A Manual for Maintaining the Green Anole

A green anole lizard on a porch screen

The ability to switch from green to brown and back again is one of the numerous things that make green anoles famous (although they are not true ). The Southeastern United States, Caribbean islands, and terrariums around the nation are common places to see them roaming around and soaking up the sun.

What Is an Anole?

An anole is a small tree-dwelling lizard with 250 species that is native to the Americas.

  • Name: Anolis carolinensis, green anole, Carolina anole, American anole, American chameleon, red-throated anole
  • Size: Males reach 8 inches long (including the tail) in captivity but are larger in the wild; females are smaller
  • Lifespan: Around 4 years, although they can live up to 8 or more years, if well cared for

Green Anole Behavior and Temperament

In Tennessee, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, the Carolinas, and Texas, you can encounter green anoles in the wild. They are the only type of anole that is indigenous to the United States. Popular green anoles are wonderful "starter" pets for young children. These adorable tiny lizards feature pink "dewlaps" and emerald-green backs (pouches under their chins). Even anoles can occasionally have a blue hue.

Anoles are entertaining to see since they are busy during the day and enjoy climbing. Their eagerness to engage with their human owners—many are even ready to eat from their hands—is one of their greatest qualities. Although picking up an anole is OK (and many prefer perching on people's shoulders), it's best to avoid catching them by the tail. Teach kids to pick them up by putting a hand beneath the lizard's belly instead.

Housing the Green Anole

Anoles may live in a terrarium or tank that is rather tiny. A single or pair of anoles can be kept in a 10-gallon aquarium. Of course, a bigger tank is ideal, and you need a lot of room if you're keeping numerous anoles.

Only one male anole should be kept per tank. As long as the tank is spacious enough, there are lots of basking sites, and there are several places to hide, females will get along just fine. Due to their ability to squeeze through extremely small spaces, green anoles require a cover that fits tightly.

For green anoles, a humidity level of between 60 and 70 percent is required (use a hygrometer to monitor these levels). Typically, you may do this by daily spraying the tank's inside. There are misting systems, but they are extremely pricey. Try covering a portion of the tank's top or adding more live plants to the enclosure if you are having trouble keeping the humidity level. Additionally, misting gives the anoles with drinking water because they frequently refuse to drink from a dish (they will lick droplets of water off the misted plants like chameleons).

Heat and Lighting

Provide a temperature gradient of 75 to 80 F (24 to 27 C) with an 85 to 90 F basking area throughout the day (29 to 32 C). It works best when under-tank heaters are used in conjunction with a basking light on one side of the tank. By testing the temperatures in various locations within the tank, you can confirm that the proper temperature gradient is being given. The range of the nighttime temperature is between 65 and 75 F. (18 to 24 C). Use heating pads, ceramic heating components, or special night heat lamps instead of white basking lights to attain overnight temperatures.

In addition to the incandescent basking light, a full spectrum UVA/UVB light has to be available for 10 to 12 hours each day. Your anole will remain vibrantly colorful, active, and happy by being protected from with the aid of this unique light. Even if the bulb hasn't burned out, it has to be replaced every six months, and only a metal mesh screen should be obstructing the light (no plastic or glass).


An appropriate for anoles is one made of peat moss and soil, either with or without a coating of bark (such as orchid bark). give shelter and aid with humidity maintenance. Sansevierias (also known as snake plants), bromeliads, philodendrons, ivy, orchids, and vines are some of the preferred live plants. For climbing and sunbathing, it should also be possible to find pieces of bark and branches. Stay away from very dry materials like sand and steer clear of greasy or fragrant substrates like wood shavings.

Food and Water

Insectivores by nature, green anoles make typically healthy eaters. While can serve as the major food source, it is important to also provide and wax worms and other gut-loaded insects. Every other day, feed the anole two to three adequately sized that are roughly half its size. Dusting the insects with a calcium and vitamin supplement is also recommended.

Common Health Problems

Green anoles are typically robust, healthy creatures. However, they may also experience mouth rot, respiratory problems, or a metabolic bone condition that causes weight loss and swelling joints. Search for:

  • Swollen joints
  • Loss of appetite
  • Smelly or runny stool
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Discharge from nose, eyes or mouth
  • Shedding problems or discolored skin

In the event that you notice any of these issues, you should always visit a veterinarian. However, in the interim, make sure your pet's substrate and feed are suitable. Issues with these are frequently the root of stress-related disease.

Choosing Your Green Anole

Almost every pet store has green anoles, and they should be reasonably priced. Make that the other anoles in the store appear to be in good health and are active, alert specimens. Knowing that green anoles may lose and grow new toes without any negative effects on their health is useful.

Before putting your new pet outside to play, give it a few days to become used to its new surroundings. Find a vet with experience with reptiles if you can, and bring your green anole in for a "well pet" checkup.

Similar Species of Green Anoles

If you’re interested in similar pets, check out:

Otherwise, check out all of our other breed profiles.