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 Anole FAQs

I want to buy a Green Anole. What should I look for?

Look for a healthy animal. Small lizards are difficult to treat and treatment can be very expensive. Make sure that the Anole is alert and active. If it is lethargic, it is probably sick or heavily parasitized. The eyes should be bright and it should move very quickly. Check the vent area for caked and smeared fecal material. If it is present, the Anole has intestinal problems – either parasites or other problems. If the Anole doesn’t try to run from you, it is an indication that it is not well.

Is an Anole the kind of pet you can hold?

No. Anoles are stressed by being held. Although some become used to contact with humans over time, they are not suitable as “lap lizards”. If you want a lizard of this type, don’t get an Anole.

How expensive are Anoles?

Generally, they are in the $4 to $8 range. There are more expensive considerations in housing and maintaining an Anole that you should consider. The enclosure, lighting, heating, vitamins, food, etc. will cost you many times the initial purchase price of the Anole. You are also investing in a long-term project. Small/medium Anoles routinely live 4-6 years in captivity and large species 10-15 years.

I want to get some material about Anoles before I decide to get one (or need a book on Anoles), where can I find that information?

The best book is “The Care and Maintenance of Green Anoles” by Philippe De Vosjoli. Internet resources are many.

What size of an enclosure should I get for my Anole?

The pet stores will tell you that the plastic ones are fine. Don’t believe them. Anoles have specific environmental requirements and the small, plastic cages are unsuitable. A good rule of thumb it to use the following formula: 10 gallon units X 1 = # of Anoles. Thus you can house one in a 10 gallon. It is best to allow a extra few gallons per Anole. Remember, these are minimums and larger enclosures are better by far. Since Anoles are arboreal, make sure that you use the “high” form of terrarium enclosures.
Since they can climb glass with impunity, make sure the enclosure has a tight fitting cover with a ¼’ or smaller mesh.
You can keep more than one Anole as long as only one of them is a male. You can keep a pair, a trio, or multiple females. Two males will have a tendency to fight – sometimes to the death. They are highly territorial.

What are the basic environmental requirements for Green Anoles?

Green Anoles inhabit temperate climates for most of their range (from extreme S.E. Virginia, South and West to Eastern Oklahoma and Texas and South through the Florida Keys). Daytime temperatures should range from 75 degrees to 82 degrees. A basking area in the 85 – 92 degree range should be provided. It is important that there be a cool end and warm end to the enclosure so the Anole can regulate its body temperature by moving from one area to another. At night the temperature can be allowed to drop in the 65 – 68 degree range. Anoles can tolerate temperatures in the 40’s for short periods of time. The humidity should be around 50%. Humidity can be maintained by misting the enclosure a couple of times per day. Needless to say, you are going to need a couple of thermometers and a humidity gauge to check on things.
If you need additional heat to maintain the daytime (or nighttime) temperatures, you can use ceramic heat emitters. DON’T use heating rocks – they can burn your Anole.

What about lighting?

Anoles need a fluorescent that emits UVB radiation. It aids in the production of calcium. Otherwise, they will get a deficiency disease that resembles osteoporosis and causes deformity and nerve damage. Any of the commercial 5% bulbs will be sufficient. They will also need a basking area. An incandescent bulb with a reflector will do nicely for this. Any light bulb that produces visible light and heat also produces UVA. I managed to find a small fixture at an office supply place that uses a 25-watt R-14 bulb. Bulb wattage here is not important. What is important is the temperature at the basking site. Distance of the fixture from the site will probably be the determining factor in the wattage of bulb that is required.
The lights should be left on 12-14 hours a day in the summer and 8-10 hours a day in the winter. You can use a timer to turn them off and on.

What should I put on the floor of my enclosure?

Almost anything will do here. There are some taboos, though. DON’T use sand. It can cause impacted intestines if ingested. DON’T use potting soil with either Perlite or fertilizer in it. DON’T use Cedar bark or chips. The chemicals in them can cause nerve damage in reptiles. Any of the commercial “bark” products are probably appropriate as long as the particle size is too big for the Anole to eat as are organic potting soils. My own preference is compost that I screen through a ¼” hardware cloth and then microwave for 10-15 minutes to sterilize it. Some Herp owners use paper or the cage carpet but natural is probably better.

Should I use real or artificial plants?

It’s your choice. Real plants are much more trouble to take care of. They have to be watered and the Anole “doo” has to be cleaned off of them. They are subject to pest attacks as well.
Artificials are easier to clean since they can be simply rinsed off. They don’t have to be watered and don’t get whitefly infestations.
Remember to add some branches for the Anoles to climb on and something sufficiently wide in the basking area for them as well.

What about cleaning the cage?

