How to Take Care of an Anole? (Green Anole Care Sheet)

There are 256 species of known Anole. They are native to a wide range of territory in the U.S., Caribbean Islands, and South America, and have even managed to establish significant populations as far away as Japan.

Most anoles are at least partly arboreal, and have evolved special extended toes to not only climb up trees but easily grip vertical surfaces, such as glass, as well.

Male Anoles (and females of some species) are known for their distensible throat fans, which are used during territoriality and intimidation displays, as well as during courtship.

Each species’ throat fan is different, and scientists have discovered that these fans look even more unique to the Anoles themselves, which have very acute vision.

The most commonly available anole is the Green Anole, a species that is common to most of the Gulf Coast and Southern Atlantic states.

Green anoles may go by the name “American Chameleon” in some areas, due to their amazing ability to change color from brilliant lime green to a dark brown within seconds.

Unlike the true Chameleons, green anoles change color as a reaction to temperature, humidity, stress, and light intensity, not to blend in with their surroundings.

Green anoles are excellent beginner’s reptiles because of their availability, hardiness, and modest lighting and feeding requirements.

  • Species Name: Anolis carolinensis
  • Common Names: Green Anole, Carolina Anole, American Anole, American Chameleon, Red-throated Anole
  • Size: Male individuals can reach a length of up to 8 inches, including their tail, in captivity. However, in their natural habitat, they tend to grow even larger. Females are generally smaller in size.
  • Lifespan: On average, these anoles live for about 4 years. However, with proper care and attention, they can potentially live up to 8 years or even longer.

Behavior and Temperament

Green anoles are known for their curious and observant nature. Just like the morning cup of coffee for you, sunbathing is their daily ritual to start the day.

When they’re not basking in their warm spots, you’ll often catch them intently watching their surroundings from the treetops – or from your living room plant, if you’ve made the delightful choice of keeping them as pets. Trust me, it’s fascinating to watch them intently study their environment.

One distinctive behavior of green anoles is their color-changing ability, similar to chameleons but not as dramatic. When they’re relaxed and comfortable, they sport a vibrant green color. However, they might turn brown when they are stressed, unwell, or trying to blend in with their surroundings.

So, if your anole has been brown for an extended period, it might be time for a health check-up or to reconsider the conditions of their environment.

Green anoles are generally not aggressive, but they are solitary creatures and territorial in nature. If you’re planning to keep more than one in the same enclosure, make sure it’s spacious enough to prevent any territorial disputes. However, it’s always best to keep them individually.

Green Anoles as Pets

Let’s start with the good stuff, the reasons that make anoles a perfect choice for many:

1. Companionship: These creatures might be small, but their personalities are not! Green anoles are highly observant and curious, making them fun companions. As a green anole keeper myself, I can tell you there’s nothing quite like sharing your space with these lively lizards.

2. Learning Opportunities: If you’ve got young science enthusiasts at home, a green anole can be an incredible learning resource. From understanding their habitat needs to observing their unique behaviors, there’s a wealth of knowledge waiting to be explored.

3. Unique Characteristics: Green anoles are a treat to the eyes with their ability to change color from green to brown, making them a captivating addition to your home. Observing their behavior, you’ll also notice their fascinating dewlap displays.

4. Connection with Nature: Caring for a green anole helps you stay connected with nature. It’s like having a mini rainforest ecosystem at home. Trust me, it’s a delightful sight watching them thrive in their little world!

However, as a responsible pet owner, you also need to be aware of the challenges that come with owning a green anole:

1. Specialized Equipment: Green anoles require a specific environment to thrive, which means you’ll need specialized equipment like UVB lights, heaters, and a well-constructed terrarium. This can be a significant initial investment.

2. Regular Maintenance: Green anoles aren’t the type of pets you can just set up and forget about. They require regular care, including daily misting, feeding, and frequent checks to ensure their environment stays perfect. As a fellow pet parent, I can vouch for the time commitment!

3. Handling with Care: Anoles are delicate creatures that should be handled as little as possible. They can become stressed with frequent or improper handling, which can lead to health problems. This might make them less suitable for young children or those looking for a more hands-on pet.

In the end, remember that every pet has its unique needs and challenges. Green anoles are fantastic pets for the right person. As someone who has experienced the joy of keeping anoles, I can say with confidence that the rewards certainly outweigh the challenges, but it’s essential to consider both sides to make an informed decision. After all, a happy pet makes for a happy home!


Because of their small size, low price, and availability at most pets shops that carry reptiles, green anoles are often an impulse buy; Although they are easy to keep, anoles do have a few requirements regarding their housing and will thrive and even breed in enclosures that closely resemble their natural environment.

The Green Anole is an arboreal species that loves to climb branches and glass surfaces and bask on broad leaves. This makes it a very talented escape artist, so whatever enclosure they are kept in should have a tight-fitting screen cover.

A pair or trio of green anoles can be happily kept in a 30-gallon tall aquarium. Octagon tanks, which come in a variety of sizes, are a more decorative alternative to a rectangular tank and are perfectly suited for green anoles as well. With anoles, the more room the better. Some people even choose to keep their anoles in large outdoor cages or greenhouses.


