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Green Anole Information & Care (Anolis carolinensis)
Green anoles are the most commonly seen of the anole lizards in captivity. They are regularly exported from Florida and surrounding states. They are cheap to buy, but contrary to popular belief they are actually not ideal for a beginner. Green anole lizards are temperamental to their environment and require the right temperature, humidity and environment to remain healthy. They are a short-lived lizard, averaging about 4 years in captivity, however they have been known to live up to 10 years. Adult males are larger than females, reaching approximately 20 cm, females only 15 cm. Many people call these “chameleon lizards”, because of their ability to change color. However, unlike chameleons, they cannot actually change their color to match their environment. However, they will turn a darker green/brown when stressed or submerged. Darker color will raise their body temperature faster during bathing; once they reach their optimum temperature, they will start to turn green again. Most anole lizards are gregarious species, living in highly populated areas with perhaps hundreds of individuals. Males are very aggressive towards each other when locked in a small terrarium with a number of females. However, a larger terrarium with a ratio of 1 male to 5 females is ideal.
It has been published and stated many times that green anoles can live in a small terrarium with minimal requirements. I must point out that this is far from the truth and will lead to a short-lived, unhappy and unhealthy pet lizard. Although this is a small species of lizard, they are very active and curious creatures. They need to regulate their own temperature and have access to UVA and UVB rays that are usually missing from the sun. Humidity is another important factor, this will help shed their skin and generally help the health of the lizards.
It is recommended that one male keep at least three females. Otherwise, if you only want two or three animals, then just buy females. Green anoles are a gregarious species and should be kept in groups. Keeping a single specimen will deprive it of the much-needed stimulation provided by surrounding lizards. An ideal group consists of one male to five females. This size set should fit into a L90cm x H90cm x W45cm terrarium. The bigger the terrarium, the more you will enrich the life of your lizards. A larger group of two males to 10 females should be kept in a L120cm x H90cm x W45cm terrarium.
Many keepers choose to house their green anoles with other species, such as brown anoles (Anolis sagrei) and many species of day geckos (Phelsuma sp.). This is not recommended for a number of reasons. Brown anoles for example are stronger than green anoles and will dominate the terrarium. It may not be obvious, but brown anoles will dominate the higher ground of the terrarium, have first place under the raid site, and may even push green anoles over when feeding. Day geckos can be quite aggressive and may prey on green anoles. A number of geckos are also nocturnal, meaning that at night these geckos can literally walk all over sleeping green anoles. This will add a lot of stress to the green anole and should be avoided at all costs. However, there is one animal that I think will add some use to a green anole tank; which is a green American tree frog (Hyla cinerea). These are nocturnal frogs that will help scavenge any uneaten insects at night, they coexist with green anoles in the wild and require the same temperature and humidity fluctuations.
Green anoles, when kept in an optimal environment will breed easily; and therefore you will need a deep substrate which is easy to dig. Potting soil is ideal and is completely natural. With this substrate, it is also possible to place live plants directly on the substrate, instead of placing them in pots inside the terrarium. It’s important to balance your planting and decor with the space. Green anoles often like to come out into the open along sticks and branches and onto open leaves to bathe and get a good look at their surroundings. However, being able to crawl into a bush for cover is also a must. Make sure that if you use live plants, you don’t use anything that is either toxic to eat or gives off toxic fumes.
Heating & Lighting
As already mentioned; green anoles are a diurnal species and will bask in the sun. Therefore, they need a place to reach their optimal temperature and a light that emits UVA and UVB rays. Ideally, 2 or 3 basking places should be located in your enclosure. These should simply be 60W spot lamps placed approximately 8″ away from where the lizard/s will burrow. By placing more than one raiding site in the enclosure, you will allow the lizards to choose their preferred site and you will allow several lizards to enter at the same time, as they would in the wild. These reserve locations should reach approximately 86-94ËšF, allowing for a more general air temperature of 80-84ËšF and lower down at closing, a cool zone of about 74-78ËšF.
It is possible to replace spot lamps with UV lamps. However, insuring some of them is a very expensive ongoing cost, which is not necessary. Instead, place a UV strip light on top of the enclosure. This should be as long as your enclosure will allow, with a reflector behind it so that UV rays are not directed in the wrong direction. UV lamps should be replaced every 6-8 months, regardless of whether they are still emitting light or not.
Do not use heat mats or heating rocks with green anoles. They are completely unnatural and serve no purpose. If additional heat is needed during the night hours, an infrared lamp will work perfectly.
Moisture and Water
Coming from Florida and surrounding states, a high humidity range is a must. The ideal range is 60-70%, although swings either way will rarely harm your lizard. This can be achieved in a number of ways.
First, a large bowl of water placed as close to the heat source as possible will help with overall humidity. A better step is to then add air bubbles, commonly used in fish tanks. The bubble effect will continuously circulate the water and blow small water vapors into the air. Similarly, a small waterfall will give the same effect.
Providing plants such as bromeliads is another way to increase humidity. These plants hold water inside pockets at the base of the leaves, allowing more surface water to evaporate. They also make a great addition to a display terrarium.
Sprinkling the terrarium with fresh water once a day, preferably mid-morning will certainly help with the humidity and at the same time allow the anole lizards to drink the water droplets that collect on any leaves or other surfaces. . If you have a bigger budget, a timed misting system will be perfect for when you are not there and would like the terrarium to be sprayed at regular intervals. These are getting pretty cheap and are a perfect addition to a great anole display tank. A word of advice though; point the spray nozzles away from the front of the terrarium, as the spray will obstruct your view into the terrarium and the glass will need to be cleaned more often.
Food and Nutrition
Green anoles are primarily insectivores (eating insects). However, I say mainly because they are known to eat pollen, nectar, and other delicious juicy fruits. They may not eat a banana for example, but they may lick the juice. Try offering your anole some of these delicious fruit options, if they eat them, they’re great.
Offering a variety of insects will stimulate the anole’s natural feeding responses and help your pet’s overall health. Just as we humans need a balanced and varied diet, so do anole lizards. Don’t offer the same crickets all the time. Although it doesn’t have the best selection of food available in the UK, there is still enough to satisfy your anole’s needs. Offer a mix of crickets, small grasshoppers, mealworms, waxworms, small earthworms, small cockroaches, flies and even moths, butterflies and spiders that you find in your home. Not only will providing a variety provide a more balanced and nutritious diet, but it will also cause the anole to adapt its hunting methods to each food item. An anole lizard won’t have to chase a waxworm, but it will run like crazy to chase a fly or a daddy longlegs spider. This will give your anole a chance to exercise and help with its overall health and longevity.
It is important that the food is supplemented with calcium and mineral powder. This should not be done at every feeding, but at least once every two or three meals. An ideal dusting powder is Repton, a powder specially formulated for insectivorous lizards. As long as this is combined with the right foods and UV rays, your anole should be perfectly healthy.
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