Keeping lizards as pet

Lizards type

Food type

Horned lizards Prefer ants, some will take small crickets and/or mealworms
Night and “worm” lizards

Termites and/or ants eggs

Green iguanas Frozen mixed vegetables, dandelions, crickets, pinkies, eggs, small amount of dog food
Tegus and Heloderms

Raw eggs, chopped lean meat, pinkies

Monitors As tegus plus larger rodents and birds and freshwater fish
Fence lizards, skinks, alligator lizards,anoles, chameleons etc Appropriate sized insect, fruit flies through to large crickets


Bearded Dragons

Bearded dragons originate in Australia and can be found in light forests and grasslands, they enjoy climbing and prefer to be on sand and rock surfaces. They will keep their body temperature around 35ºC and as they cool their skin will become darker. The air humidity should not exceed 30-40%. During the winter months, reptiles will enter brumation, this is a hibernation-like state that cold-blooded animals enter during colder periods - due to not being in the wild your pet bearded dragon may or may not experience this. Bearded dragons are diurnal, this means they will venture out during the day in order to benefit from the sun's UV. Bearded dragons are helioterms, which means they use the warmth from the sun which is why they bask, and they are also thigmotherms (getting warmth from surfaces).

Males are very territorial and in the wild will mark out large areas, the females and juveniles have smaller areas within the males territory. The males will protect their territories against other lizards, and will create displays by showing their beards, although they prefer to hide if under threat, if they must they will also fight and defend should they need to. They do not shed their tails but they can be easily damaged.

Bearded dragons become sexually mature between 6 - 15 months, usually they will be approximately 30cm long, and they will mate in spring.

Wild bearded dragons look for higher protein when they are young and so are mainly insectivorous, but as they grow their needs change and they start taking leafy material, fruits and even flowers. Eventually as adults they are up to 90% herbivores. For pet bearded dragons we recommend:

Juveniles: feed them crickets 2-3 times a day, and also offer chopped fruit and vegetables

Adults: feed them dark green leafy vegetables eg. lettuce, collard, endive and spinach, plus carrots and fruit

Most exotic species require supplements to avoid nutritional deficiencies. We recommend Nutrobal for use in younger animals and ArkVits for adults.

Leopard Geckos

Leopard geckos originate from the desert areas of Iran, Pakistan and India, living in temperatures around 25-29ºC. Their appearance is spotted, they have eyelids and their tail is a fat store. However they can shed their tail (called autotomy: the casting off of a part of the body). They are very territorial and will fight off any intruders until death.

They are nocturnal and do not bask in the sun, because of this they do not need a UV light in captivity and rely on dietary vitamin D3 supplements to maintain health. They require shelter during the day and are best heated from below. Geckos are docile and easy to handle, and can also be kept alone. Pay close attention to the noises your gecko makes, it is reported that during times of stress or illness they will squeak.

Leopard geckos are active foragers that like to climb. They like to feed on mealworms, waxworms and pinkies (but these are high in fat). We recommend the use of Nutrobal dusted onto crickets (a staple for juveniles who consume around 5 a day, adults will consume around 10 crickets three times a week)


Panther chameleons (Furcifer Pardalis) are one of the most commonly known and kept chameleons. Panther chameleons are considered beginner chameleons but that isn’t a criticism, they are good animals to keep well and are generally quite happy being handled.

Panther chameleons come from Madagascar and there are regional variations.

Males: Adult male panther chameleons range in size from 12-22”. They reach sexual maturity at around 6-8 months of age, and will become territorial with colour displays towards rival males, usually achieving full colour by about 12 months of age. The hemipenal bulge will become obvious on the underside of the tail near the vent. They will begin courting females by brightening their colours and bobbing their head up and down.

Females: Adult female panther chameleons are smaller than the males, reaching only 12”. Females reach sexual maturity at 10 months, but it is best to postpone any planned breeding until the females have reached full size at 12 months. This is because of the high demand for calcium during egg calcification. Females lay on average 1-5 clutches per year, with 3 being the average. The egg count can range from 15-45 eggs. Calcium issues can cause serious problems for females and supplementation is very important.

