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Green Anoles

Last Updated: 8/9/15

Fourmi (bottom) and Papillon (top) on 5/12/07. They were in their brown phase in this photo. Photos on this page also show them when they were green.

General Care and Maintenance


Newsgroups, Catalogs, and Web Sites

My Green Anoles

Other Pages on This Site of Interest to Those with Anoles:

This page was never finished. In the past, when I got new animals, I could put up complete pages on them but I have been overburdened with so much work that all I had time to do was put up a skeleton page.

General Care and Maintenance

General Information

Green anoles are also called American chameleons. They are native to the Carolinas, hence their Latin name, Anolis carolinensis. Green anoles can change colors from a bright green down to a dull brown. The color change is usually due to a change in background color but they can also change at will based on their mood.

Anoles are small and delicate and should not be handled much.

Size and Behavior

Anoles are small. They may grow 6 to 8 inches long but that is mostly tail, and they remain skinny/slender. As of 7/21/06, Fourmi was about 4" long with tail.

Green anoles are well-behaved towards animals of similar size. Many people keep them with other anoles, geckos, or tree frogs. I had mine with 3" roaches, not typical!

Anoles are diurnal which means they are active during the day. They sleep at night.


Green anoles live 3 to 8+ years. I only had Fourmi for two years.


Anoles do not need a large cage but it should not be tiny either. A 10 gallon tank works for 1 to 4 of them. A 20 gallon tank would work for more. A breeding colony would do well in a 40 or 120 gallon tank.

The cage needs to have a tight-fitting lid to prevent escape, ventilation, a water dish, things to climb on (fake or real branches, egg crate, plastic ornaments, etc.), an incandescent heat lamp or ceramic heat emitter, a full spectrum fluorescent light, and substrate (litter like bark on the bottom).

Sexing and Breeding

Adult males have throat patches (dewlaps) which they display. Males are larger than females. When young, one cannot really sex them. When looking up how to sex my two anoles, I read that females may also sometimes display. For that reason, I was not sure what sexes mine were at first. Eventually, they both threatened each other, showed off their red neck pouches, and would lock jaws! I had two boys.

Anoles will lay eggs pretty readily in captivity. The small white eggs are often stuck on ornaments or the glass.

Lighting and Heat

Anoles need two types of light/heat. First, they need heat. This can be provided by an incandescent reptile bulb or by a ceramic heat emitter which is what I had on my tank (my turtle and sailfin lizard have incandescent heat lamps) at first (when I upgraded to a 20 gallon, I put in a reptile heat lamp). These get very hot and keep the tropical lizards warm. They are cold-blooded and need heat to digest their food and function properly. At night, these heat lamps can be turned off. If it then gets too cold, an undertank heater and/or purple incandescent heat lamp can be used. The night lights are not as warm as the day lights.

Anoles need a warm spot, 85 to 95 degrees F for basking and a cooler area 75 to 80 degrees F somewhere in the tank if possible. At night, they can go down as low as 60 degrees F and be okay but 70 degrees F is a better aim.

All reptiles, including anoles, also need UV radiation from full spectrum fluorescent lighting or from natural sunlight. They require UV (UVB) rays in order to produce Vitamin D properly. Even with vitamins fed to them, lighting is needed for the proper health of reptiles.


Anoles like it to be humid but they can take some arid conditions as long as they have a water dish in which to soak and from which to drink.

My setup was pretty low in humidity (any water quickly evaporates) so I added water to the water dish twice a day. The anole and cage can also be misted with water to increase humidity and/or wet down the animal a bit. I tried to mist the tank twice a day.

Other Supplies

In addition to the tank, mesh lid, incandescent and fluorescent lamps and fixtures, there are some other needed supplies. Those include a food dish, water dish, substrate, climbing branches, and various ornaments to climb on and for decoration. I had a little waterfall thing in my tank for water which was more natural. I would put the daily mealworms on a reptile corner hammock thing, and the anoles would come get them after I left (or the mealworms would fall off and escape). For substrate, I used Repti-Bark.


Green anoles only really want small live foods. I bought some "anole food" which is dead flies but Fourmi never touched them.

Anoles like to eat the following: small crickets, mealworms, waxworms, baby roaches, etc.

I saw Fourmi eat mealworms and waxworms seemingly too big for him but he did it! I put in crickets, and there were baby roaches in there naturally from the adults but I never saw Fourmi eat those. I never saw him each crickets either.

A few times a week, the insects should be dusted with reptile vitamins and/or calcium/Vitamin D powders for added nutrients.


