Brown Anole

Anolis sagrei DUMÉRIL & BIBRON, 1837


German: Bahamaanolis


Protection status

Not protected.

Price range

Low. I've already seen these animals for 6 € on reptile shows.

Difficulty level

Low. The Brown Anole is one of the "beginners lizards".



A male Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei)The systematic classification of the Brown Anole has long been unclear. Some scientists want to classify this species in the genus Norops, but to date, it looks like it will remain in the genus Anolis. Anolis sagrei is probably the second most popular anole after the Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis). Similar to the latter, the Brown Anole does not make very high demands on the environment which indeed makes it an ideal animal to keep in the terrarium but also a hazard in nature. The Brown Anole was introduced into several countries including the United States and has greatly increased in number because of its adaptability, making it a threat to the original fauna (SANDER 1985, ECHTERNACHT 1999, GERBER 1991, VINCENT 1999). Presumably, those anoles were introduced unintentionally and have not been returned to the wild by careless herp-keepers. A potential route of spreading is to travel on vehicles as stowaways (CAMPBELL 1996, SANDER 1985). NORVAL & MAO (2007) describe another potential distribution channel within Taiwan. There, bamboo sticks are grown in agriculture and often used as stilts and piles. But the Brown Anole likes to live on the bamboo. For experimental purposes, several bundles of bamboo sticks were randomly distributed in the haunt of the Brown Anole. After three days, the bundles were collected in order to determine the lizard species located in them. In the 23 bundles used, 5 Anolis sagrei, 12 Hemidactylus frenatus and one juvenile Mabuya longicaudata were found. The anoles had a SVL of at least 39 mm, and were most likely already sexually mature. Abducted to another place, they presumably would have been able to establish a new colony.
Typically, this lizard inhabits low bushes and shrubs. Males can often be found head down on higher places like fence posts from where they monitor their territory, whereas females and young animals are usually located on lower places or on the ground. The Brown Anole lives in small colonies. As a synanthrope species, these lizards can often be found in homes and gardens. The main activity period in the wilderness is 9:30 to 11:00 o’clock and 13:00 to 14:30 o’clock.
A male Brown Anole with an unusual  red colour.The body of Anolis sagrei is slightly stockier than in the Green Anole but still overall slim. The snout is blunt. The powerful limbs and the adhesive disks on the toes distinguish these animals as good climbers that even can walk along on glass without any problems. The basic color of these lizards ranges from dark brown over yellowish-brown to gray. The Brown Anole, however, has the abiliy to change ist colors to a small extent. Both sexes have a bright diamond pattern on their back that is more pronounced in the females and young animals. Males have dark triangular spots sideways of this diamond pattern but they can also have yellow dots. The females own an additional white vertebral stripe.
Males are about 180 mm long with a snout-vent length of 65-70 mm, females are only about 130-140 mm in size with a SVL of 43 mm.
The tail can be dropped at risk and will grow again after (though not as nice as the original). Upon excitement, both sexes are able to set up a skin fold on the neck which is more pronounced in males.
In large terrariums, Anolis sagrei can be socialized with e.g. Anolis porcatus, Anolis carolinensis or Anolis marmoratus speciosus.
Hemidactylus frenatus also in the nature shares the habitat with the Brown Anole. NORVAL & MAO (2007) suggest that due to different activity periods, there is no competition for resources. Some species of the genus Phelsuma and some poison dart frogs are also suitable for socialization. ZEILFELDER & BARTELT (2006) recommend against a socialization, as the limited space available under terrarium conditions sometimes leads to problems such as egg binding and stress-related deficiencies.

Probably, bigger lizards like Mabuya longicaudata (NORVAL et al. 2004), snakes [e.g. Lycodon ruhstrati ruhstrati (NORVAL & MAO 2008)] and birds count among the natural enemies. SANDER (1985) reports: "In August and September, but even in October, the young anoles occur in masses. They then fall victim to the big birds, especially the white herons, that systematically observe the house walls, shrubs and hedges for the small lizards. "

Sex differences

Males are usually larger and have a more powerful built head. Their dewlap is bigger and has a intense red color with a yellow rim. The base of the tail is thicker in males. Females have a distinct white vertebral stripe. The different coloration of the sexes is already visible in the hatchlings, so that both sexes can be distinguished from the beginning.


