Green Anole Care

Species Overview

Scientific Name: Anolis carolinensis

Anolis carolinensis or green anole (among other names below) is a tree-dwelling species of anole lizard native to the southeastern United States and introduced to islands in the Pacific and Caribbean. A small to medium-sized lizard, the green anole is a trunk-crown ecomorph and can change its color to several shades from brown to green. Other names include the Carolina anoleCarolina green anoleAmerican anoleAmerican green anoleNorth American green anole and red-throated anole. It is commonly called chameleon in the southeastern United States and sometimes referred to as the American chameleon (typically in the pet trade) due to its color-changing ability; however, it is not a true chameleon (Wikipedia).

Reptile owners who prefer small, easy-to-care-for lizards are true fans of green anoles. It is why the green anole lizard is one of the most sought-after reptiles in the pet trade. They are pretty to look at, easy to feed, and don’t require much human attention.

If you’re a first-time reptile keeper, a green anole will be a good choice. But don’t just walk into a pet store and buy one without knowing the right way to care for it.

Below is a comprehensive green anole care sheet that will guide you on everything from its enclosure requirements to feeding and handling.

green anole lizard care

Colors & Appearance

Green anoles are green-colored lizards that rock slender bodies. Their heads are pointy with tiny ridges on top and between their eyes and nostrils. Male anoles sport a ruby red dewlap, a fold of skin under their chin that they display to impress or intimidate other anoles. You can distinguish a female green anole from a male by the white stripe running on their backs. Some females also have white to light pink-colored dewlaps.

Average Size & Weight

Green anoles are tiny reptiles. They reach a maximum overall length of 4-9 inches and a body width ranging between a mere 0.31-0.71 inches. More than half of their body length is covered by their tails. An adult green anole tips the scales at 6 grams. Male green anoles are 15% larger than females. They are also heavier. How big and heavy your green anole pet gets depends on their diet, habitat conditions, and genetics.


Green anoles live short lives as compared to other lizards like uromastyces and crested geckos. In captivity, these beautiful lizards can stick around for an average of 8 years. Of course, it depends on the temperature and humidity levels in their enclosures and the food you offer them. Wild green anoles, on the other hand, only live for up to 5 years. It’s because they are prey animals that attract quite a few hungry predators.

More About Green Anoles

A green anole lizard, also called Carolina anole or American chameleon, makes a great pet. But, like with all other pets, it’s crucial you understand their natural habitat, optimum size and weight, and life stages. It’ll help you raise a happy and healthy lizard.

care for green anole

Green Anole Habitat

Wild green anoles are from the moist forests of Georgia, South Carolina, and the southeastern United States. These adaptable lizards have also made their way into urban areas, nesting in the foliage of gardens and low-country shrubs in the Carolinas, as well as in far-flung places like Hawaii, the Bahamas, Japan’s Ogasawara Islands, Guam, and Cuba.

These day-dwelling lizards are always out and about, scurrying on the ground or showing off their climbing skills on garden walls and plants.

Types of Green Anoles

Green anoles are the only type that’s native to the United States. Most of the lizards that we keep at our homes as pets are wild-caught. There are a few other types that can be found in different parts of the world. Here are a few of them:

  • Bronze anole
  • Sharp anole
  • Ahl’s anole
  • Alfaro’s anole
  • Le Vega anole
  • Aguero’s anole
  • Alayon’s anole

Green Anole Life Stages

A green anole goes through three distinct phases of life, as listed below:

  • Eggs: A female lays 1-2 hard-shelled eggs every 2 weeks. They lay between 15 and 18 eggs per breeding cycle.

  • Juveniles: When the eggs hatch after 5-7 weeks, juvenile green anoles are on their own. They are ready to hunt right after their birth. A juvenile green anole measures 2 to 2.6 inches in length and has a wider head than an adult.

  • Adults: An adult green anole’s head is narrower, but its body length increases to 4-9 inches. They become sexually mature at 8-9 months of age.

