Lizards and reptiles, in general, are perfect pets for people with little time on their hands. The main reason for that is that reptiles need less care compared to other pets like cats and dogs. They only eat once every couple of days and can go without food for weeks, so long as the animal is a healthy adult.
Even so, things may not be as clear-cut as they seem. You can’t leave your green anole alone for days or weeks without meeting the animal’s basic care needs. So, let’s talk about that, shall we?
Preparing Green Anole’s Tank for Vacation
So, you’re getting ready to leave for a well-deserved and much-needed vacation, but you can’t take your anole with you. In such cases, you need to make sure your reptile will be safe during your absence. Here’s how you can do that:
Clean the Tank Thoroughly
Fortunately, green anoles aren’t messy animals which is why they rank as low-maintenance pets. But there’s a difference between not cleaning the reptile’s enclosure for a day or 2 and not cleaning it for a week or more. If you know you will be missing from home for more than 7 days, make sure that the anole’s habitat is squeaky-clean.
I recommend performing a generalized cleaning routine by removing the reptile, removing the plants and other decorations, replacing the substrate, and disinfecting the enclosure. The goal is to eliminate bacteria, fungi, and mold that are guaranteed to grow and expand fast in a warm and humid habitat.
While the reptile’s habitat won’t remain clean forever, it will at least last for several days until you get back home.
Set the Lights on Timer
Green anoles require a stable day/night cycle to regulate their physiological functioning. Set the UVB lights on a timer for a healthy and stable light cycle. This will keep your lizard healthy and comfortable until you return.
Keep in mind that the UVB lighting is also necessary for nutritional reasons. The green anole requires UVB lighting to boost its body’s D3 and calcium synthesis, aiding in digestion and nutrient absorption. Even if the reptile won’t eat while you’re gone, the UVB light is still necessary to digest the food from the last meal.
Automatic Misting System
Humidity is a critical environmental parameter for reptiles in general. Air humidity helps reptiles retain moisture and condensates on the plants’ leaves to provide anoles with drinking water. These animals require water more than they do food since they can’t go past 24 hours without water without experiencing visible health issues.
Automatic misting systems are great in this sense, as you can put them on timers to preserve the air humidity according to the anole’s needs. Just make sure you get a reliable product to avoid any unwanted surprises.
Set Up a Surveillance Camera
You never know what might occur in your absence. Maybe the lizard squeezes out of the enclosure, or it becomes lethargic or aggressive toward its companions. In this case, a surveillance camera allows you to identify the problems in time and contact someone you know to check on your pets.
How Long Can Green Anoles Go Without Eating?
A healthy adult green anole can survive without food between 7 and 30 days, although there are reports of specimens going beyond that. Many suggest that these lizards can even go 60 days without anything to eat so long as they have sufficient water. However, I wouldn’t rely on that.
Just because your green anoles can go without food for extended periods doesn’t mean that they should. In many cases, even if the lizard doesn’t die, it can experience health problems due to the forced fasting.
The most significant concern is the nutritional deficiency associated with prolonged fasting. Like most reptiles, green anoles are prone to calcium and vitamin D3 deficiency, which can degenerate into Metabolic Bone Disease, which is uncurable in advanced stages.
You should always make sure your reptile is eating properly even when you’re gone. Keep reading to learn how to do that.
Feeding Your Green Anole on Vacation
Given that your vacation is set in stone, consider the following options:
Ask a Family Member or Friend
This is the handiest and most natural alternative. A family member or a close friend can help you with the feeding process, especially since it’s so straightforward. They only need to throw some live insects into the anole’s tank, and the lizard will do the rest. Make sure you update your friend or relative regarding the feeding process.
The lizard should have several different insects in one meal, preferably gut-loaded and dusted with calcium powder. Make sure you inform the reptile caretaker to avoid overfeeding and stick to your recommendations and instructions. If anything’s unclear, they should contact you for further clarification. Only you know your reptile’s behavior and needs in-depth.
Take Your Anole with You
I only recommend this measure if you’re going on a prolonged vacation where you can’t afford to leave your reptile behind. That’s because any change in your lizard’s routine will stress the animal out along the way. So, you need to ensure the anole’s comfort during the trip to keep its stress at a minimum.
