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January 25, 2012

PSA: Anoles as Pets

Some of you might not be aware that I have a degree in Biology and spent a few years working on a Ph. D. in ecology. My focus was environmental policy. If anyone is interested in publishing a book on Florida panther recovery, let me know :) This might explain why I enjoy books that have a science element to them. But I also shy away from books with animals. There's two main reasons: 1. They are usually sad or 2. the animal is so cute everyone wants one regardless if it makes a good pet or not (I spent many childhood years wanting a monkey).

I have spent the last few weeks talking about a great book, which released yesterday: Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman by J. B. Lynn. One of my favorite characters is Godzilla who prefers to be called God. So here is my official PSA should you decide you now want your own God.

Who is God?

Godzilla is not to be mistaken for a gecko. Due to a popular insurance commercial many people now believe all small green lizards are geckos.  Though geckos are not native to the U.S., they are plentiful in Florida and parts of the southeastern US. However, the green lizards we see are more likely the green anole (Anolis carolinensis).

The top photo is a gecko, the middle photo the green anole, and the bottom is the brown anole. I've included the brown anole (Anolis sagrei) because, though native to Cuba and Bahamas, it's been introduced to the U.S. (Florida, southern Georgia, Texas and southern California) and Godzilla is a brown anole. (Thanks J. B. for confirming this for me!).

Anole Husbandry:
(did I mention I worked for 15 months as a zookeeper? Husbandry is a fancy word for animal care)

Anoles eat LIVE insects (a lesson Maggie had to learn) and other small invertebrates. Most commonly they eat crickets, moths, and spiders. But they are also opportunistic feeders, if the meal is small enough they attempt to consume it. Captive adult anoles need to be fed 3 - 4 times a week.

Humidity is extremely important. Like other reptiles, anoles shed their skin. If humidity is too low the skin will not properly molt. The facial skin can build up impairing the anole's ability to fed and it will starve to death. In addition to providing a shallow water dish, the enclosure should be misted daily.

A 10 gallon terrarium is recommended, remember to have a mesh lid to provide ventilation but prevent escape. Typical life span is 4 - 8 years for wild anoles. A well cared for captive anole may live longer (up to 14 years).

Fun Facts About Anoles:

You shouldn't handle your anole and particularly do NOT pick it up by the tail. The primary defense mechanism of an anole is the ability to detach their tail. The tail will continue to wiggle to distract the predator.

Anoles are diurnal (they are active during the day).

They can grow up to 7 inches in length.

The green or Carolina anole is the only native U. S. anole and for the most part the brown or Cuban anole has pushed it to the northern regions of its range. There are some instances of overlapping habitat, but they segregate themselves - brown anoles stay on bottom branches while the green anole resides on higher branches.

All but the brown anole can change in color from bright green to dull brown. The brown anole only varies its shade of brown (shocking I know).

Find out why anoles will be the next pet craze by picking up your copy of Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Thank you to Wikipedia and Reptiles Realm for the information on anoles.

Photos (in order of appearance):
Tambako the Jaguar via photopin cc
Vicki's Nature via photopin cc
J. Star via photopin cc
Ennor via photopin cc
Ezra S F via photopin cc

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  1. Whew! I'm glad I did my research and got it right! I spend an inordinate amount of time watching the little brown lizards when I visit my parents in Florida.

    1. We don't have brown anoles, just the green ones here (which is why I had to ask). The only time my cat and dog have "played" together it turns out they were stalking an anole who found himself on the wrong side of the glass door.

  2. Books AND reptiles. I think you're my new favorite blog!

    1. Thanks for stopping by. If you like books and reptiles then you will love Confessions.

  3. I subscribed to your blog a month ago. So it was really surprising to see in your "You might also like" one of my photos. Very glad you put the photo to good use.

    1. Thank you for such a great photo. It was exactly how I imagined the character of Godzilla.



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