If you spend about 15 minutes a day cleaning up fecal matter and so forth, your Anole enclosure should be in good shape. DO NOT use Ammonia-based products to clean the glass. They are toxic to reptiles. A good substitute is to use vinegar to clean the class. Remember, you will still have to “strip down” and clean the enclosure thoroughly every six months.
You can use a very dilute bleach solution on the branches and other cage items. Make sure to rinse them off thoroughly and let they dry before you put them back in the cage.
For day- to- day maintenance, you can “clean around” the Anoles. For a thorough cleaning, remove them to another temporary enclosure until you are through.

What do I feed my Anoles?

Anoles are insectivorous lizards. They will eat just about any insect or invertebrate that they can swallow. The food of choice is the cricket. There are other commercially bred insects that can be fed as well. You can feed them wild caught insects (in season) from a pesticide free area away from roadsides (possible lead contamination) as long as they don’t sting, or aren’t toxic themselves.
Anoles drink by lapping up the water droplets that collect in the glass and plant leaves when you mist their enclosure.

What about mealworms?

A lot of Anoles refuse to eat mealworms. There are persistent (but unproven) stories about ingested mealworms burrowing out from inside an Anole. The main objection to feeding Anoles mealworms is that they have a tough chitinous exoskeleton and are nutritionally deficient. Crickets would be a much better option.

My Green Anole is brown, what’s wrong?

Green Anoles turn brown for a variety of reasons. The only time a Green Anole is going to be green for certain is when they are sleeping and can’t control their pigmentation. An Anole might be brown because it is stressed, or cold, or just because it wants to be brown. Sometimes too much emphasis is placed on the color of the Anole. As long as it behaves normally and is eating and drinking water, it is probably just fine. They have a limited palette of color changes that are affected by stress level, emotion, temperature and other factors.
Anoles do not generally change color to match their surroundings. I have had two in the past 40+ years that have learned that there is an advantage to being either green or brown. One stayed green 90% of the time and only turned brown when he was hunting on the brown substrate. At some point in time he had learned that the crickets couldn’t see him as well and were easier to catch when he was that color against the substrate color.
Anoles also can develop post-orbital dark spots. These are usually found on males and are used in connection with Assertion/Challenge displays. They are used to express extreme anger. Usually, the dewlap will be extended, there will be some furious head-bobbing, and the post-orbital spots will appear. If a female develops the spots or they don’t go away in a reasonable time, they are the expression of severe stress.

How can you tell the males from the females?

There are several tests that can be applied to tell the sexes apart. Starting with the least accurate, we have the “white line test”. Females, juveniles and some males have a while mid-dorsal white line. Most males lose it as they mature but not always.
The “dewlap test” is another. Males have dewlaps that they extend in courting and dominance displays. However, some females have small dewlaps that they also display. While the male’s dewlap is usually more colorful and flamboyant, that is not always true.
The “scale test” is much more reliable. Males have two enlarged post-anal scales that can be seen with some minor magnification. This is more reliable than either of the above tests but you can still miss seeing the scales.
The “hemipenile test” is the most reliable. Mature males have a bulge at the base of the tail where their sex organs or hemipenes are located. This is probably the most reliable test for determining sex.

08/31/10  01:48pm


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  Message To: Atrax27407   In reference to Message Id: 2172742

 Anole FAQs

hey atrax my anole has a sharp indent right after the vent deos this mean it is a male?

09/01/10  12:28pm


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  Message To: Geckolord12   In reference to Message Id: 2172932

 Anole FAQs

No - look for the paired postanal scales.

09/01/10  01:47pm


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  Message To: Atrax27407   In reference to Message Id: 2172947

 Anole FAQs

k i have a female :(

09/01/10  03:19pm


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  Message To: Geckolord12   In reference to Message Id: 2172975

 Anole FAQs


11/13/10  05:21pm


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  Message To: Atrax27407   In reference to Message Id: 2187320

 Anole FAQs

Quick question. You say crickets are best (and probably easiest to get). Any other farmed bugs good? Cockroaches? Fruit flies? Meal worms?

11/15/10  10:17pm


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  Message To: Rlayna   In reference to Message Id: 2187738

 Anole FAQs

Whoops didn’t scroll far enough in the board, found your food guide! Thanks!!!

11/15/10  10:19pm


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  Message To: Rlayna   In reference to Message Id: 2187739

 Anole FAQs


12/24/10  10:59am


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  Message To: Atrax27407   In reference to Message Id: 2194168

 Anole FAQs


06/01/11  04:45pm


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  Message To: Atrax27407   In reference to Message Id: 2222122

 Anole FAQs

Ok so now in super confused. One of my anoles (smaller younger) has two post anal scales but no tail bump. So could it still be a female? It also has a relatively small (compared to my larger older males) dewlap. Wry bright red with little greenish spots ^_^. It’s feisty whatever it is.

04/17/12  04:35am

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