Thinking of taking in a green or brown anole as a pet?
You might be wondering:
What do anoles eat? In captivity, crickets, roaches, and buffalo beetle larvae should be the bulk of your anole’s diet. Mealworms, super worms, fruit flies, and other common feeders can be added in to provide variety. In the wild, anoles feed on beetles, flies, ants, spiders and anything else they can fit in their mouths.
For this post, we will concentrate on pet anoles, since for the most part, anoles in the wild can take care of themselves.
We want to make sure that if you have a pet anole, you are able to feed it a healthy and nutritional diet.
What do Anoles Eat?
Whether you have a green or brown anole, their basic diet is the same:
Before we get into the best feeder insects, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Anoles should be fed live insects. Stay away from frozen, freeze dried, or otherwise dead ones.
- Don’t just feed them any insect.
- You cannot feed them insects that you catch from outside. Those random bugs might carry diseases that can be transferred to your pet.
- If you are not sure whether your anole can eat a particular insect, check before feeding it to your pet.
- Size matters. Feed them insects that are half the size of their heads. This prevents them from choking on the insects.
- Do not leave feeder insects in with your anoles. It may seem silly, but crickets and other similar insects can kill an anole if left in its cage unsupervised. Anything that doesn’t get eaten should be removed.
- Feed them regularly. Feed your anole multiple insects every other day. Try to keep to a schedule if possible.
- Stay away from hard-bodied insects. According to the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, offer soft-bodied bugs more often than hard-bodied ones (like beetles).
Here are a few different insects that you can feed your anole:
Feed as a…
Lesser Worms (Buffalo Beetle)
Treat (Staple for young anoles)
Black Soldier Fly Larvae (Phoenix Worms)
Rare Treat or Avoid
Rare Treat or Avoid
Let’s cover each option in a bit more detail.
Crickets are an excellent choice for feeding your anole, and they can make up the majority of your anole’s diet.
One thing to keep in mind is that crickets are vicious little things.
If you leave one in your anole’s terrarium unattended, it will gladly kill your anole. (Even if it doesn’t kill the anole, it will start chewing on the anole given the opportunity.)
Roaches are another insect that you can use as a primary feeder for your anole.
Roaches are fast-moving insects, so these will also provide a source of exercise for your anole when they are hunting for the roaches in their terrarium.
There are a few different species of roaches that you can purchase to feed your anole. Two good options are Dubia and Turkestan roaches.
You do need to be careful about buying these however. There are two main concerns you should be aware of:
- These things can become extremely invasive if they get out (especially Turkestan roaches). You should research how to store them properly before buying them to avoid an infestation in your house or apartment.
- They are illegal in some states. Check to make sure they’re legal before you purchase them. I’ve included a table below as a quick reference.
Type of Roach
Florida, California, Louisiana, Hawaii
Florida (I’ve heard of but can’t find other states they’re illegal in.)
Seem to be legal in all states.
Of the available options, Discoid roaches seem to be the best option. They can’t climb smooth surfaces, can’t fly, and seem to have a lower chance of becoming an infestation than the other types.
That’s just my opinion, however, and other roaches do have some or all of these traits.
Whichever ones you purchase, you’ll want to make sure you’re feeding your anoles ones small enough to fit in their mouth.
There are many types of worm that you can feed an anole. Some that can be fed as part of their regular diet, while others as a treat because of the high-fat content in the worms.
The benefits of worms is that they can often be kept in the refrigerator and store easily for extended periods.
The drawbacks are that some anoles just won’t eat them.
Here are some of the worms that can be included as part of an anole’s regular diet.
- Live mealworms
- Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL)
- Earth Worms
Other worms that you can feed your Anole as a treat occasionally because these worms have high calcium and/or fat content.
- Super Worms
- Butter Worms
If your anole is having problems eating because the worm is too long, you can cut the worm into multiple pieces just before feeding.
The wingless fruit fly is another option to feed an anole.
Since anoles are often used to eating small insects that run around their territory, fruit flies can be an appealing option to mimic how they would feed in the wild.
They are small, however, so you may need to feed more of them than you would with crickets or roaches.
How Often Should You Feed Your Anole?
In general, adult anoles should be fed 2-3 bugs every other day.
(Some sources say every day, so you may have to find the right balance based on your anole’s individual personality.)
The 2-3 are referring to crickets or roaches that are about half the size of your anole’s head. If you’re feeding fruit flies or worms that might be smaller, you should compensate by adding more of them accordingly.
Avoiding Vitamin Deficiencies
Your anole can develop all manner of weird health conditions as a result of vitamin deficiencies. Even if you’re feeding it the right type of bug.
Especially if you’re feeding the same bug over and over again.
The way to avoid this is to dust your feeder insects with multivitamins. This will provide your anole with everything they need to stay happy and healthy.
You should dust the insects you feed your anole with a calcium supplement 2-3x per week and a multivitamin (with D3) supplement 1x per week.
If you’re feeding your anole every other day, this can be accomplished by using the multivitamin once per week and using the calcium supplement on all other feeding days.
There is one more thing you need to do, however:
Gut Loading Your Feeder Insects
To ensure your anole stays as healthy as possible, you should be gut loading your feeder insects.
This is a process where you feed your bugs healthy foods so that your anole will get extra nutrition when it eats them.
This can be as simple as dropping some fruit and veggies in with your crickets, roaches, or other feeder insects.
Commercial cricket food or tropical fish flakes are other options you can use.
It’s easy to do, and it can make a big difference in your anole’s overall health.
Providing Your Anole Water
Even if you’re providing the best food in the world, an anole won’t live very long without a source of water.
In their natural habitat, they like to drink water in the form of dew on top of leaves.
In order to mimic that same feel, it is important that mist the inside of your terrarium once or twice per day. (You can do this with a bottle or something like the MistKing.)
This way, the anole can lick the water off of the wall, and objects like it would lick dew from leaves.
- You should spray the terrarium twice a day
- Once in the morning and one in the evening
- In the evening you want to spray the water at least 3 to 4 hours before lights out so that it has time to dry.
Additionally, place a dish with water in one of the corners of the terrarium.
This will ensure the anole has access to water whenever it is thirsty.
Make sure that the dish you use is shallow so that your anole doesn’t drown. Change the water and clean the bowl daily to avoid bacterial growth.
Anoles are insectivores and, thus, should be fed a wide variety of insects and other bugs as their diet.
Crickets and roaches are the best available options for adult anoles, and lesser worms can be used for juvenile anoles. Whichever you use, it’s important to occasionally switch things up and provide variety.
It’s also important to dust your feeder insects with calcium and multivitamin supplements to avoid bone and metabolic disorders.
Green anoles can be fed soft or overripe fruit as an occasional treat, but most of their diet should still be bugs.
Follow these basic guidelines, and you shouldn’t have any issues feeding your anole.