several hundred dollars for rarer morphs and thousands for unique ones.
Diet & Feeding
Both species are insectivorous, so they only consume insects. A variety of them, to be more precise.
Crickets should be the main source of nutrients, along with other insects like small beetles, flies, spiders, and some worms, among others.
Gut-loading insects and calcium and D3 supplementation are necessary to ensure proper nutrient intake and prevent deficiencies.
Keep in mind that mealworms, waxworms, and other species are only meant as treats. These contain too much fat and not enough of other nutrients.
When it comes to feeding frequency, adult green anoles demand one insect meal per day, while leopard geckos require 2-3 meals per week.
Each meal should contain approximately 3-5 insects, depending on the insect size and your lizard’s appetite.
Another important difference relates to hydration. Green anoles only drink water from the plants around them and will ignore the water bowl. Leopard geckos hydrate similarly but can drink from the water bowl if necessary.
That’s especially because they don’t have too many plants in their habitat, so they use whatever water source they can find.
Green Anole or Leopard Gecko – Which is Better for You?
This only depends on your preference. To showcase the major differences between the 2 species:
- Green anoles are shier than leopard geckos, so they’re not that fond of being handled and petted
- Leopard geckos can live 3-4 times longer than green anoles
- Green anoles are climbers, while geckos are ground dwellers
- Green anoles are diurnal, while leopard geckos are nocturnal
- Green anoles show little pattern diversity, while leopard geckos have numerous morphs to choose from
There may be many other differences that you can use to determine which species is the best for you.
Overall, though, both species are relatively easy to care for and equally as lovable.
Regardless of your preferred lizard species, always be ready to adapt to your pet’s requirements and unique temperament and personality.
Today’s article has provided you with generalized estimates in terms of care; adjust the information to your unique situation for the best results.