Green Anole Care: Step-By-Step Detailed & Illustrated Guide

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Green anoles are the most commonly kept of the Anolis species. Mostly seen in the southern United States, they are the only breed of anole native to the US.

In fact, they have been very popular pets all over North America since the 1950s. Green anoles are excellent climbers and visual hunters of various insects, including spiders and grasshoppers. 

They are also known to be great starter pets for kids or anyone new to caring for a reptile. That being said, green anoles do have specific requirements that you must meet for them to flourish. 

This article will walk you through everything you need to know to start caring for your new green anole properly. 

Let’s get down to business. 

Habitat

green anole habitat setup

When it comes to picking a home for your green anole, a vertically oriented terrarium is preferred. Because green anoles are such avid climbers, this vertical housing better meets their arboreal needs. 

A ten-gallon tank is a good size for housing one to two green anoles. Of course, the bigger, the better when it comes to the size of their new home — this is especially true as the number of green anoles you own increases. 

An adequately ventilated terrarium is also essential as air circulation is important. A 60-70% humidity level is needed for green anoles as well.

Finding the right balance between ventilation and humidity is tricky but must be worked on. Misting the tank once a day can help regulate the humidity levels

Vertically oriented vegetation is another crucial aspect to include in your green anole’s new home. Acrylic vines and plastic leaves that suction onto the glass are highly recommended due to their cover.

Green anoles are much more likely to seek shelter in dangling vegetation than on the ground under rocks or in caves.

Anything you can do to recreate their tree-top lifestyle will make them feel safer and more comfortable. Their stress is amplified if there is a lot of commotion going on right outside their tank. So, as a rule of thumb, the quieter the room, the better.

Substrate

green anole substrate

The ideal substrate for green anoles is untreated soil and bark (orchid bark works well here), decaying leaf litter, and peat moss. You should provide branches and bark as well for climbing and basking. 

Live plants also help maintain the proper moisture level in the tank. Some of their favorite live plants include:

  • Sansevierias (snake plants).
  • Bromeliads.
  • Philodendrons.
  • Ivy.
  • Orchids.
  • Vines.

You will want to avoid several substrates when preparing your green anole’s terrarium. Oily, resinous, or scented substrates such as pine shavings, wood shavings, and scented paper towels are a big no-no

You should also avoid extremely dry substrates such as sand. Green anoles are temperate species that do not naturally occur in barren areas. 

Heat & Light

green anole heat lamp

Green anoles are sun-worshipping animals. They require specific ambient temperature gradients during the day with designated basking hot spots and cooler nighttime temperatures. 

The ambient temperature gradient should be between 24-27°C (75-80°F), with hot spots being 26-32°C (80-90°F). At night, the temperature could dip a little.

Your green anole should be able to enter and exit warmer and cooler areas of the tank to thermo-regulate. As much as they enjoy basking in the sun, they are cold-blooded reptiles and need the option to cool down and warm up as they see fit. 

Since green anoles are tree-dwellers, under-tank heaters are not very useful in controlling the enclosure’s temperature. Your best option for heat sources is daytime and nighttime heat lamps or moonlight-style bulbs. 

Green anoles need at least 8 hours of full-spectrum UVA/UVB light exposure when it comes to lighting. You can allow for more prolonged exposure up to 12 hours a day.

This will help prevent your green anole from developing MBD, which is very common among all reptiles. The UV light will also keep them looking brightly-colored, active, and happy.

It is important to note that you should change the UV light every six months, regardless of whether it has burnt out. Also, there should be nothing in between this light and your green anole except for the top metal mesh (no glass or plastic). 

Food & Water

green anole food and water

Green anoles’ diets consist primarily of invertebrates such as:

  • Crickets
  • Mealworms
  • Maggots
  • Roaches
  • Mealworms
  • Waxworms
  • Grasshoppers

All should be gut-loaded and farm raised.

Some insects to avoid include superworms and king worms. These worms have sharp and powerful mandibles that can injure your green anole. 

You should feed your green anole 2-3 prey-sized insects (approximately half the size of their head) every other day. It is also a good idea to dust the insects with a calcium and vitamin supplement to make sure your anole is getting enough essential nutrients.

What About Water

When it comes to keeping your green anole hydrated, they do not consume water the same way your dog or cat would, for instance.

They usually get their water from the leaves after it rains or from the morning dew before the sun evaporates it. Some green anoles will drink from a water dish, but all anoles will drink the water misted on the walls and leaves in their terrarium.

If you decide to put a water dish in your green anole’s tank, make sure it is shallow. Anoles cannot escape from deep water and can easily drown. A good tip is to put a stick or vine in the dish to give your green anole an escape route if they need one. 

