How To Care For Your Pet Lizard

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Lizards are amazing pets, however, their care needs and preferences vary drastically depending on the species, which can make them a daunting pet for the inexperienced owner. 

To make information on lizard care more accessible, we’ve written this short guide to help anyone interested in owning a lizard for the first time.

Keep on reading to learn everything you’ll need to know to get started caring for your very own lizard!

What Should I Feed My Lizard?

Depending on the size and species of your lizard, it can be one of three types: omnivorous, carnivorous, or herbivorous. 

Depending on their diet, you’ll need to adjust how often you feed your lizard. 

For example, while most carnivores and omnivores will only need to be fed 2 to 3 times a week, their size, age, and species requirements may necessitate more frequent feeding.

On the other hand, since vegetarian diets have fewer calories, herbivores need to be fed much more often, in some cases more than once per day. 

How Do I Create The Best Diet For My Lizard?

The ideal diet for your lizard will depend on its species, as carnivores will prefer live insects such as crickets, waxworms, mealworms, and roaches.

If you choose to feed your lizard mealworms, we recommend removing their heads beforehand,  as they have been known to attempt to chew their way out of some lizards, which of course, can cause significant harm to your pet.

Larger lizards may enjoy small lizards or frogs as supplements to a mainly insect-based diet.

Depending on their size, your lizard may also require rodents, fish, shrimp, or baby chicks.

For instance, leopard geckos are carnivores and grow comfortably on a diet of crickets and mealworms.

Omnivores are much easier to feed since they’ll eat anything mentioned above in addition to vegetation such as dandelion, clover, tomatoes, pears, apples, and lettuce.

Bearded dragons are omnivores, and subsist mainly on greens and squash, with mealworms and locusts supplementing the remaining quarter of their diet.

How Do I Choose The Right Habitat For My Lizard?

The ideal habitat for your lizard is highly dependent on its size and species.

Lizards need a temperature-controlled environment, so if you live in an area with colder winters, an enclosed, temperature-regulated tank will likely be your best choice.

A heat lamp is great for creating a warm area for your lizard while still enabling it to retreat to a cooler area of the terrarium as needed.

Humidity is important for lizards as well, so be sure you can adjust the moisture levels in your lizard’s tank as needed.

One of the easiest and most common lizard habitats is an aquarium with a screen on top, which is perfect for smaller reptiles such as geckos.

However, in the case of some species, like leopard geckos, you’ll need a minimum tank/terrarium size of at least 20 gallons.

Ensure your tank has adequate stimulation for your lizard as well. 

Making sure your lizard is in an engaging environment can be done by providing enough rocks, branches, hiding areas, and foliage, depending on your lizard’s preference. 

You can also use live prey to provide enrichment, or you can hide your lizard’s food throughout the enclosure to help give it something to do.

For the greatest level of accuracy, we recommend asking about care requirements directly from the retailer you are acquiring the lizard from, as this will ensure you are creating the ideal environment for the right species.

How Much Light Does My Lizard Need?

Most lizards need light to help them thrive, as they need a day/night cycle just like us humans. 

We recommend using a UVA or UVB heat lamp for no longer than 12 hours each day.

In addition to proper lighting, your lizard needs an area to bask in, such as a basking platform or a designated basking area.

Aside from a basking area, your lizards also need a place to hide. 

A good hiding area will have plenty of nooks and crannies for your lizard to find cover.

We recommend a combination of rocks and small branches, as the branches enable your lizard to climb while providing adequate coverage, all without posing any risks to your lizard’s health.

If you are interested in lining the floor of your terrarium with bedding, avoid using fine substrates like sand, gravel, wood shavings, walnut shells, and cat litter,  as these are incredibly hard to clean, while also posing extreme risks to your lizard’s health if eaten. 

Avoid the unnecessary visit to the vet and be sure to do your research before adding any bedding to your lizard’s terrarium.

If your lizard tends to burrow, using a loose substrate in part of your terrariums such as a mixture of sand or topsoil is highly effective, however, keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t try to eat the bedding material. 

How Often Should I Clean My Lizard’s Cage?

Cage cleaning requirements vary slightly depending on the size of your lizard and its species, however, as a rule of thumb, we recommend cleaning your lizard’s cage at least once a week. 

When cleaning, be sure to remove your lizard and all decorations in your tank before getting started.  

Next, wash out the water and food bowls using warm water and soap, finishing up with a small amount of disinfectant, then hand-dry.

Now you’re ready to clean the tank itself, which we recommend you do outdoors.

Using warm water and soap, wash and rinse your cage several times.

You can use a toothbrush to help you scrub if there are any hard-to-reach spots.

Once you are finished washing the cage, use a reptile-friendly disinfectant formula to complete the sanitization process.

Allow the terrarium to air dry, manually drying any small pieces in the tank using a rag or paper towel.

Most importantly, remember to wash and sanitize your hands after cleaning, as your lizard’s cage can get you as sick as your pet, if not worse.

supplies

Live Crickets

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500ct Live Waxworms

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2100 Live Mealworms

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200 Live Large Dubia Roaches

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REPTIZOO Full Vision Glass Reptile

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Reptile Glass Terrarium

https://amzn.to/3GbB3xe

Reptile Water Feeder

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Reptile Plants

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Reptile Heat Lamp 

https://amzn.to/3TrbgnS

shout out to  Egor Kamelev for the pic