Green anoles (Anolis carolinensis) are not poisonous by nature. They won’t irritate your skin simply by touching them unless you have a unique condition.
These anoles aren’t venomous nor do they transmit any poisons upon contact. Touching one doesn’t do anything if you wash your hands afterwards and you’re not allergic or sensitive.
So, assuming that a green anole is free of viruses, bacteria, or other internal pathogens, touching it won’t do anything (except maybe having it bite you).
However, that doesn’t mean it’s all fine and dandy to just handle your anole and then do whatever afterward. You need to wash your hands properly every time you touch it or anything it comes into contact with.
Why? Because even though green anoles aren’t poisonous, they CAN transfer pathogens indirectly!
So, can a green anole get you sick?
Your green anole can still transmit harmful pathogens to you that can be extremely dangerous.
This includes viruses, bacteria, and other vectors. They either come from the lizard’s waste, mouth or can be directly on their skin.
Don’t get confused- green anoles aren’t poisonous to you, dogs, cats, etc. They’re not venomous or poisonous by nature, but they can transmit harmful pathogens through a third-party vector.
Some of these pathogens include:
- E. Coli
- Liver fluke
- Mycobacterium marinum
It’s difficult or sometimes impossible to tell if your lizard is a carrier of these pathogens. That’s because they don’t affect your lizard’s system like the way they do to humans or pets (like your dog or cat).
Some of these pathogens, like aeromonas or mycobacterium are found in contaminated water. Others are directly from the lizard feces or urine.
Basically, reptiles are immune to many of the vectors that they transmit to humans, which is why you may not see your lizard showing any symptoms.
Even if it did show signs of infection, it may not show up in the way you’re expecting them to do it.
So never assume that your lizard is sterile. Always assume that it’s a carrier. This will encourage you to practice safer habits for your hygiene and reduce the chance of infection.
Note the third-party vectors
Don’t forget that even if you’ve had your pet lizard for quite some time, it’s possible that an external vector can infect your pet.
Here’s an elaborate, over-exaggerated example:
- You buy store bought-crickets that previous swam around in a dish of water.
- The water dish was shared by other crickets which were bred in a cricket farm.
- The original source of infestation was a contaminated fish that swam in the water.
- You bring that batch of crickets home and feed them to your anole.
- Now, your anole is infected.
This is why it’s another benefit to grow your own crickets or dubia roaches. You control the source.
Do green anoles carry salmonella?
Yes, green anoles are a salmonella carrier. Not all of them carry it, but a significant majority do.
While not all green anoles may be a vector of transmission, it’s possible that your pet lizard is a risk factor. This is because pet store anoles are all fed and raised in the same environment, so it’s very easy for salmonella to infect all of them in the same batch.
A study showed that 27.1% of samples tested positive for salmonellae:
Salmonellae were isolated from 27.1% of 199 samples; 32.6% of 141 cloacal samples from anoles, 62.5% of 8 intestinal samples from anole carcasses, 16.7% of 12 fecal samples from goats and 2.6% of 38 toilet bowl swabs.
This is why you should always wash your hands after contact. Salmonella is a serious pathogen that can cause adverse reactions. It can also be transmitted through your dog or cat.
For example, if your dog licks something that your green anole touched, then licks you, you can get infected with salmonella.
There’s always a risk when dealing with reptiles. It’s not just anoles that carry it. The majority of reptiles, birds, snakes, poultry, cows, pigs are all carriers. It’s OK to be safe about it, but there’s no need to be paranoid.
It’s existed with lizards since inception. If you think about how popular the anole is (science classrooms, pet trade, etc.), salmonella infections are significant.
The exact percentage from reptiles is relatively low. But you still need to exercise caution when handling it!
Can you hold a green anole?
But traditional wisdom says they hate to be held and prefer to be left alone.
There are some docile and tame ones, but the majority that is sold in the pet trade are likely skittish since they haven’t been handled since birth.
Are they poisonous to dogs, cats, or other pets?
No, green anoles aren’t poisonous directly upon contact. But they can give them pathogens indirectly or directly through a vector.
