Brown Anole Care
A small, active lizard native to the Bahamas and Cuba, the brown anole is not quite as dull as its name would suggest. Sometimes known as the Bahaman anole or De La Sagra’s anole, it has spread from its native islands to colonise large areas of North America from Florida to Louisiana and Mississippi all the way across to Texas. They can also be found in California, Hawaii and Taiwan, where it’s thought they hitched a ride on shipping containers as well as possibly being escaped or released pets.
At 12 to 21cm (5 to 8.5 inches) long they are not a large lizard, and being patterned in grey and brown you might think that they are rather dull. In actual fact they have one eye-catching display that makes them a vivid terrarium subject – a bright flash of colour at their throat called a dewlap. Males use this structure to flag other individuals, to attract females, or to warn other males out of their way.
They are an easy species to keep happy in captivity; in the wild, they live around the base of trees and shrubs, climbing high to bask, display and hunt. A tropical terrarium of at least 45 x 60cm (18” x 24”) – taller than it is wide – well furnished with branches and greenery will suit them very well. A good spray once a day will give them the humidity spike they need to shed and to keep their skin in good condition; they will drink from a water bowl, but they do like to lick droplets of water from leaves and branches.
Feeding is similar to most small insectivorous lizards – fruit flies and micro crickets for babies, up to medium sized crickets and locusts for adults. All live foods should be dusted with a good calcium or multivitamin/multimineral supplement.
Like all diurnal lizards, brown anoles should be provided with an efficient source of UVB light. They are often observed in the wild basking in sunny spots on their chosen tree, so to replicate this a good basking bulb should be used, with a UV strip lamp providing diffused UV coverage. As ever, there should be areas where your anoles can hide away, so provide plenty of leafy cover.
Temperatures should be as high as 35ºC (94ºF) directly under the basking spot, with an ambient temperature of 28 to 30ºC (84 to 86ºF) in the warm end. The cool end – which will be lower down in the terrarium – should be at 23 to 25ºC (74 to 78ºF), and the overall temperature at night can drop to as low as 20ºC (68ºF). If additional heating is needed at night, it can be provided with a thermostatically controlled deep heat projector attached to the top of the enclosure. Measure temperature with an accurate digital thermometer – never guess!
Usually available as wild caught adults, it’s worth taking a little time to find captive bred youngsters. As they are used to people, they will become quite tame and should hand feed happily once they get used to their new owners. They don’t do well when kept singly, but thrive in a group consisting of one male and several females.
A fascinating little lizard to observe, brown anoles are really much more exciting than their dull name would seem to imply!