Collared Lizards are named because of the distinct and tidy black and white bands around their necks. Originally from the deserts of northwest United States, they have made their way into many homes as pets. Collared lizards are known to be curious and watching them hunt their food is always fun to watch.
Collared lizards have blunted snouts and their rough scales are the color of sand so they can blend into the scrubland. Their backs are extremely colorful and filled with a combination of black dots, yellow bands and even blue, green or turquoise showing through. Snout to tail length is 14 inches as adults, and the collared lizard has a long, thin tail.
Many collared lizards can be tamed easily and many will come to the side to the cage out of curiosity, some lizards that are wild caught may never warm up to humans, but that is rarely an issue.
Like many lizards, the collared lizard is an insectivore. A diet of crickets or mealworms will work perfectly. Hatchling lizards will need to eat appropriately sized crickets on a daily basis but adults only need to be fed every 3-5 days. Wax worms can be fed as a treat, but should not be the main part of their diet because the wax worm is extremely high in fat and lacks nutrients and protein found in crickets.
Make sure that the crickets that are fed are not too small or too large. A good way to measure is the cricket should be as long as their head wide or smaller to prevent choking. Any uneaten crickets should be removed from the cage as soon as possible. Remember to gut load your crickets. Fill them with healthy, fresh food that will later be fed to your lizard.
Collared lizards like their room, and height will not be used in a cage. As adults, a 40-gallon enclosure is needed. Each lizard that you add to the cage should also add 10 more gallons. Never house adults with hatchlings or males with other males because collared lizards are very territorial and one or both will get hurt. A screen lid should be used for containment and airflow.
Substrate can either be loose or simple. Loose substrate like reptile sand looks much nicer, but is more of a hassle to clean. Simple substrates like paper towels, reptile carpet or newspaper are not decorative, but get the job done easily and efficiently. If you decide to go with sand, a four-inch base is needed and this will be replaced every 2-3 months. Simple substrates can be replaced when soiled. Simple substrates are recommended for hatchlings because ingestion of sand particles is much more likely to cause problems. Spot clean any substrate daily.
A hide or two for a secure place to go can be provided along with a couple branches for your collared lizard to climb on. Collared lizards do not need a humid hide in the cage.
Reptiles are exothermic, meaning they need heat from an outside source. A hot spot in the enclosure needs to be 105-115F during the day and room temperature at night. The rest of the cage does not need to be heated. To achieve the temperatures that they need you can use reptile heat pads or overhead basking bulbs or a combination of the two. Keep a thermometer by the hot spot o you are never guessing at the temperature.
Collared lizards will need UV lights as well so their bones and scales stay strong and healthy. A UV bulb should be 6-8 inches away from the lizard and need to be replaced every 6 months. Turn this bulb off at night.
Being from a desert-like environment, a small bowl filled with clean water is all that is needed. If the enclosure gets too humid lung problems may occur.
Spot clean daily and replace substrate when needed. Keep water bowl full with clean water.
Both male and female collared lizards will be ready to breed at the age of two. During the winter months, the male and the female should be introduced and the temperature of their enclosure should be dropped down to 65-70F. Before mating feed a pinkie mouse to the female so she has extra fat and calcium when egg laying occurs. Mating will occur within a couple weeks of the initial meeting and soon you should see white bumps on the abdomen of the female.
As the female is making her eggs, you need to prepare the cage they are staying in. The female will stop eating once this process begins and a lay box needs to be present in the cage. A lay box can be filled with vermiculite, potting soil or sphagnum moss. Keep it very moist in there and check for eggs.
Once eggs have been laid, they need to be removed from the cage because the male and the female will not parent them. Place the eggs in an incubator at 85F and maintain 80% humidity so the eggs develop properly. When moving the eggs, do not rotate them or the embryo will be destroyed. Incubation time will take a little less than two months. The male and the female can be kept together, and bring the temperature up to normal as winter changes to summer.
Hatchlings can be kept in a 10 gallon tank with a newspaper substrate. They will eat little crickets a week after they have hatched, and once they can be sexed, they should be separated into their own enclosures. Temperatures are the same as adults and make sure they have enough room to move around. As they grow, so should the size of their enclosure.
The collared lizard is from the scrublands of North America and is making a name for itself in the pet reptile industry because of its curious and individual personality. Their care is straightforward and they are full of life. Remember, do your research before buying any pet so that it can live happily and healthily.
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Marty - July 15, 2017
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