Lizards are some of the most exciting pets you can own. There are so many types and species available that they are impossible to become boring.
Whether you find them traveling around your garden or planning to adopt one at the pet store, no doubt you’ve wondered just how easy they are to care for.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled helpful info to help answer all your burning questions! Everything from what baby lizards eat to how to care for them, to correctly identifying their species, and more!
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Habitat of lizards
With over 4,675 species of lizard, it’s no surprise that lizards are found virtually everywhere in the world – except Antarctica. Habitats can vary depending on species, but they will often be warm and receive long hours of sunlight to help the lizard gain energy. The three most common habitats include:
Deserts: Lizards often burrow deep into the hot sand during the day and come out at night to hunt.
Woodland & rainforests: While most lizards live on the ground, some have specialized claws and a prehensile tail to help climb trees and branches.
Water: lizards like iguanas and common lizards can spend large parts of their day basking in the sun, near water, or on the shoreline.
What about pet habitats?
Bought a lizard and wondered what kind of habitat you should create? First, identify the species to see what kinds of environments it will enjoy.
Lizards don’t require much space to thrive; a simple aquarium tank usually suffices. The bottom of the tank should match your lizard’s natural habitat – e.g., sand for a desert dweller or wood bark for a forest dweller.
Temperature regulation is probably the most important thing to get right in your habitat. A heat lamp is an essential piece of equipment to help your baby lizard remain healthy.
Common heat ranges include:
- Desert lizards prefer 2 to 102°F
- Woodland lizards prefer 8 to 78.8°F
- Rainforest lizards prefer 4 to 89.6°F
Cages: Lizards make for ideal pets because their pens can be changed regularly to reflect a variety of habitats. So long as you keep the cell well cleaned and the appropriate heat and light – your lizard should thrive.
What do baby lizards eat?
As soon as they hatch, baby lizards are entirely self-sufficient and will instinctively hunt for food. We class them as babies up until two months. Then they become juvenile lizards. Adult lizards are generally 12 months and older.
What type of food your baby lizard will eat depends ultimately on that type of lizard. Lizards come in all shapes, sizes, and food preferences. Some are herbivores, others are carnivores, and a small number are both (omnivores).
Herbivore baby lizards will feed solely on fruits, nuts, and plant matter. Although they only make up 3% of the population, if you own one of these lizards, you must be prepared to provide appropriate food.
Research what kinds of foods are native to that species. That way, your baby lizard will have natural instincts on what it can feed on immediately from hatching.
Always wash vegetables and plants before your lizard comes in contact with them. Sometimes they may have insecticides, pesticides, or other harsh chemicals which can prove toxic to lizards who ingest them.
Boiling or steaming vegetables can often drain them of essential minerals and nutrients. Some vegetables, like lettuce (made mainly of water), offer zero nutritional value to lizards and should be avoided. Fruit is often sugary– only use them as a treat sparingly!
Some herbivore lizards may require additional supplements to keep them healthy. Often pet owners must buy calcium and phosphorus capsules or powders to coat food in to keep their bones healthy.
Examples of herbivore lizards that make good pets include several types of the green iguana, uromastyx, and geyri.
Carnivorous baby lizards are widespread. They will instinctively hunt for small prey to catch and try to kill. Some easy foods they can have early success eating include eggs, small slices of chicken or fish, and mice.
It’s always a good thing to remember that while carnivore baby lizards will attempt to kill prey, they may not have the strength or size to do so. Always provide dead animals to your baby pet so they can practice. Live prey may cause unwanted injury.
Examples of carnivore lizards that make good pets include monitors and tegus.
Some lizards are known as insectivores and will only consume insects. These are much easier to provide food for, as insects are easy for babies to kill.
Many pet shops supply lizard food, including crickets, mealworms, bloodworms, ants, and roaches. Always buy insects from reputable pet stores, as you will know they’ve been killed and preserved without harsh chemicals. These are usually specially prepared to have added nutrition for your lizard.
Avoid insects like spiders, ticks, and scorpions, as these are often toxic to lizards. Never hand-pick insects from your garden because they may be toxic and carry diseases and parasites that can negatively impact your pet.
Examples of insectivores include emerald swifts and long-tailed grass lizards.
Omnivore lizards will eat both vegetation and meat. Many lizards can start life with carnivores but slowly adapt to different diets as they get older. Adult lizards eat less and less meat because they don’t require protein to fuel bone development.
You should research the life cycle of your pet to see if and when their diet may change, including when they reach their full size. Examples of omnivore lizards include bearded dragons, skinks, and geckos.
How often and how much do baby lizards eat?
Baby lizards are born with a fully developed digestive system, like an adult lizard. For that reason, you can tailor their food quite effectively.
But as babies, how much do you feed them? This ultimately differs in the type and size of the lizard. As a general rule, you should feed your baby lizard twice a day or every other day – so long as you check their cage 30 minutes after feeding and ensure it’s cleaned up and gone.
A good rule is to provide smaller prey than the space between your baby lizard’s eyes. As your baby lizard grows, you can gradually increase the food they receive, including the type. As their skills in hunting develop, you can provide bigger prey.
Baby lizards are known to survive for longer than one week without food, sometimes longer, depending on the breed. So it’s often better to underfeed than overfeed – spoilt food in cages can upset your lizard and cause diseases to fester.
Baby lizards do not drink milk as mammals do. That said, they will require a supply of fresh water to keep hydrated.
What are the predators of baby lizards?
Lizards are commonly found at the bottom of the food chain and have several predators who hunt them from birth.
One of the most common predators of baby lizards is birds. This is because lizard eggs are often unprotected and an easy snack for birds to eat. When born, baby lizards often stay idle in the sunlight to charge themselves for the day. They choose open spaces where they stand out in the eyes of a flying bird, who spots themselves an easy meal.
Finally, some lizards prey on other, smaller lizards. There is no maternal bond between mothers and their offspring, so babies can often fall victim to their parents when they hatch.
Tips on feeding your pet lizards
- Keep heat regulated during feeding times. A sudden drop in temperature can cause your baby lizard to regurgitate.
- Calcium is essential for reptiles – consider adding a supplement to your baby lizard’s diet at least once a week.
- Live insects are often better for baby lizards. They allow them to practice their hunting skills and provide mental stimulation.
- Ensure food is the correct size. If in doubt, cut it into smaller sections to give your lizard the best chance of success.
- Research your particular species of lizard so that you can offer their native fruits and vegetables.
- Pet stores will have dry food and meats like small rodents, grasshoppers, and worms.
- While grocery stores can sell nutritious vegetables, ensure you wash them thoroughly to eliminate pesticides, insecticides, or chemical agents.
- Remember that omnivorous baby lizards eat various fruits, greens, and meat. You will need to adjust their diet accordingly.
- Baby lizards might not be able to kill live prey.
- Before looking for food for your baby lizard, you should be sure what sort of lizard you have. This will assist you in determining whether it is carnivorous, herbivorous, or omnivorous.