With over four thousand species out there, the very first step is to correctly identify your lizard. That will determine its housing and diet needs.
Insectivore (leopard gecko)
Carnivore (typically larger lizards)
There are five basic housing categories
The wet, semi-aquatic, terrarium
The forest terrarium (Chameleons)
Dessert (Gecko and Bearded Dragon)
Large cages (Iguanas)
We will concentrate on Geckos and Dragons, as they are the most common lizard pets we see.
There are over 1,000 species and subspecies that divide up into six families of the suborder Gekkota. We typically see the leopard gecko as preferred pets.
The leopard gecko typically grows less than 10 inches and can live up to 20 years. They are nocturnal and live in the desert. The leopard gecko has distinct outer ears and eyelids.
Try not to keep more than one male but you can add a couple of females to the mix. A ten gallon terrarium makes a good home for one gecko, go bigger if you have more.
Keep the terrarium between 85 to 95 degrees and ensure that they have 12 hours of light. You will need thermometers, heat lamps and may be night viewing bulbs. Lay down 2-3 inches of calcium sand or get a reptile carpet. Smaller lizards do better on carpet.
Ensure that there is one hiding spot per gecko at least. Moistened moss helps, mist periodically.
Vary the diet. Mainly crickets and mealworms are their primary diet but add superworms, wax worms and silk worms as well.
Bring your gecko to the vet if you see the following
Boredom or lack of stimulus
Hormone imbalance during maturation
Dietary deficiency or imbalance
Changes or emotional issues or separation anxiety (common with African greys and cockatoos)
Medical (fungal or mold)
The bearded dragon is an Australian lizard that live in rocky areas and are excellent climbers. They are omnivores that eat plants and insect and can grow up to two feet head to tail.
Get the biggest enclosure you can for your dragon and include some climbing areas. Use reptile carpet rather than sand to prevent accidental ingestion of sand. Heat pads and UV lights are a must. Keep the tank clean, don’t let things get befouled.
Provide some smooth rocks for basking and for them to wear down their nails. A place to hide helps as well.
Dragons like the temperature between 78-88 F but don’t let the night temperature drop below 70F.
A young dragon eats more protein (insects) than veggies because it’s growing. Feed them for 10-15 minutes and then take out the remaining insects. Juveniles can eat 20-60 crickets a day. Adults need less and you don’t want them overweight. Adult diet can be 65% plants and veggies.
You can feed them crickets, black soldier fly larvae, butter worms, earthworms, dubia roaches and superworms. A rule of thumb is to not feed them anything bigger than the width between their eyes, this avoids choking and hind leg paralysis.
Leave some veggies for your bearded dragons at all times. You can mist the veggies to keep them fresher and hydrate your dragon. You can feed it a salad of collards, dandelion greens, flowers, escarole, endives, mustard greens, watercress and turnip greens. More sparingly, from time to time, you can add
Acorn, butternut and yellow squash (cook or microwave to sofen)
You can even leave other plants like basil, thyme, rosemary and chives.
Health concerns with Dragons include
Calcium and Deficiencies that lead to poor growth or even siezures
Beta-Carotine Deficiencies that affect your dragon’s colors
Overfeeding babies and juveniles that even causes the hind legs to drag and even may lead to death
Injuries and fungal infections on cuts and scrapes
Gastrointestinal infections leading to loss of appetite and diarrhea.