Being small, anoles do not make much of a mess and do not require much maintenance. Fourmi was in a 10 gallon tank with 38 roaches at first. Later, he and Papillon were in a 20 gallon tank with the roaches and a hermit crab (my mother's idea, not mine). I changed the substrate and cleaned the tank every 2 months as the roaches were very clean. If I did not have to deal with the roaches, I would probably clean the tank monthly. By 7/4/08, it takes 1.5 hours to clean the tank. I have to sift through everything for roaches, crickets, and mealworms which takes most of the time. Fourmi died on 7/1/08 and was never much bother as far as maintenance compared to his tank mates.


Here are some anole books. I do not have any of them.

Newsgroups, Catalogs, and Web Sites


Get a free reptile catalog from That Pet Place by calling 1-888-THATPET.

Drs. Foster and Smith will send you a free reptile catalog if you call 1-800-443-1160. You can enter their web site from this link:
Drs. Foster & Smith - The Trusted Name  in Reptile Supplies

Additional Links:

I got almost 200,000 links for anole on the search engine so here are just a few.

These links were last checked on 7/4/08.

Melissa Kaplan's Anole Page

Some pretty anole photos at wildherps.com

An anole forum

General reptile links:

Herp Forums

Reptiles Magazine On- Line

HerpDigest - "A free weekly electronic newsletter on the latest news on reptile and amphibian science and conservation."

The Lizard Lounge - a site on lizards.

Worm Man - sells live crickets, mealworms, king mealworms, butterworms, etc.

My Green Anoles

I got a green anole on 7/6/06. His name was Fourmi which is French for ant. A few months earlier, I got a colony of roaches for my sailfin lizard. A few weeks before I got an anole, a colony of ants found the roaches' tank. I could not find a way to stop the ants; nothing worked. I decided to put an anole in with them. The roaches were 3" long and would not eat the anole. The anole was about 4" long (mostly tail) but very skinny. Fourmi was about 5 cm in the body and 7 cm in the tail. He could not eat the adult roaches but had the option of helping himself to any newborn roaches he could find. I wanted him to eat the ants. After the first day, he just sat at the top the cage doing nothing. I added a few small crickets because, while I wanted Fourmi to eat ants, if he did not, he could still eat.

Update 7/21/06: Fourmi ate mealworms and waxworms with gusto. He got along with the roaches. He would not do anything about the ants but watch them. So much for that!

On 12/9/06, since I had not seen Fourmi for a few days, I removed everything in the tank and found, he was gone! When I opened the tank, I always take note of where he was so he cannot get out (or I at least would see him do it). Sometimes, I did not see him as he was under the egg crates. Apparently, one such time, Fourmi was probably hanging on the top lid and slipped out the side when I tipped the front up to put in the water and food I put in twice a day. Luckily, I found Fourmi just a few hours later! Next to his tank, all the tropical plants were in for the winter. I knew he could be anywhere so I had not spent much time searching but while scooping the cat litter pans, I decided to think where he would be at this time of day when it was getting dark. He would be basking under the tropical plants' fluorescent light on the greenest and biggest plant there, the hibiscus. And, there he was! I just scooped him up fast with my hand and plopped him back into the tank. That was the first time I actually held him. I later would hold him when I moved him while cleaning the tank. Sometimes he would jump onto my arm and tickle me as he walked on it when I put my arm in to add food and water.

After I moved Fourmi to the 20 gallon (see below), I wanted to get him a buddy. They were out every week I went there but, finally, on 5/11/07, I bought another anole. I named him Papillon which is French for butterfly. After I put him in there, Fourmi looked from behind where he was hiding and looked at Papillon. They both turned brown which I understand is a sign of stress. When they got near to eat other, Fourmi displayed! I had never seen that before. He threw down his throat pouch (where did THAT come from!) which turned bright red. He fanned it up and down to show off to Papillon. Papillon was not impressed. Papillon was maybe 50% larger than Fourmi. Later, I saw Papillon head bob which is something that my female sailfin lizard did. But, male green anoles are the larger sex. So, I was confused. Based on size (assuming they were both mature), Papillon was male, and Fourmi was female. Based on displaying, Fourmi was male. So, I really did not know. The next day, I caught Fourmi with his rear buried in the substrate. Could that be female desire to dig a hole to lay an egg? So soon? I wish I knew. If I ever find an egg, then I will know that someone was female! Otherwise, I was going to assume I had two males for now. They seemed to tolerate each other but I had not yet seen them touch. Time would tell.

