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What do green anoles eat in nature?

What Do Green Anoles Eat in the Wild? (Wild Anole Diet)

Did you catch a wild green anole? Are you wondering what to feed it?

Or maybe you’re just trying to replicate a natural diet for your captive lizard so it can be as healthy as possible.

In this article, we’ll discuss the native diet of green anoles and what they’ve been found munching on when left to their own devices.

These are fascinating lizards and unique in their way, but their diet is very similar to most other backyard lizards.

So it’s nothing special.

Where do green anoles come from?

Green anole basking on a plant in the wild.
They eat everything they can get their jaws on.

Before we talk about their native diet, we should get a clearer picture of where they come from.

This directly shapes their food intake.

In nature, green anoles (Anolis carolinensis) are opportunistic omnivores. They’re native to the neotropics, and some are found in the Nearctic regions of the Earth.

Here in the US, green anoles are natively found in North Carolina (as you may be able to tell by the scientific name).

They’re also found rummaging in the yards of Texas, Florida, Hawaii, California, and coastal regions.

They’ve also been discovered outside of the US in other countries like Cuba, Japan, Guam, and other countries with similar climates.

This allows them to have a lot of different environments to adapt to.

Depending on where you find the anole, their diet will vary.

Since most anoles are found basking in taller arboreal environments, they will generally congregate where prey is available.

Whether found in nature or on your backyard fence, they’re looking for food and can thrive in both tropical or urban environments.

What do wild green anole lizards eat?

Wild green anoles eat what’s available to them.

A general rule of thumb:

Green anoles will eat whatever is smaller than their head.

They’re considered to be insectivores, meaning they eat live bugs. Whatever fits in their mouth is fair game.

If you want to be even more specific:

  • Feed your anole food that’s smaller than the gap between the eyes
  • Feed your anole food that’s half the size of the head

These are guidelines accepted by most herpers.

Anoles will eat anything really. But bigger insects will make them chew a lot more than something smaller and easier to digest.

However, they’ve also been seen to take a bite out of various flowers here and there, which makes them omnivores (eating both insects and plants).

This leads many caretakers to feed them veggies and fruits, but they don’t usually eat much plant matter in the wild.

For all we know, they could be just taking a bite of the morning dew on a petal, rather than eating the flower.

  • Bugs are their preferred meal in nature. They’ve been seen eating everything from beetles, spiders, sowbugs, flies, gnats, ants, worms, grubs, maggots, snails, slugs, crickets, and some arthropods.
  • Green anoles will also eat plant matter like flower petals, grains, seeds, and leaves.
  • Various fruits, vegetables, and herbs are also fair game.

Though, they don’t eat these plants readily in nature.

It mainly boils down to food availability. If a specific insect or plant is abundant, wild green anoles will probably eat it more often.

This reflects the original thought- their diet depends on where they’re located and the native insects in that area. The same goes for plant matter.

How do green anoles catch their food?

Green anoles have multiple techniques to capture their next tasty meal.

They usually will perch and wait until the bug is close enough for them to pounce on and catch between their teeth. These lizards will sit there, patiently.

You can see this behavior both in the wild and even in captivity.

When the insect wanders into their range, the anole will jump on it and catch it inside its mouth.

Then it’ll greedily chew on it and swallow it within seconds. Green anoles can wait, stalk, chase, jump, and ambush their next meal within a flash.

This is the typical behavior exhibited to catch prey.

But some anoles will also patrol their territory (as these are territorial lizards) and will chase their target.

They can run after it and will jump on it to catch it. You may have witnessed this between two male anoles in your yard.

When they get within proximity of each other, they’ll flash their dewlaps. Then one will chase the other out of the area.

Can you keep a wild green anole lizard as a pet?

A lot of people already do this, as you can see by the many videos of wild-caught green anoles posted online:

It doesn’t make any difference whether your anole is wild-caught or purchased from a store. They both exhibit similar behaviors, diets, and habitats.

One thing to keep in mind is that a wild anole may become stressed and have a harder time adapting to a captive environment. If it’s an older adult, it’s spent every second in the great outdoors. It eats bugs. It hunts. It basks in the sunlight.

And it has the world to itself. When you move it into a tank, everything changes. It may not eat, bask, or even sleep because of the environmental shock.

Adults have had more time in the wild so they’re used to it.

Capturing them into captivity may cause them extreme stress, so it’s suggested to avoid catching green anoles as pets.

Purchase a younger one from the store so you can shape its environment that it grows up in for the best chance of successful rearing.

How do you take care of a wild green anole?

Knight anole in the wild.
Knight Anoles are like the giant cousins.

A wild green anole requires similar husbandry needs as a captive-raised anole. The lighting, UVA/UVB, water dish, decor, and general tank supplies should be the same.

However, if you catch a wild-caught, consider using a larger tank and feeding insects that are native to your area where you found it because these are the bugs it was previously eating.

Instead of catching it and then forcing it to eat crickets, mealworms (which are terrible), or super worms, you should try to replicate the diet of the insects around your area.

This can hit or miss because the most abundant insect is likely what it could have been eating to sustain itself.

But then again, it could’ve been feeding on something completely different. That’s why it’s best to avoid catching one and just buying a captive-bred anole.

Also, as mentioned earlier, wild-caught anoles may exhibit extreme stress levels due to the sudden change in the environment. It’ll lose its territory (if it’s a male) and have to succumb to fake lighting.

As good as UVA/UVB lights are, they don’t have natural sunlight.

Additionally, it’ll be using a heat lamp with always the same temperature rather than the varying temperature of the outdoors. These can be stressors to the anole, especially if it’s an adult.

Release it back to where you caught it if it doesn’t eat, is lethargic, or just doesn’t seem like it’s enjoying the new setup.

Lastly, wild anoles may be vectors of disease which can be transmitted to humans.

Captive ones are generally raised in a controlled environment where other hatchlings in the same batch never leave the cage, so the chances of them getting transmittable diseases is pretty much next to nothing.

But wild anoles could’ve been anywhere, walking over bird feces, reptile feces, or crawling around in who knows what.

So there’s a chance that it can harbor some nasty bacteria or pathogens that can ruin your day. This is another reason you should avoid trying to catch and raise them from the outdoors.

Besides, captive ones are less than $10 so they’re easy to buy.

The wild green anole diet

Green anole on windowsill.
A wild green anole appears.

So it’s pretty much the same as any other reptilian lizard.

While we may encourage crickets (gut-loaded) as the primary staple or dubia roaches as a substitute, it’s good to mix up the diet with other insects, fruits, veggies, seeds, and other things to keep it interesting.

Think of all the various bugs that come their way in the wild that they eat. It’s not always the same insect.

So don’t force it to eat the same thing in captivity either. Keep it variable by using alternative foods that you can feed to your green anoles.

What do you think? What do the native anoles to your area eat? Do you ever catch bugs from the yard and feed them? How did it go?

Post a comment and let others know so they can get some ideas. Share the wisdom for your fellow herpes. Comment below. Let us know.

Further reading

2 thoughts on “What Do Green Anoles Eat in the Wild? (Wild Anole Diet)”

  1. I have a baby green anole on my porch. His mother was here first, but died. I tried feeding her but all the store bought crickets, and no fly fruit flies, got either through the screen or scooted under before she got them. Baby anole has the run of my porch, the plants and the 8’ by 12’ screen. He eats or gets moisture from peach pieces I put out which attract ants, but I don’t believe he eats the ants. I do not want to confine him. Any thoughts on bugs to feed him. Something I can put on the screen for him to catch. He is so cute, but I’m afraid he’s not getting enough bugs.

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