The Cuban anole (Anolis equestris) is the biggest of the anole species, and as you have probably guessed, they are native to Cuba. In Cuba you can see these little lizards jumping around all over the place and they make great pets. They can live up to 10 years old.
Hence the name, green anoles are green in color, but their belly is more of a cream color. Males have a purple or blue flap under their chin that extends and fills with air when mating or warning off other males. Females also have this flap, but it is not as bright or large as a maleís.
Appearance The average length for the anole species is about 6 inches, but these Cuban anoles can reach close to 18 inches in length. They are easily the biggest in the world and you will need to plan accordingly.
The body of the anole is a greenish brown with a little piece of pink or red skin hanging from the chin of the males. They are not bright and attractive because their color is meant to camouflage them. Depending on their mood, anoles are actually able to slightly change their color.
The Cuban anole is similar to other anole species. They are jumpy around human hands and do not enjoy being held like the leopard gecko or bearded dragon. They are more of a look, donít touch reptile.
Diet A simple diet of crickets or meal worms works perfect for these little insectivores. You can give an adult anole 10-15 crickets a couple times a week. These guys do not need to eat every day as adults. As babies, they should be fed small crickets daily.
It is important to remove any uneaten crickets because they can bother or even harm your resting anole. Another thing to keep in mind is the size of the cricket you feed them. The cricket should be as long as the width of your anoleís head. If crickets are too big, they can choke the anoles, and if they are too small, they will not become full.
Housing A Cuban anole needs a large aquarium. A 20-30 gallon tank normally works great for a single anole. Babies can live in a 10 gallon tank until they reach 8-10 inches in length. Generally, when it comes to cage size, bigger is better. Your anole will be extremely happy in a 40 gallon tank, but it is not required. When purchasing a tank, height is more important than length because anoles enjoy climbing.
When housing multiple anoles, two males should never be kept together as adults. Males will fight for a female even if there isnít one present in the tank. If you keep a male and a female or a males and multiple females in the same tank, they will breed every spring and you will have a lot of little anole eggs. Females can be kept together fine. If you want to keep multiple anoles together, add 10 gallons for each anole added. If two anoles are together, a 30 or 40 gallon tank will work great.
Substrate Because Cuban anoles like to chase and eat crickets, they can accidently ingest loose substrate. Avoid pebbles or gravel. A dirt substrate of 3-4 inches will work fine, but if you want to keep your anole 100% safe and keep cleanup easy, you can simply use paper towels or newspaper. If you decide to use newspaper, be sure the ink is dry. Other substrates that work well are peat moss or a dirt and sand mix.
Shelter Anoles tend to spend a lot of time off of the ground so be sure to provide plenty of leafy cover off of the floor of the tank. Fake plants and vines work great and real one can be used as well. You can provide a coconut hide on the ground for shelter as well. Be sure to use all of the height of the cage to give your anole places to explore.
Temperature/Lighting Cuban anoles are exothermic animals meaning they cannot produce their own body heat so they are at the mercy or the air temperature. It is important to keep the temperature of the cage around 80F during the day and 70-75F at night. If extra heating is needed because you live in a colder region, a reptile bulb of 40-60 watts should do the trick. Heat pads that are placed on the bottom of the cage are ineffective since they donít spend much time on the ground and can burn them if you use paper towels as a substrate.
Humidity/Water Since these anoles are from tropical Cuba, the humidity needs to stay at around 80% during the day. A hydrometer is a useful tool to invest in because if the tank is not kept humid enough, breathing problems can occur. An automatic mister is optional, and using a hand sprayer once in the morning and once at night works great too. A water bowl can be kept in the cage too for your anole to drink from.
Cleaning If a loose substrate is used, it should be completely replaced every 4-6 months. Paper towels and newspaper are easier to clean but need to be replaced weekly or when they get soiled. Clean out the water dish every week as well.
Breeding To breed Cuban anoles, keep a male and female in the same tank throughout the winter and into the spring, which is when they will mate. Once they have mated you can separate the male so he does not continue attempting to mate with the female. After a couple of weeks she will lay a single egg approximately once a week.
When the female is ready to lay her eggs a nesting box should be put in the cage. If a loose substrate is used she may lay her eggs straight into the substrate so you may have to look for them a little bit. A nesting box can be filled with dirt or sphagnum moss.
Once the eggs are laid they should be removed from the tank. The female will not attempt to protect them and may even break them if they are left in the cage. All eggs should be placed in an incubator. Be sure to provide the female with plenty of calcium during and after egg laying because she loses a lot of it in the process.
Hatchling Care Baby anoles can be kept together in a 10 gallon tank with paper towel as a substrate. Give them sturdy branches and objects to climb on and make sure they are not crowded. As they grow they will need more space to move around. Hatchlings will eat small crickets and should not be held because their skin is very sensitive.
Conclusion Cuban anoles are great intermediate reptiles to own. They take a little bit of responsibility to own, but are well worth it in the end. They are the largest anole species and originate from Cuba. Remember, do your research before buying any pet so that it can live happily and healthily.
I've probably driven these people totally nuts while I was deciding on which ones & how many (got a breeding pair of Marbled & a breeding pair of Flying Geckos), but they never once let on how "dumb" I was being. I loved working with them and my babies arrived, safe/sound/active/alert and very healthy. I'm looking forward to dealing with them again in the future!
Sherry Mc Greevy - February 14, 2012
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