On 6/30/07, I saw both of the anoles with their red fans open bobbing at each other. I assumed they were both male. I have not found a web site or source that says that females never display so, until I know that, I cannot be 100% sure. I know males display but do females? If you know, please contact me.

The morning of 10/26/07, I found Fourmi and Papillon with their jaws locked! I squirted them with the mister, and they separated. I then watched Papillon display and threaten Fourmi who turned from green (dominant) to brown (submissive). I came back 10 minutes later, and they were lock jawed again, with Papillon's top jaw on top as the aggressor. Papillon was slightly bigger. I was worried he might eat Fourmi but decided to chance it. I did not see them fighting later that day or the next day so, hopefully, it is just a dominance thing, and not deadly.

On 3/2/08, I cleaned out the 20 gallon tank. I found Papillon dead. He was pretty dessicated so he may have been dead for weeks. I rarely saw both of the anoles at the same time since they hid so well so I did not realize he was gone. I do not know why he died. There were no obvious injuries or problems aside from being dead and dessicated. Fourmi seemed lonely but at least there were no more fights.

In June of 2008, Fourmi started to lose a lot of weight despite having mealworms (later none due to a national shortage), waxworms, and little crickets. The night of 7/1/08, Fourmi was listless and unresponsive and barely alive. He was definitely gone by morning and buried that evening. We will miss him. I had him for only two years. Fourmi died on 7/1/08.

Fourmi and Papillon's Setup

Fourmi was in a 10 gallon tank with about 38 3" roaches who stayed on the bottom of the cage. The tank had an undertank heater, a ceramic heat emitter, and I set up a fluorescent light so Fourmi could get his UV rays. Egg crate was in the tank for them all to climb on. I added a reptile plastic ladder and a water dish that stuck to the side of the tank for Fourmi. It was hot in the tank so I had to add water twice a day since it evaporated that fast. Fourmi stayed at the top of the tank on the egg crate.

I bought a new tank for my fish and turtle so Fourmi got the turtle's 20 gallon tank! I planned to get him a buddy, already named Papillon once it was set up! Only a few roaches were left. They all got along. I moved Fourmi to the 20 gallon on 4/11/07. This tank was custom made for anoles (not roaches this time). He loved all the branches and green stuff (instead of egg crates). You can read more about the new tank on the tank redo page.

On 7/8/07, my mother got a hermit crab who joined the other animals in the 20 gallon tank. Herman and the anoles ignored each other. Herman later died, and my mother bought Crabby (after I told her no more hermit crabs). On 3/2/08, I found Papillon deceased. Fourmi died on 7/1/08.

Fourmi and Papillon's Photos

Photos are listed from oldest to newest.

These are photos from the day I got him, 7/6/06.
Fourmi in the cage I brought him home in, looking mighty green.
Fourmi on the egg crate, looking part green and part brown.
Fourmi on the egg crate.

I moved Fourmi to a 20 gallon tank on 4/11/07. You can read more about that on the tank redo page. Here are photos from that day.
Fourmi waiting in a holding tank - the end of his face was shedding
Fourmi waiting in a holding tank
20 Gallon Tank

I got Papillon on 5/11/07. This was his first photo. He was in his green phase:

The next day, 5/12/07, I got a photo of Fourmi (bottom) and Papillon (top) together. They were in their brown phase which may indicate stress.
Fourmi and Papillon

20 gallon tank on 7/11/07. The photos is out of focus but shows the tank.

On 7/22/07, I took these photos of the 20 gallon tank before and after I cleaned it and set up a hermit crab section. It is sad but it seems like these photos below from 7/22/07 were the last photos taken of Fourmi who died almost a year later on 7/1/08. I should have taken more photos of him!!
Before Photos:
The left side of the 20 gallon tank - includes the waterfall.
The right side of the 20 gallon tank - includes Herman's box of sand and Fourmi (the anole) clinging to the glass at the top
Fourmi - a close-up of Fourmi from the previous photo.
Fourmi - Fourmi's underside at the instant he started to leap off the glass.
Entire 20 gallon tank
After Photos:
20 gallon tank - with new hermit crab section on the right.
The right side of the 20 gallon tank - the hermit crab section. Herman can be seen in the back of the photo.
Fourmi (bottom) and Papillon (top) - the digital camera's flash created a huge white light due to glass reflection.
The left side of the 20 gallon tank - on the right at the top, one of the anoles can be seen; on the right at the bottom is Herman.

Here are three photos of Papillon and the 20 gallon tank from1/13/08. I did not see Fourmi when I was doing the photos.:
Papillon's head
Papillon's head
20 gallon tank

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