So, you got yourself a baby green anole and you have no idea what to feed it.
Baby anole lizards are just a wee under 2 inches in size.
And their mouth is less than a few centimeters at this point!
They don’t have that big, smiling face to gargle down large items (yet).
Then what are you supposed to feed your baby lizard at this point? Miniature food? Kind of.
Let’s dig in and find out!
What can I feed my baby green anole?
So, what do these lizards eat when they’re small?
Baby anoles should be fed small, live insects. Preferably, they should be gut-loaded pinhead crickets.
These contain a delicious glob of nutrients anoles need to develop a proper skeletal system.
After all, the baby anole will continue to grow from 2 inches to around 5 inches, where it’ll be considered to be an adult.
These baby crickets are often called “pinhead crickets,” which is referring to their small size. You may see them sold as miniature, mini, or small crickets in pet stores.
Since they’re so small, your newborn anole can easily fit them inside their mouths. It’ll also help introduce it to live prey, hunting and foraging, and prey stalking.
Crickets should be gut-loaded (fed a diet that’s high in beneficial nutrients) regardless of size.
Crickets are the staple that both newborns and adults will gladly eat and should make up the majority of their live prey requirement. They should also be dusted with high-quality calcium.
Check the label for dosage, frequency, and application.
Note that reptile calcium is NOT to be used every feeding. This is a supplement that should only be used once in a while, based on the label.
Where you get the food matters
Where you get your live crickets matters.
Most large chain pet stores all source them from a cricket mill.
While this is generally safe, if there were to be a disease, fungi, or bacteria that broke out, your anole may be the end recipient of them.
These crickets are bred with a low quality diet and don’t come gut loaded as well, so you’ll want to gut-load them first before you feed.
They have a poor nutrient density out of the store, so it’s your job to raise them for a week or so and load their insides up with nutritious foods.
Gut-loading is a different topic altogether that you can find more info about on this site.
How often do baby anoles eat?
Baby anoles (2-3 inches in size) should be fed on a daily schedule.
Do NOT just toss in random food at random times. And DEFINITELY don’t just feed without measuring the amount of food you’re giving it.
You can count by number or weight or volume. This is helpful for determinig if your anole is stressed, as they eat less when they are.
For example, if you notice that your anole usually eats 3 crickets within 3 minutes, but then it suddenly drops to 1 cricket every hour, you may suspect that it’s stressed.
To get these precise and handy estimates, you need to get a ballpark feeling of how much your anole eats and how quickly it does.
Some owners will leave behind a large amount of food in a food dish or directly into the terrarium.
Avoid doing this, because it builds a poor appetite habit and teaches them not to eat opportunistically (since food is always available).
Feed 2-3 pinhead crickets daily, and assess how quickly it eats them.
Crickets should be gut-loaded and calcium dust should be added 2-3 times per week.
If it devours the food, you can increase it by one until it starts to take its time.
When it avoids the food, you know it’s reached the limit.
The trick is to feed it one less cricket than when it becomes full. This is why you should feed at the same time every day so you can experiment, rather than feeding it until full randomly.
Think about anoles in the wild- they don’t have food available 24/7. Try to reproduce this in the habitat by creating an environment where food is scarce but available like in nature.
The same goes for your tank setup. It should only have what’s available in the wild. Automatic feeders, drip watering systems, and other fancy equipment aren’t necessary.
If your lizard avoids it entirely or misses a feeding, that’s OK.
Offer pinheads every 3 hours past its feeding time until it eats. It may only prefer to eat at night, early morning, or afternoon. It’s all about finding out through trial and error.
You can also give it alternative live foods if it doesn’t seem interested in the pinheads. Variety will help satisfy the nutritional diversity.
Can you overfeed a baby lizard?
Anoles have been known to eat more than they need as they’re not picky eaters.
The more you offer, the more they’ll eat if their appetite has been conditioned correctly. This leads to overfeeding.
Remember the rule- feed one cricket (or whatever you’re using) less than when it starts to slow down pouncing on its prey.
Baby anoles can be fed more often since they’re growing, but overfeeding should still be avoided.
Don’t leave crickets running around the terrarium if possible.
Although this may help build hunting skills, live prey will poop and pee all over the tank, which can introduce bacterial or viral pathogens to your lizard.
This is especially true if the prey has been housed in a farm (e.g. a cricket farm). It also reduces the risk for injury.
Do I need to worry about live prey hurting my anole?
Pinhead crickets also have a VERY low chance of doing any harm to your anole.
