Wayne

Author Archives: Wayne

Hi, this is me with my daughter and my Lizard friend. I hope you enjoy my research. Please feel free to check out my "About Me" page to find out more about me.

Does the Chipkali Lizard Bite? (and is it Poisonous?)

If you are interested in learning about the Chipkali and in particular if it is a threat or could poison you, then read on. I was intrigued about this Chipkali and this led me to research this lizard.

Does the Chipkali Bite? Yes, but the bite is not vicious and is unlikely to cause any real harm. It may psychologically affect you, but physically it is not a real threat. They only really bite if they feel threatened, their natural response to humans is to run away.

After discovering that this lizard does not pose a real threat, I was interested to learn more about the Chipkali, where it comes from, where this name comes from, what they eat, and more. If this interests you, please read on.

What is a Chipkali Lizard?

In India, the Hindi word for gecko is Chipkali, so this lizard is effectively the common house Gecko lizard, but has the alias of Chipkali in India. Their official scientific name is Hemidactylus Frenatus. It also has another name of Hemidactylus Chipkali, but this is more of an unofficial name given to them in India.

Is the Chipkali Lizard Poisonous?

No, the Chipkali is not poisonous or venomous, but it has the potential to carry diseases. When it comes to poisonous, for your information, this is really not applicable to any lizard, lizards are either venomous or not. Poisonous is only applicable when you eat something. (More on this in detail later on in the article)

What is the House Lizard?

The common House lizard is also known as the common house gecko. In reality it has a number of aliases, including Chipkali, as discussed earlier. Its scientific name is Hemidactylus frenatus.

It is a native of south east Asia. It is mainly found in human houses, hence it’s the name of the house lizard. In warmer parts of the world such as India, where they call it “Chipkali”,  this lizard is seen in many homes and in some cases is deemed as a pest. Due to the fact that some houses are inundated with these lizards.

In captivity they are mainly found in the walls or in the ceilings of houses. They also enjoy damp humid surroundings such as dark basements, but more on this later in the article.

Can you keep the ex-lizard as a pet?

You can keep Chipkali lizard as a pet, just as you can with almost any lizard unless you are talking about the enormous Komodo dragon. In this article we will talk about what you need to consider if you would like to keep the Chipkali as a pet.

What do they eat?

The Chipkali is an insectivore meaning that it eats insects. For this reason, it is loved by some residents in captivity. So, in a way the lizard is dealing with a domestic problem that helps the owners. However, it does not stop the fact that some people see this lizard as a pest in its own right.

It is a nocturnal lizard, hence the reason it likes to wake up at night and grab insects and roam around looking for its prey.

What housing do they need?

In an ideal world they need 20 gallons. Obviously the bigger the better to make them feel comfortable and at home.

One word of warning though, do not mix the male lizards together because they are naturally territorial and will end up fighting. However, the female lizards can be mixed together without any issues.

What accessories do they need?

They like to climb and discover new things so it is a good idea to look for items such as branches of wood for them to climb. Other examples of this would be plants, driftwood and any kind of substrate that holds moisture well, which they require.

An example of some substrate that they will appreciate is coconut fibre, in particular the shredded type. They also like reptile bark, which is another good consideration.

They like a humid environment, so bear that in mind with whatever you choose. One word of warning, do not use sand or reptile carpeting inside the housing because these items do not keep the housing humid, which they prefer.

What lighting do they prefer?

Bear in mind that this lizard is from a sub-tropical climate, therefore they like to have it quite warm. So, when you are considering lighting and anything that affects the temperature it has to be warm.

In particular daytime temperatures need to be in the region of 75 to 90°F. As for night-time, the ideal temperature is 65 to 75°. A heat mat or reptile bulbs are a good way of achieving this.

When it comes to choosing the correct colours of lightbulbs. It is a good idea to choose white coloured ones for the daytime, and for the night-time red or purple coloured bulbs is a good idea, to keep your lizard happy.

Humidity Requirements

As discussed earlier this lizard likes to keep the housing humid due to its natural habitat. In particular you need to keep the humidity in between 60 to 65%.

To help you achieve this you can use our hygrometer to measure this. You also need to make sure that you mist the tank regularly.

Make sure that you provide regular fresh bowls of water. It is also a good idea to use a Fogger. You may find that you lizard will drink the droplets of water that appear from the humidity in the tank, this is fine.

Are there any known health issues for them?

One thing to consider with these lizards is they are known to carry salmonella on the surface of their skin. Therefore, when it comes to pets such as dogs or cats, or even kids for that matter, you need to be careful so that this does not pass onto them and cause them any harm.

Do they lay eggs or livebirth?

They lay eggs and they actually prefer moist areas to lay their eggs. In particular ideal places for them are household basements, where you may find lots of lizards congregating.

They can lay as much as 15 eggs per session. They are also known to lay multiple batches of eggs at a time, which can cause an infestation of these lizards. This is why in some parts of the world, such as India, this lizard is seen as a pest.

What water requirements do they have?

Make sure that you provide fresh daily water. Particular they do not like water that has chlorine in it so it is not a good idea to simply provide them with water that comes out of your household tap.

Another thing to stay clear of is distilled water, this has no nutritional benefits of them and it’s not a good idea to provide them this.

What does the baby Chipkali lizard eat?

That baby Chipkali lizard requires feeding on a regular basis, in particular up to 6 times per week. It needs high protein diet.

Things to consider feeding your lizard will be insects such as crickets, cockroaches, mealworms or even wax worms. If you would like to know a rough guide of how you can make sure you do not feed them insects that they cannot handle, a good rule of thumb, is to never feed them an insect which is longer than the width of their head.

When it comes to cleaning up after feeding your lizard insects, it is a good idea to remove any leftover insects that your lizard hasn’t eaten after mealtime.

It may be tempting, but do not consider feeding your lizard wild in insects, it is because they may have diseases that will pass onto your pet.

It is a good idea to preload the insects before you give them to your lizard. This basically means that you pre-feed the insects at least the day before you give them to your lizard. Make sure that the insects are fed a good nutritional meal so that they will pass on this goodness to your lizard.

Why Does My Terrarium Fog Up? (Vivarium Owners Read This Too)

Are you a terrarium or vivarium owner and confused why you are getting misty fog building up in your tank? This is a common issue and usually easily resolved.

Why Does my Terrarium Fog Up? Terrariums fogging is caused by high humidity levels in your tank, typically caused by lack of ventilation. This is usually easily resolved by increasing ventilation or reducing the humidity inside or outside of the tank.

Now you understand at a high level, lets dig deeper. Especially if you are here as a lizard owner. Because vivarium’s have some extra nuances that you need to be aware of, such as substrate such as bark that can be holding moisture that causes fog or misty glass.

What is a Terrarium?

A Terrarium is a sealed container use for plant life. It is a glass container which usually has soil and plants. It is an attractive centrepiece in many homes.

What is this Vivarium?

A Vivarium is a glass container which still contains plant life, in some cases, however it has reptiles or other animals living inside of it.

If you read about reptile’s or lizards, etc online you will notice that many people use the word vivarium and terrarium interchangeably. However, in reality a Vivarium is only applicable to lizards and a Terrarium is only applicable to plant life.

What causes Terrarium to Fog Up?

Typically, high humidity is the biggest cause for this fogging (more on humidity later in this article). At a high-level humidity is caused by, or shall I say can be caused by, a cooler temperature on the outside of the container in comparison to the temperature inside.

However later on in this article I will explain in more detail about what humidity is and how it caused. Also, how to get rid of.

How can you stop your Terrarium from Fogging?

One option to getting rid of this fogging is to actually purchase anti-fogging products. These products are similar to what you may be used to seeing on scuba-diving professionals.

In particular when a scuba diver goes for a dive you will notice that the mask can get misted up and will cause issues with them swimming.

To get around this problem scuba divers use special products that will stop this missing happening. This is a similar procedure for your terrarium.

Another option is to use a really mild soap to rub on the inner layer of the terrarium. This can get get rid of the misting.

As discussed earlier, you can also increase the temperature in the room where your terrarium is situated. This will reduce the chances of your container getting misty.

Another option, instead of increasing the temperature in that particular room, is to position a lamp on the outer side of the tank to beam heat onto that specific cooler side, which in turn will reduce the chances of the mist or condensation building up inside the tank.

What Causes Condensation Inside a Vivarium?

When you use items such as tree bark in your vivarium it can hold moisture and cause humidity. The problem is it is not very obvious that this is happening. So, one of the first things to do is to check items such as tree bark and replace these items if necessary.

Essentially the condensation is being caused by the humidity in your tank being at a high percentage. If you have a temperature gauge inside your tank you may find that it is not giving you an accurate reading which may be misguiding your judgement.

What can happen if of Vivarium or Terrarium becomes too damp?

If your terrarium or vivarium becomes too damp you may notice that fungus may start to grow inside of your tank. Also, you may also notice bacteria growing in the same area.

Therefore, it is critical that you avoid this because this is bad for the health of your lizard.

 

How do you get rid of the vivarium fog?

There are a number of ways that you can get rid of vivarium fog.  In this section I will explain a few options that you can try that should help you.

Adding ventilation holes can increase and improve that airflow in your tank. After inspecting your tank you may notice that you may not have enough ventilation coming into your tank.

This could be the reason why this is happening. So, if you increase ventilation by adding ventilation holes this can get rid of the problem.

Using a dehumidifier unit can help to reduce humidity in the air. There are a large range of dehumidifiers available that can help you to get rid of this problem.

What is humidity?

Humidity is effectively water vapour in the atmosphere or in particular your room. What you need to understand is there is water all around us all the time, but it is not always visible. This water in the air that is invisible to us is called water vapour.

What is the humidity percentage?

Humidity percentage is a measure of water vapour in the air. 100% means a complete saturation of water in the air. If you were to listen to a weather report, if the humidity was one hundred percent it would indicate that rain is surely on the way.

On the opposite side of the scale 0% would indicate literally no water vapour and would be a real problem.

A measuring device for humidity is one thing, but the dehumidifier will help to reduce the humidity as discussed earlier. Each vivarium has a recommended humidity level. This recommended humidity level largely depends on the lizards that are housed in the vivarium.

How does the humidity effect your lizard?

Each lizard species has its own preference when it comes to the levels of humidity in the air. Effectively each lizard has their own humidity requirements. That is why it is critical to understand the species that you plan to own and where it originated from to understand what humidity levels it expects.

In addition to understanding the humidity requirements of your lizard, you will need to have a method of measuring the humidity to insure do you have a sufficient method to measure the humidity and keep your lizard happy at all times.