Green Anole Predators

Green anoles are preyed upon by broad-headed skinks, snakes, and birds. Luckily, these lizards are blessed with the ability to detach their tails. This tactic confuses the predator and gives the green anole some extra minutes to escape. Plus, their green bodies help them blend in with their natural surroundings, making it tricky for predators to spot them.

Another adaptation that enables green anoles to save their lives is their exceptional climbing ability. They have sticky toepads to climb vertical surfaces with ease. They can also leap from high places and land safely.

snake eating a green anole

Why Are Green Anoles Good Pets?

  • Eye Candies: Green anoles are very beautiful to look at. Their sleek and bright green bodies, fascinating ruby red dewlaps, and long tails make them look attractive. They are undoubtedly among the most aesthetically pleasing reptiles that you can own.

  • Easy to House: Green anoles are good news for reptile owners with space issues. They can be kept in a 10-gallon tank without risking their health or well-being. The tank should be tall, though, as green anoles love to climb and explore.

  • Non-Picky Eaters: Feed your green anole insects and grains, and it’ll be a happy camper. Their food is easy to find and deal with. The only extra effort you’ll have to make is gut-loading the insects or dipping them in a calcium-vitamin supplement.

  • Don’t Demand Much Attention: A green anole won’t judge you for not handling it daily. It doesn’t need you to play with it or talk to it all the time. You’ll only have to clean its tank, feed it timely, and mist its enclosure.

  • Budget-Friendly: Green anoles aren’t expensive pets. Not only are they affordable to purchase, but their care also won’t dig a hole in your pocket. The initial cost of setting up their tank will be the most significant expense.

anole care guide

Green Anole Care Sheet

Now that you know where green anoles come from, what they look like, and why they make great pets, let’s dig deeper into their housing and food requirements.

This green anole care sheet will also highlight details on their behavior, handling, and potential health issues.

Environment and Housing

An ideal green anole enclosure is 10 gallons in size, has a screened lid, and plenty of vertical space to climb. If you’re housing two or more green anoles in one tank, you’ll need a bigger enclosure. Always prioritize height over width when choosing an enclosure for green anoles. The experts at Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital claim that a 20-gallon tank is a good size for keeping 3 to 4 anoles.

Green anoles are arboreal lizards. Therefore, you should include enough live plants, like orchids and sanseveries, in their new home. As for the substrate, it should be moist to maintain the right humidity levels and provide a natural feel. We’ve found sphagnum moss or peat moss work best.

Find more details on the green anole tank setup here.

green anole enclosure

Temperature and Humidity

Green anoles are fans of warm, humid environments. They require about 8 hours of UVB light a day and a few basking spots in their tank.

We recommend keeping the daytime temperature in your anole’s terrarium at a comfortable 74-84 degrees Fahrenheit. The nighttime temperature can be lower, at around 66-72 degrees Fahrenheit. The humidity should be kept between 60-80%.

You’ll need UVB lighting, a heat lamp, an under-tank heater, and a water dish to maintain the optimal temperature and humidity for a green anole.

Green Anole Diet

Green anole lizards fall in the insect-loving category. They enjoy munching on feeder insects like pinhead crickets, roaches, fruit flies, and waxworms. Here’s the catch: they have to be alive!

Also, make sure the insects you offer aren’t larger than the size of your anole’s head. It’s also a good idea to dip their food in calcium and vitamin powder to keep them away from health issues like MBD. As per the Alabama Wildlife Federation, green anoles also eat mollusks and grains occasionally.

Young green anoles need to eat every day. Adults, conversely, can wait a day before getting their fill.

green anole diet


Green anoles get most of their water from the water droplets that form on the leaves of the plants in their enclosure. So, mist their tank a few times to ensure there’s enough water for them. Although green anoles will barely take a sip from the water dish in their tank, we recommend keeping one in there. It’ll help in maintaining the humidity levels.

