Brown anoles, like green anoles, are a common sight in many pet stores. They are a relatively small, mostly tan or brown (occasionally with some white, yellow and/or black spotting or diamond patterns), diurnal, mostly terrestrial lizard. Males have an orange to red colored dewlap. They grow to between 5-8.5 inches (12-21 centimeters) long and have life spans of up to 7 years, although 3-6 years is more common.
Brown anoles are native to Jamaica, Cuba and the Bahamas, but have been introduced into Florida and Hawaii and also much of the green anole’s native habitat. They prefer warm, humid regions, but are quite adaptable and have become established internationally. They spend most of their time in shrubbery, on logs, woodpiles or rock piles, the bases of trees or on fences and walkways near civilization.
Brown anoles are most comfortable in a densely furnished (i.e. providing as much surface area as possible) horizontally oriented enclosure. They enjoy rock piles, branch and stick labyrinths, bricks, blocks, plants, shrubs and bark. Although they are usually referred to as terrestrial, they actually spend most of their time near the ground as opposed to on it. Brown anoles obtain their moisture requirements by licking dew off of leaves, branches, rocks, even one another, so daily misting is essential. Brown anoles are most comfortable with daytime temperatures of between 78-88 degrees Fahrenheit, with nighttime temperatures dropping 10-15 degrees, but not lower than 60. A basking spot of 95-100 degrees (depending on the enclosure size) should be provided. Several manufacturers now offer spotlights that also emit UV—these are ideal for small brown anoles enclosures.
Brown anoles are opportunistic feeders, with their diet mainly consisting of small insects, with a particular propensity for terrestrial bugs like crickets. Other food items can include: mosquitoes, moths, flies, beetles, spiders, small waxworms and crickets. Mealworms are not recommended for brown anoles unless they are small and just molted (white in color). Just molted mealworms have a soft exoskeleton that will not cause the digestive problems that chitinous brown exoskeleton does. As mentioned above, brown anoles will obtain their water requirements by licking water droplets, so misting should occur daily (usually after the enclosure has warmed up).
Unfortunately, due to their inexpensiveness and commonness in the pet industry, brown anoles are often taken for granted. Although a brown anole may be an inexpensive starter reptile, a proper habitat can easily cost ten times the amount of the lizard. When purchasing a brown anole, keep in mind that proper husbandry is essential to your lizard’s well-being. Also, male brown anoles are fiercely territorial. In a large or densely planted/designed enclosure, this is not usually a problem, but males should be of similar size and should be fed regularly to prevent confrontations.