The anole is a tree-dwelling lizard found in North America and parts of the Caribbean. It’s a popular choice for pet-keepers, as they are easy to look after although not especially cheap if you want to buy decent equipment. The average anole will live for around four years, but eight years isn’t unheard of if it’s cared for really well.
A Carolina anole eating a moth. © Stephen Friedt.
If you’re keeping anoles, you should make sure that their diet is as similar to their wild diet as possible. Small crickets and mealworms are popular choices, as they’re readily available from pet shops or online. A lot of anoles won’t often accept mealworms, but you can always try, if yours likes them, you’re onto a winner, as they’re cheap and very nutritious. Most reptiles are a bit intimidated by prey that’s too big or too lively. A good rule of thumb is to offer nothing that’s bigger than half the size of the lizard’s head.
Feed them insects
It’s quite acceptable to give your anoles insects that you’ve caught yourself, but do make sure that they’re from areas that aren’t too heavily sprayed. Don’t collect them from roadsides, or from intensively farmed areas, as these may have dangerously high levels of pesticides or car exhaust particulates. You also need to know that some insects, like fireflies, are poisonous. If you’re not certain about a bug, leave it alone.
Keeping your own insects
A Carolina anole eating a praying mantis. © Patricklyons.
If you’re going to keep live prey insects, these guys will need to be looked after properly too, as they need to stay alive long enough to provide decent nutrition to your anoles. If you can’t find the right size or type, then get to a reputable pet shop or get online, as there are many bug breeders that specialize in the lizard feeding arena.
Gut-loading is important
Gut-loading is when you feed prey animals on foods that you want your pet to eat. Fruit and vegetables, as well as protein-rich, foods are essential for these prey insects. When your lizard crunches on a cricket, he’ll also get the fruit and so forth that’s in the insect’s digestive tract. It’s a sneaky way to get some fiber into your pet! Also, when you feed the insects to your lizards, if any survive, you must make sure they have enough food to last them for the rest of their stay – which won’t be long, but that’s life. Give these condemned bugs some fish flakes, slices of fruit and baby cereal.
A Carolina Anole eating dronefly. © Pollinator.
Water is important
Moisture is essential for these poor feeder bugs, too, which is why the fruit slices should be from fruits like apples, oranges and melons. You might also want to leave a wad of wet cotton wool in a shallow dish for the bugs to drink from. Make sure that the cotton wool is unbleached, though. It’s interesting to note that the leading cause of insects eating each other is dehydration, and you want your Anoles to eat the bugs, not the other bugs!
Keeping things balanced
You should feed your anoles every day, and allow them to eat their fill. With crickets especially, you need to make sure that they have enough food and water if they survive the first lizard onslaught. If they get hungry and thirsty, they may have a go at their predators!
Various lizards and their diets
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