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Why is my green anole not eating

Why Is My Green Anole Not Eating?

If your anole doesn’t eat, that’s usually an almost-guaranteed sign of stress.

Although these lizards can go for extended periods without food, it’s something that you should correct as soon as possible because green anoles will starve themselves under extreme stress.


Let’s dive in and see what you can do to get your lizard eating.

How long can a green anole go without eating?

A green anole not eating so it needs to be force fed.
Not eating? It’s stressed.

Green anoles are well adapted to environments with varying food availability.

In the wild, a green anole can go without eating up to 7-30 days. This is highly variable depending on the age, location, species, and ecosystem it exists in.

There is NO rule of thumb you can use to gauge the maximum amount of time your lizard doesn’t eat.

And you shouldn’t try to test it! If it doesn’t eat for a few days beyond its normal eating regimen, you should assume something is wrong and take the proper steps to fix it.

Some lizards won’t eat in the wintertime because there’s no food at all. They’ll bask when the sun is out and brumate the rest of the time.

But having no food is expected

A green anole that’s very inactive and saves a lot of energy can last quite some time, provided that water is provided. An active anole will burn up food caloric energy quicker so it needs meals to replenish it.

So they’re suited for this kind of condition.

Reptiles can go for extended periods without food.

Of course, this varies wildly depending on the environment it’s raised in. anoles are found in the coastal, humid states like Florida and California- both of which have different food availability.

Not eating is sometimes normal

Think of it this way:

If the anole was raised in an area where food is abundant, it’ll become used to the scarcity of food.

So it’s adapted for this type of condition.

If the anole was raised somewhere where food is always available (such as a high insect density ecosystem), it’s used to gobbling down insects daily.

Anoles will adapt and evolve to their surrounding environment, which can be seen in their development.

Some anoles have skinner bodies and slender forms. Others are larger and thicker with bulkier builds. It depends.

So, like most other answers, it depends.

The typical green anole raised in captivity should be eating daily, if not every other day. The rule of thumb is to feed your anole as much food as it’ll eat in 10-15 minutes.

Each piece of food should be smaller than the width between the eyes. It’s Important to not overfeed.

Aim to feed one less cricket, worm, or roach before it’s full. That’s the target.

You can gauge how hungry it is by judging how quickly it eats the food.

In nature, these lizards don’t have unlimited sources of food (or at least most don’t). You should replicate this environment in the tank.

What do you do if your green anole isn’t eating?

There are many different “tricks” you can do to entice it to eat and stir up its appetite. Here are some tips that may help you out:

Ensure that the UVB light you’re using is working and of good quality

Green anoles NEED a proper UVB light for digestion.

UVB bulbs will lose efficacy over time so they need to be replaced.

If your anole suddenly stops eating, the bulb may be losing its UVB emissions and disturbing your lizard’s processes.

Consider replacing the bulb if it’s dated. The UV light will stimulate appetite. You should use a bulb with a proven record of good UV output.

Always get a larger bulb if possible and make sure it’s at the right distance above the enclosure (3-4 inches on average). This is usually the easiest way to get your green anole to eat.

Is the temperature right?

When temperatures are too cold, they have a smaller appetite.

This is because it simulates wintertime, where food is scarce.

Use a temp gauge (avoid sticking on ones that are on the OUTSIDE of your enclosure), and assess the temperature.

Consider raising it by 1 degree per day until it hits the upper limit if it doesn’t eat.

Does your anole drink water?

If it’s also not drinking, this could be considered a serious issue. Lizards can only go for a few days without water.

However, if it still drinks, you can supplement some cricket powder/flour in the water in the meantime while you fix the diet.

Provide plenty of hiding places

If your lizard is constantly brown, it’s a sign of stress. Make sure there are places to hide (logs, rocks, etc.) and it KNOWS about them.

Sometimes, people will use tiny cracks as hiding places but the anole doesn’t even discover it in the first place.

It should be easily accessible and your anole should be able to fully turn around inside or under the hiding place.

Check for droppings

In other words, look for lizard poop.

If you see some recent droppings, it means that it’s still digesting properly. You’ll want to check for NEW droppings after you feed.

It could be that your lizard doesn’t eat in front of you and only eats when there’s no movement, humans, or in the dark.

If you see new droppings, it’s a positive sign that it’s still eating.

Assess recent changes in habitat

Did you change anything in its tank recently before it stopped eating? Did you remove, replace, add, or do anything with the objects or placements inside the tank setup?

Small changes can cause big upsets or stress, especially if it’s a male anole and his territory was modified.