For example, if we take the bearded dragon lizard as an example, this originates from desert areas and because of this it is naturally adapted to low levels of humidity. Therefore, a typical humidity requirement for a bearded dragon is between 35 and 40%. To ensure that your lizard, or shall we say bearded dragon in this case, is happy you need to make sure your humidity measurement tool keeps the temperature/humidity within this range.

Related Questions:

Does the Terrarium have to be covered? No, terrariums do not have to be covered because there are different types you can have. You can have closed variations as well as open ones. Therefore, it depends on the type of terrarium you want to keep.

Does a vivarium have to be covered? Yes, in general other vivariums needs to be covered. The reason for this is quite simply because you do not want your lizard to escape from the enclosure and be at risk of being stepped on or hurt running around your house.

Obviously, there are occasion when you need to open the cage, for example, if you need to clean it out or rearrange things.

What kind of substrate can I have in a veterinarian? Substrate is effectively bedding for your Lizard.  There are a large number of options when it comes to substrate. An example of this is as follows: Moss, Sand, fibre brick and Aspen bedding.

 

 

 

Do Lizards Bite? (Read This to avoid getting Bitten!)

Are you curious if lizards really bite? Or wondering why they bite, or if your potential pet lizard could give you a bite? Then you need to read this to understand.

Do lizards bite? Yes, lizards do bite. But in general, they only do this in self-defence. Especially If they feel threatened. Depending on the specie, they can give you a small bite or worse case a ferocious bite that can prove fatal.

 Now you have a good high-level understanding of why lizards bite, lets delve deeper and look at which lizards are most dangerous, which ones have venom that could prove fatal and so much more.

Why do lizards bite?

Most of the time lizards’ bites in self-defence humans tend to try and capture lizards and this antagonises them and if they feel threatened by this attack then their natural reaction is to bite.  So, they are not naturally looking to hurt anyone it is just nature’s way of protecting themselves.

 

What happens if you get bitten?

If you get bitten the first thing that you should do is clean your wounds thoroughly then get it checked out a qualified doctor immediately. In most cases, depending on the specie, it won’t be serious.

However, there are chances that some lizards can pass on Salmonella through their scratches or even through their faeces. Therefore, it is better to be safe than sorry and get it checked out encase of infection.

Also, there are some lizards that are venomous and therefore unless you are very skilled in understanding which lizards can cause danger it’s better to be vigilant and get it checked out

How can you avoid this happening?

Firstly, don’t attempt to use just your bare hands when trying to get hold of a lizard especially if this is a lizard you do not own as a pet and you don’t know exactly what specie it is or the intention of the lizard.

If you are trying to capture a lizard, especially if you do not own it, then instead of using your bare hands, cover it with a container, glass is ideal so you can see it inside. Then, once it is inside the container, slide a piece of paper or even a piece of cardboard beneath the container to contain it.

This will eliminate you having to use your hands to make contact with the lizard. This will allow you to avoid getting any direct contact with the lizard therefore stopping you having to get bitten

Which lizards are notorious for Biting?

There are five species of lizard that are well known for biting, some of these are venomous and some are not, I will not breakdown each of these five for your information:

Gila Monster

This lizard is known by its scientific name “Heloderma suspectum”. It is native to the South west of the United States. It is one of the most commonly known venomous lizards in the world and is regarded as very dangerous for this reason.

They like to eat birds, frogs and insects. They like to spend a lot of time on their own and do not mix well with other lizards, even their own species.  Therefore, if you are considering owning one of these lizards you are advised to keep it on its own.

Also, be warned these lizards are definitely not for beginners. Advanced keepers are recommended.

Mexican beaded lizard

Mexican Beaded Lizard

The scientific name for this lizard is “Heloderma horridum”. This lizard is notorious for biting and is also venomous therefore you are not advised to handle this lizard unless you really have to.

The Mexican beaded lizard is more suited to advance lizard keepers. The Mexican beaded visit is a native to the west coast of Mexico.

Iguana

One of the most common Iguanas is the Green which has the scientific name of “Iguana Iguana”. And no, that is not a typo that is the real scientific name.

This lizard is venomous however its venom is known to be fairly weak and definitely not as dangerous as the last two lizards we have discussed above however they are still venomous so you should still proceed with caution.

The Iguana has really sharp teeth that can cause very vicious injuries. It is one of the reasons why they are known for biting. One of the ways that you can detect if they are likely to attack you is if they stand on all fours, this is a red flag sign that they are preparing to attack.

It is quite obvious when this happens so you will know it when you see it. Hopefully you will never see this.

Water Monitor

The Water monitor is native to southeast Asia. Its scientific name is “Varanus salvator”. It is a very big lizard and the largest record size is over 10 feet long. They can weigh over 40 pounds and are beasts!

They have sharp serrated teeth and wickedly powerful jaws to crush in their sharp teeth into their prey. They are notorious for biting.

Komodo Dragon

The Komodo Dragon is the heaviest lizard in the world. It is widely feared because it is known as a dangerous man eater. It can weigh up to 70 pounds and easily out weighs the water monitor discussed earlier.

They are notorious for biting and inflicting serious, if not fatal injuries on its victims.

Which lizards are actually venomous?

As discussed earlier beginner monster, Mexican beaded lizards are two of the lizards which are very well known for their venom.

Lizards tend to bite with their teeth, rather than fangs like snakes do. When they bite you they open a wound then venom trickles down the grooves of their teeth to infect the wound.

Lizards tend to not let go when they bite you, making the whole experience psychologically devastating as well as the risk being exposed to deadly venom.

It is possible, and is the case with most lizard species, you can get bitten without being infected with venom. Do not be fooled, if you are bitten without being exposed to the venom, the bite can still be very vicious, and can cause serious injuries.

Injuries can include swelling, drawing blood, damage to your blood vessels, damage to the actual bone and even worse.

Symptoms that you will notice after a lizard bite can include the following: a lot of bleeding, extreme pain, it feels like a burning sensation, you may even notice your body throbbing. You can also experience vomiting, feeling sick, weakness, or even dizziness.

You may also find after having the bites the lizard teeth may still be stuck inside the bite

What does an actual lizard bite look like?

The actual lizard bite depends on the type of species. For example, if we look at the Green Anole lizard, this may only inflict very small bites and cover only a small area of the skin leaving minor skin punctures.

However, if we’re talking about a vicious Komodo dragon, this could be a ferocious bite that could prove to even the fatal. It can expose gaping wounds on your limbs and would need immediate medical attention to insure your survival.

Related Questions:

Do lizards bite dogs? Yes, lizards do bite dogs but it is quite rare for this to happen. It comes back to my earlier point about the reasons why lizards actually bite. They do not wish to bite anyone or any animal, it is mainly a defence mechanism to protect himself.

Therefore, if your dog decides to challenge the Lizard and it feels threatened it would try anything in its power to survive and therefore it is likely to bite your dog. However, depending on the type of lizard the injury to your dog can vary a lot.

Can lizards harm humans? This largely depends on the type of listed that causes the injury. If it is small common pet lizard such as a leopard gecko then it is less likely. However, if we are talking about a Komodo dragon then the chances have increased significantly.

A Komodo dragon has the capability to cause serious injuries to human and can even, in some cases, prove fatal.

Can a Blue Tongue Skink Live in a 40 Gallon Tank? (Care Guide)

If you are researching or considering buying a Blue-tongue skink, you need to read this article now. Firstly you need to understand the right size enclosure, then I will reveal more.

Can a Blue Tongue Skink Live in a 40 Gallon Tank? Yes, they can live in a 40 Gallon tank. However, the bigger the better. If you can stretch to a 55 gallon tank they will be even happier, but i’d say 40 Gallon is the smallest you want to consider for these beauties.

Understanding twhat size of enclosure is just one part of the puzzle, there is a lot more to consider if you are interested in caring for a blue-tongue skink. For example, what food do they eat? where did they originate from? what is the ideal lighting? Ideal Accessories? etc. If you are interested in some answers to these questions, please read on now.

What is a Blue Tongue Skink?

Also known by its scientific name, “Tiliqua scincoides”, the Blue tongue Skink is classed as a medium sized lizard that originates from Australia. They are loved in their natural habitat because they enjoy eating pests such as slugs and snails.

They are a good lizard for beginners due to their temperament (more info on this below). However they can be very hard to breed in captivity.

Where do they come from?

They originate from Australia, however, there are different varieties that reside in different locations. An example of this is the Western Blue-Tongued skink is from Australia, whereas there are other variations that can be found in New Guinea, or even as far as New Guinea.

What is their temperament like?

As discussed earlier they have quite a good temperament for beginners. In particular they have quite a nonchalant, laid back behaviour. Almost the opposite to aggressive.

Be warned, they will still bite. However, this is only really as a defensive reaction when they feel that they are being threatened. So, for that reason I would not advise you to leave them with children without supervision. Because kids may poke or antagonise the skink without meaning to do so.

If they feel threatened, their natural response is to hiss and display their impressive blue tongue, to send out a warning not to mess with it.

They also have very strong jaws, so if they decide to bite it can be very painful. So please be careful. As I said earlier this behaviour is only expected if they feel under attack. So, if you treat them right, typically they have a good relaxed temperament.

What do they look like (appearance)?

The most obvious distinguishing feature with the Blue-tongue skins is their tongue, as you can imagine with a name like they have.

Apart from that their base body colours can vary quite a lot. To the point that there is no real distinguishing colour for their base. For example, you can have colours such as red, creamy colours, orange and even black.

They all tend to have a very nice glossy coat of scales. But by far their main feature is their blue tongue.

Size wise, they are bigger than some other common lizards in captivity, so the correct enclosure is necessary (more on this below). They can be up to 20 inches in length so they are a fair size for a household pet.

What is the ideal housing for them?

Because the Blue-tongue skink is larger than average it needs a large enclosure. Just to make sure that is comfortable and not feeling trapped in a small space.

The ideal size is at least forty gallons, but if you can stretch your budget up to fifty five gallons, that would be beneficial to your skink.

It is also a good idea to get a closed lid that is secure. This is just to insure that your lizard doesn’t escape and save you some headache finding it again.

What is the ideal temperature for them?

It is important to keep your lizard at the correct temperature to keep them happy and perlong their life. Bare in mind that the Blue-tongue skink is deemed as a native to Australia, so it naturally needs a warm climate.

The ideal climate for the skink is seventy five to eighty five degrees Fahrenheit. As well as regulating the temperature for this, you need to have a basking spot that has an increased temperature. The ideal temperature for this basking area is ninety five degrees.

