Green and Bahama Anole Care Sheet
Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.
Green anoles are native to the southern U.S., where they sprint around gardens and lawns, climb walls, and hunt for insects. Green anoles often change colors from dark brown to a vivid green. Males have a pink throat fan called a dewlap, which is used to establish territories and during mating. Green anoles are also referred to as Carolina anoles, American anoles, and red- throated anoles. Bahama anoles, also called brown anoles, areis native to the Bahamas and Cuba but are also now found in Georgia, Florida, Mexico, Hawaii, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, and the Caribbean. Brown anoles live in both suburban and urban areas on grass, shrubs, fences and, trees. Brown anoles are considered an invasive species that competes with green anoles, as they have similar feeding and habitat requirements.
Typical appearance and behavior
- Anoles are semi-arboreal (tree-climbing) and diurnal (active during the day)
- Anoles have triangular heads, lean, muscular bodies and large eyes that support keen vision for hunting insects
- Male anoles are more heavily muscled and longer than females andhave larger dewlaps. Females have a white stripe down their backs
- When green anoles are relaxed, they are bright green with a red fold of skin (the dewlap) over their throats that they expand during mating and when defending their territories
- When they are stressed, cold or trying to camouflage themselves from a predator, green anoles change their skin color from bright green to dark brown. For this reason, they are often called American chameleons, but they are not in the chameleon family. Brown anoles cannot radically change colors this way
- Brown anoles can’t turn green, but depending on their mood, temperature and light exposure, they can turn black or gray
- Brown anoles can be distinguished from green anoles by their difference in skin color and by their shorter snouts
- Male brown anoles also have reddish-orange dewlaps that they expand when mating and defending territory
- Anoles court females by bobbing their heads up and down and pushing up and down with their front legs
- Anoles have millions of microscopic fibers on the pads of their toes that allow them to adhere to and climb smooth surfaces
- Like other lizards, anoles have developed the defense mechanism of releasing or “dropping” their tailsto escape if grabbed by the tail by a predator. A new tail will generally grow back in a few weeks, but it is rarely the original color, texture or size
- When threatened, anoles will bite, hiss and urinate or defecate on their predators
- The anole’s small size makes them appealing as pets for people with small homes
- Their quick, jumpy movements and nervous nature often make them difficult to handle. They prefer to perch on a hand rather than to be restrained
- Anoles newly introduced into a habitat should be given a week or two to acclimate before pet parents attempt to handle them
- As male anoles are highly territorial, males should not be housed together. Anoles are best housed in pairs—one male and one female or groups of one male and two to five females
|Average Life Span||Up to 3+ years with proper care|
|Average Adult Size||5-8 inches|
|Minimum Habitat Size||Minimum 10-gallon tank for one-two anoles or 20-gallon tank for three-four anoles|
An appropriately sized and shaped habitat should be provided for an adult anole to accommodate an adult anole’s normal behaviors and exercise. Vertically oriented habitats are ideal to allow anoles to climb. A 10-gallon tank can house one to two 1-2 anoles, while a 20-gallon tank is appropriate for three to four 3-4 anoles. Habitats should have a securely fitting screen top to help prevent escape and ensure adequate ventilation. Full-screen enclosures may work, too, as long as adequate humidity can be maintained. As anoles in nature spend a great deal of time perched up high and, looking down, many pet anoles feel more comfortable when their habitats are kept slightly elevated. They tend to be more nervous when they are down low, especially in an active area of a home.
AnolesWill reach sexual maturity atadult size in 12 to 18 months, but continue to grow very slowly their whole lives, under ideal conditions.
Building your habitat
- Décor - Provide perching and hiding places with live or artificial plants, commercially availablebranches, small rocks, hide boxes and cork bark. Thick vegetation is ideal, as anoles will hide behind foliage
- Substrate - Cypress mulch, sphagnum moss and coconut fiber can be used as substrate, as they absorb moisture and help maintain humidity. Substrate should be moist but not wet, or lizards can develop skin and respiratory tract infections. Wood shavings should be avoided, as they have oils that can irritate anoles’ skin and they are indigestible if eaten. Lizards may unintentionally eat their substrate and develop life-threatening gastrointestinal tract obstructions if they consume indigestible substrates. Feeding lizards in a bowl off the floor or using commercially available paper-based substrate that is digestible if eaten helps decrease anoles’ chances of developing obstructions
- Temperature– Provide a temperature gradient from 75°F at the cool end to 85 to 88°F at the warm end, with a basking temperature of 90 to 95°F. Nighttime temperature should not be lower than 70°F. Monitor temperatures with at least two thermometers—one in the cool zone and the other in the hot (basking) zone. Heat may be provided with an incandescent bulb or ceramic heat bulb. Heat sources should be attached to thermostats to regulate temperatures. Hot rocks should not be used as a heat source, as they can burn reptiles
- Lighting– Anoles require full-spectrum ultraviolet (UV) lighting for 10 to 12 hours a day to expose them to the UVB rays that enable them to make vitamin D in their skin so that they can absorb dietary calcium. An incandescent day bulb, along with a UV bulb, also provides clear distinction between day and nighttime for diurnal lizards to perform their normal behaviors. Change UV bulbs every six months, as their potency wanes
- Humidity - Maintain habitat humidity at 60 to 70% by misting as needed every day. Mist foliage in the tank regularly to provide water droplets on leaves for anoles to drink. Provide an open bowl of shallow water to allow the lizard to soak and to increase humidity through evaporation. Ensure water is not too deep, as anoles may drown if they cannot get out of the water. Monitor humidity with a humidity gauge
Cleaning your habitat
Thoroughly clean and disinfect water and food bowls daily. The habitat should be spot-cleaned daily to remove droppings. Thoroughly clean the habitat at least once a week:
- Place the lizard in a secure habitat
- Scrub the tank and furnishings with a reptile habitat cleaner or 3% bleach solution
- Rinse the tank and all furnishings thoroughly with water, removing all traces of habitat cleaner or bleach smell
- Dry the tank and furnishings before putting the lizard back into the habitat
A well-balanced anole diet consists of:
- A variety of insects, including gut-loaded (recently fed) crickets, mealworms, roaches, calci-worms, silkworms and waxworms. Insects should be no larger than half the size of the anole’s head
- Anoles must be fed live insects so they can hunt and catch them; they typically reject dead prey
Things to remember when feeding your anole:
- Fresh, clean water should be available all the time
- Avoid feeding large worms such as superworms or hornworms, as these are too large for anoles’ small jaws
- Feed juveniles daily and adults every other day
- Sprinkle food with a calcium supplement daily and a multivitamin supplement once a week
Lizards regularly shed their skin in patches. Most lizards shed every four to six4-6 weeks. Before shedding, they may become a duller color. After shedding, many lizards eat their shed skin to prevent predators from knowing they are present. Ensure the humidity of the habitat is at the appropriate level to allow proper shedding. To facilitate shedding, provide a container of shallow water in which the lizard can immerse its their entire body. Mist frequently during shedding to maintain elevated humidity levels, and provide a shedding box— which is a hide box filled with moist sphagnum moss—, that will aid in the shedding process. Be sure to change the moss frequently so that it doesn’t become moldy.
