Green Anoles

a Green Anole with a red dewlap standing on a plant

Green Anoles are native to Georgia and South Carolina, but have been brought and released in several other places in the world. They are one of the smallest lizards in North America. 

Green Anoles are very active, and like to climb trees and plants to find food. They are usually found climbing on something looking for food. They eat worms and other insects and shouldn’t be fed any fruits or vegetables. Green Anoles are very easy to care for, and only need to be fed once a day.

Green Anoles are very agile and quick, and they use this speed to escape predators. They are not aggressive towards humans, and will try to avoid contact unless provoked. They are very territorial, and can get very aggressive with other Green Anoles.

Because they don’t like to be held they don’t make the best pet choice for families with children. They are active during the day, and can be interesting to watch while they’re eating or moving around inside of their enclosure.

Anoles are very easy to find, and can be purchased online or at local reptile shops. They’re typically sold for $8 to $10, but different varieties can cost a little bit more.

Green Anoles Information

  • Average Length: 7 inches
  • Average Weight: .2 ounces
  • Skin Appearance: Mostly smooth, possibly with a back ridge
  • Skin Colors: Green
  • Grooming Needs: Low Need
  • Shedding: Once every few months
  • Sensitive to Touch: No
  • Biting Tendency: No
  • Tolerance to Heat and Cold: No 
  • Good Pet: They don’t prefer regular handling, so it depends! 
  • Safe with Children: Yes
  • Good with Other Pets: No
  • Suitable to live in an Apartment: Yes
  • Suitable for First-Time Pet Owners: No
  • Weight Gain: Normal
  • Health Concerns: Respiratory Infections, Metabolic Bone Disease and Mouth Rot
  • Allergies: None
  • Average Life Span: 6 years

Physical Appearance of Green Anoles

a Green Anole standing on a plants leaves

Green Anoles have a slim body with a triangular-shaped head. They can grow up to 8 inches long. Their tail is up to half of their length.

Baby Green Anoles are between ¾ to 1 inch long when they are born.

Male Green Anoles have a wider body with a dewlap. A dewlap is a bulky layer of skin under their chin. Some female Green Anoles may have the dewlap but if they do it’s much smaller.

They have large eyes that they can move independently and help them hunt for prey.

Green Anoles have a light green body with reddish-pink dewlap in males.

Both the genders of Green Anoles can change their color from green to yellow, gray or brown, depending on their mood, humidity and temperature.

Temperament of Green Anoles

Green Anoles are active during the day and sleep at night. When active they like to bask, climb or explore their enclosure.

Male Green Anoles are territorial and can get aggressive with other males. To scare other males they will often widen their dewlaps. Females are less aggressive and can be kept in groups. When housing Green Anoles in groups don’t keep more than one male in an enclosure.

These reptiles are generally excitable and don’t like to be handled. They may try to jump, run or escape. If you want to handle them, make sure to be gentle. Don’t handle them for a few weeks after you bring them home because they usually take time to get used to their new environment.

Green Anoles may drop their tail if they get stressed from handling. Their tail usually grows but doesn’t have the colors or pattern of their original tail.

Their Compatibility with Children

a Green Anole walking across a leaf

As mentioned earlier Green Anoles should not be handled because they get easily excited and may try to escape. Children might not be able to handle them well.

Anyone handling or touching your Green Anoles should always wash their hands after being around them. Most lizards are carriers of infectious bacteria like Salmonella which can cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain. Washing their hands should keep your children from contracting bacterial and fungal illnesses from your monitor lizard.

Living Space for Green Anoles

Green Anoles don’t need a very large enclosure but still have specific needs. Their enclosure should be kept off the floor. Keeping their enclosure elevated, at a height of 5 feet should keep them from being stressed.

Their enclosure should have a secured lid because Green Anoles like to jump and run.

Their enclosure should have good ventilation.

Enclosure/Cage Size

A 10-gallon glass enclosure can be used to keep one or two Green Anoles. If you plan to keep more than two Anole then a larger enclosure will be needed.

Because these lizards like to climb, having a taller enclosure is more important than having a wider one.

Substrate

a Green Anole with a red dewlap standing on the back of a metal chair

Use a substrate that helps maintain the humidity levels that Green Anoles need. The substrate should stay damp but not get too wet. The substrate should also be 2 inches deep of loose, not packed substrate. Good substrate options are soil or peat moss.

Don’t use sand as a substrate because it can cause irritation for your Green Anoles. Oily or scented substrates should also not be used.

Decorations

Natural plants like snake plants, orchids and ivy make great additions to their enclosure. Plastic plants can be used if you want a low maintenance option, but still want to create a more natural look and feel for their enclosure.

The branches should be placed at different heights to create climbing areas.

Best Climate for Green Anoles

Your Green Anoles enclosure should have separate warm and hot areas. Placing the heating source in one corner of their tank will create a heat gradient that they can use to regulate their body temperature. We recommend using heat lamps to keep the enclosure heated. Green Anoles will spend most of their time on the branches and plants. Under tank heaters might not give them the heat they need when they’re above the substrate. 

