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Lizard Care Sheets

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AUSTRAILIAN WATER DRAGON

Food:

Newly arrived water dragons will normally start eating after 3-4 days as they need some time to adjust to their new surroundings. If you have recently arrived water dragons, it is important to have the temperature inside the terrarium high enough (80F) if you want them to start eating soon. As in Australia they will stop eating when days get shorter and cooler; they may do the same in your terrarium if temperatures and light periods decrease.

At Agama International, Inc. we feed them mainly superworms as they can be fed from a feeding dish. This allows for very easy checking on their feeding habits. They also eat crickets. The drawback with gray- or house-crickets is that they are nocturnal and hide during the day, while the lizards are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day. So it can happen that there are more crickets in the terrarium then needed, and that the crickets disturb the lizards at night.

Of the cockroaches you should never feed German or American ones for obvious reasons (they will escape and become a true pest in the house). Hissing cockroaches, and deadhead cockroaches (Blaperus cranifer) can be fed easily from a container with smooth sides.

Cat food and all kinds of sweet and soft fruits (banana, peach, watermelon, etc.) can also be offered to your Australian water dragons. Although some will never touch it while others may eat it with fruition. Adults may also eat pinkie rats and pinkie mice.

As always, it is important to "gut load" your feeding insects first. This means you have to feed the insects before they are fed to the reptiles. This way the reptiles get extra nutrients which they may otherwise not be able to get. Sweet potato or carrots are very good choices for "gut loading" your insects.

You can also increase the food value of the feeder insects by dusting them first with a powder specifically made for that purpose, like for example Miner-All. These powders are easily available at all pet stores.

Terrarium:

The terrarium size for one pair of adult water dragons should be about 4 feet long by 3 feet high by 2 feet wide. In the terrarium you can place a tree branch or tree trunk on which they can climb and sit. A warm basking spot is also needed. They also like a small box or place into which they can both sleep and hide. The water bowl needs to be situated so that it can be cleaned easily. The lizards should to be able to get in and, also, out off the water easily. Although not very elegant, we often use paint-roller dishes as they have a sloped "beach" area.

A larger pond, with water plants such as lotus, should get a filtering system. Another possibility is to use a water bowl with a drain, which can be cleaned and replenished without opening the terrarium.

Lighting:

If you keep your water dragon inside you need a UVB lamp to provide ultraviolet radiation to the reptile. Please read and follow the instructions that accompany the lamp. It is always important to place the lamp at the correct height (as listed on the lamps instructions) above the lizard basking spot. Just 2 inches higher or lower will greatly change the amount of ultraviolet radiation that the lizard will absorb.

This Care Sheet was Supplied By Agama International
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THE CARE OF THE AUSTRALIAN INLAND BEARDED DRAGON,
(Pogona vitticeps)

The Inland Bearded Dragon, Pogona vitticeps, is becoming increasingly popular as a pet lizard in the U.S. Bearded dragons are among the tamest of all lizards, and their outgoing personalities, activity level, voracious appetites and interesting social behaviours make them a very captivating lizard to observe. They have a veryrapid growth rate, so the 4" hatchlings can grow to their adult size within a year. Most bearded dragons adapt easily to handling and are calm enough to perch on their owner's shoulder, or be placed on a countertop, or enjoy the view from a windowsill.The inland bearded dragon has a huge range in the interior of Australia, ranging from the subtropical woodlands, to the savannahs, and into the great interior deserts. They spend most of their time perched on logs, rocks or tree trunks, alert for the approach of any food item. Bearded dragons are omnivorous, and feed on a variety of insects, any small animal they can overpower, and flowers, greenery and fruits. They live in an environment that can be very harsh, so bearded dragons are adapted to eat almost any food that is available during lean seasons. They also can store nutrients in huge abdominal fat bodies, and dig into the ground and aestivate for long periods during unfavourable times. Even in captivity, certain environmental conditions may trigger the bearded dragons to hide in a sheltered spot in the cage, and go dormant for a few weeks, only to appear one day and start eating and behaving as though such activities are just part of being a bearded dragon!

This adaptability makes bearded dragons suitable for a variety of captive conditions and food sources. Female bearded dragons lay clutches of 15-25 eggs. The hatchlings are 3 1/2-4 1/4" long. The hatchlings grow rapidly, and are usually 5" long by the end of their first month. Most hatchling mortality occurs during this first month. By the end of the second month most hatchlings are 6", with most of this being an increase in body size, so they are much more robust and hardier. The juveniles will continue to grow rapidly, and can reach their adult size within a year. There is both coloration and size variation among the different races of Pogona vitticeps, so adults can range in size from 16-24"; a normal adult size is 18-22". Coloration varies from a uniform tan to chocolate brown, with a variety of chevron patterns down the back, and different hues to the head, throat, back and tail. As bearded dragons approach adult size, their sexual differences become more obvious, with the males developing much broader heads and a larger black beard. Males also have a rapid head bobbing display, while females, in response to the male, will return a series of slower head bobs. Both sexes engage in stereotyped arm waving behaviour to appease more dominant animals and this would also be characteristic of female behaviour towards a dominant male.

