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Brown (Anolis sagrei sagrei) or Bahaman Anole (Anolis sagrei ordinatus) Care Sheets
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Care Sheet for Anoles

Average Rating Given To This Care Sheet Is 3.89    (1=lowest, 5=highest)    Last Updated: 12/30/2004

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Years Experience:

3 to 5 Years


Brown (Anolis sagrei sagrei) or Bahaman Anole (Anolis sagrei ordinatus)

Other Species or Phases this Care Sheet May Cover:

Green Anole

Sexing and Characteristics:

Females of the brown anole typically have a mid-dorsal pattern that looks like diamonds lining up tip to tip. The male usually has a colorful dewlap. Head bobbing is mostly a male behavior, though some females will also do this. There are two visible post anal scales under the vent in the male. The male will have a prominent hemipenile bulge. And the males have a larger head in proportion to their bodies. Males can reach 7 - 9 inches with females reaching about 6 inches in length.

Mostly Active During:


Substrate and Water Needs:

First the bad stuff: Sand is a no no. First, these little guys do not live in the desert. Second, when the sand is ingested, it impacts the intestines. This is fatal to your pet. Pine and cedar chips give off fumes that are toxic. Fake grass can cause a lack of circulation and a loss of toes. Mosses would be good if changed frequently- it is a good substrate for fast growing bacteria. Newspaper is only good if it is not printed on (no ink). No outdoor grass or soil. These will harbor parasites and other unwanted illness causing pathogens. Corn, gravel, and walnuts are all deadly if ingested. They also allow waste to sink to the bottom of the cage and allow bacteria and mold to grow. Compressed Blocks are also deadly when ingested. They may contain irritating dust or splinters and they dry out quickly (not helping you with your humidity level). Bark had never given me any problems, but I no longer use it because it can have the same problems as the compressed blocks. Now for the good substrates: Ink-less paper (do not shred). If shredded it may be ingested and impact the intestines. Special soil (free of herbicide, pesticide, fertilizers, perlite, vermiculite, and manure). Some people go a step further and bake the soil until it reaches at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 30-40 minutes. There is also the reptile carpet that can be cut to fit just about any size or shape of cage.
As for the water - it needs to be moving. They will drink "dew" from the glass or plant in the cage. Use a mist bottle to create the dew. You could use a waterfall or a 1-2 inch deep container with an aquarium air stone in it to move the water. Do not use tap water. (Yuck - do you know what we are drinking ourselves?!) They need pure water with no chlorine, fluoride, and who knows what else that lurks in our pipes. Get bottled water or at least boil your tap water and let it set for 24 hours to get rid of the chlorine and other contaminants.

Lighting and UVB:

These animals need vitamin D3. They can only produce it with the help of the sun. If you want to put them inside in a cage, you have to give them a sun of their own. Your local pet store will sell you a mini sun called a UVB or full spectrum florescent light bulb (Neat - huh). This will help them stay happy and healthy. Note that if you are using and aquarium top, you will have to remove the plastic or glass that the light fits over. It will not allow the UVB rays to reach your pet.

Temperatures and Humidity:

You will want a good thermometer. In the daytime you need to have the cage at an overall temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit. You must also have a cool spot of about 75 degrees. You can obtain this by making caves and using plants to create shade and shelter, this also reduces their stress (two birds with one stone). You will have to create a basking spot (refer below to heating) that is about 85-92 degrees Fahrenheit. At night time you should keep the temperature between 60-75 degrees.

Heating and Equipment:

Do not use heat rocks or heat caves. Lizards (oddly enough) seem to just lay on these until their little bellies blister and burn (much like the people you see who fall asleep on the beach). Do not use heat tapes, Mercury Vapor bulbs, or UVA basking bulbs. Anoles are arboreal (tree "playing"), they should be basking on a limb, not a rock. Use a white incandescent bulb. Place this bulb into a clamp lamp or chicken lamp. The watts you need will be determined by your cage size and the placement of your bulb. Use your thermometer to make sure you get your basking spot at about 85-92 degrees Fahrenheit. If you need to warm it up at night, use a nocturnal bulb or a ceramic heat emitter.

Caging Provided:

I use a glass aquarium and top with the glass or plastic removed from the lid so the UVB rays can reach the anoles. Keeping an anole in a jar is just cruel. Plastic travel cages are OK for their food, not for them. You can use the plastic cage to transport them if necessary (like going to the vet or moving). Cardboard boxes, do I really have to say it? Wooden boxes are not much better. They grow mold and mildew and that is not good for your health either. Donít waste your money on pre-assembled terrariums. They contain most all of the items you want to avoid - like heat rocks, bark bedding, the wrong bulbs. Buy your supplies individually to make sure you get the right things. Mesh vivariums will not retain moisture and so you will not obtain the humidity level your little anoles need. They have reptariums that should work well. I have seen some with mostly glass, but some screen openings. I would never use an aquarium smaller than 20 gallons, even for just one anole. A 20 gallon tank is nice for two and I would add 10 gallons for each anole added. My research has found that male anoles usually have a 4-5 foot territory. Donít get more than one male unless you have a cage that gives them each their own separate 4-5 foot territory. I would not expect one male to stay at one end of a 4 foot cage and the second male to stay at the other end. I am sure they will meet each other at some time and fight until they are stressed, sick, and eventually die (even if it takes days, weeks, or months). I have seen this happen with a person who just liked to see them flare their dewlaps. The male will show his dewlap to the females during mating seasons. Thatís good enough for me. No need to harm them. Anoles are arboreal and enjoy jumping from branch to branch rather than running along the ground. They can be found as high up in trees as 15-20 feet. So, the more space the better. My goal is to build a large green room and set them free in it. My relatives in Florida couldnít keep them out of their green room if they tried. You just have to keep in mind the UVB rays and basking spot when building your green room.



Description of Diet:

Mostly insects and some fruit. Do not catch your own food! The bugs in your backyard could have pesticides and parasites on them. Do not use house flies! They are very dangerous to feed to your lizard. They, like roaches, can carry a few hundred diseases. Whatever you feed them should be 2/3 the size of their heads or smaller. Do not feed full grown crickets. Use small crickets. They are more nutritious anyway because they have less exoskeleton. Baby anoles need pinhead crickets. Flightless fruit flies are good. You can find places to order your food from on the net if your pet store does not supply what you need. You can use a small amount of Gerber baby food fruits also. And I have never been able to get my anoles to eat pre-packaged anole food from the pet stores. They prefer to chase their food down on their own.

Supplements, Nutrition and Usage:

If you have the UVB light bulb you should not need to supplement your anole. It is dangerous to over supplement them. If you do not have a UVB bulb you will need to give them a vitamin D3 supplement.


I really donít see why this should not be the first (or starter) lizard for anyone. All lizards require the same amount of research to see if they are really the right pet for you or your child. Any pet a child has will have to be checked by a parent to be sure the pet is taken care of correctly, from anthill to water dragon. The cage needs to be kept clean regularly. Remove any dead insects right away.

Some Words on this Species:

When you buy an anole from the pet store, there is no way of knowing just how old they are. They may live for years or even only just a few weeks or months. But from newly hatched to ripe old age can very from 3-5 years on average. With proper care and vet checks, they could live up to 10 years.
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The information contain in these care sheets represents only the opinions and husbandry care of members and therefore is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate or reflects the advice or opinions of It is always advised to seek additional information or the advice of a qualified veterinarian or qualified reptile dealer. It is also advisable for you to a good amount of research before implementing any of the ideas and care described in these care sheets. We also recommend you ask many questions in their related forums before acting on any information.

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