  • Anolis sagrei greyi BARBOUR, 1914
  • Anolis sagrei luteosignifer GARMAN, 1888
  • Anolis sagrei mayensis SMITH & BURGER, 1949
  • Anolis sagrei nelsoni BARBOUR, 1914
  • Anolis sagrei ordinatus COPE, 1864
  • Anolis sagrei sagrei DUMÉRIL & BIBRON, 1837


Originally, Cuba and some surrounding islands (e.g., Isla de Pinos).
The Brown Anole was introduced into the United States [Florida e.g.
Anna Maria Island (SANDER 1985), Northeast Florida, Arkansas (MCALLISTER et al. 2003), Texas (CONANT & COLLINS 1991), Louisiana (STEVEN LANCE & 1994), Georgia, counties southeast of Suwanne River (CAMPBELL 1996, 2003)], the Cayman Islands (ROUGHGARDEN 1995), Mexico (Yucatán, Campeche, Tabasco, Quintana Roo and Isla Cozumel), Belize (CALDERON et al. 2003, RODRIGUEZ SCHETTINO 1999, SCHWARTZ & HENDERSON 1991), Guatemala, Honduras, Isla de la Bahia, Jamaica (LANDWER et al. 1995, ROUGHGARDEN 1995), Granada, West Indies (GREENE et al. 2002), Hawaii (GOLDBERG & BURSEY 2000) and even Taiwan (NORVAL et al. 2002).

Husbandry in the terrarium


According to the opinion of the German expert group about the minimum requirements for keeping reptiles, the minimum dimensions for a couple are 6 x 6 x 8 (length x width x height) times the SVL of the animals. For each additional lizard of any size you need 15% more space. For anoles with a SVL of 6 cm you need a terrarium of at least 36 x 36 x 48 cm. The best is a minimum size of 50 x 50 x 80 cm for one male and two females. ZEILFELDER & BARTELT (2006) recommend at least 60 x 50 x 80 cm for a couple. Since young animals and females can more frequently be found on the ground, the base should not be too small. You can keep only one male in each terrarium, as the males behave aggressively towards others. Keeping several females in one terrarium is possible, but even they have a hierarchy. So you will always have to check if an animal is suppressed by the others. To achieve a better air circulation, ZEILFELDER & BARTELT (2006) suggest to replace most of the glass cover on the terrarium roof with gauze. Even an open-air posture from May to September is possible if the weather conditions are suitable. ZEILFELDER & BARTELT (2006) describe their very interesting experiences in keeping the Brown Anole free in the living room.


Depending on the size of the terrarium, halogen bulbs or special basking spots can be used as internal lighting. A fluorescent lamp provides additional light. For an enclosure with dimensions of 60 x 50 x 80 cm, ZEILFELDER & BARTELT (2006) recommend a fluorescent lamp with 15 W, three 20 W halogen lamps in the rear and two 40 W "Concentra" spots near the front. In the summer time, the terrarium should be lighted 14 hours and in winter 8-10 hours. In addition, they recommend a UV-light irradiation (Osram Ultravitalux or Phillips Sanolux) 2-3 times a week. The lamp has to be attached at a distance of 80 cm to the animals. Initially the UV-light irradiation should last about 10 minutes, and the period is slowly increased each time until an illumination period of 30 minutes is reached. BRUINS also recommends to light the terrarium 12-14 hours a day in summer and 8-10 hours in winter during dormancy.


According to SCHWARTZ & HENDERSON (1991), the body temperature of these lizards in the wild is in average at 33 °C. HESELHAUS & SCHMIDT (1990) recommend an air temperature of 25-28 °C for the terrarium , JES (1988) recommends 25-30 °C during the day and 18-23 °C at night. The temperature should reach about 35-40 °C under a local basking spot. FLÄSCHENDRÄGER & WIJFFELS (1996) recommend night temperatures of 18 °C during the winter months. ZEILFELDER & BARTELT (2006) report that temperatures around the freezing point will be tolerated for a short time.


ZEILFELDER & BARTELT (2006) recommend 40-50% at daytime and 70% at night. The enclosure should be sprayed several times daily with lukewarm water. Keeping the animals too dry, leads to shedding problems.