Care of hatchlings:

Young hatchlings can be housed in a 10 gallon aquarium, with a 30-60 watt spotlight at one end above a basking rock. The wattage of the spotlight needs to be adjusted to allow the dragons to reach a body temperature of 100 degrees after basking under the light for an hour, as they need to get very warm to digest their food. Arrange the rocks and branches to provide several basking levels. Watch the hatchlings so you can arrange basking areas that they like to use. Arrange branches and add shelters so the hatchlings can choose from a range of temperatures and heights to maintain their optimum body temperature. A full spectrum, ultraviolet A emitting fluorescent lamp, such as: Spectralite by Service Colortone 50 by Phillips Design 50 by Sylvania Vitalite by Duro-Test should be suspended over the cage, and perches arranged so lizards can bask within 6 inches of the bulb, so they can absorb the UV-A to manufacture their vitamin D3 for bone formation. The substrate can be washed sand or newspaper, etc. A very shallow water pan should be placed in the cage where the lizards will run through it. They should be sprayed with water every day, both on the cage and on their heads. They often lap water as it is sprayed on them. Keep a fine mist of spray directed on their heads as long as they keep lapping up the water. The hatchlings require a dry cage, but need to drink a lot of water. Some learn to drink from their water dish, but if they get thin and dehydrated it will be necessary to adjust their conditions by getting them to ingest more water via increased sprayings, providing fresh moist vegetables, or warming or cooling the cage. The hatchlings should be fed small crickets, mealworms, waxworms and other insects every day if they are to make optimum growth. Choose feeder insects that are about 1/3 the size of their heads so the hatchlings can easily eat them. Thin leaves of red tip lettuce and other greens can be finely shredded and fed to the hatchlings, or pieces of leaf can bepropped up so the lizards can take bites out of them. Potted plants such as purslane, pothos, hibiscus, and garden greens can also be placed in the cage, and the hatchlings will benefit from the water content of the fresh leaves. It is important to encourage the hatchlings to eat vegetation, as this is an important part of their diet, and contains a lot of water for them. Healthy bearded dragons of all ages have well filled out bellies.

A calcium supplement containing vitamin D3, such as Rep-Cal (R), should be lightly sprinkled on food items every other day or so to promote healthy bone growth. If the lips start to separate, or the hind legs go into spasm, or are held out stiffly, you need to supply more calcium and D3. Caution should be exercised when using multi-vitamin supplements, as bearded dragons are very susceptible to vitamin A toxicity, characterized by a swelling of the throat, and proceeding to a bloating of the body and lethargy. I recommend giving them a small dose of multi-vitamins just twice a month. This is enough to ensure they are getting all the vitamins they need, as bearded dragons will get most vitamins they need when fed a varied diet. If the baby dragons get sick, and exhibit erratic behaviour, and can't eat and drink on their own you need to assist-feed them. Prepare a solution of chicken baby food mixed with water and Rep-Cal, and a tiny bit of multi-vitamin, all mixed to a gruel-like consistency, and deliver it to the tip of the snout with an eyedropper. The baby dragon will shortly drink in this drop hanging on its lips, and once the drinking reflex begins, you can apply the eyedropper to the snout, and allow the dragon to drink its full. Stop to allow the dragon to breathe, then see if it will take more. You may have to continue this for several days. Don't wait for the dragon to get weak and dehydrated. Treat it immediately and its chance for recovery is better. Keep it separated from cage mates till it again eats well on its own.

Care of juveniles:

As the hatchlings grow, the larger ones should be moved to a different cage, or they will dominate and stress out their smaller siblings. As their size increases, they can take larger food items, and more vegetable matter in the diet. Greens are very good for them, as are Chinese cabbages, and a standard, cooked, chopped vegetable mix of green beans, carrots, corn, peas, and broccoli. They love to devour edible potted plants placed in the cage. Purslane and hibiscus are very good, as they have a juicy leaf, and the plants can tolerate the high temperatures in a bearded dragon cage. Also the sprouts of beans and sunflowers are very good for them (often their favourite food) and with a little planning you can provide a continuous supply of these. Under optimum conditions, bearded dragons grow fast, and can reach adult size in 12 months.Social interactions:As the dragons grow, they will establish a hierarchy. Aggressive and appeasement displays are a part of their normal social interaction. Dominant males tend to take the highest perch, so provide separate basking sites for sub-dominant animals. Females will establish a hierarchy of their own. It is normal bearded dragon behaviour for males to chase females about the cage and to challenge each other, sometimes biting. Be alert for individuals that become intimidated, and do not feed or bask as often as the others. Re-arrange the cage furnishings, or move intimidated animals to a different cage to permit them access to food, water and basking sites.

