The green anole (Anolis carolinensis) is an arboreal lizard that is from the southeastern region of the United States. It is also known as the American green anole, American anole, and the red-throated anole. Although this is a very common lizard pet and sold in most online and local pet stores, many owners still don’t appreciate what this lizard has to offer.
Green anoles may look like its anole cousins, the green anole, and the knight anole, but compared to the two, the green anole is more friendly and enjoy being handled by their owners. So if you’re planning to have a green anole as a pet, remember the following care tips to ensure that your pet will grow happy, healthy, and well-rounded.
Provide the right diet
Green anoles have voracious appetites and will eat as much as they can anytime. It will feed on insects and will eat moths, crickets, flies, butterflies, wax worms, grasshoppers, and more. It will also eat earthworms, snails, and other invertebrates.
As a pet, you can give your green anole a wide variety of insect prey. Never feed it caught insects in your home because these may have ingested pesticides or herbicides, and this may affect your lizard’s health. If you want to supplement your green anole’s diet, dust the food that it eats with supplements like powdered vitamins and minerals.
Understand its sleeping habits
Green anoles’ sleeping habits are the subject of some research, and they have found that anoles can spend around 1/3 to ½ of their lives sleeping. A particular study revealed that green anole could sleep on leaves or ends of branches. This position is not just comfortable, but this way, the lizard can be alerted of any nearby predator such as birds of prey, snakes, and other larger mammals and reptiles.
In a cage, make sure that your lizard has natural or artificial plants to climb on. Place small logs, pots, and large rocks where your pet can sit, bask, and rest or sleep. Most lizards are very active at night as in the evening than in the morning, so be sure that your anole is undisturbed in the morning.
Know when it needs water
Green anoles should have humidity around 60 to 70% inside their tanks to keep them healthy and happy. A large water dish is a good idea to maintain humidity levels. If your lizard is nesting, it needs a higher humidity of80%.
Green anoles are like other anoles because these can swim well. There are owners say that their anoles won’t step on water and won’t drink water. They say that using a spray bottle with water is the best way for lizards to drink. Also, by simply spraying water on the lizard’s body and they will lick to drink.
Care for your lizard when it’s shedding
Green anoles will shed their skin several times yearly. The dead skin will shed in flakes but not in large chunks or pieces. As it sheds its skin, the lizard will be very stressed, and usually, these will not eat while shedding. It can take a day to shed their skin, and the skin surrounding the tail is the last one to remove.
Shedding is normal, but it causes a lot of stress to lizards. Don’t hold on to the lizard and pull dead skin. Just make sure that the tank has the ideal humidity levels so that the lizards can shed properly and with less stress.
After shedding, give your pet some fruits, vegetables, and fresh insects. An anole will also eat its skin after this has shed. Experts say that it does this because the skin has high nutritional content. Also, the lizard may be vulnerable after shedding, and thus, the lizard eats them to hide its tracks and scent.
Some lizards shed without any problems, but some do encounter some problems like incomplete shedding. This condition is when old skin can get trapped along with the eyes, arms, and claws, which can constrict the extremity and affect blood circulation in the area. If you spot issues when it comes to shedding, consult your vet ASAP. Never try to remove the trapped skin by yourself because you might end up hurting your pet and stressing it out.
Prepare a proper habitat
The green anole is an arboreal species and is mostly found in areas where there are trees. You may also find anoles in forested areas but may stay in higher places in tall trees. These lizards need a warm climate with humidity at 40 to 80%. This small lizard needs temperature from 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and a minimum of 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Just like most anole species, the wild green anole males may create their territories in areas where it is found like shrubs, fences, vines, and trees. Captive green anoles should be kept in large enclosures. The tank must be tall so you can add vertical accessories and basking areas several inches from the ground.
The enclosure should be made of glass or a large cage, but no matter what you choose, it should be big enough to accommodate a male and five females for breeding. Inside, you must place branches, natural or artificial plants, and rocks. You should provide perches and hiding places using any material.
Never place adults together because these will fight for territory. Place male adults separately in safe tanks or smaller enclosures.
Make lighting and humidity a priority
You must maintain 80% humidity by applying a spray of water inside the tank using a water bottle sprayer. Maintain a temperature of 75 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit and must have a warm area or a spot with 100 degrees Fahrenheit. During the nighttime., temperatures must not be lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Use UVB lamps for 10 to 12 hours a day and use a day lamp with an incandescent bulb during the daytime. Use a ceramic heater all day. Always monitor the temperature and humidity in the tank using a digital thermometer and hygrometer or a temperature gun to find out the differences between the basking area and hiding areas.
