Caring for Your Pet Lizard | Reptile Encounters | Lizards as Pets

Caring for Your Pet Lizard

By Reptile Encounters/20 September 2013


Lizards are popular pets because they are easy to maintain and, unlike a dog or a cat, needs little space. Although a lizard’s natural habitat, depending on its species, might be the rainforest, jungle, or a desert, your pet lizard will most likely be happiest in the home you design for him. Here are the five primary elements of keeping a lizard, and a little information about each one.


house iconHOUSING – Many who keep pet lizards find that the best home for their reptile is an aquarium that they turn into a terrarium. An aquarium makes a great house for a lizard for many reasons. First of all, lizards are escape artists and often try to break free from their enclosure. Most people do not realise that lizards are stronger and faster than their size indicates. Therefore the house should have a screen top that includes hinges on one side, and a lock on the other to prevent your escape artist of a reptile from breaking free.


environment iconENVIRONMENT – A lizard’s environment include materials for hiding, basking, and regulating temperature. The bottom of the aquarium should be covered in a material called substrate that will best match the natural habitat for that type of lizard. For example a desert-dwelling lizard would do best with sand, ones who dwell in wooded areas prefer bark or peat moss, and arboreal lizards do best with bark chips that are incapable of being digested. Avoid toxic elements like cedar or materials treated with harmful chemicals like pesticides. You might also want to include a climbing element such as a branch for your lizard.


temperature iconTEMPERATURE – The temperature that you and your human family find the most comfortable is probably going to be too chilly for your reptile, which will enjoy basking under a heat lamp. How warm your aquarium needs to be depends on the type of lizard you have. Here is a general guideline:

–          Desert lizards do best in dry heat between 29 and 39 degrees Celsius.
–          Woodland lizards prefer a tank that stays between 21 and 26 degrees Celsius.
–          Rainforest lizards however will enjoy a humid warm that stays between 23 and 32 degrees Celsius.

While you will need to regulate the lighting to provide day and night cycles for your lizard’s optimal health, lizards need warmth around the clock. If your home stays colder than 21 degrees Celsius, then you may want to consider adding an under-aquarium heat pad to solve the problem.


water iconWATER – There are a few different ways that you can water your lizard. Some reptiles do well with a heavy, shallow dish. Others enjoy a mist that allows them to lap up droplets from the rocks and branches within their tank. And some require a special “reptile drip” system. The kind that is best for your lizard will depend on its species, so be sure to ask your veterinarian or Reptile Encounters handler for advice. One thing you can count on is that your reptile will need fresh water on a daily basis.


food iconFOOD – If your lizard is an insectivore, then he will happily live on a diet of crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and similar insects. Herbivore lizards prefer a vegetarian-like diet of rich greets, vegetables and fruits, and even some wild plants approved by your veterinarian or Reptile Encounters handler that you provide for him on a daily basis. Meanwhile an omnivorous lizard will prefer a combination of the above as well as (pre-killed) feeder mice, live feeder goldfish, and even a bit of raw egg.

Plan to clean your lizard’s cage ever week. You will have to turn the substrate, wipe down the branches, remove any large clumps, and wash the aquarium itself. Dropping removal and spot cleaning should be tackled on a daily basis, though. Always remember to handle your lizard with great care, because sudden movements can startle him causing him to jump out of your hands or run for cover outside of his environment. The information given here is a basic guide. Caring for your lizard depends on its age, size, and species.

There are many benefits to getting a pet for your family. If you are still considering whether or not a reptile is the right pet for you, then we invite you to come out to a Reptile Encounters live performance where you can get hands on with a wide range of animals – including lizards!
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