Temperature

The temperature in the basking area should be kept between 85°F to 90°F and between 75°F to 80°F in the rest of the tank.

The night temperature can range between 65 to 75°F. 

a Green Anole looking for food on a leaf

Lighting

Their enclosure should have UVA and UVB lights. The lights should be turned on for 10 to 12 hours a day. Replace the UV lights every 6 months because they become inefficient after about 6 to 8 months of use.

Humidity

Green Anoles need a humidity between 60 to 70 percent. Mist the tank daily or add an automatic mister to keep the enclosure humid. Because of the higher humidity needs, daily misting might not be enough. A good moisture retaining substrate is helpful, but an automatic mister will make sure the enclosure is always humid.

The plants should be misted each day because Green Anoles stay hydrated by licking water droplets from the leaves. 

Water Source 

It’s a good idea to keep a water dish inside their enclosure. While they may not drink water from the dish, it will help keep the tank humid.

Health Issues

Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infections are a common health issue in reptiles. Poor enclosure conditions like excessive cold or humidity as well as stress can lead to respiratory infections or pneumonia. 

Symptoms include:

  • Nasal discharge
  • Sneezing
  • Bubbles in mouth
  • Labored breathing
  • Lethargy

Take your reptile to your vet if they have any of the above symptoms. Antibiotics are commonly used to treat the disease. If the infection is severe, they may need to be hospitalized.

Respiratory symptoms can become serious if not attended to in the initial stages. Maintaining the right temperature gradient and humidity levels inside their living enclosures can prevent your reptile from getting respiratory diseases.

Metabolic Bone Disease

Metabolic Bone Disease is the most common disease found in pet reptiles. The disease is caused by your reptile not having enough vitamin D to properly absorb calcium. Being exposed to UV lighting helps them create vitamin D that they can use to absorb calcium.

 Symptoms include:

  • Lower jaw swelling 
  • Limb swelling
  • Facial bone softening
  • Loss of appetite
  • Seizures
  • Lethargy

An X-ray can help identify the extent of the disease. Sometimes MBD can lead to fractures, thin bone tissue or thickened bone shafts. The disease is more common in reptiles less than 2 years old.

If left untreated the disease can also lead to death. Consult your vet immediately if you find any of the above mentioned symptoms in your reptile.

Treatments can range from injecting your reptile with mineral supplements to medication and dietary modifications. To keep your reptiles from having MBD, they should be fed a diet rich in calcium (or calcium supplements) and have daily exposure to UV lighting.

Mouth Rot

Mouth rot, or infectious stomatitis, is an infection in a reptile’s mouth. Mouth rot is very serious and can cause your reptile a great deal of pain, and could eventually lead to their death. Mouth rot is typically caused by an injury to your reptile’s mouth, or their enclosure not being kept at the correct conditions.

Symptoms of mouth rot in your reptile are:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Blood in your pets mouth or their water bowl
  • Swollen areas in their mouth
  • Weight loss

The first step to fixing the problem is finding out if they injured their mouth on something, or if their enclosure’s conditions are not right. If their mouth is injured you should get them to a vet to have them look at your reptile. If the problem is environmental then fix the problems in their enclosure.

No matter what the cause of your reptile’s mouth rot, you’ll still need to take your reptile to your vet because the treatment requires prescription antibiotics. Surgery may be required depending on the severity of the mouth rot. Because this infection kills tissues in your reptile’s mouth, areas may need to be removed, including teeth. It’s better to prevent this problem before it happens by keeping your reptile’s enclosure at the conditions they need to be happy.

Grooming and Care

Spot clean the substrate and tank every day. A thorough cleaning should be done once a month.

Clean their water dish and replace it with clean water daily.

Feeding A Green Anole

mealworms are great food for Green Anoles

Green Anoles are insectivores and should be fed only worms and insects. They should not be fed commercial food, fruits or vegetables.

They love to eat mealworms, wingless fruit flies and crickets. Butter worms or wax worms can occasionally be fed to them. Don’t give them hornworms or super-worms because these insects have sharp jawbones that can hurt your pet.

Dust their food with vitamin D3 and calcium supplements. Adults can be fed every other day but baby Green Anoles should be fed daily.

Only feed them an amount of food that they can finish within 10 minutes. Generally 3 to 4 insects can be fed to a Green Anole each day.

The size of the insects should be less than the width of your Green Anole’s head.

Don’t give them wild-caught prey insects because these could have been exposed to pesticides that could harm your Green Anole.

Related Questions:

Why is My Green Anole Turning Brown?

As mentioned before, climate and mood can cause your Green Anole to change color. Stress, poor climate conditions or inadequate light could cause your Green Anole to turn brown. Aggression from other lizards could also be a reason. If your Green Anole has turned brown check the climate or signs of aggression from other Anoles that they’re kept with.

What are the Common Names of Green Anoles?

Green Anoles are also called Carolina Anole, American Anole, Red-throated Anole or American Chameleon. While they are called American Chameleons, Green Anoles are not related to the Chameleon species.