7 Reasons Anoles Make Great Pets

7 Reasons Anoles Make Great Pets

Reasons Anoles Make Great Beginner Pets

  • Small To Medium Size Lizards
  • Low Maintenance Reptile
  • Eat Insects we classify as pest
  • Commonly Used as Class Pets in Elementary Schools
  • Changes Colors easily
  • Simple Terrarium Enclosure / 10 Gallon
  • Ambient temperature for your anole’s environment needs to be between 75- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit

Green anoles are great for beginners or any owner who wants a low-maintenance lizard to keep! Lizards belong to the Dactyloidae family are commonly referred to as anoles and native to warmer parts of America, starting from the south-eastern us to Paraguay.

Some authorities treat it as a subfamily, Dactyloinae, of the Iguanidae, instead of treating it as a family. In the past, they were included within the family Polychrotidae alongside Polychrus (bush anoles), but the latter genus is not closely associated with truth anoles. 

Anoles are small to large lizards, typically green or brownish, but their color varies depending on species, and many can also change it. In most species, a minimum of the male features a dewlap, and often brightly colored flap of skin that extends from the throat/neck and is employed in displays.

 Anoles share several characteristics with geckos, including details of the foot structure (for climbing) and therefore, the ability to voluntarily break off the tail (to escape predators), but they’re only very distantly related, anoles being a part of Iguana. Anoles are active during the day and feed totally on small animals like insects, but some also will take fruits, flowers, and nectar.

They are fiercely territorial. After mating, the feminine lays an egg (occasionally two); in many species, she may do so every few days or weeks. The egg is usually placed on the bottom, but in some species, it is placed at higher levels. 

Green Anoles

Anoles are widely studied in fields like ecology, behavior, and evolution, and a few species are commonly kept in captivity as pets. Anoles can function as biological pest control by eating insects that will harm humans or plants but represent a significant risk to small native animals and ecosystems if introduced to regions outside their home range.

Species Summary

The green anole called Anolis carolinensis is a species of reptile found in areas of Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and the Carolinas. In fact, it is the only kind of anole that is native to the United States.

It is known in the reptile world as an easy-going type of pet lizard that makes a good starter pet (they are commonly used as “class pets” in elementary schools).

Even though the green anole does not need a fancy set up or require a highly specialized diet, you are still going to have to give it lots of care and attention.

Appearance & Colours

Part of the green anole’s charm is its simple beauty and ability to change colors according to its mood and situation. Most anoles are brownish or green, but there are extensive variations counting on the precise species.

The majority can change their color depending on things like emotions (for example, aggression or stress), activity level, levels of light and as a social signal (for example, displaying dominance), but evidence showing that they do it in response to the color of the background (camouflage) is lacking.

Whether they do it in response to temperature (thermoregulation) is less clear, with studies supporting it and contradicting it. The extent and variations of this color-changing ability differ widely throughout the individual species.

The colors are the result of their skin pigment cells, the chromatophores, of which they have three main types, but the change occurs only in the melanophores.

When triggered by melanophore-stimulating hormone and other hormones, the melanosomes of the melanophores partially cover the opposite skin pigment cells, giving the anole a darker or browner color. In most cases stress results in a darker/browner color, but in the aquatic anole, a species that is dark brown with a barred pattern and light brown stripes on the sides of its body and head, stress results in paler brown upperparts and the stripes turn pale blue-green.

In some anole species, this variation is more pronounced and not only related to sex and age. An example of this is often the essential color of the Cayman blue-throated anole, which varies geographically, roughly matching the most habitat at a location.

In others, it occurs at the same location. In the Puerto Rican giant anole, a species only ready to perform minor color changes (essentially lightness/darkness), juveniles are Gray-brown and adults typically green, but an uncommon morph maintains a Gray-brown color into adulthood. Similarly, rare morphs of the usually green Carolina anole lack certain pigment cells, giving them a mainly turquoise-blue or yellow color.

Their colors during the night when sleeping often differ distinctly from their colors during the day where awake.

Among these are some species that otherwise do not drastically change their colors, including certain anoles that generally are brown during the day changing to greenish or whitish when sleeping in the dark, and certain anoles that generally are green during the day changing to brown when sleeping in the dark.

Anole Lizard Comprehensive Guide

Type of AnoleEgg GestationClutch / Number of EggsIncubationLifespanMature SizeWeightCost / Check Avaiability 
Brown7 Weeks15-186-8 Weeks4-8 Yrs1.3" - 2.4".11 - .28 Oz$ 7.99
Green5-7 Weeks6-930-45 Days2-8 Yrs4" - 8".7 - 1.1 Oz$ 9.99
Knight5-7 Weeks15-1830-45 Days8 Yrs13" - 19"Check with Vendor$ 39.99
Jamacian 5-7 Weeks15-1830-45 Days1-3 Yrs6.3"Check with Vendor$ 59.99
Haitian Big-Headed Anole5-7 Weeks15-1830-45 DaysCheck with Vendor$ 19.99
Cuban Knight5-7 Weeks15-1830-45 Days5 - 8 Yrs13" - 20".8 - 4.8 Oz$ 19.99
Crested5-7 Weeks15-1850 Days7 Years4" - 8"Check with Vendor$14.99
Monkey5-7 Weeks15-1835 Days8 - 12 Yrs15" - 20"Check with Vendor$ 34.99
Cherry 5-7 Weeks15-1830-45 Days5-8 Yrs4.5"Check with Vendor$ 199.00

Green Anole Lifespan

The average green anole lifespan can be four years in captivity. In some situations, these pet reptiles have lived if eight years, but that is quite uncommon.