To achieve all of this under tank heating is ideal. You can use a heat mat or heat tape to achieve this and keep it at the correct climate.

What is the ideal lighting for them?

Overhead lights will be required. But make sure that they are turned off at night. The day light bulbs should be on for a maximum of 12 hours. UVB lighting bulbs is ideal as well as the basking lights.

With the UVB lights you need to make sure there is a direct light to your lizard. It helps their bone health and also helps their metabolism.

What do Blue-Tongue Skinks eat?

Skinks are Omnivores, this means that they eat plants and meat. With that being said it is important to keep the balance because too much protein is not good for their diet.

The ideal balance is 40% meat and 60% fruit and veg. In addition to this a good vitamin D supplement will help to prevent bone disease.

An example of vegetables they will eats is as follows: Carrots, parsnips, strawberries, bananas, Melons. As far as meat or protein goes, here is an example of things they will eat: Believe it or not, dog food, worms and mice.

Are there any known health issues for Blue-Tongue Skinks?

Understanding how to monitor your lizard for health issues is important to increase their lifespan and to keep them happy. There are some tell tale signs that your lizard is not happy. If it starts hiding away a lot and stops eating, this is a red flag. Meaning you may need to get her checked out or at least keep a close eye on her.

Here are a couple of known issues that may encounter with the Blue-tongue skinks:

  • Raw Nose
  • Parasites
  • Stomatitis

Lets explore in a bit more detail what these are:

Raw Nose

This is a noticeable bleeding nose on your lizard. Typically it is caused by rubbing its nose against the enclosure while it is in captivity.

Parasites

Parasites are small infestations that can cause some serious discomfort to your lizard. Basically a good example of these is “mites”. The best way to detect these is to look out for a black, white or even red dust that appears to be moving, like it is wriggling.

Unfortunately these parasites can be external as well as internal, so the external ones are easier to detect.

Stomatitis

This is more commonly known as “Mouth Rot”. It is not pleasant for your lizard, so the earlier you can detect it, the better. It is believed that it can be caused by your lizard accidentally injuring itself while it is eating. Also linked to stress in your lizard.

You will notice it quite clearly if its there, it has a yellowish type fluid that excretes from the mouth, lips or even teeth. Not pleasant to see, but you need to look out for it.

Buying Tips

Always make sure that you buy them from a respected breeder. Ideally they will have good feedback from others and have a good, long and trusted track record.

As well as asking for a health history from the breeder of your choice. There are some things that you can check yourself as due diligence:

  • Check the eyes
  • Skin
  • Limbs

Let me explain each of these:

Check the eyes

Believe it or not, but a simple check of the eyes can save you some unnecessary headache. Make sure the eyes are clear and free of any issues.

Skin

Check the skin. Ideally, there should be no skin blemishes. Fortunately these are usually quite easy to see, so you shouldn’t have any problems picking this up.

Also, check that there are no patches of dry skin. This is a red flag of skin issues that you need to avoid.

Finally, check to see if the lizard shows signs of a skin shed that has not completed properly. What do I mean by that? Well once a lizards sheds its skin, it should loose all the old skin and have a new fresh layer. If there is a trace of old skin left behind, this is not a good sign.

Limbs

Inspect the limbs. The obvious first sanity check is that all the limbs are there. But beyond that is the quality of the limbs. Let the lizard crawl for a bit and inspect how she moves, doe sit seem that she is limping or moving abnormal? If yes, you should re-consider the purchase.

Substrate

Getting the right substrate for your lizard is important. Fortunately there is quite a few options that you can consider purchasing, for example:

  • Shavings of Wood
  • Old Paper
  • Cypress Mulch
  • Aspen
  • Fir Bark

However, there are some that you should avoid as well, for example: Clay cat litter, Walnut Shells or orchard bark. Unfortunately these can cause health issues for your lizard and should be avoided.

What is the best accessories for them?

One thing to consider when providing accessories for your Blue-tongue skink, they are not the best climbers, so you do not want to provide any high objects that may try to climb up to and then fall off accidentally while trying to do so, so keep the height of these accessories in mind when you are adding these accessories.

The ideal accessories for the is as follows:

  • Branches
  • Stacked rocks
  • Cork bark
  • Mopani wood
  • Cardboard shoebox

These are good options. But another important fact to consider, you need to make sure that you do not over fill the enclosure. The reason being is they enjoy their space, so they will feel boxed in if you do this.

Ideally you will provide a couple of hiding spots, so that your lizard can hide its entire body. This will make them feel a lot more happier.

How Much Water Should You Give Them?

Water is an essential part of your lizards survival. Always make sure they have fresh and clean water available at all times. However, do not be tempted to make the water bowl over full and do not buy a deep bowl. Reason being they are not good swimmers and this could cause them some danger.

Make sure that the water bowl does not fall over easy. This is easily achieved by choosing a bowl that is stable and will not be knocked over easy.

What is the Ideal Humidity Level for them?

The humidity is another key consideration. The best humidity really depends of the type of skink you have. For example if you have a Northern Skink, ideally it will be 25-40 percent.

However, if you have another variation, the chances are you will need it higher than this. For example, 40-45 percent is the way forward.

Are blue tongue skinks good pets?

In general, they are great pets. They are easy to look after and ideal for a beginner. And as discussed earlier, they have a good temperament, as long as you do not antagonise or irritate them.

One thing I would say is, they are not the smallest lizard out there, so you need to understand that. As discussed earlier they need a fairly large enclosure, so that means more cost for you.

If that does not bother you at all, then the blue-tongue skink could the ideal lizard for you.

Related Questions

Do blue tongue skinks drop their tails? Yes, they do. This can happen if you are too heavy handed with them in captivity. They will effectively drop their tale and be left with a stub. This is even more likely with a baby lizard.

The stump will heal up, and in time a new tail will grow through. However, it is not as big as the original tail and not the same as the original, but it re-grows never the less.

How many babies do blue tongues have? Approximately 10. Bare in mind they do not lay eggs, they actually have live young. After the female lizard has mated, you can expect to see the babies anything from 3 to 5 months later.

How long do they live for? The lifespan of a Blue-tongue skink is quite long. You can expect them to last anywhere from ten, right up to twenty years. So, these are not pets just for Christmas, they are a long term fixture in your life, so its worth taking that into consideration before you commit to them as a pet.

Are Blue-tongue Skinks nocturnal? Yes, they are. However it depends on their environment. If they are in a warm climate such as Australia, then they will be nocturnal. However if they they are in a much cooler climate they are not. In these climates they would be classed as diurnal.

How much do these skinks cost? The cost can vary depending on the type of skink you want. For example a Northern Blue tongue skink can be anywhere from $140 – $240, depending if they are fully grown or young.

However, if you want an ultra-rare specie they can be very expensive. For example you could be looking at $1,000 right up to $5,200. Depending on the breeder and specie you choose.

Do they Shed their Skin? Yes, they do. It is important to check that the shedding has completed properly on any skink you wish you purchase. in particular, check the tail end and the toes. These areas are notorious for showing signs of an incomplete shed.

The issue is, if you have a lot of built up incomplete sheds, then it is difficult to get off. The toes in particular is an area for concern. Because they are delicate and hard to remove the shed.

If you are tempted to remove the old skin with an eyelash tweezer, forget it!  This can cause some serious pain to your lizard if you get it wrong.

You will find that these areas are common for an incomplete shed because they do not naturally shrug off the old skin well. Where as other areas have natural movement that will shrug off the skin, such as the back or belly.

How do you know when they are about to shed? Well, there are some subtle signs such as colour changes. For example, approximately one week before they shed you may notice the underbelly has a distinct milky colour. You may also notice that their old skin starts to get quite dry.

Once the shedding is complete, you will be amazed how smooth and fresh the new skin looks. You will just know what I mean when you see it.

How Do Lizards Have Sex?

Let me explain exactly how lizards have sex. As interesting as this may sound, Lizards only interest is breeding to re-produce (Click here to see my favourite breeding box on Amazon), there is no lovemaking for lizards. But let me explain exactly how this goes down.

How do lizards have sex? Typically sex for lizards is referred to as mating. Male lizards have a hemipenes instead of a penis and use this to ejaculate into the female. Their offspring can either be born as eggs or live births depending on the species of the Lizard.

This is quite a high level version of events. If you want to truly understand how this works, please read on to understand the detail.

How Does the Mating Actually work?

Mating can vary between species, but in general it goes like this: The male lizard will attempt to grab the attention of the female by dancing around her or using his bright vivid colours to attract her.

Once he gets her attention, he will grab hold of her by nipping her near her neck with his teeth. This may sound unacceptable to us as humans, but this is how lizards do it.

Once he has her in position he will unleash his hemipenes. As discussed earlier, this is a lizards version of a penis. However, it looks nothing like a human penis, so its not a fair comparison, I will provide more detail on this later in the article.

The lizard will effectively hook the female lizard with its Hemipenes. Once hooked in position he will ejaculate into the female. This stage is not the same as humans, there is no bumping and grinding and moaning of pleasure. The male simply stays still on top of the female as he ejaculates.

Once this is done, they are finished. There is no love and kissing here, it is just a necessary act to produce offspring.

What is a Cloaca and What Part Does It Play?

The Cloaca is a multipurpose organ that a female lizard has. They do not have a vagina, or a separate opening for urine or defecation. Instead they have a Cloaca that serves all of these purposes.

When lizards start mating, the connection that the male makes is actually through the Cloaca. He hooks his Hemipenes into the females Cloaca and ejaculates into her.

What Actually is a Hemipenes used in reproduction?

As discussed earlier, the Hemipenes is a lizards answer to a penis. A male sexual organ if you like. Although I have drawn a comparison to the male sexual organ, it is very different in reality.

Visually it looks nothing like a male penis, but for reproduction they have a similar function. Effectively it is used to ejaculate into the female during reproduction.

When it is not in use, the Hemipenes is inverted and not noticeable on a male lizard. When the lizard is ready to mate it is visible and ready to hook the female into place.

How is the Sperm transferred to the female?

Unlike a human, once the lizard ejaculates, it is not a burst of liquid, in fact quite the opposite. It dribbles out slowly. The lizard simply lays on top of the female and drips it in and patiently waits for the process to complete.

Do Lizards have eggs or live birth?

how do lizards have sex - lizard eggs

Some lizards lay eggs and some species have live births. For example a Gecko or Iguana (Click for article on Iguana Substrate) will lay eggs when they reproduce. However Blue-tongue lizards and Shingle-back lizards give live birth.

