One of the most crucial things you can do to properly care for a lizard is to set up an enclosure or terrarium which provides all the things it needs. A less than ideal habitat may result in serious health problems, stress and general unhappiness of your new pet.
What exact supplies and equipment you will need largely depends on the species you are caring for, but most lizards actually have similar requirements: a large enough enclosure, a basking spot for thermoregulation, UVB lights and humidity for shedding, plus food and entertainment.
Whether you own a gecko, a tegu or a monitor lizard, here’s a list of supplies you are going to need:
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Pet Lizard Supplies
The size of your enclosure depends largely on the size of your pet. The largest species of lizards (tegu, monitor) may require large cages of 8x4x4 inches and above! For smaller lizards a large terrarium of 20 gallons may suffice. Keep in mind that some lizards are climbers and will need vertical space, especially geckos.
It is best to get your hands on some reptile-specific substrate for your enclosure. Tropical terrarium beddings include reptile bark, reptile soil, coconut husk and moss. For burrowing species (such as tegus and skinks) you will need some Cypress mulch or similar.
Reptiles need direct sunlight for several hours a day, which you will need to replace with adequate lighting. UVB lamps for reptiles often come with a timer so you can set them up to automatically switch on/off every 12 hours to mimic day cycles. UVB light is essential for diurnal creatures in order to absorb calcium and vitamin D.
Properly heating your enclosure is one of the most important things you’ll have to take care of when keeping a lizard.
These reptiles are cold-blooded and need to use external heat sources to regulate their body temperature, which is why you often find them lying on rocks under the scorching sun. Some species are native to desert-like environments which means they will need A LOT of heat.
Heat lamps are an especially effective way to provide heat and light at the same time. Make sure to have both warm and cold areas inside the enclosure, the lizard will know exactly how to find the best spot according to their needs.
We already mentioned that lizards enjoy lying on rocks under the sun to regulate their body temperatures. Well, adding a basking rock in their terrarium can help them do exactly that so they can stay all warm and happy.
Basking rocks are typically placed near a heat source, such as a heat lamp, to provide a warm spot for reptiles to bask in. Some basking rocks are specifically designed to retain heat and radiate it back out, while others rely on the heat from the surrounding environment to warm up.
Because some species are especially sensitive to temperature, it is worth to invest in not just one, but two thermometers so that you know exactly what the temperature is in the hottest and coldest areas of your enclosure.
You need to make sure that the space provided is large enough to allow for a gradual change in temperature, and that your lizard cannot get too close to the heat lamps as to avoid any risk of injury due to excessive heat.
Another important thing to measure inside your pet’s enclosure is the humidity level. Lizards generally require high levels of humidity, some species as much as 80-90 per cent. This allows them to stay cool, undergo healthy shedding and avoid skin problems.
A hygrometer is a device that measures humidity, or the amount of water vapor present in the air.
Add rocks, plants, logs and tree branches to provide hides for your lizard, replicate a more natural habitat and reduce stress.
Lizards are an intelligent animal that needs enrichment and it’s important that they get stimuli from their environment.
If you have a smart lizard like a bearded dragon, monitor or tegu, you may want to look into scatter feeding and scent enrichment, or get your pet some reptile toys.
PetsWithScales.com is an informational website about big lizard pet care. We collect and provide information from different sources across the web on how to keep and care for reptiles as pets. The species we mainly deal with are tegus, monitor lizards, skinks and geckos. Our aim is to provide high quality information to help pet owners make better, more informed decisions about their animal’s diets, health and life.