The Jamaican giant anole is endemic to Jamaica. However, they have been introduced to Florida, likely through escaped and released pets.
Overall, this species is quite similar to other anoles but they are bigger. This species is the biggest in the Norpos group. Males can reach up to 5.2 inches, which females are closer to 3.3 inches. Their care and needs are similar to other anoles. However, their larger size means that they take up more room and require more food.
They are easily considered one of the most beautiful anoles around, though. Their size makes them a bit easier to handle because they don’t tend to be as scared as their younger cousins.
This species can make a great pet as long as you’re prepared to care for them properly.
Quick Facts About the Jamaican Giant Anole
|Jamaican Giant Anole
|8 – 12 years
|3.1 – 5.2 inches
|Minimum Tank Size:
|Temperature & Humidity:
|75 – 82 degrees Fahrenheit
Do Jamaican Giant Anoles Make Good Pets?
The Jamaican giant anole is not difficult to care for. While they do require more space and food, their needs are straightforward. They are often recommended for first-time lizard owners due to their ease of care.
However, they are not a species that takes well to being handled. Despite their size, they are delicate. Therefore, these lizards are best for those who want to watch their pet, not necessarily interact with them.
Setting up their environment correctly is vital. The giant anole needs the correct terrarium design, temperature, and lighting. After their cage has been set up, they are straightforward to care for.
If you’re a new lizard owner, we recommend taking the time to research these lizards and their needs before adopting one. They can make easy pets, as long as their tank is set up correctly.
The giant anole looks similar to the green anole, only larger. They have a similar, bright-green coloration, making them popular among many pet owners.
They have a spiny crest along their neck and back. Typically, this increases in size as the lizard gets older. Juveniles may not have a huge crest. Their eyes are rimmed in yellow and they have a yellow dewlap.
The green anole’s dewlap is pink, so this is an easy feature that distinguishes the two species.
Giant anoles are commonly mistaken as baby green iguanas. They look similar but are noticeably smaller. You can check for tail striping to tell the difference. Green iguanas will have stripes on their tail, even as babies. Giant anoles won’t.
How to Take Care of a Jamaican Giant Anole
Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup
Due to their larger size, these lizards require at least a 15-gallon tank. Bigger is often better. If you plan on adopting a group of lizards, you should up the size of the enclosure.
A tight screen top is a must to prevent escaping. Giant anoles can climb anything due to the pads on their feet, including glass.
In the wild, giant anoles bask around plants. Therefore, you should consider providing plenty of sticks or potted plants. Many owners will add natural plants to the bottom of the enclosure—just be sure they’re safe for your lizard.
As diurnal lizards, this species needs various lights.
You should provide them with 10 to 12 hours of white light, followed by 10 to 12 hours of darkness. This can be accomplished by simply keeping the lights on in the room they’re in during the day and turning them off at night.
UVB light is also recommended. You can purchase an artificial light for this purpose. Do not place a glass enclosure in direct sunlight because the glass will trap heat and cause overheating.
You can place your anoles outside in a mesh cage when the temperature is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. They will benefit from the direct sunlight and the mesh will prevent overheating.
Heating (Temperature & Humidity)
Your giant anole’s tank should be kept at around 75–82 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. At night, the temperature can drop, but keep it above 65 degrees Fahrenheit at a minimum.
Their basking temperature should be around 85 degrees Fahrenheit and not exceed 25% of the enclosure. Use a lamp or heating pad designed for reptiles. Hot rocks are not recommended because they can cause burns.
We recommend peat moss or soil for your anole. Live plants are beneficial as they provide climbing opportunities and keep the humidity high. Bark and branches can also be added for climbing purposes.
Do not use oily substrates or wood shavings. Sand can be overly drying and is not recommended.
|15-gallon glass enclosure
|UVB and white light
|Heating pad or lamp
|Peat moss or soil
Feeding Your Jamaican Giant Anole
Anoles receive all their water intake from licking leaves. Therefore, live or fake plants are essential. Be sure to mist them twice a day to provide plenty of water.
They may also use a water dispenser with a constant slow drip, but this can result in unnecessary puddles of water.
This species should be fed various size-appropriate insects. Mealworms and waxworms are the best options. The prey should be no bigger than half the size of your lizard’s head.
Gut-load the insects, and dust them with a calcium supplement. These extra steps take a bit more work, but they are essential for providing your anole with the nutrition that they need.
|0% of diet
|100% of diet
|0% of diet
Keeping Your Jamaican Giant Anole Healthy
Common Health Problems
Giant anoles are hardy animals, which is one reason that they are commonly recommended for beginners. They are typically healthy and easy to care for.
