What does a pet lizard need?

As weird as it seems, some people want to have pets like lizards, chameleons, and snakes. But what they often don't know is what their pets need.

Pet Lizard

Lizards do not just need water, food and a walk as dogs do, there are ups and downs to having a pet like a lizard.

The main needs a lizard has to have is of course water and food.

Water is essential to any animals, but lizards actually do not need it as much. 

Lizards can actually have developed ways of obtaining water from food and reducing the loss of water through evaporation.

Some lizards that have been accustomed to the desert don't even drink water at all but absorb it through their skin.

Even if you get a lizard that does not need a lot of water or water at all, you should still provide it with some sort of water as they are changing their environment, from a desert for example, to a tank.

You can provide water in different ways, some people prefer to place water with a bowl or even a sipper bottle used for pets.


Different types of lizards like chameleons, bearded dragons and geckoes, for example, all eat different things.

So food will mostly depend on the type of lizard you have, their age and needs too.

Even if they all have different diets, lizards tend to eat the same type of foods often. All lizards should have a mix of vegetables and live animals daily to change up their food intake.

They can eat vegetables like that, carrots, peppers, leafy greens, asparagus, pumpkin, string beans, broccoli, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, celery, mustard, dandelion, collard greens, and more.

As for fruit, they can have some smaller amounts of nectarines, bananas, peaches, pears, plums, melon, apples, apricots, pineapple, papaya, grapes, watermelon, and berries.

However, there are lizards that cannot eat any fruits or vegetables and their diet should be strictly insects, so before getting a lizard to look into their diet and eating habits.

The insects that are usually fed to lizards include wingless fruit flies, Dubia roaches, butterworms, mealworms, Phoenix worms, silkworms, superworms, earthworms, hornworms, crickets, and waxworms.

Apart from different lizards eating different things, the amount and how often you should feed them can change too.

Some lizard needs to be fed daily when they are young, others need daily feeding throughout their entire lifetime, however, some lizards only need to be fed every other day and it can depend on their health, breeding status, diets, needs, and body weight, so research on the type of lizard you are thinking of getting.

Regardless of the type of lizard you are looking forward to getting, all reptiles must keep their temperatures in check, especially since lizards are cold-blooded animals and need heat to keep their blood warm, much like alligators and crocodiles.

Since lizards are ectotherms, meaning they rely on the sun upon to keep their temperature, and their immune and digestion systems in check, they need a source of heat to be healthy and provide them with warmth.

If your lizard is provided with the ideal diet, light, heat, and humidity, it will live a very long, happy life.

Habitat and heat

I have gone over why heat is important to pets like lizards, but the method you use to give your lizard heat can vary.

The temperature your lizard needs to be kept on may vary because of the species, season, time of day and even the method used.

The method basking involves your lizard moving in and out of light to maintain their body heat, meaning one end of their tank will have no light while the other will.

Other methods of heating up your lizard include heating devices such as light bulbs, pads, tubular heaters, under-tank heaters, ceramic heating elements, and basking lights, they can all be used to regulate and adjust the temperature of your lizard's environment and blood temperature.

As for their habitats, most people go with a tank, as big as they need and with lots of space so the lizard can set up a more effective thermal gradient.

Light and humidity

That's right, there is a difference between heat and light. Just like for us there is a difference between being warm and being in the light.

We, humans, need to be warm but we also need the vitamins we get from the light that comes from the sun and so do lizards.

Depending on the type of lizard they require a different, and certain amount of light exposure per day.

Nocturnal lizards require more subdued or less lighting than diurnal lizards.

They can get light from the sun, or from a certain type of light.

Lizards require vitamin D3 which can be obtained by sunlight and help your lizard absorb calcium.

Normal household lights, however, cannot provide vitamin D3 to your lizard. If you want to use a bulb you will need an ultraviolet one. If using an ultraviolet light bulb you will need to keep your lizard within 12 in of the light but set up a barrier to avoid the risk of burns. 

Humidity can be needed differently depending on the type of lizard you have.

Different methods can introduce moisture and their environment in different ways.

Every lizard has a different preference when it comes to moisture and moisture levels can be controlled by ventilation, temperature, and water into the atmosphere of the habitat.

To raise humidity levels you can spray the air with water, or provide a standing or running source of water.

To check your lizard's humidity and their habitats you can use something called a hygrometer.

To maintain appropriate levels of humidity in your lizard's habitat you can use humidifiers, misters, aeration devices or even decorative mini waterfalls to give your pet habitat a fun look while providing an appropriate, very much needed humidity level.

Things you should keep far away from your lizard and be wary of

Things such as Cedar and pine shavings can contain oils that irritate the skin of some lizard and are not appropriate to be used and their habitats. 

Heat lamps should be placed far away or be used with a barrier so no risk of burns or injuries can come up on your lizard. 

Rocks may contain bacteria or dangerous organism that may affect your lizard so they must be Soaked in Bleach and water solution and thoroughly cleaned before being placed in your pet's habitat.

Rocks may contain bacteria or dangerous organism that may affect your lizard so they must be Soaked in Bleach and water solution and thoroughly cleaned before being placed in your pet's habitat.

Ranches and plants may cause allergic reactions to your lizard and give them skin irritation, breathing problems and even swelling. 

These reactions can be often life-threatening and as soon as you notice any signs you should take your pet to a vet immediately.

Keep in mind that every lizard is different and needs a different amount of light, heat, food water, and moisture. Make sure you look into the type of lizard you want before you get it, so you know what it needs and how much of it is needed.

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