In the terrarium, abundant branches are indispensable. From branches of jungle vines over cork and corkscrew hazel, to branches of fruit trees, all kind of branches can be used. The terrarium should be structured in a way that suppressed individuals can find sufficient refuges. Although these animals can walk along on glass very well, you should install a back wall. This can be done by fixing cork plates for example or you can modulate the entire wall with tile adhesive. Suggestions can be found here. Peat or the now frequently offered coconut humus are suitable as a substrate. A rich vegetation not only looks good but also offers climbing and hiding places and provides for higher humidity. Large-leaved plants are often used as a sleeping place. For planting the terrarium for the young animals, ZEILFELDER & BARTELT (2006) suggest the use of Maranta leuconera. The advantage of this plant is that its leaves cover the ground like a roof during the day offering a visual cover. In the evening they fold up and the sleeping young anoles can be more easily detected and caught out in sleep without causing too much stress.


The food spectrum was analyzed in field studies. The diet consists to 26.32% of Hymenoptera, 28.95% of butterflies, 13.16% of beetles, 11.84% of arachnids, and the remainder consists of other arthropods (BEROVIDES ÁLVAREZ & SAMPEDRO MARÍN 1980). In captivity, you can offer the typical food animals such as crickets, mealworms, wax worms, small cockroaches, flies, etc. The feeding should be performed several times a week, which comes closer to the natural conditions than once in the week. ZEILFELDER & BARTELT (2006) feed the juveniles every day with one fast day in the week. From the age of three months, two fast days are scheduled weekly. The food should be regularly dusted with minerals such as Korvimin. The lizards take water from the leaves after spraying.


Anolis sagrei needs a winter rest in order to get into a mating mood. They should winter at 15-20 °C for 2-3 months. BRUINS recommends a hibernation of two months at 20-24 °C. ZELFELDER & BARTELT (2006) recommend a rest from October/November to January/February. The lighting time is shortened by 30 minutes a week until the light burns just 8-10 hours a day. The temperature is also reduced to 16-20 °C during the day. After the winter rest lighting and temperature can be increased again.
The breeding season begins around March and lasts until autumn (up to November). The male approaches the female with constant head nodding and displaying of its dewlap. Sometimes, the females also respond with head nodding and if one is ready to mate, the male bites into its neck, and the copulation begins. Mating takes a few seconds to 4 minutes (ZEILFELDER & BARTELT 2006). Unwilling females fight back and run away. About every 4 weeks , the female lays 1-2 eggs with a size of about 5.8 x 8.7 mm at a depth of 3-5 cm. Often, only a single egg is laid, rarely two at a time. In the wild, egg-laying often takes place between April and June and seldom between November and February. SANDER (1985) reported the occurrence of many juveniles from August to October. Whether a female has just laid eggs, you can usually recognize by the collapsed flanks just over the hind legs.
The eggs can be left in the terrarium. Though, with this method, maybe the breeding conditions are not ideal or hatching youngs are eaten by the parents. It is recommended to use an incubator. As incubation substrate ZEILFELDER & BARTELT (2006) mention seed compost mixed with sand. Vermiculite or perlite is also suitable.
Depending on the incubation temperature, the 33 mm (SVL 15 mm) large youngs hatch after an incubation period of 32-60 days (Table 1). The sex of the anoles can be influenced by the incubation temperature. At low temperatures mainly females will hatch while at higher temperatures mainly males are produced. However, ZEILFELDER & BARTELT (2006) point out that animals that are incubated at constant temperatures hatch earlier but are less stable, which is manifested by sudden deaths. With an incubation period of 32 days Anolis sagrei together with Anolis limifrons holds the record between the "Quick hatchers”.

Incubation temp.

Incubation period




22-28 °C (with nightly setback)

32-45 days




25 °C

50-60 days




20-26 °C (with nightly setback)

50-60 days

TL 33 mm
SVL 15 mm






Table: Incubation data from the literature

The newly hatched anoles feed on their yolk sac during the first days. They are best raised individually in functionally installed terrariums or plastic containers (e.g. BraPlast). In larger tanks (beginning at 30 x 30 x 40 cm), it is also possible to keep a group of juveniles. In the beginning, you can use paper towels as a substrate. The climatic conditions are similar to those in the terrarium for adults. Generally, rearing of the offspring is unproblematic. One problem mentioned by ZEILFELDER & BARTELT (2006) is the lack of vitamin B. This leads to healthy-looking animals suddenly falling from the branch and cramping. In such cases, massaging the back of the head towards the tail with a soft brush has proved as an antispasmodic.
Sexual maturity is reached by the age of 10 months.


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