Provide correct bedding and tank accessories
Green anoles will enjoy living in a tank with perches, plants, and sections where it can hide. It uses the tank wall and accessories to drink water. When you spray water, apply it on the tank walls and the tank accessories. The lizard will crawl towards these places and lick the water.
You can use a small vat or shallow bowl of water where your lizard can swim in and just enjoy the water. Fill this with clean water or bottled water. Tap water and well water are readily available, but these may have dangerous chemicals that may affect your pet’s health.
Tank bedding materials vary, but the best selection is sand, pebbles, newspaper, orchid barks, mulches, tiles, and reptile carpets.
Clean the enclosure regularly
Cleaning your lizard’s terrarium regularly keeps your pet healthy and happy. Spot clean by picking up poop and other dirt. Remove leftovers and search the entire tank for leftover food such as insects and mice, depending on the size of your pet. Lift rocks, branches, and plants while you search. Use latex gloves to remove dirt when you spot clean. Replace water in dishes and mini pools.
Clean the tank weekly, but this time do this thoroughly. Remove your lizard as well as all the tank accessories and place these in warm, soapy water before you scrub them clean. Use a soft sponge to scrub with warm water and use paper towels to dry the tank. It’s important to warm the tank first and regulate humidity before you put your pet back in.
Hydration is an important part of an anole’s care
A green anole may or may not be happy with a pond inside its enclosure. Most of the time, anoles will not drink from a container. It will only lick water droplets that accumulate on leaves and the tank walls. This lizard will also lick water from its body. Despite this, leave a small dish of water inside the tank so that it can drink. Green anoles may also take water from the food that it eats.
Understand its development
The green anole has “female-defense polygyny.” This is a unique behavior where the male anoles patrol the area surrounding a female’s territory that he will mate to keep potential males away. The number of female anoles to a male is only a few to one.
During mating, the female may use behavior that attracts males. She will move to a location where the male can easily see her, which announces that she is ready to breed. She will then cock her neck so that the male can grab her using its mouth. The two will engage in mating, which usually lasts from one to two minutes. The male makes a last-minute decision to engage with the showy female or not.
In most cases, a male will let go of the female in search of a more suitable mate. But if mating occurs, this may last from 30 to 60 minutes. After mating, the female will look for moist soil or leaf litter where she will lay her eggs.
The anole will breed seasonally during the summer months. The female will lay about one to two eggs in a weekly or bi-weekly manner. During the breeding season, the lizard will lay 15 to 18 eggs. Females can select which ovary, left or right, she can use to lay her eggs.
The female anole may remain sexually active for a longer time than males. Females also have the unique ability to store sperm inside their bodies and continue to fertilize their eggs after the breeding period.
After the female anole has laid all her eggs, she covers these and never comes back to care for her young. According to experts, there is no need for parental care because the egg in the nest will survive on its own. The green anole eggs will hatch 6 to 8 weeks later. The hatchlings are on their own and use their innate behavior to fend for their needs and survive.
If you want to breed green anoles
For successful breeding, you need to have the proper habitat. If you cannot meet the following conditions, breeding may not happen. To house the mating anoles, use a 20-gallon tank, but this may not be enough to allow your male to set up his territory. The enclosure must be taller, which must be twice the height of a 20-gallon tank.
Place one male inside the terrarium. Place live or artificial plants and tree branches where the lizards can perch. The plants inside the enclosure will let the anoles have a distinct territory and create boundaries. And this may serve as an area where you can spray water. Use proper tank lighting at around 12 hours a day to make your hatchlings healthy and happy.
The branches and perches may also be used by the male to control his harem. He will show his cagemates his mating capabilities by bobbing his head and showing its prominent and colorful dewlap. This display also stimulates ovulation in females and even females that are carrying sperm inside their bodies from other males.
Any female that enters the territory will be chased. Once the male catches the female, it will bite it on the nape of its neck to position it for mating. The mating act is successful when the male releases the female. is. The male and female will mate one time, and this will be enough for her to hold his sperm till the next season. But before she lays eggs, she must observe his courtship behavior, which is a combination of head bobbing and dewlap displaying.
After the female lays her eggs, she will abandon the nest. Usually, a female will lay up to a dozen eggs. You must check for new ones and remove some of them to incubate in a makeshift incubator. Eggs must be incubated at 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit at 80% humidity; baby lizards will soon hatch in 4 to 6 weeks. The hatchlings will look very similar to their parents but have a darker color, larger heads, and shorter tails.
