Image Credit : Mickael Leger Photographie
Anolis equestris is the largest species of Anolis genus. There are 11 subspecies of Anolis equestris. The body is covered with small granular scales with a yellow or white stripe under the eye and over the shoulder. They are bright green in color which can change to a dull grayish-brown. The snout is long and wedge-shaped. The tail is slightly compressed with a serrated upper edge.
There is sexual dimorphism on Anolis equestris with males growing larger than females.
- Scientific name : Anolis equestris
- Distribution : USA (South Florida, Hawaii), Cuba, Saint Barthélemy.
- Average Size : 0.4 m (1.3 ft)
- Life Span : 15 years or more
- Difficulty : Intermediate
They require an arboreal habitat with a tall enclosure. Anolis equestris wild caught in Florida can reach almost 20” long, so an enclosure as large as possible is recommended. 0.6 tall x 0.45 width x 0.45 length meters (2 x 1.5 x 1.5 feet) is the smallest size enclosure recommended for 1 adult. Pairs and trios should be kept in larger enclosures as tall and as roomy as possible, for instance a 1.2 tall x 0.6 width x 0.6 length meters (4 x 2 x 2 feet) screen enclosure is ideal for a pair. Enclosures should be decorated with plenty of branches and limbs placed vertically, horizontally and diagonally. Live plants, such as pothos, are ideal and artificial foliage can be used as well. There should be opportunities for the animal to take cover from observation and plants are ideal for this. Anolis equestris are known to eat anything small enough to fit in their mouths and they can be highly aggressive towards other cage mates, even lizards that are larger. It is not recommended for them to be housed with other species neither housing males together.
A cork hollow place in the enclosure can serve as a basking or climbing spot as well as a hide to help your animals feel secure.
Eco-earth type material is ideal as a substrate, as is “jungle” type commercial mixes. A bio-active set-up can be done with Knight Anoles kept in large enough enclosures.
Lighting – Heating
Anolis equestris are diurnal, day-time active lizards. Accordingly, they need exposure to UVB and basking spots with sufficient temperatures. Linear T5 HO fluorescent fixtures are ideal and the bulbs should have the “tropical” strength of UVB emission, such as ZooMed 5.0 bulbs. As tropical and subtropical species, Knight Anoles need daytime high temperatures in the range of 27-31 °C (82-88 °F) with a basking spot that reaches above 32 °C (90 °F). Basking lights should be positioned so that the animals can move away or lower in the enclosure if they need “cooler” temperatures. If nighttime temps get to cool, a ceramic heat emitter can be used to make sure the temperature does not drop below 21 °C (70 °F).
Anolis equestris do not typically drink from a water dish, instead lapping up water droplets off of leaves during the frequent spraying or misting you will do to keep an appropriate humidity. It is recommended purified water be used, especially if a misting system is employed.
As a sub-tropical to tropical type of lizard, humidity should be maintained greater than 60% if possible. Frequent misting or sprayings (at least twice a day) will help with this. Screen enclosures can be wrapped with plastic drop cloth to help hold in humidity and make spraying or misting less messy. A humidifier or waterfall can be used as well.
Anolis equestris are omnivorous and prolific fruit eaters in their native Cuba, as well as in the introduced populations in Florida. Common hobby insects, such as Dubia, crickets, superworms, hornworms, etc. can be fed, as well as an occasional pinky mouse or bird chick. Extremely finicky specimens will often take smaller anoles with relish. Figs, berries, banana, mango, crested gecko diet, such as Repashy Grubs-n-Fruit, have all been used with success. Repashy Grub Pie is a prepared gel diet that has also been used successfully to feed Knight Anoles. At least twice a week food should be powdered or supplemented with a quality calcium and vitamin D3 product as well as a multivitamin (for animal kept totally indoors under artificial light – D3 is not needed when kept outdoors.). More frequent supplementation is recommended for adult females during breeding season and hatchlings until they become well started at a few months old.
Anolis equestris are not generally known as having a pleasant disposition! Adults have powerful jaws and a painful bite but generally cannot break the skin of their human “victims”. Some hobbyists have good luck “taming” their Knights but it is recommended they be considered a display species and handling be kept to a minimum.
Spot cleaning of feces from the substrate, sides of the terrarium, etc. is a must. Bio-active substrates should help with this, however as large lizards, some may still need to be manually removed. Decorations, branches, plant leaves, etc. should be periodically cleaned as well.
Anolis equestris will periodically shed and eat their skin as they grow. Problems shedding are usually caused by too low a humidity or misting the enclosure frequently enough.
Potential Health Problems
Some specimens can be finicky eaters and wild caught specimens from Florida often harbor internal and external parasites. A visit to a reptile knowledgeable veterinarian is recommended for all new acquisitions. Ambient temperatures that are to cool can cause respiratory issues and poor husbandry can also lead to a decline in health. Metabolic bone disease is a possibility if proper UVB and vitamin and mineral supplementation is not provided.
The information contained in this care sheet reflect the opinions and methods of the mentioned breeder, based on their expertise and long-established experience.