So even if yours is extremely shy or still learning to catch its food, the tiny cricket won’t be able to do any damage. The major sources of damage come from the eyes.
Other than that, there’s not much to worry about- even if your anole sleeps with live pinheads running around.
Mealworms are harmless. They won’t be able to do anything to your anole other than provide a low-nutrient snack.
Remember to NOT rely on just mealworms and only use them as a supplement to mix up the diet.
What can I feed my baby lizard besides bugs?
If your anole doesn’t eat and refuses the food, you can offer alternatives to crickets.
It’s also good practice in general to vary the diet so it gets as many nutrients from various foods as possible.
Crickets don’t supply everything it needs to thrive- it only has as much as you gut load it with. and even then, the food has been digested inside the cricket so it’s not as bioavailable as feeding fresh, wholesome pieces.
Anolis carolinensis is an opportunistic feeder, meaning that it eats whenever the opportunity presents itself. In the wild, they bask and forage for food. If food is available, it’ll eat.
This makes it a balancing act to provide enough food, but not overfeed.
You can experiment with the following live foods instead of crickets:
- Small spiders
- Fruit flies
- Small caterpillars
- Small cockroaches
- Small grasshoppers
- Mealworms (should be avoided because it contains little nutritional value)
- Sowbugs (roly polys)
Some people will feed whatever they have around the house, such as maggots, flies, or even cockroaches (dubia roaches being very popular).
This can introduce harmful pathogens to the baby’s body, so it should be avoided unless you’re completely sure it’s “diet-approved.”
There are too many different household pests to get a checklist going, so you need to do your due diligence if you decide to go this route.
But you must gut load them and supplement them with calcium dust weekly. Consider rotating the food to keep it interesting to the baby anole.
Fruits and vegetables can be offered, but shouldn’t be the staple of the baby anole’s diet.
You can supplement with these foods:
- Apple slices
- Kale (without stalk)
- Lettuce (no nutritional value)
These are to be used as treats. They should never replace the protein they need to grow.
Always cut down fruits and veggies to small, manageable bites for the baby lizard to consume. If it refuses, do not leave it in the vivarium. Remove it and dispose of it.
Reduce sizes by slicing or dicing it to pieces less than a centimeter to be safe. This will reduce the chance of impaction.
Leftover fruits or veggies can be kept in the fridge for later feeding.
Foods that were offered, but not eaten, should be disposed of. Don’t leave fresh fruits or veggies to rot. This will introduce bacteria and mold which can hurt your lizard.
Be sure to wash them before feeding, just as you would for yourself. Remove all seeds, rinds, or indigestible parts.
Organic baby food can also be used sparingly because it’s easy to chew and nutritious.
But again, only as a treat. A baby anole’s diet should consist of protein first, calcium second, and fruits/veggies last. Feed your lizard the right portions.
Wild anoles don’t eat fruit but may extract flower nectar rarely. So they don’t eat this in nature.
When in doubt, think if your reptile would be doing whatever in the wild.
No? Then you shouldn’t try to replicate it in captivity.
Thus, you should never offer them fruits or veggies in frequent numbers.
It’s just like humans- we shouldn’t be eating desserts as our main course! But a little bit in moderation is OK.
Can baby anoles eat ants?
Yes, baby lizards are capable of eating household common ants without any issue.
If you can catch some live ones, they make good practice targets for them to pounce on.
Since they’re so small, your lizard may have difficulty seeing it.
Even though they can eat them, you should avoid using ants as the main source of food. They’re no substitute for a gut-loaded meal but can make a tasty treat to keep the food intake varied.
Common ants are high in protein, which makes up about 40% of their nutritional value. They also have a wide variety of essential minerals like zinc, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Feed anywhere from 3-7 ants per day.
Make sure that you’re feeding them the typical ant and not termites, fire ants, or red ants.
The ant should be narrow at the waist and less than a centimeter in size. Adult anoles (greater than 5 inches) can tolerate bigger ants.
Carpenter ants are fine to feed in small quantities.
But remember- these don’t replace a gut-loaded dubia cockroach or pinhead cricket! No sir.
Feed your baby lizard the right foods
Now you should have a clearer understanding of what you can feed your baby anole (and what not to feed).
Stick with the basics that you plan to feed it as it grows into an adult anole over time so it gets used to them.
Calcium dusted, gut-loaded crickets will always be appreciated.
Toss in some fruits, veggies, and maybe baby food. Then you’re set for a nice balanced anole diet.
That’s all there is to it. Easy, right?
What do you think? Have any questions? Post a comment and ask away!