After a successful hatch inside an incubator, place each lizard in a separate container or terrarium to avoid fighting. Each small enclosure should be kept warm and just the right humidity. Expose the tanks to indirect natural light for four hours a day and spray water on the leaves in the tank or on the tank walls.
Understand when your pet is sick
Just like other lizards, the green may suffer from some common health issues:
- Vitamin deficiency/Metabolic Bone Disease
One of the most common health issues with pet green anoles is a metabolic bone deficiency, which is the body’s inability to take in calcium. This is usually due to poor UVB lighting inside the tank and poor calcium or vitamin D in their diets. When MBD is overlooked, this can lead to skeletal deformities, swollen legs, brittle bones, and poor energy.
- Gastrointestinal problems
Gastrointestinal diseases are due to poorly maintained enclosures/dirty tanks. You must maintain the lizard tank at least twice a week. You must also spot clean for any poop or dirt inside the area. Just some of the most common symptoms of GI diseases include runny stools and poor appetite; bacteria or parasites are the root cause of these conditions.
- Respiratory illnesses
Respiratory conditions are due to poor humidity. If the reptile tank is too cold or too damp, then your pet can suffer from respiratory problems. Signs of respiratory illnesses are labored breathing and mucus production in the nose and mouth.
Find ways to prevent illness
The best way to prevent illness is to maintain cleanliness and orderliness in and around the reptile tank. Keep the tank, water, and food dishes clean. If you installed a water feature or water tank where it can swim in, clean this completely as this can harbor dangerous bacteria.
Feed the green anole with the right kind of food. Always give fresh, nutritious food and give supplements to prevent calcium and vitamin D deficiency. As your anole grows, make sure it receives natural light or sunlight at least four hours in a day.
Always maintain a high humidity inside the tank. This keeps anoles healthy and happy. Use the best lamp for heating and use a digital thermometer and hygrometer to keep the tank temperature and humidity at the best levels.
Finally, keep males in individual cages as these become territorial, especially during the mating season. This prevents injuries, which can be fatal as males may fight for territories. Some males lose their tails or even die during these fights.
Get to know your green anole’s behavior
To become a successful green anole owner, you must understand your pet’s common behaviors. Your pet will also be healthier, happier, and more likely to bond with you if you understand its behavior as well. Here are the most common green anole behaviors
- Green anoles are not aggressive to humans
Green anoles are not aggressive towards their handlers but only to other male lizards during the breeding season. Even inexperienced pet owners will find it easy to handle the green anole. But sometimes, it can become feisty and nervous if you suddenly drop it. Do not overly smother your green anole, and if you have young children, teach them how to hold this lizard properly.
- Green anoles are communal
This lizard may share a territory the size of a large bush. The territories for males and female lizards are separate, but two or more female territories may be created inside a male’s territory.
Males are in charge of a harem of females, and he may choose who to mate and may sometimes bite a female to get her to mate, only to let her go after he has changed his mind.
- Green anoles bob their heads
Many lizards display head bobbing, and in green anoles, this means that the male is telling other males to back off. This is a threatening behavior that challenges males during the breeding season. A male may bob his head up and down to respond to the call of another male, and usually, this behavior leads to a fight.
- The colorful dewlap display
Males may show off their colorful dewlap to challenge other males for territory. Females have a dewlap, but they don’t use this at all. The dewlap display and head bobbing are used by males to threaten other males for territory. These are also used by males to protect females during mating.
- Green anoles are very territorial during the breeding season
Males go the extra mile to protect their harem. The males will show behaviors like compressing its body and extending their dewlaps that will look like a colorful fan. The male will do push-ups and will bob its head to threaten other males.
- Green anoles lack any sound
Green anoles do not make a sound and communicate only through body language and physical appearance. For example, the male understands that the female is ready during the mating season when she tilts her head to one side. The female also knows that the male wants her to mate when he shows his dewlap and bobs his head up and down.
On the other hand, males communicate with each other by showing off their size. This behavior causes smaller males to submit. Males of the same size may fight for dominance and territory disputes. Most fights end with broken tails, blood, and even death.
- Green anoles can grow their tails back
A green anole is one of the lucky lizards that may drop its tail when it feels threatened. But don’t worry because it can grow its tailback, but once the tail grows, it will be of a different color, size, and texture. The tail may sometimes look like the lizard’s head, and it is said that this can fool predators.