When Do Lizards Breed (Breeding Season)?

The exact time of breeding varies a lot depending on the specie of lizard. As a whole, it is usually in the summer time to capture the warmer climate. An example of a specific specie is a Blue-Tongue Lizard, which has a breeding season from mid-summer right up till Autumn.

How much offspring is produced when Lizards actually breed?

The amount of offspring produced varies quite a lot depending on the specie of lizard. Also, as discussed earlier the type of offspring varies because some lay eggs, others do live birth.

Some examples. An Eastern water Dragon can average up to 9 eggs at birth. Blue-tongue lizards can range from 5 up to 18. But these are not eggs, they are live births. And the bearded Dragon averages about 20 offspring.

How long does it take for the babies to become fully grown?

Again, this varies a lot depending on the specie of lizard, but in general you can expect one to two years for a lizard to reach maturity.

However, like most things there is always some weird exception, there is a Chameleon from Madagascar which is born, reaches maturity and dies within 3 months. But that life cycle is quite rare.

What Happens After The Lizards Mate?

Unlike humans lizards do not have an emotional connection. They just mate and move on. So immediately after the male has mated with the female, the male lizard will disappear. And the chances are they will never see each other again.

For for the egg laying lizards, the female will make it her priority to find a safe and warm place to lay and hide her eggs. The eggs have a tough leather outer layer, but obviously this is not enough to protect them from keen predators. Hence the reason why she needs to find a safe place for them to survive until they hatch.

The ideal environment for the eggs will be somewhere warm and not easily found. So a good example is hidden in the sand in a secluded area, or amongst some rotten vegetation.

The baby lizards have to work out how to hatch out of the eggs themselves. This is instinctive to them, so it really isn’t a challenge for them. Once they are hatched and born, they are left to fend for themselves. This may sound crazy to us, but the lizards have this instinct inbuilt in them.

Another interesting fact is, for lizards that have a live birth, they do not have any milk from their mother. This is usually assumed that every live born offspring will suck milk from its mother, but this is not the case for baby lizards.

The sad thing is though, the survival rate for these lizards is pretty low. There are lots of predators that look out for them and it is essentially survial of the fittest. Maybe this is the reason nature instinctively generates multiple eggs to increase the chances of some of the lizards surviving.

Related Questions:

Is it True that some Lizard species do not need a Male to reproduce? The short answer is yes. These lizards are typically called Asexual, because they can reproduce without the opposite sex. An example of this i the Whiptail Lizards. The female can reproduce without the need of a male.

In a normal conception there is two types of chromosomes one from the male, and the other from the female. In this case, with the Whiptail Lizard, the female will provide all the chromosomes. The female effectively produces twice as much chromosomes.

She also does not need the male lizard to fertilize the eggs. This process is referred to as”heterozygosity”. It is believed that this happened by some historical evolution caused by cross-breeding with other lizard species.

The downfall of this however is it is believed that the offspring to be weaker and more prone to germs and diseases.

How can you tell if a lizard is male or female? If you ever wondered how you can tell if a lizard is a male or female, there are a few things that will help you identify this.

Males usually have a bigger head than females. Typically males benefit from having bigger heads so that they can fight and bite their enemies.

Also, males tend to have brighter and bolder colours. This is usually used to help them attract females and in some cases a form of communication. An example of a lizard with these bright vivid colours is the Western Fence Lizard. This lizard is also known as the “Blue Belly”.

The final tell tale sign is spikes, horns or flaps around their throats. These things are typically found on males. The spikes and horns usually aid them in combat.

Do Lizards Have Bones?

In this article I will answer if Lizards have bones, if they are vertebrates or not and reveal other interesting related biological facts. I was tempted to research this article after seeing some confusion and interest into lizards bone structure and to clarify even if they had bones.

Do lizards have bones? Yes, they have bones. They are vertebrates and have a backbone along with a collection of other bones. They also have Kinetic skulls that have moving parts. The exact bone structure varies from specie to specie.

Now that you understand that lizards have bones lets delve a bit deeper and understand a bit more detail about these lizards, in particular their bones and general anatomy.

Does a lizard have a backbone?

As briefly discussed earlier. Lizards do have a backbone. This is the same as humans and they are commonly referred to as vertebrates.

What is a Vertebrate?

A vertebrate is basically any animal that has a backbone. This includes us humans, reptiles, etc. The opposite of this is invertebrates, who do not have a back bone. Invertebrates have soft bodies without a backbone. An example of this would be jellyfish or a the common garden worm.

What is a kinetic skull and Do Lizards have this?

Lizards typically have a Kinetic skull meaning that it has moveable joints. The term for this movement is typically referred to as Cranial kinesis.

It basically means that apart from the normal upper and low jaw movement there is movement in other skull bones. Humans do not have such skull movement, and are commonly referred to as having akinetic skulls, the opposite to kinetic.

Do Lizards Shed their Skin?

Yes, lizards do shed their skin. It is a natural part of being a lizard in fact. For example Iguanas are known to shed their skin every 4-6 weeks. Younger lizards are even known to shed their skin even more frequent.

You usually get some clear signs when your lizard is about to or just starting to shed its skin. Such as the following:

  • Change of colour – Geckos can go a mix of white & Grey.
  • Reduced appetite
  • Not wanting to be touched, act irritated when touched.
  • Eyes puffing out substantially (two or three times), if they have eyelids

The shedding can take up to three weeks to complete. However this varies quite a bit. For example an Alligator lizard can literally shed its entire skin in hours. This is mainly due to the fact that it does this in one go and sheds its whole skin in one session.

There are problems that can occur during this process. If the shed does not occur correctly this is called dysecdysis. This can be caused by a poor diet, but in other cases thier could be other reasons that could make this happen.

Don’t be surprised if find your lizard eating its own skin after its shedded. I know, this may sound unpleasant, but this is actually a healthy and natural thing for lizards.

They benefit from the minerals in the skin and eating the skin helps them re-generate a new skin faster.

What is the Parietal Eye Lizards Have?

The parietal eye is commonly referred to as the the “third eye”. It is also sometimes called the Pineal eye. Lizards have this Parietal eye. It is particular useful to them to detect and decipher light levels.

When I say light levels, I mean working out when it is light and day. The eye will detect changes in the time of day based on colour changes of daylight.

Related Questions:

Do Lizards Have Red Blood? Before we answer this question, first let’s understand what actually makes blood red. The hemoglobin in . the oxygen is what gives blood the red colour. Which is present in human blood. This is the same for lizards, but not for all species.

Some species, in particular in New Guinea, there is a type of Skink Lizard that has green blood. Not just blood is green, also the muscles, bones and organs have this green colouration.

But why is its blood green? The reason is this lizard does not have the hemoglobin that we talked about earlier, meaning they do not have the same red colour we have.

Do lizards have teeth? Yes, lizard do have teeth, but they are different to our teeth. Depending on which specie of lizard you look at some have teeth that look more like little pegs.

However, a Komodo Dragon for example, has sharp serrated teeth that can injure animals that they wish to eat. Then on the other end of the scale you have the Mollusk that has blunt teeth.

Do Geckos have bones? Yes, they do have bones and what has been discussed earlier actually address this. All lizards have bones and are vertebrates.

What is Bipedal running and which Lizards can do this? This is basically running on two legs. Essentially this is what we do as humans. Obviously Lizards have four legs, so this is more of an interesting thing to see for them.

The Basilisk lizard can do this. It uses its two legs and uses its tail as a balance for their weight. AN interesting fact about these Basilisk lizards is they can actually run across water for short distances.

Do Lizards drink blood? There is a specie of lizard sometimes referred to as the “bloodsucking lizard”, however it is not really a true blood sucker and more of a myth. The name mainly comes from the colour of the male’s throat colour in mating season. At this time the male has a vivd red coloured throat and hence the name “bloodsucking lizard” came from.

This lizard does not stay this colour though, they tend to change colours quite drastically during the year.

Which lizard squirts blood from its eye? The Horned Lizard is known for squirting blood from its eye. It does this purely as a defence mechanism. The idea is it waits for its attacker to get real close, to the point where it’s in the jaws of the predator, then unleashes the squirt, to make sure it gets it.

Do Lizards have limbs? Yes, they do have limbs, they have 4 legs as well as a tail. The size and weight of these limbs varies quite a lot depending on the specie of lizard.

Can a Lizard Grow back a limb if lost?  Yes, they can. This behaviour is very different to humans because once we loose our limbs that is it for us. However this is a different story for lizards.

Once they loose a tail for example, the blood clots up in the limb. But rather than the skin growing back to cover the missing tail a replacement will come throw. It will not be an exact replica of what was there before, but it is re-growth none-the-less.

Do Lizards Sleep? Yes, they do sleep. In fact they have sleep cycles in the same manor as humans. The only difference is they have shorter cycles.

To put this into context, us humans are known to have sleep cycles of 90 minutes, and during a nights sleep this can equal about 4 sleep cycles.

Lizards on the other hand can have hundreds of smaller sleep cycles. Also the duration of their sleep is usually shorter than us. A small sleep for them is 80 minutes. But a long sleep can be 4 hours.

How do lizards cool off? Lizards have a very primitive methods to keep them self cool. If they are feeling hot they can simply hide behind an available rock. If they need to get hot and they are in a warm climate, they will basically expos themselves to the sun.

For larger lizards, for example, Komodo Dragon’s due to their large body size they can hold in their heat and regulate their temperature. For smaller lizards this is more of a challenge. They are affected by even the smallest changes in temperature in their environment.

Do Geckos Eat Roaches

After seeing a fat cockroach looking at me, I wondered, what animals would naturally deal with these pests. Then I was compelled to research this and discovered some interesting facts about this in relation to Gecko’s. Let me explain.

Do geckos eat roaches? Yes, they do eat cockroaches, however it is not good practice to feed your pet random cockroaches found around the house because they can contain germs, pesticides and dangerous bacteria. You can purchase cockroaches or other insects that are more suitable to make sure they are safe.

So, now you know if they will eat roaches or not, if you really want to care for your pet you need to know not only what they will eat, but also things they shouldn’t be eating. Read on to discover this and other weird things they will eat that you may have overlooked before.

What is a Gecko?

Before we get into the detail, what even is a Gecko? Geckos are lizards that belong to the infraorder Gekkota. They prefer warm climates and there are over 1600 different species in existence. So the term “Gecko” is quite a generlization for literally thousands of potential options.

