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We have had a green anole for a little over three years now as a pet. Last night, my husband noticed that Lizzy had a black/brown spot on the back of her head. She seemed a little more lethargic than usual. She is usually very skittish. She was shedding so we thought that may have been the reason for the spot. I used a Qtip to see if we could remove the spot. She walked off when I touched her with the Qtip. Normally she would have run away. Her tail was brown but the rest of her body except the spot was green. She licked the droplets from her tank like she does every night. When I checked her this morning, she was dead. The skin was rotted off her now blackened skull. We were all very upset, especially my 6 year old whose pet she was. We would like to know what could have happened as we may want to get another anole in the future but do not want the same devastating result for a pet we cared for. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Answer
Erin,

I am so sorry to hear about Lizzy. I wish I could give you a definitive answer on what caused her death but I can only give you a few ideas. Depending on how old she was when you acquired her, she may have lived close to a normal life span. From the sound of the dark spot and the rapid deterioration of her skull, it sounds like something fungal to me. That can be common because they live in high humidity areas. Because they are so small there is really very little that can be done when they become ill, particularly when it comes on quickly and is a fast growing fungus. Before you decide to get another Anole, be sure to decontaminate everything that was in her terrarium. Soaking everything in a mild bleach solution, and baking hard materials to kill fungus and bacteria is important.

I presume you were feeding her crickets. Crickets can be carriers of lots of types of fungus, virus and bacteria. Make sure you never leave any crickets in a cage with any lizard for any length of time. If they are not eaten promptly, remove them. They can bite a lizard and the bite can get infected.

I've not owned anoles in many years and they are usually considered fairly low maintenance. They do need to get a calcium supplement and have access to UVA/UVB lighting.

The fact that you cared so much for Lizzy and are looking to find out as much as you are, tells me that you are a good reptile owner. I wish you the best of luck in the future.

Jennifer  

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Jennifer C Parnell

Expertise

I can answer questions about health, diet, behavior, housing requirements, common illnesses, and general husbandry of most reptiles. My answers are not a substitute for veterinary care. If I don't feel confident about answering your question, I can generally point you to someone who can answer it, or advise you to seek veterinary help.

Experience

My father is a licensed veterinarian for 40+ years. He specialties include venomous American snakes, reptiles, rodents, primates, dogs, cats, goats, geese. I grew up assisting him and have always maintained rescued, injured, or unwanted reptiles. I'm familiar with snakes, most common lizards, turtles, terrapins and tortoises. I'm also familiar with Bearded Dragons and currently have several.

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veterinary technician wildlife biology

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