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Green Anole

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Order: Squamata
Family: Iguanidae
Genus: Anolis
Species: carolinensis


Male Green Anole
Male Green Anole
Green Anoles, Anolis Carolinensis, are small lizards from the Southern United States. Like chameleon’s, anoles have the ability to change colors to match their surroundings on a limited basis; between the colors of green and brown. A happy anole will be a green color, while a stressed one will turn brown. Like a lot of lizards, anoles are not nocturnal. They can be found basking in the wilds among the branches of bushes and trees, rocks, fence posts, etc.

The dewlap is a fiery pick used as a warning flag to other males and a lure for the ladies. They will bob their heads in different patterns depending on the desired effect they're looking for. Anoles do not see in the same color spectrum as humans do, so where we see a hot-pink dewlap another anole will see it as hot-white which can be "cooled" on demand.


Advanced. This certainly has nothing to do with their size, but they do require specific temps, a UVB source and high humidity levels. Once you get all the technical stuff out of the way it's all just routine daily maintenance.

Basic Info


Only 5-7 inches in length.


They generally live between 4-10 years in captivity when correctly cared for.


Anoles are generally flighty little lizards. They're high on the menu for a lot of different animals so they tend to be very nervous and easily startled. These guys are FAST, too. Handling them is not suggested since they are so small and can get into very small places very fast becoming easily lost. These are considered more of a display animal than anything.

--Prism wolf 21:32, 2 April 2008 (EDT)


At least a 10 gallon aquarium should be used when housing one of the lizards. Add another 10 gallons for each additional one. They may seem small, but anoles are curious and active creatures, requiring more space. Do not house males together. Instead house a small group of females, or 1 male to 3 female ratios. It is best to house these animals is groups, as they live a better life when having interaction with other anoles. Vines and leaves are best to have in the tank, providing a climbing area. Small hides can be used as well in the bottom. Make sure provide an area for water, and a food dish if you plan on feeding worms.


Loose substrate, ones that hold humidity, should be used. Potting soil, repti-bark, and other natural substrates are great choices. Remember to make the substrate deep, as anoles will often dig down into it. Be careful when adding plants to the terrarium, as not all are safe. Some plants are toxic and can harm the lizard.


The temperature in the basking area should be 88 to 95 F. This gives an air temperature between 80 and 85 F, and the ground has the coolest area of 75 to 80 F. Using a UV strip on top of the enclosure is a lot easier, and cheaper than using multiple UV spots. Remember to replace these bulbs in about 6 months!

Do not use heat mats or heat rocks with anoles. They need the different levels of temperature. Make sure that if the temperature drops at night you had an infrared heat bulb.


A humid area is required for green anoles. Aim for around 75%, as that way the small changes will not hurt the lizard. One option for adding humidity is by misting multiple times a day. This isn’t the best solution, but a good one for people that do not want live plants. Certain live plants can increase humidity as well. Make sure you find ones that are safe for the terrarium before adding them. One of the easier, but pricier way to create humidity is by getting a water bowl. This should be placed under a heat source, and a air pump should be used.


A light emitting UVA and UVB rays is ideal, with at least 2 basking sites in the enclosure. This allows for the anole to travel around the tank and still have the option to bask in different areas. Make sure to place the lights at least 8” away from the highest basking spot.

Not all UVB lights are created equal. Some decay very quickly. You need no less than two 18" fluorescent UVB tubes. Short version - UVB helps the anole to process the calcium in their diet. Without the UVB...the calcium does not get absorbed and the result is Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) and renal failure. The brands to go with:

  • Reptisun 5.0 or 10.0
  • Iguana Light 5.0
  • Exoterra 8.0
  • Arcadia 5.0 (UK)
  • Mega Ray EB (external ballast)

Many of these can be purchased at for a more reasonable price than the pet stores. Once you provide these lights for your anole...set them in the 6" - 8" range (12" - 18" for the Mega Ray). Any farther and the UVB drops of so much that they don't do any good. A UVB meter is an excellent way to keep on top of your bulbs. *A note on the compacts and spirals. Depending on the brand the could cause eye injury to your anole. Please visit the UVGuide UK and read the "Special Report" to learn more.

All UVB sources need to be changed within 6-9 months with the exception of the Mega Ray EB. This should be changed once a year. These bulbs often have a longer UVB lifespan, but unless you have a meter to measure the emissions it's unwise to guess.

Some EXCELLENT sources on UVB at the bottom.



Crickets, mealworms, small locusts, feeder roach nymphs, and fruit flies are options for feeding a green anole. They also love silk worms and other edible caterpillars. Make sure you switch up the diet as it gives a more balanced diet. Fruits are also an option. They will eat the juices, not the fruit part though.


Gutloading all live food is essential for this lizard's good health as well as an occasional live-food dusting of 3-4x a week of calcium (no phosphorous - no D3).


Anoles will not drink from water bowls or dishes. Mist tank to create drops on leaves which the anoles will drink.



Male anoles are larger than females and have a red dewlap under their chin that they will puff out to display for females or scare away other males.


Even though anoles are more of a display animal this is no reason not to get a small colony started. They do breed prolifically under the right conditions, so unless you want to deal with fertile eggs, then keep the colony down to females only. They will chase each other, "play" among the leaves and branches provided, and generally act like little clowns. They are a small entertainment center in your own home.

--Prism wolf 21:37, 2 April 2008 (EDT)






  • Anolis Lizards of the Caribbean: Ecology, Evolution, and Plate Tectonics - by Jonathan Roughgarden
  • Anoles - by Richard D Bartlett


This article was originally written by c1rc4. View other articles by c1rc4. Please note that others may have contributed to this article.

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