Anoles: (Most common: A. carolinensis – Green Anole)
Green Anoles are sometimes mistakenly called Chameleons due to the fact that they can change color from green to brown. They are in fact more closely related to Iguanas.
Natural Habitat: Southeastern United States from North Carolina to Texas. They are primarily arboreal.
Adult Body Size: 3-6 inches snout to vent. Like most reptiles, they reach adulthood based on size rather than age.
Life span: 3-5 years
A 10-20 gallon fish tank per lizard is a good starter cage. You can adjust according to size and number of animals per cage. In general, it is not good to house reptiles together, but if you choose to then be sure to provide many different hiding spots and plenty of room. Females will often get along ok but males tend to fight when housed together. Since anoles are primarily arboreal, offer several branches and fake plants. We recommend fake plants as opposed to real because they are easier to clean. Substrate should be paper towels, newspaper, indoor/outdoor carpeting, or a paper pulp bedding such as Carefresh. It is not recommended that natural substrate be used (ie – bark, wood shavings, soil, sand). These can be drying, hard to clean, and particles can get into the nose, eyes and vent.
Reptiles are cold blooded and regulate their temperature through their environment. Proper heat and lighting is important to keep your lizard healthy. Provide a basking spot on one end of the cage with an incandescent bulb. Temperatures should reach 85-90 degrees F. The cool side of the cage should be around 70-75 degrees F. Allow the lizard to have 12-14 hours of light including ultraviolet B (UVB) in the summer and 10-12 hours in the winter. Putting lights on simple timers are helpful. UV bulbs loose their efficacy and should be changed every six months. Night heat is also important. This can be achieved by using a night heat lamp or an under the tank heat pad. Be sure the pad does not get too hot! Night heaters can be kept on 24/7 for additional day heat or can also be put on a timer. Always measure the temperature in the spot where the lizard spends most of its time basking.
Crickets should be staple part of diet but can also be fed waxworm or mealworm larvae as treats. Juveniles should be fed daily, adults every 3-5 days. Insects should be dusted with a calcium/Vitamin D3 supplement twice weekly and every other week with a multivitamin. For juveniles you can increase the frequency to four to five times a week with the calcium/vitamin D3 supplement and a multivitamin once a week. Offer fresh water daily in a water dish large enough for the anole to fit its whole body in.
Additional soaks in shallow warm water for 15-20 minutes 2-3 times a week are helpful, especially during a shed.
COMMON MEDICAL PROBLEMS
Nutritional Secondary Hyperparathyroidism (NSH, also known as Metabolic Bone Disease)
Signs of NSH are swollen and crooked limbs, anorexia (loss of appetite), muscle tremors and lethargy. It is most commonly caused by calcium deficiency either due to lack of calcium in the diet, although NSH is sometimes caused by kidney disease. See a qualified veterinarian for treatment. See above section about diet for recommendations to help prevent recurrence.
Vitamin A Deficiency
Vitamin A deficiency is caused by the lack of vitamin A in the diet or by using a multivitamin that has Beta Carotene rather than pre-formed vitamin A. Signs include stomatitis (“mouth rot”), anorexia, dysecdisis (poor shed), abscess development around mouth and head, and hemipenal prolapse (see below). A qualified veterinarian will address the secondary problems, but husbandry/diet changes will need to be made to prevent recurrence. See above section about diet for recommendations.
Signs of impaction are constipation, bloating, lethargy and anorexia. There are several different causes including foreign body (usually from substrate), parasite overload, and egg binding. Treatment can range from simple laxatives and antiparasitics to surgery. See a qualified veterinarian for treatment.
Parasites are generally internal. Impaction, anorexia and weight loss are the most common signs of internal parasites. They can be detected from a fecal exam by a veterinarian. Infestation is caused from either contamination from another lizard or from being a wild caught animal. Some parasites will live symbiotically with the gecko until stress or other illness increases the numbers. See a qualified veterinarian for treatment.
Upper Respiratory Infection (URI)
Signs of this disease include open mouth breathing, wheezing, anorexia and lethargy, often with secondary stomatitis. URI’s are usually caused by improper cage heating. It can be treated with antibiotics acquired from a veterinarian and husbandry changes.
Stomatitis (“Mouth Rot”)
Stomatitis can be detected from malocclusion/abnormal face shape, lesions/crusting around and in the mouth, anorexia and sometimes bleeding from the mouth. There are several different causes including vitamin A deficiency and URI. Stomatitis is treated by antibiotics acquired from a veterinarian as well as changing the primary cause of the disease.
Also referred to as retained shed, this is usually a husbandry related problem and is easily fixed by increasing humidity. There are, however, many other more serious causes, such as vitamin A deficiency, which will need diagnosis and treatment from a qualified veterinarian. Signs of Dysecdysis are retained shed (especially around toes and tail), lesions appearing immediately after a shed, and necrotic or missing extremities.
Signs can be very similar to NSH (see above) as well as a swollen abdomen and constipation. Causes range from poor diet to excessive laying to much more serious internal problems. Since geckos cannot be spayed easily, supportive care is usually the method of treatment. There is a chance of reoccurrence. The gecko should be taken to a qualified veterinarian for treatment.
Septicemia is a general term for a secondary systemic or blood infection. It is a very serious disease which can be fatal. Signs include lethargy, anorexia, weakness, general swollen appearance, and red patchy skin. Treatment ranges from antibiotics to surgery to remove bacterial lesions. The initial cause of the septicemia also needs to be addressed.
If caught early, an abscess is very treatable but can lead to septicemia if left alone. It is caused by lacerations or punctures which become infected. Swelling just under the skin is the most common indication. Minor surgery is usually needed to open up the wound and clean out the abscess material, as well as antibiotics. Abscesses will sometimes rupture on their own but will still need to be treated with antibiotics.