Behavior and Temperament

Green anoles are solitary and skittish creatures. They enjoy their own company and take their sweet time to get used to the human touch. Therefore, there will be times when your pet lizard will hide when you reach for it. It’s completely normal! Don’t push it. Green anoles are known to attack when threatened.

These fascinating lizards are decent communicators. They bob their heads and change colors to express their feelings. If your green anole is always green and active, it’s happy! If you spot a muddy brown and dull lizard, you have a stressed pet.

When it comes to tank mates, green anoles are not very friendly. They don’t do well with other anoles and can show aggression towards them. A male anole can get extremely territorial. It will even fight its own reflection in the mirror. So, it’s best to avoid keeping multiple anoles in one tank. If you really want to keep two or more together, house male-female pairs.

temperament of a green anole


Green anoles, staying true to their reptilian nature, shed their skin. The frequency of shedding depends on age and growth rate. Juvenile green anoles shed more often than adult ones.

You’ll know when your green anole is about to shed as its eyes will turn a cloudy blue. It’s best not to handle your pet lizard during this time because its skin will be sensitive and prone to injury. Do not pull off the skin if it doesn’t come off naturally. Instead, provide a moist hide in your lizard’s enclosure where it can rub off the skin on its own.

Courtship And Egg-Laying​​

Green anoles mate between the months of April and August. Male green anoles try to impress the females by extending their dewlaps, bobbing their heads, and displaying vibrant dewlap shades. If a female is receptive, she will arch her neck, allowing the male to bite it, place his tail under hers, and mount her.

Females have a unique ability to store sperm in their bodies. It lets them lay eggs, even if they haven’t mated recently. A female green anole can lay between 15 and 18 eggs per breeding session.

A female green anole will lay her eggs in moist soil, and they will hatch after 5-7 weeks. The young lizardlings are independent from birth.

green anole egg

Health Complications

Metabolic Bone Disease, caused by calcium deficiency, is a common health issue in green anoles. Symptoms include twitching limbs, lethargy, and weakness. Ensure your anole’s diet includes enough calcium and vitamin D3 to prevent MBD.

Stomatitis, or mouth rot, is another health concern in green anoles. A suffering green anole will show signs like a puffy, red mouth and a cottage cheese-like substance in the mouth.

Unlike most other reptiles, green anoles aren’t overly susceptible to respiratory infections.

As a careful guardian, you should take your pet lizard to the vet if you notice any signs of illness. Also, regularly clean and disinfect their enclosure to prevent bacterial growth.

Interaction and Enrichment

Green anoles aren’t for cuddling. They aren’t very excited about handling sessions either. But that doesn’t mean you can’t tame your pet green anole to get comfortable being handled. Start with short and gentle handling sessions, and gradually increase the duration as your anole gets used to it.

Green anoles are curious creatures who love to explore their surroundings. You can add artificial plants, branches, and climbing structures in their tank to keep them entertained.

handling a green anole

Here's to Happy Anoles

Do you think the green anole lizard is the right pet for you? If so, get one right away.

These easy-going lizards will make a great addition to your reptile collection with their fascinating and vibrant dewlaps. If you get too carried away and get more than two, make sure they are of different genders, or you will be faced with anole drama!

Although this green anole care guide has touched upon the basics, there’s a lot more to learn about these amazing creatures. So, check out our articles on these little lizard friends. We’re sure you’ll enjoy learning more about them!

Archive List

brown green anole featured

Why Do Green Anoles Turn Brown? (Here’s Every Reason Why)

Green anoles turn brown when they feel cold; when they don’t feel comfortable in their enclosure; when they face predators; or become dehydrated. They will also change colors when they are stressed, sick, or shedding. Males will turn bright green when defending their territory.

green anole lizard fetured

Green Anole Care Sheet: Complete Guide For Your Pet

A green anole will live for about 5 years in captivity. It will need a 10-gallon terrarium fitted with a heat lamp and at 60-80% humidity. Feed it gut-loaded crickets every other day and give it water to drink by misting the leaves and walls of its enclosure. Take it to the vet once a year.