Average Size

The typical size of a male green anole is about eight inches, and a female green anole is slightly smaller at around five to 6 inches long. Hatchlings are around an inch long. This length includes the tail which makes up half the green anole’s total length. This is important to know because it paints a more accurate picture of their true size. These lizards really are not that large!

Green Anole Care

Green anole care is easy and simple, that is why this species is such a commonly recommended pet reptile for beginners. However, they still have some very specific care requirements that you will need to know if you want them to thrive. These lizards are active climbers, so you will need to give them plenty of things on which to climb. Some others include gradient heating, special lighting, a basking area, a healthy diet, and a commitment to their daily care and wishes.

Tank Size

Green anoles really do not need anything complicated when it comes to their living space. A small terrarium or reptile tank will do fine.

A tank size that is a ten-gallon vertical tank can comfortably house one or two green anoles.

However, if you have the space for a larger enclosure that is even better.

Habitat Setup

Putting together a gorgeous and safe habitat setup for your green anole can be fun. If you understand the basic requirements of these pets, you can let your creative juices flow!
The first thing you will want to add to the terrarium is the substrate. This should be something that will stay damp after misting but will not get too wet.

Peat moss and soil work well as does orchid bark. Never use an oily substrate such as pine shavings. Basking is important for temperature regulation and food digestion, so you will want to create a nice basking area. Pieces of bark or branches are appropriate.

An added advantage of using branches is that they also provide things to climb. Your green anole goes to wish many places to cover, and that they like to hide in vegetation. Planting things, like ivy, orchids, bromeliads, or snake plants, will provide natural hiding spots and increased aesthetics.

Temperature & Lighting

When you are designing the enclosure for your green anole, one of the foremost important aspects goes to be to make gradient heating. This is just a fancy way of saying that your anole needs a warmer place to bask and get warm, and it needs a cooler area to just chill out and cool off.

This is because reptiles, your green anole included, are not able to internally adjust their body temperatures.
Here are the temperatures to aim for in both areas:

The ambient temperature for your anole’s environment needs to be between 75- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit. The basking area you create should be between 85- and 90-degrees Fahrenheit. It is perfectly safe to let the night-time temperature drop to 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit.

We suggest placing the basking light on one side of the tank and leaving a cooler area on the opposite side. Placing multiple thermometers around the tank will allow you to easily monitor the temperature altogether in the areas within the enclosure.

Some heating options that we recommend are under-the-tank heaters, heating pads, and a ceramic light for the night-time. Make sure to show off the basking light in the dark. Your lighting should follow 12 hours on, 12 hours off routine. Green anoles need a good source of UVA/UVB light. This helps to prevent metabolic bone disease. Using a full-spectrum UVA/UVB bulb is highly recommended, and make sure to change the bulb every six months.


Keeping the humidity level in your reptile tank at 60 to 70 percent is one of the most important parts of proper green anole care. All you got to do is mist the enclosure once or twice each day to realize this. The key is to keep the enclosure damp, not wet. Increasing the number of plants in the environment can really help with maintaining the right humidity level.


Your green anole is not getting to need any fancy or complicated watering device. It will get all the water it needs by drinking water droplets that form after you have misted the enclosure. Because they can easily drown, putting any type of water bowl in your anole’s enclosure is highly discouraged.

Food & Diet

Green anoles are insectivores, so giving your pet lizard healthy, gut-loaded insects is going to be the best way to provide them with good nutrition. Prey items of choice include crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and farm-raised maggots.
Never give your green anole super worms or ringworms. These worms have sharp mandibles which will hurt these reptiles! Some anole owners feed their pets wild-caught prey, but this is not really a good idea. Insects caught in the wild may contain pesticides or other toxins.

Rules for Feeding your Green Anole Include:

  • Make sure the insect is no larger than half the size of your anole’s head
  • Dust the insects with calcium and vitamin powder before you feed your anole
  • Give your green anole two to three insects at a time.
  • It is best to feed them every other day
Smithsonian Green Anoles

Potential Health Issues

Compared to many pet lizards, the green anole has relatively few health issues (another reason why they are such great pets). Health problems that may crop up are ones that are usually environment-related. Let us take a quick look at a few of the issues you may encounter.