If you can transport the reptile in its normal setup, do that. If not, you can move it to a smaller temporary enclosure for ease of transportation. Make sure that the lid has holes in it for adequate aeration and humidity control, and provide your lizard with sufficient water along the way.
Don’t feed the animal on the road because the lizard is most likely stressed. So, it will either refuse the food, choke on it, or regurgitate it soon after ingestion. It’s better to circumvent this problem altogether.
Hire a Pet Sitter
This is also a good option if you’re leaving for more than a week, have no relative or friend available for the reptilesitting job, and you can find a trustworthy pet sitter. Remember the ‘set up a surveillance camera’ shtick I mentioned earlier? Yea, that still stands. Even if you trust the pet sitter, it’s not worth the risk of not having a camera installed. You know, just to make sure your pet anole is in good hands.
I recommend finding someone in your area, preferably living nearby. This will spare the pet sitter of the pain of changing several transportation methods to reach work. Such a scenario may discourage the professional and you don’t want them quitting halfway through.
Things to Avoid Before Leaving Your Anole
The following tips aren’t general ideas based on some random brainstorming. Instead, they are the result of actual observation since these are common mistakes among lizard owners. In short, before leaving home, you should never:
Overfeed Your Anole
Overfeeding refers to providing your green anole with more insects than it should eat in one go. Worry not, the lizard will eat them, but that doesn’t mean it should. As a general feeding recommendation, your anole should consume approximately 3-4 medium-sized insects in one meal. Anything above that puts the anole at risk for overfeeding.
Overfeeding comes with several problems, including constipation, compaction, and weight gain. The main issue is that more inexperienced lizard keepers often overfeed their pets before leaving home for several days. The justification for that is that the surplus of food will keep the lizard fuller for longer.
The problem is that overfed anoles can become constipated or even regurgitate their meals shortly after ingestion. So, overfeeding actually creates more problems than it solves. I recommend resorting to some of my previously-mentioned solutions instead, such as hiring a pet sitter or having a family member take over your responsibilities for a while.
Leaving Food in the Tank
This is another option that many people resort to with equally unwanted repercussions. You should never leave excess food in your green anole’s tank, as there are no benefits to that. Throwing some extra live insects in your anole’s enclosure can lead to one or several of the following issues:
- Overfeeding – Your anole may simply not resist the temptation to hunt and eat the insects despite being full. This is due to the lizard’s instincts often taking over and influencing the animal’s behavior. Such tendencies are welcomed in the wild, where the food is scarce, but it’s detrimental in captivity, where food is no longer an issue.
- Stress – Say your anole can control itself, which is possible, given that all anoles have different personalities and behaviors. In this case, overfeeding may no longer be an issue, but stress may. In short, the live insects moving around the enclosure may stress your lizard by disrupting its resting time. All reptiles require peace and quiet when digesting their meals. They often regurgitate their food when stressed, which is the last thing you want.
- Environmental contamination – Even if by some unexplained miracle, you avoid both of these issues, you’re still left with the problem of dead insects contaminating the lizard’s enclosure. Some of the insects may die and begin to rot in warm and humid environments. They will quickly attract fungi, mold, and bacteria that will decompose and consume the corpses. These microorganisms increase the risk of infection and can kill your anole before your return.
The solution to all of these problems couldn’t have been any simpler: don’t leave food in your green anole’s tank.
Neglect Your Pet
Don’t account for your reptile’s adaptability to simply withstand your absence without any preparation or assistance on your part. You should always ensure that your anole is safe and healthy in your absence, even if that requires more planning.
Verify your reptile’s water reserves, ensure proper humidity and temperature, adjust the light cycle, and make sure your anole is well-fed during your absence. If you can’t feed it, your anole should, at the very least, be healthy and capable of fasting while you’re gone. The latter point is only valid so long as you’re not gone for more than a week.
The green anole is a cute and resilient reptile that doesn’t need extensive care to thrive. But you shouldn’t take the reptile’s adaptability and resilience for granted. Make arrangements in case you’re leaving home for a week or more so that your anole remains healthy and happy until you return.