A substrate is simply the material you use on the bottom of your anole’s enclosure. Think of it as the flooring of their little home! It plays a major role in maintaining suitable humidity levels, a key factor for a healthy anole life.

Some of the most popular options include paper towels, reptile carpet, and natural substrates like coconut fiber or sphagnum moss.

1. Paper Towels: You might be surprised to know that paper towels make a great choice, especially for beginners or anyone who needs a low-cost option. The benefit is they are super easy to clean – just swap them out and you’re good to go! But do remember to change them regularly, as they can get dirty pretty quickly.

2. Reptile Carpet: Next, we have the reptile carpet. This one’s a bit more durable and can be a good step up from paper towels. It’s easy to clean too, just rinse and let dry. But one watch-out: I’ve noticed that the edges can fray over time, and you wouldn’t want your anole’s tiny toes getting caught!

3. Natural Substrates: If you’re looking for something that mimics your anole’s natural habitat, coconut fiber or sphagnum moss are fantastic options! These natural substrates help in maintaining humidity levels really well, which is a major plus for our tropical friends. I’ve had some great experiences with coconut fiber – it’s easy to clean and my anoles seem to love the feel of it under their tiny feet.

When it comes to changing natural substrates, I usually do a full change every two to three months. But, make sure to spot clean weekly or whenever you notice any dirty areas. That’s part of keeping your anole’s home nice and tidy!

Heating and Lighting

Proper lighting is crucial to the health of your Anoles; Like most reptiles, anoles are heliothermic, which means that they regulate their body temperature and derive most of their warmth from the sun.

Besides regulating body temperature, a number of other benefits are derived from basking in full-spectrum lighting and natural sunlight. Full spectrum lighting, available in both fluorescent and incandescent bulbs, provides anoles with both UV-A and UV-B rays.

UV-A rays encourage natural behavior, while UV-B rays help the body metabolize calcium. The absence of either can cause unnecessary stress on your lizards and lead to diseases such as metabolic bone disease. Full-spectrum bulbs should be replaced once every six months.

Nutrition; Feeding and Watering Your Anoles

Green anoles are insectivores, meaning that their diet should consist mostly of insects. Feeder insects should be fed a high-quality diet prior to being fed to your lizards.

There are many high-quality foods on the market to “gut-load” your insects before feeding. Anoles can be fed crickets, meal worms, houseflies, fruit flies, and silkworms.

Anoles also benefit from fruit nectar, and from the addition of dietary supplements including vitamins D-3 and the mineral calcium.

Watering your anoles may prove more difficult than feeding them; because wild anoles generally derive all of their water from drinking dew and rainwater droplets from leaves, most will not recognize a bowl of standing water as a drinking source. By misting your terrarium daily, you can provide your anoles with water.


Decorations for the Anole enclosure should include branches for your lizards to sleep and bask on. Basking is an important part of your lizard’s health and will be discussed more thoroughly in the lighting section.

Other decorations include live and plastic plants, rocks, and dry leaves. Small ponds and waterfalls, a beautiful addition to any enclosure, can also be constructed and will be enjoyed by your anoles.

Health Issues

Green anoles are generally hardy and rarely suffer health problems. Most problems can be prevented by simply providing the proper enclosure, nutrition, and lighting and by keeping that enclosure clean. It’s a good idea to know a reptile vet in advance just in case problems arise.

1. Stress

Stress can be caused by a number of factors including aggressive tank mates and improper living conditions. Stressed animals are more susceptible to disease.

You can avoid stressing your pets by providing proper nutrition, housing, and lighting, by cleaning the enclosure regularly (a mild bleach solution of 1 part bleach per 10 parts water can be used), and by keeping a stable day/night cycle (light timers are great for this and are available in most hardware stores)

2. Health Problems

Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) is caused by improper nutrition. A lizard with MBD is taking calcium from its bones to compensate for low calcium levels in the blood, a result of either a lack of calcium in the diet or a lack of essential UV-B rays, which help the body metabolize calcium.

Symptoms of MBD include shortened and weakened legs, a short, puffy jawline, and a thin body with chubby legs. Treatment should include feeding a high-quality diet and making sure your pets have the correct, full-spectrum lighting.

3. Mouth Rot

Mouth Rot seldom affects Anoles, and is a secondary infection to bruises or cuts to the snout or mouth. Symptoms include soft, puffy, and discolored tissue around the mouth and snout and a cheese-like buildup between the teeth.

If left untreated, mouth rot can result in tooth loss, jawbone deterioration, and death. There are a number of mouth rot treatments available; a veterinarian or seasoned reptile keeper should be consulted before treatment.

4. Respiratory Infection

Respiratory Ailments are also rarely seen in Anoles. They are caused by excessively damp and cold conditions either during transport or in the enclosure itself. Symptoms include labored breathing through a partially opened mouth.

Because respiratory ailments can be either bacterial or viral in origin, a mucus or nasal swab is often required to determine the best treatment. In the meantime, elevating the temperature of the enclosure to 85° to 90° around the clock.

