How to Care for Your Collared Lizard
Collared Lizards (genus Crotaphytus; Crotaphytus collaris refers to the most commonly kept Eastern Collared Lizard) are medium sized (10-16”), diurnal, terrestrial reptiles native to the arid southwest United States and parts of Mexico. They are very active reptiles but also spend their time basking in bushes and on rocks in order to raise their body temperature. Collared Lizards come in a variety of colors. Their base color could be powder blue, green or tan, overlaid with a variety of bright splotches and speckles. Males tend to be larger and more colorful than females, but both sexes have two black bands around their necks which gives them their common name. Selective breeding has increased the variety of colors and patterns. Collared Lizards should be considered as intermediate level pets due to their high level of activity, voracious appetites and heating and lighting needs.
A single Collared Lizard may be housed in an enclosure of at least 48”x24”x18” high; more than one kept together will require a larger enclosure. Most Collared Lizard keepers recommend some sort of rough, particulate substrate such as wood bark, sand and rock mixture or excavator clay, in order to approximate their natural habitat and allow them to burrow as desired. Collared Lizards bask during the day in order to maintain their body heat and require a structure they can climb on to bring them closer to their basking light source. This can be a branch, rock or other platform. Structures should be securely anchored to prevent them tipping and injuring the lizard. Desert plants can be added to the enclosure, as well as a small water bowl. The enclosure can also be lightly misted weekly to allow the Collared Lizard to lick water drops from the surface.
Heating and Lighting
Since they are diurnal reptiles, Collared 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. By placing the basking light at one end of the enclosure, it’s possible to establish a heat gradient with a range of temperatures throughout the enclosure. The recommended UVB light is a full-spectrum 10.0 florescent bulb that runs most of the length of the enclosure. 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. Florescent 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 flood light or halogen light and should provide a heat level of approximately 100-110 degrees F when the lizard is on its perch. The daytime temperature of the enclosure should be in the 80’s with a night time temperature drop into the high 60’s allowed.
Food and Supplementation
Collared Lizards are primarily insectivorous and have large appetites. Adults should be fed avariety of bugs and worms every other day, including roaches, crickets, hornworms, silkworms, mealworms, superworms, butterworms or NutriGrubs (black soldier fly larvae, also known as phoenix worms). Some keepers feed their lizards live pinky mice though this is not required. Needless to day, Dubia Roaches are a wonderful staple food for Collared Lizards! Collared 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, vitamin D3 and other vitamins using a commercially available product at least once a week.
*This care sheet contains only very basic information. If you are new to Collared Lizards, please do additional research to obtain additional information from more detailed care sheets.