THIS CARE SHEET WAS PROVIDED BY Peter Weis, Herpetologist WEIS REPTILES
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CARE SHEET FOR THE GENUS UROMASTYX

INTRODUCTION

These interesting lizards have become more popular during the last few years. Unfortunately there is little known about the genus. The following guidelines will help maintain these animals in captivity. Hopefully as more people work with the genus success stories will become more numerous. The only way to ensure better husbandry for these unusual lizard is for all herpetoculturists to share their information.

TAXONOMY AND DISTRIBUTION

There are approximately 13 species in the genus Uromastyx. These lizards are adapted to arid regions and are found from northwestern India throughout southwestern Asia and the Arabian Peninsula to the Sahara of Africa (Moody 1987). Members of this genus are referred to as dab lizards or spiny tailed lizards. There are six species (U. aegypticus, U. ornatus, U. ocellatus, U. acanthinurus, U. hardwicki, and U. benti which are occasionally available in the United States. The other seven species are seldom if ever imported. Uromastyx aegypticus is the largest member of the genus with individuals reaching 30 inches or more in total length and weighing several pounds. The other species are usually under 14 inches in total length. Coloration is variable between and within species. Uromastyx aegypticus and Uromastyx hardwicki are usually dark to light brown. Uromastyx acanthinurus can be yellow, green, bright orange or a combination of these colors. Uromastyx ornatus are sexually dimorphic with adult males being green or blue green with blotches of yellows and oranges. Females have more subtle yellows, browns, and some orange.

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS

Behavior differs between species and even individuals within the same species. Some, Uromastyx acanthinurus and Uromastyx aegypticus, can be very shy, often retreating to a hide spot when someone approaches the cage. Others, Uromastyx ornatus, will often be tame. Individuals differ in their behaviors and you can find exceptions to the above generalizations. Large numbers of Uromastyx aegypticus and U. ornatus have been imported into the country during the last few years. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that 7,000 members of the genus were brought in 1994. For unknown reasons the death rate for Uromastyx ornatus is rumored to be as high as 80% during the first two months of captivity. Uromastyx aegypticus is hardier and with proper treatment adapts to captivity. Uromastyx acanthinurus have not been imported from Morocco for several years, however, a few animals occasionally come from Europe and a only two private breeders are known to occasionally produce captive born animals. There is probably less than 100 animals in the United States. This species adjusts well to captivity even if reproductive success is not common.

SEXING

The presence of large femoral pores with waxy protuberance and hemipene bulges can often distinguish males, however this is not obvious on all species. Males tend to have broader heads but this is often subtle or misleading. Uromastyx ornatus are the easiest to sex due to enlarged femoral pores on the males and adult males are more colorful than females. Uromastyx acanthinurus can be extremely difficult to sex. Probing does not work with Uromastyx acanthinurus and may not be a useful tool for the genus.

SOCIAL BEHAVIOR

Most lizards are territorial, which means that the male and sometimes the female will defend an area from members of the same species or even other species. Often in captivity two male lizards will fight openly. Even if aggression is not overt, the submissive male can be adversely affected. Research with green iguanas indicates that submissive males in sight or smell of a dominant male have slower growth rates. Uromastyx males should be housed separately. Some herpetoculturists even house females individually and only introduce them to males during the breeding season (Matt Moyle, personal communication). CAGING Each species of lizard is adapted to specific environmental conditions. Knowledge about a species macro and micro habitat is critical in designing a cage setup, however limited information is available regarding habitat type for each species of Uromastyx. Generally the species are found in deserts, therefore they are best kept in desert set-ups. Cages can consist of glass aquariums, metal stock tanks, or wooden boxes. Sand, dirt and newspaper are often used for substrate. Rocks or other objects should be placed in the cage to allow climbing and basking sites. Any heavy objects, such as rocks, must be securely anchored or the lizard will burrow underneath causing the rock to fall and crush it. Hide boxes provide the animals with a sense of security and are especially important for gravid females. Uromastyx can and should be kept outside during the summer or all year in the southwestern United States where temperatures seldom drop below the mid 60's F. A variety of outdoor caging types can be constructed, including a simple sheet metal ring sunk 12 inches in the ground and standing 24 inches above ground (the height is adjusted depending upon the size of the animals). Outdoor cages should be secured with a wire top to prevent predators (e.g. cats, birds, raccoons) from entering.

