How to Care for Your Cuban Knight Anole
Cuban knight anoles (Anolis equestris) are medium-sized diurnal lizards native to Cuba. They are typically bright green in color, with yellow markings. They can be identified by their large, triangular head, large eyes, thick neck with a pink dewlap, and long, whiplike tail. Cuban knight anoles are the largest species of anole, growing up to 17” long.
Cuban knight anoles are not particularly common in the US pet trade, likely because of slow breeding rates and a reputation for having a feisty temperament. However, they do make good display animals, and with good care may be able to live past 6 years.
How much space do Cuban knight anoles need?
Cuban knight anoles are relatively large and active, so they need an enclosure that can accommodate their needs. The absolute minimum enclosure size for appropriately housing a single Cuban knight anole is 24”L x 24”W x 48”H. Of course, larger, is always better!
Cohabitation (keeping multiple knight anoles together) is not recommended, and may result in fighting and injury if attempted.
Do Cuban knight anoles need UVB?
Cuban knight anoles are diurnal, which means that they are most active during the day. They require exposure to UVB light for their survival, and also benefit from bright plant grow lights in their environment. Lights should be on for 11 hours/day during winter and 13.5 hours/day during summer to simulate seasonal changes in day length.
Knight anoles need medium-strength UVB as part of their enclosure. The best UVB bulbs for anoles housed in a 24” x 24” x 48” terrarium are:
- Zoo Med T8 Reptisun 10.0, 24” — 6” above basking branch
- Arcadia T5 HO 6%, 22” — 10” above basking branch
The UVB bulb should be housed in a reflective fixture and placed close to the heat lamp. UVB is blocked by glass and plastic, so you can’t give your anole UVB by placing its terrarium in front of an open window. Also make sure that the fixture your UVB bulb is in does not have a clear plastic bulb cover.
As day-active lizards, knight anoles also benefit from a 6500K LED or T5 HO fluorescent grow light to provide extra bright light in the enclosure and better simulate the effects of the sun.
What basking temperatures do Cuban knight anoles need?
Knight anoles should have a basking temperature of 90-95°F, as measured by a digital probe thermometer with the probe placed on the basking branch. There should be a cooler area in the lower regions of the enclosure that stays between 75-80°F.
Provide heat for your anole by imitating the sun with two halogen heat lamps placed close together on one side of the enclosure. Do not use ceramic heat emitters (CHEs), red bulbs, or blue bulbs, as these are not as effective.
The heat lamp should be turned off at night. Nighttime temperatures can drop as low as 65°F, but should be no warmer than 75°F.
What humidity levels do Cuban knight anoles need?
Green and brown anoles need a moderately high humidity environment for best health. Average humidity should be 70-80%, as measured by a digital probe hygrometer with the probe in the middle of the terrarium. Humidity will likely fluctuate higher at night and lower during the day, however it should not drop lower than 60%.
Misting your anole’s enclosure with a sprayer first thing in the morning and again at night will help create the right humidity levels. It also provides an important source of drinking water!
If you have difficulty maintaining high humidity levels, running a reptile humidifier at night can help.
What substrate is good for Cuban knight anoles?
Although knight anoles spend very little time on the ground, substrate helps maintain humidity and also contributes to the enclosure’s overall attractiveness. It’s ideal to use a substrate that imitates the “substrate” that the reptile naturally lives on in the wild. For anoles, that means it should resemble tropical soil.
We recommend the following substrates for Cuban knight anoles:
Layering clean, chemical-free leaf litter on top of the substrate can also help with humidity.
Substrate should be at least 2” deep and completely replaced every 3-4 months. Remove poop and urates daily, along with contaminated substrate.
What decor can you use in a Cuban knight anole terrarium?
It’s terribly boring for a knight anole to be stuck in an enclosure with nothing in it except substrate and food/water bowls. It doesn’t matter how big the enclosure is if you don’t put things in it for your pet to use and interact with. Anoles tend to appreciate a fairly densely planted enclosure with either live or artificial plants, which can make their terrarium a great piece of home decor!
Knight anoles are strictly arboreal, so at bare minimum, you will need a couple of branches for your knight anole to climb on and some live or artificial foliage for it to hide in. However, it’s best to include other items, such as:
Since Cuban knight anoles are fairly large, make sure that any decor you use is sturdy enough to support the lizard’s weight.
What do Cuban knight anoles eat?
Knight anoles are primarily insectivorous, which means that they need to eat insects (preferably live) in order to get the nutrition that their bodies need. However, they are also known to occasionally eat fruit and small vertebrates such as nestling birds, small lizards, and frogs.
Cuban knight anoles should be fed every other day, as much as they can eat in one sitting.
Fruit can be offered as an occasional treat, such as figs, berries, banana, mango, and even crested gecko diet.
You will also need calcium and vitamin supplements to help prevent your knight anole from developing a deficiency. We recommend Repashy Calcium Plus LoD, lightly dusted on all of your lizard’s feeder insects.
Although your Cuban knight anole will get most of its drinking water from daily mistings, it’s a good idea to also provide a wall-mounted water dish. Change the water daily and scrub the bowl with a reptile-safe disinfectant weekly, or whenever it becomes soiled.
Do Cuban knight anoles like to be handled?
Few reptiles actually “like” to be held, and Cuban knight anoles aren’t one of them. Most Cuban knight anoles in the US pet trade are wild-caught, and they can be very bitey and defensive around humans. Captive-bred knight anoles, however, can be tamed with persistent effort.
Generally speaking, though, Cuban knight anoles may better display animals than a pet that you can hold regularly. Instead of interacting with your anole by holding it, try hand-feeding it with a pair of feeding tweezers.
*This care sheet contains only very basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please do further research with high-quality sources to obtain additional information on caring for this species.
Photo by dirtdiver38 on Pixabay.