5. Shedding

Anoles, like most lizards, periodically shed their skin. Although problems shedding are rare in wild anoles, they can occur in captivity as a result of being kept in an enclosure that isn’t humid enough.

Problems with shedding are generally limited to narrow areas of the lizard’s body, such as the toes and the tip of the tail. If dried skin is left in place, the loss of a toe or tail tip can result.

Misting the anole with tepid water or a daub of mineral oil on a cotton swab can help make removing dead skin easier.

In comparison with many reptiles, anoles are easy to keep and seldom experience any of the above health problems if given the proper care. They are among the best pets for the beginner who is interested in learning about reptile care and behavior.

As stated earlier, there are 256 known species of anole, many of which are considered rare in the pet trade, and their care can differ dramatically from the care required by a green anole.

Interacting with Your Green Anole

Firstly, you might have noticed that anoles are a bit shy, aren’t they? That’s just their natural demeanor. But don’t worry! With time, patience, and a little strategy, we can make our friends feel comfortable with us.

When handling your green anole, always be as gentle as possible. Remember, they’re not just delicate; they’re agile climbers with fragile bodies. They each have their unique personalities, which is part of the fun, isn’t it? If your anole seems stressed, carefully place it back into the enclosure and give it some time.

Remember, patience is key in building trust. You’re dealing with a creature that has different instincts than our furry pets. It might take some time, but trust me, the bond you’ll build will be worth the wait!

Bonding with your anole involves daily interaction. A simple routine could be just spending a few minutes each day near the enclosure, speaking softly so your anole gets accustomed to your voice.

Choosing Your Green Anole

First things first, you want to ensure you’re bringing home a healthy pet. A sickly anole will not only make for a sad companion, but could also introduce diseases into your home. Look for a green anole with bright, alert eyes and a body that’s well-fleshed and vibrant in color.

Avoid any anole with signs of lethargy, unusual spots, discolored scales, or a skinny appearance. Remember, their skin should have a dewy luster, not a dull or overly dry look.

Age Matters

Baby anoles may look adorable, but they can be more challenging to care for than juveniles or adults. If you’re a newbie to reptile keeping, I’d recommend opting for a slightly older anole. They’re more resilient and a tad easier to manage. But hey, if you’re up for the challenge and ready to provide the extra care a baby anole needs, go for it!

Observing Behavior

Before you make your choice, spend some time observing your potential pet. Green anoles should be active and curious, darting around their enclosure with interest. A lethargic anole or one that doesn’t react to stimuli could indicate health problems.

Where to Buy or Adopt

I can’t stress enough how important it is to choose a reputable source for your green anole. Pet stores are a common choice, but ensure they have knowledgeable staff and clean, spacious enclosures. I’ve had good experiences with specialist reptile stores and breeders, who often provide excellent aftercare advice. And of course, adoption is a wonderful option. Check out local reptile rescue centers; you might find an anole in need of a loving home.

Cost of Green Anole

Just like any pet, keeping a green anole comes with its fair share of expenses. But don’t worry, I’ll help you navigate this topic like a friend guiding you through a pet store.

Initial Setup Costs

First things first, let’s discuss the initial setup costs. Here’s a breakdown of what you should expect:

  1. Green Anole: The price of a green anole can vary, but on average, expect to spend around $10 to $15 per anole. They’re quite the deal when you think about the years of companionship they can offer!
  2. Cage: You’ll want a vertically oriented terrarium to mimic their natural habitat. A suitable enclosure can range from $50 to $150, depending on size and quality.
  3. Lighting and Heating: Green anoles need a heat lamp and UVB lighting. Together, these can cost anywhere from $40 to $100.
  4. Other Essential Equipment: Things like thermometers, hygrometers, and misting bottles are essential to maintain the right conditions in the terrarium. You might spend around $20 to $50 for these combined.

From my own journey as a green anole keeper, I’ve found that buying a starter kit can often be a cost-effective option. These kits usually come with a cage, basic lighting setup, and some other essentials, and they can be a real budget saver!

Ongoing Costs

Now let’s move on to the ongoing costs. As a loving green anole owner, you’ll have some regular expenses to ensure your little buddy stays healthy and happy. Here’s what you should budget for:

  1. Food: Green anoles primarily eat insects like crickets and mealworms, which should be dusted with a calcium supplement. Your monthly food and supplement costs will likely fall in the range of $10 to $20.
  2. Vet Visits: Just like other pets, anoles can benefit from regular vet check-ups, and you should be prepared for possible illness. A yearly check-up can cost around $50, but remember, this could vary depending on your area.
  3. Maintenance: Substrate replacement, cleaning supplies, bulb replacements, etc., can add up to around $10 per month.

My personal tip for managing these ongoing costs is to buy food and other supplies in bulk, where possible. It often turns out to be cheaper in the long run.

In all, while keeping a green anole isn’t entirely inexpensive, it’s certainly manageable. Remember, the joy and learning that comes from caring for these amazing creatures are priceless! Now, shall we move on to the pros and cons of keeping green anole as pets?

Filled under: Lizards

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