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Green anole looking into the distance.

Green Anole Tank Setup (Habitat Map)

Making the perfect green anole habitat requires some light planning.

Sure, decorating it is the fun part.

But how about optimizing for best temperature flow? Or locking in humidity?

Or just maximum UVB exposure?

Read on to see how you can create a working habitat map for your green anole’s tank setup.

How to make a green anole habitat

Setting up your green anole’s new habitat is simple.

People tend to overcomplicate the matter when it’s not necessary.

Of course, this is mainly because they want to landscape it to look aesthetically pleasing to the human eye.

As far as the anole is concerned, it doesn’t mind if it’s perfectly scaled or raw and messy like the wild. Your main task is to provide everything it needs at the minimum.

Optimizing heat flow, access to live prey, and a hiding area are key points to consider. Other than that, you’re free to design and set up the tank however you want.

Choosing the right terrarium

You can use either an aquarium or terrarium (or vivarium) for your anole. They’re all fully capable of housing one- the only difference is the definition:

Aquariums are for fish and these are fully sealed to prevent water leakage with aquarium silicone at the corners where the glass meets.

Terrariums may or may not be fully sealed with silicone. They’re designed for any pet that’s land-based. Spiders, lizards, geckos, and more. They’re not waterproof.

A vivarium is a general term that may include both aquariums and terrariums but is commonly used for plants and pets.

Regardless of which one you buy, they’re all suitable habitats for green anoles. As long as it has sealed glass and a secure lid.

How big of a tank does a green anole need?

The minimum tank size is 10 US gallons. This is the most popular tank size by far and widely produced. You can find it in any pet store near the fish supplies or reptile supplies. It comes in one standard size with standard measurements of xyz.

Of course, the larger tank you can provide, the more space you have for the various items your anole will need. It also leads to more room for landscaping if you want to decorate it to theme it.

How many green anoles can live in a 10-gallon tank?

10 gallons will house a single green anole and provide enough space for sustenance. Some people suggest 2 anoles per 10 gallons, but this is stretching it.

They may become stressed and turn brown due to a lack of space.

It also leads to more encounters between the two anoles, which could lead to the dominant lizard constantly harassing the submissive one.

What do green anoles need in their cage?

Green anoles aren’t picky and only require the basic equipment for reptiles that you’d expect- nothing out of the ordinary.

For your anole to prosper, here are the necessary equipment you need to have:


  • UVA heat lamp for basking
  • UVB tube light for digestion
  • Sphagnum peat moss for substrate
  • Humidity meter
  • Temperature meter
  • Hiding place


  • A shallow dish for water
  • Driftwood for climbing
  • Fake plants and branches
  • Under Tank heater
  • Bulb timer
  • Misting system
  • Reptile carpet
  • Coconut fiber substrate

Note: Avoid using heat rocks. Green anoles aren’t bright enough to get off the rock and will sit there and burn themselves while it basks, as with many reptiles. Only use above tank heaters or under tank heaters. NO HEAT ROCKS.

That’s about it. Nothing special. You can often find all the equipment you need in a “habitat kit” that pet stores provide.

It’s generally cheaper to buy a kit for some light discounts rather than buying each piece individually.

But it depends on the style and what you need, so it’s in your best interest to do some comparison shopping.

How do you make a green anole habitat?

A green anole basking in its habitat.
This anole basks on organic dried leaf litter.

Building the habitat for your anole is the fun part. Cleaning is a nightmare.

But we’ll talk about that another time.

Putting the various pieces together to create a functional, yet pleasing terrarium for your lizard is the ideal goal many hobbyists aim to create.

You could fiddle for hours trying to get everything to be picture-perfect, but only to change it completely later on.

I won’t go into detail on designing a tank that looks good- that’s for you to decide and highly subjective that we could discuss it for hours.

But I will give you some tips on how to position everything so you have an idea of what goes where.

Habitat map

First, lay down the substrate you chose on the bottom of the tank.

If you’re using coconut fiber or crushed walnut, this will be more costly compared to organic peat moss or even reptile carpet.

If you don’t have a lot of time to clean the tank, the reptile carpet is amazing.

This carpet looks synthetic and it’s easy to tell it’s fake, but it makes cleaning a breeze. It also helps retain heat overnight and is easy to cut to size for custom setups.

