As with any other exotic pets, lizards can be amazing if basic care is given. However there are many varieties of them and different species might have different caring techniques. Being responsible and having basic knowledge about them are definitely the most essential things to consider while keeping lizards as pets.
Here are some other basic factors you might also want to consider while keeping pet lizards:
Setting up a lizard tank/terrarium/aquarium sounds pretty easy but this is essential for their survival. They need a lot of room so overcrowding the tank is not recommended. Putting various species of lizards together without doing any research on their compatibility is not a real good idea either.
If you get a baby lizard, do some research on how big they are going to get before they mature prior to setting up the tank. At the bottom of the tank 1-2 inches of sand or turf can be used as a substrate. Since they love to dig, using newspapers is not recommended as the lizards can’t really dig into it. Rocks, logs, branches, artificial and live plants etc are needed depending on the species you are keeping. Flat rocks can also be provided at the basking spots just underneath the basking lamps. As a cover for the tank, a tight screen is what I really recommend so that they can’t get out but still get well ventilated.
Heat & Light:
As a reptile owner, I can tell you that this is without a doubt the most important part of the basic pet lizard care. Proper light and heat is essential for lizards to survive. Lizards are cold blooded, thus need warm surroundings to survive. That means UV light/basking light and heating pads under the tank or both might be required for some species. Not only do lizards need heat and light but they also need a range of temperature (thermal gradient) in the enclosure.
Does the light have to be left on at night?
Yes the light has to be left on at night. But they need nocturnal reptile lights.
Any incandescent white light can be used for daytime lighting and heating. Regular household fluorescent do produce UV. But they do so at levels that is unsafe for the reptiles. So you have to get a reptile safe fluorescent for this purpose.
For night, nocturnal reptile lights and dark decorative red, blue and green incandescent can be used. They provide dim lighting that will not disturb the sleep of diurnal (active during the day) reptiles and isn’t stressful to nocturnal reptiles.
Diurnal reptiles need a bright white light during the day if the ambient room lighting is dim or the only other source of light is a UVB producing fluorescent.
Your pet lizard needs a good nocturnal reptile light for night time heating. My recommendation is the lights that produce a dim purpley-blue glow that won’t disturb your reptile or you if your reptile is in your bedroom.
Some lizards need full spectrum of UVA and UVB light. In the wild, they get it from the sunlight. In an enclosure, special Ultraviolet lights are needed to be set up. Temperature in the tank varies with the species of lizards. Generally, it should be between 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the temperature is too high, it will basically cook the lizard alive and if too low, various body functions like digestive, circulatory system will cease to work. Without proper heating and lighting they can also suffer from bone diseases. Light is essential for the production of Vitamin D, which is needed for the metabolism of calcium.
Another important aspect of lizard care basics is their diet. The diet depends on the species of lizards you are going to keep. Lizards can be herbivores, carnivores or omnivores and there are some lizards that are insectivorous, depending solely on insects. Based on what your lizard eats; mixed vegetables, live crickets, meal worms or combination of all three has to be fed at least 3-4 times a week.
Water and humidity:
Some lizards require little water while some get all the water they need from their diet. Fresh water has to be provided in shallow dish daily if needed. Lizards like the uromastyx may not need any water at all.
Some lizards need humid environment while others do not. If humid environment is needed, use distilled water to mist the tank daily. Don’t make it too humid as this can lead to bacterial and fungal growth. You can use a basic hygrometer to check the humidity level of the enclosure.
Basic care for pet lizards also includes taking them to the exotic vet to check for fecal parasite and to de-worm. This is very important when you are introducing new lizard to an existing aquarium.
They shed their skin regularly like most reptiles. Hence, keeping a stone or a bark in the tank is a great idea as it helps them to rub against while they are shedding.
Lizards sure do look cute but they are definitely not cuddly. They prefer to be left alone and don’t like to be handled too much. If you do handle them don’t pick them by their tail. They hate that and make sure to wash your hand before and after you handle them. Washing before you touch them is for the lizard’s safety and afterwards so that you do not get salmonella which a lot of reptiles tend to carry naturally.
Basic care for lizards as pets becomes relatively easy if you do a little research on the species you are going to keep. Once again let me remind you that mixing different species of lizards in the same tank is not a good idea as different species might have different needs. Responsibility and dedication is the basics of keeping healthy pet lizards for a long time and also have fun doing it.
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