In recent years, the popularity of lizards as pets has seen a dramatic upward rise. Dragon and Alligator lizard species have now become a part of many households across the United States. More and more individuals across the West are now showing interest in keeping lizards as a pet. This brings us to an important question. Are all the first-time lizards owners armed with sufficient information to take care of their pet lizard? You’d have certainly answered in negative to this question. So, what’s the solution? The best possible solution would be reading in-depth about the lizards. This includes their likes, dislikes, food requirements, sleep pattern, etc. Following are 5 important things you should know about lizards before owning them:
- If you are a first-time lizard owner, then take things slow and look for a lizard that can be easily looked after. While in captivity, some pet lizards are extremely demanding, so it’s advisable to leave them for experienced/knowledgeable lizard owners. The Australian bearded dragon & Blue-Tongue Skinks are among the best lizards for first-time owners. These lizards are popularly known for their docile nature. Additionally, they can eat a wide range of food items such as fruits, flowers, insects, small mice, and vegetables.
- Lizards and snakes are two closely related reptiles, but lizards require absolutely different care. Unlike snakes that generally need to be fed once or twice a month, pet lizards have to be fed on a daily basis, and sometimes more than once. But, you should strictly avoid leaving dirty or rotting food in their terrarium, as there are high chances that such food might get contaminated and cause sickness to your pet. This is one of the most basic things that you should remember as a lizard owner.
- You should strictly avoid holding lizards by their tail and stop others, especially kids from doing so. Although tail of lizards doesn’t break off, but such an activity will cause discomfort to your pet. In fact, this isn’t something you should be doing, especially, if you intend to build a strong relationship with your pet lizard. You should learn to hold the lizard by putting your hand underneath its belly.
- You must avoid introducing pets like cats or dogs to a lizard that’s shy and recluse. This may scare him off and in rare cases, even shock the lizard.
- You have to always ensure that your pet has access to clean & fresh water. Some lizards prefer drinking dewdrops from leaves, but getting this form of water is not practically possible for you, so you should keep the water as clean as possible. Most lizards can drink water from a dish, and if the dish is large, they even like soaking in it.
The above-mentioned pointers are extremely important for building/maintaining a strong bond with your pet. Since reptiles are used to living in vastly alien climate across the world, so there’s no environment ideally suited for your pet. However, you can research about the lizard you’re planning to own and accordingly design a terrarium suiting your pet’s needs.
Overcrowding your pets is a sure shot way of potentially harming them. Although you might be looking out for economical routes for keeping your pets, which may include stuffing as many as reptiles as possible in a single terrarium, but the outcome of your decision would eventually outweigh your savings. The most preferred option has to be keeping just one lizard in a terrarium. Before getting a pet, you should ponder whether you’d be able to afford its expenses or not. There’s no point in getting a pet lizard, and failing to properly look after it.
Generally, reptiles tend to rely on external heat sources for regulating their temperature of the body. This is one of the reasons why you need offer your pet lizard with a terrarium that’s cool or warm as deemed necessary for the pet. The ideal/preferable temperature for a temperature tends to vary, but it is mostly between 70 to 85 degrees F (it is required for lizard species from the desert). Variation depending upon a particular time of day or season makes controlling temperature far more complicated.
The best option is to arrange a vivarium with both cooler and warmer temperature and let the lizard make the choice. You can do this by keeping one end of vivarium under a sunlight while the other where there’s shade. Depending upon the requirement, the lizard would choose one of them.
In recent times, a plethora of heating devices such as light bulbs, pads, tubular heaters, basking lights, and ceramic heating elements are easily available in the market for recreating an ideal temperature for your pet lizard. However, you should avoid bringing hot rocks.
You will have to read and research in detail about your pet lizard for determining his ideal temperature requirements. Most ‘basking’ lizards are in a habit of regularly moving in and out of sunlight in order to optimum of heat required for their body. In scientific terms, this is referred as ‘thermoregulation’. In most cases, reptiles would be extremely pleased to stay in a vivarium with a heat-producing device or bulb. You must position the heat source on one end of the cage, so as to allow your pet to move in and out of the heat zone whenever required.
Components such as temperature, the amount of water introduction and ventilation determine the moisture in the vivarium’s air. Some lizards have extremely specific ventilation requirement. In order to increase the humidity level in the vivarium, you’d have to either introduce water in the pet’s cage or regularly spray water into the vivarium.
Water alone won’t solve the problem of maintaining ideal humidity. The best method to deal with this issue is by installing a hydrometer in the vivarium. Some reptiles such as Tropical Iguanas prefer high humidity in order maintain a sound health. But, there are certain species such as Geckos who will not drink water from a bowl, and rather rely on tiny droplets of water on the plants or the edges of the vivarium.
Reptiles such as Collared Lizards & Green Iguanas that prefer basking under the sunlight require special attention. You have to ensure that they get exposure to light for a certain amount of time daily. However, nocturnal reptiles require relatively less exposure to light.
Vitamin D3, acquired through basking under the sunlight, is an essential requirement for all those species that prefer basking. The vitamin D3 helps in aiding them with the absorption of calcium in their stomach. A majority of household bulbs don’t possess Ultraviolet B rays, so you will have to consider providing them with a special ultraviolet B light for fulfilling their requirement.
You have to always remember that needs of every species tend to vary. Before bring home any reptile, you should thoroughly research about his special requirements. You can consider getting assistance from a nearby pet store. For deeper study, you can also research online about individual species of lizards.