Where to buy
Anoles are available for purchase at your local Petco Pet Care Center. Please call ahead to check availability.
- Appropriately-sized habitat
- Sphagnum moss
- Mealworm dish
- Hideaway place
- Climbing décor
- Heat light
- Heat fixture
- UVB lighting and fixture
- Multivitamin supplement
- Calcium supplement
- Cricket quencher
- Cricket keeper
- Cricket food
- Humidity gauge
- House adult male anoles separately, as they are territorial and will fight
- A single male anole may be housed with one or more females
- Do not house different reptile species together
Signs of a healthy anole
- Active and alert
- Clear, bright eyes with no swelling or discharge
- Full, muscular body and tail
- Supple skin with no sores, swellings or discoloration
- Droppings are firm, not runny or bloody
- Eats and passes stool regularly
- Clear nose and vent
Red flags (If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian.)
- Weight loss or decreased appetite
- Discharge or bubbles from eyes, mouth or nose
- Lesions, swelling or discoloration of skin or retained shed
- Sneezing, runny nose, difficulty breathing
- Weakness or paralysis of limbs
- Runny or bloody stool or lack of stool
Common health issues
|Health Issue||Symptoms or Causes||Suggested Action|
|Health IssueGastro-intestinal disease||Symptoms or CausesRunny or bloody stools, caked or smeared stool around the vent, weight loss, loss of appetite caused by bacterial, viral or parasitic infection.||Suggested ActionConsult your veterinarian.|
|Health IssueMetabolic bone disease/vitamin deficiency||Symptoms or CausesInability to absorb calcium due to insufficient UVB light or improper amounts of dietary calcium/vitamin D3. If untreated, can lead to deformed, softened or fractured bones, swollen limbs, decreased appetite, weakness and lethargy.||Suggested ActionConsult your veterinarian and provide ample UVB lighting, a balanced diet and the proper amount of calcium/vitamin supplements.|
|Health IssueRespiratory tract disease||Symptoms or CausesLabored breathing, mucus and/or bubbles in the mouth or nose; can be caused by inappropriate habitat temperature and humidity, leading to secondary bacterial, viral or fungal infection.||Suggested ActionConsult your veterinarian and ensure habitat hasi the proper temperature and humidity.|
|Health IssueSkin problems||Symptoms or CausesRedness, swelling, lesions, discoloration of skin. May be due to infection with bacteria, fungus or parasites, or to an unclean habitat or inappropriate humidity||Suggested ActionConsult your veterinarian, thoroughly clean the habitat, and ensure habitat is at the appropriate temperature and humidity.|
|Health IssueDysecdesis (problems shedding)||Symptoms or CausesRetained pieces of skin anywhere on body, especially over the eyes or around toes; caused by dry habitat or underlying disease.||Suggested ActionIncrease habitat humidity; contact your veterinarian if there is no improvement.|
- What do green anoles eat? Green anoles can be offered a variety of insects, including gut-loaded (recently fed) crickets, mealworms, roaches, calci-worms, silkworms and waxworms. Insects should be no larger than half the size of the anole’s head.
- How long do green anoles live? Green anoles can live up to 3+ years with proper care.
- What can live with green anoles? Anoles can live together as long as there is only one male in a habitat. Green and brown anoles may be housed together.
- Can anoles eat fruit? Anoles are primarily insectivores, but brown anoles in their native habitats eat some pollen and nectar. Pet brown anoles should be fed a diet of mainly insects but may be offered small amounts of juicy fruit, which they may or may not eat.
Additional care sheets
Notes and resources
Ask a Pet Care Center associate about Petco's selection of products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.
Because all reptiles are potential carriers of infectious diseases such as salmonella bacteria, always wash your hands before and after handling your reptile or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.
Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physicians before purchasing or caring for reptiles and should consider having a pet other than a reptile.
Go to the Centers for Disease Control at cdc.gov/healthypets for more information about Lizards and disease.
The information on this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If your pet is sick or if you need additional information, please contact your veterinarian as appropriate.