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How do I Care for an Anole Lizard?

Sara Schmidt
Updated Mar 05, 2024
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An anole lizard is a popular, inexpensive reptile pet. Scientifically known as Anolis carolinensis, anoles are considered relatively easy to care for. A lizard cage, light, water, food, and a few other items are all one needs to care for a little green anole lizard.

Any anole kept as a pet requires a safe, stable home. This home is usually a small tank. A ten gallon (38 liter) tank is considered sufficient for one or two anoles. A larger tank is ideal to keep the lizards happy and healthy. Though pet shops often sell much smaller enclosures, these are too small for the lizards to thrive in.

Sex of anole lizards is important when considering their housing. Male anoles should not inhabit the same tank, as they are prone to fight. Female anoles, however, may be kept together.

A fitted, secure lid is necessary for any anole tank to ensure their safety. The lid should provide plenty of access to air; a screened lid is a popular choice. The tank itself should be regularly cleaned to provide a safe, healthy environment for the pet.

Anoles need lots of light for basking. Basking spots can be provided through an under tank heating source and a basking light. These can be obtained through most pet shops. A pet shop employee can be consulted regarding the proper temperature, light, and heating equipment needed for a specific anole and tank size.

The tank should contain plenty of places to hide. Hiding places can be created with peat moss, bark, soil, branches, and live plants. Ideal anole plants include ivy, snake plants, vines, bromeliads, orchids, and philodendrons. Live plants will also help keep the tank humid and comfortable for the creatures.

Insects make up the majority of the anole diet. Considered good eaters, the lizards especially enjoy eating crickets. A wide variety of insect protein, however, should be provided. Wild insects may be caught and fed as long as they are pesticide-free; otherwise, they may be purchased at a pet store. Dried anole food is also available for purchase, though it should not make up the majority of the animal's diet.

When feeding an anole, a food portion half the size of the animal's head should be offered every other day. Vitamin and mineral supplements can be dusted on the animal's food to ensure proper health. Fresh water should always be available for the lizard in a small shallow dish. If well cared for, an anole lizard may live up to eight years of age. Average age, however, is half that time.

Also known as the American chameleon, the anole lizard is not a true chameleons. When agitated, the lizard may change colors, usually from green to brown. Other possible varieties of lizards as pets can include the glass lizard, beaded lizard, snake lizard, gecko, skink, legless lizard, agama lizard, bearded lizard, orange lizard, and Mexican lizard. Of the types of lizards available as pets, the anole lizard is often the one most readily available.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of habitat is best for an anole lizard?

To mimic their natural environment, an anole lizard thrives in a terrarium with ample foliage for climbing and hiding. A 10-20 gallon tank is suitable for a pair, with a temperature gradient of 75-80°F during the day and a basking spot of about 85-90°F. Humidity should be maintained at 60-70%, with regular misting to support their hydration needs.

How often should I feed my anole lizard, and what is their ideal diet?

Anoles should be fed every other day, with a diet consisting primarily of live insects such as crickets and mealworms. It's crucial to dust the insects with calcium powder to prevent metabolic bone disease. Juveniles require daily feeding, and all food items should be no larger than the width of the anole's head to prevent choking.

Do anole lizards require UVB lighting, and if so, why?

Yes, anole lizards require UVB lighting to synthesize vitamin D3, which is essential for calcium absorption and bone health. A 5-10% UVB bulb should be provided for 10-12 hours a day to simulate natural sunlight. According to research, without UVB light, anoles can develop serious health issues like metabolic bone disease.

How do I ensure proper humidity levels in my anole's enclosure?

Maintaining proper humidity levels between 60-70% is vital for anoles. This can be achieved by daily misting of the enclosure, using a substrate that retains moisture, and including live plants. A hygrometer should be used to monitor humidity levels regularly to ensure they remain within the ideal range for your anole's health.

Can anole lizards be handled, and how should it be done?

Anole lizards are generally not fond of being handled and can become stressed if done so frequently. If necessary, handle them gently and infrequently, allowing the lizard to walk onto your hand rather than grasping it. Always wash your hands before and after handling to prevent the spread of bacteria.

What are the signs of a healthy anole lizard versus one that may be ill?

A healthy anole lizard will display bright, clear eyes, a well-fleshed body, and regular shedding. They will be active with a good appetite. Signs of illness include lethargy, lack of appetite, skin lesions, or difficulty shedding. If you notice any of these symptoms, consult a veterinarian experienced with reptiles.

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Sara Schmidt
By Sara Schmidt
With a Master's Degree in English from Southeast Missouri State University, Sara Schmidt puts her expertise to use by writing for AllThingsNature, plus various magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She published her own novella and has other literary projects in the works. Sara's diverse background includes teaching children in Spain, tutoring college students, running CPR and first aid classes, and organizing student retreats, reflecting her passion for education and community engagement.

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Sara Schmidt

Sara Schmidt

With a Master's Degree in English from Southeast Missouri State University, Sara Schmidt puts her expertise to use by...
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