Mouth rot: Like many reptiles, green anoles are susceptible to an ailment called mouth rot or stomatitis. If you notice puffiness or redness around its mouth or a substance that looks like cottage cheese around its teeth, it is likely mouth rot.

This can develop from cuts or abrasions in the mouth or snout area. If your green anole has puffiness around the mouth or a whitish build-up around the teeth, it could be mouth rot. Take your anole to the veterinarian directly for treatment.

Do not attempt to treat this aggressive infection with a home remedy. This condition requires treatment by a veterinarian who has expertise in treating reptiles. This painful condition can cause tooth loss and eventually infect the lizard’s jaw. For this reason, mouth rot is often fatal if left untreated.

Metabolic bone disease: which comes from a poor diet or lack of UVB exposure, shows symptoms of weight loss, puffy face, and general weakness and lethargy. Rectifying the diet and exposing your anole to an adequate amount of UVB rays should help.

Respiratory infections: Like most lizards, green anoles are quite vulnerable to respiratory infections. This can stem from conditions that are too cold and or too damp. Keeping tabs on the enclosure’s temperature and using an appropriate substrate can go a long way towards preventing respiratory illness.

Signs of a respiratory infection include discharge from the eyes and open-mouthed breathing. See a vet directly if you think of respiratory issues.

MBD: Metabolic bone disease is some things that reptile owners need to observe out. This issue comes from a lack of UVB light or a lack of proper nutrition. Metabolic bone disease is totally preventable with proper feeding habits and supplemental UVB lighting. Symptoms include weak legs, lethargy, or a puffy jawline.

Stress: Improper handling or even too much handling can stress out your green anole. Stress can cause your pet to become more susceptible to infections and other health problems.

If your anole is not turning green and appears to be a dull brown color, this may be a sign it is stressed or that it has an underlying health issue. Consult with your veterinarian before trying to treat your anole at home.
Burns: These can occur if the basking light is just too on the brink of the basking area.

Always make sure that the basking temperature does not go above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remember that reptiles are common carriers of Salmonella bacteria, so proper hygiene is important when handling them and cleaning their equipment, especially if children or people with weakened immune systems live in the same house.

Behaviour & Temperament

If you are looking for a pet lizard with a nice, friendly temperament, then a green anole is a great choice. Therefore, it is often the lizard of choice for kids or for novice lizard owners.

The green anole is diurnal, (most active during the day), and you will see it climbing, exploring, and basking. They also like to hide, which is why having many plants in your enclosure may be a great idea. Overall, these lizards are fun to spectate and observe throughout the day.

Anoles are often kept alone or in small groups. Males are territorial and should display and fight with each other, so the group is best composed of females with not quite one male. They are pleasant enough pets, but their instinct is to protect their territory.

Males will attempt to show dominance by extending their dewlaps to seem larger to prospective mates. If it opens and closes its dewlap, this is a sign of aggression and signals that the animal is feeling unsafe or threatened. These lizards are sometimes called American chameleons, although they are not true chameleons in the least.

Anoles can change their color from brown to bright emerald green, and they are attractive little lizards. Males have a pink or red dewlap (the fold of skin under the chin/neck), which they flash during territorial and courtship displays. Females of some species even have dewlaps, although they are generally smaller and not displayed as often.

Green anoles are skittish and shy, but with consistent and delicate handling, they are going to become somewhat tame. Anoles are active little lizards that scamper about quickly, making them hard to catch.

They prefer not to be handled too much; avoid it if possible, and always handle them gently. Never dangle green anoles by the tail, as anoles can detach and drop their long tail as a defense against predators within the wild. When an anole drops its tail, it will usually regenerate, but will not look the same as it did originally.

Handling Tips

The green anole is a friendly reptile that will tolerate a little bit of handling. With patience and time, these lizards may even trust you enough to sit on your shoulder or eat from your hand! Because the green anole is sort of fragile, knowing the way to pick it up safely is extremely important.

Never pick your green anole up by its tail. Their tails can break off very easily, so always pick it up gently by the belly. If you have got kids who are getting to be handling the anole, they ought to not be allowed to handle it without constant adult supervision. And remember, keep the handling to an absolute minimum!

Green anoles tolerate gentle handling, and that they will usually like better to perch upon a keeper’s hand or shoulder, instead of being tightly gripped. They are fragile lizards, and their tails will break easily, so while they are doing tolerate gentle interaction with their keepers, it is best to stay handling to a minimum.

Newly acquired green anoles should not be handled soon after purchase; give your new pets every week or two to adapt to their new surroundings before handling them. Children should be supervised whenever handling green anoles, and anyone who handles them (or the other reptiles) should wash their hands with antibacterial soap afterward.


Green anole care is about as low maintenance as it gets. These fantastic reptiles make amazing pets and are perfect for any owner who wants to avoid the hassle. Even though they are quite popular and sometimes considered a “starter reptile” we recommend them to anyone. There is nothing wrong with your pet lizard not requiring a lot of attention! When you combine this with their high activity level, this makes them quite a fun pet to own.

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