As mentioned prior, they can infect you or your pets with some nasty pathogens either upon touch or indirectly through a third-party vector (salmonella, etc.) If your dog, cat, or other pet comes into contact or eats the lizard, it can cause some adverse reactions, especially if your pet is sensitive.
Get in touch with a vet immediately and let them know what happened. Your dog or cat may start vomiting, choking, have diarrhea, become lethargic, or even be killed by a lizard’s bioload. You need to talk to your vet right away if it ate the anole.
Your dog or cat may not show any signs of a problem, but it’s worth getting them checked out regardless.
How about brown anoles? Are they poisonous lizards?
Brown anoles aren’t poisonous, but they carry the same risks as green anoles for transmissible vectors.
As with any reptile (geckos, iguanas, skinks, snakes, etc.), they all have the potential to transmit a pathogen. Thus, you should practice proper safety measures and wash your hands well.
Can green anoles bite? Do they carry germs?
Green anoles can and will bite, especially if skittish, stressed, or threatened. While the bark is worse than the bite, it can transmit disease through their teeth.
Their bites rarely puncture the skin, but you should still wash your hands regardless. If their bite breaks the skin or they come into contact with some wound on your skin, you need to disinfect it.
You should avoid handling if possible, as most anoles prefer to be left alone.
How to protect yourself from reptile germs
Here are some general guidelines for staying safe after handling your anole.
You’l see most of it is just common sense things that you probably already do anyway. Just be extra careful when touching reptiles or handling their equipment, lamps, decor, water bowl, food dish, etc.
Also, the water should be assumed that it’s contaminated. So if you have any water features in your setup, don’t get it in your eyes or mouth.
Wash your hands
The most obvious way to prevent any infection! When you touch your anole or anything it’s come into contact with, wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 30 seconds immediately.
Don’t touch your face, clothing, or anything else until your hands are clean.
Neer touch your eyes or mouth.
Never eat or drink with dirty hands.
If you’re unsure about the cleanliness of your hands, wash them!
For more tips on staying clean, check out these guidelines.
Use alcohol to disinfect
If your anole defecates on something, clean it up by removing the waste.
Put on waterproof gloves then clean up the bulk of the mess. Then spray it down with at least 70% rubbing alcohol and let it sit for at least a minute.
Wipe it up and repeat the process until it’s sterile. Dispose of all contaminated materials safely.
Always wear gloves
When you clean your anole’s tank, be sure to wear gloves. This will reduce the chance of pathogen transmission. Dispose of them when you’re done.
Wash your hands regardless if you wore gloves. Never use bare hands to clean. And never clean with an open wound on your skin.
Be sure to wash under the nails, between each finger, and anywhere else you may have touched. Watch out for the water bowl, as it’s a harbor for germs to grow.
Be sure it doesn’t splash into your eyes, skin, or mouth. You may want to dump the water safely into a disposal bag inside the tank so the edges of the enclosure catch loose droplets.
Clean the tank regularly
You should be regularly cleaning your tank so that harmful residues don’t build up.
This means scrubbing the glass, sterilizing the water bowl, cleaning out nooks and crannies where feces may be present, and changing the substrate. Get the places you didn’t get before or have been neglecting.
While you don’t need to do this every time you clean, you should do it once in a while to get rid of buildups.
Be sure to assume the water is dirty. Any fish, reptile skin, waste, or urine can be present. Crickets, roaches, or fish you may have purchased can contaminate all the water in the entire system!
Use common sense
When handling your anole or anything it may have touched, just assume that it’s infested with dangerous pathogens.
This will ensure that you’re careful about what you touch since you’re assuming there’s salmonella present everywhere.
The risk is there, so always be careful
There’s no need to be paranoid about bacteria and germs, although sometimes it can be hard to.
Just be sure to practice good hygiene habits, like washing your hands properly with warm water and soap every time you handle your green anole or touch the tank, decor, changing food or water, etc.
If you let your anole roam, you should also disinfect areas that it contaminates if you really want to be germ-free.
If you have allergies or are prone to getting infected, you should avoid contact with reptiles in general because of the risk of transmission.
Green anoles don’t like to be held for the most part, so don’t feel bad about it. Exercise common sense and proper safety precautions when handling any kind of wildlife- not exclusive to green anoles!