Reptile (Lizard) Care in Temporary Shelters
DIET: YOU MUST IDENTIFY TYPE OF LIZARD TO DETERMINE APPROPRIATE CARE & DIET!!! SEE AMPHIBIAN/REPTILE IDENTIFICATION SHEET
Agamids (Dragons, Uromastyx) canned Omnivore lizard food; when young they eat more mealworms, crickets, grasshoppers, or cooked chicken; when older they will eat more leafy green vegetables, vegetable baby food, and fruit. Chameleons eat mostly live insects (mealworms, crickets, grasshoppers, moths) and some vegetables. Must spray cage with water 5 minutes twice daily, won’t drink from bowl. Geckos eat live insects (crickets, grasshoppers, moths); some may eat fruit baby food. Spray with water daily. Can climb & jump out of enclosures, secure the top! Iguanas eat canned Herbivore iguana food and a variety of dark green leafy and other vegetables, a little fruit, and fruit baby food. No animal protein. Monitors eat canned Carnivorous reptile food, insects (mealworms, crickets, grasshoppers), or cooked chicken. May eat cat or dog food. No vegetables or fruit. Skinks eat canned Box Turtle or Omnivore Lizard food, dark green leafy and other vegetables, a little fruit, and insects (mealworms, crickets, grasshoppers). Tegus eat canned Carnivore lizard food, insects (mealworms, crickets, grasshoppers), or cooked chicken. May eat cat or dog food or a little bit of fruit.
HOUSING: Minimum environmental temperature 75 degrees, maximum 90 degrees. Move to indoor climate controlled facility if needed. Use secure wire mesh top for ventilation.
Provide heat lamp when possible at one end of enclosure to allow animal to move to desired temperature up to 90 degrees (100 degrees for Monitors & Dragons, 120 for Uromastyx). Unchlorinated water must be available at all times in a shallow bowl or litter box for soaking. Place large flat rocks to enable climbing in and out. Spray or soak twice daily. Use bedding of newspaper or paper towels, not use wood shavings, corn cob, or cat litter. Provide branches for climbing and a box or other hiding place. Never house multiple lizards together.
RESTRAINT: Large lizards can injure handlers with bites, nails, and tail whipping. Avoid handling if possible, wear heavy gloves and wrap animal in a towel to move.
NEVER restrain any reptile by the tail, it may fall off! Wash hands with soap and water before and after handling. Wear disposable gloves to avoid exposure to or spread of Salmonella.
COMMON MEDICAL PROBLEMS: Malnutrition and cold temperatures cause most problems.
Pneumonia causing bubbling from the nostrils or noticeable breathing.
OTHER: Messy eaters may need frequent cleaning of cages and dishes.
Use bottled water, or tap water should be dechlorinated.
Compiled by Julie Burge, DVM, Burge Bird Services and Burge Bird Rescue, August 2016
Exotic Companion Medicine Handbook for Veterinarians by Cathy Johnson-Delaney, DVM, Diplomat ABVP-Avian
Immediate Intake Care of Small, Unusual & Exotic Pets by Critter Camp Exotic Pet Sanctuary