Housing: Panther chameleons are naturally found in the tree canopy and in low land woody areas. You will need to mimic this by providing a good mix of live plants, vines, and branches. Live plants are important in keeping up the humidity, and giving the chameleon a more natural living environment along with a sense of security. Some of the most commonly used plants include the Ficus, Pothos, and Dwarf Umbrellas. Be sure to check that the plants you use are not toxic. Having plants in containers standing on paper towels is often best for disease prevention.

Panther Chameleons are solitary animals, and only meet when it is time to breed. They do not live in groups, and should not be housed in groups. They should be kept alone as they are solitary in the wild, and the males are territorial and aggressive towards each other. Even keeping females together isn’t recommended.

Cages can be placed side by side, but a visible barrier must be placed between the two cages otherwise animals will become stressed. This will prevent one chameleon from seeing the other. Cages should also be out of view from other animals or heavy traffic.

Males are very territorial towards rival males, and can become highly aggressive towards one another. Mixing a male and one or more females in the same cage should also be avoided. Males will stress the females with consistent breeding attempts. Gravid females will not even tolerate the site of a male.

Baby panther chameleons need 20"x18"x12". Anything much bigger than this should be avoided, as young chameleons will find it difficult to hunt if the cage is too large.

From the sub-adult stage of the chameleon’s life, long term housing needs to be set up. The minimum cage size for an adult male Panther Chameleon is 24x24x48. An adult female Panther Chameleon is 18x18x36.

Lighting & Heating: Expose your chameleon to as much unfiltered natural sunlight as you can, weather permitting. Unfiltered light consists of natural sunlight that does not come through window glass, plastic, or acrylic. These materials filter out most, if not all, of the UVB rays. With indoor housing and little natural sunlight, we need to resort to artificial UVB sources. UVB is an important element in the production of vitamin D3 for your chameleon. D3 is utilized by a chameleon to absorb calcium for healthy bone growth. Without it, the chameleon will most likely develop metabolic bone disease (MBD). MBD is a disease that causes bone deformities from the lack of calcium or D3 in the diet. These effects can be stopped but not reversed.

Panther Chameleons need a basking site with a temperature of 26-32oC. The basking site should be monitored and adjusted according to seasons. During winter months, you may need to use a larger bulb to provide the correct temperature. During summer months, you may need to lower the bulb wattage. You can also adjust the height of the heat/basking bulb from the basking site. A gradient temperature should be provided throughout the cage. Higher temperatures should be present near the basking area, while lower temperatures should be present at the bottom of the cage.

Food & feeding: It is important to provide your chameleon with a wide variety of prey items. This includes crickets, silkworms, mealworms, superworms, waxworms, and flies. A staple diet of crickets is recommended for daily feeding. Other food items listed should be fed only as treats. Wild bugs should be avoided unless you know that they are non-toxic, clean and suitable for your chameleon. A clean source would be an area free of pesticides or toxins that bugs may come in contact with. Urban areas are unsafe for collecting wild bugs for chameleons.

Generally youngsters need feeding once or twice a day, keeping food items constantly available. Adults will often settle down to feeding on alternate days although breeding females will require food more often

Water: Panther chameleons will not drink standing water from a bowl. Their natural source of water comes from the dew drops that form on leaves. To simulate this in captivity, we use a dripper or a mister to provide the dew drops. Daily dripping and misting is a must. Misting should be done at least 3 times daily; dripping should be done for a few hours daily. An automatic misting system is very useful in providing an adequate water supply while you are away. Panthers are a tropical species, and humidity should be maintained at 60-80%.

Supplements: Calcium, D3, and a vitamin supplement are a requirement for keeping your chameleon healthy. We recommend that all insects be fed Nutrogrub for gut loading and lightly dusted in Nutrobal before feeding.


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