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

Green anoles are small-to-medium-sized green lizards that like to dwell in trees.

The males are green all over with big bright orange to pink dewlaps. The females are green with white dorsal stripes.

But what if your green anole doesn’t look like that right now?

Perhaps you’re wondering…

…Why is my green anole brown?

In this article, we have explained every reason why green anoles turn brown. Take a look at the list to find out.

Key Takeaway:

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.

Are you ready to discover even more reasons why green anoles turn brown and find out whether you should feel concerned about it or not?

Then make sure you check out the full guide coming up next in this article.

brown green anolee

Why Do Green Anoles Turn Brown?

Green anoles are small to medium-sized lizards that can change color anywhere from green to brown.

What does it mean when a green anole turns brown?

Coming up next, we’re going to discuss 8 reasons why green anoles turn brown and whether a color change should concern you or not.


Green anoles turn brown when the temperature in their environment gets cooler.

The temperature anoles feel comfortable in is between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit with a basking area set to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. At nighttime, they like the temperature to be between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the temperature in your green anole’s enclosure drops below these averages, it will begin to turn a brown color.

Environmental Conditions

Green anoles turn brown when the conditions in their enclosures do not well reflect their natural habitat.

Your pet green anole should never be in a small enclosure. It needs a large and wide enclosure with plenty of climbing areas as it would have in the wild.

In the wild, green anoles like to hide between foliage. If there aren’t enough places for it to hide in its tank it will change color.


You will often find a green anole turning brown when it comes face to face with a predator.

In the anole’s natural habitat, it is preyed on by broad-headed skinks, birds, and snakes. In a home environment, they are prey to cats.

If your pet green anole comes face to face with your pet cat, it might quickly change color.


Green anoles change color when they suffer from dehydration.

The humidity levels inside your green anole’s enclosure must be between 60 and 70%. If your green anole does not drink enough water, it could quickly die.


If a green anole turns brown and stays brown, that could be because it has an illness or disease.

Digestive issues, weight loss, and a low appetite are among some of the common issues associated with green anoles and their color changes. An illness that you do not detect and begin treating quickly can soon become fatal.


A stressed anole will change color.

When two anoles fight, the color behind the anoles’ eyes might turn black. This color change does not affect the anole’s whole body, but rather, it is only postocular and forms black spots.


You’ll see your green anole turning brown temporarily as it sheds its old skin.

During shedding, the old skin peels off revealing new, bright green skin underneath. This process is important for your green anole to stay healthy.

The shedding process is slow and your pet might lose its appetite slightly while it happens.

Male Anoles

Male anoles turn bright green when trying to display dominance and defend their territory against other males.

This happens most frequently during mating season but a male anole also turns green to defend his territory. Males are also known to turn green and fight their own reflection when they see it in mirrored glass.

How to Prevent Your Anole From Turning Brown

green anole turned brown

You cannot stop your green anole from turning brown altogether as this is a natural response to the changing circumstances in its habitat. But, if your green anole is permanently brown, this could indicate something is wrong.

To pinpoint the problem and help your anole turn green again, take a look at the tips coming up next.


A green anole lizard will turn brown when its body temperature drops below comfortable levels. To prevent this from happening, keep its enclosure at the following temperatures.

  • Between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime.
  • Between 65 and 70 degrees throughout the night.
  • Set a basking light to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • The tank must be warmer at the top than it is at the bottom.

To monitor the temperature, put one thermometer at the top of the tank and another towards the bottom of the tank.

Environmental Conditions

Your anole lizard will change colors if it is not comfortable in its enclosure. To make it feel at home, do the following.

  • Ensure there are enough live plants inside the enclosure. Grow sansevierias, ivy, and vines inside it. These will serve as hiding spots and as climbing areas for your pet.
  • The minimum tank size is 10 gallons. The enclosure must be tall so the lizard has enough climbing areas.
    • Note: Not all anole enclosures you find at the pet store are the right size, ensure you measure yours before you purchase it. The bigger the enclosure the better.
  • If you have several anoles in the same tank, it must be big enough to accommodate them comfortably. Each lizard will need access to the right food, a heat lamp and basking area, hiding spots, and plenty of natural light.
  • Make sure the light levels are right. Your anoles will need 12 hours of darkness and 12 hours of daylight each day.


Anole lizards turn a shade of brown when they see their predators. Fortunately, though, green anoles in captivity can avoid almost all of the predators they would face in the wild.

Even still, you must ensure your pet stays away from the following predators found in and around the home.

