26 Crucial Things to Know About the Green Anole as Pets
Green anoles are a special and very beautiful type of lizard. These small green beauties are safe, pleasant to look after, and relatively easy to deal with. Their moderate lifespan makes them great pets for kids as well as adults. Even though they are quite easy to look after, they do have some unique specifics. So, if you want to learn how to care for these small pets we’ll try to cover everything crucial below.
14 things to consider before buying a Green Anole pet
Green anoles are native to the Southern US states and the Caribbean. This makes them pretty well-suited for that particular climate but if you want to look after them in a bit northern climates you’ll need to be a bit more careful with the conditions in their terrarium. We’ll talk more about that below.
One of the key characteristics of green anoles is just how small they are. An adult male green anole will grow up to 8 inches tops (~20 cm) and that’s including its very long tail. Female green anoles are even shorter than that but not by much.
In terms of their personality, green anoles aren’t exactly “people’s pets”. In other words, they don’t really like being handled or played with. If you’re looking for a small reptile or lizard to climb over your arms and interact with you, the green anoles ain’t it and you’d better look into some species of geckos. OF course, you will need to handle your green anoles from time to time so here’s a cool video guide on how to do that safely.
Does this mean that the green anoles are aggressive, however?
Yes and no. Male green anoles, in particular, can be very territorial and won’t hesitate to try and “intimidate” you with their flashy red/pink throats. If they get too stressed out and scared they may even try to bite. Here’s the thing, however – they are quite harmless. A green anole can’t seriously harm you even if it tried. So, while they are not social they aren’t dangerous either.
Speaking of the “aggressiveness” of male anoles, it should be said that they can be dangerous to one another. This is why it’s generally not a good idea to have more than one male green anole as it’s almost guaranteed that two males will get into a fight as soon as they see each other.
If you want to look after more than one green anole, you can get as many female ones as you want. Just don’t get more than one male.
Do you even want to have more than one green anole? You probably do. These lizards are quite small so looking after just one can feel boring and unsatisfying. Furthermore, they (female green anoles, that is) can be pretty social and friendly toward one another so having at least 3 or 4 at a time is usually the goldilocks zone for most green anole owners.
Another noteworthy aspect of looking after these small reptiles is that they don’t live too long. The average lifespan of the green anole is somewhere between 4 and 8 years, depending on how well you look after them (and a bit of luck). This is neither a benefit nor a drawback, however – it’s all a matter of what kind of pet you want.
If you’re looking for a short-term pet for a child or just something that’s not too much of a commitment for yourself, the green anole is a great choice. But if you want a long-term reptile pet, there are both lizards and snakes that have much longer lifespans.
Health and care are key points when dealing with reptiles. It may be surprising to some but green anoles are relatively healthy lizards. One of the bigger health benefits these lizards have is that they are not as susceptible to respiratory infections as most other reptiles. It is possible, however, so you should still look for signs of respiratory distress such as heavy breathing, wheezing, etc.
Some health problems that are more likely include metabolic bone disease that can result from poor diet or lack of UVB exposure, as well as mouth rot or stomatitis which can be identified by puffiness and redness around the mouth.
In terms of physical hardiness, green anoles are about as fragile as they look. Handling them should always be done with care, especially considering that the little reptiles will likely try to run away and won’t exactly be “cooperative”.
Like many other lizards, green anoles can detach their tails. They can also regrow them which is a nice perk that not all lizards with detachable tails have. However, keep in mind that the regrowth of the tail can take some time, and even when it’s fully regrown it won’t look exactly as it was originally.
As far as the price of the green anole is concerned, it really isn’t anything major. Most pet stores that sell green anoles will do so for under $10. The average price is usually closer to $5. This makes them very comparable to hamsters and other such small pets that you can easily get for a child. Of course, the main expenditure of owning a green anole has to do with their long-term care. Or rather – their terrarium which we’ll cover below.
Green anoles are often called “American chameleons”. This isn’t exactly accurate as they are not a type of chameleon, however, they can change their color a bit – from brown to light green, depending on their environment.
Green anoles are diurnal lizards which means that they are mostly active during the day. This makes them even better pets for children as kids aren’t (supposed to be) active during the night either. It also means that their feeding time should take place during the day.
Are green anoles good climbers? Yes, they are – they are arboreal lizards which means that they like to climb and live on trees. Furthermore, their feet offer excellent suction which means that they can climb on almost vertical surfaces including glass.
Or, to put it plainly – green anole are phenomenal escape artists. Their small size combined with their climbing ability means that they can exploit even the smallest opening or hole in your terrarium, even if it's at the top.
So, are green anoles a suitable pet for you? This all depends on whether you want a relatively short-lived, small, and antisocial lizard that’s also exceptionally cute, active, and playful when it has other green anole company. The initial investment is also relatively small both for the anole and its small terrarium, so this is a budget-friendly option as well.
The 8 things you need to do to prepare for a Green Anole pet
The first thing you’ll need to get before you even go to buy your green anole is its terrarium. In terms of parameters, the bare minimum is 10 gallons for 1-2 anoles. If you can get a 20-gallon tank, however, that’d be even better. If you want to look after 3-4 anoles 20 gallons becomes the new minimum.
