Top Navigation

Whats the Best Lizard to Keep in Captivity?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


http://lizardmeanders.blogspot.com/Lizards have been kept as pets for many years however of the 4,500 species only that exist only a hundred or so are prominent within the pet market This article will draw upon the four key families of lizard commonly found in captivity to illustrate why some species are better suited to breeding and living in captivity taking into consideration aspects such as size and living space, nutritional needs, longevity and costs involved in providing care in the long term.

The first family to consider is that of Iguanidae which includes Anoles and Iguanas. The Green Anole originates from the woodlands of the south-eastern states of America and is a small, slim lizard growing to 16cm in length with a life span of 2-5 years. As a diurnal species they are active during the day feeding on a range of small insects. The Anole could be seen as an ideal pet as it will not require much space, is not a huge time investment, its food is now widely available in pet shops and will provide entertainment during the day whilst we are also awake. On the other hand Anoles are extremely fast and are able to climb the walls of enclosures making them difficult to catch for those wanting a pet to handle. Also if a suitable habitat is provided with plenty of climbing material they can be difficult to find. The other example of species within this family is the popular Green Iguana from the tropical forests throughout Latin America. Unlike the small Anole these can grow to an impressive 1.83m in length and have a life expectancy of 15-20 years. As pets they require a lot of space, continued care for many years and frequent handling to keep them docile and friendly. To further add to the problem they are often sold when young to people who do not realise the huge investment required and thus subsequently end up in rescue centres.

The second family is Eublepharidae which includes Leopard and Fat-tailed Geckos. Leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularis) are one of the hardier lizards that responds well to life in captivity and the "tens of thousands of babies sold annually are captive bred and hatched" 2(p108). They grow to around 20cm in length, live roughly 25-30 years, are easy to handle and feed on a variety of insects that can be easily purchased. Leopard geckos are however nocturnal so you might not see as much actively during the day as you would other lizards. Also with a long life span time will need to be invested in this pet throughout the years and circumstances can change for people which should be considered before purchase.

Another popular lizard kept as a pet is from the third family Agamidae and is the Bearded Dragon (Poona vitticeps). These lizards grow to around 55cm in length and live for roughly 8-10 years. Originating from the deserts of central Australia they are a friendly heavy bodied lizard making them ideal for handling. If treated well they respond well to company often eating out of your hand and contently sitting on your shoulder. They are omnivorous eating a range of insects and a variety of fruit and vegetables both of which are now readily available. Bearded dragons are diurnal and very active so will need a large vivarium especially as they grow and they can be very messy so may require more cleaning out then other species. Bearded dragons breed well in captivity and are often sold in pet shops when they are young and only 10cm long and for those not knowledgeable about the species may not realise the space that will be required as they grow so this should be taken into consideration.

The forth family is the Chameleonidae, including the Veiled Chameleons (Chameleo calyptratus). Growing to around 45cm and living roughly 3-5 years these are another popular lizard because of some of their ability to change colour and its specialised tongue. Whilst they are fascinating to watch their delicate skin means they can get very stressed if over handled. The structure of their feet also requires a suitable habitat with plenty of branches and climbing material and the correct humidity, without which they can become distressed.

http://lizardmeanders.blogspot.com/This article has considered and discussed the key families of lizard frequently kept as pets. Lizards can make an ideal pet if adequate research is completed prior to purchase to ensure that a suitable species has been selected and that time, space, nutritional requirements and costs involved can be met. It is also important that a reliable source is used to obtain pet lizards where they are kept in good condition free from illness and bred in suitable conditions, not removed from their natural habitat in the wild for sale. The final point to consider is what you are going to do with your lizard when you go on holiday, obviously it can't be left and a family member or friend might not know how to look after it. There are however a number of reptile boarding facilities around the country which can look after your lizard when you go on holiday, giving you peace of mind that all will be well on your return.