  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Frogs

Keep the top of the enclosure shut tight with a securely fitting lid. Remember, these reptiles are agile creatures and can fit through very small crevices.

Do not leave a cat alone in the same room as your anole as just the sight of this predator can scare the lizard.


Green anoles may turn brown depending on the humidity levels in their enclosures and how much water they can drink. They will drink the water that settles on the sides of their enclosures and that accumulates on leaves inside the tank.

Here’s what you must do to ensure the humidity levels in your lizard’s enclosure remain optimal.

  • Mist the enclosure every day. Spray the sides of the enclosure and the accessories. You may need to do this several times a day if you live in a very dry climate.
  • Use the right substrate materials. Sphaglum moss, peat moss, and soil will help to keep the atmosphere in the enclosure humid.
  • Grow live plants in the enclosure. Green anoles love Sansevierias, ivy, and vines.
  • Keep a shallow water bowl on top of a heat pad. The water in the bowl will slowly evaporate and keep the atmosphere humid. If the water bowl is very shallow your lizard might drink from it. A shallow bowl will not put him at risk of drowning.


If your anole lizard is not feeling well, it will change color.

If your green anole is brown and has not turned a green color for a long time, you must have it checked over by a veterinarian that specializes in exotic reptiles. This is essential to help your pet recover from any underlying health issues.

To keep health issues at bay, make sure you check in on your lizard regularly. You must also take it to the vet at least once a year for a general health examination and a fecal sample.


Green anoles undergoing heightened stress will form postocular black spots. This often happens when two green anoles fight.

To prevent fighting, keep your anoles in separate enclosures as they are solitary animals and only come together to mate. If you have to keep two together, keep the following information in mind.

  • Two male anoles must never live together. They will fight constantly.
  • Two females can live together.
  • One male and one female or two females can live together. But you must not put these pairs together if you do not want them to mate.
  • Never house a green anole and a brown anole in the same enclosure.


Green anole lizards shed their skin and this makes it look like they are changing color.

Some will shed more often, about once a month. Other anoles will shed their skin less often, about once a year.

The skin will come off in flakes bit by bit, not all at once.

To ensure it sheds its skin properly, the humidity levels in your lizard’s enclosure must be optimal. They must be between 60 and 70%.

Your green anole might eat less while it is shedding as it will eat its shed skin for nutrients.


Male green anoles will fight one another for dominance in captivity. To prevent this from happening, never house two males together.

Male green anoles are solitary animals and do not need company.

The only compatible cage mate for a male is a female. But you must not put them together if you do not want them to mate.

brown and green anole on a branch

Green Anole Color Change FAQs

The ability green anoles have to change colors is quite fascinating.

Would you like to find the answers to some of the most-asked questions about these reptiles?

Then take a look at the section below.

Why Is My Green Anole Always Brown?

Green anoles turn brown for a number of reasons. It might be because they are too cold, unhappy in their environment, facing predators, dehydrated, stressed, shedding, or displaying dominance.

If your green anole turned brown and then did not go back to green, you must take it to a vet. This could indicate it has an underlying health issue.

Is There a Brown and Green Anole Hybrid?

Brown anoles (Anolis sagrei) and green anoles (Anolis carolinensis) are two different species of reptile from the Dactyloidae family. They cannot mate and there are no successful green and brown anole hybrids.

In their natural habitat, brown anoles are aggressive towards green anoles and often bully and eat them. You must never house them together or force them to mate.

Is a Green Anole a Chameleon?

Because of its ability to change colors, this reptile is often called an American chameleon. But green anoles are not true chameleons because they do not camouflage themselves to match their backgrounds.

Green anoles are not chameleons because they are native to the southern states of the US and true chameleons do not usually originate from the Americas.

Do Brown Anoles Turn Green?

Brown anoles cannot go green but they can change to other colors. Brown anoles turn dark brown, gray, and black.

Understanding the Color Changes of Green Anoles

It is normal for green anoles to turn brown, but understanding why this happens is a little more tricky. Thanks to this article, we have seen 8 reasons why male and female anoles change colors.

Temperature changes, feeling uncomfortable, facing predators, and dehydration are all motives for green anoles to turn brown. They also go through color changes in response to changing stress levels, sickness, and shedding.

Males will even turn a brighter shade of green when they feel threatened and forced to defend their territory.

Did you find this article interesting?

At Oddly Cute Pets, we always strive to provide you with the best information about green and brown anoles. For more guides on feeding and housing these and other reptiles, check out our website.

Thanks for reading!

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