However, they are prone to mouth rot and metabolic bone disease. Both of these conditions are caused by inappropriate diet or tank conditions. A lack of calcium will cause metabolic bone disease, while a too-small enclosure or bacteria-rich environment can cause mouth rot.
Respiratory issues can occur if the humidity is not high enough or if the lizard is exposed to drafts. Be sure to keep the temperature exactly where it needs to be.
An inappropriate diet or enclosure causes most health issues. If you set up the tank correctly and provide the proper diet, you will likely end up with a healthy lizard. Improper care can lead to one of these health conditions.
When in captivity, these lizards live to be 8 to 12 years. However, this assumes that they are receiving the proper care.
If their diet or environment is not correct, health conditions may shorten their lifespan considerably. Respiratory conditions and metabolic bone disease can be deadly. Even if they are treated in time, they may leave permanent complications, reducing the lizard’s lifespan.
If you want your pet to live a long life, proper care is vital.
Jamaican giant anoles are easy to breed in captivity. Most of those currently in the pet trade have been bred in captivity.
Reproductive success may be linked with the size of the lizards. Many breeders recommend waiting until the lizards are fully grown to breed them.
Of course, because these lizards are in captivity, they are provided with all the food that they need. Therefore, many individuals can get quite large, improving their breeding success.
Unlike most reptiles, only one egg is produced with each breeding. This factor makes them a bit rarer, as they aren’t being bred in dozens at a time.
Are Giant Jamaican Anoles Friendly? Our Handling Advice
It is best not to handle your Jamaican giant anole that much, even though they may be large. They are delicate and can easily be injured by improper handling.
If you’re looking for a lizard that you can regularly handle and let wander around your room, this isn’t the species for you.
Toward humans, these animals are harmless. They rarely bite. When they do, it is hardly cause for concern. Most bites are exceedingly minor.
Males can be territorial toward other males, though. They protect their territory in the wild and will attempt to do so in captivity. If you put more than one male in a cage, they will likely fight.
Therefore, they may be friendly toward people, but males often aren’t so friendly toward others of their kind. It is best to keep groups of females together if you’re planning on adopting more than one.
Shedding: What to Expect
Like all lizards, anoles shed. How often shedding occurs depends on how fast the lizard is growing. Younger lizards tend to shed more often—as much as once a month, in some cases. Older lizards may only shed once a year.
Giant anoles will shed more when they are younger. They have to grow large, which means faster growth.
Before shedding, these lizards will become less active and may turn a duller color. It isn’t odd for them to stay brown for a day or two. Some owners misinterpret this as sickness, but the lizard should start shedding soon afterward.
After shedding, they may not eat for a couple days. This species will often consume their skin because it is rich in vitamins that the lizard needs.
Many may also act a bit sluggish for a day or two after shedding.
How Much Do Giant Jamaican Anoles Cost?
Jamaican giant anoles are not as common as other anoles, like the green anole. They can be a bit more challenging to find.
You likely won’t find one at your local pet store. Instead, most potential buyers should go through a breeder.
Breeders often produce better quality lizards because they know how to care for them properly. If a lizard has to spend time at a pet store, they may become stressed and lethargic.
Asking a lizard to adapt to a pet store and then a new home is a big deal. Going straight from the breeder is much easier on the animal, especially since you can keep their setup about the same as the lizard is used to.
Usually, these lizards cost around $70–$100. It depends on the age of the lizard and their quality. Large lizards are often more expensive because they are more likely to become sickly during transport.
Care Guide Summary
The Jamaican giant anole is similar to the green anole. However, they are bigger, as their name suggests.
Overall, these lizards are easy to take care of and don’t require extensive care. Their tank conditions are a bit specific, but not much more difficult to achieve than other species. Once their tank is set up correctly, they require little care beyond regular food.
We do recommend this species for new reptile owners, as long as you do your research beforehand. Be sure you know what you’re getting into before you adopt one.
This species is not best for being handled due to their delicate and agile nature. They are easy to drop, which can lead to severe injuries.
However, they’re great for display tanks and those who enjoy watching their pets.
You may also be interested in:
- 8 Anoles That You Can Keep as Pets (With Pictures)
- Knight Anole: Facts, Food & Care Guide (with Pictures)
- Monkey Anole: Traits, History, Food & Care Guide (with Pictures)
Featured Image Credit: Roelant, Shutterstock