Cost

green anole lizard cost

Green anoles are actually very cheap compared to other reptiles. They sell for about $5-10 USD

The reason the price is so low is that most of them are wild-caught. Some places breed green anoles, but it is rare because there’s plenty of them in the wild. Bred green anoles will usually go for the same price too. 

While the green anole itself is inexpensive, getting their terrarium set up correctly will cost you out about $250. 

Personality & Temperament

green anole temperament

Green anoles have a calm temperament and are a lot of fun to watch during the day. They love to climb and move around a lot. 

Green anoles tolerate gentle handling. They do not mind if you pick them up occasionally. While they enjoy hanging out on your shoulder or in the palm of your hand (do not forget, they love heights!), they are not particularly fond of being tightly gripped.

Also, be sure to wash your hands with antibacterial soap after handling your green anole as they might carry salmonella.

You must not pick them up from their tails. Green anoles are fragile creatures, and their tails can easily break if not handled with care. It is imperative to teach young children how to manage them properly not to injure their new pet. 

Lastly, give your new green anole at least a couple of weeks to acclimate itself to its new home before handling them. They will likely be very stressed trying to get accustomed to their new environment, so picking them up is not recommended.

Allowing them to settle in before interacting with them will ensure your safety and their happiness.

5 Common Questions

Common Questions (1)

Do Green Anoles Make Good Pets?

Green anoles do make good pets. They are perfect for beginner reptile owners and kids alike. Green anoles are known to be personable little lizards that enjoy being hand-fed. They are fascinating to watch while climbing and showing off their colorful dewlaps.

Green anoles are among the most popular starter pets in the reptile family. And for a good reason, they are small, friendly, inexpensive, and caring for them is relatively easy.

Meeting their housing and dietary requirements is pretty straightforward, with only a few specialized equipment items needed. However, this does not mean they are low-maintenance.

The up-keep needed for a green anole’s vivarium requires constant, meticulous attention.

(If you are a beginner, reptile owner, check out our article about leopard geckos.)

Do Green Anoles Like To Be Held?

Green anoles do not mind if you hold them occasionally. They are, however, particular about how they are handled. They prefer to be perched on your shoulder or in the palm of your hand and not gripped tightly.

When you pick them up, be sure to avoid grabbing their tail. These are tiny, frail lizards, and they can easily be hurt. The best way to pick up your green anole would be to place your hand underneath their bellies.

Letting them climb onto your palm will ensure you are not gripping them too tightly and keeps their tail out of the equation

Do Green Anole Bites Hurt?

Pain is, of course, entirely subjective, but bites from these little lizards rarely hurt. Male green anoles can reach 20cm (8in) in length and weigh only about 2 to 6 grams. Females are even smaller.

So, there is not much potential for a forceful bite here. Their tiny teeth seldom ever break the skin. 

Another good thing is that green anoles (all anoles, in fact) are not venomous or poisonous. There is no need to worry about venom or poison getting into your system if they bite and happen to break the skin.

Often with reptiles, pain comes from the bite’s force and continues or worsens because of the venom or poison injected.

Since these green anoles are so tiny and hold no poison or venom, you do not have to worry about any severe pain being inflicted. The only thing you need to be constantly aware of is that they potentially carry harmful diseases (such as salmonella). 

Do Green Anoles Make Noise?

Green anoles are completely silent. While other lizards and reptiles like geckos make sounds like barks, chirps, and quacks, anoles are known to be quiet. 

Some theories state green anoles can make an ultrasonic hissing sound, but that has yet to be proven. Other studies were done on anoles where scientists dissected a few to look for possible sound-producing structures, but none were found. 

How Many Green Anoles Can Live Together?

If you were to purchase the standard ten-gallon vivarium, you could safely house two green anoles together. You can either have one male and one female or two females in a ten-gallon tank.

Housing more than one male in a small enclosure will cause territorial aggression and fighting.

As your tank’s size increases, so can the number of green anoles you can get. Again, you can either have an all-female tank of green anoles or one male with several females. You should never have more than one male in a terrarium

Conclusion

Green anoles really do make perfect reptile beginner pets. Kids love them; they are exciting to watch, relatively simple to take care of, and friendly enough occasionally hold.

While setting up their housing and substrate can be tedious, the rest of the care is pretty straightforward. Green anoles are easy to feed and have calm temperaments — they also enjoy being fed by hand, which most kids love too!

You do have to be careful when handling them because they are so tiny and fragile. It is important never to pick green anoles up from their tails as they can easily break.

Follow all of these guidelines, and you are well on your way to providing quality care for your green anole. 

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