Check for changes in lifestyle

Did you get a new pet? Or started handling it more often? Less often? Outside movement? Kids or visitors?

Any of these can throw off the diet of an easily stressed anole. Also, don’t forget changes in ambient temperature.

When it goes from summer to winter and the daylight hours change, this affects temperature, humidity, and UVA from ambient sources.

It also changes YOUR routine as well, which may directly indirectly affect the lizard’s routine.

Is your anole still a baby?

Baby anoles will take time to get used to a routine feeding schedule. If your baby anole misses a meal or seems erratic, it’s normal.

Learn when it eats and practice good feeding during those peak hours. It could be getting used to its environment.

Is your lizard brown constantly?

This means it’s stressed and you’ll need to assess the condition from the basics.

Start with making sure the terrarium enclosure is set up properly. Check the temperatures, lighting, UVB emissions, heat, UVA light, and humidity.

Then check for an obvious and accessible water dish, hiding places, and objects to climb on.

Change the diet

If your lizard is eating randomly or not at all, you can swap out the usual staple for something else and see if it eats it.

For example, replace crickets with dubia roaches. Or mealworms (which are terrible as a food source) with super worms.

See if changing the food excites it to start gobbling down. Be sure the foods you feed are gut-loaded.

Try reptile powders or dust

You can add some cricket flour and coax it on the water supply.

This will give it some basic nutrients when it drinks, but this should NEVER be used as the primary method of feeding.

Cricket flour can be used as a backup solution.

You can also dust live prey with it and see if it makes a difference. The flour may entice your anole to eat.

Are the food items small enough?

The food should be half the size of its head, or smaller than the length between the eyes.

Make a cricket smoothie

This is a recipe that can be used for the pickiest anoles.

You can mix up the ingredients however you want until it becomes appetizing enough.

It’s worth a try if your anole doesn’t eat regular crickets.

Here’s a recipe:

Try tong feeding

Sometimes they just need their food to move around a lot before they eat it.

You can use a tong to feed it and entice it to eat. “Tease” the lizard by waving the food in its face.

Is your anole getting skinny?

If you notice that it’s getting thin with no droppings, then it’s a sign that it’s not eating.

When the body shape changes to the point where it’s noticeable, this is something that requires urgent care.

If it’s also not drinking or constantly brown, you’ll need to take it to a professional.

How often should I feed my green anole?

Baby green anole hunting for food.
Lizards will vary in dietary requirements.

It’s generally accepted that younger, growing lizards will need more food.

  • An adolescent anole will need anywhere from 2-5 crickets (gut-loaded and calcium dusted weekly) per day.
  • Older adult anoles will eat less. 2-5 crickets every OTHER day is normal.

Their appetite will vary depending on their activity level, UVA/UVB availability and the quality of those lights, caloric density of the food, etc.

The food you feed, how gut-loaded it is, the age of your anole, how much “exercise” it gets, and how you previously fed it as it grew up will all contribute to how much food it intakes. It’s up to you to find the perfect balance and slightly underfeed it each session.

The feeding period, frequency, timing, size of live food, and foods it likes will all vary from anole to anole. That’s part of being a responsible owner!

Most anoles will let you know when it’s full by slowing down how quickly it devours the food and possibly refusing it.

When it spits it out or doesn’t seem as interested (stares at the food but takes time to pounce), you know it’s full.

Try to feed it one less food item before it reaches this level of food satiation (fullness).

How many days can a lizard live without water?

Green anoles will need water much more often than they do live prey.

They extract some hydration from their solid foods, but will also need a shallow water dish that they can easily get out of.

Unlike starvation from lack of food, lizards will only last a few days without water.

So your anole MUST be drinking regularly. If not, it’ll dehydrate rapidly.

  • When it doesn’t eat, you have more time to fix the issue.
  • When it doesn’t drink water either, then there’s a big problem. You’ll want to consult with your vet.

These lizards, as with most other species, can only be without water for a few days. So water is imperative and should be available at all times.

Did you get your green anole eating again?

A full green anole that just ate dinner.
A full green anole.

When your lizard doesn’t want to eat, it’s usually a symptom of a habitat issue.

For most people, after a few days of starvation (NOT dehydration), the anole will begin eating again. Usually, it’s an issue with the lighting or temperature.

So it can be fixed and adjusted to bring back the appetite of your lizard.

What do you think? Do you have any tips to stir up a hungry anole? Leave a comment and share with other readers.

Further reading

Some resources to help you out:

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