For the sake of specificity, in this article we will focus the details based on the Leopard Gecko, which is one of the more popular pet lizards in the western world.

What do geckos typically eat?

Gecko’s are Insectivores, meaning that they typically snack on nutritious insects. You may squirm when I say “nutritious” insects, but believe it or not, did you know you can buy Protein that i made from crickets? Yes, Crickets! (Facts). And yes, I am talking about humans eating crickets.

Therefore there is some nutritional value in some insects. And this explains why Geckos devour these meaty mortals all day long. In reality Cockroaches are not their preferred diet. They typically feed on mealworms or crickets.

Are roaches bad for Geckos?

They are not always bad, but you have to be careful which type of cockroaches you feed them. If you are thinking that you have a cockroach infestation and you want to use your Gecko as a “roach hoover”, instead of paying for pest control, then think again.

Whilst they can each roaches, it is not good practice to feed they random roaches you find as pests roaming around your house. These are some reasons why:

  • Germs
  • pesticides
  • Dangerous bacteria

What do I mean? There is a good chance that these pets will have germs, pesticides and potentials unwanted bacteria that can harm your pet. So please try and avoid that.

How much do Geckos Eat?

They will eat as much as you give them. But this is not a good thing. Reason being they have a tendency to over eat and become sick. This comes from their natural instinct to overeat and store fat reserves in the wild for bad hunting days.

In the desert they are not guaranteed daily meals, so if they get food they would store the fat reserves and over eat. But as a house pet this natural behaviour can become a health risk. Therefore it is your responsibility not to overfeed them.

A healthy amount of food is usually as much as they can consume within a 15 minute time period. And it is [not advisable to feed them daily]. It is better to feed them every other day in fact.

What happens if you over feed your Gecko?

If you feed your Gecko too much there is a chance that it will bring the food back up, basically to be direct with you, it will be sick. If you notice this happening it is a sign that you are giving her too much food and you need to adjust the portion sizes.

What is the ideal body proportion for a Gecko

To make sure that you understand how to identify a healthy Gecko I will reveal the expected body proportions. In an ideal world the tail will be wider than its body. Also when you look at their stomach, it should look flat.

The only deviation on this general rule is immediately after eating. You may notice that they may be a little bloated and not maintain a flat stomach.

What food should you avoid giving your Gecko?

It is just as important to learn what you shouldn’t be feeding your lizard, as well as what to feed it. For that reason I will share with you some big “no-no’s”. Avoid feeding them them insects or bugs that generate light in anyway. This is just one of natures warning signs.

Also, you should avoid feeding her wild insects. We touched on this briefly earlier. To re-iterate, the issue is we have no idea where these wild insects have been. And there is a chance that these insects could harm your lizard.

 

Related Questions:

Do geckos eat spiders? The short answer is yes. In . the wild they will typically eat any insect or small animal it can physically fit into its mouth. However in captivity they have a more of a reduced list due to convenience and availability of food sources by their owners.

Do geckos eat ants? Similar to above, Yes they will. As stated above, in the wild they will pretty much eat anything they can get hold of and can physically fit in their mouth.

Do geckos eat scorpions? Yes, geckos do eat scorpions. In particular baby scorpions in the wild. In fact some species help to control the population of scorpions.

Do rats eat geckos? Yes, rats will Geckos if they get a chance. However they would have to be quite big and more likely to eat it if they find it dead and easy prey. On the flip side, Geckos will eat small rat babies if available.

Do lizards eat termites? Yes, they will eat Termites, as well as any small insect for that matter.

Do geckos bite? Yes, but only if they are actually provoked. And in reality the bite is not that powerful, so in the event that the average man was bitten, it would not likely be a big issue. It’s more likely to surprise  someone rather than cause major physical damage.

Is it possible for a Gecko to eat another Gecko? Yes, but it is more likely to happen if they are different species of Gecko. Or a substantial size difference.

Do Geckos eat Fruit or Vegetables? No, They do not each fruit or veg. As discussed earlier they are insectivores, so they only real go for insects. They will eat an insect that eats fruit and veg but that is really as far as it goes for them.

How to Clean a Vivarium

If you are serious about keeping lizards, cleaning out your vivarium is a must if you want to keep them happy. Personally growing up I was always a tidy person, fortunately I am a man of habit. So I will share with you some habitual practices needed to clean and care for your vivarium.

How do you clean a Vivarium? You need to clean it daily as well as more in-depth weekly clean. Weekly tasks includes removing all items, temporarily moving your lizard to a temporary tank or box, disinfecting the glass of the tank and replacing the substate.

As they say the devil is in the detail, so let’s look more in detail into these activities so you can understand how to do this starting immediately. But first let’s discuss why you even need to do this.

Why Should You be Cleaning Your Tank Regular?

If you are not a person who naturally feels the urge to clean regularly, you may even question, why even bother to clean it? Or maybe, why so often? Good question, in a nutshell, here are the main benefits:

  • Prevent bacteria
  • remove unwanted smells in your home
  • keep your lizard happy
  • Remove any chances of salmonella

Firstly, if you leave the tank unclean, there can dead plants, faeces, etc. These things can start to grow bacteria, which in turn can lead to infection and may in some cases affect the health of your lizard.

Another thing is the smell. If you have an average sized house, it won’t take long for a neglected lizard tank to turn into something smelling like rotten sewage.

Happy tank, happy lizard. If you keep it clean, your lizard will feel more happy there, and in turn will be more likely to stay there longer.

The faeces of these lizards can contain salmonella. Therefore it is within your interest to clear out the mess as soon as possible to stop this spreading to you or your family.

Why Should You Be Cleaning Out the Vivarium Plants too?

Clean vivarium Plants

Vivarium plants are great for decoration and keeping your lizard happy. However, they need to be maintained as much as the tank itself.

But why? Here are some reasons:

  • Can make your pet sick
  • parasites can be attracted to rotting plants
  • Rotting leaves can leave unwanted odours.

If the plants start to rot, not only can they smell like a baby has just filled its stinky nappy, they can start to attract parasites that can cause you and your lizard some problems.

How often should you clean a lizard tank?

As briefly mentioned earlier, there are two major intervals to consider. Daily as well as weekly. In the coming paragraphs I will explain why and what you need to do during these cleaning schedules to get it right.

What Should Do on The Daily Clean?

The Daily clean is more of a quick check up and tidy of essentials. The main things you need are as follows:

  • Empty and replenish Water Bowls
  • Remove lizard waste from substrate
  • Clean and food mess and re-stock as required.
  • Remove any debris in the substrate

The idea is to deal with urgent things that cannot wait for an entire week. When it comes to food and drink, you can’t wait a week to check, replenish and tidy these.

What Should You Do on The Weekly Clean?

The weekly clean is more in depth and should essentially bring the vivarium back to the same standard you started with, within reason.

Here are the key things that need to be done:

  • Completely empty the tank
  • Place lizards in another spare tank/box
  • Replace the substrate
  • Disinfect the glass enclosure.
  • Sterilise the rocks (3)

Some of these tasks will sound obvious, whereas, others, such as sterilising the rocks might not. So let me explain:

Completely empty the tank

Remove all the items from the tank. including plants, rocks, etc. This is so you can clean the glass later, don’t be lazy, empty the tank!

Place lizards in another spare tank/box

Move the lizards into another temporary vivarium or box to keep them safe while you clean out the tank.

Replace the substrate

Even if you have followed the daily steps above and cleaned the substrate on a daily basis. You will need to replace it on a weekly basis to keep it fresh.

Disinfect the glass enclosure.

One of the most important tasks is disinfecting the glass of the tank, assuming you are using glass tank. Firstly you need to wipe it down with warm soapy water and use something like a toothbrush to clean the hard to reach parts, such as the corners.

You then need to spray disinfectant on the glass and wipe it down to get rid of all the bacteria. Make sure that you choose a disinfectant solution that is powerful enough to clean the bacteria, but at the same time not enough to harm the lizard.

Things to Look out For on A Daily Basis

As well as the more thorough clean we just went through above, I need to explain the daily clean you will need to do, which is no where near as in-depth, but very important for you to keep on top of.

Here are the main things you need to do each day:

  • Amount of  food eaten
  • Temperature
  • Does the waste look normal?
  • Any unwanted parasites? (Mites, ticks, etc)
  • Do accessories look weathered and need replacing?
  • Does the cage look in good working order.

Let me break down each of these points for your convenience.

Amount of  food eaten

Check the food left over, is it ok or is it decaying? If its the later clean it up and replace it right away. We don’t want your lizard getting sick.

Temperature

Check the temperature to make sure that it is at the desired level for your lizard. This is not strictly a cleaning activity, but important to do while you are checking the tank.

Does the waste look normal?

Check your lizards waste to make sure that it looks normal. If it does not look normal to you, this is an opportunity to get your lizard checked out. Or just to flag up an issue that you can correct early.

Any unwanted parasites?

It is possible that your tank mite attract little unwanted parasites that could harm your pet. Look out for parasites such as mites and ticks. Sometimes you will see some warning signs in the feaces of your pet, hence the reason why it’s important to check that daily too, as discussed earlier.

Do accessories look weathered and need replacing?

You might find that the accessories you have in the tank start to look weathered and in need of replacement. This is an opportunity to get these replaced.

Does the cage look in good working order.

Are there any signs of damage to the actual tank itself? If yes, then it is a chance to get that replaced as well.

Related Questions:

How do you disinfect a bearded dragon tank? Disinfecting a bearded dragon tank, is the same as disinfecting a tank for any other lizard. As discussed earlier, you need to wipe it down with soapy water first, then spray disinfectant around the glass of the tank and clean off. Do not place the bearded dragon . back in until all smears are gone and tank is dry.

Can I use vinegar to clean my bearded dragons tank? According to petlifetoday, they say you can use a solution of vinegar and water. However this is something that I have not personally tried.

Salvator Tegu Care Guide

One of the most exotic types of lizards you can buy as a pet is the Salvator Tegu. What is the Salvator Tegu, you ask? Well, let's find out!

What is a Salvator Tegu? Salvator is a genus of lizards & Tegu is a species name for several lizards in the Salvator genus. Together Salvator Tegu is a term that is used to describe three different species of Tegu lizards: Salvator duseni (The yellow tegu), Salvator rufescens (The red tegu) & Salvator merianae (giant tegu).

To fully appreciate you need to know the full facts about this intersting Lizard. In this article I will break down all the facts about the Tegu, the different species and how you can care for one should you wish to.  

What is the Salvator Tegu's scientific name? And what other names do they have?

