Cuban knight anoles (Anolis equestris) are the largest species of anole, growing up to 17” long. They are native to Cuba, and being largely arboreal, they prefer forested habitats.
Cuban knight anoles can be identified by their large, dinosaur-like head, large eyes, thick neck, pink dewlap, and a long, whiplike tail. They are typically green with yellow markings, and are often mistaken for iguanas.
Cuban knight anoles are not very common in the US pet trade, as they reproduce slowly and are known for their aggressive behavior toward humans. However, they can make good display animals. With good care, a captive Cuban knight anole can live 6+ years.
Minimum terrarium size for Cuban knight anoles:
The absolute minimum terrarium size for a single knight anole is 24”L x 24”W x 48”H. Of course, larger is always better!
Housing multiple anoles in the same terrarium is not recommended, and may result in fighting and injuries.
Do Cuban knight anoles need UVB?
Yes! Cuban knight anoles are primarily active during the day, and require UVB lighting for their survival. UVB lighting helps provide a clear day/night cycle, provides all of the vitamin D that your pet needs, strengthens the immune system, facilitates better digestion, and other benefits.
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
For best results, house the UVB bulbs in a reflective fixture. Position the lamp on the same side of the terrarium as the heat lamp. UVB is blocked by glass and plastic, so placing the terrarium in front of a window doesn’t count as “free UVB” — in fact it can make your terrarium too hot due to the greenhouse effect. Don’t forget to replace your bulb every 12 months!
They are also likely to benefit from plant grow lights as part of their environment as well. Add a ~6500K LED or T5 HO fluorescent grow lamp to provide extra illumination, as well as help any live plants in the terrarium to thrive.
Lights should be on for 11 hours/day during winter and 13.5 hours/day during summer to simulate seasonal changes in day length. All lamps should be turned off at night.
Best temperature for Cuban knight anoles:
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 surface. In order to allow for proper thermoregulation, the enclosure should also have a cool area that stays between 75-80°F. Nighttime temps can drop as low as 65°F.
Provide heat for your knight anole with a halogen heat bulb. Halogen bulbs are the best way to imitate the warmth of sunlight indoors, and considered to be a superior form of reptile heating by experts. Do not use ceramic heat emitters (CHEs), red bulbs, or blue bulbs, as these are not as effective.
Best humidity levels for Cuban knight anoles:
Anoles are tropical lizards, so the humidity inside their enclosure should be fairly high: 70-80%. Humidity should be measured via digital probe hygrometer, with the probe placed in the middle of the terrarium.
Increase humidity by misting your anole’s enclosure 1-2x/day with a spray bottle. Mist first thing in the morning and then again at night if needed. Aside from raising humidity, this also provides your anole with an important source of drinking water!
If you have difficulty maintaining high humidity levels, running a reptile humidifier at night can help.
Best substrate for Cuban knight anoles:
Providing a layer of naturalistic substrate (“bedding”) will help maintain correct humidity levels and also helps make your enclosure more attractive! 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.
How to decorate a Cuban knight anole terrarium:
An empty terrarium makes for a bored anole, reducing its quality of life. Keep your pet entertained and engaged with its environment with the strategic use of décor items that encourage it to exercise natural behaviors!
Since anoles are largely arboreal, at bare minimum you will need a branch for your anole to bask on and some live or artificial foliage for it to hide in. However, it’s best to include other items, such as:
Make sure that all vines and branches are secured firmly to the sides and/or top of the enclosure to prevent accidental collapse, which can injure your lizard.
What to feed to a Cuban knight anole:
Knight anoles are insectivores, which means that they need to get the majority of their nutrition from insects. However, they are also known to eat fruit and small animals. Offer food to your anole every other day, as much as it will 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 keep your anole healthy. We recommend Repashy Calcium Plus LoD, lightly dusted on all feeder insects. It’s okay to occasionally skip a dusting.
Of course, don’t forget a small water bowl and feeding ledge for your anole to drink from! Change the water daily and scrub the bowl with a reptile-safe disinfectant weekly, or whenever it becomes soiled.
How to handle your Cuban knight anole:
Reptiles generally don’t appreciate petting and handling in the same way that dogs and cats do. Cuban knight anoles are one of the types of reptiles that are best to leave alone rather than attempt to handle regularly. If you want to interact with your pet anole, 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 further your research with high-quality sources. The more you know, the better you will be able to care for your pet!
Photo by dirtdiver38 on Pixabay.