The exact shape of the terrarium is also important – it should have a good vertical dimension as well as two decent horizontal dimensions. That’s because green anoles are arboreal lizards and love to climb.
We’ll cover the decoration of the terrarium in a bit. In terms of materials, glass is probably the best option or a mix of wood and glass. Glass is safe, preserves the humidity in the terrarium, and allows light in, and gives you perfect visibility.
The decoration of your green anole’s terrarium is very important. For one, it will give them stuff to climb on which they need to feel well. But even ignoring that, good decoration will simply make them feel at home.
What’s great is that you can customize your green anole’s tank quite a bit. There are many different common terrarium plants you can use for these little lizards. As for the larger decorative items, you can take any type of tree branch or stones from either a pet store or your yard (just make sure they are healthy, of course). Your green anole’s tank’s decoration should also offer plenty of secure hiding places where your little lizards can feel safe.
A big part of looking after a green anole is managing their environment’s temperature. Green anoles are used to a southern climate so they do best in temperatures between 75 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 28 degrees Celsius) during the day. At nighttime, they can tolerate a temperature as low as 65o F (18o C) but not lower than that.
Managing their day and night cycle is also important as green anoles should experience about 12 to 14 hours of daytime and 10 to 12 hours of nighttime. We mention it in this section as all this is something you should prepare in advance. Here’s what you need to maintain the proper temperature in your green anole’s terrarium:
Incandescent white light bulb for a heat source
Ceramic heater instead of or together with the heating bulb
When it comes to the light, a green anole will need a couple of other light sources in addition to the heating lamp. These include a basking light that maintains temperatures between 85 and 90o F (30 to 32o C). This lamp should be active during the day to give the green anole an area in the tank with a higher temperature for them to bask in.
There should also be a UVB light to compensate for the lack of direct sunlight inside the terrarium. Of course, you can also just put the tank in a place with direct sunlight instead but that can be complicated. As we said, a green anole should receive daytime light for about 12 to 14 hours a day. At night, all light sources should be turned off.
Humidity is also crucial for your green anole and this is also something you should arrange before you even get your lizards. Green anoles thrive at a relative humidity around 70% - not too much less or more than that. Fortunately, maintaining this relative humidity is easy and you’ll just need to mist your anole’s terrarium with a water spray bottle a couple of times a day.
If you want, you can set up an automatic misting system too but make sure to pick a good one that doesn’t make too much noise.
Lastly, you’ll need to get a hygrometer too – this a device that allows you to measure the relative humidity inside the terrarium. You can just place it on the inner wall of the tank next to the thermometer.
Build a humidity box/hide for your green anoles ahead of time too. These contraptions are exceptionally easy to make and offer your lizards another option for when they want to cool off. Here’s a good video guide on DIY humidity boxes.
Green anoles may be arboreal but they don’t just stay on branches. For when your green anole is on the ground it will need to have a nice substrate under its feet. The best substrates for these lizards include perlite-free soil, orchid bark, and peat moss.
Find a good veterinarian near you who specializes in reptiles and lizards. Any vet who does that should be used to treating green anoles but many vets specialize just in dogs and cats. If you can’t find a good reptile-friendly vet near you and you’ll need to travel too far, maybe getting a green anole won’t be the best idea.
4 secrets for success with a Green Anole pet
Feeding your green anole is arguably the most complicated – or the only complicated – part of looking after these lizards. Green anoles are insect hunters so their diet should consist only of gut-loaded insects, mealworms, or wax worms.
“Gut-loaded” means that the insects themselves should be fed as well as possible with lots of nutritional food, vitamins, and minerals. What’s more, before you feed the gut-loaded insects to your green anole you should also dust the insects with calcium and vitamin supplement powder.
The standard diet of a green anole will include three such prey items once every two days. The insects should be no bigger than half the size of the green anole.
Also, it’s recommended that you feed your lizards only with pet-store prey as wild-caught insects may have some residue pesticides on them.
In terms of water, green anoles are very easy to satisfy – they only drink droplets from the leaves and branches around them. So, as long as you mist your anoles’ terrarium a couple of times per day – as you should to maintain good humidity – the anoles will have plenty of water to drink.
Your anole will likely shed its skin once a month. This is a very standard procedure and you really aren’t expected to help. If the humidity in your terrarium is right and if your anole is in good health, the process will be slow but issue-free.
Whatever you do, don’t try to manually help shed the anole. Doing so will risk damaging the green anole’s skin. If you’re 100% that something’s not right you can provide your green anole with a water bowl for soaking and/or a humidity box – this should help the lizard deal with the situation.
You should monitor your green anole’s conditions every day and several times a day. This includes the thermometer, hygrometer, lights, heater, humidity hide, substrate, decoration, and so on. Remember to insect the lizards themselves for any visual symptoms of some of their common physical conditions. Do all that and you’ll both prevent most problems and catch any irregularity in time to deal with it.
And that’s about it. As you can see, looking after green anoles is really simple. Once you’ve set up everything, the rest is just a matter of feeding them every other day and maintaining their conditions.
So, do green anoles sound like something you’d like looking after? Or, do you think we’ve missed something?