As you may or may not know, scientific names are the names that are given to all living things by scientists that classify those living things by their genus and species.

For instance, your scientific name, as well as mine, is Homo sapiens. Homo is the term for our genus, and sapiens is our species.

The scientific name for the Salvator Tegu, however, is a little bit confusing because Salvator Tegu is in itself made up of scientific terms. Salvator is a genus of lizards that was later renamed as Tupinambis.

However, in 2012, several lizards of the Tupinambis genus were renamed yet again back to their original name, Salvator. Tegu is a species name for several lizards in the Salvator genus.

And yes, I'm aware that all of that is a bit hard to wrap your mind around, but just know, in short, 'Salvator Tegu' is a term that is used to describe three different species of Tegu lizards. Those three species are as follows, with their scientific names first, followed by their more common names:

  • Salvator duseni - The yellow tegu, also called Duseni's tegu
  • Salvator rufescens - The red tegu
  • Salvator merianae - Known as the giant tegu, the black and white tegu, the chacoan tegu, or the blue tegu

There are other types of tegu lizards, as well. These are the tegus that retained the genus name Tupinambis. Just for fun, I will list those as well. They are as follows:

  • Tupinambis teguixin - The Colombian black and white tegu or the gold tegu
  • Tupinambis longilineus - The Rhondonia tegu
  • Tupinambis palustris - The swamp tegu
  • Tupinambis quadrilineatus - The four-lined tegu

Where is their natural habitat?

All the different species of Salvator tegu lizards can be found roaming all over South America. Specifically, they can be readily found in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Paraguay.

More recently, they have become what is known as an "introduced species" to the Fernando de Noronha Island and, in part due to irresponsible pet owners who let their pets go, the United States, specifically in Florida.

By species, the yellow tegu (S. duseni) is found naturally in Paraguay and Brazil. The black and white tegu (S. merianae) is found naturally in the south of Brazil, eastern Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Bolivia.

The red tegu (S. rufescens) is native to Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, and Parana, which is an area in Brazil. The red tegu and the black and white tegu are the ones that can be found in the United States, as the yellow tegu is illegal to own as a pet, and therefore, has not been introduced to the US.

How big are tegus? How much do they weigh?  

On average, Salavtor Tegus grow to between three and five feet long; however, the males of the species have been known to grow even larger. They tend to weigh approximately eight to twenty pounds, though, again, males can become a few pounds heavier.

Males are also visibly stockier than the females of the species. They develop large, prominent jowl muscles.

What is the lifespan of a tegu?

Like many lizards, tegus can live quite a long time, so deciding to buy one as a pet is not a quick, just-for-a-couple-months investment. This is often where a younger lizard owner makes a mistake.

He buys a lizard such as a tegu or an iguana thinking it is a super cool pet to have and that it makes a really neat topic of conversation, but he does not consider that one day, he will grow up, move out, and create a new family of his own.

When he does finally grow up and move on, his pet lizard still needs a place to stay, but often, this newly adult pet-owner no longer wants the responsibility of taking care of something he bought on a whim as a teenager.

This leads to him releasing the lizard into the wild, into an ecosystem that was never meant to house him, which can have seriously damaging effects on both the lizard and the environment.

I said all of that to say this: if you are planning on buying a tegu as a pet, you need to realize up front that he is going to be with you for a long time. Wild tegus can live between fifteen and twenty years in the wild.

In captivity, they can sometimes live even longer if they are well kept, which means that owning a tegu is a decade long commitment at the very least.

Do not buy one a whim; unless you have sat down and really considered the commitment you are making to this animal, you should not purchase one.

What does the ideal housing look like for a tegu?

The first thing you need to know about tegus is that they grow, and they grow fast. This means that the relatively small aquarium you bought for your baby tegu is not going to hold him long.

When your tegu is a baby, a small tank works fine. Generally three feet by two and a half feet gives the little guy plenty of room to run around, dig, and explore.

In the wild, unlike iguanas and other lizards that enjoy living in the canopies of trees, tegus spend most of their time on or near ground level, and they love to dig!

This is an important thing to remember because it means that the tank does not necessarily need to be tall, but it does need to be very long and wide enough to give your tegu plenty of room to explore and dig.

Your tegu will quickly outgrow his baby tank, however. Check out this video below and keep your eyes peeled for the two minute mark, which shows a side-by-side comparison of a tegu at a month old and at ten months old. 

The difference is extraordinary, especially for such a short period of time. There is no way that the ten month old tegu in this video could fit into its baby enclosure.

At three years, your tegu will be fully grown. As has already been discussed, a full grown tegu can reach lengths of up to five feet and can weigh up to twenty pounds.

At this size, a much larger enclosure will be needed. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your enclosure is at least one and a half times longer than the length of your tegu, including his tail.

This means that for most tegus, the enclosure should be, at minimum, seven to eight feet in length and at least three feet wide. These dimensions are only the bare minimum, however.

If you have the room to house a larger enclosure, you definitely should. Tegus love lots of space, and the more room your tegu has to dig, the happier he is going to be.

Also, remember that tegus are not climbers, so if the walls of your enclosure are high enough (three to four feet), it does not necessarily need a top. This is great for people who want to create DIY tegu enclosures in their home.

It allows them to build what basically amounts to a fence on the floor, which is much easier to build than a four-walled enclosure.

Will tegus benefit from a hide box?

YES! In their natural habitat, tegus spend approximately eighty percent of their time in damp, underground burrows; these burrows aid them in shedding their skins.

It is imperative that your pet tegu have something that simulates these burrows.

Tegus need damp, moist hide boxes where they can keep themselves damp and moisturized. Tegus require a high level of humidity, and hide boxes filled with damp substrate are the perfect option.

The hide box needs to be large enough for your fully grown tegu to fit into, but it should also be snug, so that when your tegu hides in its hide box, it is surrounded by the dampness and the moisture.

This ensures that your tegu keeps a healthy level of moisture in its skin, which is tremendously important to your tegu's health, especially when it comes to the shedding process.

What is the ideal substrate for tegus?

There are really four different substrate options that are the best:

  1. Coconut Husk - This is readily sold in pet stores that sell lizards and lizard products. It is often marketed under the name Reptichip. This is basically just coconut shell that has been mulched. It holds humidity very well and is less dusty than many other substrate options.

  2. Eucalyptus Mulch - This is another great option for keeping in humidity; however, it should not be used in correlation with live plants.

  3. Cypress Mulch - This is yet another substrate option that is great at holding in the humidity that your tegu requires. It works especially well if you pour it on top of a soil mixture.

    However, if you do plan on using cypress mulch, make sure it is pure cypress mulch, not a mixture of cypress and other things, as sometimes, these things can harm your pet.

  4. Orchid Bark - Another popular substrate is orchid bark. Personally, I won't use it because most orchid bark mixtures are made of kiln-dried redwood.

    I don't like to use it because redwood is toxic to tegus; however, from all the information I've read, the process of kiln-drying the redwood supposedly removes the harmful toxins, making it safe to use. Again, I have not tried it myself, but it is a popular option that I often see mentioned.

While these are four of the most popular options for substrate, many people choose to make their own do-it-yourself substrate. The most popular 'recipe' for homemade substrate includes organic topsoil, sphagnum moss, play sand, peat moss, and shredded, damp leaves. I use this method myself, and it has always worked well.

Finally, the last note on substrate concerns keeping it clean. Visibly nasty or soiled substrate should be removed from your pet's home immediately. Otherwise, be sure to change the substrate out at least twice a month to keep it fresh and as clean as possible.

What lighting and heat needs do tegus have?

Tegus are tropical lizards, so they need a warm, humid home that mirrors their natural habitat. Ambient temps within the enclosure during the day should stay between eighty and ninety degrees Fahrenheit.

The temperatures should not drop more than five to ten degrees during nighttime hours. Tegus are most active during the daytime, so there should also be a basking spot available during the day whose temperature is between ninety five and a hundred degrees Fahrenheit.

There are several ways of heating tegu enclosures. The most common ways are through the uses of under-the-tank heating pads, ceramic heat emitters, and both regular and nighttime heat bulbs.

The nighttime heat bulbs are red in color, and thus do not provide the bright, daytime light that would throw off your tegu's day and night cycle. Heating lamps can be used, but they are not recommended as they can make the enclosure too hot and can also be dangerous. Heating rocks are never a good idea.

Like most other pet lizards, tegus also need a source of UV light available to them; getting at least twelve to fourteen hours of UV light a day is essential to their health.

Not all UV bulbs are created equal, so you should always buy UV bulbs from reputable companies who know about the needs of lizards.

Finally, do not be afraid to take your tegu friend outside! The best UV light comes directly from unfiltered sunlight, so taking your tegu out for a walk every now and then is not only okay, it is recommended!

Most pet stores, both online and in physical stores, sell harness and leash combos for larger lizards. Pick one up and take your friend for a stroll. You will definitely turn heads in the neighborhood.

What are the water requirements of tegus?

Water is an important part of any tegu's daily routine. Tegus do drink water, but the main use of water for tegus is to keep their habitat humid and to keep their bodies damp.

Because they are tropical animals, they are used to living in seventy to eighty percent humidity. Obtaining this level of humidity inside the house can be difficult, but it can definitely be done.

The first thing you need to do water-wise is to make sure whatever substrate you decide to use is mixed with enough water to make the whole mixture nice and moist. It should not be soggy or soaking, but it does need to be uniformly cool and damp.

You should also mist both the enclosure and your tegu multiple times a day. You can buy a cheap mister practically anywhere; fill it up and spray the habitat and your pet whenever you have the chance.

Finally, ensure that your pet's habitat is large enough to include a large, shallow pool of water. The pool should be long enough so that your pet can fit his entire body - tail included - in it.

The pool does not need to be deep, though. Making the water any deeper than your pet's shoulder is inadvisable. Keep the water fresh and cool; change it daily.

What do tegus eat?

If you are serious about becoming a tegu owner, then I suggest you visit this page and bookmark it; it is that helpful. I think it lists literally every food that is safe for your tegu to eat. I will hit the high points of the list here, though.

Tegus are omnivores, meaning they eat both meat and plants. One important thing to remember is that meat that has been ground often loses many of its nutrients, so feeding your pet whole prey is best.

Also, never feed your tegu live food. Tegus in the wild certainly catch and eat live prey, but it is safer for your tegu if whatever it eats doesn't fight back. Remember: Fresh or frozen only!

Although your tegu will need a good mix of both meat and plants, younger tegus will need more meat than veggies while they are still growing; they need the protein. As tegus age, they eat less meat and more veggies.

