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Anole lizards make great pets

Anole lizards can change color to camouflage themselves.

Anole lizards can change color to camouflage themselves. Credit: Kidsday illustration / Matthew Meaney

On my way to my martial arts class one day, my mom and I stopped at a local craft fair. At the fair, we saw a display of baby dragon lizards, also known as anoles. The gentleman working the table was very interesting and knowledgeable on a wide range of subjects. He spent a long time telling us about his baby dragons. They seemed like fascinating creatures, and we bought one.

I named my new pet Norbert, after a dragon from the “Harry Potter” book series. My lizard seemed like a creature straight out of a magical world. Anoles can change colors, all the way from a dark brown to a vivid, bright green to camouflaging into their surroundings. If they are brown on a plant leaf, it means they are cold, and uncomfortable. When they are green they are happy. Males have a pink throat flap, called a dewlap, which they use to find mates or claim territory.

Anoles grow to be about 5 to 8 inches long. They can live up to eight years. An anole diet mainly consists of crickets, mealworms, bananas and even peach baby food. Anoles also need plenty of water. To water them, you must spray water onto the sides of the tank. You should also spray water onto the plants in the tank.

Norbert came with the small tank he is still living in. We had to make his habitat more cozy and interesting for him. We added plants and some branches to climb on. We added some clean topsoil to the little bit of soil that was already in the tank. Anoles leap and climb up walls and on the objects in their environment. Norbert likes to jump from the walls of the tank onto the leaves of plants, then down onto the branches. We also added a container of mealworms for him to eat, and some crickets. We visit the pet store about once a week to get a fresh supply of crickets, about five small ones each time. We do add bananas and peach baby food from time to time, but Norbert does not seem interested. He prefers to chase his crickets. Eventually, we will add a reptile lamp to his tank. For now, we move Norbert to sunny windows during the day so he can bask in the warmth. He loves to lie out on one of the plant leaves soaking up the sun.

Anoles shed their skin regularly. This is a sign of good health. Anoles will drop their tail when they feel threatened. A new tail will grow back, but it will rarely be the same texture or size. Norbert is not yet socialized and still does not like to be held. He squirms a lot and scratches, and we are afraid he will squirm out of our hands when we hold him. I think he is happy in his new environment, and I am happy to have him.

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