So you just purchased a new pet anole lizard, or maybe you already have one and want to know what they should be eating. Feeding them correctly is important for their overall health, and learning more about what anoles eat can help your little friend live longer and healthier lives. Let's explore the different types of food that these reptiles enjoy.
The Anole's Natural Diet
In the wild, green anoles eat insects and arthropods, similar to what you will be feeding them in captivity. This species is native to the Southern United States and is the most popular anole kept as a pet.
They search for spiders, flies, crickets, and other insects that can fit in their mouth. They're also opportunistic feeders at times, so if they happen to see another lizard that will fit in their mouth, they'll eat them, especially while in their native habitat.
The brown anole is also native to the Southern U.S. and eats a similar diet to the green anole in the wild. The primary difference is the brown anole also consumes small fishes that fit in their mouth. They will also eat fruits and vegetables when provided the opportunity, although they don't comprise the bulk of their diet.
Feeding an Anole in Captivity
In captivity, anoles go by the same standards. They will basically eat anything that fits in their mouth, so it's important to feed them gut-loaded feeder insects dusted with vitamin supplements that provide adequate nutrition. Offer three to five of these appropriately sized live feeder insects as dietary staples:
- Dubia roaches (small)
- Crickets (small to medium)
- Black soldier fly larvae (small)
- Fruit flies (wingless)
Some worms are high in fat. As an occasional treat, you can offer:
Avoid the following, as they have mandibles that may cause injury to your anole:
Dust your feeders with an appropriate calcium powder supplement every day. Once a week, dust your feeders with a reptile multivitamin product.
Anoles occasionally consume fruit. You can also add small pieces of fruit as a treat, but don't offer these every day. When offering fruit, make sure to wash it thoroughly to remove insecticides and cut it into small pieces that fit inside your anole's mouth. You should always choose fruits with no seeds or pits. Some common types of fruits that are good for anoles include:
- Honeydew melon
Do You Need to Offer Water?
Anoles do not drink from standing water sources. They receive most of their moisture intake through their diet, but they also drink beaded water from leaf surfaces. Mist your anole daily, preferably in the morning, to maintain appropriate humidity levels and allow them to drink from decor surfaces.
Offer Variety and Supplement Regularly
Appropriately sized feeder crickets and dubia roaches make up the base of your anole's diet. You can supplement with mealworms or waxworms to provide a special treat. However, they should not be offered in large quantities. Mealworms do not provide anoles with sufficient nutrition, and waxworms are too much for your anole to handle on a regular basis.
Gut loading and dusting insects with a vitamin and mineral supplement before feeding is also recommended. Dusting with a calcium and vitamin D3 supplement is a safe, dry method of insect feeding. While dusting may seem like an extra step, it is actually very easy and quick. And if you have a picky eater, dusting insects can help to encourage them to try new things.
Body Condition and Coloration
Healthy green anoles will color up nicely if you offer a varied diet of feeders that have been supplemented properly. Brown anoles will take on a deeper coloration if fed a proper diet. A stressed anole may lose its color, so make sure you feed daily and use appropriate reptile supplements. Anoles should not look too thin or too fat, and a healthy lizard will have energy and show interest in feeding.
How to Feed Anole Lizards
Feeding your pet anole is relatively easy, but there are some key points to keep in mind. First, a variety of foods should be offered to ensure that the diet stays balanced and varied. Second, it's important that the diet contains plenty of protein. Third, providing adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D3 can help stave off poor health conditions.
Most anoles will eat at least two to three insects every day. The larger the lizard, the more food it needs. A healthy adult anole can eat as many as four or even five crickets in a single day. The exact amount of food your specific green anole needs depends on their size and on the temperature and humidity levels in your home.
If you've just brought home your new pet, it's important to make sure that they get enough food, but not too much. A young lizard may eat all their food right away, but if they don't finish it all, don't worry. They can store extra calories in their body fat reserves until they're needed later on. However, if your lizard stops eating for more than two days, talk to your exotic animal vet about what steps to take.
Extra Tips for Feeding Your Anoles
Anoles will naturally show interest in live feeders, so you typically don't have to do too much extra after you put feeder insects in their enclosure. There are a few tricks to keep in mind:
- Use tongs or tweezers when feeding your anole if you're hand-feeding. This is a safety precaution to keep your hands away from their mouth.
- Your anole should be able to consume all feeders within 10 minutes. If a feeder remains after 24 hours, remove it.
- Make sure that the insects you feed your anole are healthy and clean. You do not want your pet to get sick from eating bugs.
- Feed insects that are small enough for your anole to swallow whole. If they are too big, they could get stuck in their throat or digestive tract and cause problems.
- The best time to feed your anole is at night when they come out from hiding in order to hunt for food.
- Offer mealworms and other worms in a small, shallow feeding dish. Keep the food dish clean by wiping it out with a paper towel after each feeding.
Offer Variety in Your Anole's Diet
As you can see, feeding anoles is relatively easy. They don't need a lot of food, but it needs to be fresh and high in protein. Keep an eye on how much your anole eats each day and don't forget to dust the insects prior to feeding. Offer a few pieces of fruit a few times a week for added nutrients and hydration. With regular attention to their diet, your anole will thrive!