TEMPERATURE

These lizards are adapted to hot desert conditions. The cage should have a daytime hot basking spot where the temperature exceeds 120 F, however the lizard must be able to retreat to areas in the low 90's. Incandescent spotlights can provide hot basking spots. The wattage selected depends upon the size of the cage. Thermometers should be placed at both ends of the cage and monitored to ensure a proper temperature gradient. Under tank heaters can be used to supplement heat, however these are diurnal species and regulate their body temperature by basking in the sun. Spotlights more accurately approximately the way diurnal lizards obtain their heat naturally. Night time temperatures should be less that the daytime highs. Temperatures should be allowed to drop into the mid 60's F.

LIGHTING

Ultraviolet light is believed to be important for most lizards. Unfiltered sunlight (i.e. not through glass) is the best sources of ultraviolet light and lizards should always be exposed to sun whenever possible. There are several full spectrum fluorescent light bulbs on the market. Most claim that they duplicate the sun's light spectrum, however it is unlikely that any can achieve the intensity of ultraviolet light emitted by the sun. There is no scientific research supporting the assumption that these bulbs are beneficial, however there use is recommended since there is some antidotal evidence that they provide psychological benefits to the lizards. The new ZOOMED full spectrum bulb appears to have the highest UVA and UVB of any of the full spectrum bulbs on the market, therefore it is recommended.

WATER

Most desert species are adapted to live without free water. Uromastyx ornatus comes from the Sinai Peninsula where it rains less than 2 inches per year. Many species obtain moisture from the food they consume. There is evidence that some species, such as the Australian Moloch and North American horned lizards, collect morning dew on their scales which is then channeled toward the mouth. Many herpetoculturists soak their Uromastyx aegypticus in water and claim that the animal swells as it absorbs water. Whether the animal is actually filling up with water or only filling it's body cavity with air is unknown. Considering that this is a desert species, soaking in water seems inconsistent with adaptations to arid conditions and could lead to respiratory infections if the animal does not thoroughly dry after soaking. Water can be provided infrequently in a bowl. The bowl should not be left for long periods in the cage or it can raise the humidity to possibly unacceptable levels. Baby Uromastyx ornatus will drink water sprayed on the side of the cage.

FOOD

Uromastyx are omnivorous which means they consume both animal and plant materials. Since there is no data about the specific nutritional requirements of this genus a large variety of food items should be offered. Young animals more readily accept insects such as wax worms, crickets, and super meal worms, which should be offered three or four times per week. The following vegetables should be offered; kale, collard greens, mustard greens, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, corn, and green peas. In addition, dandelion greens, alfalfa, grass, and flowers can be added to the diet. Beans such as split peas, lentils, navy beans, and other should also be provided. Some of these beans can be sprouted prior to feeding. Bird seed should also be mixed in with the salad. A reptile vitamin containing calcium should be sprinkled on the salad. Some of the commercial iguana chows can also be mixed in with the salad to ensure better nutrition. There are some indications that nutritional needs are not easily met for this genus. Several herpetoculturists who are raising young Uromastyx aegypticus and U. acanthinurus report slow growth rates. For example, I obtained two captive born Uromastyx aegypticus that were three inches long. Within eight months one animal was five inches long and the other 11 inches and much bulkier. The only difference in husbandry was that the larger animal would eat insects and smaller one would not. I have also observed slow growth in captive born Uromastyx acanthinurus.

REPRODUCTION

Several zoos (Christie 1993, Thatcher 1990, Wheeler 1988) and private breeders have successfully bred Uromastyx aegypticus and Uromastyx acanthinurus. However reproduction is not a regular occurrence. All breeders provide a winter cool down to stimulate reproduction. Apparently Uromastyx take several years to reach sexual maturity. As a comparison, North American chuckawallas, an ecological equivalent, take five to seven years to reach sexual maturity. Some of the smaller Uromastyx may reach sexual maturity in two or three years.

THIS CARE SHEET WAS PROVIDED BY Randall L. Gray

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GREEN IGUANA CARE SHEET

Overview:

The Green Iguana is a tree dwelling, vegetarian (vegan, in fact) which lays eggs and is active during daylight hours. They can reach a length of 6 feet and weigh up to 18 pounds. Iguanas mature between two and three years of age and may be sexed by probing or examining the femoral pores (a row of pores on the underside of the hind legs, the males having larger pores). Also, males commonly display an up and down head bob. With proper care, iguanas may live from 12 to 15 years. Choose a healthy animal with clear, alert eyes, no discharge from the nose, and no stool caked around the vent, one which is active and flicks its tongue inquisitively, and who eats well.