Also, some sites I have run across recommend feeding your tegu dog or cat food. I highly disagree with this. Tegus are not cats or dogs; therefore, they should not be fed like cats and dogs. I'm not even going to go into the million reasons not to do this; I'm just going to tell you, don't do it.

Some great foods to feed your tegus are soft boiled eggs, whole fish, mice, baby chickens, turkey, venison, mango, papaya, most berries, kiwi, green beans, okra, collard or mustard greens, and squash.

Certain insects are great for baby tegus, as well. Again, visit the complete food list on Tegus From Around the World; you won't be sorry.

How often should you clean your tegu's habitat?

You should always check your tegu's home for feces or other messes and remove them immediately. We humans do not like to sit around in our own messes, and your pet doesn't either.

Other than cleaning messes daily, you should clean your pet's home once a week to keep it as clean and sanitary as possible.

However, tegus aren't incredibly messy animals, so if you miss a week every once in a while, that is okay. Never wait longer than two weeks to clean the tank, however, and try to keep the weeks you miss a cleaning to a minimum.

Substrate should be changed every two weeks at minimum. 

Are there any known health issues associated with tegus?

The most common health problems associated with tegus are dehydration, metabolic bone disease (MBD), scale rot, obesity, and respiratory infections.

While these do sound severe - and can be in certain cases - they are all mostly preventable by feeding your tegu a balanced diet, ensuring the temperatures in his home are at the perfect levels, keeping the humidity in the enclosure spot-on, and keeping fresh, damp substrate for him.

Signs of illness to watch for include sudden weight loss, drastic changes in appetite, changes in excrement, lethargy or listlessness, limping, swollen limbs, and coughing or wheezing.

If you notice any of these, take your tegu to see a vet immediately. Make sure you find out where the nearest exotic vet is to you when you first get a tegu. You never want to get blindsided by an illness and have no idea where or how to find a vet near you.

Related Questions

Are tegus dangerous? Like any animal, tegus can be dangerous, but only if they are mistreated or not trained properly. Despite their large mouths, strong jaws, and sharp teeth, tegus are unlikely to bite.

Other than the Columbian tegu, tegus are mild animals who do not mind human interaction. The biggest safety concern with tegus is that they can come to associate their owners with food.

When you handfeed your tegu, he can often start to see your hand as food, and he might accidentally bite you thinking you are food. Putting food into a separate cage and afterwards placing your tegu into the cage can help prevent this problem. You can also feed your pet with tongs instead of your hands.

According to Clint from Clint's Reptiles, tegus are one of the absolute best pet lizards. If you've ever watched Clint's videos, you know he is very open and honest about whether or not a particular reptile makes a good pet, so for him to put tegus at the top of the list is a good sign that these are safe, easy-going animals.

Which tegu is the smallest, and how big does it get? The smallest species of tegu is the gold tegu (Tupinambis teguixin), which grows to between two and three feet in length and weighs between seven and nine pounds. That doesn't sound very small at all, but as far as tegus go, it is actually the smallest of the bunch.

How many eggs do tegus lay? Female tegus usually lay anywhere between twelve and thirty eggs during their reproduction cycle. The eggs are leathery, not hard like the eggs of a bird.

All tegus lay their eggs in nests, although some tegus choose to lay their eggs in the nests of termites rather than building their own nests. The eggs generally take two and half to three months to hatch.

How big do red tegus get? While not the largest species of tegu - that honor goes to the Argentine black and white tegu - the red tegu (Tupinambis rufescens) grows to be quite large.

They can grow almost as large as their black and white relatives, with lengths reaching up to four and a half feet and weights reaching twenty pounds. They are large and powerful lizards but surprisingly docile.

Tegus can be excellent pets to have; they are mostly mellow and quickly grow accustomed to human interaction, especially if you get them while they are young and spend lots of time with them.

If you are thinking of getting a pet lizard, I highly suggest you consider the tegu. Just remember, they are long-lived, so choosing to become a tegu parent is a long-term commitment that shouldn't be entered into lightly.

I hope this post has helped you learn a few things you didn't know before visiting. Please don't feel embarrassed or frustrated if you still don't feel like you know everything you need to about tegus.

Tegus are rare and beautiful animals, but they do take some work. However, if you are willing to invest the time and attention into them, they will give you decades of love and companionship.

Are Monitor Lizards dangerous? (Full Facts Plus Black-Throated Specie Care Guide)

I personally find the Monitor lizard quite interesting, with such an array of different types, in particular the massive Komodo Dragon and popular Black-Throated Monitor. But before you head out to find one you need to understand the risks associated with them and the facts.  

Are Monitor Lizards Dangerous? In general, Monitor Lizards are dangerous. They are not the safest pets when forced to live with humans in captivity, and can be dangerous to own. Perspective buyers need to understand the commitment needed if they truly want to keep them as pets.

Obviously, this is a broad statement for a whole family of lizards, so I want to focus in on one particular specie, the throated Monitor and give you more facts on this topic, please read on.

In your quest to find an interesting, unique pet, you may have stumbled upon Monitor-lizards. Maybe you saw them in a pet shop, online, or at a friend’s house.

Maybe you saw videos of Komodo Dragon fighting on Animal Planet. No matter where you saw them, these animals give off an intimidating and intriguing impression. These characteristics can be quite attractive to many pet owners.

So, if you’ve found yourself interested in becoming the owner of a monitor lizard, what do you need to know? If you’ve never owned a large reptile, you probably have a lot to learn.

If you have before, there’s still a lot to know about owning and taking care of monitor-lizards specifically.

Why Are monitor lizards dangerous?

Monitor lizards are similar to many other reptilian pets. Unlike dogs and cats, these pets have not been domesticated for thousands of years. This means that their typical behavior is more similar to their natural, wild state. To be safe pets, monitor lizards require proper pet safety and education on the animal.

Monitor Lizards are therefore not always the safest pets when forced to live with humans in captivity, and can be dangerous to own. While typical pet lizards are kept in tabletop aquariums and fed crickets, monitor lizards grow much to large for such enclosures.

Depending on the subspecies of monitor, they can grow up to 7 feet and length and be aggressive creatures. Furthermore, some subspecies are considered even more aggressive than others, leading many reptilian pet experts to say they are impossible to safely keep as pets.

The exceptions to these considerations are the Savannah Monitor and the Ackies Monitor. Due to their small size, affordability, and comparably calm disposition, these subspecies of monitors are less dangerous than their supersized relatives.

But even the aggressive subspecies of monitors can be safely kept as pets, as long as the owner knows what they are doing. Proper diet, handling, and living conditions will keep your monitor lizard happy. A happy lizard is not usually a dangerous lizard, though accidents can happen

Are they safe to keep as pets?

Monitor lizards are quickly becoming popular for people seeking an exotic pet species. However, due to their naturally dangerous tendencies, large size, and acute intelligence, many species of these animals are not safe to keep as pets for most people. Monitors are especially unsafe for pet owners with little experience owning dangerous reptiles.

If you are just looking for a cool pet to show off to your friends, there are much safer alternatives. However, if you’re an experienced pet owner with the proper enclosure for such a large creature, you may be able to own a monitor lizard safely.

For the safety of the animal, monitor lizards require daily attention, proper diet, and, depending on the subspecies, a large enclosure.

If you’re willing to do the research, pay attention to the animal, and practice safe handling, monitor lizards can be safe to keep as pets. Otherwise, owning a monitor lizard can be dangerous for you and especially dangerous for the animal.

Is the Black-throat Monitor a popular pet?

The Black-throat Monitor is a fairly large subspecies of monitor lizard that is a native to Africa. The climate in this area maintains yearly temperatures at around 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Due to their relatively calm demeanor compared to similar sized relatives, the black-throat monitor is becoming an increasingly popular pet. While experienced and diligent pet owners can safely keep them, we do not recommend inexperienced reptile handlers to own these large animals.

Black-throat monitors can turn aggressive with humans, especially if they are not frequently handled. These lizards will slap their large tails, hiss, and puff up their body. Worst-case scenario, a Black-throated monitor will bite their owners or others. These behaviors are rare though, and they are usually calm pets, but it can happen.

How big is a Black-throat Monitor Lizard?

Black-throat monitor lizards, like other reptiles, are hatched from eggs. When young, they are quite small, which leads many pet owners to underestimate their adult weight. However, these lizards can grow to be some of the largest reptiles on Earth.

It is not unusual for a the Black-throat Monitor to grow to 7 feet in length from the tip of their tail to the tip of their nose. The largest of these animals can weigh up to 50 pounds, or the size of a golden retriever!

However, typical black-throat monitors will not grow to these huge sizes. Most animals will be around 3 feet and length, and weigh less than 15 pounds. Still, these animals will need large enclosures that give them enough room to roam around.

What is the best type of enclosure for a Black-throat Monitor Lizard?

If you decide that you can handle taking care of a black-throat monitor lizard, the next step will be to create an appropriate enclosure for the animal.

While young lizards can be housed in typical glass enclosures, the black-throat monitor lizard will quickly outgrow this undersized home.

We recommend that owners build their lizard’s adult housing, out of plexiglass or wood. Doing this yourself will allow you to curtail the size of the cage to your specific lizard.

The cage must be large enough for the lizard to roam around, stretch, and comfortably turn. If the lizard does not have enough room there are numerous negative consequences that will affect its health and demeanor.

First of all, it is cruel to house a large animal in a small enclosure. These animals deserve to be treated respectfully and kindly. Second, animals kept in uncomfortable living conditions can become more aggressive and dangerous.

Lastly, black-throat monitors kept in inadequate enclosures will be unhealthy and have a lower life expectancy.

If you are unable to provide a black-throat monitor lizard with housing of this size and specifications, then you should not purchase one as a pet. The small, young lizards will eventually become much, much larger.

What is the Black-throat Monitor Lizard's Scientific Name?

The black-throat monitor lizard’s belongs to the class reptilian, order squamat, family varanidae, and genus varanus. Its scientific name is Varanus albigularis microstictus.

This name describes its white throat, as well as its sometimes aggressive nature. Varanus is a word with Arabic origins that loosely translates into “warn” or “warning,” as in “warning, do not own this pet if you don’t know what you’re getting into.”

What other names do monitor lizards have?

Monitor lizards have numerous different subspecies with their own unique names. As previously mentioned, there are the Savannah Monitor and the Ackies Monitor, as well as the popular Black-throat Monitor.

One of the most well known species of monitor lizards, which should under no circumstances be owned as a pet, is the Komodo Dragon. These super massive lizards are ferocious predators that can grow to ten feet in length and weigh over 1000 pounds.

