Pet Lizards: A Guide to Their Proper Care and Maintenance

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Keeping lizards is a hobby that is fascinating and fun, but it is also a responsible undertaking, demanding expert knowledge, capacity for understanding, and the power of observation. These cold-blooded animals, which often look like miniature editions of prehistoric saurians, are much less adaptable than warm-blooded house pets like birds, small mammals, dogs, and cats. Therefore lizards can only be maintained in the terrarium successfully when their requirements for living space, climate, and food can be met.

Harald Jes, who as a zoo expert has special experience in keeping and breeding lizards, tells what is necessary for keeping lizards in a terrarium. He gives advice on how to buy the right terrarium and how to ventilate, heat, and light it, in terms so easily understood that even a beginner can follow them. Rule number one is that the lizard-keeper must know as much as possible about the life needs of the animals. Today lizards that can be kept in a terrarium come from a wide variety of the environments of our earth — from dry desert regions to tropical rain forests. The various requirements that result for the keeping and care of lizards are described in detail in the special chapter on the arrangement of desert, rainforest, and semiaquatic terraria. The lizard-keeper can thus determine easily what is necessary for the appropriate care of the particular lizards he has chosen.

Proper feeding is very important for the proper maintenance of lizards and takes on a special significance at the time the animals are obtained. The keeper of a lizard that requires animal food will have little pleasure if he finds it difficult to kill animals for food.

It would be wiser to choose an herbivorous lizard. The chapter on feeding gives exact information about the appropriate food and the proper method of feeding for both carnivorous and herbivorous lizards. Information about keeping and breeding food animals is given in this seciton of the site.

Without doubt the most fascinating thing about keeping lizards is observing the many patterns of typical behavior that each species displays in the appropriate environment. The better suited the terrarium environment is to the particular requirements of the lizards, the more likely that they will mate and that the offspring can be raised.

A word needs to be said about the protection of endangered species. If you take on the responsibility for lizards you must realize that you cannot just pick out any you might like. For one thing, there are certain lizard species that definitely cannot be kept in a terrarium — or can be maintained only under the most difficult conditions, nearly impossible for a layperson to fulfill; for another, there are national and international endangered species agreements that govern the purchase or possession of some lizards.