The Cuban False Chameleon is one easygoing lizard you can befriend and care for. This calm creature is suitable for beginner to advanced reptile pet owners.
It is native to Cuba, hence, the name; but, through successful breeding practices, you can readily get one in other countries, including the United States and Canada.
Observing and appreciating this lizard’s unique, unusual features and interesting way of life is sure to keep you occupied for hours. Read more about this amazing lizard species and how to care for one.
Cuban False Chameleon Care Sheet
Quick Reference Section
- Experience level: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced
- Family: Dactyloidae
- Scientific name: Anolis barbatus
- Other Name/s: Bearded Anole
- Average adult size: 6 to 7 inches
- Clutch Size: 1 egg laid every 10 to 30 days for up to 6 months
- Egg Incubation Period: 60 – 70 days
- Food: snails, larger insects
- Average Temperature: Between 25.5°C to 26.5 °C
- UVB lighting: Highly Recommended
- Average price range: $150 – $300
- Conservation Status: Not Listed
Cuban False Chameleon Facts
Among other reptiles, the Cuban False Chameleon is one of the smaller types you can have for a pet reptile. It is native to Cuba and belongs to the Dactyloidae Family and Anolis Genus. It goes by the scientific name of Anolis barbatus. Some also call it a bearded anole.
Quite shy, it prefers dense forests. It can also be found in plantations and even urban settings.
This Cuban-native species is actually quite large for a lizard. It averages between 6 to 7 inches long.
They are unusual-looking for a lizard. They resemble chameleons in some ways. The eyes are like that of a chameleon, limited and independent in movement.
Like chameleons, they have the ability to camouflage and blend in with the environment to hide from predators and prey. Colors can turn from white to black. They can also take on brown or mossy green shades.
Their bodies are compressed. They have short tails and short limbs; features that allow them to move easily along narrow branches or twigs. They are covered with wide scales.
The claws are hooked and strong, giving them a strong and steady grip as they climb up. They are agile climbers.
If you’re thinking of getting a Cuban False Chameleon for a pet, you should know that these are not usually sociable. Some may find them a bit boring in fact. They dislike frequent handling and are content to roam free and undisturbed in their enclosure for long periods of time.
Their curious nature does welcome interaction and some may be more friendly and attached to their owners. As you get to know your pet lizard and bond with it more, you’ll get a sense of its personality and preferences in due time.
Cuban False Chameleon Habitat
In its natural habitat, the Cuban False Chameleon doesn’t often stay out in the open. It conceals itself in the trees, perched on narrow twigs, branches, or plants. It is important to provide these features in your pet’s new home.
Choices for the enclosure are plenty The one pictured above is by Exo Terra and is 36”x 18”x 36. Some go with wood, glass, high-quality plastic, or screen and screen-wood combinations. For ready-made enclosures, you can go with a 29-gallon aquarium or fish tank.
You can design the enclosure with some trees, caves, small rocks, large rocks for hiding, twigs and other narrow perches (also wide ones) for easy climbing, live and artificial plants, and logs.
Use herp-friendly cleansers. Scrubbers like the one from Cold life that don’t damage glass or plastic enclosures may be used for easy removal of dried dirt, food particles, etc.
Old toothbrushes can also pass for cleaning tools. You may use hot water for an efficient clean.
Regular or gentle soap, even vinegar may do. However, if your pet has a disease or wound, you may need specialized cleaners.
Get a recommendation from experienced carers or pet owners. Also, check labels for safety.
Choose a substrate that promotes or retains moisture. Some options are moss, soil, sand, or wood shavings. Keep them damp but have a good drainage system to prevent soaking your substrate with stagnant water especially if you have a water drip system in place.
Keep temperatures between 25.5°C to 26.6°C. You can use a digital thermostat to maintain a consistent temperature. You can also place a heat mat in its enclosure at a specific spot your Cuban False Chameleon pet can go to whenever it craves for more heat.
Moisture and humidity are important for pet reptiles. Keep the enclosure moist by mist sprays and fresh containers of water. False Chameleons like licking water from plants. You can install a water drip system, even a dripper plant or DIY from unused containers you may have around the house.
Provide light at 10-hour minimum intervals (13 hours max). Consider UVB lighting for your pet reptile as it helps your pet absorb Calcium and synthesize Vitamin D3.
Make the enclosure more home-like for your pet Cuban False Chameleon by adding narrow perches for climbing and basking.
Cuban False Chameleon Feeding
Cuban False Chameleons feed mostly on snails. Treat your pet False Chameleon to live, clean snails. You can buy them from pet stores.
Your pet Cuban False Chameleon can break the shells so don’t worry. You can also pre-crush the shell if you want to be more cautious with the feeding. You can feed your pet reptile with live snails two times a week.
Cuban False Chameleons also feed on crickets. Offer them crickets daily, maybe 1 to 2 smaller ones.
Check that your pet False Chameleon consumes the live crickets each time. Otherwise, these may bite your pet if left roaming in the enclosure.
You may vary feeds with locusts or dubia roaches (check out the diy Dubia Roach breeding guide). For added safety, use tongs during feeding.
To provide more nutrition, you can dust the feed with Calcium as well as Vitamin D3. You can also use cricket feeds that are high in Calcium.
A Cuban False Chameleon is calm and shy. It is not aggressive and not prone to biting handlers.
It is important not to stress your pet False Chameleon by frequent handling or by handling it when it’s warning you not to. So, pay attention to warning signs. Else, your pet reptile may bite your finger.
Gently ease your hand under your pet lizard, sliding it under the feet. Allow your pet reptile to move from the branch to your hand. Do this to avoid startling or rushing your Pet Cuban False Cham.
Delay handling it once you see its mouth open with its tongue sticking out. That means, it’s preparing to bite if you force handle it.
Common Health Concerns (Issues/Solutions)
There are no specific health issues with the Cuban False Chameleon. A number of them develop eye problems. Administering the appropriate type and dosage of antibiotics generally solves the problem.
Dehydration can be a problem especially if your pet Cuban False Chameleon doesn’t recognize water from a bowl. Having a water drip system fixes this easily.
Pricing and Availability
Standard prices are at about $500 but you can find some captive breed sellers and expos offering Cuban False Chameleons between $150 to $300. These are easy to breed and are usually available for purchase.
There is currently no concern for the conservation of Cuban False Chameleons. Although the species is not easy to spot in the wild, the population seems to thrive. Captive species also breed easily.
It’s relatively easy to care for Cuban False Chameleons. These are calm, easy-going, and shy. They can get easily stressed and may need time to recognize and bond with its owner. Once the trust and connection are established, handling becomes easy.
If you don’t mind giving them the space that they need, meaning, less handling times and more free-roaming as they please, then, this species may be a good choice of a pet for you.
Breeding this type of unusual lizard is easy. Chances are, your local reptile pet shop has some on hand. Inquire from a licensed and reputable breeder, along with care and documentation requirements for your particular state.
If you have some experience caring for this charming, exotic pet, we’d love to hear all about it. Let us know in the comments below.