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How to Care* for Your Sudan Plated Lizard

How to Care* for Your Sudan Plated Lizard


 Sudan Plated Lizards (frequently known as Gerrhosaurus validus but have also been assigned a genus of their own within the family Gerrhosauridae and is consequently known as Broadleysaurus major) are moderately large (18-24"), diurnal, terrestrial reptiles native to equatorial Africa. Their habitat is generally considered to be arid savannah, though the environment does undergo brief rainy seasons twice a year.  Sudan Plated Lizards are shaped somewhat like skinks with a long tail that accounts for half their body length.  They are generally black, gray, or brown colored with yellow striping along their sides and cream-colored undersides.  They have tight, densely arranged scales that give them their common name "plated lizard." Sudan Plated Lizards are somewhat shy and have specific habitat needs, making them an intermediate level reptile.



A single Sudan Plated Lizard may be housed in an enclosure that is minimally 4'x 2'x 2', though an even larger enclosure, 5'x 3'x 3', is the preferred minimum by some keepers. Sudan Plated Lizards enjoy burrowing, so they will benefit from at least 6" of a substrate, which could be a mixture of topsoil, coco fiber, and sand.  They are active animals who can be somewhat shy.  Consequently, they require areas for burrowing, hiding, and climbing, especially when basking.  This can be achieved by setting up dry and humid hides as well as providing other climbing and hiding spaces by using cork bark, well-anchored rocks, and stable wood branches.  Sudan Plated Lizards also require a food bowl, a humid hide, and a water bowl that they can soak in if desired.


Heating and Lighting

Since they are moderately large diurnal reptiles, Sudan Plated Lizards require two kinds of lighting:  a source of UVB throughout the cage to provide vitamin D3 for metabolizing calcium, and a focused basking light to provide heat and mimic the desert sun.

The recommended UVB light is a full-spectrum 10.0 fluorescent bulb or T5 bulb that runs most of the length of the enclosure with a reflector to direct the light and heat downward.  The fixture can be placed inside the cage underneath the cover or on top of a mesh cover.  If the fixture is placed on top of the cage, a glass cage cover should not be used, since the UVB will not penetrate through the glass.  Fluorescent bulbs decrease in the amount of UVB emitted with time. It's safest to replace the bulb every 6 months, though a more accurate schedule can be determined if a UV meter is purchased and used to check UV levels.

The basking light can be a floodlight or LED light and should provide a heat level of approximately 110-115 degrees F when the lizard is on its perch.  

The ambient temperature in the enclosure should be 75-80F on the cool side during the day, with a temperature drop as low as 60 at night.  Supplemental heating should be provided if the ambient temperature will regularly drop below 60F. Sudan Plated Lizard enclosures can be misted periodically to provide additional humidity.


Food and Supplementation

Sudan Plated Lizards are omnivorous and eat fruit, vegetables, and live prey.  Adult Sudan Plated Lizards should get most of their calories from leafy green vegetables with occasional servings of fruit and flowers and some insects. The bulk of the plant matter fed to Sudan Plated Lizards should consist of nutritious leafy greens and orange vegetables such as squash or yams.  Lettuce does not contain a significant amount of nutrients and should not be the main component of the vegetable diet.  The most nutritious greens include collard greens, arugula, dandelion greens, carrot, and beet tops.  Spinach, chard, and kale should be provided in limited quantities as these tend to reduce the body's absorption of calcium. Tough vegetables such as carrots or yams may need to be lightly steamed or cut small to facilitate digestion.  Fruit should make up only 10-15% of the lizard's diet and can cause loose stools if provided to excess.

Adult Sudan Plated Lizards should be fed live prey about twice a week, including roaches, crickets, hornworms, silkworms, superworms, butterworms, or NutriGrubs (black soldier fly larvae, also known as phoenix worms).  Mealworms are generally not recommended due to the amount of difficult to digest chitin in their exoskeletons.  Some keepers feed their lizards live pinky mice though this is not required. Needless to day, Dubia Roaches are a wonderful staple food for Sudan Plated Lizards!

Sudan Plated Lizards require calcium to build strong bones, vitamin D3 to metabolize the calcium and a variety of other vitamins and minerals. It's generally recommended to dust their prey with calcium and other vitamins using a commercially available product at every feeding., assuming that they will obtain the desired amount of vitamin D3 from the full spectrum UV light provided.

*This care sheet contains only very basic information.  If you are new to Sudan Plated Lizards, please do additional research to obtain additional information from more detailed care sheets.

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