Komodo Dragons are apex predators found on islands in Indonesia. They are known to prey upon deer, pigs, and even cattle, utilizing their toxic saliva and super strong jaws.

Obviously, we highly recommend that you do not purchase a komodo dragon as a pet. It could eat you.

Where are monitor lizards found in the wild?

Species of monitor lizards are found all over the world. They are found in areas of Africa, all over India, in China, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, and beyond. 

Recently, as failed pet owners have began releasing captive monitors into the wild, natural sustaining populations of these lizards have been found in South Florida and Singapore.

The Savannah monitor, one of the most common species kept as pets, is found in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. This area includes Senegal and Sudan, and reaches to the Congo River.

In these areas, the lizard lives on the ground, and also sometimes bushes and trees. When threatened, Savannah monitors will shelter in burrows.

The Ackies monitor, another popular species for pet owners, is found in the northwest region of Australia. Also known as the spiny-tailed monitor, this smaller species of monitor lives in an arid area.

It spends most of its time living between rocks and boulders, but also ventures into outcrops.

The Komodo Dragon, which we think is the coolest species though it is completely unsuitable for pet ownership, is found mostly on the island of Komodo and surrounding islands in Indonesia.

This area is prone to volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and wildfires. It is a harsh environment, even compared to this ferocious animal.

What is a monitor lizard’s typical lifespan?

Another aspect of monitor-lizards to consider before purchasing one as a pet is their lifespan. Whereas most pet dogs will live around 10 years, monitor-lizards have lifespans commonly exceeding 20 years.

This creates problems for pet owners at times, especially when their living conditions changes. If you decide to purchase a monitor lizard as a pet, you need to realize that it is a long term commitment that you are held to no matter your living situation. Do not purchase one of these animals as a pet if you are constantly moving homes.

Do monitor lizards need a hide box?

Many pet reptiles such as boas and ball pythons require hide boxes in their enclosures to be comfortable. This is because these animals feel more comfortable when they have somewhere dark and cozy to retreat to.

Monitor lizards, however, do not require a hide box. Their enclosure’s focus needs to be on providing enough room for the lizard, and maintaining a proper temperature.

What is the ideal substrate for them?

After building an adequate enclosure for your monitor lizard, you will need to decide the appropriate substrate for its cage.

Maintain the proper humidity and temperature are imperative for the quality of life and health of these animals. One of the most important factors affecting the enclosure’s temperature and humidity is the substrate.

Many species of monitor-lizards, including the popular savannah monitor, require a thick layer of substrate. For adult animals, the best substrate to use is soil.

This is because monitor lizards enjoy digging complex systems of burrows that can be quite long and deep. Sand is unsuitable for this activity, as it will collapse, even when moistened.

The soil in the cage can be potting soil, clay, or whatever dirt you have in your backyard as long as it is deep and can be tightly packed. In general, the substrate needs to be about 1.5-2 feet deep. It will require daily watering at appropriate amounts, avoiding pools.

Young lizards do not require soil of this depth, and can even live on smooth gravel, mulch, or moistened paper towels.

These young lizards often also enjoy plants and sticks that allow them to practice climbing.

What Lighting and Heating do they need?

Monitor lizards, like most reptiles, are cold blooded. This means that they require outside sources of heat to regulate their internal temperature. For monitor lizards, this means they need to spend about half of every day exposed to UVB lighting to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

While natural sunlight is undoubtedly the healthiest source of heat for your lizard, it is often times unrealistic as a consistent method of lighting and heat.

Sunlight can warm your monitor lizard on occasional walks around your neighbourhood, provided the outside temperature is appropriate and your lizard can be safely walked. Walking a 5-foot lizard down the street is sure to turn some heads!

When natural sunlight is not available, artificial lighting is the best alternative to keep your lizard warm. Sunlight coming through a windowpane is not appropriate or adequate.

Fluorescent light bulbs can give your animal the UVB lighting they require. The bulbs need to light the entire cage so that the entire animal is exposed. Be aware of how hot the cage is, and maintain a high enough temperature while avoiding burning the lizard with the hot bulbs.

Sometimes, artificial lighting sources will not be enough. In the wild, monitor lizards also receive a significant amount of heat from the Earth itself. You can imitate this in your enclosure by placing heating pads underneath the cage to warm the substrate.

Basking bulbs are another method of providing heat, and many species of monitor lizards enjoy them. Again, it is important that these lights are close enough to the animal to provide heat, but not too close so that they can burn their skin.

Within the cage, you want to have a warm side of the cage, the basking side, and a cooler side. The warm side needs to be around 100 degrees F and the cooler side needs to be around 75 F. This will allow the lizard to maintain the exact temperature it desires by going to the other side of the enclosure when it is too hot or too cold.

How much water do they need?

The amount of water your monitor lizard will require depends on the subspecies of monitor due to the variability of their natural habitats. Some subspecies will require wading pools or even swimming pools. 

Others will just need a water bowl to provide drinking water. If your lizard does require water to swim or bask in, you still need to be sure to have a separate source of drinking water.

The source of drinking water needs to be heavy enough to not be tipped over and spilled, or attached in a way that will prevent the large lizard from knocking it over.

How often do their cages need to be cleaned?

As we previously mentioned, monitor lizards are not easy pets to keep. One of the most difficult parts of maintaining these animals is keeping their enclosure clean.

Food and water bowls require cleaning every day with soap and water. Depending on whether or not your lizard uses them as a bathroom, wading and swimming pools may also need daily cleanings.

The substrate of the enclosure is likely where the lizard will defecate. You will be able to obviously notice your lizard’s bowel movements, and they need to be promptly removed to avoid disease and illness.

The entire substrate needs to replaced on a monthly basis at least to avoid mold, mildew, and indescribably bad smells.

All other material in the cage, such as rocks, sticks, or anything else need to be removed and cleaned on a regular basis. If you see any waste on these surfaces, remove them and clean them promptly.

What possible health issues should you be aware of?

Monitor lizards are tough as nails, and if properly cared for, they will likely live long, happy lives in captivity. Just like all other animals, though, these lizards can have natural health issues and can be seriously threatened by accidents, poor nutrition, and improper handling.

One common health issue for monitor lizards comes from improper heating and lighting. This often times can result in burns on the lizard’s body that are uncomfortable and can lead to dangerous infection. 

If your lizard is burned by its lighting, treat the burns with ointment and soapy water, then adjust the lighting to keep them out of reach from the lizard.

Another common health issue for monitor lizards comes from inadequate or improper diets. If fed the wrong diet, or excessively supplemented, monitor lizards commonly develop Calcium deficiencies and over supplementations, as well as Vitamin D3 deficiencies.

High stress in your lizard’s life can cause it to develop serious infections. This possibility is increased by unclean living conditions, and can result in loss of appetite and swelling. Both of these symptoms can seriously affect your lizard’s quality of life, and life span.

An important health indicator to monitor is how often your lizard passes waste. Though monitor’s bowel movements are tied to the temperature of its enclosure, these animals need to pass waste regularly to avoid digestion problems. If your lizard becomes constipated, it can result in an impaction or blockage, which can pose a serious threat to its health.

Broken tails are common with monitors, as they aggressively whip it when excited or threatened. Severely broken tails may require amputation, as monitor’s tails are not meant to naturally fall off like other lizards.

Broken claws can also result from natural activity or improper handling. Since their claws can be quite long and sharp, it is safer for you and your pet to keep them at a shorter length.

The last major thing to watch out for is cuts and scrapes. These can result from your monitor’s natural behavior, or improper handling. Small cuts and scrapes can be treated at home with ointment, soap, and water, but large cuts and scrapes may need veterinarian attention.

Are they a good pet for beginners?

Most species of monitor lizards are not appropriate for beginner pet owners. Inexperienced reptile handling can pose threats to the health of the lizard, and can result in injury to the owner himself or herself. 

This fact is especially true of monitor lizards, as they are large and powerful creatures that can become aggressive towards humans.

Monitor lizards also require diligent care to maintain a healthy diet and living conditions. This is a difficult habit to develop without previous experience.

Inexperienced individuals can manageably own some of the smaller species of monitor lizards, but it is imperative that you choose the right species, and research that animal’s living requirements.

Can you potty train a Monitor Lizard?

Monitor lizards are incredibly intelligent animals. As such, if you have the desire to potty train your monitor, it will likely have the mental capacity to do so.

Monitor lizards require proper heating and lighting, but as long as they know where to go to warm up, they can be allowed to walk around your house much like a dog or a cat (though, you may not want your monitor to be walking around if you have dogs or cats).

Some subspecies of monitors have a natural tendency to bury their waste. You can take advantage of this tendency by creating spaces in your home or its enclosure that allow it to dig. The lizard will likely find these places and choose to pass waste there instead of on your floor.

Can you own a Monitor Lizard in California?

California has some strangely strict laws determining the legality of possessing certain animals as pets. For example, hedgehogs and ferrets, which are commonly owned across the world, are illegal in the state.

Surprisingly though, these laws are not as strict when it comes to reptiles. Therefore, except for alligators and crocodiles, most non-venomous reptiles are legal to own in California, including monitors.

Can you own a Monitor Lizard in Canada?

Canada, opposed to California, has noticeably relaxed laws pertaining to exotic pets, and most of them are in place to prevent invasive species from infiltrating natural environments. It is therefore legal to own a monitor lizard in Canada, provide that it is not an endangered species.

How fast can a Monitor Lizard run?

Answer: With so many species of monitor lizard, the top speed they can run has a large degree of variability. Some of the smaller subspecies are relatively slow, and reach top speeds of less than 10 miles per hour.

Larger species, such as the komodo dragon, are a different story. They are known to be able to run down deer, and can easily outrun a human. Their top speeds can be over 20 miles per hour. Seeing such a large lizard run at such high speeds is a sight to see.

Final Thoughts

Monitor lizards are complex animals with very specific needs. Their enclosure must be the right size, have the correct substances and surfaces, and be properly heated and lit. Their diets are vastly important to their health, and neglecting this area can lead to serious health issues. They must always have clean drinking water.

But, if you’re up for the challenge, monitor lizards can be fun and interesting pets. So, if you’ve done your research and know you can handle them, a monitor lizard may be your next companion. Just don’t let it get too close to the cat!

There you have it. Did you enjoy reading and learning more about monitor lizards? If so, tell us what you thought in the comments below, and share the article with your friends and family (especially the ones thinking about getting a monitor lizard as a pet!).