Housing:

House smaller iguanas in a large aquarium (55 gal. or larger) to start, with a screen or wire cover, and furnish it with branches and newspaper or brown paper to cover the bottom. Food and water bowls should be shallow. A heating pad placed under one end of the tank set on low or medium will provide warmth necessary for digestion. An ordinary clip-on incandescent light may also be used to provide heat (wattage will vary depending on air temperature in your home). Iguanas ferment their food in a compartmented colon which takes about 96 hours. Never use a "hot rock" which can malfunction and blister your animals. Also important is a light with UV-B spectrum (IIS recommends the Zoo-Med Reptisun 5.0 or Zoo-Med Iguana-Light) which is needed to utilize calcium in the diet & should be replaced every 6-8 months. Your iguana may get his ultra-violet light from direct sun light, but be careful to provide shade as well so he does not overheat. NEVER place an iguana outside in the sun in a glass tank! Temperatures may range from 70 to 85 degrees F.

Diet:

A good diet consists of a variety of dark leafy greens which include collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, dandelion greens, escarole & chicory. These greens should make up at least 60% of the diet on a daily basis. Vegetables such as yellow squash, zucchini, butternut & other orange squashes, sweet potato, pumpkin, frozen mixed vegetables (thawed) & green beans, etc (finely chopped as in a food processor) should make up about 30% of the diet. Mango, papaya, raspberries and cactus fruit (tunas) are your best bet for fruits to make up the remaining 10% of the diet. Since most fruits are low in calcium it is better to only feed them once or twice a week as a treat or supplement. Two or three times a week the diet should be supplemented with a good calcium powder such as Rep-Cal or Bone Aid. A multivitamin powder such as Herptivite or Miner-All should be added at least once per week. Most iguanas are fond of Hibiscus flowers and will eat other blossoms as well. NEVER feed your iguana iceberg lettuce, it contains NO nutrition and the iguanas may become hooked on it and refuse other food.

Foods to Avoid:

Spinach can cause major problems and doesn't need to be fed. Although it is high in calcium it contains other components that bind the calcium rendering it useless. Kale and chard may be fed once in a while but should not make up the bulk of the diet. Don't bother with corn or bananas either as they are very calcium deficient. Adding these items to the diet will bring down the overall calcium/phosphorus levels. Please see the chart below or the organized list of the good, the bad and the ugly food items here.

Handling:

Your iguana will need frequent and regular handling to become and remain tame. Handle him 2 or 3 times a day, gently stroking the back or neck and getting him accustomed to being picked up and held. Some iguanas have been paper trained to "potty" on newspaper. Most illnesses result from poor hygiene, so keep the cage clean. If an outdoor cage will be provided, be careful to use plastic coated wire or something suitable that your pet cannot rub his nose against and injure himself. When you plan your cage, remember that iguanas are good at digging. When new animals are obtained remember to quarantine and worm them before introducing them to your other animals. Keep in mind that you may keep one male and one to two females together, all being nearly the same size. Never try to keep males together as injuries will eventually result.

Basic Iguana Diet
Greens
(60% of volume)

Dandelion greens
Collard Greens
Turnip Greens
Chicory
Escarole
Mustard Greens
Parsley, etc.

Handling:

All greens thoroughly rinsed and chopped or diced. Hatchling or juveniles need finely chopped food to aid digestion. Gut fauna in young iguanas can be overwhelmed by large pieces of food. Bulk Vegetables
(30% of volume)

Orange Squashes such as butternut, acorn, delicata
Green beans
Zucchini or yellow squash
Peas
Yams (Sweet Potatoes)
Frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, peas, green beans, limas)

Handling:

All vegetables should be fresh or frozen, thawed and served room temperature or slightly warm, chopped fine. Fruit
(10% of volume)

Papaya and Mango
Raspberries
Cactus Fruit (tunas)
Melon (Honey dew, Cantaloupe, etc.)
Kiwi
Grapes

Strawberries, cherries, blueberries, peaches

Handling:

All fruit is washed and chopped into small pieces designed to be bite-sized for various size iguanas.

This information is provided by the International Iguana Society, Inc., P.O. Box 366188, Dept. WS, Bonita Springs, FL 34136, U.S.A

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Inland Bearded Dragon

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Mali Uromastyx