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A bark anole is a small lizard that lives on the trunks and branches of trees. Bark anoles are native to Hispaniola, but colonies have long been established in southern Florida in the United States and in parts of South America. Anoles are sometimes confused with chameleons because of their ability to adapt their coloration to their environment. A bark anole is usually grayish brown with mottled markings, and it is difficult to spot on a tree trunk or branch.
Bark anoles are small; adults reach about 5 inches (about 12 cm) in length. They are slender with long tails that will detach if they are frightened. A bark anole can spend much of its life on a single tree and will subsist on the ants, aphids and mosquitoes that it finds within the bark layers.
The most colorful part of the bark anole is the dewlap, which is a yellow or orange pouch of extra skin under its throat. During mating rituals, the male will puff up the dewlap to show off its coloring. The bulk of the lizard’s adaptive coloration is generally gray, brown or dull green, depending on its environment.
Anoles are tropical lizards. Caring for anoles in captivity requires ultraviolet and heat lights to maintain hot temperatures during the day and warm temperatures at night. Humidity should be kept high at all times. Bark anoles should be kept in a tall tank with mulch on the ground and a log or large branch for climbing. An assortment of plants that are well misted can help maintain a humid environment.
In the wild, bark anoles drink moisture that they find on leaves. Misting the tank’s plants daily will provide adequate water for anoles kept as pets. They also should be fed daily and will accept wild caught insects as well as small crickets and sometimes mealworms. Some people have had success in introducing small amounts of greens and fruit into their bark anole’s diet as well.
These lizards are very nervous and do not enjoy being handled. They also are quite fragile. Their toes can easily be broken if they are pulled away from clothing. If a person is bitten by a bark anole, it is best for him or her to wait until the lizard releases its grip, to minimize any possible damage to the anole's jaw or teeth. Although they are relatively easy to care for in captivity, one should bear in mind that bark anoles typically are not pets that enjoy lots of interaction with their keepers.