The thing about keeping captive anoles that most surprises the uninitiated is the fact that they don’t drink out of bowls. Instead, anoles generally lap up water provided in the form of daily sprayings. If you have a few anoles in a terrarium at your house, a handheld pump action sprayer is more than sufficient (think Windex bottle with water in it). When you scale up to hundreds of cages, however, you’re going to need another solution. In this post, I briefly review some our lab’s efforts to improve spraying efficiency.
One common option for lizard colonies is the classic pump-action pesticide sprayer (see image above). You can fill these up with a gallon or more of water, pressurize with a few pumps, and spray away using the hand nosil. We used a Spectracide brand sprayer purchased from the local garden supply store for the first year or so of our lizard rooms operations. Although they’re light years more efficient than a hand-held sprayer, pressurized tank sprayers are far from the perfect solution: they still require regular pumping and water refills. For a lab that sprays hundreds of cages twice daily, we thought we could come up with a better solution.
We ultimately settled on the use of a garden sprayer attached via a hose directly to the faucet. The name of the sprayer we use would make Harry Potter jealous: the Dramm Kaleidoscope Premium Watering Wand. This “watering wand” runs around $20 at garden supply stores. The construction is pretty solid, although we’re currently on our second one (the seals on the first one wore out after a year or so of daily use). Another nice feature of this product is that that you can twist the top to get different streams: “mist” is great for watering lizards, “center” is ideal for general cleaning, and “jet” can be used to blast clean dirty cages. Spraying goes at least twice as quick as it did with the pressurized sprayer. Perhaps even more importantly, lab arguments about sprayer filling etiquette (e.g., is it cool to leave the sprayer completely empty for the next sap?) are now thing of the past .
How’s everyone else watering their lizards these days? We’ve considered installing automated sprayers, but have elected against it for the time being for two reasons. First, it would be expensive and likely require regular maintenance. Second, spraying times provide us with a twice daily opportunity to check the health of our colony, and we might abandon some of this eyeball to eyeball time with the lizards if we used an automated system.