Otherwise, if you’re looking for a cost-effective option that you can just throw into the garbage, stick with peat moss. It’s cheap and absorbs waste well and masks light odors.

You can buy organic peat moss in bulk at home improvement stores. One bale will last you years for a single lizard.

Lay down the substrate to fill in the bottom 2.5”. This will keep the anole elevated at all times and prevent contact with the cold glass, especially at night.

Anoles may dig, so the more substrate you add, the less chance of it getting to the bare tank.

Never use sand, wool, or gritty substances that can be swallowed. This may cause impaction.

Ensure that whatever substrate you use is loose. Clumped or matted substrate may be swallowed by the anole.

After you’ve filled out the entire bottom of the tank with the substrate, put in your gear one by one.

Decide where you want to put the UVA basking lamp. Most people put it above a log or branch where the anole will spend the majority of the day.

Ideally, you’d want to put it somewhere that’s easy to see so you can watch it all day.

Put the thermometer next to the basking area. Add the humidity gauge as well. Make sure they’re easy to read from the “front” of the tank- eliminate glares.

Add another thermometer to the “cool” side of the tank that’s away from the UVA bulb. This is where the anole will go to cool down and thermoregulate.

Put in your hiding place. This should be somewhere in the middle of the tank with both access to the hot and cool side INSIDE the hiding place. This gives the anole the freedom to choose between hot or cold when it hides.

The UVA bulb should be securely attached above the tank using a floodlight mount and connected to a proper power source. It should be free of wind, drafts, and accidents like somewhere bumping into it.

There should be no materials nearby that may heat up and pose a fire risk.

The UVB bulb goes lengthwise down the tank. It should be secured using a hood that fits across the terrarium and connected to a properly rated power source.

If you’re using a timer for your bulbs, make sure it can supply the wattage necessary to power everything at once. Some companies make power strips with timers just for this purpose.

Put in the rest of your decor and gear that you purchased. This does it for the bare minimum.

If you’re using a misting system, it can automatically keep humidity levels high. It pairs well with untreated leaf litter to help sustain a bioactive tank.

Do green anoles need a heat lamp?

Yes, a heat lamp is necessary because it provides the UV light for heat generation and proper metabolism.

A regular household bulb sometimes may work, but it needs to be strong enough to produce enough heat to bring the temperatures to the right levels (90F). The position of the lamp makes a huge difference.

If you put the bulb closer to the enclosure, heat will be more focused and bring the ambient temps up. Putting it away from the tank reduces it.

So even if your bulb is weak, you can make it stronger just by changing the distance.

Of course, follow all proper precautions to prevent fire or electrical hazards. That’s number one.

What about a water dish?

This should be part of your tank setup because it allows the anole to bathe when necessary.

Bathing loosens the skin during shedding and also raises the ambient humidity of the habitat- both of which contribute to your anole’s well-being.

If you’re having difficulty keeping the humidity high, consider switching to a wider (but NOT deeper) water dish.

It’ll evaporate quickly and also raise the humidity by a significant amount. Remember to never use a deep dish.

Your anole should be able to climb in and out without any help. You can add in a branch or two for it to grasp onto for easier access.

Do they need decor?

Tank decorations are up to you.

On one hand, tank decor is nice because it makes your tank look nicer and you can theme it.

But on the other hand, it can make it appear more cluttered and harder to clean. Imagine trying to clean up anole poop wedged between a fake branch and a rock.

If you decide to decorate the tank, be sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Only use smooth decorations, never use pointed or jagged edges
  • Use plastic or glass materials when possible
  • Clean new decorations or equipment before placing it in the tank
  • Never use secondhand goods if you don’t know how to clean them properly
  • Give your anole plenty of space between each decoration so it doesn’t get stuck
  • Make sure the decorations won’t topple over and are secure and sturdy
  • Avoid using adhesives when possible- superglue is preferred for permanent fixings

Green anole tank setups are easy

Green anole outside on window.
This anole wants to go into your habitat.

This lizard doesn’t ask for a whole lot. So you can get away with just the basics for starters.

This is what makes them appealing to kids or beginners to reptile keeping.

Green anoles only need the basics to thrive, but you can always add more if you want. This makes the pet affordable, low maintenance, and easy.

Who doesn’t want that?

What do you think? How do you plan to decorate your tank setup?

Any tips/tricks you want to tell other hobbyists? Leave a comment and let us know.

Further reading

You may find these pages helpful for additional references:

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