Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cuban Knight Anole (Anolis equestris) Care Sheet

Cuban Knight Anole (Anolis equestris)

Distribution: Native to Cuba but has established itself as a non-native species in Southern Florida. ( Wild caught specimens in the pet trade are from the Florida populations.)

Habitat: Highly arboreal. Lives high up in tree canopies and rarely descends to the ground unless they are laying eggs or males are looking for new territory.

Diet: In the wild they eat a large variety of insects, smaller anoles including their own species, frogs, basically anything they can catch that fits in their mouth and occasionally fruit.

Size: This species is the largest of anoles and can attain lengths in the wild of 18-22 inches. Young Cuban Knight anoles raised in captivity are usually smaller at about 13-15 inches as adults.

Active: Cuban Knight anoles are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day and sleep at night.

Sexing: This species has sexual dimorphism. Both sexes may have a throat fan but usually this is only present in males. In the cases where females have one it is usually smaller as males have a very large pink throat fan. Males also tend to be bigger and have larger, bonier heads than females. During mating season a male can also exhibit hemipenal bulges under the tail base. As babies I have heard that females have white bands on the body and males do not. I am not sure how accurate this is though.

Behavior: The males of this species are very territorial. They often are seen doing a variety of displays with their throat fan and doing push-ups to communicate to males that they are dominate or to females when courting. In the wild there is a single dominate male with two or three females in his territory. If other males are present he will attack, fight and defend his territory and females until the new male leaves. For this reason two males cannot be kept in the same cage or one of them will die, either from fighting or the dominate one stressing the non-dominate one to the point where it won't eat, drink and hide until it wastes away and dies. Cuban Knight anoles are best kept singly or one male with one or two females.

Breeding: Breeding season is between spring and early fall. Females lay 10-12 eggs in a clutch being spaced out at 1-2 eggs every couple of weeks until they are all laid. They can lay 1-3 clutches each breeding season.

Captive care: Minimum of 30 gallons of space per anole. The cage must be taller rather than wider. They must have lots of climbing branches, vines and plants in the enclosure for them to feel secure. Substrate in the cage should be eco earth/bed a beast, moss or pestcide/fertilizer free soil to prevent impaction from accidental ingestion. They require heavy water misting at least twice a day for humidity and for drinking as they will not drink water from a bowl. Humidity should fluctuate between 50%-80%. Lighting must be with a 5.0 UVB bulb (replaced every 6-8 months even if it still gives off light because the amount of UVB being put off will "wear out") going across the top and also a heat lamp for basking at one end of the cage. The cool side of the cage should be at 70-80 degrees and the warm side under the basking area should be 95-100 degrees. Lights should be on 12 hours during the day and turned off at night. You only need night time heat if your room temp goes below 70 degrees. Feeder insects should be dusted once a week with calcium only, no added vitamin D3 as they are able to produce D3 on their own with proper UVB lighting. Prey items should be dusted with a vitamin powder with added vitamin D3 once a month. They can be offered crickets, meal worms,super worms,wax worms, phoenix worms, roaches, small green or brown anoles, and various sweet kinds of fruits in small pieces. Prey items may be offered daily to every other day and fruit may be offered once a week.

Lifespan: 10-15 years in captivity.

Additional notes: This species sometimes has a hard time adjusting to captivity especially as adults. When first getting one make sure you follow this care sheet and set everything up correctly or they will get stressed and die. It is normal for them to not eat or drink right away after getting them home, but still offer both every day. Leave them alone for the first week or so until you notice them eating and drinking normally/regularly. When they are stressed, sick or cold they turn brown. When they are happy they stay bright green. When your Cuban Knight anole is adjusted and remains green in his/her cage for a week or so and is happy, you may attempt taming it. This species has the ability to become very tame. They will sit on your shoulder or head as you walk around, can be hand fed (watch your fingers when hand feeding, they can break skin if they bite you on accident) and likes being stroked under the chin. You can also get a 6ft tree to put in your house so they can sit in it, they usually will not run away or jump out of it.

If you have any questions or concerns about this species email me at: